Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
I call this meeting to order. Welcome to meeting number 27 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of Monday, January 25, 2021. Therefore, members can attend in person in the room or remotely, using the Zoom application.
The committee is considering committee business and future business. With respect to the routine motion adopted by the committee, the meeting is in public. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. Just so you are aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee.
At the end of the last meeting, I had put a motion on the floor and we ran out of time. The motion was to move forward on the prawn study and then to extend the Pacific salmon study, as well as get to Mr. Morrissey's motion on owner-operator and inshore sales.
I'm willing to move that forward as the next three studies, if there is support.
I'm fine either way. Madam Gill would be welcome to go, if she wants.
With regard to what Mr. Battiste has brought forward, I have just a couple of questions about trying to complete one study and then moving into the next, followed by the next. I'm wondering if it's possible to seek clarity around this as it pertains to the current study we're on, which is the Pacific salmon study, the west coast salmon study. I believe Mr. Hardie brought in a motion about extending it.
After reflecting on it and thinking about it, I'm wondering if we could finish up the west coast Pacific salmon study first, if at all possible, and then move directly to either the prawn harvester issue or Mr. Morrissey's motion as it relates to the owner-operator study, just to give us finality. I know that this west coast study is very important, but it's been going for quite some time. It would be nice to move that toward a conclusion. Perhaps we'd be able to do that in even less than three future sessions.
I want to put that on the floor to consider before we start to interrupt this study with another study and then go to another one. Perhaps we could try to wrap up one before we go on to the others. That's just a suggestion.
I agree with Mr. Bragdon that the Pacific salmon study must come to an end. We have been at it for a really long time. At the last meeting we also talked about the budget, how the money should be spent. We wanted to increase the number of meetings to deal with that. In my opinion, it can be done in two stages, conclude the study and write a report, before moving on to other work.
I understand that the schedule is tight and that there are several important studies to do. Right now, our studies are focused on the Atlantic and Pacific, and I absolutely understand that. However, as the lone Quebec representative, I have put forward motions to propose other subjects for study, including a short study on recreational fishing from the perspective of the recovery and of land use. We are hearing a lot about this in our region. I would have liked this study I am proposing to be part of the package. I believe we have room in the schedule to do it by the end of June.
If I'm not mistaken, we even spoke of continuing our studies over the summer. I heard that at one point. I don't know if it's still in the plans, like last year.
In short, I would like the committee to consider my proposal. We could slip this short study in between the various others. This would allow the Quebec issue to be included in our work. It could also be beneficial to other regions. In fact, I believe we had expanded the scope of my motion to the Atlantic.
I appreciate the interest from the group about getting that Pacific salmon study done. It's been off and on now for literally months, as we've dealt with clearly important things. We added meetings simply because the advent of the 2021 budget announced $647 million to be invested in dealing with the situation on the west coast.
In terms of the timing, we have time to get those additional meetings in, but I would want to defer to the clerk or whoever to see how quickly we can get the witnesses in place to basically go forward with those additional salmon study meetings, or whether or not we could, in fact, work in two meetings on the prawn issue if those witnesses aren't available to us for next week.
I appreciate everybody's enthusiasm in this committee for covering so many topics, but we're talking about squeezing in more studies and more meetings. We haven't even covered off the studies that were approved by the entire group months ago. There's the IUU study on illegal and unreported non-regulated fisheries, the pinniped or seal management study put forward by Mr. Morrissey, and Madam Gill's motion to study the potential of recreational fisheries in Quebec. Are we discarding all of those other motions?
We really only have a few meetings left, possibly 13, and possibly even fewer than that, depending on when the House rises. I really think we need to be considerate here.
The Pacific salmon study, as others have mentioned, has been going on for months. I believe it's extremely important that we've heard so much testimony on that. That's been such a long study. It's going to take us, I think, a reasonable amount of time to look at the report for what should be in there for recommendations and then go through the review of the draft report. To try to fit anything else in now, there really isn't time, so I would prefer that we focus on the Pacific salmon study as a priority overall right now.
All I will say today on the discussion that has taken place up to this point is that we wanted today set aside to actually discuss future business. That's where we're to. If somebody makes a motion to do such-and-such, we have to deal with it, as we're doing here now. I'm not suggesting in any way which study should be done next or which one should be completed, but it was the committee members who asked to have committee business so that we could discuss what we have left in the time frame and what we can do in that time frame. That's exactly what I expect to be done today.
Is there any other discussion on Mr. Battiste's motion?
I would like to offer an amendment to Mr. Battiste's motion to, in some way, identify the Pacific salmon study as the first priority to get done. If we can get through the witness testimony on this, then we could have time to draft a report and study that report. That would be my recommendation: an amendment to the motion to prioritize the Pacific salmon study.
Mr. Chair, I believe that, in the motion, Mr. Battiste prioritized the three studies for reports. The salmon one would be the priority. However, it's my understanding that there was probably an issue with scheduling additional witnesses. That may leave a day or two earlier, at which time.... That's why the prawns study would move into that time slot.
I believe that most on the committee would agree that we'd like to wrap up the salmon study as quickly as possible. I assume that it's a priority for the committee, but it's my understanding from the clerks that there was an issue with confirming the witnesses' ability to communicate effectively with the committee. That could create a day or two—or some meeting time—that would be available, at which time we would move ahead with prawns. That's my understanding.
First, can we determine when we will have completed the study and written the report? As my colleague Mr. Arnold said, there's no point in scheduling more studies if we don't have time to do them. I mentioned the idea of adding a summer schedule. Since the committee is sovereign, if something needs to be addressed urgently, as is the case with shrimp, we can certainly meet. I would agree to do that. That said, I would like to at least have an idea of what we are planning.
Second, I would like to hear from my colleagues on the issue of studies involving Quebec. I've heard absolutely nothing about it. We are trying to achieve gender parity and we want to represent all the people, but I would not feel represented here at all if we did not deal with Quebec issues. Of course, I know that emergencies do happen, although any emergency is relative.
Can I at least get an idea of the schedule between now and the end of June?
Twice now you've raised the issue of meetings in the summer. We did do it last summer, but I think that was an agreement among the whips at the time because the House, like the rest of Canada, got turned upside down in March. There wasn't much that took place for a certain length of time. We were just trying to catch up as we went with a number of meetings throughout the summer.
I don't know. That's not for the committee to decide right now. I guess the whips will discuss that among the various parties and see what they want to do about this summer, if it's going to be any different.
This could be a bit of a question. We're saying that the holdup on the Pacific salmon study could be with regard to the arranging of witnesses. Let's say there's a seven-day period between now and next Wednesday. Tentatively we could look at that one for furthering the west coast and the Pacific salmon study.
I'm wondering if something within the department as it relates to the budgetary aspect of the Pacific salmon study could be arranged for Monday's meeting since it's within the department. I think that's something that should be considered. We could cover quite a bit of ground and, again, be focused on the Pacific salmon study and keep moving the ball down the court to get as much of this done as possible in a timely fashion. I just raise this as a possibility.
It's not all the names, just a few tomorrow morning. That can be quickly set up. We don't know about the officials. As long as there are some in advance that can be set up quickly and that works, we can start as early as tomorrow. After that, for that study, the others we can do after if we get them on Friday, and that's fine. Tomorrow morning we definitely need to have a few—
Mr. Chair, I'm sorry to cut everybody off. Am I the only one having connection problems? It's cutting out a lot. You guys are all talking and then it's cutting off for two or three seconds, and then it goes back. Am I the only one experiencing that?
I'm not experiencing it on my end, Mr. Cormier. It may be just the Internet connection of where you're to—or where you're at. Depending on which part of the country you're in, you say “where you're to” or “where you're at”.
Okay. I would like to seek some clarification on how many meetings we're going to be able to have for witnesses on this and then what is going to be the end result of the report and so on. How many witnesses might we have space for, so that we know how many to line up?
I understand, Mr. Arnold, that it was for two meetings, and I have to go back to Mr. Johns to see if it was his intent to have a report adopted by the committee and presented in the House, or if it was just for information purposes, only or a letter or whatever.
I do hope there would be a short report back to the House. It's two meetings so it shouldn't be very long. Obviously we would want the department to appear to testify. It shouldn't be that difficult. I imagine it should be pretty straightforward.
Mr. Chair, possibly Mr. Johns could indicate which department officials. I'm not familiar with this issue, so if we were submitting witnesses, I take it there would be people in the department who would be specialized in this. I'd be curious to hear from Mr. Johns on which department officials he thinks would be beneficial to the committee.
I think certainly Rebecca Reid would be able to identify who in her department she'd like to put forward. I imagine anyone who is in charge of reinterpreting these rules should be testifying in front of us so that we can ask them what they're doing and why they're doing it, and pose questions about what the ramifications are and their process and whatnot. I'm sure we can all come up with some questions about whether they've explored the impact this is going to have on the industry.
Yes, as far as the department is concerned, I believe we need to hear from the decision-makers as well as the enforcement personnel. It's the enforcement personnel who need to enact what is taking place.
Seeing nothing else, somebody mentioned just now what's coming up. Am I to take it that our next two meetings will be dedicated to the prawn study, or will we start with the prawn study, go back and finish Pacific salmon, and then come back to finish up with the prawn study?
Nancy or Tina, do we still have witnesses on our list that we haven't contacted for the actual salmon study?
First, going back to the prawn study, a letter would be fine as long as we can include recommendations to the House and to the minister.
On the salmon, Nancy, because we're extending those three meetings purely for the budget, we might want to bring some witnesses back. Is there a deadline on when we can resubmit those names? This is about the money that Mr. Hardie has put forward, those three meetings.
Are we saying that there are three meetings for the money, to talk about the $647 million, and another meeting where we're looking at the previous witnesses left from the original salmon study? Or are we done the study and now we're just looking at the $647 million? I'm trying to figure this out. They're two different things.
If we have names left over, and we're bringing them back to talk about the $647 million, I don't know if that's everybody's priority. I certainly know that, from our priority, we're going to be wanting to bring back stakeholders who can talk about the money. Some of them have already appeared before the committee, but we're going to want to bring them back.
Mr. Johns, do you want to possibly set a deadline for the proposal of witnesses to the clerk to be able to contact them to come back for the salmon study, whether it's a repeat of a witness or a new witness?
That would be great, Mr. Chair. Can I just clarify, though, that we have three meetings left on salmon no matter what? Is there just one left of the original and we have three more on the money, or are we just going to the money for the next three?
I can see Mr. Beech indicating three, so I imagine that's....
Mr. Chair, you may have clarified it, but we can submit new names. I had a list that I forwarded to the clerk. They would be new names. They were not on the old list, but we can consider those as well on the Friday deadline. Am I clear?
In other words, we'll start Monday on the prawn study and then we'll move to the Pacific salmon for the three meetings, which will bring us up to May 12, and then, on the 26th, the Wednesday, we will do the second day of the prawn study.
Then I would probably suggest that if we want to get the draft report for salmon started on May 31, that brings us up to June. June 2 would be our next meeting. Are we going to do the corporate licences study, as per Mr. Battiste's motion? On that particular day, we'll start the corporate licences study, on June 2. I see Mr. Morrissey giving a thumbs-up for that. We have a lot of time to submit witnesses for that as we go forward.
That would leave us Monday, June 7, to do the draft report for Pacific salmon and that brings us up—feel free to interrupt at any time, please—to the 9th, which would be the second—the last—meeting dedicated to corporate licences, because I think that was left at two particular meetings.
I have a quick question in regard to the budget aspect as it relates to the Pacific salmon study. As one of the witnesses—I want to be sure adequate notice and time are given—I feel that it would be very much appropriate, as this is pertaining to the budget, that we request that the minister appear before this committee pertaining to that, to be able to answer questions and to speak to the committee regarding the budget announcement for Pacific salmon.
If I need to make that a formal request or a motion.... I just think it would be only appropriate to have the minister appear before the committee to speak to the budget.
I think, Mr. Bragdon, that it would probably be more appropriate or, for the sake of a better word, that it would carry a little more weight, if you actually said that it was a motion to have the minister appear on the budget for Pacific salmon.
I didn't want to pre-empt any other member, but I just wanted to raise this. If we get drafting instructions for Pacific salmon on May 31, that wouldn't give us enough time to have a report ready for June 7. We would need at least, at the very minimum, a week and a half for drafting and a week and a half for translation. I just wanted to flag that.
I would second the motion from Mr. Bragdon and actually further refine the motion to say that the minister appear for one two-hour meeting to discuss the budget and the measures it contains for Pacific salmon.
I will consider that an amendment to the motion. I don't think there's any such thing as a motion being seconded at committee. Members just make the motion and we deal with it, but you can certainly amend it.
It's my understanding that the minister will be coming in to discuss the supplementaries anyway. Does that not give us time to ask her those questions instead of asking her to come back twice? That takes away from our time to hear from witnesses and conclude studies.
I see the clerk's hand is up, so maybe I'm wrong on this.
I think whether the minister is coming for budget supplementaries or not, we need to speak to her separately on salmon overall. I think we need her specifically on the salmon, because it's only two hours that we're asking for.
It's going to take two hours. The $647 million is a lot of money, and it's very critical to the west coast.
I think we'll say that's enough with regard to the schedule. We have two things on our plate. As we go forward, we'll carve off a little time for committee business when we see where we're to at that particular time. We won't schedule anything beyond what we have done today.
Does anybody have any other committee business before we all rush away to the vote?
We have a number of studies, but I see some empty space in the calendar at the end of June. I would imagine that's because we're going to come back to the salmon report, right? Will it be possible to get the report done by the end of June? It's urgent; I'd like to make sure we can finish the salmon study before there are no more salmon to study.
I think that's the intent of all the motions that have been made, including Mr. Battiste's motion and Mr. Bragdon's motion. I think it's fully the intent of the committee to make sure that we get this finished and the report done and presented in the House before the House rises, whenever that might be—if it's in June or if it's beyond that.
The analyst indicated the time needed for the drafting of the report. I would request that, if needed, we look at possibly fitting in an additional or extraordinary meeting in the week of May 10 in order to provide drafting instructions in that week so that version one could be ready in time for us to consider.
It will depend, I guess, on what we feel we'll need for time for drafting instructions. I'm just suggesting that it may be beneficial to add some time into that week to make sure we get the instructions to the analysts by that time.
Before I forget, could I also ask the clerk to send out some clarity on what the deadlines are now for the additional or revised witness list for the salmon study and for the prawn study, so that we're very clear on when those deadlines are?
Okay. I thought that for the prawn study it was tomorrow at 12, and I thought that for the Pacific salmon study it was Friday at 12, if that clarifies that part of it for you.
With regard to looking at extra time, we can do that along the way, but right now I'd like to suggest.... Because usually drafting instructions don't take very long, I don't think we need to allocate a full meeting to drafting instructions. We'll try to look at the 12th when we finish up the study, and we'll know going forward, once we figure out how the witnesses are being scheduled and filled in. Some may not be available. Maybe we'll get enough witnesses for the two meetings, including the one with the minister, and another half a meeting might do it. Then we can dedicate half a meeting to the actual drafting instructions.
I think we'll leave that to the chair's discretion—that might be the easiest way to say it—with the full intent of making sure we get time to do it so that we can make sure the study is done and completed before the House rises.
I have just a quick request. I wonder if we can have the clerk send to each of the members an updated calendar of everything that we've discussed here today, just so that we have it, everybody is on the same page and we're good to go.
Yes. I see that Tina is nodding her head, so I'm sure that will be looked after.
Barring nothing else, can I suggest that we now go to the vote and see what time is left over afterwards, if we want to come back to committee or if we have time? So the clerk will know, is it everyone's intent to try to come back?
I see some people shaking their heads no. I'm not hearing any disagreement with that, so we will—
If you look at the time, there's still probably 10 or close to 15 minutes before the vote is called, then it's another 10 minutes of time and then the time the vote takes. There's not going to be much left anyway.
I think I'll take Mr. Battiste's advice and I will adjourn the meeting for now. If I don't give everyone the notice that we're coming back, we'll see you all at the next committee meeting.