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CANADA

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development


NUMBER 033 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
39th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, May 26, 2008

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1550)  

[English]

    The meeting will come to order. This is a meeting of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We are undertaking the study of Bill C-474 of Mr. Godfrey. We're delighted that Mr. Warawa and Mr. Godfrey have arrived, and have done, I gather, a bit of negotiating in relation to some amendments. I trust that this delay will help to shorten the meeting in some fashion.
    Before we begin, I want to ask if we have agreement to the following motion, which the clerk has offered to the committee regarding what will happen on Wednesday in view of the fact that Minister Baird is not available since he'll be travelling.
    The motion would be:
THAT THE COMMITTEE consider the Main Estimates 2008-2009 and invite the following to appear before it on May 28, 2008,

[Translation]

The Associate Deputy Minister of Environment Canada (supported by his officials); and
The President of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy (supported by his officials); and
The chief executive officer of the national parks agency (supported by his officials);

[English]

and President of the Canadian Environmental Evaluation Agency (supported by officials); and
That the Department and Agencies be allotted 8 to 10 minutes for presentation.
    That is the motion, and I think my reading of that would mean that they'd each get eight to ten minutes for a presentation. I know some people may have some views on that, and I look forward to hearing them.
    Would someone like to propose this motion so we can have what I would hope would be a very quick discussion on it? It is available on paper, and it is being circulated as we speak.
    Thank you very much, Nathan.
    Mr. Cullen has moved the motion. Is there any discussion on the motion?
    Mr. McGuinty.
    Mr. Chair, just on Friday this week I heard that the minister wasn't coming. Didn't we have a work plan? Did the parliamentary secretary or the full-time chair get confirmation that the minister was coming to the meeting on Wednesday?
    I'd have to ask the clerk.
    Was there any confirmation the minister was coming on Wednesday?
    That may be a matter for the parliamentary secretary to respond to, but your question was whether there was confirmation to the committee about whether the minister was coming.
    Mr. Chair, there was no confirmation. In fact, there was a reverse of a confirmation. I was informed that the minister was travelling and that unfortunately he would not be able to appear on Wednesday, in which case we then presented three options to each party to look at.
    My recollection was that we had a work plan that we had all agreed to, and that included the minister showing up on Wednesday, which is the last possible day for him to appear to report the main estimates back to the House. Then I heard late on Friday that he's apparently not available. I'm not sure what's transpired here, but it's rather remarkable.
    Chair, could I then raise the question here about who would come? I think offline you informed me--at least, in a discussion just moments ago, for those who did not hear it--that the deputy minister is not available to attend on Wednesday. I think from our side here the official opposition strongly supports the notion of having officials here on Wednesday.
    I have a personal concern here, as a member, that we look at potentially four speakers speaking for ten minutes each out of the two-hour session. That seriously encroaches on time for questions, and for answers, and I would propose instead that there be a single overview or presentation made by the associate deputy, Mr. Shugart, I understand, on behalf of the three other agencies, even though the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy does not report to the Minister of the Environment and ought not to be reporting to the Minister of the Environment. It's a PCO-based institution, not a part of Environment Canada. I'm not sure why it's even on this list, for that matter.
    But hopefully my colleagues would agree that maybe a 10-minute overview from the associate deputy would be sufficient so we could have the time we would probably like to have to ask those questions.
    Is that a motion to amend?
    It is a motion to amend.

  (1555)  

    Mr. Warawa.
    Thank you, Chair.
    It was a few weeks ago that I reported to the committee that the only day the minister was available for the estimates was on the 28th. So as of three or four weeks ago, that was the plan.
    As we all know, things have to be very fluid and are very fluid here. The minister is in Kobe now and will be meeting with the Prime Minister in Germany for the COP 9 meeting. Unfortunately, he's not going to be able to be with us.
    I do have a question, through you, Mr. Chair, regarding Mr. McGuinty's amendment. My focus was more on the minister not being able to be here. Did I understand, in his amending motion, that he does not want the NRTEE to be represented?
    I didn't hear that. Mr. McGuinty indicated that the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy doesn't report to the Minister of the Environment, as he understands it. It's a Privy Council institution. Therefore, he's asking why it was appropriate. He did not say it should not be here.
    What he said was that he's proposing in his motion to amend that the associate deputy minister would be the only person to make a presentation of up to ten minutes. That's what he's proposing, rather than having four people each make eight- to ten-minute presentations.
    He's suggesting only one witness.
    No. He's saying rather than having the first 40 minutes taken up with presentations....
    Mr. Chair, perhaps we can do the following. We will check to make sure that the estimates concerning the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy are in front of this committee. If they are not in front of this committee, then it would be appropriate not to invite them. If I have permission from the committee to do that, that would be fine.
    Is that agreed?
    Mr. Warawa, did you hear that?
    No, I'm sorry.
    The clerk was just saying that he will check on whether or not the estimates of the National Round Table are in fact before the committee. If not, it wouldn't be appropriate to have them here on Wednesday, obviously, on the estimates, but if they are, then we would leave them on the list.
    The question is whether or not that's agreeable to the committee. Est-ce qu'on est d'accord? We're talking about that question alone.
    It seems obvious.
    Would we have the ADM and CEOs?
    The question is whether or not you have a representative of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. If their estimates have not been sent to us by the House, then it wouldn't make much sense to have them when we're doing our job on the estimates.
    That's the point, and that's what the clerk is suggesting he find out and act accordingly on.
    So on the amendment by Mr. McGuinty, who will be witnesses?
    He didn't change the witnesses at all. His amendment basically said that the associate deputy minister would be the person to make the presentation on behalf of all of the witnesses, for eight to ten minutes.
    And why would we not allow each witness an opportunity to testify?
    As I indicated earlier, he mentioned that rather than taking up as much as the first 40 minutes of the meeting with all these presentations, you could have one presentation from the associate deputy minister—I gather the deputy minister is off on paternity leave—who is acting as deputy and who is overseeing all of this. That's the idea.
    It's quite common that we have half an hour of witnesses, and then the next hour and a half is an opportunity for us to ask questions of the witnesses. So what's being proposed is that you have 10 minutes of witness presentation time instead of 30 to 40 minutes. That 10 minutes would be for one person and would be instead of half an hour of witnesses.
    He's proposing 10 minutes. But again, this is a matter for the committee. It's a motion to amend.
    Mr. Bigras.

[Translation]

    I think that Mr. McGuinty's proposal makes sense because the witnesses will still be present. Nothing will prevent the members of the committee from putting questions to any of the witnesses present. But let us limit the evidence to 10 minutes from one witness only, the associate deputy minister. After that, there can be specific questions on the issues that the other witnesses have worked on.
    I think that makes sense. It will allow member to ask more questions than if each of the witnesses made a 10-minute presentation. So I support my colleague Mr. McGuinty's motion.

  (1600)  

[English]

     Mr. Warawa.
    Thank you for the clarification. What's being proposed is clear to me now.
    I don't support that. We have three witnesses: Parks, Environment--
    We possibly have four, depending on what happens.
    --and the environmental evaluation agency.
     If they don't want to hear from the National Round Table, I don't have a problem with it. If we keep the witnesses to a half hour, which is the norm, that gives plenty of time for questioning. When we give them the seven or ten minutes, it often is not that long. To start off by saying we're not going to hear from the witnesses that are there, that we're going to deal with them on a question-by-question basis and the only chance they will get to speak is when we ask them a question...I don't favour that.
    I don't want to waste a lot of time on this. I want to get back to Bill C-474 and finish up with that.
    Let's call the question. I think it's out of the norm, and I don't think it's fair.
    Fine. I gather you're asking for the question. Obviously there isn't a procedure for that, but it looks as though you're ready for the question.
    Mr. Jean.
    I just don't understand. My understanding is that there are different witnesses with different topics. Certainly it would seem to appear that some sort of compromise would be appropriate if other members don't want to hear from them.
     How can one person give testimony for all three or four departments? Wouldn't it be appropriate, if you're trying to shorten the time period, to ask for five minutes and then have questions and comments on each? They might have something relevant and unique to give testimony on. Isn't that what it's about--hearing testimony and then asking questions on the testimony and other evidence?
    Mr. Jean, normally we have the minister, and he'd be the only person making the presentation and others would be there to help answer, right?
    That's not necessarily true.
    That's what we've had in the past.
    Mr. Cullen has a comment.
    The intention is to allow more time for questioning, and not encumber the witnesses and not allow them to present something.... If time is the consideration, why don't we just reduce the amount of time that each presenter can present? We can move it down to five minutes and then get on with it.
     I'm thinking this debate is taking too long. There is other work that we need to do today.
    You're suggesting that we do five minutes per presenter?
    Sure. That would allow them to at least highlight some of the specifics they would draw the committee to.
    That would take a maximum of 20 minutes.
    Yes, and that gives us about an hour and forty minutes in which to deliver questions to them. Is that the scenario?
    That's a nice compromise. I think the starting comments from Mr. McGuinty were that maybe we shouldn't have NRTEE here at all. If we did that, then we would have three witnesses, and we could give them seven minutes each.
    I'll tell you what. Why don't we say 20 minutes approximately for the witnesses to make presentations, which will be divided according to how many we have, whether that's three or four.
    The clerk is 99% sure that NRTEE, the National Round Table, is within our responsibility.

[Translation]

    I understand, but there is a motion on the table. We would have to ask the mover.
    That is correct. We need to know if Mr. Cullen is making a subamendment or an amendment that Mr. McGuinty could accept.

[English]

    Mr. Cullen, are you asking me to propose that to Mr. McGuinty?
    I am asking you to propose that as a friendly amendment.
    Yes, it would be five, five, five, and five.
    There you go.
    Mr. Vellacott.
    I thought we were talking 20 minutes here. That was your suggestion, Mr. Chair, respectfully.
    It was 20 minutes total, and if we only have three witnesses, then I'm not sure what you're dealing with.
    I think we have four. We're pretty sure we have four, but if it's three, then it will be for seven minutes each. If it's four, then it will be for five minutes each. It will be 20 to 21 minutes. That's what I think is before us now by agreement.
    Is it the will of the committee to accept this?
    (Motion agreed to)
    Thank you very much.
    Let's go on now to the meat of the matter, so to speak.
    Mr. Godfrey.
    I realize I need the unanimous consent of the committee to return to a motion put previously. I have discovered after consulting lawyers at the Auditor General's office that one of the motions we passed towards the end of the day last time, which was originally known as L-12, has a word that needs to come out. The word is “including”. To remind people, L-12 is now in front of you as L-14.2.

  (1605)  

     Mr. Godfrey, colleagues, just to be clear, you have two packages: the original package of amendments and the new package of amendments, which Mr. Godfrey has submitted, I believe, today. At the front of that is amendment L-14.2, which he is now proposing to replace, if you accept that we would go back to clause 8, which is already carried--and we'd have to have unanimous consent for that--
    I'm proposing to remove one word. It currently reads “The Minister shall at the same time submit the draft of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy to the Commissioner for review and comment”--and then come the words “including as to whether the targets and implementation strategies can be assessed, for which the Minister shall allow a period of not less than 120 days”.
    The Auditor General wants us to remove the word “including” because it suggests that the commissioner might review and comment on things other than the assessability. This makes it certain that it's only about the assessability. So if we have unanimous consent to revert to that, I would propose to eliminate the word “including” to make it clear that it's all about the assessability.
    Colleagues, we've already passed clause 8. Mr. Godfrey is seeking unanimous consent to return to clause 8 in order to move this motion. Is there unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    (On clause 8--Preparation)
    The Vice-Chair (Hon. Geoff Regan): Mr. Godfrey, would you like to propose your motion?
    I propose that we amend subclause 8(3.1) as you see under amendment L-14.2, just by removing the word “including” between “comment” and “as to”.
    Basically, you're proposing amendment L-14.2?
    I'm proposing amendment L-14.2.
    That's in place of the earlier amendment.
    Is there any discussion on this? Hearing none, those in favour, please signify by raising your hand.
    (Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    We have to re-pass clause 8 as amended.
    (Clause 8 as amended agreed to)
    (On clause 10--Regulations)
    We're dealing with amendment L-15, which is on page 31 of your main booklet of amendments.
    Mr. Warawa.
    Chair, I don't know if procedurally this would be an appropriate motion, but I'd like to repeal clause 10.
    We haven't passed clause 10 yet, right?
    It's to give you a heads-up as to why we're doing this.
    Do you not wish to proceed with the amendment?
    We don't have to proceed with the amendment because the activity we're describing under clause 10 will now be captured under clause 11.
    Okay. One way to do this is that when I ask if clause 10 is carried, you would say no. Are we ready for that?
    Mr. Cullen.
    My apologies to the committee for not having been in some of these discussions. Could I have a little bit more rationale from the mover?
    Mr. Godfrey
    I apologize for the delay in starting the committee, because Mr. Warawa and I and some folks were trying to save some work here to get our ducks lined up.
    Essentially, what we're going to do is put into clause 11 the material that was contained in clause 10. But in order for you to have a better idea of what we're up to, I think it would be useful to show you that motion.
    The issue here is that we are trying to make sure that what we do earlier in the bill will be consistent with what we do when we amend later in the bill the Auditor General Act. So we have to keep going backwards and forwards to make sure we're consistent. I think it will become clearer when we get you the proposed clause 11, which will incorporate clause 10, and that will, I hope, make things--

  (1610)  

    Are we able to see this proposed clause 11?
    It's being printed as we speak.
    Do we have a copy?
    It's not in both official languages, so I will be reading it out and giving a copy of it to the clerk. Trust me.
    This is challenging. Listen carefully.
     Mark, we're going to need a copy.
    Yes.
    Okay. There it is. That's quick action.
    Mr. Godfrey.
    I'd like to see a copy of that, too, actually.
    You're interested also, are you? How about that.
    We're dealing with the constraint of having just developed this on the fly.
    There's another copy for you.
    To Mr. Cullen, before we dispose of clause 10, did you want to hear this proposed clause 11, or do you--
    I understand there are negotiations going on, but procedurally it's a bit odd, because it is, in effect, a trust exercise to remove a clause that we previously supported for something I haven't seen yet.
    Go ahead, Mr. Warawa.
    Procedurally, Chair, we could stand clause 10 and then go on to clause 11 and come back and repeal....
    If we just stand it, then we reserve the option of returning to it. Let's do that.
    I think there will be agreement here, I suspect, to stand clause 10.

[Translation]

    We are going to come back to clause 10 later. At the moment, we are going to deal with clause 11.
    Mr. Godfrey, the floor is yours.

[English]

    (On clause 11--Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies)
    Clause 11 will be replacing all of the proposed amendments I put forward and that I think the government put forward on clause 11. There is still the Bloc clause, but I hope this will help as well.
    Here's what it now says--
    Just a minute, Mr. Godfrey, if you don't mind.
    That would mean we would strike, on page 32, amendment G-14; on page 33, amendment L-16; on page 35, amendment L-17; and possibly, depending on what the Bloc decides--and we'll see what their reaction is--we'll look at amendment BQ-1 after that. Okay?
    Please proceed.
    Oh, there are also amendments L-15.1 and L.15.2, which you proposed today.
    I submitted those earlier in the day.
    Those would also be set aside, and those would also not be proceeded with.
    Mr. Godfrey.
    So it's actually Mr. Warawa's amendment.
    Just give me one second, Chair, because I don't believe amendment G-14 has been struck. You mentioned that.
    No, what I said was that the problem is it has to be moved in any case.
    Correct.
    So if we don't need it, we won't proceed with it. That's the idea.
    So for the moment, maybe we can deal with amendment G-14.
    And then we'll go on and move this additional amendment.
    Let's start with amendment G-14.
    Amendment G-14 is self-explanatory. We've moved from “National” to “Federal”, and that's what this does.
    So you're sticking with amendment G-14, or is that incorporated in the new one?
    Are you saying to us that the motion you're going to propose will not need us to proceed with amendments G-14, L-15, L-15.1, L-15.2, L-16, and L-17? That's my understanding.
    You're absolutely right, Chair.
    Maybe procedurally I would be amending or subamending--

  (1615)  

    But before you do, I gather that procedurally we would normally strike all these others.... Actually it's just a question of not moving them, isn't it?
    Okay, we'd have to ask each of you to say you're not going ahead with these other amendments. But why don't you read it so that people are clear? Don't move it at the moment--move it shortly--but read it for the moment.
     Okay. I move that Bill C-474, in clause 11, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 16 on page 7 with the following:
11(1) each minister presiding over a department named in Schedule 1 to the Financial Administration Act, or an agency named in Schedule 1--
    You can't assume we're going to strike down the existing schedule 1 until we get there.
    It will have to be amended after the fact.
    Yes, that will have to be cleaned up afterwards.
    At this point it's reading “Schedule 2”, but it will be amended later to “Schedule 1”.
    So after the comma it reads:
or an agency named in Schedule 2 of this Act shall cause the department or agency to prepare a sustainable development strategy containing objectives and plans for the department or agency that complies with and contributes to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, appropriate to the department or agency's mandate and shall cause the strategy to be laid before the House of Commons within one year after the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy is tabled in that House under Section 9.
(2) A minister to whom subsection (1) applies shall cause the department's sustainable development strategy to be updated at least once every three years and shall cause each updated strategy to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the next 15 days on which that House is sitting after the strategy is updated.
(3) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of a minister presiding over a department not named in Schedule 1 to the Financial Administration Act, or agency named in Schedule 2 of this Act, direct that the requirements of subsections (1) and (2) apply in respect of the department or agencies.
(4) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the minister, make regulations prescribing the form in which sustainable development strategies are to be prepared and the information requirement to be contained in them.
    So that will be replacing what we have as G-1, and procedurally--
    With respect to the last line, “to be contained in them”, should that be “required”?
    You're right, “required to be contained in them”.
    Thank you, Mr. Warawa.
    Having heard that, now I'll ask if those who submitted the various amendments would indicate that they're not going to proceed.
     I think you've already indicated that you're not going to proceed with G-14, so I can strike that.
    The next one on my list is L-15.1.
    Mr. Godfrey.
    Sorry, let me check. I have a couple of minor suggestions. Just hang on a second.
    This is a technical issue, and I'll ask folks whether this makes sense or not. The suggestion I'm getting for the first line is:
Each minister presiding over a category 1 department within the meaning of the Auditor General Act
--and then you carry on with--
named in Schedule 1 to the Financial Administration Act

  (1620)  

    What is category 1?
    We have a definition...hang on a second.
     Can anybody tell us what departments are named in category 1?
    The list is in the Financial Administration Act, isn't it?
    By the way, here's the Auditor General Act in front of me, and it says:
“category I department” means
(a) any department named in Schedule I to the Financial Administration Act,
(b) any department in respect of which a direction has been made under subsection 24(3)
    It directs that the requirements of subsections (1) and (2) apply in respect of the department. This is about what strategies you have to table in relation to the Auditor General's work.
    The Auditor General Act continues:
(c) any department set out in the schedule;
    That isn't all that helpful to me, I'm afraid, but I appreciate the effort.
    Mr. Warawa.
    Could we have a moment just to consider the suggestions of Mr. Godfrey?
    Mr. Cullen.
    I'm trying to appreciate the circumstance of people having to make changes as they go, which have a domino effect on the rest of the bill. It seems--and this is meant to cause no offence--it's a bit of a waste of time for the rest of the committee members when people are both trying to understand what the implications are and at the same time trying to explain to the rest of the committee what it is that we're actually going to end up voting on. I don't know if it's possible to take a five- or ten-minute pause. If so, I'll be reassured, but I'm not feeling reassured right now that we're not going to go through a lot of very complicated and twisted explanations over the next hour, and it seems not fruitful for us to spend our time this way.
     I'll go to Mr. Bigras, but before I do, I'll just say that my sense here is that this clause is the main product of the discussion that was held before this meeting. I hear what you're saying.
    Mr. Bigras.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I feel that committee members have been waiting patiently since 3:30 p.m. so that the government and the opposition can negotiate and come to an agreement. But I see no agreement; I just see that things are more complicated than they were 20 minutes ago.
    I have no problem with negotiations between the official opposition and the government. But I remind you that there are two other parties around the table and that they have the right to understand what is being discussed. I recommend that we adjourn the meeting until things can be sorted out. My impression is that two parties out of four are being left out. I find that unacceptable.

[English]

     Mr. Godfrey.

[Translation]

    First, my apologies to my colleagues in the other parties. These negotiations really are not about matters of substance; rather, they are technical questions to ensure that the two bills correspond.
    I personally support the idea of suspending the session for 5 or 10 minutes so that we can solve the problem. I want people to clearly understand that this is technical in nature. The problem is that it is written in English only. We cannot distribute a document in English without having a French translation.

  (1625)  

    That is correct; the committee cannot distribute a document if it is not bilingual.
    But we could distribute it ourselves.
    You decide among yourselves. But those are the regulations, as Mr. Harvey has just said.

[English]

    Could we have a five-minute suspension while we try to--
     Before I can do that, Mr. Warawa asked for an opportunity to speak, and then I'm prepared to have a five-minute suspension.
    Mr. Warawa.
    Thank you, Chair.
    I just wanted to comment to Mr. Bigras.
    Yes, there are four different political parties represented in this committee. Regarding the negotiations that were ongoing, if I were in his place, Chair, I would be a little bit frustrated and concerned too. The reason Mr. Godfrey and I were discussing is that we were looking at very similar amendments being proposed to Bill C-474, and we were trying to put them together. So his input is very appreciated and very valued.
    If we agree, then, we will have a five-minute suspension.
    The committee is suspended for approximately five minutes.

    


    

  (1630)  

    Colleagues, we'll come back to order, if you please.
    The clerk has offered me a good suggestion here, and apparently it's worked well in other meetings with complex amendments.

[Translation]

    We can start by looking at Mr. Warawa's amendment and the subamendment that Mr. Godfrey has just made, then Mr. Bigras' amendment. We could then let Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Warawa explain...

[English]

We'll ask them to walk us through the rest of the bill so that we'll all have an understanding of where we're going here. Then we'll go back and start moving those amendments one at a time. As indicated to me by the clerk, this has been helpful on other committees where you have a whole range of amendments that are affecting one another. So if you agree, we'll proceed now.
    Mr. Godfrey, is that a friendly amendment about each minister presiding over a category 1 department, within the meaning of the Auditor General Act, etc.?
    No. We're going back to the original wording because we think it covers the.... Sorry about that.
    So we still have them reading what Mr. Warawa read.
    There are some corrections.
    What are the corrections, Mr. Warawa?
    We had in (2) “A minister to whom”.
    So that's instead of “a minister who”.
    Correct. Then in the last line of (3), after “(2)”, the word “apply” would be inserted.
    So it would be “apply in respect of the department or agencies”.
    In the last line of (4), instead of “requirement”, it would be “required”.
    Mr. Cullen.
    On a point of helpfulness, we're now making some changes to the amendment that was proposed earlier. I'm not sure if other committee members have the new text. Has this been given out? It's very difficult to have a text read to us and then amended in the reading.
    I appreciate that.
    I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
    No, it's pretty tough.
     Mr. Warawa is asking for more copies. They might be helpful once they arrive, but I suspect they'll be in only one language when they come. I know they're working hard on the translation as well.
    They also will not be officially distributed.

  (1635)  

     I'm asking for debate on the motion proposed by Mr. Warawa to amend clause 11. It contains four subclauses, as Mr. Warawa has read.
    The attempt here is to incorporate in one clause the requirements that were in clauses 10 and 11. The specific importance of clause 11 is that it is key to things we do later in the bill. We make reference to objectives and plans for the department or agency. That phrase exists in amendment G-16 to clause 18. So we need to have some objectives and plans that can be dealt with later on, otherwise there's no reference to objectives and plans.
    On the language we've inserted here, these objectives and plans not only comply with the federal sustainable development strategy, they contribute to it. We wanted to get in the notion that it's not just simply minimalist; it actually proactively tries to contribute. So those are important things.
    You'll see reference to schedule 2 in the act. It refers to agencies that, since the Auditor General Act was passed, have agreed to submit sustainable development plans. You'll see schedule 2 in amendment L-25. These are order in council decisions that were made after the Auditor General Act was passed. They say that the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Revenue Agency, CIDA, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Parks Canada Agency, and the Public Health Agency have also agreed to submit sustainable development plans. If we didn't put them in here we would be asking for fewer sustainable development plans than we had.
     Would you mind reading that list again?
    Sure. It's in L-25, on page 49 in the new package of amendments.
    Part of what we're doing here is just making sure this act is every bit as extensive in asking for sustainable development plans as the previous act, plus all of the additions that were put in later by order in council. So there are really these various purposes, which clause 11 is trying to get at. So that's the reference to schedule 2 of this act.
    The other thing to be said is that we've also incorporated the idea that the Governor in Council may expand the list. That's subclause 11(3) in this:
(3) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of a minister presiding over a department not named in Schedule 1 to the Financial Administration Act, or agency named in Schedule 2 of this Act direct that the requirements of subsections (1) and (2) apply in respect of the department or agencies.
     In other words, the list can be expanded down the road, just as it has been expanded since we passed the original act to include these seven agencies. So it allows for future expansion. And those three categories add up to what this act is about.
    The fourth point is that the Governor in Council may make regulations to put this into action. So this covers off regulations. It's a multi-purpose activity, which allows the rest of the act to flow. It's a very crucial bit, as well as saying that every minister has to update every three years. That would be the overall rationale for this.
    Thank you, Mr. Godfrey.
    Mr. Cullen.
    I have a specific question on proposed subsection 11(4), in terms of the need for.... Of course, the minister can make further regulations; they have that power anyway. I'm not sure why that needs to be here. But specifically, thank you for that more comprehensive look at it.
    Now I'm trying to understand what the effects are on the rest of the piece of legislation and what has been lost because of this one comprehensive push through clause 11. Is there anything of substance that is no longer within Bill C-474 as a result of this?

  (1640)  

    No, Mr. Cullen.
    Then to my first question around (4), that the government...why do we specifically need to name this? I've not seen that necessarily before. I assume the minister already has the power to make such regulations within the standing acts of Parliament. Why do we need to point that out in specifics?
    If you happen to have a copy of the original bill--
    I do.
    Look under clause 15, page 10.
    Does this replace 15, or is it over and above...?
    This is through the chair, of course.
    Sorry, through the chair. The old clause 15 had a section at the very back called “Regulations”:
The Governor in Council may make regulations for the purpose of achieving any of the goals of this Act.
    Is this maybe a separate power of regulation? Okay. What we've got is....
    Mr. Cullen questions, first of all, why we need the ability to make regulations. I think that's fairly standard form, that it forms part of the....
    The enabling authority.
    Yes, the enabling authority, that's what it is. So the only other question would be whether proposed subclause 11(4), which is quite specific about the sustainable development strategies, means we still allow in place the old clause 15, which is the power to make regulations generally.
    Mr. Godfrey, obviously your question was to Mr. Warawa, since you wouldn't be asking from behind Mr. Warawa, and I'm sure Mr. Warawa is anxious to answer.
    Yes, I am.
    He's quite right. Clause 15 is very general. It's a weak clause, saying the Governor in Council may make regulations for the purpose of achieving any of the goals of the act. What we're getting into is more specifics, so some may argue why clause 15 is necessary. But I think clause 11--the amendments from the Liberals and also from the government--is a compromise that achieves the same and provides detail.
    Okay. Thank you.
     Mr. Cullen.
     Consequentially, then, if such a clause as this one has now been proposed as adopted...I'm just looking through the remainder of clauses to understand what the implications are down the road. Are they all gone? Are there portions of them gone?
    Would you like me to do the walk-through now?
    I talked earlier about a walk-through.
    Mr. Cullen, is that what you would like?
    It's essentially what I'm asking for.
    It might be simpler going forward. I hope it will abbreviate the process as we go on.
    Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Warawa, would you please provide that walk-through of what's happening here, as best you can?
    We are functioning from two different stacks of amendments here.
    If clause 11 goes through, clause 12 will bring some minor amendments, but this is to do with performance agreements of senior officials in departments, and that would remain the same. I'm going off the original text here.
    Are we talking about amendment L-18 now?
    Yes, we're talking about amendment L-18, and we're going to be subamending that a little bit.
    It's on page 36 of the larger package.
    We're going to be losing the crown corporations there.
    We then lose altogether clause 13. Clause 13 was written with the idea that there would be an independent environment commissioner, so all of that was set up about how they would be selected and petitions and everything else. So all of clause 13 goes.
    That brings us to clause 14. This is where we replace all of clause 14 with the way in which the commissioner will be examining the sustainable development report to assess the fairness of the information contained therein and the progress in implementing the national sustainable development strategy. This is all about the commissioner's role. It sets out that he will report every three years the results--
    Mr. Godfrey, do you mean amendment L-20?
    Yes, I mean amendment L-20 from the original package.
    So clause 14 tells you what the commissioner does.

  (1645)  

    That is tracked as well?
    No, it ceases to be, as it is in the original text, about petitions, and it becomes all about.... If you look at amendment L-20 from the original package on page 40, that describes the activities of a commissioner once the report is received.
    Clause 15 stands. It's the regulations of the original document.
    Clause 16 is dealt with in amendment L--
    You have amendment L-22.1, which you've handed out today.
     Yes, that's L-22.1.
    So amendment L-22.1 in the new package.... These are amendments to the Auditor General Act, so this lines up what we're doing in this act with what has to happen in the Auditor General Act, and this definition section lines up with these various ways in which we'll define who gets audited. “Category I department” means A, B, or C. It means either they're named in schedule 1 of the Financial Administration Act--we've decided afterwards we're going to do something about them and they get put in, and we've done that in clause 11--or they're in the schedule already.
    So there are three ways, three kinds of agencies and departments that get done: the Financial Administration Act, the ones on schedule 2, and ones the government may wish to add later. That's what the new clause 16 is all about. It just makes that clear.
    Clause 17, I think, stands as far as we know; we don't need the old clause 17 in the original draft.
    Then clause 18 is the old G-16 in the original package on page 43, and it's all fine, isn't it? I think we decided that was all good, because having repealed sections of the Auditor General Act, these are the replacements. This just aligns the two acts to make them consistent, and that's it.

[Translation]

    I would like an opinion from the clerk. These are not cosmetic amendments, they are major amendments that sometimes change whole clauses. Can amendments like that be made? It seems to me that we are rewriting the bill from beginning to end. Are we allowed to proceed like that?

[English]

    The committee has to consider each of the clauses, and the amendments should relate to the clauses. The clerk is suggesting we examine the amendments in each clause that relate to that clause and then consider the clause as a whole. Of course, sometimes we'll be amending the clauses in their entirety, as you say.
    For example, clause 13 is about the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Amendment L-19, which is the amendment Mr. Godfrey proposed, is about the Sustainable Development Secretariat, so it's a different thing. But the clerk has advised me that if we're proceeding with amendment L-19, it should be proposed as a new clause with a separate decision on clause 13.

  (1650)  

[Translation]

    It is the same for clause 14.

[English]

     That's the way we would proceed on this.

[Translation]

    Does that answer Mr. Bigras' question? Good.
    Let us move on.

[English]

    Is there any further discussion on the amendment Mr. Warawa has proposed to clause 11?
    (Amendment agreed to)
    Now we are ready for the Bloc amendment, BQ-1, on page 34. First of all, we'll let Mr. Bigras propose it. It is a new subclause in clause 11.
     Monsieur Bigras.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, before I bring forward my amendment, I would like to know where it would go in. Would it be at the end? Then it would become clause 1.5. So we would be adding a new point to the two-headed Conservative-Liberal amendment.
    It would add the following:
    (1.1) When developing the departmental sustainable development strategy, the responsible minister shall comply with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, as amended from time to time, published by the Privy Council Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
    The aim of the amendment is to make sure that the directive from the Prime Minister's Office, which is almost 25 years old, is required by law. In broad terms, it requires departments to conduct an environmental assessment of their policies, plans and programs.
    On several occasions, Canada's commissioner for the environment has indicated that a number of departments are not observing this directive. In one report, the commissioner indicated that the Department of Finance was dragging its feet on conducting the environmental assessment. This amendment is intended to make sure that the cabinet directive on strategic environmental assessment is followed.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Bigras.
    Are there any other comments on this amendment?
    Mr. Warawa.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    The government does not support the amendment.
     I appreciate the intent, but the cabinet directive constitutes direct instructions to both ministers and departmental officials that policy, plan, and program proposals must be assessed when important environmental effects, positive or negative, are expected. As such, the directive already would apply to departmental strategies submitted to the ministers for a decision. There's no need to include a legislative requirement to apply to cabinet directive; it's not a legal instrument.
     So we will not be supporting the amendment.

  (1655)  

    Is there any other commentary on this?
    Mr. Cullen.
    Through you, Chair, I just want to understand the parliamentary secretary. Is he suggesting that this is already happening and doesn't need to be written in, or that such a writing into the bill would have no legal authority and is opposed that way?
    Mr. Warawa.
    I'm suggesting that it's not appropriate to have jurisdictional oversight over cabinet and the decisions of cabinet. Cabinet needs that discretion and accountability. I don't believe it is proper to legislate a requirement of cabinet directive.
    Thank you.
    I'm wondering if the clerk could identify whether there would be a conflict of laws in relation to this particular section. If it were indeed adopted, would there would be a conflict of laws relating to other legislation, or to a cabinet directive generally?
    It seems it might be beyond the jurisdiction of the....
     Right. That's perhaps where we go to the....
     Can someone give us an answer to that? That would really require a legal opinion. We have two lawyers here, but you're not sure of the answer to that.
     I wonder if we could ask Madame Roy, who was kind enough to come today, if she can tell us the answer to that question.
     I would have to reread the content of that directive to provide you with any legal opinion.
    Would you come to the table, please, and repeat that so we can all hear? Thank you.
    Madame Roy is the chief legislative counsel. Is that right?
    Oh, I'm just a drafter.
    I would appreciate reading the document before providing you with legal advice on the matter.

[Translation]

    I would also like to consult the people in the library to see whether or not there would be a conflict in law.
    When you say the document, you mean the cabinet directive.
    Exactly.

[English]

    Go ahead, Mr. Jean.
    It seems obvious on its face, quite frankly, that it would be in conflict with other laws that govern cabinet. It would seem to me that it would be. Certainly it shouldn't be the work of this committee to move forward with something that would be in conflict with other laws, if indeed it is.
    I think at the very least we should wait and hear some opinion on it before it's adopted.
    Is there further debate on this amendment? No.
    (Amendment negatived)
    (Clause 11 as amended agreed to on division)
    It was defeated on division.
    Chair, do we want to deal with clause 10 now or deal at the end with all the clauses that were stood?
    It seems to me we could go back and deal with clause 10 now.
    It's fresh in our minds now.
    That seems like a reasonable approach.
    It was Mr. Cullen who asked about this to begin with. Are you agreeable to that, Mr. Cullen?
    It is appropriate now, if this has clarified what it is to remove or not to pass clause 10.
    I'm going to ask if clause 10 shall carry. My understanding is that if you want to withdraw it--and the wishes of Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Warawa are that you say no--that clause would no longer be, because it has been replaced.
    (Clause 10 negatived)
    This is a tough, tough day for you.
    (On clause 12--Performance-based contracts)
    The Vice-Chair (Hon. Geoff Regan): First we have amendment L-18, which is on page 36 of the main package.
    We'll have Mr. Godfrey.

  (1700)  

    I wanted to say to Mr. Cullen that there was some ambiguity about the phrase in the original bill, which said, “Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada”. It could be understood to be one of two things. It could be a contract with an employee or it could be a contract with a construction company, or something, anytime there was a performance-based contract with an outside operator.
    To clarify that language, we have used the phrase “Performance agreements of senior officials in departments and Crown corporations shall include provisions”. If I may be allowed to, I want to delete “and Crown corporations”, because we now understand crown corporations to be covered by departmental responsibility. So I am proposing that it say “Performance agreements of senior officials in departments shall include provisions”.
    I think what you're saying, Mr. Godfrey, is that you're moving that Bill C-474 in clause 12 be amended by replacing lines 17 and 18 on page 7 with the following in clause 12: “Performance agreements of senior officials in departments shall include provisions”.
    That is correct.
    Go ahead, Mr. Warawa.
     Just procedurally, before we deal with Mr. Godfrey's motion, which I believe comes after ours.... You are on line 20.
    Are we ready for the question on Mr. Godfrey's amendment?
    Mr. Cullen, and then Mr. Warawa.
    This is appreciated. If I understand Mr. Godfrey.... There's been some conflict on this in the past with crown corporations, particularly under the Auditor General--what the AG is able to go after and what the commissioner can look at and what they can't. l just want to get some assurance that in fact that has been looked at. In saying that the performance agreements will stretch far enough to include...because if we make that mistake at this point it will open up a whole raft of unaccountability further down the road.
    I guess I'm just looking for a little more assurance to make sure that—
    Because we understand that federal sustainable development strategies now apply to departments, and through departments to crown corporations, we've struck out references to crown corporations earlier on. So this is simply consistent with that. But the understanding of the reach of a minister is that it goes down to a crown corporation, and I think by logic, any official in a crown corporation who would be ignoring a departmental directive would be doing so at his or her peril.
    Okay. That's fine.
    Thank you, Chair.
    Mr. Warawa.
    The government does not support the amendment. In terms of contracts with senior members of government, their contracts are already negotiated annually. Negotiating was to be contained in these contracts. It would unduly constrain how the government manages and limits its ability to respond effectively to changing priorities. That is one issue. The government has to have that ability.
    This clause is not, in effect, a tool of increasing accountability. Performance agreements are agreements between the deputy minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council. They are not mechanisms to ensure political accountability. They represent the personal contribution of an individual to departmental priorities.
    Rather than ensuring a level of political accountability for the federal strategy's implementation, what this clause would do is politicize the performance contracts of senior public servants. It's important to note that performance agreements and subsequent evaluations are confidential. It's a very important point for the committee to consider. There would be no way to know if the provisions for meeting the applicable targets in this strategy were included or met, because of the confidentiality of the agreements.
    I'd also like to reiterate that obligating the ministers responsible for crown corporations to prepare and table in Parliament a sustainable development strategy is inappropriate and unnecessary. Crown corporations will have vastly different capacities to prepare these strategies from a logistical and financial perspective.
    I'd like to reiterate my concern here, which would obviously also pertain to the amendments proposed here that would further obligate crown corporations in terms of senior official performance agreements.
    I think the real salient point is the confidentiality of those agreements. How could you determine if the person has met those targets and obligations if the agreements are confidential? It wouldn't be possible.

  (1705)  

    If the parliamentary secretary doesn't want my amendment, that's fine. I'm just trying to understand. Does the original language stand, and then he wishes to change the words “National” to...? Are we going back to performance-based contracts, or are we trying to get rid of this altogether? I haven't quite understood.
    You may not be looking at.... My understanding is that we were talking about performance-based agreements.
    Are you against the whole clause or just performance-based agreements?
    Yes, against the whole clause.
    I am just curious as to why you then want to amend to “Federal Sustainable Development Strategies” if you're against the whole clause.
    If the clause stood, we would have amended it to read “Federal”, but we don't agree with the clause.
    Mr. Cullen, did I see your hand?
    Yes. We clearly can have a difference of opinion in terms of the witness testimony we heard regarding the accountability mechanism required, so that department officials are able to ensure the to and fro between the minister and the politicians making the promises and what they are actually able to deliver. We heard from various witnesses that this was an acceptable avenue, to assure both the public servant that promises were being made with their inclusion and the elected official that their department heads were also agreeing to the steps that the politician was making in public.
     I appreciate the parliamentary secretary's point, and difference of opinion is fine, but when I and others have repeatedly asked what accountability anybody has held on the file of sustainability over the last dozen years, the Auditor General herself and the Commissioner of the Environment himself were unable to find any case of anyone feeling any repercussion whatsoever.
    So we're trying to go to the root of this and say that at the moment of contract, the sustainability clauses are included in that contract, so that when we go and look at the performance of the government and of the various departments and crown corporations, the two line up. Wouldn't that be a nice day?
    There have been very few mechanisms proposed by anybody to this point to achieve that. So while there may be discomfort, or it's a different approach to arriving at this, it's very difficult to look at this bill with any serious option of hope if we're using the same mechanisms that have failed us in the past. We need to find ways that the words actually match the actions and that the promises made by the elected officials are in some sort of convergence with the plans of those meant to carry out those promises, and that those are the people who are included in this performance contract clause.
    Difference of opinion is fine, but it's unfortunate. I think we could arrive at some consensus here.
    I think Mr. Jean is next, and then Mr. McGuinty.
    I was just wondering whether the committee had heard evidence in relation to the percentage of senior management who would be on performance-based contracts. It seems to me that all this would do is in essence change contracts to not be performance-based, at least so far as fitting into the criteria of the legislation goes.
    I sympathize, and I understand exactly what Mr. Cullen is saying, but the reality is that holding those individuals to account on the basis of that, because of the confidential nature of their contract, seems, quite frankly, very difficult if not impossible to do.
    So I see what you're aiming for, and I can understand why witnesses would say that. But how do you get around the fact that it's confidential? Indeed, the cumbersome part of the contract may not fit in with the Auditor General's report or other reports to show whether or not they're accountable. I see it as very cumbersome as far as the management goes, and quite frankly impossible as far as fulfilling the confidentiality part of the agreement goes.
    Mr. McGuinty.
    Nobody answered my question about the percentage of senior management that would be under performance-based contracts.
    I took it as a matter of debate. I don't know if there's anyone here who is able to answer, but if someone else on the committee wishes to answer, they could speak in debate and offer whatever answer they may wish. But Mr. McGuinty is next in line and has the floor now.

  (1710)  

    Mr. Chair, on that specific question, my understanding is that these performance-based contracts are signed exclusively with deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers in line departments. I don't think they extend to presidents and CEOs of crown corporations, because their contracts usually are negotiated with their boards of directors who hire and appoint them and set the terms and conditions.
    What's interesting in the position put forward by Mr. Warawa is that if in fact that is the consistent position of a government, what he's put forward would mean that every single item in the Accountability Act that is about to drive up or is supposed to be driving up government accountability cannot find its way into a performance-based contract.
    Look, performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada, negotiated between the clerk and deputy ministers, have a whole series of essential elements in them: everything from person years that are filled, to budgeting, to parliamentary relations, to the estimates process, and on and on it goes. My understanding is that they are fairly generic between a clerk and over 28 line department deputies and the associates that underpin them. You may be talking about 40 or 50 contracts. I don't know why the fact that a performance-based contract isn't disclosable ought not to mean that the notion of including provisions for meeting targets referred to in the national sustainable development strategy can't form part of the contract.
    There are many elements in a performance-based contract right now, negotiated between the deputy minister and the clerk, that are not disclosable. But I'm sure that contract is rife with all kinds of measurables, all kinds of targets that we'll never know about. So I don't understand the logic or the argument here. The fact that they already have contracts with terms and conditions that stipulate targets in one form or another, which aren't releasable—we can't compel their release—ought not to mean that this committee and Parliament can't ask those deputies to take on more confidential targets, which happen to flow directly from the national sustainable development strategy.
    I don't understand the logic, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Cullen.
    First, to Mr. Jean, because I think it's the easiest to answer, the assumption from the testimony of witnesses, as Mr. McGuinty has outlined, is that virtually all assistant deputy ministers go through some contract agreement.
    It's performance-based.
    Yes, outlining the various categories we hear about.
    Second--this is in terms of Mr. Warawa's point, and I would hope he would reconsider--there is an insinuation, perhaps, of politicizing what does and doesn't happen under that contract by parliamentarians. There's no insinuation of that, because we knew these were confidential between the people who are drawing up the contract. There is nothing in this clause that says you then, therefore, must make it public, and in making it public, you can then drag a deputy minister here and burn their feet.
    If we're doing all this work on accountability with respect to sustainable measures, I don't know why we wouldn't also ask that this be included. It makes some logic. I'm not sure what the ideological point of difference is. We do this on all sorts of things. If we're trying to putting a green lens on what it is that government does, then the application of this to the contract itself is one of the places where the civil service would understand it being a serious moment when contracts are negotiated in the future.
    Maybe the position is being worked out in our midst, I don't know. But there's no attempt at politicization of the bureaucracy in this. This is just asking that it be included. We're looking for any measure we can find, and there are very few at our disposal.
    Is there any further debate?
    Mr. Godfrey.
    Yes. I'm not hung up on the difference between what I've got here, “performance agreements of senior officials”, and “performance-based contracts of the Government of Canada”. That's not the point of debate. The point of debate is whether there's that kind of accountability at all.
     I guess we can vote on this amendment. I don't think it changes anything substantial between “performance-based contracts” and “performance agreements of senior”. I think we should just vote on it.
    That's not the contention.
    Technically we have to vote on this amendment, right?
    Are we ready for the vote?
    I can see what's going to come here.
    Those in favour of Mr. Godfrey's amendment L-18, so signify.
    It's a tie vote, five to five.
    Some of you who have seen tie votes in the House, which I've seen, will know that when that happens, as in committee, the Speaker, or in this case the chair, does not decide on the basis of his own opinion, but in keeping with procedure. The procedure would be to maintain the status quo. In other words, the chair votes to maintain the status quo.
    So if we were talking about whether a clause that is already in the bill should stay in it, the chair would vote for the clause. If we're talking about an amendment that would change what already exists, the chair must vote against.
    So the motion is defeated.
    (Amendment negatived)

  (1715)  

    Now we are on amendment G-15, on page 37.
    Mr. Warawa.
    Thank you.
    It changes the word “National” to “Federal”, which would clear up other parts of the bill and make it consistent.
    Is there any discussion? I suspect there shouldn't be too much discussion on this.
    (Amendment agreed to)
    I think we're ready for clause 12.
    Is there debate on clause 12 as amended?
    Shall clause 12 carry as amended?
    You've done it to me again, haven't you? It's a tie. But this time, as I indicated already, since the clause itself is already in the bill, I will have to vote in favour of the clause carrying.
    (Clause 12 agreed to)
    (On clause 13--Appointment)
     Now, we have a situation here. The question is whether you wish to proceed with amendment L-19, which is on page 38.
    Mr. Jean.
     I have a point of order. I didn't really understand the reasoning of the chair. I just want clarification. Of course, there's no legislation now, so the status quo is that there is not that clause in the act. I understand it's in the proposed act, but it's not the status quo.
    Could the clerk or the chair confirm that this is indeed the case?
    I'm acting on the advice of the clerks, and it's not news to me, actually, but because the House passed this at second reading and sent it to us, therefore now we're dealing with the question of whether or not clause 12 in general, even though it's been amended, should carry. So on the question of whether or not this clause should carry--where the clause is existing in the bill that has been passed at second reading in the House and sent to us--the procedure is that in a tie, the chair votes yes. I think you'll see the clerks nodding to indicate that this is the case.
    This is the very same form of the bill.
    I don't think it has to be the same form.
    Are you nodding to indicate I've expressed myself appropriately?
    Not well; just appropriately.
    There you go.
    Mr. Vellacott.
    I have a question on the same point of order. I need to understand, because it's pretty important in directing it this way. Are we saying this is in the very same order it was when it came from the House, because that would be maintaining the status quo, but if we've made changes already, we're not...?
    The status quo is that there is a clause 12, and that's the point. When we come to the point of whether the clause as it now exists should carry, then the main principle is the fact that the clause already existed. That's the advice I've received.
    The bad news is, if there's a challenge to the chair, I'm going to win that one.
    Yes, I know. Anyway, that still doesn't answer my question. I'm saying I understand your attempt at the logic or reasoning there, and that's what I'm asking you, and I guess I'm asking the clerk by that same token. If this is in fact not in the same form as it came from the House, then all we're dealing with are proposals. The status quo...we haven't even approved that into this place. That's what I'm saying.
    As I understand it, the procedure contemplates that you are going to have a process of amending the bill, and when it comes to voting on amendments to particular clauses, you saw what happened.
    Then why would you not support the previous one, because that was proposed in the very same...?

  (1720)  

    As I explained, when I first voted no to the amendment, that was because that would change the existing thing, which is not voting for the status quo in this sense. If you were to defeat the whole clause, when the clause was sent here, even if it had been amended, that would not be in accordance with the status quo; that would be a different direction. That's the advice I have, and that's my understanding from previous experience.
    When you're finished, Mr. Vellacott, Mr. Jean will be next.
    That's right. I'm almost coming to the impression that one could use that kind of logic to go any which way you want on this kind of thing, because of the nature of it.
     I'm not challenging, Mr. Chair, believe me. I think you could win on this one.
    When I spoke at the beginning, before voting on the amendment, I expressed what I had heard. I'm following the advice of the legislative clerk, and it is my understanding as well that this advice is correct. If you want to raise the matter with the table, in the House, with the Speaker, that's up to you, obviously.
    Okay. I'll leave it for now.
    Mr. Jean.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I do defer to your greater wisdom, and also to the clerk's, but it seems bizarre in a way. I'm just wondering if there has been precedent in this particular case with legislation that's been put forward before, because I haven't seen it. But the status quo, in my mind, is the same as Mr. Vellacott has suggested, which is that there is no legislation now; there is no clause now. That would be the status quo.
     I'm just wondering, with the legislative clerk...I understand the status quo has to be maintained, but from my perspective, the status quo is zero right now.
    Has this particular issue been raised in other legislative initiatives before?
    I'm sure it has.
    “I'm sure it has” isn't confident; I'm sure it hasn't.
    That's the indication I'm getting.
     Look, the question really is whether there's a point of order, and I do not find there's a point of order because I think I've answered your question.
    It must have been a point of order to answer it, so....
     I don't find it a valid point of order, so I think we should get back to the matter at hand, if you don't mind. I don't find the objection valid, so let's continue, if you don't mind, with clause 13.
     Mr. Godfrey, do you wish to propose L-19?
    Let me just get back to where we are here.
    What you may wish to do is propose it as a new clause following clause 12.
    No, I don't wish to propose L-19.
    Okay. You don't wish to propose L-19.
    I guess we're going to be getting rid of clause 13 as we know it.
    So you're proposing that we get rid of clause 13, and those who wish to get rid of it will vote no to the following question: shall clause 13 carry?
    (Clause 13 negatived)
    (On clause 14--Petitions to the Commissioner)
    Now we have L-20 at page 40.
    Before we go ahead, Mr. Warawa.
    Chair, I would ask that clause 14 be stood. There will be core amendments in clause 18 that will deal with clause 14.
    Is it agreed that clause 14 be allowed to stand?
    (Clause 14 allowed to stand)
    (On clause 15--Regulations)
    I see reference to L-21, but it is a separate proposition, not part of clause 15, I understand. It would be clause 15.1. So first we deal with whether or not 15 shall carry.
    Clause 15 reads:
The Governor in Council may make regulations for the purpose of achieving any of the goals of this Act.
    Is there any debate on clause 15? Shall clause 15 carry?
    (Clause 15 agreed to)
     Mr. Godfrey, I believe you want to propose a new clause 15.1, and we're therefore at L-21 on page 41 of the old package.
    This was very much at the suggestion of the Auditor General's office, that we provide some transitional provision because of the changes that are going to be made to the Auditor General Act. This is coming into force and all the rest of it. This is simply a technical amendment to allow the transition period when we're altering that act by this act.

  (1725)  

    Does this have repercussions later in the bill?
    Yes, because we're then making further amendments.
    For instance, you're referring to section 19, which is not yet part of the bill.
    Correct.
    That's an important point.
    There's a question about 11(2), which refers to “The directions made under subsection 24(3) of the Auditor General Act”, etc., “remain in force and are deemed to have been made under subsection 11(2) of this Act”. Is that still...? That's 15.1. Is 11(2) still the right clause for that to refer to? That's the question. Having changed clause 11, we have to look at Mr. Warawa's amendment.
    Hon. John Godfrey: That's right.
    The Vice-Chair (Hon. Geoff Regan): So should it be (3), which of course is that “The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister,” add that minister's department or agency? Does that mean that your L-21, instead of saying in the last line, “been made under subsection 11(2)”, would say “made under subsection 11(3)”? That would be what you're going to move, isn't it?
    Correct.
    Do you wish to move the amendment, Mr. Godfrey?
    Yes.
    Mr. Godfrey has moved his amendment L-21 with that one change to 11(3) instead of 11(2).
    Debate?
    Mr. Warawa.
    Chair, I'm going to ask if we can have a five-minute break to discuss this. I'm concerned about clause 19, which is the schedule, is it not?
     Clause 19 is an amendment.
    If you're asking for a suspension for five minutes--
    Do we have an understanding that we'll be carrying on today?
    If we're asking for a suspension, it's a given that we'd carry on. I can't adjourn until there's an indication of agreement to adjourn, in any event, as Mr. Mills has acquainted me with in the past.
    So we'll suspend for five minutes. This is to do with clause 19, and I hope we'll end up getting out of here before too long.

    


    

  (1735)  

     The meeting will come back to order.
    We're at amendment L-21.
    Mr. Godfrey, did you already move amendment L-21? Yes, you did.
    Perhaps Marie-Andrée will come forward on this, because of what we're doing here.
    We'll ask Madame Roy to come forward--

[Translation]

    Yes.

[English]

    --and answer a really challenging skill-testing question.
    I believe that with respect to amendment L-21, which is the transitional provision, you now think that in light of what we are going to do it will not be necessary. Is that correct?

[Translation]

    Clause 15.1 was added to target departments designated under the Auditor General Act. But in the new provisions that you brought forward today, you add a schedule to Bill C-474 that reproduces the list in the schedule to the Auditor General Act. That being the case, clause 15.1 is no longer necessary because that will now be done under the new act.
    Okay. So I will withdraw it.

[English]

    Merci beaucoup.
    So you are withdrawing your amendment--
    Yes, L-21, because it is now covered elsewhere.
    Is that agreed?
    (Amendment withdrawn)
    (On clause 16)
    Mr. Warawa wishes to speak.
    Chair, we have core amendments in clause 18 coming up. We stood clause 14. I'm going to be asking that we stand clauses 16 and 17 and move on to clause 18.
    The Vice-Chair (Hon. Geoff Regan): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    (On clause 18)
    On clause 18 we begin with amendment G-16 on page 43 of the large package.
    Mr. Warawa, would you like to move this amendment?
    I would love to. Thank you so much.
    The amendment is so moved.
    On debate, Mr. Warawa, would you care to illuminate further?

  (1740)  

    Yes, I'm just getting ready.
     Obviously we support this amendment. The requirement for departments to prepare sustainable development strategies is better placed within this proposed legislation than in the Auditor General Act. Therefore, section 24 of the Auditor General Act should continue to be repealed.
    Amendments to clause 11 of the bill introduced the language from section 24 of the Auditor General Act, which strengthened the language that was there originally--for instance, by requiring that departmental sustainable development strategies be tabled in Parliament.
    This amendment kills two birds with one stone, so to speak, by both repealing section 24 of the Auditor General Act and amending section 23 of that act, to clarify the role of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development vis-à-vis the federal strategy, and secondly, to correct references to the repeal of section 24 of the Auditor General Act, which should now refer to clause 11 of the federal sustainable development act.
    Mr. Warawa, I'm advised that as amendment G-16 proposes to replace both sections 23 and 24 of the Auditor General Act, in fact they should be taken separately. The committee should decide on amending each of those sections of that act separately.
     I think you already have amendment G-17, which would effectively deal with section 24. If you replace section 24 and then repeal it, you have a problem. It's an effective repeal. It should be two decisions.
    Can you propose to replace section 23 for now? If you move amendment G-16 and take out the reference “and 24”, then you could do the other as a separate amendment. Okay?
     Let's do that then.
    Okay. So moved, I gather. Is that agreeable?

[Translation]

    Is that clear, or not?

[English]

    So it is “Section 23 of the Act is replaced by the following:”
    Is there debate?
    (Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The change takes out the words “and 24”.
    Now we're on to amendment G-17.
    Mr. Warawa, would you like to propose it?
    I would like to move amendment G-17.
    Is there any debate on amendment G-17?
    (Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    Now we're on amendment L-23 on page 46.
    Which I am withdrawing.
    Mr. Godfrey is not moving it, so we'll cross that off.
     Is there any debate on clause 18?
    (Clause 18 as amended agreed to)
    We're on to clause 19, which is a new clause. I guess we're dealing with amendment L-23.1 on page 46.1 in the new package.
    Mr. Godfrey.
    We need to be very clear on what we're talking about. This states quite simply, “The schedule to the Act is repealed.” We now are referring to the Auditor General Act. That's where we have taken out the agencies. We produced a list of agencies to which this applied and we're putting them into this act; therefore, we have to take them out of the Auditor General Act. That's what this is about. The schedule to the act refers to the Auditor General Act, and it refers to those now seven agencies that we talked about previously, which we have to do something....
     Let's see, what are we...?

  (1745)  

    Just out of curiosity, how is it clear that the act you're referring to...? I suppose, for one thing, this one doesn't exist yet.
    Because it's still under the heading of the Auditor General Act.
    It's under the heading; that's fine. That's clear. We're good, from my perspective.
    Is there debate on this?
    Mr. Warawa.
    I have a question of procedure.
    Should we be repealing the schedule as we have it in the bill now and then going to this, or going to—
    No, it's a different—
     We've already voted to replace the schedule in the Auditor General Act, and here you are repealing the old one. Is that correct?
    That's right. It's repealing it. It's taking it out of the Auditor General Act because it's coming into this act.
    (Amendment agreed to)
    Now we're on to the stood clauses.
    The first one we have is clause 5.
    (On clause 5--Basic principle)
    The Vice-Chair (Hon. Geoff Regan): We have amendment G-6 at page 12.
    It's amendment G-6, page 12, of the larger package, is it?
     It's the original package.
     It's the original package. It's amendment G-6 on page 12.
    Mr. Warawa, would you like to move this?
     Bear with me for one moment, please.
    Are you proceeding with L-7 on page 13 or not?
    No.
    I'm moving G-6, please.
    All right. Is there discussion on G-6?
    (Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    I understand, Mr. Godfrey, that you're not proceeding with L-7 on page 13, so that's struck.
    Sorry, hold on. Go ahead, Mr. Warawa.
    Chair, I'd like to repeal subclause 5(2).
    It is the second subclause. You want to repeal subclause 5(2).
    Yes.
    So you want to delete lines 15 to 35 on page 3 of the bill and lines 1 to 13 on page 4, for the assistance of those who are working on the wording of all of this.
    (Amendment agreed to)
    (Clause 5 as amended agreed to)
    (On clause 14--Petitions to the Commissioner)

  (1750)  

    Now we go to clause 14, and we have L-20 at page 40.
    Mr. Godfrey, are you going to proceed with that?
    I'll just check here. Yes, I will proceed with this. There will have to be, in light of what we've been doing, two changes made to this. This is L-20 on page 40 in the original package.
    First of all, the amendment says, under subclause 14(1), “The Commissioner shall examine the report referred to in section 13”. It is not section 13, because we just eliminated section 13. Does that make sense?
    Yes, that makes sense.
     I don't know whether I have to get.... I'm now referring to an amendment we've already made. I can get specific and say subclause 6.1(2), or do I just say clause 6?
    It should just say clause 6, because we....
    You'll do the aligning of....
    We have an editor who will work this out, and we're authorized to do that.
    Okay, it is clause 6.
    The other change I would make further down, in subclause 14(1), is to change “National” to “Federal”.
    It would say, “implementation of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy”.
    Clause 14 as it exists is about petitions. This is about a different matter.
    That's right. That's why we've eliminated....
    You could propose it as a separate clause, following clause 13, and then we could....
    Whatever you like, because we just lost 13.
    Then we could eliminate the old clause 14. Does it follow 12 now? It goes right after the last amendment, which was clause 12, I think. So that proposes to do that, right?
     That's fine.
     Mr. Warawa.
    The government amendments to clause 18 address the relationship between the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the federal strategy. Requirements pertaining to the commissioner are better placed within the Auditor General Act through consequential amendments, as section 23 of the Auditor General Act already outlines the duties of the commissioner in terms of auditing and reporting.
    A more sensible approach is to include section 23 of the Auditor General Act as a reference to the commissioner's responsibility pertaining to the auditing and reporting of the forthcoming strategy. So the government will be voting against this.
    What's the alternative?
    We're voting against the amendment to replace the current wording with the wording laid out in the amendment. We will be voting in favour of an amendment to delete the original text in clause 14. We would like you to not move clause 14 as you proposed. We won't be supporting it.
    So we have lost clause 13 and we're going to lose all of clause 14?
    It's referenced in clause 18.
     All right.
    Could we have a break?
    I'm going to need a little time to sort this out.
    Okay. The committee will suspend for a few minutes.

    


    

  (1825)  

     This meeting will briefly come to order.
    We are just about out of time. I'm sure our colleagues, Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Warawa, would love to have a little more time to work out some of these issues, and I understand. I know Mr. Godfrey is going to propose that the clerk try to seek time for an extra meeting this week to conclude this matter.
    Mr. Watson is anxious to be here in July, he says. I think he may be on his own on that one. He's going to find it a lonely place to be.
    Is that the situation, before we adjourn?
    We should find another time this week, because Mr. Warawa and I are anxious to get it done.
    Is it agreed that we seek an extra meeting this week to get this finished?
    How much time do you think it will take? That's a dumb question based upon this....
    It's very close. We're just into some technical issues.
    Are there votes on Wednesday night?
    Mr. Warawa.
    I suggest we do it on Monday. That will give us plenty of time to make sure we can very quickly move through this on Monday.
    There are no votes on Wednesday evening. At 6:30 we have the finance committee of the whole regarding the main estimates. That's all I see.
    Monsieur Lussier.

[Translation]

    Objection. On Monday, we had decided to study Bill C-469 on blue-green algae.
    We have not decided on the agenda after Wednesday. We just got up to Wednesday.
    Mr. Godfrey.
    Perhaps we could try to finish studying this bill as quickly as possible and begin the next study immediately.
    I hope that, by the next meeting, Mr. Godfrey and Mr. Warawa will have time to settle all these issues so that we can move forward quickly the next time.

[English]

    To make it official, would you accept a motion that we meet on Monday to finish it up?
    It's a valid motion.
    It would be the subject of Monday's meeting, along with

[Translation]

    the blue-green algae.

[English]

if there's time. That would be fine.

  (1830)  

[Translation]

    Is that accepted?

[English]

    Is there any possibility of doing it this week, on Thursday?

[Translation]

    Is there any interest in doing that on Thursday?

[English]

    You and I could meet on Thursday.
    We could meet before that, but I was wondering if we could actually meet as a group on Thursday.
    I'll be here on Thursday and Friday.
    Are you here on Thursday?
    If we can find a space on Thursday morning, we could finish it off. Then we can get on with....
    Mr. Warawa, we could come back to Bill C-474 at the meeting on Monday. If we can agree upon a time earlier than that, we could do it then.
    That would be fine.
    (Motion agreed to)
    I'm delighted to say that the meeting is adjourned.