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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Thursday, October 18, 2001

• 0940


The Chair (Mr. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)): I call to order the 28th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Today, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are considering proposals for a Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2001.

We have as witnesses this morning, from the Department of Justice, Luc Labelle and Ed Schmidt. But before I turn to the witnesses, I'd like to explain the process, not only for members present but also for the very interested Canadian public—most of whom I suspect live in Scarborough, Mr. McKay.

Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Absolutely.

The Chair: As background on the process—and I think it's particularly important that everybody understand exactly where this comes from and how it works—the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act is required periodically to correct certain anomalies and errors in legislation by way of an omnibus bill to change the Statutes of Canada, basically for purposes of expediting non-controversial and uncomplicated issues.

In order to be included specifically, a proposed amendment must not be controversial, involve the spending of public funds, prejudicially affect the rights of persons, or create a new offence or subject a new class of persons to an existing offence. So before a bill containing the proposals for amendments is introduced in Parliament, the proposals are reviewed several times by the program coordinator of the Department of Justice, by the Minister of Justice, by a cabinet committee, by the legal and constitutional affairs committee of the Senate—which has reviewed the current proposals already in September of this year—and finally, by our committee.

Any proposed amendment will be deleted if a member of either the Senate or the House committees object to its inclusion for any reason. Depending on today, members may choose to report to the House of Commons on the proposals or to report at a later date, and I will be seeking direction from the committee at the end of the meeting on that question.

After the conclusion of the process, a statute law amendment bill, based on the reports of the two committees and containing only the proposed amendments unanimously approved by them, is introduced in Parliament. Such a bill normally receives all three readings in the House without debate, since the proposed amendments it contains have been thoroughly reviewed. Extensive notes have been prepared by the Library of Parliament and have been forwarded to you, and are also available from the clerk today.

Basically, that's the process. We've all received documents from the Library of Parliament and the report, or I guess we'll say, the proposed bill itself, and I am open to any reaction to either the process or the substance of today's business.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Chairman, can I have a clarification?

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick is first.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Chair, if I understand the procedure on this, if any member of the committee does not agree with one of the amendments, that kills the amendment?

The Chair: Yes. Outside the explanation I've given, essentially what we're talking about are things that it is proposed are not controversial. By definition, if someone on the committee does not want to see it go forward in those terms, then they take what would be considered controversial out and go forward with what's left.

Essentially, what we're trying to do is not take a lot of time in committee, I presume, dealing with matters that are not as controversial as some other matters that we've been dealing with.

Mr. Breitkreuz.

• 0945

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I need a clarification on the length of time we have to review this and maybe raise questions about it. It doesn't all have to be done today. You mentioned that it can be in writing following this meeting.

For example, on clause 77, I'd like to examine this requirement for Treasury Board approval for the amount paid for contractual services. To remove that seems to me potentially controversial, but I'd like to take a look at that. How much time do I have to examine that?

The Chair: Just one moment and I'll confer with the clerk.

I think before we draw conclusions as to what is and is not controversial, we'll go to our witnesses. They'll be presenting this. We'll hear them out, and then we'll draw conclusions about that.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: My question was, how much time do we still have after the meeting today to submit concerns?

The Chair: If we all agree today that there is a whole bunch of this that is completely non-controversial and can be reported as such, then we'll send that back, and according to the rules that I read, those things that you are uncomfortable with could be held. It's up to the members of this committee to make that determination.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: All right.

The Chair: And now I would ask Mr. Labelle or Mr. Schmidt to explain why these things aren't controversial.


Mr. Luc Labelle (Legislative Counsel, Legislation Section, Legislative Services Branch, Department of Justice): Honourable members, I welcome the opportunity to participate in your study of year 2001 proposals for miscellaneous statute law amendments, together with my colleagues and the other witnesses. This exercise involves intense collaboration between parliamentary drafters and members of Parliament to ensure that the federal legislative corpus is up to date and reflects current federal law.

The miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Program was initiated in 1975. Since then, nine statute law amendment bills have been enacted. The program seeks to make minor, non-controversial amendments to federal statutes without having to wait for reviews. If these proposals are not tabled within the context of a statute law amendment bill, they may never be implemented because they are not important enough in themselves to justify a specific bill.


Basically, the procedure involves a pre-study by committees of both Houses, and any proposal that either committee objects to is dropped. The approved proposals only are then reprinted in a bill, which is introduced in Parliament and customarily read three times and passed without debate or subsequent consideration by committee.

On September 19 and 20, we were before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Today the House justice committee stage begins, and we're here to assist you in satisfying yourselves as to whether or not these proposals meet the program criteria and should be passed into law.


Each proposal has been approved by the relevant organizations. An interdepartmental meeting was also held to inform the relevant departments about the proposals.

The program criteria are found on the same page as the proposals. Above all, proposals must not be controversial, not involve the spending of public funds, not prejudicially affect the rights of persons, not create a new offence, nor subject a class of persons to an existing offence.


The main criterion for a proposal to be included in this expedited process, usually without full debate in Parliament, is that it not be controversial. I'll refer to Minister Otto Lang's comments on that criterion in his second-reading speech when he announced the program in 1975. He said:

    The determination of this criterion will not be difficult to establish. A proposal would become controversial as soon as one of the parties expressed opposition to it.

I think that is the essence of a non-partisan process, and if there is a substantial disagreement with any of the proposals in this package, the proposal will be dropped.


Those are my preliminary comments. My anglophone colleague Edgar Schmidt and I are available to answer your questions. However, before giving you the floor, I would like to note that clauses 33 and 34 dealing with amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) were withdrawn from the list at the request of our client, Environment Canada. Also, clauses 72 and 73, as well the appendix of proposals regarding amendments to the National Capital Act, were also withdrawn at the request of our client, Heritage Canada. This information is also referred to in the deliberations of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, issue number 10, September 19 and 20, 2001. The same document also mentions that the senate committee withdrew clauses 5, 7, 8, 59, 74, 75 and 108 from the proposals.

• 0950

Let me also mention that we have invited witnesses who have come to answer your questions on specific proposals, if need be. To answer questions regarding the National Capital Act, we have Ms. Éloïse Arbour and Mr. Glen Mostowich. To answer questions about the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and nuclear regulations, we have Mr. Denys Vermette, John Waddington and Bernie Shaffer.

Thank you.


The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Labelle.

Are there any comments from anyone? Mr. Breitkreuz.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Could we have the listing of the clauses the Senate committee already has raised objections to? You went through them so quickly, I didn't pick them all up.


Mr. Luc Labelle: We are referring to clauses 5, 7, 8, 59, 74, 75 and 108.


The Chair: I think I should clarify specifically that the Senate report has not yet been made, so the reference is accurate in terms of what the Senate has identified as items they would wish to report on, but they haven't specifically reported yet.

Mr. McKay.

Mr. John McKay: Is it before us prematurely, then?

The Chair: No. I think we can look at the legislation in terms of our opinion on those sections, and also speak to other aspects of the report. There is not supposed to be, necessarily, an automatic sequential review. It's something that can happen concurrently.

Mr. John McKay: So if I may understand it, then, the Senate committee reviews and flags what they consider to be controversial. We review and flag what we consider to be controversial. The reports are then merged and the bill is presented to the House.

The Chair: That's correct.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC/DR): Just for clarification, by way of background—I missed this in your introduction—it indicates quite clearly that any objections raised by either committee for any reason result in withdrawal. Does that mean, Mr. Labelle, that these objections that have already been raised by the Senate will not go forward?

Mr. Luc Labelle: These objections were made by the Senate committee—

Mr. Peter MacKay: Yes.

Mr. Luc Labelle: —and as far as they're concerned, they are not accepted. But in will be in their report, and after that it will be considered with your report.

Mr. Peter MacKay: I'm sorry, I don't quite follow. Their objections are not accepted?

Mr. Luc Labelle: No, they objected to some of these clauses, and they decided unanimously, the committee, that they were not acceptable for them.

Mr. Peter MacKay: So, again, to simplify, these clauses you have enunciated are withdrawn. They will not go forward.

Mr. Luc Labelle: As far as the Senate committee is concerned, yes.

Mr. Peter MacKay: Okay.

Mr. Ed Schmidt (Legislative Counsel, Legislative Services Branch, Department of Justice): It might be useful to just reiterate the comment that was made by the chair that these are only the minutes of their meeting; their actual report hasn't been made yet. But assuming the report reaches the same conclusions as their discussion tended toward, that would be the result.

• 0955

The Chair: Following this point, just for absolute clarity, because the Senate has not yet reported.... We know the minutes of the Senate deliberations, and there's a hint at what that report might contain. But to be on the safe side, if this committee wishes to object to the clauses the Senate has hinted it may object to, then this committee should exercise their discretion to do so, because there is not a final report.

Mr. MacKay.

Mr. Peter MacKay: That's fine then. Just looking into the very first page pertaining to ACOA, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, there are three clauses the Senate has flagged in particular, clauses 5, 7, and 8, that I want to have recorded as being objected to as well. This clearly goes against the enunciated program, in that it deals with the spending of public funds in one instance, and does create new powers. The Senate has obviously identified that, and I certainly endorse that objection.

The Chair: We're now beginning to get a sense of the process.

So we've had Mr. MacKay exercise his prerogative in the context of his right as a member to identify those things that in his mind do not pass the thresholds we've presented.

Mr. Fitzpatrick, then Mr. Breitkreuz.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I want to raise the same point: I object to the three clauses Mr. MacKay raised, too. One of those clearly is fairly substantial. It allows another agency, which has broader powers, to do something the first agency couldn't do, and they're doing indirectly what you couldn't do directly. So I clearly have to be onside with Mr. MacKay on those three points, and I object to those three clauses.

The Chair: I don't think there's any necessity, committee, to—in football nomenclature—“pile on”. Mr. MacKay has caused the clauses to be omitted by virtue of his intervention.

Mr. DeVillers.

Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): I have a point of order. Mr. MacKay may raise the objections, but if the committee as a whole doesn't, is it a veto?

The Chair: Yes, it is.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Anyone can veto it.

The Chair: It's been suggested, and there's some debate about this, but I suspect a debate means controversy, and controversy by definition.

Having said that, by virtue of the fact that Mr. MacKay, articulate member that he is, would take offence, that constitutes controversy.

Mr. Breitkreuz.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Peter MacKay: I just want to correct you about piling on. It's piling off if the committee decides to veto my objection.

An hon. member: They can't.

The Chair: No, they can't. I want to make it clear. Any member of the committee can identify a clause they deem to be objectionable, and by virtue of that exercise it is deemed that clause is removed from....

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Okay, there's a point of order.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Are you suggesting you don't want us to be piling on, as a procedural thing here? If one person objects, we all do it?

The Chair: No. Look, I just wanted to bring to everybody's attention for purposes of clarity that once it is established that a member wants a particular clause pulled, it has to be pulled. Therefore, your outcomes have been met.

Now, Mr. Breitkreuz has been very patient with me.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I've been listening carefully here, and the Senate has flagged some of these things, but I would like to underscore that I also have concerns over these things, because they may remove their concern. So I'd like to object, at least temporarily, to some of these clauses that I think need to be examined more carefully.

In addition to clauses 5, 7, and 8, I would like to draw attention to clauses 33 and 34. I have concerns about these because we have been trying to move toward harmonizing standards and removing provincial barriers to trade. I think clauses 33 and 34 potentially could increase the barriers that exist between provinces. So I'd like to register my objection to that.

If we move over to clause 59—

The Chair: Just before we continue, clauses 33 and 34 have been withdrawn.

• 1000

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Yes, by Environment Canada.

The Chair: Correct.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Okay. Is that permanent? On the Senate objections, you said they may withdraw them. What about Environment Canada? Are they just looking at those, or will they maybe come back?

The Chair: No. By virtue of this meeting today and the fact that I just withdrew them at the request of Environment Canada, that has an equal impact as the intervention by Mr. McKay.

I want to make a point here. Everyone has the right—this is probably as much right as members of Parliament will ever have—to identify a clause. But members also have a right to try to convince their colleagues this is not so objectionable. If you can remove the doubt in Mr. Breitkreuz's mind, then you will remove the controversial nature of the clause.

I just want to make sure everybody really understands the process. What we have here are a number of amendments that some believe we might be able to go through quite quickly, just to expedite a process. To protect Parliament from an error in that regard, individual members of this committee have great power to screen this, which is what we're doing today.


Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Can I go through and just point out some of the concerns I have at this point in the meeting, and then begin the discussion here? I think we're familiar with the process now, are we not?

A voice: No.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Can I point out some of the other concerns I have?

For example, in clause 59 I see a lot of legislation removing scrutiny from the House of Commons, turning it over to the bureaucracy. I think clause 59 heads in that direction, and I'm concerned about that.

The Chair: Are you aware that clause 59 was one that the Senate had flagged, as well?

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Yes, but I also realize the Senate may, at some point, change their mind.

Then if we go to clause 75, I think removing the ability of the government and the House to scrutinize the spending or to remove a spending cap is potentially dangerous. So I would like to flag clause 75.

Clause 76 and clause 77 fall in the same category as clause 75, and for the same reason I would like to ensure that we, as Parliament, have proper control over that spending.

Proposed subclause 78(2) is also something we should take a careful look at.

Jumping over to clause 105, that again removes review provisions. I think Parliament needs to be able to scrutinize a lot of these sections of the act. So I think we should be very careful there.

That gives you a flavour of where I'm going and the concerns I have: scrutiny of Parliament and limits on spending; and removing the ability for Treasury Board to control this.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Breitkreuz.

I would ask officials from the justice department.... I suspect this will proceed with members offering comments on this. I know we also have experts in our presence, who may be able to bring additional information. When members speak to a particular clause, if it's brought to my attention that there's someone who would like to offer an explanation, does anyone on the committee have any objection to those people stepping forward and doing so? We don't know exactly who they are, so perhaps you could allow us that opportunity.

Mr. McKay.

Mr. John McKay: Like all other members, I can read the right-hand column as well and see what ones have been flagged as potentially controversial.

I have heard that people want these matters withdrawn, on what I consider to be rather superficial analysis. They read that they were controversial, so they want them withdrawn.

• 1005

I have absolutely no idea what the pros and cons are and why the first thing that's been withdrawn is in fact controversial. It may well be controversial. I just have no idea about it. I haven't heard from anybody as to why any clause that has been flagged is controversial. I may well agree with Mr. Breitkreuz that it's controversial, but I don't know why.

It would be kind of a novel idea if our people, who actually might know why this is controversial, spoke to the point before we decided it was controversial. So if I could invite the officials to actually comment on Mr. Breitkreuz's decision that everything he's flagged is in fact controversial, I would appreciate that information.

The Chair: Okay. I would ask, so we are on topic, if officials from the Department of Justice—and if they have to call upon others who are here—could speak to Mr. Breitkreuz's concerns. At this moment he's sort of registered them as concerns, and I'm sure he'd like to have his concerns allayed. So Mr. McKay has made that request.

I'm asking justice department officials to respond to Mr. Breitkreuz, please.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: If my notes are correct, Mr. Breitkreuz mentioned clauses 33 and 34, which have been withdrawn from the proposals, clause 59, clause 75, clause 76, clause 77, subclause 78(2), and clause 105. Is that right?

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Right.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: All right. I think it might be useful to try to take them in order and respond to them.

Clause 59 proposes to repeal section 42 of the Energy Monitoring Act. It really follows from the clauses that precede it, which repeal sections of that act that established the Petroleum Monitoring Agency. It has not been in operation for some years.

The government's decision to stop appointing people and stop using this was announced in the budget of 1994, or something like that, and was followed up on since then. It was a decision of an earlier government. It has continued to be the case that this agency has not operated.

Consequent to the repeal of the section to create this agency, you also have section 42 of the act, which provides for a review of the operation of the agency. The best place to look for that is on page 19-A, on the right-hand side of your document.

Section 42 reads as follows:

    This Act shall be deemed to be referred, for review and report, to the first sitting of the Committee of the House of Commons that normally considers oil and gas matters, following February 18, 1988.

So there really were two reasons for considering this section as essentially spent. First the agency no longer exists, and second, it was deemed as referring to a particular sitting, which has long since come and gone. So because it did not serve any continuing purpose, it was suggested that it be repealed. Whether that satisfies you is something for the committee to decide, but that is the reasoning in proposing it.

Mr. John McKay: So this is an inoperative agency, and you're deleting a section that requires Parliament to review an inoperative agency.

• 1010

The Chair: Mr. McKay, we're going to do this in order.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: That's helpful. It clarifies it.

The Chair: We're going to get this, but everyone has to deal with the chair, otherwise we're going to have a nice conversation and very little order—and Mr. Sorenson has advised that he will leave.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): No, I haven't.

The Chair: Mr. McKay has put a question. I think it's helpful in the discussion. We're going to establish a speakers list, and Mr. Sorenson is next.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Will we be going through this clause by clause? I guess we'll get the definitions of the concerns from the justice department, even on the clauses that are of concern to the Senate.

The Chair: We've covered most of them already, so far. Consequently, the members of the committee have the right to identify, in this legislation, those things that they believe are too controversial, or in any one of the four criteria I mentioned. The justice department officials and others are here to explain why someone, in their judgment, thought not, and the committee will decide.

Mr. Breitkreuz has identified a number. We're now in the process of having them respond to his concerns. Anyone else who has concerns, please indicate your interest to me and we will try, Mr. Sorenson, to go through that.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Mr. McKay is criticizing Mr. Breitkreuz for just going down the list of what's potentially controversial, but the reason why they're potentially controversial is written down.

The Chair: You will have the opportunity to make your point when it's your turn.

Mr. McKay has a question to the Department of Justice.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: If I recall the question correctly, it was whether we were essentially proposing, in clause 59, to repeal section 42, which dealt with a committee that's defunct, and therefore a review of the operations of a committee that's defunct.

My response would be essentially yes, although with one small caveat. If you read section 42, it does not only say the operations of that agency shall be referred for review and report, it says “this act”. There is that caveat.

My understanding is that the reason for the review of the act was to review the operation of the agency. But the strict wording of it has that slight difference. So in fairness to the members here, that question remains.

The Chair: Now I will go to Mr. Sorenson, but I would remind the committee that Mr. Breitkreuz has identified a number of clauses, and over the course of this exercise the justice department officials will explain them to us. But I want to go to Mr. Sorenson, unless he's prepared to let us run through Mr. Breitkreuz's concerns.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Sure.

The Chair: Would you please continue?

Point of order, Mr. DeVillers.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Is Ms. Dunsmuir the researcher sitting beside you?

The Chair: Yes, and I apologize for not having pointed that out already.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Then she is the one who would have flagged these as potentially controversial, so we may ask her, as well.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I believe that some of the experts, such as she, have already scrutinized this much more than we have. We ought to take what they have advised as something that needs to be further examined.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Do we do that on all things?

The Chair: I would just like to make the point that when it is proposed that these articles of legislation are not controversial, and we ask our staff to look at them and flag those things that our committee might be alerted to, in order to judge whether they are controversial or not, the staff is not taking the position that, in their opinion, those articles are controversial. They're simply taking the position that they are at the top of the list of articles we should look at.

Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: It may be a point of order, as well. It seems to me it would be quite useful if the gentlemen at the other end could go through each of these things clause by clause, and then the research person could add her input to that. Then we'd be in a position to evaluate which provisions we could let go and which ones we might have objections to. But we're going all over the place with this thing the way it's going right now.

• 1015

The Chair: I think the assumption in the beginning was the fact that, generally speaking, these are not controversial. We are flagging those, and I was giving members the opportunity to express themselves on those items that might be considered controversial.

Here's what we're going to do. We're going to go to the researcher's paper, to those items that are identified in the paper, so that everyone is looking at the same thing here. Does everyone have it? We're all working off the same page?

I think the clerk is arranging for the justice department officials to have access to the same information we're working from. I think it will be helpful.

Looking at the document that was prepared for us by Ms. Dunsmuir, we'll move through them in order. I'm not going to ask us to go through every single clause here, because we've already gone through the exercise of identifying and red-flagging those we think might be controversial. I think that will be more consistent with the intentions of this exercise.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I was going to add more to that list on that point.

The Chair: When we get to—

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Basically, I would red flag every issue the research person put down here—every one of them.

On first reading I saw spending involved with some, Mr. Chair, and I also saw things that I thought could be controversial. I have to be satisfied on these points or I'm going to raise objections on them. So I would just as soon hear what they have to say on all of these points and then I'll know where I'm going on these points.

The Chair: There are many in this list that the researcher has identified as simply errors, language.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: In the document here prepared by Ms. Dunsmuir I think she's really identified the ones that could be offside with the act.

The Chair: That's what I'm intending to do.

The first that has been identified as potentially controversial is clause 5. Mr. MacKay has already done that. I think that was on the list also coming from the Senate.

Are we seeking an explanation here from the justice department on clause 5? That being the case, the committee will remove clause 5.

The second one that is identified as potentially controversial is clause 7, also identified by Mr. MacKay. Do we want to seek an explanation on that, or have we already made our determination?

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: My understanding is that it's dead.

The Chair: On the basis of what?

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Mr. MacKay had already entered an objection.

The Chair: Is it an objection, Peter, or are we simply applying a concern for the justice department?

Mr. Peter MacKay: No, it's an objection.

The Chair: Similarly clause 8?

Mr. Peter MacKay: Correct.

The Chair: The next one that is identified as potentially controversial I believe is clause 33. It has been withdrawn by the Department of the Environment, so we needn't deal with that.

• 1020

The next one is clause 34, and it has also been withdrawn by the Department of the Environment, so we needn't worry about that.

The next one I see is clause 59. Mr. Breitkreuz has spoken to that as well, and it's the one the justice department just spoke to. If Mr. Breitkreuz does not indicate his satisfaction with that response, we'll red flag it as something we have difficulty with.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I'd like to take a few more minutes. I have to consult with somebody else who is on their way down.

The Chair: So we're holding clause 59. We're tabling it until the end of the meeting.

The next one is clause 74. Comments? Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I think if you're changing the jurisdiction over something from one department to another department, that raises flags on controversy. Why was it under one department's jurisdiction and now we're putting it into something else? Like fisheries: I think that's like fishing boats and so on, and we're getting into things like coast guard and so on. It raises flags in my mind.

The Chair: Let's ask and maybe we can reserve judgment until we hear.

Mr. Luc Labelle: I want to reiterate that clauses 72 and 73 were taken out by our client already before the Senate committee.

The Chair: You say clauses 72 and 73—

Mr. Luc Labelle: Yes.

The Chair: —have been withdrawn. I'm advised that clauses 72 and 73 have been withdrawn.

Now we're on clause 74, the National Energy Board Act.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: May I comment on clause 74? Is that an invitation?

The Chair: Yes, please do. I think if you wait to ask....

Mr. Ed Schmidt: The organization of government is often a matter that government itself can change without further parliamentary approval, because there's already legislation that permits the government to do this. So there was Order in Council SI/95-46, which transferred control and supervision of the Canadian Coast Guard to the Ministry of Fisheries. So one of the tasks of this particular section of the civil service was to give the approvals or be the appropriate authority with respect to navigable water on the construction of pipelines, which I believe is the relevant subject under the National Energy Board Act.

So under the National Energy Board Act, the group that advised the Minister of Transport with respect to the subject of subsection 108(1) as the coast guard. Statutory instrument 95-46 transferred responsibility for the coast guard to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. The amendment to paragraph 108(1)(a) is intended to simply reflect the change that has already been effected. In other words, this same group within the civil service is still going to be considering the implications of an application with respect to a pipeline on a navigable water, but because this group is now under the supervision or direction of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the reference should be to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

That's the theory, the reasoning behind the change: that the same group of the civil service is still considering the consequences on navigable water of an application, is still doing the assessment, but now they give their report to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans and therefore that minister should be the one named as the appropriate authority in the section.

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick.

• 1025

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I take it this has something to do with pipelines. It was under the energy department, and it got switched over to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I think the controversy that arises is we have a third department here. The Minister of Transport is responsible for navigable waters, and pipelines are in that jurisdiction. So we actually have a third department in here. We had the energy department, we had the Department of Fisheries, and now the Minister of Transport apparently has some authority on that too. That seems to be the gist of what's being raised in this point of controversy here: who's really going to be in charge of this area? We want clear laws in this country, not confusing laws.

The Chair: Mr. DeVillers, please.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Mr. Chair, as I understand the witness, what he's saying is the government, the executive level, has the authority to make this change without parliamentary approval. That is what should make it non-controversial. Whether Mr. Fitzpatrick or anyone else thinks it should be done differently, in my submission, is irrelevant.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: That's not my point. If I'm reading the controversy right here, the Minister of Transport is responsible for movement of things, transportation off our coasts and so on, and there may be some conflict here.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: But the executive level has the authority to change that responsibility without coming back to Parliament.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I'm not clear that's what's happening here.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: That's what the witness said. I'm going by what the witness told us.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I'm not sure he's...[Technical difficulty—Editor].

The Chair: We'll have one more crack at this, and then we'll move on.

Go ahead, Mr. Schmidt.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: As I understand it, the reorganization has been effected by Order in Council SI/95-46. The amendment to the act is intended to simply reflect the reorganization that has been done. So it's intended to be the mirror of what was done, to carry it through in the language of the legislation.

The Chair: And the authority existed to do that.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: To reorganize government, yes.

The Chair: Yes. That's the point.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Yes.

The Chair: Are we satisfied with clause 74?

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I have just one more question. If I understand this correctly, then the Minister of Transport, under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, has no longer any jurisdiction over the coast guard. Is that what you're saying?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Not over the coast guard, that's correct. Order in Council SI/95-46 transferred responsibility for the coast guard to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: And that's an order in council, is it?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Yes

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: And that order in council was authorized under some enabling legislation?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Yes.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: How does that happen?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Under enabling legislation, I believe it was the reorganization of government—I forget the exact name, but an act something like the reorganization of government act.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: And when that happened, the bureaucracy missed this point. Is that what you're saying?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Yes. I think it's clear that this was an oversight at the time or simply was not done at the time. Obviously, changes to legislation can't be done by order in council, so there had to be a plan to follow up.

It seems to be somewhat later a follow-up, but it is still a follow-up.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Fitzpatrick.

The next that's been identified as potentially controversial is clause 75, and it's also been flagged by Mr. Breitkreuz.


Mr. Labelle.

Mr. Luc Labelle: We have called a witness, Mr. Glen Mostowich, who could discuss this issue. May I invite him to the table?


The Chair: Yes.

I would ask the witnesses who have joined us to identify themselves for the edification of everyone, please.

Mr. Glen Mostowich (Senior Portfolio Analyst, Policy, Planning and Resourcing, Department of Canadian Heritage): Good morning, honourable members. My name is Glen Mostowich and I'm from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The Chair: And?


Ms. Éloïse Arbour (Lawyer, Legal Services, Heritage Canada): I am Éloïse Arbour. I am from the Department of Justice, the Legal Services of Heritage Canada.

The Chair: Thank you.


Mr. Glen Mostowich: Basically, what I would like to do is provide a little bit of information with regard to the proposed amendment.

Subsection 13(4) of the National Film Act stipulates that the appointment of a person to the National Film Board to a continuing position at a salary exceeding such amount as the Governor in Council may determine is not effective until approved by the Governor in Council. This provision is a unique one to the National Film Board and applies to no other federal government organization.

• 1030

As you can understand, this subsection deals with the staffing issues of the organization. The National Film Board is a separate employer under the Government of Canada. Repeal of this subsection would bring the NFB in line with statutes that establish other separate employer organizations. It would ensure that the deputy head of the National Film Board has all the necessary authorities related to human resource management, like other separate employer deputy heads. It is also designed to ensure that the relationship between the government and the National Film Board is similar to that involving other federal organizations.

Finally, I would just say that repeal of this subsection will not involve the expense of additional public funding. The National Film Board receives a parliamentary appropriation to fund its operations and will not receive an increase to it as a result of this change.

I'm available for supplemental questions.

The Chair: Mr. Breitkreuz.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: If there's not going to be any change to its appropriations, why would it be necessary to make this change?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: Basically, the Film Board makes the appointments of the individuals in question. As it stands right now, the level beyond which the Governor in Council needs to approve the remuneration of the appointment is $99,000. So when the National Film Board wishes to appoint someone beyond that level of remuneration, an order in council for the remuneration is required.

Historically, there have been no questions raised from a central agency perspective with regard to the staffing of the National Film Board, as to the people in question. The original intent of this provision dates back to the creation of the Film Board in 1939, when, as you'll understand, the Film Board had a different vocation related to the war effort. It had an important role in making films for propaganda purposes, if you will. The government at that time had a high level of interest about who was making the films. Over time, though, the relationship between the government and the National Film Board has changed. Now the board operates by tradition at arm's length from the government.

The Chair: Mr. Breitkreuz first, then Mr. Sorenson.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I wouldn't mind Ms. Dunsmuir commenting on this, if she wouldn't mind.

Ms. Mollie Dunsmuir (Committee Researcher): We generally aren't in a position to get into a debate with the justice department. When the document was prepared, obviously, we erred on the side of caution. Anything we thought the committee would be interested in was not called “controversial”; it was called “potentially controversial” because it's for the committee to make the decision.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Sorenson.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: I have just one question for clarification. I think in your testimony you made it fairly clear the National Film Board wants to operate at arm's length from the government. Would this then give them the opportunity to set the remuneration levels or to pay them without going back to Governor in Council?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: The National Film Board is a separate employer, so they have the authority to set remuneration levels for their staff. That being said, under subsection 13(1), I believe it is, they need the approval of the Treasury Board for collective bargaining instructions, basically. So there is some interplay between the Treasury Board and the National Film Board, as I understand it.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: But the National Film Board is fairly dependent on the government for funding and—

Mr. Glen Mostowich: That's correct. That's right.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: So what this would do is say that the funding comes from the government, but we don't want to go back to the Governor in Council to set remuneration that may be over that certain limit. Is that right?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: Basically, the situation, as it is now, is the NFB has approximately 15 positions, I believe—I will just have to refer to a document, if you allow me—

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: That are over the $99,000?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: That's correct.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: Would there be any change in what the limit would be?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: No. This will not involve the Film Board hiring people at a higher salary level. Basically what this will do is remove an administrative requirement for the National Film Board to go to cabinet to get the remuneration approved.

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Mr. Kevin Sorenson: So basically it takes the accountability away from the Parliament or the cabinet, as you say, and puts it on the board to have some type of autonomy over their own sphere.

Mr. Glen Mostowich: That's right, and that's consistent with its being first a separate employer and second an organization that operates by tradition at arm's length.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Grose.

Mr. Ivan Grose (Oshawa, Lib.): I'm confused, as usual. Will the cap remain in effect?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: Which cap, sir?

Mr. Ivan Grose: The Governor in Council set a cap, or has set caps, for various departments. Will that cap for the National Film Board remain in effect—the $99,000?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: No. The purpose of the amendment would be to—

Mr. Ivan Grose: It goes, as well as the requirement for approval for an amount over that.

Mr. Glen Mostowich: The proposal would be to repeal that section of the act so the National Film Board would undertake its staffing and no longer be required to make any submissions to the Governor in Council.

Mr. Ivan Grose: Fine. That's clearer than it says here. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Grose.

I think it was Mr. Fitzpatrick, and then Mr. McKay.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: This is a kind of quasi-government agency, just the same. It relies on government funding to operate. I guess I'd be a bit concerned if Parliament and government lost control and direction over the management and direction of an agency like that, because it relies on public funds. It's not a private enterprise thing that can do what it wants. That is the concern I would have: is it turning this organization into something that's free to do what it wants, or free of government direction or control or guidance?

Mr. Glen Mostowich: As I've mentioned, the Governor in Council approves the remuneration of the individuals that the National Film Board wishes to appoint at a level higher than $99,000. That being said, it is also a separate employer. The Treasury Board is not the employer for the employees of the National Film Board. There is already some built-in distance between the National Film Board and the Government of Canada.

The Chair: John McKay.

Mr. John McKay: So let me understand this. If the National Film Board, in a wild excess of enthusiasm, decides to pay somebody $2 million a year, they can pay them $2 million a year. It just comes out of their budget anyway. So they're somewhat limited. If they blow $2 million on somebody, that's a decision they make.

Mr. Glen Mostowich: From a practical perspective, what you say is correct. That being said, they have a separate employer classification system that basically organizes how the various levels of staff are paid.

Mr. John McKay: Okay, so again, I'll—

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. McKay. It's been indicated to me that we've had the discussion and there's going to be an objection. Members on the other side are not of the view that it's likely to change, so we can move on if—

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: It's controversial on both sides, with all fairness.

Mr. John McKay: I don't see it as controversial.

The Chair: No. In any case, unlike other circumstances, here that doesn't make a great deal of difference.

Now, clauses 76 and 77 have been circled because they were already identified by Mr. Breitkreuz. That's clause 76, clause 77, and the second part of clause 78. Since they all seem to be related, perhaps we could respond to those concerns.

Mr. Luc Labelle: These concern the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. We have three witnesses in this room who can address questions concerning the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Can we call them to the table, please?

The Chair: Please do.

I think our clerk is trying to arrange your seating so that the good people of Canada can watch you give your answers.

Starting with my far left, I would ask each of you to introduce yourselves for the camera, please.

Mr. Bernie Shaffer (Senior Counsel, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission): Mr. Chairman, my name is Bernie Shaffer. I'm from the Department of Justice, but I give legal advice to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

• 1040

Mr. Denys Vermette (Vice-President of Corporate Services, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission): My name is Denys Vermette. I am vice-president of corporate services for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Mr. John Waddington (Director General, Environmental and Human Performance Assessment Directorate, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission): My name is John Waddington. I'm director general of environmental and human performance assessment at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Does someone wish to respond to the concerns expressed by Mr. Breitkreuz earlier?

Mr. Denys Vermette: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and honourable members, for giving representatives of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission the opportunity to address your questions and potential concerns.

Mr. Chair, there are a couple of ways we can actually do this, given that potential concerns have been flagged in three consecutive clauses. I have submitted to the clerk this morning and have available for members a presentation of from three to five minutes. Hopefully, it would address all of those particular concerns in relation to all three clauses. I can make a presentation, and you can follow along with me if you choose to have that information kit.

If you prefer not to proceed that way, Mr. Chair, I can attempt to answer individual questions as they come up, but we do have a presentation to address these three clauses.

The Chair: Mr. Breitkreuz, could you articulate your concerns so we can speak specifically to those?

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: I'd be willing to go along with what's been suggested.

I'm primarily concerned that this removes from the government control over some of these publicly funded agencies.

The Chair: Okay, there's a very precise question here. If you could bring your presentation to address it, that would be helpful.

Mr. Denys Vermette: If I fail to address it in my presentation, I will be doubly pleased to address your specific concerns.

If you allow it, Mr. Chair, we could distribute the presentation so members can follow along with me and we can read the presentation into the record.

The Chair: Excuse me, we have a problem.

I will suspend momentarily as we investigate our sound problem.

• 1043

• 1045

The Chair: I would ask members to return to their places. The equipment is repaired and we are currently receiving a response to Mr. Breitkreuz's question.

Please make it precise, in terms of the authorities and an arm's length agency.

I believe the gentleman responding is Monsieur Vermette.

Mr. Denys Vermette: Yes. We can start with the third paragraph on page 1 of the presentation.

Let me assure you, Mr. Chair and honourable members, that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission carefully screened its proposals against the criteria applicable for legislative amendments proposed through the miscellaneous statute law amendment program. We paid particular attention to the requirement that our proposals not be controversial, and we excluded from our proposal any changes that in our view could be controversial. We sought and obtained legal advice and, where applicable, support from the Treasury Board Secretariat and from the Office of the Auditor General.

Now we can go directly to the concerns expressed regarding clause 76 on page 2 of my presentation. Our proposal to modify subsection 16(1) would remove the requirement for Treasury Board to approve the terms and conditions of employment covering CNSC employees. It would also replace Treasury Board approval with a requirement to consult Treasury Board when fixing remuneration for CNSC staff. Mr. Chair, on the face of its wording, our proposal to amend subsection 16(1) may appear to expand our powers in relation to personnel management. Let me assure you that this is not the case.

Now I'm proceeding right to the point raised by the honourable member. In fact, by suggesting a modification to subsection 16(1), the CNSC is only attempting to maintain the same personnel management powers it has duly and responsibly exercised since at least 1968. Until the coming into force of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, which was in 2000, the then Atomic Energy Control Board, which has been a separate employer since 1946, derived its personnel management powers from section 8 of the Atomic Energy Control Act and from Order in Council PC 1968-26/230. The combination of these two authorities gave the Atomic Energy Control Board, which is our predecessor, the power to fix the terms and conditions of employment, including remuneration, without the approval of the Treasury Board.

• 1050

To the honourable member I would say this is an absolutely key phrase here. Since 1968, at least, the Atomic Energy Control Board, which has now been transformed into the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, has always been able to establish on its own its terms and conditions of employment and fix its remuneration on its own by virtue of the two authorities I referred to.

The drafters of subsection 16(1) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, as it presently reads, assumed in 1995 that a new order in council could be drafted, which, if read in combination with the new subsection 16(1), would serve to continue the powers as they then existed.

Subsequent legal opinions have cast doubt on the soundness of this approach. Therefore, as a best available temporary measure, a new order in council, PC2000-1135, was drafted by Treasury Board staff on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's behalf, and approved by Governor in Council. We are seeking an amendment to subsection 16(1) to put these powers on firm legal footing and to inscribe in law the requirement to consult the Treasury Board when fixing remuneration, to reflect our longstanding practice.

So we're not seeking any additional powers at all; we're seeking to put on sound legal footing the powers we've always had since 1968. This amendment would not alter Parliament's power to grant appropriations for the operation of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, nor would it alter the requirement for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to obtain Treasury Board approval for requests for additional funding. It would only restore the status quo or the conditions that existed under the combination of section 8 of the Atomic Energy Control Act and the order in council of 1968. There are copies of those particular documents in the kit that has been distributed.

That speaks to clause 76. I can go on and speak to clause 77, and Mr. Waddington can speak to clause 78, or we can stop now and address any questions that emanate from clause 76 and then go on to clause 77, at your discretion, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: I'll recognize Mr. Grose.

Mr. Ivan Grose: Thank you.

I understand your explanation, but we're told here that in subsection 16(1) we'll remove the requirement for Treasury Board approval of the terms and conditions of employment for staff. Now you're saying that has not been adhered to; you have consulted, but not asked approval of, Treasury Board.

Mr. Denys Vermette: Yes. The Nuclear Safety Control Act came into power only in 2000. I'm trying to draw the parallel between the authorities we had under the Atomic Energy Control Act and the 1968 order and the proposal we have here to adjust subsection 16(1) of the new act so that it could maintain those particular powers.

As a temporary measure, since 2000, the Treasury Board has drafted for us, and we've obtained Governor-in-Council approval for, an order in council to allow us to operate in the same way we have since 1968. But legal opinion that has evolved over the years, basically in 1999, has said to us that this combination of the present words, plus an order in council, is not the best legal way to do things. While everyone was secure in that approach back in 1995, now the lawyers don't feel so secure about it, and we're just seeking to implant those existing powers on a sound legal footing.

The Chair: Mr. Breitkreuz, then Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz: Thank you. And I appreciate your explanation. You did very well.

What is the practical day-to-day difference between “consulting” and “getting the approval of”? Is there any power in the consultation process? If there's an objection raised in that process, does it make a difference as to what actually happens practically?

• 1055

Mr. Denys Vermette: Yes, I think it does, and of course it depends on the nature of the objection.

Obviously the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Treasury Board have been working together. Basically, this is how we've fixed our remuneration since 1968.

So every year, when we're trying to fix our remuneration, even though the old order in council in combination with the old act, the Atomic Energy Control Act, gave us the power to fix our remuneration, it has been our longstanding practice to consult with the Treasury Board. Obviously we're aware that we're a small agency in a much larger situation, and we wouldn't want to do anything that would upset the apple cart on the bigger picture. We have a longstanding relationship with them. We go and talk to them about our plans and they say “Well, if you do this, it may cause us some problems in this particular area”. Then we seek to revise our approach. We consult that way.

Of course, if they raised a huge objection on something important and we proceeded anyway, we'd have to deal with that at another level altogether.

So the consultation does ensure that everyone operates in sync.

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Mr. Chair, to get my point dealt with, I might have two or three short questions to try to achieve that purpose, and I would ask some latitude on that matter.

I'm looking at subsection 16(1), and at first read, it looks as if subsection 16(1) of the act made it mandatory that you did get approval from the Treasury Board. But in listening to your testimony, I get the feeling that since 1968, or whenever, you've been carrying on with this sort of practice.

This point has been drawn to your attention, that subsection 16(1) seems to be fairly clear that you are supposed to go to Treasury Board to get these things approved. It says clearly: “with the approval of the Treasury Board, establish the terms and conditions, including remuneration, of their employment”. That seems fairly clear.

Mr. Denys Vermette: Yes, it is.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I might be kind of curious about the fact that perhaps you have not been complying with the law in the past. The legal advice has pointed this out to you, and your way of dealing with non-compliance with the law is to have the law that was getting in your way removed.

Mr. Denys Vermette: I appreciate the comment, but I'd like to remind the chair and honourable members that from 1968 to 2000, we were not operating with subsection 16(1). Subsection 16(1) came into force in May 2000.

Now, the old Atomic Energy Control Act had similar requirements, but expressed differently. It was recognized at the time that as a separate employer—and that was recognized through the publication of an order in council—we should have those particular powers.

The drafters in 1995 for subsection 16(1) assumed they'd stick to similar wording and get another order in council, and that would continue our longstanding practice of doing this in consultation with the board. But in 1999 the lawyers said they'd rather we put this on sound legal footing, as opposed to continuing to operate like that.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Right.

As a short follow-up to that, I sympathize with you. I think there are so many laws and regulations that have been created by government that it's very difficult at different times to separate the trees from the forest on this sort of thing. I think this is just evidence of one of the problems we're getting in this new century—way too much legislation and regulation. It's very hard to govern your affairs or figure out where you're going.

The Chair: I'm advised we have a recurring problem with our translation equipment. We'll suspend to make changes again.

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• 1103

The Chair: I call the meeting back to order. I think the last time I asked everyone to cross their fingers on this mechanical stuff, so I would repeat my request.

I'm advised by Mr. Grose that he's not been satisfied on clause 76, so clause 76 will be withheld. So perhaps you could speak to the question in clause 77 and subclause 78(2), which Mr. Breitkreuz has identified.

Mr. Sorenson.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: By putting forward our objections to clause 76, does that now mean that consultation and approval will have to go back to the Treasury Board? I think what the objection from the other side was is that clause 76 was objected to. Now that you realize it is there, it is part of the law, even though it hasn't been the practice, do you feel it now does force your board to go to the Treasury Board?

Mr. Denys Vermette: Well, I think you have to recognize the practicality of all this and to recognize the fact that the effect of subsection 16(1), as read by itself, was never intended by anybody, including the Treasury Board. As a result, when subsection 16(1) passed, they participated with us fully with the cooperation of the justice department to prepare and get approval for a new Governor in Council order, which basically, in reading, now allows us to fix our terms and conditions and fix our remuneration. But it's just not as good, sound, legal footing. So I guess if clause 76 doesn't pass, we'll continue operating on the basis of the order in council, which has been approved. But it's just not as good. It's not as good a sound legal footing.

• 1105

The Chair: Given that we have taken the action we have taken on clause 76, what impact does that have on the discussion we're now having about clauses 77 and 78, second part?

Mr. Denys Vermette: It has no impact on clause 77, which is a different issue—

The Chair: Okay.

Mr. Denys Vermette: —but it has.... I guess I was responding to the honourable member's concern that now we will be operating on the basis of Governor in Council—that is, on the order in council we have, which is not as effective as a sound legal footing.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: The old board was the Atomic Energy Control Board?

Mr. Denys Vermette: That's correct.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: What's the name of the new one?

Mr. Denys Vermette: The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Are there a lot of federal dollars...? That's basically a federal....

Mr. Denys Vermette: It's a separate employer that functions through appropriation. We recover a significant percentage of our costs from the licensees we license for nuclear safety reasons. Again, this proposal we had submitted had no effect on parliamentary appropriations.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: No, but it is federally funded as well.

Mr. Denys Vermette: Yes, it is.

Mr. Kevin Sorenson: The whole concept of Treasury Board approval may not be a bad idea. You would suggest that it's not so much a practical as a positive thing.

The Chair: Would the experts like to speak to clause 77 specifically?

Mr. Denys Vermette: Yes, thank you.

Our proposal would remove the requirement for Treasury Board approval of the rates paid to contractors as fixed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Mr. Chair, is a departmental corporation under the Financial Administration Act. By virtue of this, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission activities in the areas of service contracts are already governed by the Treasury Board contracting policy and the government contracting regulations. This policy and the regulations already stipulate that rates must be approved by Treasury Board in specified circumstances, so I guess we're correcting something in the law there.

Furthermore, as it currently reads, subsection 17(1) of the NSC, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, conflicts with the Treasury Board contracting policy with respect to small-value contracts, where no Treasury Board approval is required. The proposed amendment would remove this conflict. The contracting policy and government contract regulations will continue to apply to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Accordingly, Treasury Board approvals for service contracts over small values will be required in accordance with that policy.

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: What's the difference between small values according to the Treasury Board and according to the policy you fall under?

Mr. Denys Vermette: We are presently following the government contract....

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: For how much?

Mr. Denys Vermette: I don't know what the small values rate is.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: What's the Treasury Board amount?

Mr. Denys Vermette: I'm sorry, I don't have those numbers. I don't remember them.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: But you're saying the amount under your policy is less than what the Treasury Board amount is?

Mr. Denys Vermette: Right now we are following the Treasury Board policy. Subsection 17(1), if we are to follow it literally, is in contradiction with the Treasury Board policy because the Treasury Board policy says to all government departments and agencies that if it's for small amounts—and I do forget the number—you don't have to have Treasury Board approve your rates. If it's for large amounts, you have to have Treasury Board approve your rates. Subsection 17(1) says you have to have Treasury Board approve your rates no matter what the amount, and that's in conflict with the policy.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I need the figures on that. I'm going to object to that one.

The Chair: Now we're at subclause 78(2).

Mr. John Waddington: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Perhaps I could address these proposed amendments on behalf of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Perhaps with your approval, Mr. Chairman, I could deal with subclause 78(2) and clause 82, because they go together as a package.

The Chair: Most certainly, although I should tell you that clause 82 has not been identified as potentially controversial. You may be raising your own flag, but go to it.

Mr. John Waddington: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

• 1110

These amendments are intended to ensure that the Nuclear Safety and Control Act correctly reflects the health and safety regime we need to control the return to work of workers who have or may have received a dose of radiation in excess of the limits. The Canadian nuclear safety mission sets limits in law in the regulations that govern the maximum amount of radiation either a member of the public or a workeron the job may receive.

What is the regime we have followed when an incident occurs where those limits could be exceeded? Briefly, if a mishap does occur in the workplace, it results in or may result in an excessive dose of radiation to the worker. The employer is required to remove the affected worker from the workplace so they don't get any more radiation until the situation has been clarified.

Before that worker can return, the actual dose the worker received must be determined first. This is rarely a simple matter. In the event of an incident, there may be some reason to believe that the badge placed on the person is not be measuring the actual dose. It requires some work to get a real reading of what the actual dose is, and that is why the regulations say “may have”.

Secondly, remedial action must be put in place by the employer to the satisfaction of the commission as the regulator. We regulate our licensees. In order to correct any deficiency in their protection of the employee, following any mishap we review the safety conditions they've put in place.

Under the new legislation, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act my colleague Mr. Vermette was referring to, new regulations have been passed that deal with the radiation protection of the public and workers. Notably sections 16 and 17 of the radiation protection regulations have been passed, and they provide a more detailed legislative support for the safety regime. These apply specifically in cases where the dose may have exceeded the applicable dose limit.

These new regulations were subjected to very widespread public consultation before they were promulgated, including with unions, the public, and employers. We received no comments at all on the wording of the regulations, which included “may have” as well as “have”. We're confident, therefore, that the proposed amendment is not controversial.

Please note that without the requested amendment there would be a gap in the protective regime for workers who may have been exposed.

Sections 16 and 17 of the radiation protection regulations allow for the authorization of a return to work of a worker under safe conditions, but the wording of the act does not include “may have” and therefore leaves a gap for those who need the detailed dose calculations to ensure we know exactly what the dose was.

The safeguards we have include ensuring that any deficiencies in the workplace practices or training have been addressed. Also, the employee must be fully informed of the health risk with the dose of radiation they actually received before an authorization to return to work can be made.

Finally, the commission is empowered to authorize return to work but not to order it. The affected employee retains his or her rights under federal or provincial labour legislation to refuse to return to work if they believe conditions are unsafe.

The authorization is an enabling process and not an order so safeguards for the employee's rights will be maintained.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Are there any questions?


Mr. Paradis.

Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): I have a question about translation, Mr. Chairman. In French, we say “ayant reçu ou peut-être reçu”. “Peut-être” is used in everyday language, but it might be better, in French, to say “ayant reçu ou pouvant avoir reçu une dose de rayonnement”. This is simply a question of semantics. The text would read “pouvant avoir reçu” rather than “peut-être reçu”.


The Chair: I think that in this case and at this point we don't have the power to suggest amendments to this legislation. If your concern is sufficiently strong, all you can do is move to withhold that section on the basis of that. You have that right. That's a decision you would have to make.

• 1115


Mr. Denis Paradis: Mr. Chairman, I think that when we draft legislation, it behooves us? to do so in proper language, both in French and in English. This is not a substantive correction. I have no objection to this clause.

[Editor's Note: Technical Difficulties]


The Chair: My apologies to witnesses and to colleagues. The translation equipment is offering us a challenge today, but one we're rising to. Thank you.

Monsieur Paradis has the floor.


Mr. Denis Paradis: I repeat what I just said. I understand that in this case the process is complicated by the Senate's simultaneous involvement, but I'm wondering whether simple consultation with the Senate people... It's a matter of translation. The words “ou peut-être reçu” are not ones I've often seen in legislation. The words “ou pouvant avoir reçu” would be better. It has absolutely no impact on the meaning, Mr. Chairman. The English text would not change at all. It's simply a matter of the translation of the words “may have exceeded”. I'm pointing this out, but that's not to say that I think the clause should be withdrawn because of the translation problem. However, as long as we're drafting legislation, let's write them just as well in French as in English.


The Chair: We will note the concern.

I believe Mr. Fitzpatrick has a question.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: It seems that the comments you've been raising are on clause 78. Or am I wrong on that point?

Mr. John Waddington: Yes, indeed, it was clause 78. Forgive me, I thought that was the clause you were interested in.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Maybe you could just give me a concrete example of how this amendment would allow you folks to do your job better, a real example, an employee situation or something, the bottleneck that it would create if we didn't put this thing in, and how this would relieve your people of problems.

Mr. John Waddington: Let's take quite a common example, radiographers in this country. These are people who go around the country and X-ray—it's not an X-ray, it uses a nuclear source on an X-ray—basically checking welds and whether they're good ones, in pipelines, for example, out west. They have a large source that is kept in a special container, which is then opened to expose the pipeline surface to the radiation, and there's a film on it. That's the situation.

Under those circumstances, let us say an employee incorrectly operates the machinery—and indeed it happened fairly recently, where they changed the film without putting the source back in its shielded box—so that the head of the individual putting the film in would appear to have got a dose in excess of the limits set in law.

The person normally wears a badge on their chest to measure the radiation they're getting in normal circumstances. Clearly, if they get an overdose to the head because they've put it in the way of the beam, at that point the employer would say this person may have got a dose in excess of the dose limits. The provision of section 16 of the regulations now comes into place, which specifically says you must notify the person, you must require the person to leave, and you must conduct an investigation and identify and take any corrective action. That's the safety regime, and it's based on that they may have received an overdose.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Right.

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Mr. John Waddington: Let us assume that there's a reconstruction of the situation, an understanding of the dose that the person has actually received is made, and let us assume for the purpose of your question that when the calculation is made, the person did not in fact have an overdose and the dose they've had is below the limit. We're now in a slightly difficult situation, because the act allows us to return to work or authorize the return to work of somebody who “has” received an overdose. So this is somebody who has gone through the initiation process in section 16 of the regulations, based on “may have” and the uncertainty, but we now want to ensure that although, as it then transpires, they have not received an overdose, clearly an unsatisfactory situation has arisen, and we want to make sure that these elements that were in section 16 have been completed before that person goes back. They may have gotten just below the dose level.

The way the current act reads, for which we're seeking amendment, it specifically says “has exceeded”, rather than “has or may have exceeded”, so that we are in a bit of a limbo in terms of returning people to work. It is that correction that the amendment would seek to satisfy.

The Chair: Are there any other questions from members? Mr. Grose.

Mr. Ivan Grose: If you find the worker has encountered a dose of radiation, he's off work. Is he being paid full pay?

Mr. John Waddington: Yes, sir.

Mr. Ivan Grose: Therefore, if we give you more discretion, which may or may not keep the worker away from work longer than he would under the old regulation, it really doesn't affect him financially?

Mr. John Waddington: No, sir.

Mr. Ivan Grose: Is there a limit on the time he'd be off work before he went on compensation?

Mr. John Waddington: No, not in the regulations. There are no formal limits to that exercise.

We have to be satisfied, under the regulations, that all the appropriate corrective actions have taken place. We also have to be satisfied, as I mentioned, that the dose calculation is correct. Sometimes that dose reconstruction can take some time, depending on the nature of the overexposure. For example, if it's an inhalation, it requires certain specialized equipment to do.

Mr. Ivan Grose: Do you agree, though, that we would be increasing your discretion in this regard?

Mr. John Waddington: No, sir. The current process is the regime we've followed since 1975, and the process that I've described is one that's well established and understood by employers and nuclear energy workers. So it doesn't really change the process, but what it does do is make sure that the act and the regulations are properly in sync.

Mr. Ivan Grose: The reason I ask the question is because one of the regulations we have in this process is to not prejudicially affect the rights of persons.

Mr. John Waddington: Yes.

Mr. Ivan Grose: That's why I was on this fishing expedition.

Mr. John Waddington: Understood.

Mr. Ivan Grose: And quite frankly, I think you answered my question in your reply. Thank you.

Mr. John Waddington: Thank you, sir.

The Chair: So I take it there is no objection to subclause 78(2), and we'll move then to....

Sorry, Mr. MacKay.

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Chair, I'm sorry, I've been distracted here, but on clause 77, has that objection been established?

A voice: Yes.

The Chair: It has been established.

Mr. Peter MacKay: Fine.

The Chair: Next in the list is clause 105. Mr. Breitkreuz had mentioned this in his earlier intervention and suggested to me that he had to step away but that someone could speak to this in terms of his concern.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Yes. I think his concern was the....

[Technical difficulty—Editor]

The Chair: So Mr. Breitkreuz has identified clause 105. Perhaps the officials would respond.

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Mr. Ed Schmidt: Yes.

The sole reason for clause 105 is simply to repeal a provision that is spent. The section provided for a review of the act and for a study and evaluation of its impact, and so on, for the establishment of a committee. The minister established such a committee. The report was prepared in 1994. The date of the letter of the committee to the minister was December 1994. It was the Railway Safety Act Review Committee.

That was the rationale behind the section. The study has been done. The report has been prepared and considered. There is no legal rationale, in our view, for the continuation of the provision.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Is there any practical consequence in it remaining in the act?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: The one practical consequence that was raised by researchers of the Library of Parliament was that simply for the purposes of research, if they have a current consolidation and they're looking for precedent sections or sections that may have something to do with later review, once it's removed, you won't find this one.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: But from the justice department's point of view, is there any negative impact in it remaining in the act?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: No, other than it simply is something there without any continuing legal consequence or practicality. It does no harm, except occupy....

[Technical Difficulty—Editor]

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: It deals with review of safety, and that was done in 1994. This isn't legislation that periodically the transportation minister or somebody would like to have later on to update and monitor things along that line?

[Technical difficulty—Editor]

A voice: I'd like to leave it.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: You want to leave it in the act, and you have that prerogative. That ends the discussion. We're objecting to—

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: Oh, you're objecting.

The Chair: We are now at clause 106, and this has been identified by staff. Does anyone have any concerns? If not, we'll....

I could inform the committee that the Senate is awaiting a letter they have issued as a result of this in terms of their hearings. We may wish to set it aside until we receive that same response, or perhaps counsel could inform us now.

Mr. Luc Labelle: My client, Industry Canada, sent the letter to the Senate committee. It is in their hands right now, and I have a copy here if you want me to deposit it.

The Chair: Is it in both official languages?

Mr. Luc Labelle: No, it is not. What I have right now is in English, but I think the Senate has a copy in both languages. It's been translated by the Senate.

The Chair: We will obtain it from the Senate and distribute it to members.

Mr. Luc Labelle: Okay.

The Chair: We will hold this for the moment.

We are now at clause 110. It has been flagged as potentially controversial. Are there any comments?

Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I think the gist of the objection on that one is the drafting of the provisions. From what I can see, there's some doubt whether the changes that are suggested under there really improve the problem. It may end up causing more problems than it solves.

I think anything that is added to legislation that's going to make it more cumbersome, difficult to understand, or inconsistent would be controversial, and we should be staying away from it. What we have may be better than what is being proposed.

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Mr. Ed Schmidt: If I may respond to that, Mr. Chairman, the section in question essentially creates a discretion in favour of a person who files a claim. It creates the possibility of saying that even if a person has not technically complied with certain claim-staking requirements, if in substance they've done the things that are necessary, their claim can stand.

If you restrict that discretion to only a few sections, that means someone may have technically failed to comply with one of the other sections, but cannot be saved by this provision. Therefore the broader you make the application of this provision, the more likely it is that someone who's claim is substantially valid, but may be technically deficient....

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: That's good enough for me. No objection here, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you very much. That's very convincing.

Now, that takes us through in chronological order. I've been asked to go back to three clauses—two actually, and then the third would be clause 106, which is the one for which we're waiting to see the letter from the Senate. Let's go first to clause 38.

Monsieur Paradis.


Mr. Denis Paradis: Mr. Chairman, the problem lies in clause 38 of the proposal—and when I say clause 38, I'm referring to clauses 36, 37 and 38, but it's really clause 38 that creates the difficulty—which is presented to us as a name change from Canadian Film Development Corporation to Telefilm Canada.

I understand what they're trying to do here. They're trying to change the name to call it Telefilm Canada. But if they had stated that everywhere the name Canadian Film Development Corporation appears, the name Telefilm Canada would be substituted, that would be one thing, but that is not how it was done. Let me draw your attention to clause 38, which repeals former section 3 which read as follows:

    There is hereby established a corporation to be known as the Canadian Film Development Corporation—

which is replaced by another clause that says “There is hereby established a corporation to be known as Telefilm Canada...”.

I believe that the effect of this is to create a new corporation which will be called Telefilm Canada as of the date of Royal Assent of this bill, without creating a link between the rights and obligations of those who may have lawsuits pending against the former Canadian Film Development Corporation and the new corporation called Telefilm Canada.

I think the way this was done does not constitute simply a name change; it is a corporate change under which creditors, individuals who have lawsuits pending or anyone else could see their rights breached. I'm wondering about that. I will listen to what the representatives of the Department of Justice have to say before I file a formal objection.


The Chair: Could we have a response, please?


Mr. Luc Labelle: If you look at clause 40 of the proposals, you will see that we have a global amendment concerning federal laws other than this one. We could eventually do the same for the Canadian Film Development Corporation Act, but before I confirm this I'd like to consult my client. I could then confirm to the committee that this will be done. I think there's no difference.

Mr. Denis Paradis: Well in any event, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to register my objection, to the way it is drafted right now.


The Chair: Okay.

We understand exactly that as it stands, Monsieur Paradis has an objection. Justice has suggested there may be some remedy, but we will await that remedy for the moment. We have objected.

Now, to clause 59.


Ms. Éloïse Arbour: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman. Could I clarify something here? It may be simply a matter of wording, but the purpose of clause 38 is really just to change a name and not create a new corporate entity. But this should indeed be checked.

Mr. Denis Paradis: I understand your objective, but what I said earlier was that I think the objective you had is not really achieved by what I read here.

Ms. Éloïse Arbour: That was just a clarification. Thank you.

Mr. Denis Paradis: I understand. In my opinion, from a legal standpoint, you are doing much more than just changing the name by proceeding that way.


The Chair: Thank you very much. I understand there's an objection.

Now, on clause 59, if you recall, when we were having the discussion around clause 59, Mr. Breitkreuz asked to be given the opportunity to think about it for a bit. Does anyone want to pick up where Mr. Breitkreuz left off?

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Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I guess the concern again is that we seem to have a piece of legislation that called for a review by a committee of the House of Commons. I would think some people, in their wisdom when creating this legislation and having it passed through the House, saw there was a need to have matters reviewed by a parliamentary committee at some time. That's being deleted, and I guess any time you're changing a fairly major provision of a statute like that, it could be controversial. So I'm wondering why the review is no longer necessary, or is redundant, or whatever.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: My understanding, as I indicated earlier, is that first of all the review was related to the continued existence of the Petroleum Monitoring Agency, and the other earlier provisions that precede clause 59 repeal the existence of that agency. So is there any continuing purpose in having a review of the act?

The second thing I pointed out earlier was that it was referred to the first sitting of the committee of the House of Commons that normally considers oil and gas matters following February 18, 1988. I'm sure that sitting has come and gone.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Mr. Chair, I think for the same reasons as previously I had objected to this clause—

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I had an objection on that one.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: —I would, Mr. Chair....

The Chair: Mr. MacKay is going to try to convince somebody. No?

Mr. Peter MacKay: If Mr. DeVillers is objecting, terrific.

The Chair: Okay.

Now here's where we are. Essentially Monsieur Paradis has registered an objection on number 38. We have fundamentally one outstanding clause, that is clause 106, where we have not pronounced on either side of this “objection or not” issue. Based on receiving a letter now in the hands of the Senate, the options that are available for us are two. We can await the letter we would receive from the Senate and await a decision to make the report.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I object to that process.

An hon. member: I object too.

The Chair: And the letter is not going to change—?

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: It won't make any difference.

The Chair: Well, that remedies that.

Mr. Schmidt, please.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: I'm wondering whether the committee members might be open to a brief explanation of what is intended by clause 106.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I'll listen to it.

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick is all ears.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Right.

I don't want to take up a great deal of the committee's time, but explaining what was intended here may alleviate some concerns; I'm not sure.

Essentially, an addition was made of a new part, part IV.1, to the Telecommunications Act, dealing with telecommunications apparatus. The CRTC has no jurisdiction with respect to telecommunications apparatus. But, essentially through an omission—through something that was missed—they now are in a position of having to approve any prosecution that relates to telecommunications apparatus.

The existing status of the law requires CRTC approval for a prosecution in relation to telecommunications apparatus, a subject over which they do not have any jurisdiction. The correction is intended to return the discretion to approve a prosecution or not to the minister, rather than leave it with the CRTC. So it's intended to make jurisdiction over giving permission for a prosecution match or correspond with the substantive jurisdictions of the commission.

The Chair: Mr. Fitzpatrick and then Mr. DeVillers.

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Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I'm certainly not familiar with what is meant by telecommunication apparatus. My concern, coming from Saskatchewan, with some of the experiences I've had with satellite TV dishes, redistribution signals and so on, is would that constitute telecommunication apparatus?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: I would have to review the act myself to be certain of exactly what's included.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: If it is, I guess before anybody can go after a person for being in possession of one of those things, I would want the prosecution to get approval from the CRTC. It's just an impediment to people freely expressing themselves and enjoying life.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: All I can say in response is that an approval is required under the act. The question is, whose approval? The change is intended to put the person who approves back to the minister because this subject area isn't under the jurisdiction of the CRTC. An approval is still required; it's just whose approval it should be.

The Chair: Mr. DeVillers.

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Given Mr. Schmidt's explanation, I can't fathom why the Senate committee is waiting for a letter. Why would you need a letter, if it's as clear as that?

The Chair: Mr. MacKay.

Mr. Peter MacKay: This explanation is obvious. It's quite clear, even from the briefing notes, what this accomplishes. It was an error in the first instance. There have been powers granted to the CRTC that were never intended under these clauses 73, 74, and 75. It was a sloppy drafting situation in the first instance.

The difficulty, if one exists, is whether we agree to forego the criteria because according to the criteria, this clearly impacts on an individual, in terms of the prosecutorial discretion. Given the criteria for these miscellaneous statute amendments, they're not supposed to touch on subjecting a person to an existing offence.

It's a matter of whether it's proper for us to do this through this process of miscellaneous statute. I would say it's not, but given the explanation here, I wouldn't object to it. It's not appropriate that it's been brought here, but it does correct an anomaly that was an error in the first instance. For that reason I wouldn't object to it.

The Chair: Mr. Toews on this side, and then Mr. DeVillers.

Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance): As I understand it, Mr. Schmidt, the purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the person having authority is the one required to give the consent to the prosecution. It makes the consent consistent with the jurisdiction. Is that what you're telling me?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: That's correct.

Mr. Vic Toews: All right.

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick: I'll withdraw my objection.

Mr. Vic Toews: Perhaps you could also answer another question, because I think it's very important. On the legislative authority of the minister or any specific body to consent to a prosecution, is there a policy that the Department of Justice draftspeople follow as to when those types of consent should be required or should not be required? What guides you in making these kinds of determinations?

Mr. Ed Schmidt: Quite frankly, I'm not in a position to respond to that. I'm not certain what considerations played a part in the underlying policy because our goal here is not to change that underlying policy. That policy was already in the act that an approval would be required of someone, either the minister or the CRTC. So this amendment is just trying to put the right one in the right box.

I'm sorry I'm not in a position today to respond to your question.

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Mr. Vic Toews: So to your knowledge, Mr. Schmidt, you're not aware of any directive that would govern that type of provision. It's done more on an ad hoc basis. I'm not saying that's inappropriate in some way; I just want to know if drafters or policy people or officials in the department are governed by some kind of a policy as to when this is appropriate or not. Because generally speaking, as you know, any prosecution can be commenced by any individual, and there are sometimes reasons why you want to limit the right to prosecute.

I think there are numerous sections in the Criminal Code, for example child abduction, where there's a concern that there will be abuse of the prosecutorial authority by a private citizen, and therefore you require the consent of the attorney general of the province or his or her senior officials. But it seems to be done on an ad hoc basis.

I appreciate your predicament. You're not in a position to answer that right now. And if you have no other answer than what you've given, that's certainly sufficient for me at this time, Mr. Schmidt.

Mr. Ed Schmidt: I would only like to qualify one thing, if I might. I wouldn't want my remark to be taken to say there isn't a policy; I was saying I don't know whether there is one or is not.

The Chair: Mr. Peter MacKay.

Mr. Peter MacKay: This is on a different section, if we're finished with telecommunications.

The Chair: No.

Mr. DeVillers

Mr. Paul DeVillers: Mr. Chair, I think the argument has come around to my point of view. I'll follow the first rule of good advocacy and shut up.

The Chair: A very endearing quality, Mr. DeVillers.

Mr. MacKay.

Mr. Peter MacKay: We can all learn from that maxim of not opening your mouth and proving you're a fool.

There's the objection—and forgive me if this slipped by—on clause 105, with respect to the Railway Safety Act.

The Chair: It's been withdrawn.

Mr. Peter MacKay: It has been. Thank you.

The Chair: There was no objection to clause 106, as I understand it.

I seek authority from the committee to report that the committee recommends that clauses 5, 7, 8, 38, 59, 75, 76, 77, and 105 of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act be withdrawn, given that clauses 33 and 34 have already been withdrawn by the responsible department. Do I have concurrence?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Chair: That will be reported.

Mr. Grose.

Mr. Ivan Grose: I might say here, at this point, that when we do this again we should follow a different format, because what we did made it look like the members didn't sit up half of last night reading this rather long document and the only objections we had were those pointed out by the researchers. We may have found some on our own, but it was assumed, or seemed to be taken to be assumed, that we hadn't done this. I would think next time we should do it clause by clause, as we do an ordinary bill. I think in the long run it might even be faster. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much for that intervention.

Before we adjourn, I would like to distribute a proposed list of witnesses that has been the result of the work done by staff, plus some submissions from members, except those that were received yesterday. We have not had a chance to cross-reference those. This is simply as a place to start so that we can begin making arrangements to have witnesses appear on Bill C-36 next week. This will be distributed, and people can contact the office in terms of their suggestions as to how this might be improved.

On that note, unless there are questions, I think we can adjourn. We will return, as I understand it, to this place this afternoon at 3:30 to hear from the minister on Bill C-36.

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