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38th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Monday, March 7, 2005




 1235
V         The Chair (Mr. Alan Tonks (York South—Weston, Lib.))
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glen Murray (Chairperson, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy)

 1240

 1245
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Steven Fletcher (Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, CPC)
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Steven Fletcher

 1250
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Steven Fletcher
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Steven Fletcher
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Steven Fletcher

 1255
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Steven Fletcher
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, BQ)
V         Mr. Glen Murray

· 1300
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Glen Murray

· 1305
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Bryon Wilfert (Richmond Hill, Lib.)
V         Mr. Glen Murray

· 1310

· 1315
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Bryon Wilfert
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP)

· 1320
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Nathan Cullen
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Nathan Cullen
V         Mr. Glen Murray

· 1325
V         Mr. Nathan Cullen
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, CPC)

· 1330
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         Mr. Glen Murray

· 1335
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.)
V         Mr. Glen Murray

· 1340
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras

· 1345
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.)

· 1350
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair

· 1355
V         Mr. Nathan Cullen
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Nathan Cullen

¸ 1400
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Brian Jean (Fort McMurray—Athabasca, CPC)
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray

¸ 1405
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Brian Jean
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC)

¸ 1410
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         Mr. Jeff Watson
V         Mr. Glen Murray

¸ 1415
V         Mr. Jeff Watson
V         Mr. Glen Murray
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Bob Mills
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development


NUMBER 023 
l
1st SESSION 
l
38th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, March 7, 2005

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

*   *   *

  +(1235)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Alan Tonks (York South—Weston, Lib.)): Good afternoon, members of the committee, ladies and gentlemen.

    The orders of the day, pursuant to Standing Orders 110 and 111, concern the certificate of nomination of Glen Murray tothe position of chairperson of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, referred to the committee on Thursday, February 17, 2005.

    Members of the committee, just prior to my requesting that Mr. Murray address the committee, you have before you I guess the budget for this year. If there are no questions with respect to the budget--that is, what we agreed upon in terms of deputants, how much we set aside for travel, and that kind of thing--I'd entertain a motion to approve the budget.

    An hon. member: I so move.

    (Motion agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much. I wanted to do that because some members may have to exit the meeting for a while and return, and so on. Merci.

    Mr. Murray, welcome to the committee. This is actually the first time we'll be going through this process with respect to nominations. The clerk has just pointed out to me that the last time the committee did deal in this fashion with a nomination was with regard to Mr. David McGuinty, who at that time had been nominated to the round table on the economy and sustainable development.

    You continue in that tradition, and the committee continues in the tradition of having an opportunity to talk about the position and to hear your perspectives on it. I think I've indicated what the procedure is. We'll just take the same procedure. If you would take ten minutes to address the committee, then we'll go in our usual question format.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Murray. The floor is yours

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray (Chairperson, National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, honourable members.

[Translation]

    It's a great pleasure for me to take part in this meeting today.

[English]

    It's a great pleasure and honour for me to be present here. I'm glad this is, if not a first for you, then nearly a first, because it's a first for me. I sort of feel like the guinea pig in the process, in some senses.

    What I'd like to do is perhaps take a couple of minutes to tell you a little bit about who I am. I think that probably will be useful. Then I'll spend a little bit of time talking about some of the priorities that I see as being important, while understanding two things as the pretext of this. One, there's a very significant mandate given to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy by the Government of Canada that I think will be the central if not the complete task we'll be charged with in the coming years. And two, I'm simply the chair of the organization, so the ideas you'll hear from me are ones that I will be pitching to the new plenary, a significantly skilled group of people from different walks of life. I can't speak for a plenary that hasn't met, so I can only really give you my personal perspective at this point.

    Currently I'm employed by the University of Toronto, where I'm a visiting scholar. I'm cross-appointed right now in four different faculties. I'm teaching in law, at the Rotman School of Management, and in the faculties of both arts and science and architecture. I teach parts of courses on public policy, looking mostly at creative capital, regional economic development, sustainability, and urban public policy.

    I am currently engaged by the Organization of American States on a technical committee representing seven countries, the federalist countries of the Americas, looking at decentralization and the importance of local governments and local capacity in a new global economy, confronting economic, environmental, and cultural issues.

    As well, I've just been invited by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to give a paper on these issues in Paris this June.

    I'm also a columnist with the Toronto Star, and a partner in a public affairs company. Just this past year I was a guest of Ambassador Cellucci's on the VIP program, in an exchange with mayors and civic leaders in urban regions, looking at some of the stresses of urban regions post-NAFTA. I was invited to provide some expertise in the development of those cities.

    Domestically here in Canada, I was the Mayor of Winnipeg. I was one of the founders of the C-5, a group of business, labour, community, and environmental leaders, trying try to take on a discussion of the challenges facing urban regions in Canada. I think that I and the five mayors, or the group of 25 of us, from Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Toronto, were trying to start to see a more integrated approach between the infrastructure and the fiscal challenges of cities, challenges of immigration and housing, the environment, and what's generally viewed as the retention and attraction of creative people and creative capital. We realized that all of these aspects were very integrated, and we needed to try to engage both the provincial and national governments on a policy dialogue in this country that could address those things.

    I also worked very actively with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, with which my friend the Honourable Bryon Wilfert is very familiar, having been the president of that organization. I was unanimously elected by the big city mayors as their first national representative. I worked with then Mayor Al Duerr and Jack Layton to form the big city mayors' caucus, which I think has been a very significant part of public policy. I think with this Parliament and this government it has had a great deal of cachet in the development of partnerships and public policy to start to deal with some of the crises.

    Previous to that, I worked in AIDS and HIV. I was one of the founders of the Canadian AIDS Society. I'm the parent of an HIV-positive child. It's a very personal issue for me. I worked for the establishment of the global program of AIDS of the World Health Organization as well as the establishment of the Village Clinic. That's probably particularly important, because I think you start to understand with a pandemic that these issues are both local neighbourhood issues, which impact on our families and on our walks of life, and global in nature.

    One of the first challenges that I think faces us with the mandate on climate change is that one of the important roles the national round table brings, as predominantly the federal government's catalyst organization, is really to try to get the federal government more engaged with local communities and local government, from the massive infrastructure, to landfills that give off methane, to transportation systems, and to try to engage local communities, neighbourhoods, and local governments and develop policies that make sense through the national and international lens. It is to localize more of our public policy-making so that the objectives of Canadians, as reflected in the Parliament of Canada, are touching on practical changes in the way local governments and local businesses work, and so that Canadians have a good vehicle to access that.

  +-(1240)  

    Internationally, part of the mandate is to engage the international agencies more, to become more integrated with the foreign affairs department in preparing the Government of Canada and parliamentarians to engage meaningfully in COPS 11 and the development of a meaningful agenda on climate change post-Kyoto, post-2012.

    We've also been asked to do some other things, with “feebates” on automobiles and appliances and other things.

    That is a pretty big agenda for us to manage.

    There are two more quick things I'd like to touch on before I wrap up. One of them is that sustainable development is not the purview of any one walk of life in society. When Parliament engaged the national round table, there was an attempt to realize that this is as much an economic as a cultural issue; it is as much an environmental issue as it is an infrastructure issue. They involve everything from our social values on, and we have to engage business leaders, community leaders, people in the non-profit sector, labour, academia, municipal and provincial government. This is something that really touches the decisions we all make, institutionally in our lives and privately.

    What the national round table does, as a plenary of 24 people, is this. You can tap on that group of leading expertise and people of great accomplishment who have contributed significantly to one of those areas and many others. Some people there are CEOs of major energy corporations, from General Electric to Suncor; there are experts and academics such as David Bell; and there are people who have had experience in territorial and local government, such as former Premier Kakfwi and me. What you have now is a healthy lens of people such as Audrey McLaughlin, an experienced parliamentarian and former party leader who brings some understanding of the parliamentary process to that, but I think it touches on it in many ways. You have Richard Drouin from Montreal--again, a dynamic corporate leader who has had a lifetime of experience and brings a mature understanding of corporate decision-making. It is a very exciting group that we bring together.

    The final thing is that if I were looking for a major change in direction, I would like, if I could, to erase the line in a non-partisan way between Parliament and the national round table. Right now I'm simply a nominee, but once I'm appointed, within the near future, as soon as I have figured out where the washroom is over there on my visits—it's not a full-time job, I chair meetings there and try to manage the governance process there—I'm hoping to have an informal, let-our-hair-down meeting with the environment committee and with some of the other committees, such as finance and industry. I think part of our job is to serve the priorities of parliamentarians, part of our job is to be an accessible research resource for you, and part of our job is to be able to identify, both from parliamentarians individually and from each caucus, some of the research the national round table should be producing that would help advance their agenda. I know of Mr. Mills' work on clean energy, on wind power and a number of other areas. There are many tie-ins, and many of you in your partisan lives have touched on recommendations in your campaigns on that.

    So I think there has been a strong traditional interface between parliamentarians and national round tables, but I think a structure where we meet, both formally and informally, on a fairly regular basis will be useful, where you feel you can tap the national round table for its variety of expertise, and so that you feel you can play a role in directing some of the research and some of the outcomes of the work we're doing. That would be particularly useful and quite dynamic, and I think there's a strong commitment on my part and, I would presume, given the calibre of the board, on the part of the majority of the board toward that end.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

  +-(1245)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Murray, for that overview.

    We'll now go to the committee. Mr. Fletcher, I believe you have the first questions. We'll stay within the same order, with the same envelope of time, for each of the parties.

    Mr. Fletcher.

+-

    Mr. Steven Fletcher (Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

    Thank you, Mr. Murray, for coming here today.

    I would like to ask the witness to keep his answers short so that we can get through all the questions we have.

    My understanding of this process is that this committee doesn't have the power to block your appointment or such. You are essentially the government's person for this position. Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson in 2003 advised that anyone with a patronage appointment shouldn't attend at that time the leadership convention. He stated that attending political meetings in general was not considered desirable. He went on to say that the government has taken the position that those individuals who are appointed by Governor in Council to a government position, either full time or part time, must refrain from partisan political activity.

    Mr. Murray, this weekend you were a voting delegate at the Liberal convention. That is clearly partisan. You are quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press as saying you are partisan. In your introduction you said you are committed to being non-partisan, but you have already stated that you are partisan. I assume, then, that we can expect you to act in a partisan manner as the chair.

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: That's a very good question. I think it's challenging. I think all of us come to public life with the aspects we have because we want to make a difference. I know many of you have gone through a difficult process in your own party. Sometimes on environmental issues you felt so passionately and strongly about them, you had to dissent from the majority view in your caucus. I think that anyone who serves in public life ought to be thought of with great regard. I don't think most Canadians fully appreciate the kind of commitment your family makes. I think that sometimes we put partisan natures first.

    One of the things I was particularly proud of when I was mayor is that I worked in a very non-partisan environment. I was not a party member for 12 years. I had two members of the--

+-

    Mr. Steven Fletcher: Thank you, Glen; I have my answer.

    It would seem on face value that you've already broken the ethics of the position, and I think a lot of people will find that disturbing.

    Moving on, you've talked about your commitment and so on to these types of events. Mr. Murray, I have a file, which is almost an inch thick, of comments you made with regard to the last election where you said you would stay on as mayor and not run as a federal candidate. As we all know, you ran as a federal candidate.

    I have some newspaper articles and a headline in front of me, and anyone is welcome to come and see it afterwards. It says “Only job Murray wants is MP; Ex-Winnipeg mayor rules out public service job if offered it”. You've been offered a public service job. You've obviously accepted it. I think you can forgive people if they're concerned about one's commitment or what is publicly said, as there seem to be changes in the positions over time. How can you say that you are not going to accept a public service job when you now obviously have? Does that not seem contradictory?

  +-(1250)  

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: As I was saying, Mr. Chairman, I think one of the things I enjoyed and learned from in municipal politics for 15 years was working in a non-partisan environment. My executive committee has two members who were and continue to be a member of the Conservative Party and a member of the New Democratic Party, along with two members of the Liberal Party. One of the things that maybe I can bring to these discussions because of that experience is having worked in a non-partisan environment. Those of you who have been in municipal politics--I'm not the only one--can appreciate that partisanship is not really an issue at that level. That has been the bulk of my life experience.

    I haven't yet received the appointment. One of the things I've asked for, because I'm not familiar with all the details of the rules, but certainly the principle shouldn't be lost on anybody, is to get a full briefing so that as my appointment is made, I'm absolutely assured that I'm conforming to all the laws and regulations of Parliament on ethics and conduct.

    One gives up, I think, a significant amount. This is not a salaried position. This is a job chairing a committee, for which you are remunerated for your expenses and given a stipend for the days you attend meetings. So this is not employment. At my business and at the university, that's where I gain my employment, and, quite frankly, one has to take time away from that.

    As far as the round table is concerned, there are very few places in the world where you can tap the CEOs of major corporations, from the oil patch, energy companies--

+-

    Mr. Steven Fletcher: Mr. Murray, you're not answering the question directly. I'll put it more succinctly. The question is about trust. You have a record of saying one thing and doing another. You're saying now that you'll act in a non-partisan way, but clearly you have worked and do work in a partisan way. I'm sure that people who are familiar with your record in Manitoba would argue that as mayor you did in fact act in a partisan way. So you can forgive people for being skeptical about the position here.

    Mr. Murray, this position carries a three-year term. Are you committed to fulfilling the three-year term?

    Will you run for a political party in the future?

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Yes, I'm very committed to the three-year term. I think we have an enormous amount of work to do.

    I think it's very hard to be a candidate. When you are appointed to this position, you're not allowed to engage in fundraising for parties or to campaign for candidates. You really have to exclude yourself from the political process. So I would say that seeking election to Parliament would be a pretty tough call under those conditions.

    I think that for all of us on the round table--

+-

    Mr. Steven Fletcher: I realize I'm running short of time. How much time do I have, Mr. Chair?

+-

    The Chair: You have three minutes.

+-

    Mr. Steven Fletcher: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    That isn't a direct answer. A yes or no would have sufficed. Mr. Murray, you can decide to answer yes or no later on if you wish, but it doesn't seem that you're willing to.

    Mr. Murray, during election campaigns, people often highlight in their brochure their strengths and so on. It so happens that we have your election material here today. Nowhere in the material does it indicate any commitment to or record on the environment during your time as mayor. Also, it doesn't indicate, if you were elected, any commitment to the environment in the future. Isn't it odd that someone in this position would not highlight the environmental record if it's as important to you as you claim?

  +-(1255)  

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: I think the issue of the environment has been central to my campaign. I think most people would argue that the green plan I wrote for the city of Winnipeg is one of the most aggressive, complete, and integrated models. It was one of the few that was attempted to align a comprehensive urban environmental strategy with that of the federal government. It has been used as a model in other municipalities, and it has been commented on very favourably by organizations such as the Sierra Club. It was integrated with the city's economic development strategy. We worked with the International Institute for Sustainable Development. I think we were the first government in Canada, other than the federal government, to try to evaluate preferred subsidies. I apologize--the Quebec government was the first to do that.

    And not all policies failed. I took a lot of heat over user-pay garbage, as you may well remember, because I think you campaigned against that at the time. The idea was to align pricing policy to that.

    So I think I've had a pretty substantive history as far as green pricing, elimination of preferred subsidies, and waste management are concerned.

    I tried, successfully at the time but unsuccessfully since, to introduce rapid transit. Winnipeg is the largest bus-manufacturing centre in North America. We had a great technology partnership with the federal government with regard to both the rapid transit corridor as well as the urban showcase, which was to advance that.

    In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I think there is a very substantive record on environmental activism and change.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Fletcher, you're out of time now.

+-

    Mr. Steven Fletcher: As a point of information, I didn't campaign on anything dealing with garbage one way or the other.

+-

    The Chair: We appreciate that the two of you have had a rather intimate relationship of sorts within the electoral framework.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Fletcher.

    I'll go now to Mr. Bigras.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, BQ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    I'd like to continue in the same vein as my colleague Mr. Fletcher concerning Mr. Murray's environmental record. Mr. Murray seems to be telling us today that he's concerned about the environment, but we can only observe that that isn't apparent from his biographical notes. In fact, his only professional experience with environmental protection was his work from 1989 to 1992 with a consulting firm called Envirofit Inc., in which he was a partner.

    Throughout the nomination process in which you've taken part, was your political allegiance to the Liberal Party of Canada mentioned at any time?

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: When I was the mayor of Winnipeg, I encouraged citizens to get involved in a green budget project, and I oversaw development of a policy to review capital and infrastructure spending in a green context.

·  +-(1300)  

[English]

    We're very much engaged in Winnipeg in the green budget process. The International Institute for Sustainable Development developed something called the green budget process. I think we were the first municipal government--and I will stand corrected if someone knows of another--that actually engaged in a full environmental green screen, which is a very important part of it.

    We recognized the relationship with finance and fiscal decision-making. We also took a green approach to infrastructure, looking at what the environmental impacts were, switching our resources to rapid transit investment from roads and regional street expansions, looking at a compact urban form, working with the government of the Province of Manitoba, both under Gary Filmon and Gary Doer, on compact urban form development, because the province plays a particularly important role in regulating and setting those standards, and we fortunately had in our provincial government a government very committed to a new urbanist and compact urban form. We went into pricing on utilities and water. We introduced tax incentives that allowed people to write off 50% of their investments in heritage buildings and brownfields, conforming very much to the work--

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Chairman, that doesn't answer my question, which I nevertheless think was clear.

    I'm going to give you the time to put on your earpiece so that you can clearly hear the interpretation. My question was as follows: was the question of your allegiance to the Liberal Party of Canada mentioned at any time in the nomination process in which you've taken part in the context of your potential appointment as Chairperson of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy? I hasten to point out that, if you answer no, you must be aware of what you say, because here we are before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: I was a member of the Liberal Party, Mr. Chairman, for one year. I think that any activism I have in that party going forward is very limited with this appointment. As a matter of fact, it will be entirely extinguished. I had ten years as an environmental activist. I don't think the Liberal government chose me because I was a long-time Liberal activist.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Chairman, I want Mr. Murray to give a clear answer to my question, which is quite simple.

    In the context of the nomination process in which you've taken part, was the question of your allegiance to and membership in the Liberal Party of Canada mentioned? It seems clear to me, Mr. Chairman. It's yes or it's no.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Murray can answer the question in the manner he feels is appropriate.

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: I'm the first one to go through this process. In the process I was appointed as part of a mix of people.

    Maybe you'd like to elaborate.

[Translation]

I may not have understood the question.

[English]

    Maybe he could repeat it. I thought I understood it in French, but maybe I didn't. I apologize. If he could repeat his question, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Chairman, I'm going to ask my question for the fourth time. At any time in the context of the nomination process in which you've taken part regarding your potential appointment as Chairperson of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, was the question of your political allegiance to the Liberal Party of Canada mentioned? If it was mentioned only once, the answer is yes. If it's no, it's no. I want you to look us in the eye and tell us clearly and sincerely, in all honesty, whether your allegiance to the Liberal Party of Canada was mentioned at any point.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Now I understand why I was confused, and I sincerely apologize to the honourable member.

    The process is simply a question of whether or not I was available. That happened a short time ago, just a few days before the announcement. I was told that they were looking, realizing that the mass of work that had to be done with municipalities, landfills, infrastructure, but no one mentioned anything about the Liberal Party, and any activism with the Liberal Party was never brought up with me, nor was it referenced in any of the discussions with me.

    I actually haven't received even a letter yet. I've just simply received an e-mail asking if I would be available to stand for it. I then received a copy of the press release, and then shortly after that an invitation to appear before this committee. My sense is that this is more the start of the process than the end of it for me. This is the process as I understand it.

    Mr. Chairman, I think this is a very new process for all of us. I'm hoping we give everyone a lot of latitude, and maybe when this is all over we can review how we can do it better next time.

·  +-(1305)  

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Bigras, there's your answer.

    Next question.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Chairman, could Mr. Murray give us the name of the person who wrote that e-mail to propose to submit his name for the position of Chairperson. Does he remember the name of the person who approached him?

[English]

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Yes. It was a phone call from a Mr. Brian Guest at the Prime Minister's Office telling me the Prime Minister was interested in nominating me and asking would I be available and would I consider allowing my name to stand for nomination if the Prime Minister proposed it. I said I would. The next piece of communication I got was an electronic communication that just basically advised me of a press release, and I received a copy of the press release. The final piece was an e-mail--I think it was from the clerk of this committee--advising me that I was to appear before this committee today.

    The last piece, which I got quite recently, was from Mr. Gene Nyberg at the national round table, who gave me a book with copies of the act governing the national round table and the bylaws and a list of the members.

    That's been the process in its entirety at this point, Mr. Chairman.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras: I have a final question, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to know whether Mr. Murray is still a member in good standing of the Liberal Party of Canada.

[English]

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Yes, absolutely, I do have a membership in the Liberal Party of Canada. As for the other members of the round table, some have no membership and some probably have memberships in every single party around this table. One of them is the leader of one of the parties in Parliament.

    I think part of the strength that we bring is that most of us have not just been active in our lives, but many of us who have been concerned about the environment have been active in political parties. I dare say, everyone around this table has a passion for the environment, and hopefully when you leave this august house, your work here, partisan or not, will be valued and included in it.

    I think the point is I haven't spent most of my life as a partisan politician. I've had a very brief experience as a partisan politician. I think having lived in both of those worlds, I offer some understanding. I make a very strong commitment to you, as a member of Parliament and as the critic for the Bloc Québécois, to work very closely with you and to earn your respect over the next year.

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    The Chair: Mr. Bigras, we're out of time.

    We'll now go to Mr. Wilfert and then Ms. Ratansi.

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    Hon. Bryon Wilfert (Richmond Hill, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Welcome, Mr. Murray.

    Mr. Chairman, my comments will be less partisan and more to the question of whether Mr. Murray is qualified for the position. I will say that Mr. Murray and I have had an ongoing relationship in terms of the FCM; I was president at one time, and worked with Mr. Murray. I must say that when I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Murray, certainly in his comments on the 2003 budget, I would suggest was not very favourable to the government or certainly to the Minister of Finance of the day. If he was partisan in that sense, with the rather strong grilling he gave the government at that time, for which I had to shoulder some of the reaction from the minister, I would say Mr. Murray was quite non-partisan at the time.

    Mr. Murray, what I'm really interested in is why are you qualified for this position? In particular, how do you see the role of the national round table interfacing with policy-makers, with the government? What is your vision in terms of how the national round table in fact can contribute to the Minister of the Environment's stated position, which is that the environment and economic competitiveness are not mutually exclusive?

    How do you see enhancing the role of the national round table in terms of providing very specific advice to assist us in ensuring that not only do we move forward in terms of our Kyoto commitments, but certainly in the long term?

    Finally, do you see any role in terms of COP 11 for the national round table?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Thank you, Mr. Wilfert. That was an enormous number of questions.

    I think there is a huge challenge facing Canada. This is the first time I've ever been before a committee of parliamentarians, and I guess I'd also like to speak as a Canadian, because first and foremost I'm a citizen of this country and I don't get to engage all of you very often.

    One of the things that troubles me is that I think the biggest crisis facing this planet right now is global warming. I don't think it's well understood. I think there is great tension between the issues of integrating economic and environmental decision-making. I think it's extremely stressful for you in Parliament in all parties to develop meaningful policies that can meet reasonable greenhouse gas objectives, while at the same time sustaining and enhancing the economic capacity and potential of our nation. I can't imagine that there's something more important to our children beyond any other issue we're facing than that.

    I take this responsibility as chair of this body to provide good governance and good stewardship of this. I've chaired big-city mayors' meetings. I've chaired probably more committees of people who have fundamental disagreements with each other, as is the like in the municipal world, and, Bryon, you've had that experience as well. I think one of the things this needs is a chairperson who can have corporate executives sit down with labour leaders and environmentalists and academics and make sense of policy and find common ground.

    It would be my dream that we have a relationship with each and every one of you on this committee where you feel that at the beginning of the week you can pick up the phone to Gene Nyberg, or to myself or to any of the staff over there, and say, “Gee, we're really looking at how we develop the auto industry here. What kinds of information can you give us? Where can you direct us? Can you give us something that's substantive, with the development of oil resources and the petroleum industry in Alberta?”

    There are all kinds of challenges and all kinds of great expertise that can be activated. So my job is sort of a networking, nurturing, and stewardship job.

    The people on the national round table would probably tell you that none of us, in and of ourselves, has sufficient expertise in all of the areas required, or even more than two or three that would be sufficient to give you advice. We are aware of not only our interdependence with Parliament and with the corporate sector and the community and academics, but our interdependence with you. I think we're all hopeful that regardless of what your differences are, as most of you have in your political lives beyond partisan politics...you have decided that this is a fundamental issue of change.

    I have a son. I have children. I have a family. I don't want them growing up....

    I'm looking at what the United Kingdom has done. They've committed to a 50% to 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. I'm not sure that's the direction Canada should go in, but I am struck by how seriously these issues are being gripped by other nations. The implications of something like that for a resource-based country like Canada would be quite challenging and quite strategic.

    I'm gripped with a sense of urgency. I'm gripped with a commitment that I think all parties in Parliament have toward this goal, and I'm gripped with the need to facilitate, in my small way, in my rather humble position, which I'm aspiring to here, to play a role in that. I think I have some extraordinary international experience. I think I have great experience in the municipal world. I'm obviously credible in the academic community, given that I'm employed full time at one of Canada's most prestigious institutions. If you spoke to Elyse Allan, the former CEO of the board of trade in Toronto, or if you spoke to Paul Moist at the Canadian Union of Public Employees, I think you'd see people both in business and in labour viewing my appointment with some enthusiasm and seeing me as someone who is a trusted person who can balance some of the competing ideas involved.

    It's also a huge commitment for all of us. The people you are appointing to these bodies are extremely gripped with the seriousness and excitement of it, and I think what they're most hoping to see from their parliamentarians--and I don't just mean this personally, but I mean for the 24 of us--is that this committee would be one of our champions too, that you would embrace all of us with enthusiasm, whether you're an environmentalist or your background is in business, whether you're a Conservative, a Liberal, a New Democrat, or a Bloc member, whatever it is, that you see this as an opportunity for us to work together. Believe me, all 24 of us are very excited about the opportunity to work very closely with you, and we want and are counting on it being successful to make it worth our while.

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    We've all joked that we're going to put in five hours of free time for every hour that we spend in a meeting. We're doing that because we believe that this is a chance for many of us to be involved in the exciting development of public policy.

    I just want to emphasize one thing, Mr. Chairman. We're only giving you advice. We're giving you well-reasoned, well-balanced advice from 24 very different perspectives and a very dynamic and exciting staff of very enthusiastic people. We're wasting our time there if that advice isn't embraced by at least a significant number of parliamentarians as important, valuable, and worthy of feedback.

    One of the things I would like to introduce is a bit of benchmarking, so that when we're giving advice to some body there is some requirement by that body to respond to it--to reject it for a good reason so we can make our advice more effective and appropriate in the future, or to endorse it in part or in whole. I think a lot of money and a lot of resources are going to the national round table, and they only have value if there's efficacy for the outcome.

    As soon as I'm actually in the job, and as soon as I have a chance to sort of figure out where the washroom is and some of the details operationally, I would very much like to come back with the executive committee. Maybe we could have a lunch together and have a let-our-hair-down session. I would really like to understand, having been in the legislative process, what my friend Pat Martin, from Winnipeg, would be looking for. He's been a huge advocate for environmental issues. What are the kinds of expertise we could bring? Denis Paradis has been an outspoken person on green issues for a long time. How do we help that? What do we need to provide to you to help you be more effective in creating excellent public policy to make Canada an example in the world of sustainable development? To me, that's an exciting opportunity. I hope you'll embrace it with some enthusiasm, the way we have.

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    The Chair: You have just one minute, Mr. Wilfert.

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    Hon. Bryon Wilfert: Mr. Chairman, given some of the people who have been recommended to the national round table, I would suggest, whether they are New Democrat background, Conservative, Liberal, or whatever, that the only qualification they should have is whether they can do the job. Clearly, Mr. Chairman, if we were to exclude people because of their past political background of a partisan nature, the pool would be like a bird bath. It wouldn't be very deep, I would suggest.

    Mr. Murray mentioned his executive committee when he was mayor. I have a very good friend who is of conservative bent on that executive committee, and I can say that he had nothing but good things to say about Mr. Murray as well. I'm interested in his vision and his comments with regard to interfacing with the committee. I think that's what we should be judging the appointment on. Everything else is immaterial. If Audrey McLaughlin or anyone else were to come before the committee, I would suggest the same thing.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: We're out of time.

    Thank you, Mr. Murray.

    Ms. Ratansi, I'll have to get you in the next round.

    We'll go to Mr. Cullen.

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    Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thank you, Mr. Murray, for appearing before us today. This is very interesting. We're all new at this process.

    I have a short amount of time with you today.

    You have mentioned the NRT's mandate in order, as I would see it, to be able to both praise and criticize the government of the day in terms of its environmental efforts. NRT came before us earlier on the committee, and I was highly critical that they were not critical enough, that they hadn't been effective enough on mandates and recommendations coming in 2001 around finance not meeting any kind of effectiveness.

    I wanted to come here today and leave feeling assured that this wasn't an act of cronyism or an appointment. I don't know you; we've just met today. I have to be truthful with you, though, that I'm feeling less and less certain as we go, and this is not immaterial. It is important for me to feel good, to create that relationship that you're seeking between yourself potentially and the rest of the committee.

    This is a question of trust, and being able to trust the head of such an important organization, the NRT, with substantial funding. You promised the people of Winnipeg to finish your term as mayor and didn't. There is a personal career move within that, which I wonder about in terms of what is happening now with this new appointment. Obviously the Liberal folks stepped in and moved Mr. Harvard over to another patronage spot in taking on lieutenant governor of the province. There was an urban transit program you were very involved with and very forceful on, and in breaking that promise to the people of Winnipeg, the program, in my understanding, is now in serious jeopardy, if not finished. The environment has suffered by your choice, I would suggest, to move up to the federal level in a failed attempt to be here with us at this table.

    You were appointed to run; you didn't run in a nomination. Is that correct? My question goes back to the ability to both praise and criticize the government and to work effectively with all parties here in order to criticize the government. You've mentioned that it's not about the money. Clearly, this job does not compensate you as other opportunities might. It is minimal. So what is this about?

    I heard you earlier in testimony today. I'm a little fuzzy about the e-mail process and the phone. But more specifically, I want to know why I would trust your word today in terms of fulfilling the three-year term. We're in the midst of a minority government that could fall any time--this week. I want to know why I should believe that you won't leave this very important position a year from now and undo all the work that's done, when you've already broken a promise to the people of Winnipeg. I don't think this is immaterial. This is an important part of your character for me to understand: your ability to criticize the Liberals, who have done much for you, I would suggest, in moving people around and appointing you to an important attempted seat. Why would this committee be able to go ahead—moving forward, as you say—and trust you now? Why would the environmental community or Canadians in general know that we're in safe hands with that apparent move for personal advantage that has cost the city of Winnipeg and the environment in general for your decision?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Thanks very much.

    As I said, all of us serve in public life. When I left the mayor's job, it was a very difficult decision. I called in many friends and supporters from different parties and had a long discussion with them.

    I'm hoping I can effect some of the change that's required. Cities in this country are facing a huge crisis, and many of you are at this table because you came from that experience, understanding that right now the infrastructure deficit in this country is about $60 billion to $125 billion. When I was mayor we worked with the Conference Board of Canada, and I think we are one of the few cities that has an accurate read on it, down to $188 million a year net needed spending. That would be a--

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    Mr. Nathan Cullen: Mr. Chair, I just want to interrupt for a moment.

    The line of questioning I have is not around your capacity or the work you have done in terms of moving some initiative forward. It is the question of trust that has been mentioned. The reason I am losing hope, and I came here hoping for hope, is that when a direct question is put.... First, on the three-year term, you're going to do it, regardless of any election call.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Yes.

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    Mr. Nathan Cullen: Fantastic. That's good.

    With respect to the ability to criticize Paul Martin and the Liberal government, with respect to the amount of assistance or close relations you've had—enough to go to the convention—how do we know that you'll be an effective critic, considering the past nine months, ten months, twelve months, or whenever the relationship started to become closer and cozier? How do we know you will have the willingness to do that, when a fundamental trust was broken with the people of Winnipeg? A promise was made, correct?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I was in the middle of explaining that, and I think I was quite clear about the process. We had come to a point, and I think many mayors felt this way, where it was impossible for mayors themselves to solve the problems of cities. Many of us have run federally over the years in an attempt to deal with some of the fiscal challenges facing cities, realizing that only provincial and federal governments, which are constitutional governments, could do that.

    I tried for 15 years in civic politics. It was a very hard decision. We did everything. We went from 11,000 to 8,000 staff. I cut the debt in half. I took a credit rating that was A minus and one of the worst in the country--we could barely go back to the market and borrow money because we couldn't slip to B plus, which is junk bond rating.

    The Prime Minister asked me to run, and I was very clear with that.

    Would I have preferred that the election was at the end of the second term? Absolutely, but you know sometimes you change your mind. That's not breaking trust, and there is a difference.

    It's not an easy thing to deal with that kind of environment in the city right now. I really do think it's very challenging.

    As far as that, no, I think I have made a pretty crisp, clear commitment here, and I'm quite prepared to be held accountable for it. Hopefully, people understand the serious of the magnitude of that, that this is not a full-time job. Assuming that one can stay gainfully employed and do this.... This is a huge commitment above and beyond one's working life, one's family. This isn't about remuneration.

    I think this has been the sense of Parliament, largely all of you, and I know, Mr. Cullen, for you it is particularly...that somehow we have to have a better interface. The reason I was talking about that infrastructure problem was it's one of the biggest environmental challenges.

    Failing sewage treatment plants...that has happened in my city, which ended up with raw sewage in the river. A landfill in my city is the biggest in North America right now. It gives off enough methane that it would take the equivalent of 40,000 cars off the road every day, if we could just do that.

    We cannot start building these dialogues--and that's what my passion is for. In politics you have to be a good loser. Lots of people have left elected office at different points in time because they felt there was a calling and an opportunity there, which I did. I don't apologize for it. It was a tough decision, but I think it was the right decision to make. Had I been here sitting with you.... I was replaced by someone who it was felt had the favour of the people and was doing a good job. I've learned to be a good winner and a good loser in politics.

    It's a tough kind of thing. I have huge empathy for you. I'm hoping that some of that empathy and understanding of some of the stresses you deal with and the need you have for information to be effective as parliamentarians, that experience in public life, can help.

    You will have no doors closed from me. I will go a great deal of the way to earn your trust. I think it's important. More than just trust, I think we have to have a very active, reciprocal, non-partisan relationship between all of us. I'm hoping that individually, at my own expense--and I'm carrying most of this at this point at my own expense. I would like to come and spend some time with each of you who would like to spend time with me to talk about specifically how we support you. How do I support my friend Stephen Fletcher, or you, or Pat Martin?

    I think it's also good, quite frankly, that there's someone who's had some experience in western Canada coming to the table. I think there's an attempt now to bring people not just from the municipal world but from different walks of life. I've lived in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. I grew up in Montreal. I've lived in Ottawa and Toronto. I've always felt very frustrated when I've been asked to divide my loyalties and be something other than a Canadian first.

    One of the things I've understood is that we as Canadians have a great deal more in common.... I think we in the municipal world, where I have spent most of my life, have a great deal more in common with parliamentarians. I'm hoping it is those commonalties that we can build on.

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    Mr. Nathan Cullen: Thank you. I appreciate the sentiment you're expressing in terms of earning our trust. You mentioned having a change of mind. I'm perplexed by that just a bit as a politician. I know the importance when I say something of then doing it. In making the promise you've made to us today, which I appreciate, that you'll stay on, I hope you don't change your mind--in terms of the trust you've offered us today--because it just wouldn't bode well.

    The second part of my question, which you didn't get to, is around your ability to be critical of the Liberal government. They have worked with you very closely over the last 14 months, and they have been very important to your political ambitions over the last 14 months specifically. What assurances can you give in order to make me feel good that this isn't just a stepping stone for you, making sure you play friendly with the PMO?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: First, my candidacy was sought out by a majority of parties in the federal Parliament, so obviously none of them prior to the election had much of a problem with me running as a candidate. It wasn't just the Liberals who sought my candidacy.

    Secondly, I think it's just going to have to be sitting down and working with each party. I think I've known some of you before. I have a lot of respect for each of you. I did a lot of work with Jack Layton at the FCM. I think he was an outstanding president and worked in a very non-partisan way there. We all knew Jack was a New Democrat. No one closed the door on Jack. I think we all had huge respect for him, and continue to. Those are the kinds of things we bring to it. If he were sitting here with his municipal experience, I wouldn't blink about it; I don't think there would be a problem.

    We also have people of Conservative and many other political affiliations, Audrey McLaughlin and others, great Canadians there to tap on. I don't make any individual decisions; I simply chair a meeting and try to build a consensus. So the advice you're going to get is going to be screened through the eyes of people with different partisan lenses, and I think that's a huge advantage.

    If I were the sole appointee, and the all the truth and beauty of the environment and economic development was resting on my shoulders, I think your question would be a very valid one in that sense. All of us come with our warts and our imperfections. All of us have had lives. All of us have tried to make a difference.

    Mr. Cullen, I think I have to wrap it up there. Thank you very much.

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    The Chair: I think you'll have to leave it at that. That's good. Thank you, Mr. Murray.

    We now have five-minute question periods, and we go from side to side.

    Mr. Mills, you're the first one up.

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    Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, CPC): Thank you very much.

    Obviously this is a job interview, and this has happened many times before. On the foreign affairs committee we regularly call people, so this isn't some new occurrence just for your benefit.

    I guess I've been rather unimpressed. You've been asked twice about your qualifications, and have not answered either question. So let me just summarize what I've seen in my due diligence to see if you are qualified.

    I look at the last executive director and I see his qualifications; they're very obvious, and I would have no questions about them--many degrees, obviously a lot of experience. I hear that you teach a course at university but you don't have a degree. I have never found a university that would accept that.

    I notice that you were in a company called EnviroFit, which finally folded because they didn't pay their income tax.

    I notice that as a mayor you had the largest sewage release into Lake Manitoba, and basically that was under your watch.

    I see a failed transit proposal that also was under your watch, and you didn't stay around to take care of it.

    In federal politics, you said you would never take a federal appointment. That's clear. I have headline after headline where you committed to the citizens of Winnipeg that you would not do that.

    I find it interesting to look at your brochures, and they're pretty interesting, and in each of these brochures you say absolutely nothing about the environment. Now, I've been the environment critic for a long time, an environmentalist for a long time, and I sure as hell tell people that I am that, and I'm proud of it. You show nothing in here that you care at all about the environment. I put that to you. That's the record. That's there, black and white--none of this glossy crap that you've been feeding this committee.

    I'd like to see you stand up to what you stand for.

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    The Chair: Mr. Mills, please address your questions through the chair.

    I would remind the committee that we have had a very high level of civility as we have had witnesses. This is a witness, and I would ask the committee to watch the characterizations we have.

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    Mr. Bob Mills: I apologize, Mr. Chair. I guess I haven't felt quite so emotional for quite some time, because I like to be told the truth and I like it to come out black and white. When you're asked a question, answer it; don't give a whole bunch of rhetoric.

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    The Chair: Let's ask Mr. Murray to answer your questions.

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    Mr. Bob Mills: Okay. Basically, what I want to know is just how committed you are. I have a series of six questions I'd like to ask your opinion on.

    First of all, how are we going to deal with NOx and SOx, which cause the main problem with smog in places like Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and so on? What do you think of the cap and trade system? Briefly, please.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Chairperson, there were about a dozen questions in there, and I've been asked to be brief, so--

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    Mr. Bob Mills: The cap and trade--what do you think of it?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Just one second.

    I explained my credentials. I'm sorry, I don't want to repeat them and be long, because I started my presentation I think spending about half the time I took going through what I think has been a very respected career in municipal government, municipal leadership. I'd ask Mr. Mills, before he jumps to any major conclusions, that he take a chance to look at the environmental strategies, which I personally wrote with two other people, which I think were groundbreaking. I think if you talked to municipal leaders across the country they would see that--

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    Mr. Bob Mills: We have talked to them, and they're not impressed.

    What's your position on cap and trade, sulphur dioxide, and nitrous oxide? Cap and trade good, cap and trade bad, yes or no?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I would feel very comfortable giving the honourable member advice on municipal infrastructure, pricing of sewage and water, emissions relating to landfills, and many other things, which is my area of expertise.

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    Mr. Bob Mills: What do you know about the gasification of garbage?

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    The Chair: Mr. Mills--

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    Mr. Bob Mills: Well, he doesn't want to answer the last question.

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    The Chair: He wasn't getting to it, but I thought he was just getting to it.

    Mr. Murray, if you could, and then we'll go on to the next question.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I'm not going to pretend to have expertise in the areas I don't, but there are many people on the committee who do. As I said, part of my job here is to chair a process, to build a consensus, and to bring in the areas in which I have expertise and experience and where I can make a difference.

    Part of my job is not to give you technical or professional advice. That's for the staff at the national round table. Ours is to look through the lens of our experience, whether it's in municipal government or the corporate sector. There are six people who had energy companies and therefore have had experience in that. We will bring you that advice. But I think it would be very inappropriate for me, Mr. Chairman, to be giving technical advice on the environment and the economy on the fly at this hearing.

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    The Chair: You've made that point, Mr. Murray.

    For the second question, you have one minute, Mr. Mills.

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    Mr. Bob Mills: The last chairman did have the scientific background. I'd much rather have someone with a scientific background than just a political background. That seems to me the way to go.

    Let's talk about the gasification of garbage. Garbage is a problem. Landfills are a problem. You've identified that. I've been working on it for some 30 years, visiting landfill sites all over the world. What do you think of the gasification of garbage?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I think it's very important. I think that projects such as the one at Lachine, Quebec, are a real model. I think there's a need for a coordinated legislative change right now between different provinces. Some provinces have legislation whereby if you generate the energy and you have more energy than can be used in your own landfill, you basically have to burn it because in some provinces right now you can't do generation. There are also problems with pricing. I think that some of the things your party has advocated on brownfields and other things, along with protecting the economy and looking at tax credits, make a lot of sense. I am quite happy to look at that.

    One of my previous clients in my private life was BFI. We looked at some of the strategies and corporate interface they had and the difficulty in dealing with federal and provincial policy.

    That's something, Mr. Chairman, one should be writing a paper on, not giving a glib answer in about a two-minute response. If that's an area of priority for the member, as I said earlier, I would like to sit down with him and look at the research expertise of the national round table and prepare that kind of analysis for him and help support him in the changes he would like.

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    The Chair: Thanks, Mr. Murray.

    We're out of time on that round.

    Ms. Ratansi, we'll go to you now.

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    Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank you for being here. In listening to some of the questions, you might think you're at an all-candidates meeting, but you're at a job interview.

    I'd like to carry on from what Mr. Mills was asking. In terms of core competencies, what competencies do you bring to this job that make you the top candidate? That's number one.

    Number two, when this national round table gives advice, it is supposed to be advice on an environmental basis. What happens if there's a conflict? What strategies do you have in place to push forward the agenda of the environment rather than just give it lip service?

    I've kept my questions quite short.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Let's just take the example, because I agree that it was a good example that Mr. Mills used earlier. I think that's very important.

    I think there are two misunderstandings, Mr. Chairman, that I want to be very clear about. One, I'm not the executive director. That's a full-time paying job, with qualifications that require someone to be an environmentalist and to have a background in law, the environment, or science. I think Mr. Mills' questions would be extremely appropriate in that kind of situation.

    The plenary has a very different kind of role. I would argue that right now, for example, the federal infrastructure spending is somewhat problematic and that there are some challenges. Right now, if we could direct more of our infrastructure money into things like the conversion of landfills into energy centres, and if the federal government, with good advice from the national round table, could engage those provinces that have legislation that is counterproductive to that outcome, a sophisticated engagement between large municipal governments particularly who have most of the landfills, the provincial governments, with which there is problematic legislation, and the direction of federal infrastructure dollars to the proper outcomes, and the participation of public and private utilities in that process, because often you're bringing a hydro utility in or a gas company or a private waste hauler, that is something I've had great experience with.

    For 15 years in civic politics I think I constructed, working with my colleagues and others, a public policy framework and a public policy initiative that addressed those kinds of things, and we asked the federal and provincial governments as part of that policy to look at the economic and environmental policy changes, and in some cases fiscal policy changes, that were required to do that.

    I would argue that I'm among a handful of Canadians who have that kind of expertise and practical, hands-on knowledge.

    Why is this going to work? It's going to work because you have the CEO of General Electric, Elyse Allan. Ask her. She phoned me and said, “Thank God, you got this chairmanship. I need someone I can work with that I can understand. I'm very excited about it.”

    You have people like the CEO of Suncor; you have people like Dr. David Bell, who has a vast amount of expertise. What we do as a board is try to drive those things. Why would I be chair, and not the CEO of Suncor or General Electric? I think one of the things I do bring is probably I've chaired more kinds of national, international, and local meetings. I've had more familiarity with process and with achieving a legislative outcome to a meeting and an objective than maybe many other members--not all, but maybe other members.

    The difference between the chair and the other members of the plenary is my job is to chair the meeting. My job is to ensure the agenda is set. My job is to be prepared to put some extra time in to do that, for which I am remunerated for my expenses. I get a stipend for the time of my meeting and half a day's pay for probably what is often, I am told by people who have been involved in this before, two or three weeks of prep time and a great deal of commitment. That's what I bring to the table.

    It would be inappropriate for anyone on that round table to say that this is an environmental issue. It's not just an environmental issue. It's as much cultural. It deals with constitutional and legal issues. There are huge sensitivities in working right now with the Quebec government and municipalities. We've always respected that there's a different dynamic in that relationship.

    So it's a matter of having that kind of sensitivity that one is going to be able to work in that environment. I think I bring that to it. I think I have some expertise in public policy. I'm quite prepared to be judged on it. I wouldn't be too hasty. I am looking forward, and I have huge respect for you. I've read some of the things Mr. Mills has said, for example, on wind power. I think he's right on the money. I support many of the things he is advocating.

    I know much of the work you've done, Yasmin.

    I'm very excited about the opportunity to support and work with you to help you realize some of the objectives you have. I think I can do that. I hope you would never close the door to preclude that opportunity.

    And yes, of course, I have to earn your trust. Wherever I came from, I would have to earn your trust and respect over the next few years. That's certainly something that anyone in this job would do, and you have a strong commitment to do that.

    But just realize that you have 24 excited, enthusiastic people who are volunteering a huge amount of time to support you in your job. We are simply giving you advice as the technical and professional staff, as the environmental expertise that can answer the more technical questions. The board does not pretend to be a centre of technical expertise, but it tends to be a catalyst, a place for the private sector, the public sector, academics, and business leaders to talk to each other. My job is to facilitate that discussion, not to pretend to be an expert on the environment or the economy.

·  +-(1340)  

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Murray.

    Thank you, Ms. Ratansi. We're out of time.

    We'll go to Mr. Bigras.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it seems to me that, when a person is appointed to the chair of a national round table, that person has responsibilities that go beyond drawing up the agenda. That person doesn't merely play a facilitator's role or give the stakeholders around the table permission to speak. When a person is named to that position, it's because that person is supposed to have a vision of the future.

    What I can conclude, 20 minutes before the end of the committee meeting, is that Mr. Murray very definitely has qualifications: he's talked to us today about municipal infrastructure, he's talked about sewers, he's talked about a certain number of fields of action in which he appears to be very knowledgeable.

    However, I'm going to read the news release from the Office of the Prime Minister setting out the mandate of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy: “[...] the NRTEE [shall provide] advice and recommendations in the development of a long-term energy and climate change strategy for Canada.”

    That's what we would have liked to hear you talk about: the mandate that was given to you. What do you know about climate change? Can you tell us, for example, what Canada's international commitment is in the fight against climate change? How do you think, and how do you wish, Canada should go about achieving its objectives?

[English]

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I think we have to start getting Canadians and Parliament on the same page as to the seriousness of the outcome. I think our first challenge is some serious and clear messaging. When I started to chat with people who had been involved in this before and some of the people who phoned me after, who were appointed at the same time I was, especially from the corporate community, I was surprised that one of the things they said most often was, “Since I got this appointment, and I work in the energy patch, I am amazed at how few people who work in the energy industry have the kind of understanding that I would expect them to have of the problem and the challenge.”

[Translation]

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    Mr. Bernard Bigras: That's not my question. Can you tell us what Canada's international commitments are with regard to climate change?

[English]

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    Mr. Glen Murray: If you look at the predominant science right now, the predominant science says that in the next 30 years--

[Translation]

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    Mr. Bernard Bigras: Mr. Chairman, first, I'm announcing to Mr. Murray that Canada's international commitment is a six percent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990. So I'm announcing to him that that's Canada's international commitment.

    Second, how does he think Canada could achieve its objective of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by six percent relative to 1990?

·  +-(1345)  

[English]

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I'm sorry, I misunderstood the question. I thought he asked about where I thought we were going beyond that.

    The mandate we were given by the Government of Canada, and I think it was one that was intended to be consistent with the majority view in Parliament, was to look beyond 2012, which is beyond the greenhouse gas reduction requirement. Between now and 2012, beyond implementing current provincial and federal policy, there's not a lot that can be done right now. The round table has given its advice on that. We have given two reports on climate change, which I'm sure people here are familiar with, and the extent to which members of Parliament have supported that or implemented those recommendations are there.

    I've been asked the question, is it our job to criticize the government? We have been criticized as a round table of being “green lite”. No, that's not my view of it.

    An hon. member: What is your view?

    Mr. Glen Murray: Give me a little latitude to answer your question. I want to make sure I understand it. And if I'm covering a little more ground, I'd rather cover it twice than leave it out.

    My challenge, and I think the big challenge for all of us—I would hope it is, and if it isn't then tell me now, because I'd like to know—is when Britain committed to a 50% to 60% reduction to avoid a 2% increase in global warming in the century and to hold to that, that's a huge challenge. The level of dialogue between the private and public sector to achieve that is huge. I see my job as chair with this board, as a team, is to be the catalyst. That's what you've asked us to do to define that.

    I gave you, at the beginning, my vision and my concern about my children and about the liveability of this planet. I am not the Minister of the Environment, I'm not the Minister of Industry, and I'm not the opposition critic. I will never criticize you or your parties' positions. Our job is not to be critical of the government or the opposition. My view of our role is to be a trusted adviser, to provide you with the expertise of our staff and our executive director, who are the technical experts, seen through the eyes of those of us, 24 of us, who have walked through the lives of corporate Canada, municipal government, academia, and to give you, through those filters, views of people whose life experiences I think are relevant. I can tell you a little about how this might impact on a municipal government. Alan Amey can tell you a little bit about the perspective of climate change in Alberta. Elyse Allan can tell you about the perspective of corporate Canada and manufacturers on those kinds of things. We can give you informed advice that is not only scientific, but captures those kinds of experiences.

    The mandate and the vision that Parliament has given us doesn't leave a lot of room, once you've added what this committee would do, for a lot of us to have big dreams beyond that. Quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, our job as a board is to give you advice on the vision and mandate you've already given us. That's a challenge in itself.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bigras.

    Mr. Paradis.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    First, I'm very pleased that Mr. Murray has stated that the mandate of the Chairperson of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is not to criticize the government, but rather to provide advice and recommendations. I think everyone would agree on that.

    Earlier I heard our NDP friends ask how he could criticize the government when he was a Liberal candidate. That's not the work we want to give him. The work is to provide advice and recommendations to the government.

    Second, I would emphasize that it's also a chairperson's job. Mr. Murray moreover explained that very well. When you want to chair an organization, I think it's important to have facilitation skills, to be able to shape consensuses and establish dialogue. I believe we've seen that Mr. Murray has played that role in his career. He saw it quite recently in the context of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and as the representative of the City of Winnipeg.

    We have before us a candidate who is a businessman, who has been in politics, who has been the mayor of his city for a long time. He was also a candidate in the education field, at the University of Toronto. I am very pleased to see that he has also worked internationally. We're talking about environmental issues today, and we definitely can't disregard our international role.

    Talking about the international scene, I have a little problem in my riding concerning an American sanitary landfill, a disposal site, located near Lake Memphremagog. If the Americans triple the size of their disposal site, that will jeopardize the quality of the water on the Canadian side. If that's the case, of course, I think that, if the government one day seeks the advice of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a chairperson who has knowledge of the municipal environment and waste management is reassuring, Mr. Chairman.

    My question is simple. You're the chair of an organization that has employees and a board of directors. What's the place of bilingualism in your organization?

    In closing, I simply want to say that, if Winnipeg can provide us with two excellent representatives, an excellent member and an excellent chairperson, so much the better and bravo!

·  +-(1350)  

[English]

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    The Chair: Go ahead, Mr. Murray.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Thank you.

    The City of Winnipeg is officially bilingual. The management committee and the mayor's office operate in English and French. I believe it's the only city in Western Canada that is officially bilingual. That's very important. In fact, it's important for me to improve my French. I intend to spend a month in Quebec City this year, at Laval University. I was born in Montreal and I'm proud to be a Quebecker. I'm a federalist, and I think that Quebec is important for Canada. Quebec is unique. It had different dreams and hopes; I respect that.

[English]

    When I worked with mayors across the country, one of the things, I think, if you talked to Mayor L'Allier or Mayor Tremblay.... I'm sorry if my French is funny. One of the things I always say to people in western Canada is it's better to try and to have people laugh at you than not to try at all.

    One of the things I grew up with, as a gay man, and one of the things I was particularly proud of in Quebec was that we advanced human rights there very quickly. In my lifetime, I've gone from someone who really couldn't participate.... I've lost jobs and apartments in my life because I was discriminated against. I think one of the hardest things to be robbed of in your life is the ability, just because of something in your character, not to have access to institutions and be able to contribute to your community.

    I have to be really honest with you. I celebrated in some ways when Steven was elected. I think what he's accomplished is extraordinary. I think that sometimes we allow partisan politics to get so ahead of us.

    I think this is a huge honour. I never imagined in my lifetime I would be able to chair a national body. I realize that I have huge inadequacies. I wish I could tell you I have three degrees in environmental science. I don't bring that to the table because I spent my life doing a lot of other things that I think are of equal value. But I've learned enough to know what I don't know. I know that on this board there are people who speak other languages, who understand different things, who have corporate experience. I know there are academics who understand science.

    I also have a huge amount of respect for each and every one of you because I have something to learn from each and every one of you. If you talk to people who have worked closely with me, such as Jay Eadie or Bill Clement or Dan Vandal, or people who have worked closely with me at the FCM—Al Duerr, Phil Owen, Mel Lastman, Pierre Bourque, Gérald Tremblay—I think what they would all tell you is that I was a very accessible mayor, that I was the one mayor who would fly across the country when there was a problem to go and meet with the other mayors.

    I've only spent a day with the staff. I came up just to ask questions and so I could be a little bit informed when I came here. I know what I don't know. But I do know what I do know, and I do know that it's long and hard to make this environmental and economic policy work, understanding that the city context and land use planning and those things are really critical, and having someone who has got his hands dirty putting those things together in the real world for many years is important. And knowing that I know what I don't know is also important.

    So I apologize for my inadequacies. I'm hoping that you will all feel comfortable working with me. I certainly look forward to working with each of you.

    Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Murray, I would just like to, if I may, make an observation. We mustn't get into apologizing for inadequacies; otherwise this committee would spend a lot of time talking to each other about such. But we do appreciate your frankness.

    We have five minutes left, and I need to get some direction from the committee. I'm sure there are other questions, but Mr. Cullen would be the final questioner. I've been made aware that Mr. Mills has a notice of motion he would like to deal with.

    If I may, there are some members who haven't had a chance to ask any questions, and we always try to shoehorn those in. If I might ask the committee if I could have unanimous consent, Mr. Jean has indicated that he'd like a question, as has Mr. Watts.

    And Mr. McGuinty, you haven't asked a question. Did you wish to? No. Okay.

    Could I have unanimous consent that if we could just go back, we'll have Mr. Cullen, then Mr. Watts, then Mr. Jean, and then we'll deal with the notice of motion?

    That would bring us to Mr. Cullen, and then our two colleagues.

·  +-(1355)  

+-

    Mr. Nathan Cullen: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Mr. Murray, I was going to promise you that it was almost over, that this would be the last round, but I can't make that promise.

    This is taking place in the context that we're watching the Gomery inquiry go on. We can see what happens when bad patronage appointments get made—lots of money goes astray and people unqualified to the position show up for various sets of reasons. I think that's the context you step into, due to no fault of your own, and the suspicion that goes through the committee—some parts of the committee anyway—to not apologize for your appointment, but to scrutinize it and make sure this is not another part of history repeating itself. You are a doer; you get a lot done. That's “doer” in the sense of the verb, not proper noun.

    My question is around this. Clearly this job is, as you have said, not about the money. It's not about the career within the Liberal Party. This is something you wanted to do. It's clearly about the environment. You've said that the NRT is about being a catalyst and giving advice to the government to push its agenda forward.

    In my view and that of other folks on the committee and people within the environmental sector, it has been ineffective to that point on some fundamental things. I'm wondering if you can characterize for me your opinion on Canada's effectiveness in meeting its Kyoto obligations to this point.

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: I think there is probably a general consensus that there's a deficit between where we are and where we ought to be. As it's just come into effect in the last month, the challenges are huge. I think what's happening with COPS 11 right now, in the preparation for it, is that most people are focusing on beyond 2012, and our job right now is to have in place by the end of this year--a very short period of time, so a huge challenge--recommendations to the government, to the Prime Minister, and to all of you on how to meet those, post-COPS 11, and on how to develop a framework that engages the United States.

    I've done some work with the Organization of American States and have gotten to know Paul Durand, our ambassador there. I've spent some time just talking to him about how you engage that. What I would be particularly interested in....

    I mean, if this committee says we should go back and look at measuring how far we've come, and why we haven't been as successful as many might have hoped, we can do that. But I guess my sense, and my advice strategically with that, would be how do we start to meet the emerging challenges, and how do we start getting the Americans and the Chinese, who are going to be the real drivers of this, to the table? I think that's the core of what we're charged with. Just answering that question for the staff and the board is a huge challenge in and of itself.

    Again, I don't see that the job is to criticize you. I see this as the place where you or Mr. Bigras would feel comfortable phoning up and saying, even partisanly, look, we're trying to develop a strategy on this. Then we would provide you with good science and good information, using the board's multi-sectoral lens to provide you with that advice.

+-

    Mr. Nathan Cullen: The recommendations that come along with you are.... You've been effective at your job, I would say, over the years. You've done some things. You've advocated. You've spoken very strongly about being a gay man, about being able to push agendas forward and get things done within the region of Winnipeg and in your role as mayor. You've been effective at moving things forward.

    My concern and my question is this: within this job, what tools will you use if criticism is not available to you...? And thank you to Mr. Paradis; I asked the question three times and got an answer from a committee member, which was unfortunate and frustrating, because I was asking it directly of you.

    To my mind, the NRT--and I'm sure I'm not up for any jobs there any time soon--has not been effective in promoting key things in our strategy to meet Kyoto. For instance, the tax regime we have in this country is a completely ineffective regime, by the auditor's own report. If you're not allowed to criticize, and you're a person who likes to get things done, I foresee huge frustrations for you.

    You also undersell your position as chair. I've chaired important groups as well, and the chair is an extremely important person, with their own outlook and their own perspective on whatever is in front of the committee.

    If you're unable to criticize in your job, and you're someone who likes to be effective in your job, and to this point the NRT has not been effective in pushing important facets of Kyoto forward, I have great concern for you and your happiness in going to work.

¸  +-(1400)  

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Thanks very much.

    You know, I've laid out for you many technical qualifications. When I worked on AIDS and HIV, I remember being greeted by a minister of the crown who said this was a moral issue, not a health issue, and there would be no federal commitment to it. If we'd taken that as an answer, I think we'd have had an epidemic ten times worse than what it was.

    We started the Canadian AIDS Society. We built an AIDS clinic as a volunteer group. In five years I and about 20 other very committed people built a national response, coast to coast to coast, to a terrible epidemic. I'm very proud of that; we worked cross-culturally, across the country--in Quebec, in British Columbia, everywhere.

    I then took on the challenge of the big city mayors' caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, working with Bryon and many other people. I think it would be fair to say that I was one of the key players in delivering the infrastructure agreement, and the drive for a gas tax, and building a consensus among the mayors.

    When I've taken something on, I've done it. I've always viewed criticism as a last resort. When you're a politician, it's a tool to you. I'm not a politician. My job is not to criticize any member of Parliament. My job is to ensure that you get advice and expertise through the eyes of consensus from a multi-sectoral board so that you can build good policy.

    I go to bed sleeping well if Mr. Mills, who may want to criticize the government, or who has a proposal on wind energy, is well informed by the expertise at the national round table; that's terrific. If Mr. Bigras has an issue relating to water quality within the St. Lawrence River, and some of the challenges are air quality, we ensure that he's as armed as he can be, that he's as effective as he can be. The same goes for you, and for the government. And Mr. Paradis and Ms. Ratansi have ideas.

    Often I think what we find frustrating in Parliament is that we don't need more criticism--when we're politicians, we get all too familiar with that no matter where we sit in the House--but we wish for good, informed policy. If we can get that, and get the expertise seen through the eyes of corporate and municipal and community and academic leadership, that would be a rare and extraordinary resource.

    So I can't do both those functions. I can't be a critic and also a trusted source of information.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Cullen and Mr. Murray, thank you.

    We now have just ten minutes, because we do have to get to question period. I'll go to Mr. Jean and then Mr. Watson.

+-

    Mr. Brian Jean (Fort McMurray—Athabasca, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Thank you, Mr. Murray, for attending today.

    I am unlike some of my colleagues who find it surprising that you left politics in Winnipeg. I quite frankly understand why you're leaving Winnipeg, from what I've seen in the brief time that you've been before this committee as a candidate.

    The largest negative environmental impact in the history of Winnipeg was under your watch. I even believe the City of Winnipeg was criminally charged for that particular action of a week's worth of waste being poured into the eleventh largest freshwater body of water in the world.

    Sir, my first question--and I have two--is that you in essence screwed up as the mayor of Winnipeg to allow this to happen on your watch. Now we're going to appoint you to a national body to take care of Canada's environment. Doesn't that seem a little bit strange to you, sir?

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Not at all. I had campaigned for 15 years—long before sewage treatment plants failed and water systems failed—that there was an inappropriate level of funding of infrastructure. Unfortunately, I don't think those voices get heard until you have a Walkerton, until you have those kinds of serious problems. I think if you read the evaluation of that, you'd understand it had absolutely nothing to do with the management and staff who were responsible for it, much less to do with the political.

    I think there will be a lot more of that happening in Canada if we don't see a stronger commitment from the federal government to work with municipalities and we don't start to link infrastructure with the environment. And understand that there was a sewage pipe that cracked just a few weeks ago in Winnipeg. I don't think I would lay that at the feet of the current mayor because in the brutally--

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    Mr. Brian Jean: It's different, wouldn't you say, sir? This is a situation for--

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Quite frankly, I would be happy to sit down and talk to you about many of the challenges placed on the environment by the poor condition of infrastructure in this country.

    I wish that many people and parties in Parliament--and I'm not going to take political shots--were actually even showing up at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meetings to hear these things before these problems started.

    I'm not interested in a blame game. That's one of the reasons I'm really pleased to not be in politics, but to simply say to you--

¸  +-(1405)  

+-

    The Chair: Well, just a minute. No, no, please, Mr. Jean, you ask a question, you have to allow for the answer.

    Mr. Jean has indicated he is satisfied, at least with that answer. He has a second question, Mr. Murray.

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: I'm sorry.

    I think if you look at the pricing of water and sewer, we were significantly increasing the amount of money annually going into that utility to fix these problems. Maybe if I'd been mayor ten years before, these things wouldn't have happened. Part of the problem for people coming to local government today is that the infrastructure maintenance deficit for anyone coming into office is a huge challenge. Without breaking the backs of taxpayers, trying to find solutions to these things before these things happen is a major challenge.

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    Mr. Brian Jean: Actually, Mr. Murray, I understand that not only did it discharge for a week into the lake, but it also could have been avoided by Mr. Alcock. I think there were some issues in the newspapers that this particular thing was avoidable.

    Nevertheless, sir, my second question is this. You're currently conducting some business arrangements. I'm wondering, sir, when you plan on having those business arrangements concluded and if you could share with us the names of the groups, the lobby groups, you're conducting these business arrangements with.

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Pardon me?

+-

    Mr. Brian Jean: You're negotiating some business arrangements currently, sir.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Am I negotiating business arrangements currently?

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    Mr. Brian Jean: Yes.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I currently own a group called the Glen Murray Group that does some public affairs consulting. It doesn't do lobbying. I'm not a registered lobbyist.

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    Mr. Brian Jean: You're currently negotiating with that firm.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: There's a firm called Navigator that has approached me about an agreement to work collaboratively in a strategic alliance on some of the files that we handle. Yes, I am currently negotiating with them. I haven't come to any conclusion.

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    Mr. Brian Jean: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: I haven't come to any conclusion.

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    Mr. Brian Jean: What is Navigator? What do they do, sir?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: They do public affairs consulting.

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    Mr. Brian Jean: They are a lobby group, are they not?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: No, they aren't. They're not a registered lobby group. They don't do lobbying as far as I know.

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    Mr. Brian Jean: What do they do, specifically, sir?

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    Mr. Glen Murray: They work mostly with professional associations, unions, businesses, and give them strategic advice, help them with public affairs challenges, public relations, communications campaigns. They do advertising, strategic stuff.

+-

    Mr. Brian Jean: Which government?

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: Mostly provincial right now. I'm very early on in discussions with them, so I'm not familiar with their client list at this point, or exactly who they are. In my business I was getting some clients who were significantly more than I could handle and was looking for a strategic partner. They're the folks I'm looking at working with right now, yes.

+-

    Mr. Brian Jean: So your business right now is negotiating with, in essence, a lobby group of some description, Navigator, to enter into a financial arrangement to continue on—

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    Mr. Glen Murray: We haven't determined that—

+-

    Mr. Brian Jean: —user fees or to apply contracts. What specifically—

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    Mr. Glen Murray: What we're negotiating right now is for them to carry some of the files and contracts that I have jointly with them, to provide some staffing resources to do some of the work that we're doing.

+-

    Mr. Brian Jean: Are you going to exclude any federal government contracts with this particular firm? Are you going to be passing those off to them?

+-

    Mr. Glen Murray: I may have to give up any business investments that I have. I'm not sure what the limitations are in detail at this point, and certainly not in substance. That's one of the things I'm looking forward to. Once I'm appointed, quite frankly, I would expect that I'm going to have to go through any business involvements I have in detail to ensure that I'm fully conforming with the law. It's my intention to do that and to be conducted by that.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Murray, I'm going to have to cut you off.

    I'm sorry, Mr. Jean, but Mr. Watson has the final question.

    Mr. Watson.

+-

    Mr. Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's becoming a bit of a habit.

    I thank the committee for unanimous consent to allow me to have the opportunity to ask questions today. I know that's a little extra sacrifice for all the rest of you to stay a few extra minutes. I'll try to be brief, knowing that we're in the home stretch here.

    We talked about this being a job interview. One of the interesting things about becoming a member of Parliament—and I had never really thought about it very much—is that I became an employer as well. I had to go through job interviews for staff. In fact, I think I was so tough that one who interviewed for my EA position withdrew his name because he couldn't withstand the grilling. But sometimes part and parcel of sitting in on a job interview is that you are going to have to take an awful lot of heat.

    I've been interested because there are tangibles and intangibles that you look for when you are hiring somebody, of course. I've been watching some of the intangibles today. I've been watching your body language. I've been watching the way you've handled the scrutiny and the pressure here today. Granted, it has been tough and it has been heated, but your responses were very telling to me. You were glib at times, you were cutting, and you were agitated. I'm trying to square that with your notion that you're going to serve us as members of Parliament. If one can't take the heat, then one needs to get out of the kitchen. If that's what you call service, then I can't see how you could serve me as a member of Parliament. Can you square the circle for me?

¸  +-(1410)  

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Absolutely. I'm sorry if it appeared that way. That certainly wasn't my intention.

    I have enjoyed today, actually. It wasn't anything I didn't expect. I've been in politics enough locally to know it's even more brutal down there. As many who have been in local politics will tell you, there isn't the guardedness there, and there are often many more dark corners in which people take people out.

    I also understand the partisan nature of this, and I'll tell you that I think you've all done a good job. I think you've all responded in ways one would expect one to respond.

    What's important to me, Jeff, if I can be so familiar—and feel free to call me Glen, Mr. Watson, honourable member—is that I tend to be fairly informal in my approach, and I will be contacting you once I get my appointment. But you have to realize right now that I'm still a prospective. I'm in this twilight zone of “sort of there, sort of not”.

    I would like to meet with each of you. It's my hope that, with the environment and industry critics for each of the parties, I would like to see an advisory board to the national round table. That board would really have two functions: one, to make sure we're meeting some of the concerns that you have; and two, to provide research and to actually learn from the experience of this committee, thereby having you give us that kind of advice.

    I'm hoping you'll find me to be a fairly approachable person. I think we'll have a very good working relationship. I'm very excited about that. I'm hoping that if you give me some chance to spend some time with you one on one, I can buy you lunch one day and we can get to know each other a bit better.

+-

    Mr. Jeff Watson: Okay.

    Moving on to some of the tangibles here, though, I'm having trouble squaring the circle in another regard. In some respects, on your position of chairing this board, you've described it in almost passive terms because we have all these great experts. But then you turn around and say your job is about setting the agenda.

    Really, the chair's position is about setting the agenda, but that takes some knowledge of issues and some knowledge of how to prioritize those issues. I'm having trouble considering how you can evaluate what those priorities are when you won't answer questions about cap-and-trade. We have mentioned “feebates”, for example. I'm going to ask you a question about them because I'd like to know where you come from on the issue of fee rebates.

    I'm an auto worker by trade. I'm currently on leave to serve my country and my communities. There are thousands of people in my riding who deserve to know what you know about the auto industry and fee rebates specifically, and whether they're a good idea or not, or whether or not they're going to end up as a priority on the agenda.

    You're the chair. You're going to be setting the agenda. That's why these questions become important. I think you can understand why we're frustrated on this side when we don't get direct answers to them.

    I'm going to put that down to you now. On fee rebates, what do you know about the auto industry? Are they a priority? You're going to set the agenda.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: Part of my hesitation isn't a lack of knowledge. It's that I am a chair of a group that has to have a considered view of things, and when I speak at this committee I will not be speaking for myself, after this meeting. I've also been avoiding getting into technical discussions that may not reflect the board, because when I come and give you advice here, it's--

¸  -(1415)  

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    Mr. Jeff Watson: I'm asking about whether it's a priority, though.

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    Mr. Glen Murray: But let me just answer the question. I think it's an important question, and I try to give latitude both ways. So when I reflect, or when I'm here, once I wear this mantle--and I guess I'm almost starting to wear it now--when I walk in here, what Glen Murray thinks doesn't really matter. What the consensus is of the plenary is very important. But rather than avoiding the questions--and quite frankly, to some extent I have, because I thought it was inappropriate for me to answer and I don't want to colour outside the line--let's just talk about “feebates” for a second.

    Part of the problem is in class. And one of the things I understand is it's hard to put SUVs against Priuses or hybrid vehicles. So if you introduce them, one of the issues is, most people feel they should be within class--best SUV against worst SUV. If you're going to do a taxing mechanism, some people feel that fee rebates is not a very effective one because they're kind of difficult to implement and they create difficulties in determining class; that taxing the bad SUVs, if I can say that--the gas guzzlers, the high emitters--to doing that...; that one of the challenges is integrating them between different classes of vehicles. That's a huge challenge in the industry. I'm very up to speed on it. I'm very aware of it. I have some experience in dealing with that.

    One of the other things that is easier to do is generally there is a recommendation and feeling that we shouldn't start with vehicles right away, that we should start with appliances, because refrigerators to refrigerators, freezers to freezers, stoves to stoves is easier. You're getting into a discussion about that. I can probably bring some relevant discussion about some of those challenges within a municipal environment. But you know, the person you probably really want to hear from on appliances, for example, is Elyse Allan, from General Electric, who is sitting right there. My job is to make sure that folks who have those kinds of experiences.... If you're asking me, do I have a fairly good understanding of feebates versus rebates in some of the debates--and there's a strong feeling right now that rebates on automobiles are more important--absolutely.

    We should probably set aside two days if you want to get into my views on any particular file or emissions trading, cap depreciation. I'm not an idiot. I have a considerable amount of experience in this, and people who know me, who've heard me give speeches on this--and I would gladly send some to you--know that I have a certain level of competence in it.

    But I think what's useful for me, Jeff, is that there are people on the board who have so much more experience at this, that coming back to you with a really informed view, seen through all of those lenses, is probably more useful than that.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: I appreciate that.

    Mr. Watson, I'm going to have to cut if off now, on behalf of the committee.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Murray.

    Mr. Mills, you have a notice of motion?

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    Mr. Bob Mills: Yes. This is a notice of motion to be voted on later.

    Basically, I want you to know, Mr. Murray, this is not personal.

    Due to the fact that Mr. Glen Murray has no significant or relevant experience in environment-related fields or study, this committee calls on the Prime Minister to withdraw Mr. Murray's appointment to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

    I submit that for a vote.

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    The Chair: Okay. We'll take that as notice for the next meeting.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Murray, for being here.

    Thank you, members of the committee.

    We'll adjourn at this point.