All right. I hope everything goes as well as that one did.
Now the second thing on our agenda is the budget concerning the Bill study. We have gone overboard. We have a deficit and we need a new motion. We need approval of the new budget, which is an additional $33,800, or our witnesses who have already been here will not get paid for their expenses. This is a reflection of our 100 witnesses or so.
Do we have a motion to approve the budget? Thank you, Mr. McKinnon.
Is there any discussion?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: All right. That's good.
Are there any other motions? I think, Mr. Oliver, you have a motion.
I have two motions. I'll deal with them one at a time.
Just by way of introduction, in dealing with Bill , I realize that the expert task force instructed part of Bill C-45. They travelled for six months across Canada listening to Canadians, and they received 30,000 submissions in the course of that work. Our committee, when we received the bill, heard from over 100 witnesses and received over 100 submissions. I think that was the count I had. Because of the efficient and, I think, very effective way that we dealt with it, we consolidated what would have been about four months of committee work into that one-week period. By my count, we as a committee in this sitting have not yet heard from 100 people on any other study. Even for our study on national pharmacare, we haven't heard from this many witnesses, so we have done extensive work.
We also heard that it was important that we get moving with the legislation. We heard from municipalities, police, and from one province that they really need to understand the federal legislation in order to do their next level of government work so that they can be ready to roll out in July 2018, which is the government's committed date to enact the legislation.
With that preamble, I would make the following motion:
||That, the Committee, in its consideration of the Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts proceed as follows:
||a) that the Committee proceed with the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45 no later than October 2, 2017, provided that the Chair may limit debate on each clause to a maximum of five minutes per party, per clause;
||b) that amendments be submitted to the Clerk of the Committee no later than 5:00 p.m. on September 28, 2017 and distributed to members in both official languages; and
||c) that if the Committee has not completed the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45 by 6:00 p.m. on October 5, 2017, all remaining amendments submitted to the Committee shall be deemed moved, the Chair shall put the question, forthwith and successively, without further debate on all remaining clauses and amendments submitted to the Committee, as well as each and every question necessary to dispose of clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill, as well as all questions necessary to report the Bill to the House and to order the Chair to report the Bill to the House as early as possible.
I would so move.
Just from a structural point of view, I appreciate the desire of the government to move quickly, but I want to put on the record that I think this is moving too quickly. I won't belabour the point or repeat points made before, but I do think that carefully considering this bill is the proper way to go. I think we can all say that we learned a lot from the witnesses last week. I know I did. There were a number of issues that I didn't think of and a lot of points made that I wasn't aware of, so I would anticipate that if we heard from more stakeholder groups, we would probably continue to hear things that we weren't aware of, and learn things that we should know.
Having said that, I can tell that the government is obviously locked into an approach on this bill to rush it as expeditiously as it can through this committee and get it into the House.
I would point out as well that we have a full parliamentary year to get this bill passed by July 1. I've been in Parliament for nine years and I'm aware of the cadence. With the power of a majority government to impose time allocation when it wishes to, there's really no reason, I think, that we have to, as Mr. Oliver said, compress four months' work into one week. I don't think that's a healthy way to legislate and to properly consider this bill. We're going to move forward without hearing from a lot of groups that we should be hearing from, and without considering things that we ought to.
I also was going to move a motion that we tour, as committee travel, to visit a Canadian licensed producer of cannabis, a cannabis dispensary, a cannabis compassion club, and a producer of edible cannabis products so that we could actually have first-hand knowledge of what's going on in the real world, but I'm not going to move that motion because I know the Liberals will oppose it and won't do it given this timeline. That being the case then, with the motion before us, which I understand is going to be pressed by the government regardless of what the opposition has to say on it, I will make a couple of small suggestions.
October 2 is the day the Governor General is being sworn in at the Senate. My understanding from our House leader and whip is that the parties have secured unanimous agreement that we're going to be treating that Monday as a Wednesday, meaning that there will be no sitting of the House. We're treating it as if we have caucus meetings. I think it would be both inappropriate for us to be meeting at the same time that every other member of Parliament is invited to go see the swearing in of the Governor General and disrespectful, frankly, to the Governor General's office, for us to schedule work at the same time that important transition is taking place.
I also would propose that we start on October 3, which is the Tuesday, so we have October 3 to October 5, which is three days. I know John hasn't indicated in the motion how the committee will sit, unless I missed it. We haven't decided yet, but I'm in John's hands on that. If we want to go for eight hours a day, as we did before, or have multiple meetings, that's fine.
Of course, it's all moot at the end of the day anyway, because the text of the motion will deem the bill passed at a certain point on October 5, regardless of where we're at, so the motion takes away any attempt by the opposition parties to try to hold up the bill or be deleterious, which, for the record, the NDP has no intention of doing in any event. We have about, I'd say, probably somewhere around 10 amendments. I plan on speaking briefly and effectively to each one of those, not with a motive to hold things up but just to get our reasons on the record, so I see no reason why we won't be able to move through the clause-by-clause easily within the three days in any event.
It also, frankly, gives us one more day to get ready. We have a lot of material to go through, and I want to take a moment to congratulate all my colleagues on this committee on all sides for what I thought were a lot of penetrating questions on a lot of different issues. I've started the process of looking through the evidence that we heard, and there's a lot of it. A lot of it was very good.
One of the reasons I don't think we should start this clause-by-clause quite so quickly is that it forces us next week to have to process all of that information we received, analyze it, internalize it, place it into effective amendments, work with legislative counsel, make sure it's within the scope of the bill, and then have it translated in both languages, all within the next seven days. That's very tight for an important bill of this magnitude, but if we're going to do that, then at least we can have Friday and the Monday to get prepared for the clause-by-clause.
I'm going to speak to this a little bit later, but I do think we cannot adequately plan for the clause-by-clause study of Bill without also knowing our schedule for next week, so I'll take the opportunity now to say that it will be my suggestion—and I will move this at the appropriate time—that we don't sit on Tuesday or Thursday. I know that the PBO is planning to release his report on pharmacare, I think, on the Thursday, and I'll speak to that when it comes to that. But these two—
Yes, I'd like to speak to this. Thank you, Chair.
I would agree with many of my colleague's comments. I do feel the government is rushing this bill and I would have liked to have seen more witnesses, but we won't belabour that point.
My real disappointment is that the clause-by-clause stage is going to be done in a week when Mr. Davies is going to be out of the country, and I am previously committed to go and be a speaker at a palliative care conference. Knowing that, and knowing that this government is choosing this week anyway, I think that's a bad idea and it does indicate that they're rushing.
I would say, further, that I do want to start on October 2, because I'm not going to be here on October 5 and October 6, and I think if Mr. Davies is not here, then he can pick anybody who can be flexible to attend that day. That would be my suggestion.
The only thing I would say is that I don't intend to be deleterious either. Certainly, we want to move through the amendments. We don't have a lot of amendments from the Conservative side, but I wouldn't want to come to 6 p.m. on October 5 and still have things outstanding. I can't imagine we would, but I wouldn't want to arbitrarily cut it off. I think it's really important to make sure we look at this bill and get it right.
Just to make completely sure this door is closed, we're talking about the clause-by-clause the week of October 2. The following week is a break week. The week after that, we return. Is there any possibility on the government side to move the clause-by-clause to that week, on exactly the same basis as we have here?
This would be for a couple of reasons. It allows me to be here. It allows Marilyn to be here. It gives us a bit of breathing room on the amendments. It doesn't really hold back the government's legislative agenda very much, because you lose the week after as a break week anyway. Really, it just puts it back one parliamentary week.
I'm just wondering, John, if there's any appetite. That would be perfect, from my point of view, and I'll stop saying you're rushing the bill, too, if you do that.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
I have a second motion on Bill .
When we heard from the witnesses, many issues came up that were not necessarily part of Bill , but very impassioned discussion and concerns were raised around them. I was going to move that we request that the analysts draft a short letter, no longer than five pages, to be sent to the Minister of Health.
The letter would summarize the most credible evidence and best advice the committee had received regarding several discrete issues that we believe are important. On the list I had of discrete issues was the need for public health education and an awareness campaign; establishing metrics and baseline measurements to evaluate the success of Bill ; collaborative and respectful outreach and support to first nations, Inuit, and Métis communities to ensure appropriate implementation; legalizing alternatives, especially edibles; pardons for those who were charged or convicted of crimes now legalized by Bill C-45; and concerns regarding management of international treaties.
I would move that, but I would be open to adding to that list of issues or shrinking it.
I think it's a good idea, and certainly some of those issues are appropriate to direct the analysts to write on, but some of them are not because they're actually the subject of the bill. You're previewing an outcome prior to the clause-by-clause and amendments.
For instance, on edibles, it's no surprise that I'll be moving amendments on that. I don't think the Liberals want to look as though they're instructing the analysts to write a letter to the minister to study the introduction of edibles into the bill before we've had a chance to do clause-by-clause and entertain the amendments that I'm going to be moving on it, and the same thing for pardons.
On education, on metrics, on outreach to indigenous groups, and on international treaties, I believe those subjects are appropriate right now for the analysts to work on. On public education, metrics, and outreach to first nations, Inuit, and Métis, and then the last one, the management of international treaties, none of those are actually touched by the bill, so I think it's appropriate to start working.
However, we can't anticipate where this committee is not going to pass an amendment. If we actually feel strongly that edibles should be included in the bill, instead of writing the minister, maybe we'll do our job and amend the bill next week or the week after.
I will leave the timing of the meeting with the PBO up to you.
We redistributed the work plan, or the remaining meetings of the work plan, and that consists of getting a presentation from the PBO, who will present his report. After that, the other thing that was on the work plan was a final round table discussion, which the committee agreed would be longer. It would be about a three-hour meeting, and then in a subsequent meeting, you would provide us with drafting instructions for the final report.
Yesterday, or maybe it was today, the summary of evidence was distributed. I tried out a new format, so I'm open to feedback if you want me to do it differently. I did it in a series of tables so that you could clearly see what the witness said, a summary of the key points, and then their recommendations. I thought that would be helpful when you're providing me with drafting instructions if you could see very clearly who said what without my providing a kind of narrative.
The testimony is divided based on subjects. I know it's a bit long, so each table is prefaced with a little summary within the summary. That's on the pharmacare.