I call the meeting to order.
I'd like to tell you a bit about my last day and a half, and my visit to Washington as part of the G8+5 dialogue group. This is something that everyone will hopefully be interested in, because it deals with the environment.
We had four countries represented. We had a member from South Africa, a member from Brazil, a member from the U.K., and Canadians. We were looking for a way to sustain the G8+5 dialogue group once we report in Tokyo on June 28. That report on June 28 will be on solutions to climate change for the G8+5--the 13 countries--which we've been working on for three years. The importance of it is that if those countries accept it—and we believe they will, as they're 95% toward accepting those solutions—they represent over 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. So to have the G8 countries plus China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa on side agreeing to the solutions to climate change will be well worth reporting.
Our visits were basically to get a feeling for where the U.S. is at this time. We were joined by the Pope and Gordon Brown on the same day in Washington, which made it a little more interesting. They weren't part of our committee--I don't want to mislead you--but they were there and it made for a pretty exciting day in Washington.
Our job was to talk about the Lieberman-McCain bill that is coming forward, and so on, and the Boxer bill, which is going to be debated in the U.S. Senate on June 2. They will talk about setting hard targets and the cap-and-trade process for the U.S. So there will be a very important two- or three-week debate in the U.S. Senate on climate change. It will be the first time they debate that in the U.S., and they will probably make some pretty strong moves on climate change for the first time. So we see it as a very major move forward for the U.S.
We met with the Lieberman group, we met with the McCain group, and we had a long meeting with Floyd DesChamps, the leading adviser to Senator McCain. We were certainly on the very same wavelength. If he were to become president, I think it would be a huge move forward in terms of the climate change file.
We met with Congresswoman McCollum and got some interesting insight into her interest in poverty, poverty related to climate change, and the migration of people, and so on, that will result from changes due to climate change.
We met with Congressman Gilchrest, and I think he, above all, understands the issue. He was extremely well informed, and it was quite impressive to hear his take on the middle group--the middle congressmen--of both Democrats and Republicans who want to work on the climate change file and are pretty dedicated to getting something done in the U.S.
We then met with Edward Markey, who is the lead person on climate change in the U.S. He is the one appointed. He is in the inner circle in the Congress, and he's very interested in working with us further. He joined us in Brazilia for the last forum, and he will join us in Japan at the end of June.
The next day we met Monique Barbut of the UN Global Environment Facility. Canada gives $158 million to that group, and we wanted to see where she was coming from. She particularly encouraged us to get involved with the oceans, the Arctic, and the effects--mitigation and adaptation, but mainly adaptation--in those areas.
Our main purpose for being there was to talk to the World Bank. An interesting sidelight was that we met with the staff of the World Bank, and if any of you've never visited the World Bank, I can tell you it is a massive organization. We were rather overwhelmed by how big it was.
We did talk to the staff, and we had a half-hour presentation when we had our opportunity to say what we thought as a G8+5 group. Remember, it's a non-partisan, non-political group; it's got all parties involved. So we had questions and answers, and it was very interesting to meet with that staff.
We then met with Senator John Kerry. John Kerry has been part of our group from day one and is very important in carrying the Senate side. Olympia Snowe was another senator we met. She's very dedicated to the file as well and an excellent person to meet with. We then met with Graeme Wheeler, the managing director of the World Bank, and with Kathy Sierra, who is an important person within the bank as well.
Basically, I think they encouraged us. They will provide sustainable funding for the G8+5 dialogue group and, I believe, will help us to really push the issue of climate change at that level.
So all in all, it was a very successful trip. I thank the committee for agreeing to change the meeting date to today so I could attend those very important meetings. I think I can say on behalf of our group that we were very pleased with how they went. We won't take credit for President Bush's statement in the Rose Garden, but you notice that he also mentioned climate change and mentioned that they're going to get to zero growth at some point in the future. There was no detail there, but at least there was a statement about climate change, and that's moving a long way.
As you can imagine, the Americans are totally involved in electioneering, and the presidential race was mentioned everywhere we went and is a major part of what's happening down there. I think all of us should probably be glad we're not congressmen who have to get elected every two years; for a senator it's every six years. They seem to be in perpetual campaign mode when you visit these people in their offices on a one-on-one basis.
I don't know if you have any questions. I felt it was a very successful meeting, and I think that Bryon Wilfert and I would both agree that we were able to add a lot on the Canadian perspective. I think it's rather unique that they always find it interesting that two parties are here working together on the issue of climate change.
That's my quick report to you, and if there are any questions, I'd be glad to answer them or give you any detail later on. But it was a positive meeting. Let me tell you that over the last number of years, all the meetings haven't been as positive as the one we had in the U.S. yesterday. Anyway, that's that.
We have a couple of motions I might go to right now. I think we could possibly deal with Mr. Bigras' first. I think you do have a letter, and I will ask Mr. Bigras to very briefly tell us about this. I believe we can deal with this rather quickly.
Mr. Chairman, I tabled a motion with regard to the RADARSAT-2 satellite. As you know, the transaction is still being looked at and will have grave repercussions for Canada.
Through this motion, we are asking that the minister of Industry firmly maintain his decision in this matter. Canada has invested more than 445 million dollars of public funds in order to develop this technology, in part through MDA and the Canadian Space Agency.
In a letter of April 8, that was made public through Alliant Techsystems Inc., the minister indicated rather clearly that he had serious reservations with regard to this transaction and that he was not convinced that it would serve the interests of Canada.
Some 445 million dollars of public funds have been invested. This technology was among other things put in place in order to protect Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. This satellite is being called upon to play a fundamental role in the fight against climate change; it is important technology that will enable us to understand the state of climatic changes within the framework of a climate change adaptation policy, particularly in the Arctic. For all of these reasons, we are recommending, through this motion, that the minister maintain his position.
Are there any other comments?
Now, I was thinking this is the sort of thing that might happen. The covering letter would go something like this, and obviously this will be worked on and discussed at our first meeting, which we can report back on Monday, whatever that date is:
||Pursuant to Standing Order 108(1), your Committee wishes to present the following reasons for not having completed the study of Bill C-377.
||The Bill was referred to the Committee on October 16, 2007. The Committee commenced consideration of the Bill on December 11, 2007 and heard evidence from 25 witnesses representing 23 groups. The Committee commenced clause by clause consideration of the Bill on March 3, 2008 and sought a thirty day extension from the House of Commons pursuant to Standing Order 97.1 on March 5, 2008.
||The House of Commons approved the extension on March 12, 2008. The Committee adopted clauses 3 to 9, including eight amendments, postponed clause 1 (the Short Title) and the Preamble pursuant to Standing Order 75(1) and stood clause 2. The Committee was thereafter unable to progress due to a prolonged debate of over twenty hours on clause 10, which led the Committee to an impasse.
||During debate, the Chair was overruled on two procedurally sound rulings. The Committee, as a result, presented a Report to the House on Monday, April 14, 2008 identifying inherent difficulties in the practice, procedure and rules of the House of Commons which may impinge on the ability of the Committee to carry out its mandate.
So that's basically the historical background of what happened and when and what dates. Then of course, the final part of it will be what we do today. That would have to be included.
This is just to give you a feeling for what we think, so we don't spend a lot of time having to debate further on this. We'd appreciate any input that you have, and then we will ultimately vote on this motion.
We have two pages suggested as the length of the opinions. Are there any other comments about that?
I hear then that our opinions will be limited to two pages. I'm going to ask everyone to have their opinions to the clerk by Monday, April 28. That gives us time to get it all put together, get it translated, get it sent off and prepared. Then I presume I would be able to table that on Wednesday, Thursday, or whatever day of that week. It should be submitted in both official languages. It's each party's or person's opinion.
Perhaps you would get them to the clerk by the end of the day on Monday. Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Okay, everybody understands that.
Okay, that is Bill , and Mr. Cullen wasn't here to enjoy this moment with us.
You've BlackBerryed him? Good.
Mr. Godfrey, at that first meeting on April 28 we would be looking at the report. We would be finalizing that so the clerks can get that all put together for me to table later that week. We could then move on to Bill and try to arrange witnesses for, say, the last hour of that day, and then again on the Wednesday.