Thanks very much, Chair.
I want to reiterate my support for the amendment proposed by Ms. Saks.
At our last meeting, we heard from the Environment and Climate Change Canada officials. We also heard from members of the waste management and recycling industry all over the country. The public servants are the experts; they are the ones working every day to keep the system robust. I trust them and I trust what they told us when they appeared before the committee.
Mr. Albas has proposed in his amendment a timeline that is not achievable for a number of reasons. There is a range of deficiencies in the bill.
Namely, I'm referring to the lack of clear definitions, the inaccuracies in certain definitions, the fact that it's impossible to [Technical difficulty—Editor].
For example, if Bill were implemented, plastic waste that would normally be sent to another country would remain in Canada. However, according to what witnesses told us, we don't even have the capacity to dispose of the plastic here, in Canada.
If it were even possible to fix that, the government would need time to remedy all the deficiencies—
Just to recap, there's a series of deficiencies in the bill. I just finished listing them, which is I think what Mr. Albas was objecting to. However, even if it's possible to correct all this, the government would need time to correct the deficiencies.
At the last committee meeting, Mr. Albas, himself, acknowledged the work that needed to be done to correct the bill's deficiencies and the fact that it was the government's responsibility to make those corrections. The government needs time to do that, however.
Given what the department officials told us when they were here on Monday, it would be extremely difficult to implement the bill immediately. They told us that it usually took two years to make regulatory changes. The process can be shorter, but it can also require up to two years. With all due respect to my fellow member Mr. Albas, I think his subamendment fails to take into account the reality.
It's easy to picture where this subamendment could lead if we tried to shorten the coming into force time frame. It's almost certain the government would not be able to correct the deficiencies I mentioned in six months. On top of that, Canadians might not have an opportunity to fully participate in the consultation process, and companies might not have a chance to explain their circumstances. Frankly, I think it would be a disaster.
What Ms. Saks is proposing, I think, is to take into account this reality. Ms. Saks's amendment is about ensuring that the government has time to correct mistakes in the bill and to pursue the regulatory process correctly, which, as the officials highlighted for us, needs to be undertaken to implement the bill properly. By doing this, we can ensure that we make the most of this bill and protect our environment, or at least not cause further damage.
On Monday, I said that this was not a good bill. I think the Conservatives missed an opportunity to produce a good piece of legislation that addressed the problems around the recycling of plastics. If the bill were to pass, I think Ms. Saks's amendment would be reasonable, because it gives the government a chance to remedy the flaws that have been identified. I think Mr. Albas' subamendment fails to take into account the reality.
I want to thank my colleague Mr. Baker. I also want to thank Mr. Albas for being open to discussing my amendment. As he's put forward his subamendment, I'd like to speak to the reason that I put my amendment forward.
I'm a fan of getting work done that is done well, with due diligence and with the proper process that we need to go through, so that we come out at the other end with a bill that really does what it's meant to do. It should serve the community and the various industries and municipalities that will be impacted by the piece of legislation we are debating, discussing and breaking down.
Officials have said to us that the process to get Bill to the point where it would be implemented well will take somewhere around two years. I hesitated to put a timeline on this, but I did so to give the Governor in Council the flexibility they need to do the work they need to do to get the bill in order. Without this, we aren't doing a process of due diligence.
My concern is that we get it right. That's why I put this amendment forward for colleagues of the committee to consider. At the end of the day, we all want a good piece of legislation to go forward. That's really why we're here. That's certainly why I'm here. As a rookie MP, I can feign ignorance, perhaps, on some things, but I know that I came here to get good work done, and I'm committed to that.
Good work takes time. It's not a process of hurry up and wait. It's not a process of hurry up and hurry up. It's a step-by-step process of taking the time to discuss things, to see where the deficiencies are in what's being proposed and to make sure that we get this right. Ultimately, it's not for us. It's for Canadians. It's for the industries that will be served by the bill and what they're able to achieve to move an environmental plan forward that works well for Canadians and communities. It's so that we don't have backups in landfills and don't have plastic being shipped off to other places that will cause harm in other parts of the world.
We want this to be a win-win. Wins don't happen by trying to ram something through the system. Wins happen when they're done step by step, with the intention and mindfulness that needs to come with moving through a process and really unpacking it properly.
That was my intention by putting the amendment forward. I certainly hope that colleagues will get behind it so that we can get good work done.
I have a friendly amendment to Mr. Albas's subamendment.
Just over a year ago, the Basel Convention was amended, and those amendments just came into force. That means the government had a year to take action and make sure companies knew what was coming. If companies are to change their behaviour, they need a predictable environment. The government could have started the work a year ago.
Be that as it may, I agree the deficiencies in the bill need to be corrected. I therefore propose a coming into force period of 12 months, instead of six.
The government has done nothing for a year, so it's time to speed up the process. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment didn't even discuss the issue when it met in July. We've already lost a year, so we have to move forward now. In the next year, we could help companies; we could build a plan and work on it with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment since this is an area that falls under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
I support helping companies. We've received letters from people sharing solutions that are in place in a number of provinces, solutions to turn plastic waste into a resource.
For that reason, I am in favour of Ms. Saks's amendment to include a coming into force date in the bill and allow for greater predictability. I move that the coming into force period be 12 months.
That's convenient. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would simply say to MP Pauzé that I appreciate the spirit of where she is going.
I want to make a few things very clear. We all know from debate that Liberals are opposed to our resolving our own plastic waste for final disposal—keeping that within Canada. Conservatives think we should be able to do it.
We've heard some members lament the low [Technical difficulty—Editor] this is the way to deal with it. We have heard that there are some deficiencies; that's what the Liberal members are calling this.
Let's be very clear, Mr. Chair. The way that MP Saks's amendment is structured is the final Hail Mary pass of this bill for the Liberals. In effect, if we were to pass her amendment without the changes proposed by Madam Pauzé and me, we would in fact be allowing the government to determine when and if this law would ever come into force. They are in a minority, so if this is given to the Governor in Council, they could postpone indefinitely or infinitely. It's all up to them.
This is about the will of Parliament expressing itself, saying that Canada needs to be a leader, much as Australia has done. has created a bill, and while I still have the floor, Mr. Chair, [Technical difficulty—Editor] he said there was deficiency in enforcement. The officials actually said that there may be difficulties compelling inspection, which is systemic to the regime itself.
This bill only carves into CEPA this new provision, which is why I suggested that if the parliamentary secretary is concerned about enforcement, he should join with Conservatives and, at the upcoming review, try to strengthen the regime so that those who are tasked with enforcing CEPA have all the tools they need to comply, while bearing in mind that Canadian businesses are very honest. If the law is changed as suggested in this bill, that would go a long way towards seeing their compliance, albeit there may be an act or two that we need to work on. That's exactly what we're proposing here.
We've also heard the concerns of industry.
As a former parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, I will say that the two-year timeline that officials gave is for a standard review of regulations. Again, this is a very small bill. For example, very simple changes to the schedule can be made by the minister directly. This is not the same as a wholesale revision of a set of regulations, which can take two years.
I want to thank Madam Pauzé for believing that we can express ourselves as a Parliament and, at the same time, recognize some concerns by government or industry about the implementation and, at the same time, give them a timeline that is clear and that allows them to be able to work within it. I certainly appreciate the friendly amendment and look forward to—hopefully—having convinced Mr. Bittle to vote for Madam Pauzé's and my amendment today.
I want to thank Madam Pauzé for proposing a way for us to work. I really appreciate having a committee that tries to work together, even at difficult moments. I think that's critically important in the work that we do here.
I'd like to ask the officials if they could weigh in on this. In light of the deficiencies and the matters we have discussed here, and in light of the concerns that many colleagues have expressed in the implementation process of this bill, could any of you weigh in with us on what are reasonable and realistic timelines in addressing a bill of this nature?
My colleague Mr. Albas seems to have an understanding that the timeline could be held tight.
Again, I will pull my rookie card here and say that I am less familiar with these processes. I would like to hear from officials, if I may, on what their thoughts are on getting this bill to a place that we're all comfortable with.
With respect to implementing the bill, we'll definitely have to look at the need to develop regulations. The average timeline, which I would say is an optimistic timeline, is two years. That is because—if we take the definitions, for example—we will need to have an informal consultation before we even get into the formal consultation. We will have to talk to people and get information to allow us to do the requirements from Treasury Board and CEPA. They require us to conduct a socio-economic analysis and an environmental impact analysis. That of course takes quite a bit of effort and time.
As for amendments to a schedule of an act, the way we understand the bill as written is that it is the Governor in Council who would be able to make amendments to the schedule, on the recommendation of the minister. That process requires a mandatory publication and consultation period in the Canada Gazette of at least 60 days.
We must fulfill the mandatory requirements from the Treasury Board. That is why it would take an average of two years before we are able to publish the regulations in the Canada Gazette.
I guess I'd like to revisit Mr. Albas's revisionist history of the other day, especially in light of what we just heard from officials.
The Government of Canada has taken action on this file. I mentioned it on Monday. This is an issue that I think everyone here is interested in, that everyone here wants to see action on.
There are two different views. There's a view from Mr. Albas's party, which is “Oh dear goodness, let us pass some environmental piece of legislation as quickly as possible, regardless of what it is, so that we can get away from the bad couple of weeks we've been having and say that we're doing something,” even though there's a full acknowledgement by him that there are flaws, that it may or may not be enforceable and that investigation may or may not be possible with respect to this amendment. It's all coming back down to the length of time.
I appreciate the fact that Madam Pauzé is being far more reasonable on this subject with respect to an acknowledgement from the officials who have come to us and said that this is going to need some changes, that there are some issues and that it could take upwards of two years. If this legislation passes Parliament, don't we want to see it enacted properly? That should be a significant concern to everyone here, especially if Ms. Collins and Mr. Albas have fully acknowledged the flaws in this bill. I would think they would want as much time as possible.
I know that Ms. Collins said that any step forward is a good step forward, and this is a small step forward. However, do we even know if that's the case if industry is saying that jobs are going to be lost, if there's concern about landfills—and I'm just coming into this at the last minute—and if there are issues with respect to enforceability?
I agree with Mr. Albas that Canadian industry is well respected and is a solid player with respect to this—it plays by the rules—but he knows that there is a certain percentage that won't, which is why there needs to be an enforcement provision. [Technical difficulty—Editor] is to exist, it should be done in the appropriate way.
Again, it's really bizarre to see a committee so gung-ho about passing legislation where there's acknowledgement that it is flawed and there are significant problems. Perhaps there are broader problems with the act beyond this. It should warrant some discussion.
Again, I'm new. I'm getting briefed on various elements of Environment and Climate Change Canada, and I look forward to my briefings on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and issues and possibilities forward.
Again, this is strange ground in my five and a half years in this place. I don't think I've ever seen a bill like this where all the parties have said, “There are problems and there are flaws. Let's try to limit the debate and get this through and done as quickly as we can.” This isn't a bill that is pure symbolism. This is going to have real-life impacts on people's lives.
I appreciate the significance of wanting that symbolic political win, and I think we would all like that win for the environment. Every person in this committee wants us to do better on plastic waste. That's something I want to see. However, if we're not going to do it in a realistic way, with a realistic timetable, with government officials, in their professional diplomatic way, waving the red flag at us....
I don't know. Is there an acknowledgement by the opposition? I believe the officials in what they're saying and that they're telling the truth. Is there not a belief by the opposition that there's exaggeration going on by the officials? That's what it seems like to me, with Mr. Albas saying, no, it won't take that long, six months is fine—now 12 months—and two years can't be right.
I take the officials at their word that this is the likely process, so if there's an acknowledgement that it needs to be fixed and that it's going to take that period of time, perhaps we should be engaged in a realistic discussion about the length of time and perhaps be more amenable to what the officials are telling us: that even though we might like it to happen tomorrow, there's a process in place and there are consultations in place.
Though we might like it to go faster, there's a process that needs to play out for it to be appropriate and for it to be done properly, and we're not giving that to them. If it does pass the House and it does pass the Senate, what are we left with if the will of Parliament can't be carried out in the way that the committee and Parliament want?
At the end of the day, passing this piece of legislation and expecting that it be carried out, that it be enforced.... If we're all here and we're all saying that's going to be a problem, let's at least give ourselves some time, the proper amount of time, to address these issues.
I appreciate that, Mr. Chair.
I want to quickly correct the record. Mr. Bittle misrepresented my words. I clearly stated that I want this bill to be strengthened to include provisions for hazardous waste and waste for special consideration, since the Liberals have refused to ratify those Basel Convention amendments. I would like to strengthen the bill to make sure that Canada no longer uses loopholes to get around its international commitments when we're exporting to the U.S.
If the Liberals truly cared about addressing the issue of exporting our waste to poorer countries, they would have voted to bring this bill to committee and they would have voted in favour of my amendments to strengthen the bill. I am concerned, because of the tactics that were used in our last committee meetings and what I think I'm seeing here again, that the Liberals are just trying to delay this.
I think that Madam Pauzé's amendment is a reasonable one. I'll be voting in favour of it. I hope we can quickly move to that vote and move on, so that we can keep on with our committee business.
I guess I'm here to announce the death of irony, in the opposition accusing us of delaying things while the House of Commons is backlogged, while opposition parties put up dozens of speakers for amendments. I'm a little surprised at those allegations. All of my comments have been based on questions to officials.
Again, Ms. Collins has not addressed any of the concerns raised by officials, which is surprising. These are hard-working civil servants who have brought forward their concerns, and the lack of willingness to meet them is surprising.
All of my comments and all of my colleagues' comments have been based on these concerns. We want to see this strengthened. We want to see more action. We want to see better action on plastic waste. Just because this isn't the proper vehicle to do it....
We asked for a few more witnesses. We asked for a bit more time to have all the evidence in front of us. That was denied. We're not delaying this.
I think Mr. Albas accused me of being a professional filibusterer. That may have been suggested last time. Having sat through months on PROC, through amendments to the Elections Act from one particular opposition party—months and months of filibuster—I can appreciate it. However, none of that was substantive. None of that was based on any evidence from officials.
We're raising our points. We're raising concerns. We're raising concerns from industry. We're raising concerns about actually delivering on what Parliament is seeking to do. Again, though, we don't see the.... We've raised our concerns with respect to the bill. At the end of the day, the Government of Canada will be required to enact these provisions. If we're not doing so in a way that is meaningful and provides a clear path forward, where are we and what are we doing?
I've just been raising concerns. The members of the committee may see this as delay. We're getting near the end of the bill. It's not much of a delay if it's been a few hours that we've been debating it. I know when Mr. Albas's party puts up 80 speakers on a bill, they say they need more debate, but when the Liberals want to talk about it for an hour or two, based on evidence from government officials on the issues with the bill, we're engaged in a horrific filibuster against the environment.
Again, perhaps it's the death of irony in this meeting, Mr. Chair, but I appreciate the opportunity to raise those concerns.
I see that Mr. Albas would like to respond, so I will yield the floor.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I appreciate Mr. Bittle's yielding of the floor for a whole host of reasons I don't have time to get into.
I would just say this. On the subject of irony, this government, I believe, has had legislation fly through to which changes have been necessary, but I would also point out that this is a piece of private members' business. There was debate in the House of Commons. There was, and it's an accelerated process, so if he doesn't like it, maybe he can speak to his as to whether or not those changes in the standing order should happen.
Second, as a former parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, I do recall, with respect to temporary foreign workers, that there were many concerns by many parliamentarians from all parties in 2012, and the government quickly moved through the gazette process, right to the Canada Gazette, part III, skipping the normal process, because government has to be able to act on certain things when it is required to.
I think what Madam Pauzé has put here on a three-clause bill.... This is not like changes to an entire regime like the Safe Food for Canadians Act regime, which the Harper government put in place and which took many years because it materially changed the nature of how the regulator regulated. This is just a very minor change, adding to the CEPA regime.
Again, I would say that if members have problems with the way CEPA currently works, perhaps the government should get on with the 2017 review and the 80-plus recommendations that this committee made at that time, but which it has chosen not to bring before this Parliament.
Mr. Chair, I am simply going to say that we believe 12 months is enough time for a very minor change. [Technical difficulty—Editor] to do it, we'll be able to do it excellently. We know we have excellent public servants who want to see good things happen in the public interest.
Let's bring this to a vote so that we can move on and talk about committee business.