REGS Committee Meeting
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Proceedings of the Standing Joint Committee for the
Scrutiny of Regulations
Issue 13 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Thursday, March 14, 2002
The Standing Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons for the Scrutiny of Regulations met this day at 8:37 a.m. for the review of statutory instruments and consideration of a draft budget, 2002-03.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Joint Chairman) in the Chair.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): At the outset, I wish to update members on three items.
First, we had a steering committee last Tuesday, and the main issue was the motion that was discussed. Although we did not have a quorum in the committee, it was resolved that Mr. Cummins and the vice-chair, Mr. Wappel, will speak to the issue further.
Second, I wish to report to committee members that there will be a conference in Toronto in regard to red tape and the regulatory reform agenda for the 21st century. That conference will take place from September 25 to 27, 2002. The steering committee will make the decision at the next meeting and report to the committee whether members of the committee wish to attend that conference.
Third, we must finalize our budget for next year. We shall now go to the committee clerk, who will deal with the budget. Following the budget discussion, we will go to the main agenda.
Mr. Till Heyde, Joint Clerk of the Committee: Members of the committee have before them two documents. For the purpose of comparison, one is the budget adopted by the committee for the current fiscal year 2001-02. The other document is the 2002-03 draft budget.
I will mention a number of points. First, there is a significant change in comparison to previous years. The Library of Parliament now appears as one of the columns. This is the result of an administrative change whereby the House of Commons transferred funds from its budget to the Library of Parliament for salaries. That is provided purely for information and comparison purposes. Those funds have already been allocated. The purpose of that is to ensure some level of comparability between the years, so that you are not looking at a figure that is almost $170,000 less than in previous years.
If you will turn to page 3 of the budget, you will notice that it is similar to previous years, in terms of the two major items, which are salaries for legal counsel and administrative assistants.
In terms of legal counsel, the Library is in negotiation with the union, so we are not sure about the salary for the two counsel for which the committee pays. This gives you an estimate that would allow for both the possibility of an economic increase and the possibility of an extra pay level being added into their salary range.
In terms of the administrative assistants, the Internal Economy Committee of the Senate has not yet made a decision for unrepresented employees. This figure includes an estimated economic increase.
Other items basically carry over from last year, except in the miscellaneous category, where there have been a few minor adjustments, resulting in a total increase for that category from $11,300 to $11,500.
If there are any questions, I would be happy to answer them for you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Are there any comments or questions?
Mr. Lee: I move that we adopt the budget, as drafted.
Senator Moore: I second that.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): As there are no further comments or questions, all those in favour?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The budget is carried. We will now proceed to the committee's main agenda items.
Under special agenda items, the first is Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licence Regulations. There are four of them.
SOR/93-332 — ABORIGINAL COMMUNAL FISHING LICENCES REGULATIONS
SOR/94-390 — ABORIGINAL COMMUNAL FISHING LICENCES REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
SOR/94-531 — ABORIGINAL COMMUNAL FISHING LICENCES REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
SOR/95-106 — ABORIGINAL COMMUNAL FISHING LICENCES REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
Mr. François-R. Bernier, General Counsel to the Committee: Mr. Chairman, this matter was raised at the last committee meeting. The decision of the committee at the last meeting was that the minister would be asked to appear before, I believe, February 28, 2002, and consideration of the draft report was deferred until then. That date has passed. This is the first regular meeting of the committee. The draft report was put back on the agenda as per the committee's decision.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I am sure members are aware that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will be appearing before the committee on April 11.
Mr. Bernier: I should have added that letters have been sent from the minister to the joint chairs and the vice-chair, and copies, including the translation, were sent to members' offices yesterday or the day before.
Mr. Pankiw: Why is the minister not here today? I cannot believe the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is so busy and preoccupied that he cannot come to a committee to deal with racist regulations. These regulations have destroyed the fishery in British Columbia. They are racist regulations. The situation is completely unacceptable.
This report must be tabled in Parliament, Mr. Chairman, by you today. We said we would table it for three weeks, which was a ridiculous motion in itself, and the Liberals here put it through. However, that is it. It is over and done with, and this thing is going through today, make no mistake. I am sick and tired of this crap. Let us set the tone of the meeting right now.
Mr. Wappel: Mr. Chairman, I do not like that tone.
Mr. Pankiw: I am sure you do not.
Mr. Wappel: I think we can have a bit of civility, before nine o'clock in the morning.
The minister happens to be away on ministerial duties in Boston, Massachusetts, today. Complications have arisen because of the change of the House of Commons schedule, and therefore it has not jibed as it usually does with the Senate schedule. Therefore, arranging meetings has become more difficult, resulting, for example, in only one meeting in March — this one. The next meeting where both the Senate and the House are available is April 11.
Senator Stratton: That is not true at all.
Mr. Wappel: That is the information that we have.
Mr. Pankiw: That is incorrect, Mr. Wappel.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Let Mr. Wappel finish.
Mr. Wappel: As far as I know, that is what we were told by our clerk. It was on that basis that April 11 was set as the date on which the minister could come, which was the next available meeting.
Since the minister is out of the country on official ministerial business, whether you characterize that as ``so busy'' or not, that is the fact.
It seems to me it is reasonable, since we wanted the minister to come here, that we should give the minister the opportunity to appear and discuss this matter with the committee on April 11. He has already committed to attend on April 11.
Mr. Pankiw: No. The motion that we tabled was for three weeks. The three weeks has expired. We voted in December to put this to Parliament. It is over and done with. The three-week deadline was not met by the minister. He obviously did not consider the matter a high priority. This disallowance report must be tabled in Parliament today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We hear you, but let us proceed in an orderly fashion. Before I go to the next person, let me also update the committee.
I had a personal discussion with the minister. He was to appear before the committee at today's meeting, March 14, but he had to be out of the country. He agreed that he might be able to come to the committee from the airport, if he arrived at 10:30 from Boston. However, that seemed to be impossible when we looked into the logistics.
The minister is keen to appear before the committee at the earliest possible opportunity. Since he is out of the country and arriving probably today —
Senator Stratton: Next week!
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): My understanding from the minister is that, looking into the logistics, it will not be possible for him to appear today, so he will appear before the committee at the next meeting, which is on April 11.
Mr. Pankiw: Mr. Chairman, the Senate is not sitting that week. The senators will not be here and the Liberals know that. This is just another game. I am sick and tired of this crap. Either they are grossly incompetent or they damn well know that the Senate is not sitting that week and they are trying to play more games with this.
We voted in December to send this disallowance report to Parliament. It was passed. It is over and done with. Let us move on with the schedule. You table that report in Parliament this afternoon.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Mr. Pankiw, let us give everyone a chance to speak on this issue, following which we will decide what the will of the committee is.
Senator Moore: I want to add to Mr. Wappel's comment. The minister is in Boston at an international fish show. It is held there biannually. It has been in the works for some time. He is not trying to avoid anyone here.
Mr. Pankiw: He had three weeks to come here.
Senator Moore: This was laid on a year ago.
Mr. Pankiw: So what? He had three weeks to come here. He could have picked any date.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Mr. Pankiw, you had your chance to speak. Give other members a chance to speak. You will have another chance to speak.
Senator Moore: He is there doing work on behalf of the country. It is a huge international fish show, as I am sure Mr. Cummins will admit. It is big for the fishing industry of our country and for marketing our products. That is why he is there.
With respect to April 11, we are told the Senate will not be sitting. That does not mean that senators will not be at the meeting. Do not presume that.
Mr. Pankiw: Perhaps we should then schedule committee meetings when Parliament is not sitting. How stupid is that?
Senator Moore: You mean the House of Commons?
Mr. Pankiw: Yes.
Mr. Cummins: I was not exactly thrilled when the committee decided that it would table a motion for three weeks back in early February, because I felt that this was a matter of some urgency. It had been on the table for the committee for five years. As I indicated before to the committee, there are matters that are before the courts that need to be addressed. There are ordinary Canadians who are before the courts in these matters, not crooks or criminals, just ordinary working people who are offended by this legislation.
The government has known full well that there was a problem with this legislation. The government has known, not just for the last few months, not since this disallowance report was written, but for five or six years that these regulations were inappropriate.
In fact, when they were first put in place they were challenged by the fishing industry in British Columbia, and that point was made clear. However, the government chose to ignore that reality. As a result, there has been confusion in the fishing industry. Because of government's failure to act in this matter, there have been problems with the fishery on the Fraser River, to the extent that in 1999 there was no commercial fishery on the Fraser River for the first time in history. In the year 2000, two and a half days, and last year, again, there was no commercial fishery on the Fraser River.
The blame can be laid on these regulations because they have created a huge instability in the industry. The minister knows that, and the department knows that. We agreed to table this motion for three weeks with the understanding that, somehow, the minister should be able to come here. I know that I was prepared to come at any time to hear the minister. I know that my friend, Mr. Wappel, would have been here, too. In fact, Mr. Wappel and I are both on the Fisheries Committee. We were to be travelling with the committee next week. We see this issue as a priority, perhaps for different reasons, but we are here. We would have been here, I am sure, at any time that would have been convenient for the minister. I am sure that others around this table would have been here at any time convenient for the minister.
My view is that the minister simply does not want to address this issue. This is feet-dragging, and I think that he is giving the back of his hand to the committee. The committee's work is important. The minister should recognize that and should have made himself available. We are talking about more than two months here. He has had ample opportunity to come here if he so desired. Certainly, he is out of the country today, and I will not deny that the business is important. If he cannot come, why not the parliamentary secretary? He certainly would have been able to address this matter on behalf of the minister. That is part of his obligation, namely, to represent the minister when the minister is not available.
It is quite clear that the department is ignoring this committee. I think people should be offended by that. Every member of this committee should be offended. The work is important, and we are being ignored.
I should like to make a motion that the chairman of the committee present the disallowance report in Parliament today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Thank you for that motion. First, there are two other speakers. Let us give them a chance.
Senator Bryden: I want to make sure that everyone is aware that the Senate is not sitting the week of April 11, and I explained this last time. The break is ordinarily the last week of March and the first week of April, but because the budget implementation bill will not clear the House of Commons in time for us, if we only get it before the end of March, we must deal with it during the last week of March. Therefore, we will likely be sitting during the last week of March, and I believe the leaderships of the Senate have agreed that, therefore, the first two weeks of April would be the break for the Senate.
I do not know whether the Minister of Fisheries happens to be aware of that now, but he certainly was not aware that that had happened, to the best of my knowledge, at the time when he agreed to come here.
Since the minister received the notice, he has had one opportunity to come here, and it happened to coincide with the one opportunity we had to meet because the House of Commons has been on break, and they have another break coming up. This is the only meeting during the full month of March. If you deduct the weeks that have been unavailable to deal with this issue since Mr. Cummins put forward his first motion, there has not been a great deal of opportunity.
My view is that it would be unfair for this committee to proceed with this motion, with tabling this document, until we have had the opportunity to hear from the Minister of Fisheries, who represents fisheries and oceans for the entire country.
These regulations do not only affect fishers on the West Coast. They apply to fishers in Quebec, and they apply to fishers in the Atlantic provinces. Whether there is a problem, as there probably is, with the detail of how the regulations are set, people have ordered their lives, including Aboriginal people, around the fact of these regulations.
In New Brunswick, we have had the experience of what happens when things change dramatically and one does not take into account the practical implications. We, for one, do not want a situation where something is cancelled and withdrawn after five years, quickly. We just do not want, in our bays, for example, the Miramichi Bay and so on, people going around with shotguns and running boats into boats, if that can be prevented, by having the opportunity to present our situation and listen to the Minister of Fisheries.
It is far too important to say, ``We must get a conclusion right now.'' How is ``right now'' that much more important than a year ago or two years ago? This has been a problem, and we could have been dealing with it. It has been brought to a head now, and we are proceeding with it. However, let us continue to do it in an orderly fashion.
I realize that it is something that people want to get publicity about. We were asked for approval to get the television cameras in here when the Minister of Fisheries appears, so those people who want to take him on will get that coverage. As far as the Senate is concerned, it has been approved that they can be here. We want to be cooperative as a Senate. We do not necessarily want to agree with you, but we want to cooperate and ensure that this issue is carefully canvassed and a reasoned decision is made.
For my part, I do not want to precipitate violence on the waters this spring in the Atlantic area because some hothead says, ``They are taking away our rights that we have had for this period of time.'' Let us be sure that when we deal with what is probably a serious situation on the West Coast we do not transfer an even more serious problem to the East Coast. I do not know whether that will happen, but the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans certainly could help us.
Mr. Lee: In terms of process and how this committee normally operates, we must wait to hear from the minister. I personally believe we will have some substantial changes to these regulations through the normal SCC process. Our report, as drafted so far, will be helpful in achieving those. The minister is fully capable of driving changes to these regulations through the normal regulatory process rather than the House having to disallow and then invite a response from the SCC. I agree with Senator Bryden on the implications of a quick disallowance.
Second, it appears as though another meeting opportunity is coming up within the next two weeks. I am not sure because of the shifting weeks. I regret that we would not be meeting for a whole month, but if there is not another meeting opportunity then, regrettably, there is not. If there were to be, perhaps we should grab it. Perhaps the minister is available for it, and we could dispose of the issue sooner.
Third, I would not be able to — even if we put this thing to a vote today, as we well may — I should like to see some changes to it. Most are not substantive changes. They are editorial, for the most part. We can improve the report, and we can all help ourselves by making the report as good as we can, if it ultimately goes ahead. Whether or not it contains a disallowance motion, this report still contains important positions of the committee, and I should like to see some changes made. This may not be the time to take up the changes, however. When the time comes, I may run the list by counsel.
Mr. Pankiw: First, in response to Mr. Lee's comments, if you think that five years of foot dragging by the minister in defence of racist regulations is a normal process, then characterize it as you will. It is an absolute joke.
We voted in December to table a disallowance report on these regulations in Parliament, Mr. Chairman. I objected at the time to the motion that we wait for three weeks for the minister, and I repeat my objection. Whether the minister wants to come before this committee or not is irrelevant, as we voted to disallow these regulations. You have an obligation to table the disallowance report in Parliament today.
Senator Bryden said that people have ordered their lives around this. I have a letter, dated March 12, from the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition. I will not bother reading the whole letter into the record, but I will read the following sentence: ``Those regulations have destroyed what was once B.C.'s largest commercial and recreational fishery and have decimated the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.''
I am not prepared to sit here and tolerate this crap anymore. You have an obligation to table the disallowance report. We voted in December to disallow these regulations, and they will be disallowed. That is it! Finished and done! Let us not have any more racism — because it is veiled racism — by defending these regulations.
The Liberal government, in the 1920s, imposed regulations on Japanese fishermen that limited their quotas. During the war, the government said Japanese fishermen could not put motors on their boats. They could only use rowboats. However, a non-Japanese individual could have a motor on his or her boat. Now the government is saying, if you are not an Indian, you cannot fish. What a bunch of racist crap! How can anyone defend that and have a look on their face feigning sincerity.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The motion in December was to instruct counsel —
Senator Stratton: I have been asking to be recognized for the last 10 minutes.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Yes, senator, but I want to make a quick comment in reference to the motion. The motion in December was to instruct counsel to draft a report, and that report was drafted. Counsel has done its job with respect to that motion.
Senator Stratton: Mr. Pankiw, I would appreciate your apology for swearing. I do not believe swearing is appropriate in Parliament.
Senator Bryden, I appreciate your comments, recognizing that, yes, the Senate is going to break from about March 27 to April 16. Our side has known that for three or four weeks.
There has been an opportunity for the minister to appear this week and there will be next week, when both Houses are here. The minister returns today. If there is going to be any compromise on this, can we not have the minister here next week?
I want to look at it in a different light. This has been ongoing for five years. It is appalling to me that we can destroy an industry through this type of regulation yet we are powerless to do anything while the whole industry goes down the tank.
I have a suggestion. We will elect the Senate, get rid of the House of Commons and save the public a hell of a pile of money. Excuse my language. I think we should do this. When you view this, how do you think the folks out there are thinking about your effectiveness? You are not helping them at all. You are absolutely stonewalling the issue. I think it is tragic that, as representatives of Parliament, you would go along with this and allow this travesty to take place over five years. Yet the minister still cannot make it when we have repeatedly asked him to attend. I would suggest that the minister be here next week or that that letter be tabled today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): This issue is passionate and important. We can deal with this issue, but I will urge you to be civil and respect each other at the same time.
With respect to March 21, when it is possible for the committee to meet, we wrote to the minister, but we did not receive a response.
I will remind members to keep your remarks brief.
Mr. Cummins: First, I find Mr. Lee's comments disturbing. It is a tune he has been singing since the beginning. If we think back to the meeting of December 6 when we voted on the disallowance, he said, ``I do not want anyone leaving here today thinking we are three quarters of the way down the road on this.'' It has been five years, and he thought then that we were not three quarters of the way down the road. That is unfortunate. It does not suggest to me that my friend wants to move this matter forward in the way that it should. That concerns me.
It bothers me that he suggests that there are some editorial changes that he wants to see on the report. Nothing major, he said, but some minor editorial changes. There are editorial changes that I should like to see on that report as well, but it is not worth arguing the detail of the report in that sense. As with most work done by committee counsel, I think this was a fine piece of work, and I will not quibble over the crossing of T's and the dotting of I's.
One of the problems I have had with the meeting of the minister is that I am not sure what the minister was asked. When I read the letter that was sent to the honourable senator, the joint chairman, there is a suggestion that he would agree to the April 11 meeting. He says that he is unavailable for March 14 and he assumes that other committee members are unavailable. However, my understanding from Mr. Grewal's office was that the minister would come back from Boston specifically to deal with this issue. I am not sure exactly what he was asked to do.
If you look at delays from the department, it is rather disturbing. We could go back to May 2000 where Minister Dhaliwal, in correspondence to the committee, was ensuring us that the committee report was being carefully considered and that they would act on. It just goes on and on.
The letters do not deal with the concerns of the committee in a substantive way. The minister says in a letter dated July 10, 2001, ``Well, the arguments and issues are very complex and will require some time to assess.'' It is that kind of foggy language that has led to the problem that we have now.
This issue is important. It is an issue that should be dealt with. The reputation of the committee depends on the committee acting on this. The time has come to act. We dealt with the issue of disallowance last December. People are watching and wondering whether the committee will do its business in a proper fashion or whether it will slough it off again on some pretext that has no substance. I am sure that if you do not support the disallowance that the opinion of the public at large will be that the committee is simply not interested in doing its business, that the committee is not an apolitical group dispassionately examining these regulations, and the committee will be seen as nothing more than an agent of the Minister of Fisheries.
The choice is there for the committee to make. We can either do the job that we are charged with doing or we can throw our hands in the air and say: ``We are simply acting on behalf of the minister. The impact of these regulations, regardless of their impact on ordinary Canadians and the management of the fishery, really does not matter.'' The choice is yours. I think it is very clear.
Mr. Wappel: Briefly, I want to point out a couple of factual errors that have been thrown around this table. At no time has this committee voted to disallow these regulations. That is simply an incorrect statement. What this committee did do was vote to instruct counsel to prepare a disallowance report for the consideration of the committee.
For people to continually insist in the media, here and in other places that this committee has disallowed these regulations is simply false. For people to say that the committee has done nothing is simply false, because it was the committee itself that instructed counsel to prepare the disallowance report for us to consider at the next or some subsequent meeting. For people to suggest that the committee is not doing its job is also false, because it will be evident to those people who have been on the committee for significant periods of time that the committee is moving as quickly as it can, given all the other factors that have been discussed here today.
It is important to remember what Senator Bryden said about the television cameras. The Senate considered this issue — I am not in the Senate; I did not hear the debates — and voted to permit television cameras on April 11. The co-chair of this committee is a senator who is well aware of the schedule of the committee. There were discussions with the minister. There is nothing improper or even dilatory about Mr. Lee suggesting that, upon the committee being seized of examining the report for the purpose of deciding whether or not to adopt it, changes should be discussed, whether they be editorial or substantive changes. That is the purpose of the meeting when we discuss these regulations.
To my way of thinking — and I will conclude by saying this — it should be self-evident that it would be important to have the minister here. I will not repeat the arguments of Senator Bryden. It is completely correct to say that this is an important issue. I would remind everyone that there was a cabinet shuffle after our decision to have our counsel draft a disallowance report. It takes time for any new minister to get up to speed on anything, albeit that the bureaucrats are not new.
The new fisheries minister will be here on April 11. There will be television cameras and an opportunity to ask him questions. Undoubtedly he will have reviewed the transcripts of last three meetings. I would even suggest that we send him a copy of the draft that has not yet been considered by the committee so that he is well aware of the strong feelings of the committee.
I take umbrage to suggestions that this matter is being argued on a partisan basis. For my part, it is not being argued on a partisan basis; it is being argued on the basis of what I think is due process to give an important regulation with tremendous implications to everyone, be they Aboriginal or otherwise, an opportunity to be considered before we make a final decision. It reminds me of Dr. Strangelove. This is a nuclear option. We must discuss it before we drop the bomb.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Before we hear the senator, the committee decided in the last meeting to send the draft report to the minister, and it has already been sent.
Senator Tkachuk: You mentioned earlier ``the issue,'' and I am having difficulty with that. What issue are we bringing back? What issue must we deal with? Mr. Chairman, you mentioned earlier on that we must deal with this issue. What is the issue you are referring to? I am a little confused.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The special agenda item on the four regulations. The issue is how to deal with them.
Senator Tkachuk: I thought we had already instructed counsel to write the report. Why can we not just deal with it?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): That is what we are doing; we are dealing with it.
Senator Tkachuk: Well, no. The issue seems to be the minister. Do we have to listen to the minister? Is it important for Liberals that the minister be here? He should have been here a long time ago. It is obviously not important to him. Is that the issue?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): No. As far as I understand, the issue here is that the committee's will is probably going towards disallowance of these regulations. That is why counsel was instructed to prepare a draft report on that, which he did. The point was raised that, if the regulations are disallowed right then, where do we go from there?
The minister is new, and there was a need for something to resolve this issue, rather than just disallowing the regulations. That was probably the point at which it was decided by the members of the committee that, if the minister appeared, we would resolve this issue faster rather than creating any more chaos.
Senator Tkachuk: If I am hearing you correctly, the disallowance of the regulations is not the issue?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Disallowance is the issue but what we are debating is how to disallow.
Senator Tkachuk: The issue is the timing, that someone has to come up to speed on the issue. Mr. Wappel said that this issue is not partisan, but this issue is partisan. You have already told me that the issue of disallowance has been resolved, and that was the feeling of the committee. Counsel has been instructed to prepare the report. I do not know what the issue is, unless the issue is the appearance the minister. Is that the issue, and who is making that an issue?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The appearance of the minister would enable us to go forward and resolve the issue amicably so that there is no chaos outside this committee.
Senator Tkachuk: There is chaos right now. You are creating the chaos because the issue has been resolved and no one is acting on it.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): My understanding was that we do not want to create further chaos. We want to resolve it.
Senator Tkachuk: That is true. We do not want to but we are creating further chaos.
Mr. Pankiw: Mr. Chair, this committee does not have a mandate to do what they are doing. This committee is supposed to be non-partisan.
First of all, let me say that Senator Stratton is quite right. I apologize and withdraw the swearword that I used earlier.
Notwithstanding that, the fact of the matter is that this committee is supposed to review regulations vis-à-vis whether they are ultra vires an act of Parliament or not. That is it. We do not have a mandate to say: ``These regulations are illegal and we have drafted a disallowance report. Let us play politics with the issue.'' We do not have a mandate to do that. You have to table that report today. You have no other alternative.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): That is all we are trying to do, but you are not on the list. The next person on the list was Senator Bryden.
Mr. Pankiw: I may not be on the list but I want to add one more thing. There was a suggestion that the minister appear here March 21. I would recommend — highly — to the Liberal members here that that would be a bad idea because March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Why would you want to march in a minister who is defending racist regulations on the day for the elimination of racial discrimination?
Senator Bryden: It is interesting that on this issue the only time I have heard the word ``racist'' used is by my friend over here.
Mr. Pankiw: What is interesting about that?
Senator Bryden: The point that is being missed here is that we are not really going to be determining whether the substance of having a food fishery is correct or not. The issue in this report is whether the delegation of the right to have the band associations issue the licences was or was not properly done. What occurred was that —
Senator Tkachuk: This has all been decided. It is out of order, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Bryden: A delegation to the Minister of Fisheries then delegated the bands to make the licences. The report says that it should have been done or should be done by having the Governor in Council make the delegation directly or have the Minister of Fisheries issue the licence directly.
Therefore, we need to be clear that what we are discussing here is not a substantive issue as to whether or not the food fishery will ultimately continue in B.C. The committee's jobs is to get the process done in compliance with the act; basically, that is what this committee does. This report says that it was not done in proper compliance, so there is no sub-delegation. It must be done properly. Either have the Minister of Fisheries himself or the Governor in Council issue the band council the right to issue the licences. Whatever it is that will be accomplished here, a formal error has been made and we would be disallowing on the basis of that. I think it is fair to say, ``Let us not disrupt the whole fishery if we can do it in another manner.''
Mr. Pankiw: The fishery is disrupted. That is what these regulations do. We would end the disruption by disallowing them.
Senator Bryden: Supposing it happened for a week? That simply means the Governor in Council would reissue, if these regulations are proper.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Thank you for your input.
Mr. Cummins: Senator Bryden made reference to the fact that my friend at the end was recognizing or concerned about this being a racist fishery. We should know — and I think we all do — that this committee is charged with examining these regulations. Within the terms of reference of this committee, the committee is to examine regulations and look at whether these regulations trespass unduly on rights and liberties. That is part of the charge of this committee. This is and should be a concern to the committee, namely, whether the regulations that are put in place are discriminatory. That is part of our obligation when examining the regulations.
The natural consequence of these regulations has been discrimination. There is no question about that. The regulations are not solely for the operation of a food fishery, which is recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in Sparrow. What the regulations do is permit a commercial fishery, which the Supreme Court of Canada has not recognized.
The Supreme Court of Canada in Van der Peet allowed that a commercial fishery for natives would be only be allowed where that band had been able to demonstrate that there was a commercial fishery prior to contact with Europeans. In Van der Peet, the Sto:lo band on the Fraser River argued in court that this woman had a right to deal commercially in fish. The court found that she did not pass that test.
Following that decision, the band went back to court to ask for an appeal. The appeal was denied. They were told by the court that they had nothing to add, that they had not been able to demonstrate that a commercial fishery was an integral part of their society prior to contact with the Europeans and that as such they were not entitled to one as an Aboriginal right.
These regulations allow for a commercial fishery on the Fraser River and ignore the position taken by the Supreme Court of Canada. The only band in British Columbia that has been able to demonstrate that it has a commercial right to deal in any fish is the Heiltsuk band off the central coast of British Columbia, who have a commercial right — and this was as a result of the Gladstone case — to deal in herring spawn on kelp. It is specific to herring spawn on kelp.
These regulations are allowing the government to ignore the findings of the Supreme Court of Canada. The committee is ignoring its responsibility to address the regulations with a concern for whether these regulations would trespass unduly on rights on liberties. That is part of the committee's responsibility. I do not think there is any question about that.
I want to take issue, Mr. Chairman, with all respect, to your comments that by bringing disallowance before Parliament and disallowing these regulations we will create chaos. There is chaos along the Fraser River, and has been since 1992. That chaos has done serious damage to fish stocks on the Fraser River. The fishery on the Fraser River is out of control. These regulations contribute to that.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I have no doubt.
Mr. Cummins: Advancing disallowance does not create chaos. The fishery regulations and the fishing act are still there. Believe it or not, it is probably one of the best acts from which Parliament operates. It is an old act, but the act is very clear vis-à-vis what the minister can and cannot do. It does not give a lot of discretion. Parliament has given clear direction to the Minister of Fisheries in giving him the authority to act in the Fisheries Act. By removing these regulations, you do not take away from his ability to enforce the regulations to protect fish and fish habitat. That is there very clearly in the regulations. There should be no concern that somehow, by disallowing these regulations, you will create uncertainty in the fishery. In fact, it will be just the opposite. By voting for disallowance, and by Parliament disallowing these regulations, you will bring certainty back into the management of the fishery. That is important to remember. What you are thinking is simply wrong. By moving disallowance, you will bring certainty back. The minister has the authority very clearly in the act.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I want to make it clear that I do not want to add to the chaos; I want to end the chaos.
We have had enough discussion. We will now move on to decide the issue. There is a motion that the sixth report be adopted and that the chair table it in the House. Before tabling it, however, we must adopt it. I should like to put the motion now.
Mr. Lee: On a point of order, I am fairly certain that when the motion was moved earlier it was moved that we report this today. If that is the case, that is one thing. If the motion is that we either do or do not report this to the House, then if we defeat it or pass it we may be locked in. I need to know whether I am voting on a motion that says we report this today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Let us repeat the motion. Mr. Cummins can repeat the motion.
Mr. Cummins: I move that the disallowance report be presented in the House today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): First, we must adopt the report.
Mr. Cummins: I can put it into two motions, or would you like it in one?
Mr. Pankiw: Do it in two.
Mr. Cummins: My first motion is that the committee adopt the disallowance report as prepared by counsel. My second motion is that the committee table the disallowance report in Parliament today.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We have two motions before us.
The first motion is that the sixth report by counsel be adopted.
Mr. Cummins: May I ask for a recorded vote, Mr. Chairman?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Certainly.
Senator Bryden: The sixth report says that pursuant to the standing order, the joint committee resolves that the Aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations, as amended, be revoked.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I am not with you, senator. Please repeat what you said.
Senator Bryden: Report number 71, the sixth report, what does it say? You have counsel right beside you.
I am concerned that if we pass this, the only way we can revoke it is by tabling it in the House. I want to be sure that by adopting this report we have not done that automatically.
Mr. Bernier: The disallowance procedure is the committee adopts a resolution that the regulations be revoked. The House then has to adopt that resolution as a House of Commons. If no debate takes place within two weeks, this resolution of the committee is deemed adopted by the House. It would then require the cabinet to actually revoke the regulation. It is then an order of the House to cabinet.
Senator Bryden: Counsel, you are ahead of me. There is an issue here as to whether we adopt the report and then decide whether we table it in the House. To me, what you have just said is that if we adopt the report it automatically gets tabled.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): That is right. In other words, senator, once the report is adopted it is implied that it is an instruction to the chair to table it in the House.
Senator Bryden: Exactly. So what we are really voting for is adoption and tabling of this report; correct?
Mr. Cummins: That is my understanding.
Senator Tkachuk: Adoption of the report.
Senator Bryden: Adoption and tabling.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Since we heard the terms of the motion, can we put the question?
Mr. Cummins: It was my understanding as well that by adopting the report it would automatically be tabled in the House, and that would be the intent of the motion.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I think it is very clear now. We are voting on the motion.
Mr. Cummins: Could we have a recorded vote, Mr. Chairman?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Sure. All those in favour of the motion?
Senator Bryden: No.
Senator Cook: No.
Senator Phalen: No.
Senator Stratton: Yes.
Senator LaPointe: No.
Senator Moore: No.
Senator Tkachuk: Yes.
Ms Longfield: No.
Mr. Lee: No.
Mr. Macklin: No.
Mr. Wappel: No.
Mr. Carignan: No.
Mr. Cummins: Yes.
Mr. Ritz: Yes.
Mr. Solberg: Yes.
Mr. Brien: Oui.
Mr. Pankiw: Yes.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The motion is negatived.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Heyde): Yeas 7, nays 10.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The motion is defeated.
Mr. Pankiw: Where does this leave us, Mr. Chairman? It is a vote to what? Is it to let racist regulations continue discrimination? Maybe we should bring in some white sheets for the Liberal members on this committee so they can put them over their heads.
This report has got to be tabled today, Mr. Chair. It is over and done with. We have been dealing with this for five years. We voted to prepare the disallowance report in December. This is completely unacceptable. What is the committee saying? Are we just going to be a bunch of racists here?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Mr. Pankiw, we had a vote on the issue and we have to respect the result of the vote. I am prepared to move on to the next item on the agenda.
Mr. Cummins: I am curious, and I wonder if someone could help me on this.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Is it a point of order?
Mr. Cummins: I would like to know just where we are. Where does this place the committee? It is a question and it is a sincere question. Where are we now with this issue?
Mr. Pankiw: Where we are is we have covered it up. We are burying it and continuing the foot-dragging.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We prepared a report, we had a vote on the report, and the report is not adopted yet. What we will do is have the report on the agenda again and we will debate it again.
Mr. Pankiw: We just voted to reject the report. The report is toast now.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The item on the Aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations could be on the agenda again, but the report that counsel was instructed to prepare has been voted on. The report is not adopted. We will be discussing with the Aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations, but not with the report as far as I understand.
Mr. Pankiw: Let us be clear, Mr. Chair: This vote rejected the report.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): That is right.
Mr. Pankiw: It is over and done with. The racist fishing regulations will continue.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We do not want to debate the outcome of the vote. We have accepted the vote.
Mr. Pankiw: My point, Mr. Chair, is this: How can this committee vote to reject a report to disallow regulations that are outside the scope and authority of an act of Parliament? That is not our mandate. Our mandate is to disallow regulations that are ultra vires an act of Parliament. This is a farce.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Let me hand over this issue to the counsel; he was preparing the agenda and he will throw some light on where we go from here.
Mr. Bernier: Just to clarify for Mr. Pankiw — I cannot answer his question directly of course — this report has been rejected by the committee. The regulations, which are a statutory instrument, are still before the committee. All statutory instruments stand permanently referred to this committee, including the Aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations. Therefore, the committee still has all other options it normally would have with regulations, such as hearing witnesses, making a regular report to the Houses if it so wishes, and so on. That would be the situation right now as I see it anyway.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Thank you, Mr. Bernier.
Mr. Wappel: On April 11, the minister will appear. Under what basis will he be appearing? Will it be under the basis of these regulations? After the minister appears, and after we have heard the minister's testimony, the committee can do whatever it wants, which could include instructing counsel to draft another disallowance report or adopt whatever action we wish to take after we have heard what the minister has to say. The fact of the matter is that the regulations are still with us. They will be with us at the next meeting, which is April 11, at which time all the parties here will have an opportunity to ask the minister whatever questions they wish to ask.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Are we all clear on where we go from here?
Senator Tkachuk: I have a point of order because I did not understand Mr. Wappel. If the report was rejected, which is exactly what the committee just did, how can we consider it again?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): It is up to the will of the committee. The committee can ask counsel to prepare the report again. After listening to the minister, or if we can resolve the issue with the minister, probably we can go ahead. This item is open to the committee again.
Senator Tkachuk: The way it works then is that the process never comes to an end: If we adopt the report or do not adopt the report, the process continues, and do we continue the process?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Senator, as you are aware, this committee has tabled many reports in the House for disallowance. The regulations have been disallowed. These can be disallowed again. There is no closed door that we are facing at the moment. In my opinion, we have voted on this issue, so let us move on to the next item. This issue is wide open.
Mr. Pankiw: For point of clarification, Mr. Chair, we are effectively now prior to the December meeting. We met in December and voted to have a report prepared. Now we do not even have a report. We are back to November. We are going back in time. It is just another delay strategy so that the Liberals can keep boosting these Indian supremacists who think they are the only ones who should be able to fish.
Mr. Brien: Can the committee vote twice on the same item? In procedural terms, can the same report be examined a second time and if so, is unanimous consent required to do so?
I do not think we can automatically revisit the issue. I would appreciate the opinion of either the clerk or the committee chair.
Enough already, Wappel!
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): It is an interesting point. If we have to go for a second report, we could have a second report, or if we want to have this one, we could have consent on the report and then we can go over that.
Am I right?
Mr. Brien: Are you guessing or are you sure?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I am just confirming it. The clerk can tell us.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Heyde): There could be some problems if the report was identical in every respect...
Mr. Brien: As I understand the facts, if this report was rejected, it cannot be voted on again unless unanimous consent is given.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Heyde): To vote on the same report?
Mr. Brien: Precisely. We would require unanimous consent to initiate disallowance procedures.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Heyde): To adopt an identical report —
Mr. Brien: The matter needed to be clarified. Next time, Mr. Wappel, I would appreciate your keeping your inappropriate comments to yourself.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We have had enough on it. Can we move on to the next item on the agenda?
Mr. Pankiw: No, excuse me, Mr. Chairman, we have not had enough of it. What do you want me to do now?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I want to move on to the next item.
Mr. Pankiw: I cannot sit in a committee that is voting racism. This is an absolute outrage.
SOR/92-271 — SASKATCHEWAN CANOLA ORDER
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The next item on the agenda is SOR/92-271.
Mr. Bernier: The draft proclamation appended to the correspondence addresses the drafting problems identified by the committee. The response is therefore deemed satisfactory.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): If there are no comments, we will move on to the next item.
SOR/95-413 — CANADA GRAIN REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
(For text of document, see Appendix, p. 13A:1)
Mr. Peter Bernhardt, Counsel to the Committee: Mr. Chairman, there were seven points raised in connection with these regulations.
Amendments were promised to deal with the matters raised in points 1, 2, 3, and 6 of counsel's letter of December 19, 2000. These involve questions of drafting and discrepancies between the French and English versions of certain provisions.
It is suggested that the minor question in connection with point 5 is not worth pursuing.
Point 7 relates to the question of whether fees may possibly have been improperly collected during the period August 1 to 16, 1995. However, the Canadian Grain Commission has advised that it no longer possesses any of the relevant records pertaining to this period. As a result, the committee is left with little choice but to accept that this inquiry has reached a dead end.
This leaves point 4, which concerns what was formerly item 10 of Schedule 1. This has now been renumbered as item 8. The item in question establishes a fee for an appeal to a grain appeal tribunal where a person is dissatisfied with the grade assigned to grain by an inspector. The authority relied upon for this fee is section 116(1)(r) of the Canada Grain Act. It authorizes the making of regulations fixing or prescribing the manner for determining fees for any service performed by or on behalf of the commission. It was questioned whether an appeal of a grade assigned by an inspector entails performing a service.
In essence, the commission takes the view that the grain appeal tribunal may be under a duty to deal with the appeal; but in dealing with an appeal it nevertheless provides a service to the appellant. To the commission, it is not relevant that the performance of this service is mandatory.
The proposition that carrying out a statutory duty to hear an appeal can be equated to the rendering of a service to the person who launches the appeal seems a rather dubious one. This aside, it is important to note that the fee is only payable where the appeal does not result in a change to the grade.
Even if you accept the fact that hearing the appeal constitutes a service, that service is provided in each and every case to each and every appellant. Why should only unsuccessful appellants be required to pay the fee?
Again, it seems questionable that discouraging the exercise of a statutory right by penalizing people who try to exercise that right but are unsuccessful in the end is an acceptable use of authority to make regulations imposing a fee for services.
The commission's replies to date simply do not address this aspect of the matter.
I recommend that this objection be pursued in a further letter to the commission.
Mr. Pankiw: Mr. Chair, at this point I will be leaving because it is clear that this committee does not respect its mandate. We have these Aboriginal fishing regulations that are ultra vires the act of Parliament.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Mr. Pankiw, you are out of order.
Mr. Pankiw: This committee has a responsibility to table the disallowance report. They are refusing to do it. It is a complete farce. It is a joke and it is racist.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): You are out of order.
Mr. Pankiw: I cannot understand how someone can sit here with a clear conscience and pretend that this is not a complete farce.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Mr. Lee.
Mr. Lee: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It would be helpful and useful, perhaps, if we kept control of our sound system. If you wish to impose order, you have that ability.
Mr. Pankiw: I should bring some white sheets in for you guys, too.
Mr. Lee: The person who takes care of the microphones and ultimately controls what is picked up for the record has some difficulty. Mr. Chairman, if you would just keep control.
I thought this file raised a couple of interesting issues that caught my attention, The first one, having to do with the charging of fees for an approximately 16-day period when the fees regulations were not in force, was in my view not adequately acknowledged by the department. They regretted to inform us that they did not have any records, or at least they allowed us to infer that the records had been destroyed. We do not know when the records were destroyed. Were they destroyed after we raised the issue or before? In any event, the point of the records may be moot.
What I am looking for is an acknowledgement from the department that the fees order was not in force prior to August 16. I am not asking for more than that. However, the department has not acknowledged in its correspondence that it was not in a position to charge the new fees. That is how I read their correspondence. I would like them to acknowledge that the fees order as published on August 1 was not in force, even though we do not have any evidence that anyone was charged an improper fee as a result of that. I think the department should be made to belly up to that fact.
That is the point we made originally. From my point of view, the fact that all the records are destroyed is moot. Perhaps everything is moot. Let us just deal with the issue. Let us get them to acknowledge what should be apparent on the face. That is the first point.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Are you saying it should be done in the form of a letter demanding something from them, Mr. Lee; is that what you mean?
Mr. Lee: I think we need that point clarified. I want the department to acknowledge clearly that they agree that the fees order was not in force prior to August 16. That seems to be pretty easy.
The second thing is something I had difficulty with, and I need some advice from counsel. It has been raised here again today. The issue is whether or not when a statute creates what is an apparent statutory right and classified as a statutory right a charge should be leviable for the citizen's exercise of that right. We have semantic issue of whether or not the right is also describable as a service, and that has come up in the correspondence. I should like to know if there are other rights exercisable by citizens for which the government now charges a fee.
Mr. Bernhardt: Certainly, Mr. Lee, you see a number of those kinds of fees. In some cases, there are provisions in the FAA that specifically permit fees in those circumstances. That is true in relation not only to privileges but also to rights.
The question in each case is that you must go to the particular enabling power. The enabling power here is to charge a fee for a service. Then you are left with this question: If I have a right to appeal, and I decide to exercise that right to appeal, is the person who sits in judgment of the appeal providing me a service?
I have some difficulty with that proposition, frankly. Put in a judicial sense, if I am appellant in the court case, do I look at the judge hearing the appeal as rendering me a service by sitting there and listening to me? I am not sure I would look at it in those terms. There is the extra gloss here that you only pay the fee if you lose. If you win, the fee is waived.
They are saying: We do not want any frivolous appeals, because if you lose, you will have to pay up. Even if it is accepted that this is a service, it is the same service for everyone.
Mr. Lee: I am having difficulty concluding whether this is a point of real importance that we should deal with. On the first point, I take it that there was consensus to return to the department and obtain clarification.
Mr. Bernhardt: The question I asked for clarification is whether you also wished for an explanation as to why they do not have the records, if that is the part of their standard procedure. The year 1995 is not that long ago.
Mr. Lee: I am afraid to probe this point, given recent issues in the press involving commercial corporations. I will not mention any names. Destruction of financial records is a potential problem.
Mr. Bernhardt: We could certainly ask for them to acknowledge that they accept the fact that these regulations were not in effect for that 16-day period.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): What should we do? What is the recommendation?
Mr. Bernhardt: We could write a letter to the commission pursuing those two points.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Is it agreed, honourable members, that a letter be written to the commission?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We will expect you to prepare a response, Mr. Bernhardt, and to send it.
SOR/96-245 — NATIONAL PARKS FISHING REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
SOR/97-111 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE NATIONAL PARKS FISHING REGULATIONS
SOR/98-268 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE NATIONAL PARKS FISHING REGULATIONS
SOR/99-352 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE NATIONAL PARKS FISHING REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix, p. 13B:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: We have promises of action on all points except for number 7.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Which is number 7?
Mr. Bernhardt: Number 7 concerns section 27 of the regulations.
Again, I would suggest that the department's reply on that point is satisfactory. That being the case, if members are in agreement, progress of the promised amendments will be chased up in the usual fashion, which is that we will write a letter asking them how they are proceeding.
SOR/83-934 — HARBOUR DUES TARIFF BY-LAW, AMENDMENT
SOR/83-935 — PACIFIC HARBOUR DUES TARIFF BY-LAW, AMENDMENT
SOR/85-190 — PACIFIC HARBOUR DUES TARIFF BY-LAW, AMENDMENT
SOR/94-588 — LAURENTIAN PILOTAGE TARIFF REGULATIONS, 1992
SOR/89-303 — ONSHORE PIPELINE REGULATIONS
SOR/88-452 — ONSHORE PIPELINE REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix, p. 13C:1)
SOR/89-426 — TRANSPORT PACKAGING OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
(For text of documents, see Appendix, p. 13D:1)
SOR/94-320 — PRINCE RUPERT PORT CORPORATION SERVICES AND PROPERTY BY-LAW, AMENDMENT
(For text of documents, see Appendix, p. 13E:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: These instruments comprise 13 amendments requested by the committee. As well, there is the proper re-enactment of a regulation that was initially made by the wrong authority. As well, the enactment of certain provisions of the Marine Liability Act serves to validate the collection of fees under a number of instruments. The committee determined that the fees in question had been collected without lawful authority. In several instances, these files do date back to the early 1980s, and they can now be closed.
The enactment of the Canada Marine Act resulted in the Prince Rupert Port Corporation services and property bylaw ceasing to have effect. A point of drafting had been raised in connection with this bylaw so this file can now be closed as well.
Hon. Members: Hear, hear.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Thank you, counsel, for the good job.
We now move to statutory instruments without comment.
Mr. Bernier: Statutory instruments without comment are those on which we have no comment. Members may wish to raise a matter.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Does any member have a comment on this group of instruments?
Mr. Lee: How many are there?
Mr. Bernhardt: There are 57.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): Are there any comments?
This being the last item, the next meeting will be on April 11.
Senator Bryden: Can the committee proceed to meet if the Senate is not sitting and the Senate is not represented there? Do you not need one senator?
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Heyde): Quorum is four members, with at least one from each House.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): I had a discussion with the co-chair. She said that there will be some senators available for that meeting.
Usually the committee meets when both Houses are sitting. However, in this case there was a change in the calendar for the House as well as the Senate. That change placed us in this dilemma. Generally, we sit when both Houses are sitting. This meeting will take place on April 11.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Heyde): The date was set in early December, before it become apparent that the Senate would not be sitting that week. When we initially suggested the dates, we understood that both Houses would be sitting on that date.
Senator Bryden: Would the clerk ensure that the chair, or someone, arranges for a live body from the Red Chamber to be here on April 11?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): That will be done, senator.
Mr. Cummins: On the same issue, Mr. Chairman, if a meeting went ahead when the House was not sitting most of us would be offended. The issue of the minister before the committee is of great interest to everyone. I am concerned that, if we do not have full representation from the other place, when this matter does come to a vote there may be matters that arise that will not be completely understood by everyone. Is that to our advantage?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The only issue in regard to meeting on this date is that the minister is appearing. If we postpone the meeting, the appearance of the minister before the committee would be further delayed. Thus, we thought it best to take the opportunity to proceed.
Mr. Cummins: Would it be a matter of delaying for a week or not?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We do not know. We tried to arrange another meeting but that was not possible.
Senator Bryden: If the minister is available at that time, let him appear. There is a transcript of these proceedings. I assume that immediately after that appearance a vote would not be taken where I might wish to wax eloquently before the vote is taken. I presume that nothing precipitous would happen except to take the evidence from the minister.
Mr. Cummins: Would it be possible for some of the regular members to hook up by teleconference?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): We can explore that possibility. Technology is advancing. We can try.
Senator Bryden: My view is to proceed. If we are really sufficiently interested, we could come in. On the other hand, we will receive the transcript.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Grewal): The committee will proceed as scheduled. We will investigate the matter of a teleconference connection, but we cannot confirm anything at this time in that regard.
The committee adjourned.