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CANADA

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development


NUMBER 019 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
39th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1540)  

[English]

    I call the meeting to order.
    (On clause 10—Minister's statement)
    Members, clause 10 has amendment NDP-15 on page 16.
    I would ask Mr. Cullen to start us off by explaining his amendment.
    Committee members, clause 10 talks about baselines and when the government will have to publish its reductions, targets, and everything going forward over five years. This amendment establishes an addition to clause 10 to allow for greater clarity to confirm within the bill and to the government what baseline must be used, so there's a consistent reference point going forward.
    It would seem that if governments in the future need to be more accountable for their climate change targets and performance, allowing the baseline to be absolutely or totally clear will give both the Canadian public and civil servants something to benchmark.
    I will read the particular amendment, so that everyone is on the same page. It proposes adding a new paragraph 10(1)(c):
(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).
    So what this does is say that there will be a moving target—depending, of course, on what the reductions were in the past—and that the baseline is confirmed and public, and there's no dispute about it. We've had too many conversations about baselines in this country and not enough about the action required.
    So on page 5 of the bill, we're adding a new paragraph 10(1)(c), as amendment NDP-15 proposes. That is on page 16.
    Correct.
    Mr. Warawa.
    Thank you, Chair.
    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 Bill C-377 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 Bill C-377 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.

  (1545)  

     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--

  (1550)  

    Mr. Warawa, may I interrupt for a minute? I'm going to try to be a little tighter on relevance. Could you keep to the amendment we're looking at? Could you try to refer to that amendment and talk about this ten-year baseline specifically? If we can try to keep to that, we'll keep everyone's interest.
    Chair, I appreciate that and I definitely want to keep everyone's interest. I don't want to bore anyone, but what I want to share is very important, and I believe it is relevant.
    Clause 10 is talking about targets that are based on presumptions, and if they're based on presumptions, will they stand up against a challenge? I believe the process in meeting targets should be measured against the actual emissions reported in the National Inventory Report, rather than on a projection based on assumptions. We heard Mr. Cullen say that Bill C-377 definitely is basing those targets on assumptions, and very clearly you end up in a problem before the court of law.
    We have a point of order. Mr. Cullen, do you want to clarify the word “assumptions”?
    I'm not sure where to.... I think the parliamentary secretary is swimming in his filibuster today.
    I'll be very clear with him. This sets out in law, in black and white, a baseline that can be reportable and is based upon the government's own expressions of targets and timelines. It is based upon the government's own calculations of emissions. If he's got a condition or a concern with that, I would accept some amendments, but I think again--
    He is trying to clarify a word there, Mr. Warawa.
    He strays into some testimony that I said or didn't say; I said nothing about assumptions. I said very clearly....
    He made a point about what my presentation was, but the actual amendment is clear. If the parliamentary secretary would like to make a change to it, we would welcome it. He can make some offers, but he hasn't done that yet. Now he's going into some other place about constitutionality--
    I may be getting into that, Chair, and thank you for that.
    As I said, the process in meeting those targets should be measured against the actual emissions reported in the National Inventory Report, rather than a projection.
    Chair, is this an amendment?
    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 Bill C-377.
    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.

  (1555)  

    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 C-377 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 C-377, and that, I'm sure, raised a concern with everybody in this room.
    He said:
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--

  (1600)  

    Mr. Chair, could I have a point of order for a second?
    Mr. McGuinty has a point of order.
    I have just a quick question through you, Mr. Chair, to the parliamentary secretary. Given that the chief of staff to the minister in the room is just on the verge of leaving, how long does the parliamentary secretary intend to continue punishing the NDP for their support of the Liberal motion at the government operations committee yesterday?
    This is what this is all about. It's now been disclosed. It's now a matter of almost public record. Is this going to go on until--
    This is not a point of order, Chair.
    It's just in terms of timing, Mr. Chair. It's just courtesy. Should we leave--
    I have the floor, do I not?
    Yes, you do, Mr. Warawa, and I'm listening to the point of order to try to determine whether it is a legitimate point of order.
    The question is just how long the NDP will continue to get punished for giving their support.
    I think there is a concern as to what's happening. All members in the opposition have indicated to me a concern--
    The chief of staff just ran out of the room. It's too bad, because I feel for him. He's on the front page of the newspaper today.
    Mr. Chair, this is not a point of order.
    I'd like to hear from him, perhaps, and not from the parliamentary secretary.
    I'd like to carry on.
    Mr. Warawa, again I'll ask you and plead with you to please refer to amendment NDP-5 and to talk about the 10 years, the baseline, and any suggestions you have for changes.
    The problem we're facing is that the subject of climate change is so broad that it's very difficult to rule someone too far out of range, yet I think all of us appreciate that in dealing with the Turning the Corner plan--or Britain's plan, or Russia's plan, or whatever--we are straying a long way from this particular amendment, so again I would plead with you, for the sake of all of us here, to try to focus specifically on this and to talk about this and not just go on endlessly with things other than this amendment. If you could refer what you're saying back to this amendment, it would really be appreciated.
    That goes for everyone who's speaking, including Mr. Godfrey, who is on my list. I think it's important that we deal with the amendments. That's what we're here for.
    To answer Mr. McGuinty's question, I agree, it's not really a point of order. It's asking for guidance, I think, from the chair, guidance that I cannot give. I do not know the answer, so I can't intervene to provide you with it.
    But again I ask all members to please cooperate and to try to move this forward as judiciously as we possibly can, for the sanity of all of us.
    Mr. Chair, on this point of order--
     Mr. Cullen, I have basically said that the point of order goes beyond what Mr. Warawa is dealing with, but because it's your bill--

  (1605)  

    I'd like to introduce a motion for a five-minute limit on any intervention on any clause in order to allow the Conservative members their interventions while respecting what you said in terms of staying focused and respecting time.
    Do I have the floor?
    Yes.
    I don't believe you can move that on a point of order. You have to have the floor in order to move that.You have to move it once this clause has been dealt with.
    If that's your ruling, again, I'd like to challenge your ruling.
    It's not a ruling; those are the rules.
    To me, that's what it was.
    Those are the rules.
     I cede to my advisers here, who say those are the rules of the House, that you can't make that when we're discussing a particular amendment.
    So everyone understands, we're discussing your amendment on clause 10--
    Yes, I appreciate that.
    --and that can only be done when we move on to clause 11. Those are the rules of the House.
    Right, and we all know that the committees are masters of their own fate.
    That's true.
    You've made this ruling; I wish to challenge that ruling.
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    I've issued a challenge to the chair; there's no debate.
    It's an immediate vote; it cannot be challenged.
    I can't raise a point of order?
    No.
    I've been challenged on my ruling that this cannot be introduced at this point. That's what I have advised the member.
    You cannot rule on the Standing Orders, Chair. This is out of order. It's improper.
    Well, I have--
    There's no ruling, because there's no challenge. It's entirely out of order, Mr. Chair.
    We have a challenge. I've made a ruling, and it has been challenged.
    Some hon. members: No, no.
    The Chair: My ruling has been challenged, and therefore I would ask those in favour of my ruling--
     Mr. Chair, there's no ruling to be made here. The members, as ludicrous as it possibly--
    Let's have the vote and then we'll move on.
    This is bizarre; it's absolutely bizarre.
    No, we're not going to vote, because you cannot vote to change Standing Orders. We'll abstain.
    Yesterday we discussed that committees are masters of their own fate, and I think we agreed that was the case. We have a challenge to my ruling, which was to let you carry on and that he couldn't introduce that motion.
    Why do we have the mockery of even referring to the clerk in this case? What's the point of that? It's absolutely bizarre. You might as well pitch every book in this room.
    Just so everyone understands--and I believe I can make it clear--I am ruling that Mr. Cullen's motion is out of order, that he cannot make that motion. He is challenging that ruling I just made--
    But he was up on a point of order.
    --and he has a right to challenge my decision. My decision is based on advice from professionals, who have been here for a long time, who say that Mr. Cullen's motion is out of order.
    Based on what?
    Based on the rules of--
    Standing Orders.
    --committees.
     Mr. Cullen is challenging that, and I need to put that to a vote.
    A recorded vote.
    It is a recorded vote. You are voting on whether you agree with my ruling or not.
    An hon. member: It will take me a while to decide this issue. I need some considerable time. This is quite a serious thing.
    The Chair: I have ruled that his motion is out of order.
    Okay, you can take as long as you want.

    


    

  (1630)  

[Translation]

    I am about in the same paradoxical situation as Maurice concerning…

[English]

    Order, please. We are voting.
    (Ruling of the chair overturned: nays 5; yeas 2)
    Now we will go on to Mr. Cullen. I was overruled.
    Mr. Warawa, on a point of order.
    Chair, the clerk explained to Mr. Vellacott what had happened, and I wasn't privy to that discussion, so through you to the clerk, could you please explain to the committee what has just happened?
    I think the clerk went upstairs to the people supervising the game and got the word that in fact he was to go on and call the vote. If someone did not answer or said they needed more time, or whatever, he would go to the next person. And so that's what he did. Those are instructions from the supervisor of committees, to whom both clerks talked and explained the situation, and they got the ruling from them.
    My further point of order, then, is that while the clerk was talking to the superiors, did he share with those people what had happened, what had precipitated this issue, the fact that the motion Mr. Cullen tried to put on the table was against the Standing Orders? He's basing his decision from on high on Standing Orders, I am assuming. I just wanted to get that confirmed. Can he share with us whether he also mentioned what had precipitated your ruling?
    I will ask the clerk to just clarify that, but I think we should get on to the motion and go ahead.
    I think it's important, Chair.
    My ruling was overruled. I lost the vote.
    This is my point order, and I get to have an answer for it.
    Okay.
    Norm, could you clarify and answer Mr. Warawa's question?
    Mr. Warawa, here is the question that was put to the table officers: In the case of a vote such as this, if a member did not vote, by what mechanism, if any, could a chair continue with the vote? If the previous issue of the decision of the chair and Mr. Cullen was not deemed pertinent to the actual question of the vote itself, how do you conduct that vote? What happens in the case of a member who decides that he wants to reflect, that he wants time?
    The answer given to me, if I can summarize here briefly, was that we should follow the model in the House. In the House--correct me if I'm wrong--I don't believe members would stand and say, “I need time to vote.” And that was the advice given to us.

  (1635)  

     Chair, in this case, we're following the model of the House, but in previous rulings we have heard from the clerk that the committees are masters of their own. So why in this case would we have the procedure of the House apply here? Could the clerk please answer that, when in every other circumstance, for example, what happened with Mr. Cullen—
    I did rule Mr. Cullen out of order—
    I know, but I'm asking the question to the clerk.
    —and then we put that to a vote.
    I'm asking the question to the clerk, through you, sir.
    The answer to that, Mr. Warawa, is that the committees are masters of their own procedure within the outlines of the House itself. An appeal to a decision of the chair is in order. That's a standard acceptable approach, which is what happened in this case. In that instance, you put the question immediately to a vote.
    I'm sorry for the confusion.
    My question was referring to what happened when Mr. Cullen presented a motion during a point of order. It was improper. It goes against the Standing Orders, the procedure that is in the House. We cannot have rules that apply in almost all the circumstances when we've heard repeatedly from the Speaker of the House that the committees are masters of their own.
    We've seen that Mr. Cullen has moved a motion totally against the Standing Orders, and you've ruled properly, and that was challenged. What has happened--and it is setting a very dangerous precedent--is that the committee has totally ignored the last meeting and this meeting.... And it is totally on record. The names of those who voted to ignore the Standing Orders are recorded.
    So my question is, through you to the clerk, when does the clerk give the committee the authority? The Speaker of the House has said we're masters of our own, and yet in this specific instance you're saying we're applying the House rules.
    As I see it, basically, the difference is that in a minority government there is a major difference here. Obviously in 13 years of being here there was a majority government and so the chair was never once overruled, because the party supported the chair. In this situation, obviously, every single ruling that the chair would make could be overruled, and I guess when you get to that point, then the chair obviously should be replaced.
    I don't take this as a confidence vote. I don't believe anyone has said that, and yet this is a way to proceed with the issue at hand. I made a decision. It was overruled, and so we go to that vote, and I believe that's the procedure we have to follow. Whether you like it or anyone else here likes it, I think that's the situation we find ourselves in until we have an election, and if that changes things, then obviously we operate under a different format.
    Mr. Chair, I asked for an answer from the clerk and I think I deserve an answer from the clerk.
    The decision that was just given regarding the vote was applying for the first time House rules in a committee, as opposed to the fact that every other ruling has been that committees are their own.... So is this going now to be the new standard, that we're going to be using House rules?
    Well, again, I tend to agree with some of the comments I've heard that in effect that's a challenge to the chair as well. Yesterday I said we were masters of our own fate, which I believe we are within reason. In this situation, I don't believe anybody in this room has seen it that someone has said, “I have to think about how I'm going to vote.”
     I know in the House I have never seen someone stand up and, with the clerk looking at them, calling their name, the person says, “Wait, don't count me yet, because I'm thinking about it.” I don't know what would happen. Maybe we have the opportunity to try that this afternoon. We have 13 votes, and maybe that would....
    I think we are masters of our own fate. Both clerks have done their very best to get us an answer, and I think their answer is that the vote should proceed so we can proceed. Now, I guess that can be challenged as well. But I am saying that in fact, on this subject that we got a ruling, we verified that ruling, and we have now, I believe, to proceed and ask Mr. Cullen to repeat his motion, and then we go back to clause 10.
    Mr. Cullen's motion is debatable. So I would say that we have Mr. Cullen present his motion and then we debate his motion.
    I think Mr. Godfrey was next.

  (1640)  

    Let the record reveal that had the Conservatives present decided to support the decision of the chair, because the Bloc was also supporting the decision of the chair, then you would have been sustained. The only reason we're in this situation is because the Conservatives chose not to support your decision. So they had the opportunity and they blew it.
    Mr. Harvey is next.
    Mr. Harvey, very quickly.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chairman, when Mr. Vellacott was asked to vote, he said that he needed some time to think about it. As I was about to say when I was preparing to vote, it is quite paradoxical. I do not want to play that kind of game. On the other hand, I do not want to abstain, because I was elected here to vote. Maurice has been given time to vote. As for myself, I only had time to say one word and I was passed over… Maurice got several minutes even if only to say what he thought about the challenge to your ruling.

[English]

    You can't speak during a vote.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chairman, I was not aware of the Clerk's ruling, which was to proceed rapidly to a vote. Maurice had several minutes to make a decision. I believe that the Clerk should have informed all members before calling the vote, because Maurice had several minutes when I had exactly one second and a half to vote. I am asking for the opportunity to vote, Mr. Chairman.

[English]

    I think it's time that we move on to hear the motion and then debate the motion.
    I have a point of order. It was pertaining to me, and I think you would want to give me at least an opportunity to respond.
    Go ahead very briefly, please.
    With due respect, Mr. Chair, to your point about not knowing in the House whether a member standing there says he hasn't yet decided--
    I think I know the answer.
    The answer is very different in this place. In fact, when they're in the House standing, there's no abstention; there's no wonderment. He's standing on his feet to indicate he's yea or nay on the motion. It's not an issue of his standing to ask, because by token of being on his feet, he is indicating whether he is for or against whatever the call has been. There's no ambiguity about that.
    We sit in our seats here. The big difference is that when you are passed over because you don't stand, that's an abstention. But here we're on the record with an oral indication. I think it's very different, with due respect, Mr. Chair.
     A person on his feet in the House would never say, “I need more time.” It would contradict the very fact of his being on his feet. He is on his feet for a reason, and that's to indicate yes or no in respect to the question that is before the House. That's why it's very different here.
    In answer to that, I could easily, at the end, do a point of order to the Speaker and say, “Well, I was sitting, and I didn't really mean to sit, but I just wanted to think about it longer.” I'm almost certain that I would lose that argument.
    Exactly, and that's where the difference is in context between here and there.
    As well, Mr. Chair, I don't know that in terms of the ruling we got from on high here.... I requested more time to ponder and reflect on this in consultation, and so on--which I've done--and as Mr. Harvey rightly said, you passed over rather quickly without giving him the due respect of time he needed.
    I am ready to make my decision and indicate my vote on the matter. I don't know if that was ruled on by those higher up, because the vote was not yet completed. It went around to here, and then it should have come back to me to ask if I had--

  (1645)  

    I think your name was clearly called, and you did not vote. Therefore, you didn't vote.
    I hadn't made up my mind at that point and so indicated. By the time the other members called yea and nay, and I had made up my mind. I think it would only be fair, and the clerk may in fact confirm that. It's not going back to the vote; you didn't complete the vote.
    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, we're using the principles of the House now, the policy and procedure of the House. Seek, if you would, unanimous consent to have Mr. Vellacott's vote recorded as supporting the chair.
    I don't believe we have unanimous consent.
    A point of order, Mr. Chair--
    I would like to go to Mr. Cullen's motion and debate it.
    Filibuster, thy name is Vellacott. We are being filibustered here, Mr. Chair. If the Conservative members want to challenge your ruling, they should do so.
    When a vote has gone to all the existing parties in the House, isn't it a question that if somebody else was not up at the time and he wants his vote recorded, he simply stands up--
    Why don't you ask for unanimous consent, then?
    I don't need unanimous consent. In the House, there is no unanimous consent.
    In the House, you do.
    A person can simply stand up at the end and say, “Mr. Speaker” at that point--
    Mr. Vellacott, I'm going to move to Mr. Cullen's motion.
    No, you can't, because in the House--
    Mr. Cullen.
    Mr. Mills, in the House what happens at that point is the member stands on his feet, and that indicates that--
    Mr. Vellacott.
    Chair, if Mr. Vellacott would like to challenge you, he may.
    Excuse me, Mr. Vellacott, I have the floor.
    Mr. Vellacott, if you want to challenge the chair, please do so.
    It's not a challenge that is required. Simply, in the House of Commons, if you do recall in your many years--
    Mr. Chair, you have directed the conversation--
    --the member is allowed to stand in his place--
    Mr. Cullen, you could do your motion.
    The reason I put forward this motion is to allow for us to have some clarity.
    Some hon. members: [Inaudible--Editor]
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: It's unfortunate that Mr. Vellacott will not challenge you.
    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I could do that.
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: There is an important reason for us to get to this bill. With the issue of climate change before us, brevity is most important.
    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: I've done that before. Other members have done it, and that--
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: The Conservative members have chosen to continue on in this unacceptable way. If Mr. Vellacott wanted to challenge the chair, he had the option to.
    Mr. Maurice Vellacott: We want to have...[Inaudible--Editor]...in the House.
    Mr. Cullen.
    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.

  (1650)  

    Could you repeat your motion, and do you--
    Once you have overruled him--
    No, I am asking him to repeat it so that everybody knows what the motion is.
    My motion is that members of the committee be limited to one five-minute intervention per clause.
    On the motion, we have Mr. Warawa.
    Were you finished?
    As I see my esteemed colleagues from the Conservatives present themselves to filibuster even this motion, I would ask them to seek brevity in their comments. They can vote for or against it, but they will chose not to, Chair. I will make a prediction. I have some clairvoyance in this field now, that the government will choose to wind out the clock. That's unfortunate.
    I don't believe when they put themselves forward for election they said, “Vote for me. I guarantee to go and filibuster committees on your behalf.” There is an intention we can all arrive at, and disagreements on where we may be, but this motion allows us to proceed through the bill in an orderly manner, find some resolutions, allow for disagreements, and move on.
    Thank you, Mr. Cullen.
    Mr. Warawa.
    I appreciate the comments from Mr. Cullen. The problems we've seen over the last few days at committee have been because Bill C-377 is such a poorly written bill. If it were a good bill this committee would be united in supporting it, but we heard not just a few witnesses, Chair, we heard from witness after witness after witness that Bill C-377 is a poorly written bill.
    We've seen tactics from the opposition to try to stop input, Chair, and share our concern--
    Mr. Chair, on a point of order, could you rule on the relevance of these comments to the motion on the floor?
    Just to clarify the motion for everyone, the motion is that one five-minute intervention per person per clause would be the limit. That is the motion we are discussing. Again, if we can talk about that motion--
    Mr. Chair, I very much am talking about that motion--
    We can make amendments, of course.
    I probably will be making some amendments, Chair, but what we've seen is a tactic by the opposition, led by the NDP, on Bill C-377, a poorly written bill. They have tried to cut off any critique, any opportunity to improve the bill and then have witnesses come back and critique the amended bill.
    As I said right from the beginning, Madam Gélinas' commented on how important it is to have ingredients in the bill for it to be successful. So the tactic now is to limit the amount of time we have to five minutes.
    Mr. Chair, can I add a point of order? It's about relevance, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. McGuinty, as the parliamentary secretary--the other people will be shorter, I know--Mr. Warawa is trying to point out to us why five minutes is not enough to speak to the amendments. I'm going to let him go on to make that point. Again, remember, it's a very broad-based bill, and I know you've heard some of these arguments before, but I would ask him to be as brief as he can, and as relevant as he can.
    I guess the question I put to him again--through you, Mr. Chair--is how long does the Minister of the Environment want to continue punishing the NDP for support--
    Mr. McGuinty, I don't think you can get an answer to that.
    --in another committee on another motion? Let's just talk about the elephant in the room.
    Can you talk about this privately? Why don't the two of you get together?
    I want it on the record. I want the Canadian public to know that the chief of staff to the minister was in this room earlier giving instructions to these Conservative members--
    Mr. McGuinty, let Mr. Warawa carry on, please.
    --precisely to throw a monkey wrench in the machine.
    I have a point of order.
    Mr. Warawa, please go ahead.
    Chair, I believe there was a point of order being raised by Mr. Watson, as Mr. McGuinty was out of order.
    We cut the microphone off and I ruled him--
    It's my turn, then.
    It's your turn, yes.
    Unfortunately, we have a clock ticking here, and it's been constant interruptions from Mr. McGuinty and--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    We're in a hurry, right?

  (1655)  

     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 Bill C-377 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 Bill C-377 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.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Vellacott is next.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    We again see this attempt by the NDP to shut down and ram things through here, when in fact we need considerably more time to expose some of the flaws in the bill, the hypocrisy of the NDP--and I'll add the Liberals--in their support of this bill, the BQ less so. I think they're attempting to--
    I have a point of order.
    Mr. Warawa, go ahead.
    Excuse me for interrupting, Mr. Vellacott, but is Mr. Cullen, the mover of the bill, not here? I think it's important that he listen to the arguments. He's the one who moved a restriction on talking times, and then he leaves the room.
    That's really not a point of order. He has his assistants here, and I believe they'll relay to him the points that are being made by Mr. Vellacott. I can't really forbid someone from using the washroom.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    An hon. member: He's back, he's back.
    Mr. Vellacott, carry on, please. You now have Mr. Cullen's undivided attention.
    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.

  (1700)  

    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.
    Mr. Cullen 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 Bill C-30, the Liberals across the way....
    I'm not sure if Mr. Scarpaleggia was there. I think he was, actually. Mr. Regan, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. McGuinty, 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.

  (1705)  

    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--
    He's in the back, Mr. Vellacott. He's right there.
    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.

  (1710)  

    The answer is that we conclude Mr. Cullen's--
    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.

  (1715)  

    We have a motion to adjourn so we can all go and vote 13 times.
    I'll think about my vote each time, Chair. I want to give notice to the committee that I want to pause.
    Anyway, we have a motion to adjourn. Those in favour?
    How long do we think about this?
    The bells are going to start ringing.
    Let's wait for the bells. We need to think about this, Mr. Chair.
    Do they ring in here?
    Some hon. member: Oh yes.
    The Chair: We're adjourning or we're suspending? There's quite a difference.
    The motion is to adjourn. This motion can be reintroduced.
    Those in favour of adjourning the meeting today?
    That's as opposed to what?
    That's as opposed to suspending and carrying the meeting on at another time. This motion can be reintroduced.
    There's no debate, Mr. Chair, no discussion.
    Mr. Chair, on a point of order--
    No, I'm going to set when it's going to come back. I'm asking you to vote right now. There is no more discussion. Are you in favour of adjourning this meeting? It's the motion that's been made.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: It's carried. The meeting is adjourned.