Just so we have this in context, I would like to read clause 10:
|| 10. (1) On or before May 31 of each year, the Minister shall prepare a statement setting out
||(a) the measures taken by the Government of Canada to ensure that its commitment under section 5 and the targets set out in the target plan are being met, including measures taken in respect of
||(i) regulated emission limits and performance standards,
||(ii) market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading or offsets,
||(iii) spending or fiscal incentives, including a just transition fund for industry, and
||(iv) cooperation or agreements with provinces, territories or other governments; and
||(b) the Canadian greenhouse gas emission reductions that are reasonably expected to result from each of those measures in each of the next ten years.
Then we have this amendment from Mr. Cullen:
||(c) the level of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions in each of the following ten years to be used as a baseline to quantify the reductions referred to in paragraph (b).
We've seen, Chair, eight amendments from the NDP, three from the Bloc, and six from the Liberals. I reckon back to a comment made by the Bloc. When we heard the testimony of, I think, the last group of witnesses, I think it was Mr. Bigras--he can correct me if I'm wrong--who said that maybe this bill should be rewritten.
We heard testimony from Mr. Layton that basically he had help writing the bill, but he was basically setting targets. We heard clearly that there was no policy attached to it, that there was no plan, no costing; it was just wishful thinking to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
What we've seen resulting from that is witnesses testifying that there are some very serious constitutional issues with and that it wouldn't stand up. We've heard that it would not achieve anything. Mr. Layton equated it to the impossible dream. He didn't break into song, but I was ready to join him if he did.
In all seriousness, through all the groups of witnesses we heard a common theme: the necessity of an impact analysis. What I shared at our last meeting was the commissioner's statement about how important it is--that in order to have successful action by government, you need to have conducted an economic, social, environmental, and risk analysis. That's all missing.
What I wish we would have heard from the NDP is an admission of what we heard through all the testimony from every group of witnesses, and from what I believe was the vast majority of the witnesses: that is not going to accomplish what it says it would like to see, which is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
What I was hoping I would hear from Mr. Cullen is that he would.... With all these amendments--eight of them from the NDP--the bill is basically being rewritten. We don't know the results of the end product that we'll have. It doesn't have any critique other than debate around this table. I think it's important that it be critiqued.
I was hoping the bill would have been withdrawn, rewritten, and presented again to Parliament, because it was so badly written and so faulty. Now the same people who wrote the first draft are writing the second draft of amendments, with the assistance of the Bloc and the Liberals. I don't mean any disrespect, but neither one of those groups has a tremendous history in providing good action on the environment. We heard that also.
The committee has a responsibility to make sure the legislation that leaves here is good and that it's been critiqued. I don't want to repeat myself, but as I've mentioned, we've heard time and time again that it's very important that we have legislation that will take action.
The Government of Canada, with its Turning the Corner plan, has the toughest targets in Canadian history. It calls for 20% in absolute reductions by 2020 and 60% to 70% by 2050. Those are the toughest in Canadian history. What I particularly like about the Turning the Corner plan is that for the health of Canadians it also includes the quality of air that we breathe, both inside and outside. One Canadian death in 12 is directly related to the environment, to environmental causes, so we have a responsibility as parliamentarians to make sure the air we breathe is of good quality; otherwise, it means billions of dollars in health care costs. We also have a responsibility as parliamentarians to make sure we are doing our part globally to attack the issue of a warming climate, and this government is very committed to that.
That's why I take it so passionately that we need to have legislation coming out of this committee and going back to the House that is good. And Chair, because of the testimony we heard, I don't believe Bill C-377 is good.
I had just begun to share some of the concerns that I heard during the testimony yesterday. One of the people who shared at the committee was Mr. Peter Hogg. He was sharing with the committee the importance of the constitutional legitimacy of Bill C-377 and whether it would stand up to a challenge. He shared that he didn't believe it would. He shared that the Constitution Act of 1867 confers on the Parliament of Canada the power to make laws in relation to criminal law. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that a law will be classified as a criminal law if it has a valid criminal purpose backed by a prohibition and a penalty. As far as the valid criminal purpose is concerned, the court has held that the protection of the environment counts as a valid criminal purpose.
The purpose of Bill C-377 therefore qualifies as a valid criminal purpose. As far as the prohibition and a penalty are concerned, the question is whether Bill C-377 contains a prohibition and a penalty as those terms have been understood in the case of law. The courts have traditionally distinguished between criminal law and regulatory law, and the Criminal Code is a classic case of criminal law in that the act itself contains--
Chair, the Criminal Code is a classic case of criminal law in which the act itself contains prohibitions of various kinds of conduct. Those include theft, assault, murder, and so on.
This is in the brief of Dr. Peter Hogg to the environment committee:
||These prohibitions can be self-applied by citizens who, if they offend, will then be subject to punishment by the criminal courts. For the great bulk of offences, there is no role for an administrative body or official to make regulations or to exercise discretion. A regulatory law, on the other hand, is one that achieves its purposes by more sophisticated means than a simple prohibition and penalty, typically vesting discretionary powers in an administrative body or official and often relying on regulations made by the executive.
I think you can see the relevance that Peter Hogg is making here.
||Even if the regulatory scheme is ultimately subject to the sanction of a prohibition and penalty (as is the case with most laws), those are not the leading characteristics of the law: the prohibition and penalty originate in a regulatory scheme. On this basis, federal laws attempting to regulate competition through an administrative body and to regulate the insurance industry through a licensing scheme have been struck down as falling outside the criminal law power.
Again, that is further evidence that clause 10 is not relevant.
Chair, I want to just read his conclusion. It's quite a lengthy document, and in the spirit of cooperation I do not want to bore the committee, but he did give an example. I'll quickly skip through....
Actually, there was a very interesting case that he referred to, R. v. Hydro-Québec. My colleague to my right would remember that case quite well:
||...the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (a 1988 version of the current federal statute) as criminal law, despite the fact that the Act's prohibition of the emission of “toxic” substances was preceded by an administrative process to determine whether a particular substance should be classified as “toxic”. The Court split five-four on the issue with the dissenting judges saying that “it would be an odd crime whose definition was made entirely dependent on the discretion of the executive”, and holding that “the Act's true nature is regulatory, not criminal”. But the majority held that the intervention of some administrative discretion did not rob the law of its criminal character. At the end of the day, there was a prohibition and a penalty for the release of toxic substances.
Speaking for the majority, Judge La Forest said:
||What Parliament is doing...is making provision for carefully tailoring the prohibited action to specified substances used or dealt with in specific circumstances. This type of tailoring is obviously necessary in defining the scope of a criminal prohibition, and is, of course, within Parliament's power.
Chair, again I mention the importance for the process for meeting targets to be measured against the actual emissions reported in the National Inventory Report, rather than what's being proposed in .
Chair, it is very important that we have something that's going to work. What we have now in the Turning the Corner plan is a program that absolutely does work.
We heard from Professor John Stone. This is what he said, and I think it's also relevant to clause 10. He said:
||I certainly have been very encouraged by the words I've heard from the present government, Mr. Warawa, of their intentions to tackle this issue.
He is referring to the targets and how they will be determined. He went on to say:
||Of course, we need to cost whatever plans they have from whatever party we have and in whichever country we're talking about. That's only good public policy. I will just have to assume that whatever plans are presented to Parliament and to the Government of Canada and to Canadians are properly costed. Yes, I agree with you.
Now, this is again very relevant to clause 10. Again, it's very relevant to the importance of using targets based on the actual reported emissions in the National Inventory Report.
Dr. Stone went on to say that of course you need to cost whatever plans they have. We heard also that Bill was not costed. Chair, that was the common theme with Bill C-377. It has to be based on science and it has to be based on targets that are real. It has to be based on impact statements. He went on to say we need the cost; whatever party we have needs to cost them. He said he didn't see that in Bill , and that, I'm sure, raised a concern with everybody in this room.
|| I don't see that Bill C-377 is necessarily inconsistent with where our present government is going, nor indeed with the aspirational statements I've heard from the other parties.
||My sense is that slowly--and I emphasize slowly--we seem to be coming to a consensus amongst parties in Canada that in fact this is an issue we cannot afford not to tackle.
Well, Chair, when we're talking about targets based on a National Inventory Report, this is what I'm talking about. It's our Turning the Corner plan. Our Turning the Corner plan, as I shared, has the toughest targets in Canadian history. They are some of the toughest in the world.
Chair, Canada's new government launched a concrete and realistic agenda to protect the health of Canadians, to improve the environmental quality, and to position Canada as a clean energy superpower. Canada has historically relied on a variety of non-compulsory measures to reduce emissions. That was what the Liberals did. It was voluntary. It didn't work. However, those have not proven sufficient to reduce the--
The reason I put this motion forward was to allow members to include themselves in the debate, to allow themselves to make their points, make amendments if they chose to. The opposition parties have chosen to do their homework and make amendments where they saw fit.
You have tried several times, Chair--not several, many times--throughout the course of the debate on this bill to keep members, particularly of the government, on point, on the subject of the clauses we're dealing with. You've asked them for brevity, and that has often been ignored. In order for the House to continue to do its business, for this committee in particular to do its business, we need to allow some progress to be made.
I have stated a number of times to the Conservative members on the committee that if they would like to make changes they could do so and offer those changes. They have not done so. There are no amendments coming from government.
That homework has not been done, so this motion is put forward with some reluctance, because we would like to proceed in good faith, but we have just seen the absolute debacle that has gone on in the last number of minutes. We need to proceed through the bill. We welcome recommendations and comments, but we simply can't allow filibustering to continue.
For some other reasons that are considered around this place, our duty and our objective here, as members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, is to look at legislation before us that has to deal with the environment, and that is what we've chosen to do.
I call upon all members to seek progress in their work, to bring their intelligence to bear, and not to seek to continue to delay and obfuscate and offer dilatory motions. We need to get to this. I would encourage members to support this motion.
It appears they are in a hurry to get nowhere with a bad bill, and that's probably why Madame Gélinas said that she expected the federal government would have conducted economic, social, and environmental risk analyses in support of its decision to sign Kyoto in 1998. We found that little economic analysis had been completed, and the government was unable to provide evidence of detailed social, environmental, and risk analyses.
No wonder they didn't get it done. No wonder will never accomplish what they're saying it will accomplish, because it's an empty bill. They only want us to talk for five minutes and then cut us off. They want to change the rules, as we've just seen, and have a recorded vote showing they are voting against the Standing Orders. They're voting against Marleau and Montpetit, and it has to be done in five minutes.
Chair, it's not democratic. It's not right. It's caused a huge problem within this committee, and each of us on this committee, as Mr. Cullen rightly pointed out, is sent here to represent our community. In my community the environment is very important. I've been very disappointed with the tactics of the opposition in changing the rules. Now their latest tactic is to limit debate. It's not right.
An hon. member: It's a good bill.
Mr. Mark Warawa: It is not a good bill. Only the Liberals would think is a good bill. The bill is not good, and we've heard from all the witnesses. So the only way to deal with Bill C-377 is to send it back, rewrite it, bring it back in its new written form, and have it re-critiqued, have the witnesses called back, and then maybe we can decide intellectually whether or not Bill C-377 is good.
But what we see to this point is not good. To limit our discussion to five minutes is unbelievably poor. I'm very disappointed in a motion like that, Mr. Cullen.
Great. We were just waiting for Mr. Cullen of the NDP. He was out of the room, in the bathroom, or with the media, or something.
We wanted to take a little more time, Nathan. This requires more time than what you're suggesting. You may be of the view that it does not, and maybe there could be an amendment to that effect. But we need more time to point out some of the flaws of the bill before us.
You would probably want to take this back to your leader, too. It was a very poorly written bill, as you know, since you've even had to introduce a bunch of amendments to your very own bill. It's uncustomary, I think you know from your time around this place, to introduce such significant amendments to your own bill. It's uncommon and uncustomary. People normally bring forward a good bill. They research it well before introducing it. They've had access to the Library of Parliament. Especially the leader of an official opposition party, you would think, would get it right the first time, because he has a major research bureau as well. If they're not prepared to do the work in advance, the careful research on something so important to Canada and to our environment, then it falls to us to do our duty and take the time. To be cutting us off in a five-minute span of time flies in the face of democracy. It flies in the face of due diligence. We have a duty to get these bills right.
Even the NDP leader admitted in committee that he hadn't bothered to find out how much the bill would cost Canadians in increased gas and energy prices. That's why we need more time. The mere five minutes allotted here doesn't give us time for that. We need to bring forward some costing issues, some constitutional issues. This needs to be done because others are not prepared to honour their responsibility to address some of these very significant things.
So five minutes per clause per speaker is very inadequate to the task.
We've had a number of witnesses before the committee, and some have made it clear that the bill was too badly written to proceed. This came from the mouths of witnesses before this august body. So I think this is the bounden duty, the task, the obligation, the responsibility of each individual member. We all come here representing tens of thousands of individuals. I myself represent some 80,000 people, and I would dare not shirk the responsibility entrusted to me to look at this bill. We need much longer than the five-minute look proposed here.
Mr. Cullen keeps darting in and out of this committee, and he's the one who proposed the motion. Nevertheless, he finds it convenient to be out elsewhere—on the phone or whatever—ignoring a good deal of the recent debate, the very arguments and rebuttals that might well persuade him to amend his own motion. This is not uncommon. It wouldn't surprise us to see the NDP subamending their own amendments. They've done it in respect of this particular bill, and I think they might well choose to do more of it if only they were to listen to some of the recent debate in the committee.
Witnesses attest to the bill being so badly written that it does not deserve to proceed. Mr. McGuinty, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Regan, Francis, Bernard, and Marcel, Mr. Cullen—all have had adequate time to get it corrected. Francis is a friend and we're on a first-name basis, and that's why I address him in this familiar manner. I know he and others would take up the slack for the NDP. When you get Mr. McGuinty on a roll, bringing forward substantive things, talking eloquently, as he can do, about nothing, then we know we need more time than just five minutes. Five minutes is clearly inadequate. Mr. Godfrey, the esteemed scholar, will also need more time.
I ask you all to bear in mind that we've had a respected constitutional scholar, Mr. Hogg, tell the committee that this bill could reach into every area of Canadian economic and even social life, and that such a sweeping grant of authority to the executive, being unprecedented outside of wartime, should be a matter of political concern.
To my knowledge, Mr. Chairman, and through you to the other members, wartime is not upon us. Sometimes this committee denigrates or lowers itself so it might almost appear we're in that state, but really this is not war in the normal sense, if you will.
If Parliament were to enact a bill like this, it would be struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada, he says. And I know that would greatly distress my friends across the way, Mr. Chairman.
I know the Bloc members laboured diligently and are in fact doing research even as I speak in respect to ways they could turn and salvage this bill in some fashion to make it constitutionally acceptable, because it reaches right into Quebec life and intrudes into the provincial authority in a very significant way there.
So I know they are exercised about it. I know they are concerned about it. And for that reason as well, we need to take considerable time, more than the scant five minutes that's allowed, which is so inadequate for the task.
is back in the room again. He's back on the scene here, and he's listening carefully to these very considered, reasoned points that one makes in respect to his bill.
When he was out of the room I was inviting Mr. Cullen to consider maybe subamending his own motion. He would probably not find that a stretch, and he's in a mode to possibly do that.
André Turmel, from the Canadian Bar Association, said, in reference to targets.... And I think it's pretty important to hear what he has to say. He says that “targets should be linked to and coherent with targets set out in existing international law”. He said the targets in this bill are not. Very clearly, these targets do not have any coherent link with existing international law.
That's again reason, Mr. Chairman, why we need to have the more fulsome discussion, if you will, because these individuals have said there is not that level of detail, there's no possible linkage or coherence of these targets with targets set out in international law.
Because of that, you would expect that other members here would have something of an issue with that, something of concern to express to us in respect to that. Maybe the NDP, again, would be wise enough--one could only hope--to amend their bill even in respect to that, setting some targets coherent with international law.
I think it's important to know that when the NDP tried to write the same targets from this bill by Jack Layton, the NDP leader, and they tried to write those into the Clean Air Act, formerly , the Liberals across the way....
I'm not sure if was there. I think he was, actually. Mr. , Mr., Mr., I think, Mr. Chairman, were probably there. They voted them down because they were unrealistic. And I think that stellar performance by Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Godfrey and Geoff Regan and Mr. Scarpaleggia on that night will go down in history as a notable and important thing to have done for our country, and so it should. The Liberals voted them down because they were clearly unrealistic, and months later, they now apparently--and I don't know what the change of mind is about here--have supported those targets.
That's why the time of five minutes, Mr. Chair.... I prevail upon you, I prevail--as a possible amendment of his own motion--on Mr. Cullen, because this is not adequate time to discuss the very meaty and weighty issue of the matter of the targets here.
As the Liberals knew and as they contended previously, they are unrealistic targets. I'm not sure what they might want to divulge to us, reveal to us, disclose to us, what particular research it is, what's got into their head now that they would support it, when in fact they were so very strongly against it. They opposed it unequivocally before, and now they're for it.
Five minutes is hardly enough time to understand something like that change of thinking and to get at why the Liberals would change their minds on that issue. To get into the head of a Liberal is a difficult thing, I suppose, in some circumstances. But that's what we would hope to do and draw out here, as members back and forth trying to bring about a good bill, if possible. That's a pretty high order in this case because of the significant flaws throughout Jack Layton's bill.
Mr. Cullen, who's been advocating for it, has again escaped the room. I'm not sure where he is. The NDP might want to send somebody else in here to do--
Oh, I guess he is here. He's not at his table. I guess he is listening at this point. He's looking backwards this way.
The government is moving forward with its Turning the Corner plan, and we've tried to explain some of that. Five minutes simply does not allow an adequate timeframe to indicate where these issues are already covered off, and that we have a plan to regulate the big polluters with an absolute reduction of 20% in greenhouse gases by 2020.
All of that and many more things besides are reasons why five minutes is a mere shadow of time and inadequate to the nth degree in what we need as individual members. Five minutes is hardly enough time to open your mouth to say something of importance on some of these crucial things before us.
Because of the hypocrisy of the NDP on this poorly written bill and the collaboration, to some degree, with the Liberals.... And Mr. McGuinty respectfully listens here. It's a badly written bill from stem to stern, and they have to introduce many amendments of their own, so we need more than five minutes.
Would 10 minutes be enough? I dare say probably not. I offer to the member that 20 or 30 would probably not be enough, because I know some of my esteemed colleagues here have significant, sufficient.... They've studied this bill at great length and need lots of time. Certainly five minutes does not do justice to what needs to be put on the record and stated here, what needs to be said for the Canadian public and others here for posterity. Others along the way will be looking back, scratching their heads, and may even be quite angry and upset that we did not give this bill due deliberation and proper consideration--proper examination in the analysis of this bill. They will be greatly concerned about that.
We need sufficient time. I ask the members opposite, would 10 minutes be enough per member? I doubt it. We need 20, 30, 40, possibly more.
In any event, I think that question can only be answered as we proceed, which is to say the member's right needs to be protected with respect to what he wants to say, what he needs to say.
It's hard to measure that in terms of time, to set precise caps and limits on it. I would feel bad if, at the very moment when my honourable colleague Mr. Mark Warawa has to conclude something and cut it off because his time.... And it may be that he's gone on for 20 minutes or more, and you cut him off mid-stride with some important information he's got to share.
He's very knowledgeable on this bill, I suggest to you, Mr. Chair, because he has much knowledge and much learning on this matter. I've been with him in meetings. I know he spends some weekends here away from his constituents and friends and the good people of his riding so he can get his head around some of this crucial stuff.
So to cut him off, or to cut off Mr. Luc Harvey at some arbitrarily assigned period of time, when, in representing Quebec and the people of his riding, the good French-speaking people there.... He needs adequate time because he's an eloquent speaker. He has a very expansive vocabulary in French and in English as well. The other day he taught me some French. I was taken aback in terms of some of those tidbits, language, “man in the street” stuff. Believe me, my colleague has much to say in both languages. And he impressed me the other day, at least he attempted to, with his knowledge, his figurative speech in French, and how he could make you laugh and cry at the same moment, and at other points disgust you because of the figurative language and illusions he was using.
And then Mr. Watson, a hard-working man who worked with CBC, who worked on the line in the auto plants, he's got a very “cut to the chase”, frank way of speaking. Would I want to cut off this gentlemen, this good, fine colleague of mine, in terms of some arbitrarily assigned period of time, 10, 20, 30, 40, when he might be mid-flow, midstream, in terms of laying before us on the record something profound and significant and moving and stirring for posterity that we would all need to hear?
So this is something that would strike us to the core in terms of depriving members of privilege.
I could go on to speak of the members across the way. I've served in committee with them. Mr. Godfrey is going on to his reward, so to speak, going on to another role in which I'm sure he'll serve very well. It has been impressive, it has been delightful at points to serve with him and to have some of his profound and choice bits of information ring in my ears.
I have much more to say, but at some point we need to allow other members to take the floor.
Should I move at this point? I'm not sure if you'll give me the floor to resume at the point we started to get at. I don't know how that works, because we're not going by any rules, committee or House or whatever; we just make it up on the fly.
An hon. member: Move to adjourn.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott: So I'll move to adjourn, with the hope that, by so doing, we can have some upside-down ruling so I could have the floor at the next committee hearing.