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Proceedings of the Standing Joint Committee for the
Scrutiny of Regulations
Issue 4 - Evidence, February 14, 2008
OTTAWA, Thursday, February 14, 2008
The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations met this day at 8:35 a.m. for the review of statutory instruments.
Senator J. Trevor Eyton and Mr. Derek Lee (Joint Chairs) in the chair.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): We will begin with a progress report from Mr. Bernhardt so that committee members are informed on the process and the roles played by Mr. Bernhardt directly and by the joint chairs indirectly.
Peter Bernhardt, General Counsel to the Committee: By way of bringing members up to date, it has been proposed to transfer the offices of the secretariat to the joint committee from Senate premises, which we have occupied over the past number of years, to other premises under the control of the Library of Parliament. We are working out various issues that need to be resolved.
I have had some communication with the Library, and the joint chairs have met with people from the Library. We have received assurances to this point that all of our requirements will be met, and there should be no changes to the operational arrangements currently in place. We will continue to meet with the Library. We will keep members advised as things develop.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): It might be helpful to describe briefly your ``requirements'' in terms of space and other factors important to you.
Mr. Bernhardt: We have concerns about security and confidentiality for the committee's files and materials. The secretariat to the joint committee has always operated as a self-contained unit reporting to the joint committee, through the joint chairs. Our concerns are that those arrangements stay in place without disruption.
We need to maintain control of, and security over, a complicated tracking system for the serious volume of files and correspondence of the joint committee. Our main concern is that those requirements and needs be met in any future accommodation.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): Are there questions or comments?
Senator Bryden: Whose initiative is this?
Mr. Bernhardt: This proposal was put forward by the Library of Parliament, who is in the process of undertaking a consolidation of various units, people and employees. They expressed a desire to take over responsibility for the joint committee's accommodation, which, for the past 30 years to 35 years has been provided by the Senate as a matter of practice.
Senator Bryden: When you say ``take responsibility for the accommodation,'' are you moving into one of their buildings?
Mr. Bernhardt: Precisely.
Senator Bryden: You will move all those files somewhere else. Is there any thought of putting them on disk?
Mr. Bernhardt: We raised that point and put it forward as a proposal, if we can obtain the resources and support for such an undertaking. The project would be a long-term one. I had hoped to have that project well underway by now. One complication is that we currently work on the Senate computer system, and the library is on the House of Commons' computer system. Moving would entail a transfer from one system to the other. I was forced to put the project on hold pending the outcome of these discussions. We want to make the move to electronic because it would allow us to have search and indexing capabilities.
Senator Moore: What is the timing?
Mr. Bernhardt: The latest proposal, as I understand it, would have us moving by Christmas 2008.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): We will distribute that information. If members hear something in the halls, they will understand the discussions and the issues involved. We will move to the agenda.
REPORT NO. 39 (FIFTH REPORT OF THE STANDING JOINT COMMITTEE FOR THE SCRUTINY OF REGULATIONS)
(For text of documents, see Appendix A, P.4A:1)
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): The first item has been before the Joint Committee since 1986.
Mr. Bernhardt: As the Joint Chair pointed out, the report goes back more than 20 years.
In the report, the committee made nine recommendations in respect of the exercise of law-making powers by Indian band councils. All these recommendations were accepted by the government at the time, and a number were implemented. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to implement the remaining recommendations.
Briefly, the remaining recommendations are that the Indian Act be amended to guarantee the right to notice of delegated legislation and access to it by those affected; and that in respect of band bylaws, there can be no conviction for a breach of the bylaws unless steps have been taken to bring them to the attention of those affected by them.
The last attempt to implement these recommendations was Bill C-7, which was introduced in the previous Parliament. It failed to receive passage. The minister has already advised that this bill will not be reintroduced. It seems the government has given up trying to implement the committee's recommendations as a separate initiative.
This situation limited the committee's options. It was decided to write once more to the minister, expressing the committee's disappointment and asking for confirmation that any new framework for First Nations programs would address the remaining committee concerns. The committee also sought the minister's advice as to when any new legislation might be introduced.
The minister's reply, which is before the committee this morning, acknowledges the committee's concerns but refers to ``the inherent challenges of both the legislative process and in obtaining the broad consensus needed to move forward.''
I think this speaks volumes. He also states that work to explore elements of new governance frameworks continues. We are obviously a long way from any new comprehensive First Nations governance legislation.
I am not sure what to suggest to the committee as a course of action. I suppose we can continue to monitor the situation and occasionally ask if any progress has been made. The committee can also report to the Houses, expressing disappointment that the accepted recommendations have never been implemented and the hope that they will be reflected in any new framework for First Nations governance. At that point, the committee could decide whether it wishes to close the file.
Mr. Epp: If we close the file and leave it, what does that mean? Does that mean that the committee drops its original response that the legislative framework is invalid, and the invalidity of the process continues? I think that response would be unacceptable.
Mr. Bernhardt: The question was not so much the invalidity of the process, but certain deficiencies the committee had found. The committee recommended that certain safeguards and protections be added through the Indian Act.
The government accepted that recommendation. There have been two or three attempts to implement those amendments to the legislation. Each time, they floundered for a variety of reasons. I think everyone appreciates the difficulties in coming up with any new framework in the area of First Nations that would be acceptable.
Mr. Epp: There is difficulty, but I think we ought not to fold on it. Instead of closing the file and saying go ahead, carry on, as if we never reported in 1986, I think we say this matter is not closed. We expect these issues to be addressed at the earliest opportunity, the next time there is legislation in this area.
Mr. Bernhardt: The committee has taken that approach for the last two decades.
Mr. Epp: It should continue to take it.
Mr. Bernhardt: It can certainly do so; that was one of the suggested possibilities.
Mr. Epp: We might even add a comment about the amazing patience of this committee.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Are there, to our knowledge, any regulations made by First Nations bands where we can see there has not been adequate promulgation, where there is not a good notice arrangement? If such a regulation was adopted by a First Nations band, would that regulation fall within the body of regulations that we could deal with — review or even disallow?
Mr. Bernhardt: That question ties into other recommendations in the report that were implemented. The committee formerly had jurisdiction to review Indian band bylaws. One recommendation implemented in the report was that those bylaws be exempted from the Statutory Instruments Act, that they no longer be subject to review. I guess the recommendation was based on the principle that they were made by elected officials, drawing a parallel to municipal governments. The committee no longer reviews those bylaws.
Because there are no legal requirements as far as notice goes, what happens in practice will vary from band to band. The committee suggested that there should be a uniform legislative set of requirements for notice.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): The defect is in the statutory framework, not in the regulations themselves. Is that correct?
Mr. Bernhardt: That is right.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): We have not been able to get any traction on an amendment for 22 years.
Mr. Bernhardt: Yes.
Mr. Asselin: If I understand correctly, this is a file that dates from 1986 and, since that time, the committee on regulations has been bringing it up continually. This morning, we are faced with a fait accompli. We are disappointed that the government or the minister is unwilling to proceed with our recommendations.
Before closing the file, the committee should at least bring it up again with the department and the minister as a matter of serious concern. Then, the Aboriginal Affairs Committee should be asked to deal with the task that is before us this morning. The committee has all the tools it needs to hear from First Nations communities affected by the Indian Act regulations in order to see how things can be improved or whether we can just maintain the status quo on the Indian Act.
This was brought to the committee's attention in 1986, so, after 20 years, we are not talking about an emergency. But it is important because it was brought before our committee. We must deal with the matter. It is too easy to turn the page and say that, because the minister does not want to follow up, there is nothing more we can do. We must show that we are interested in amending the Indian Act, and the minister must react promptly. First Nations communities must be made aware of the implications and the matter must be referred to the House of Commons Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. That committee should do the necessary studies and make recommendations to the House, because its members have the mandate to do so.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Do colleagues agree that it might be useful, given that we have not reported on this matter since the 33rd Parliament, which is several years ago, that we refresh and report? Then, after the government responds to that report, the committee can make a decision as to whether we walk on or sink our teeth in more. Is that solution reasonable — to report it again from the perspective of the millennium and give the government an opportunity to put its thoughts on record?
Mr. Wappel: I do not disagree with that. However, I think Mr. Asselin has a good point, which is to bring it to the specific attention of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. If we report, there should be a letter from the co-chairs directly to the chair of the Aboriginal affairs committee, bringing this report to the attention of that committee in the House and, indeed, in the Senate, so both Houses are aware of this issue, rather than having a report only from this committee that may become lost in the business of the House. I support Mr. Asselin's suggestion.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Is there consensus to adopt Mr. Asselin's suggestion and also to report?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): There is another layer to that suggestion. Mr. Epp made an observation that this committee made a ruling some years ago, and that ruling should not fly away. It seems to me we will make the report and the reference to committee, but we should keep the issue alive. We should not bury it.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Are we okay on that suggestion, then?
Hon. Members: Yes.
SOR/99-324 — BOOK IMPORTATION REGULATIONS
SOR/99-325 — EXCEPTIONS FOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES AND MUSEUMS REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix B, p. 4B:1)
Jacques Rousseau, Legal Counsel: Mr. Chair, the points raised in the first item, SOR/99-324, are about the drafting of the regulations; amendments were promised in 2000. In the second item, SOR/99-325, three points were raised; one amendment was promised in 2003. The two other problems are about the rescinding of section 5 of the regulations, which became moot after the amendments to the act in 2004, and about the validity of section 7, to which the committee requested an answer in the letter sent by counsel on June 23, 2006.
In his letter of January 24, 2008, the minister indicated that he had asked for work to start with a view to making the necessary amendments by the end of the financial year. However, this does not include section 7 of the regulations on exceptions for educational institutions, libraries, museums and archives.
On that matter, the minister wrote that no decision to amend the act or the regulations has yet been made. If the decision to amend the regulations is made, the minister undertook to do so within a reasonable time.
If the committee is satisfied with this reply, counsel could monitor the progress and keep the committee up-to-date in the usual fashion.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Are there any further comments? Are counsel's suggestions acceptable?
Senator Moore: What is the action of the committee? I missed the recommendation.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): A monitoring exercise is ongoing.
Mr. Rousseau: Counsel will now monitor the progress and keep the committee up-to-date in the usual fashion.
Senator Moore: Okay, thank you.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Agreed.
SOR/2000-221 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE LETTER MAIL REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix C, p. 4C:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: Since 2002, the letter mail regulations have provided for an automatic annual increase in the domestic basic letter rate based on the increase in the consumer price index for the period beginning with May preceding the last increase and ending with the May of the current year. The purpose is to allow changes in the postal rate without the need of the Canada Post to submit an amendment for approval by the Governor-in-Council.
For reasons set out in the chair's letter of June 5, 2006, the committee has taken the position that an automatic increase process is not authorized by the Canada Post Corporation Act. It does not prescribe a postal rate as is required but provides for a method of determining that rate. The committee has also been concerned that removing the involvement of cabinet from the rate setting process is at odds with the intent of Parliament.
Canada Post disputed this view and, in an effort to resolve matters, the committee suggested that if the government considers the reasons for subjecting postal rate changes to the control of cabinet are no longer valid, the act should be changed to authorize the corporation to make a regulation prescribing rates or the method of determining those rates.
Back in May, the minister advised that this recommendation was being considered. At this time, perhaps a further letter can be sent asking about the results of this consideration.
Mr. Wappel: Regarding my notes on this item, I wrote down ``absolutely insulting letter.''
First, we wrote in June, 2006. We followed up at the end of March, 2007. We received an answer in May, 2007. I am curious why the item has taken since May, 2007, to reach to the committee. That is a parenthesis.
When I read this letter, it is as if he was swatting a mosquito away. I was flabbergasted. The committee ``performs a valuable service;'' thank you very much; we will consider it. The letter is insulting to the committee, in my view. I think we need to do something more than follow up with a letter. I am not sure what, but I think it might be appropriate to ask officials from Canada Post to appear and explain their position.
I know we cannot demand that the minister appear. However, we can demand that officials from Canada Post appear to explain their position and tell us why there is a delay in responding. I suppose we can ask the person in charge in the minister's office, and the person in charge of Canada Post reporting to the minister, to appear as well. I do not know.
I simply could not believe there was such an offhanded response to this committee to an issue that involves, in effect, the cabinet shirking a responsibility that has been put on cabinet by statute.
Senator Moore: I concur with Mr. Wappel's remarks. Postage is turning paper into money. It is a tax. I notice the stamps now do not have a denomination on them. I do not know how that is authorized. I think people should know how much they are paying for a stamp; it should be indicated.
Is that part of this item? Does that mean rates will keep going up and buyers will not know what the rates are? The stamp is also like a receipt because purchasers know they have paid that much tax. There are no denominations on these stamps. Is this change part of this issue? How do we deal with that change? I do not think it is appropriate.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): The senator is concerned about taxation without reconciliation.
Senator Moore: Absolutely.
Mr. Bernhardt: This item is not directly concerned with that issue. I presume the reason we do not put the figure on the stamps anymore is because we have an automatic increase process that saves reprinting the stamps each time.
Senator Moore: They reprint them, anyway.
Mr. Bernhardt: You are right: I think the stamp is a receipt in a sense. It is an indication the purchaser paid the basic rate, whatever that rate is. To find the rate, they must ask Canada Post. Unless they have a calculator and know the consumer price index figures they cannot obtain it from reading the legislation either. The legislation gives only the formula.
Senator Moore: How do they fix that?
Mr. Bernhardt: According to the committee, they go back to how Parliament intended it to be: When they wanted to fix the letter rate, they went to cabinet and cabinet passed an Order in Council saying, ``This will be the rate.''
Senator Moore: I think it is the dumbest thing in the world. I do not think it is right.
Mr. Epp: I take exception to the objection. I personally love it because my wife and I use a lot of stamps. We were buying those pre-stuck stamps, followed by sticking on one-cent and two-cent stamps to top them up because the postal rates have increased.
This year's stamps will continue to be valid even though the rate increases next year. It is to the consumers' advantage if stamps do not have a denomination. As already mentioned, the unused inventory no longer goes into the garbage because Canada Post can continue to use the stamps. I know how much I paid for them when I bought them.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): The issue is setting the rate, not printing the stamp.
Mr. Epp: We ought to continue to push on this issue because they have dropped the ball. They are not following the intent of the legislation. That area is where we should push back.
Mr. Norlock: My comments are twofold, and the first was to be precisely what Mr. Epp said to the matter. I buy pre-stamped envelopes, and if they had the amount printed on them, I would need to purchase stamps separately to make up for any increase in the postal rate. This way, if I know I will have a fair amount to mail in the near future, I can buy a more substantial number of them before the rate increases and I can save money.
The issue is setting the rates. Parliament's intent was to take the subsidy away from Canada Post so that it would become a stand-alone Crown corporation that did not run a deficit, and one the taxpayer did not subsidize. In my view, the corporation became a little drunk with profit and their sole shareholder, the people of Canada, are shafted a bit as they wonder where all the excess profit goes? They are saying the change is to reduce costs but I have never seen them bring down the price of a stamp or hold the price the same. I suspect the profit is siphoned off to a bloated bureaucracy somewhere. The joint committee, realizing that it represents the sole shareholder, has a duty to hear from Canada Post on the matter.
In a different venue, we heard from Canada Post and they were paternalistic in their responses. In the end, they do what they want to do. We should hear from postal officials before the joint committee, but members should be aware that postal officials will pay the committee lip service.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): I can understand the reason for the delay in sending the May letter to us: they were busy crafting that two-paragraph letter, which is comical in its lack of respect.
On a subsidiary point, their formula of a 66.67 times a factor cannot be right. There must be a rounding up process such that officials do not use only that formula but also round up or down a cent. I assume that is done because otherwise, it would not work. We do not like the formula but, beyond that, we should not subscribe to the rounding up or down to make an even amount. In agreement with all of the speakers, I think that we should summon the postal officials, in part because of that disgraceful reply we received in May 2007.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): This is a great big Crown corporation with its hand in the pocket of every Canadian. There was a time when it was a government function, and cabinet controlled the first-class letter rate. Now it is a Crown corporation. The first-class letter rate must be one of its biggest sources of revenue. Postal officials have chosen expediency over the rule of law. Officials wanted to set the rate based on a certain formula, and cabinet probably thought it would be a good idea because they would not need to come back every year to talk to the accountants. Every time the rate went up, it was a cabinet decision and, therefore, a political decision.
The expediency made some sense but the problem for the joint committee is that we still have rule of law, which seems to show that an increase in the first-class postal rate requires a cabinet decision. However, cabinet no longer makes that decision. They have subcontracted it, in a way, to an accounting formula, and we are saying they must fix this problem. This matter is serious. Every constituent pays this ``Senator Moore tax,'' and we had better insist on rule of law. The cursory, two-line letter says volumes about their attention to this matter. I have no doubt that if we asked Canada Post officials to appear before the joint committee, we would find all kinds of interesting things taking place. If we let Mr. Norlock follow his nose on this matter, we could probably spend a couple of weeks on the issue.
Does counsel suggest calling Canada Post or simply reporting? The legal issue is clear and easily reportable. The question is whether to disallow their rate-setting mechanism, which would be a real chill factor to Canada Post. They would be here in about 20 minutes. I mention that for the record. I do not suggest disallowance at this point. I only wanted the record to show the issue. What does counsel recommend?
Mr. Bernhardt: As far as calling witnesses from Canada Post is concerned, we have two aspects. One is the substance of the issue on which we are dealing with Canada Post. Two is the issue of the reply and its adequacy or lack thereof in dealing with the minister's office. In effect, we are dealing with two different parties. Therefore, it depends what aspect the committee wants to pursue. If it wishes to talk about the delays and the response, then that issue might best be discussed with someone from the minister's office. The substance of the issue is definitely something ongoing with Canada Post; both sides have firmly set their ground on the matter. We are at the level of writing to the minister. There have been several exchanges of correspondence on the substance with Canada Post. I am not sure how much further we can go if we rehash the issue in person. With that point of view, a report to Parliament might be an appropriate action. I am in the hands of members because it depends what action they think would be most fruitful.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): This issue requires leadership rather than talk around what we should do. Perhaps we should take a hard line with the minister and ask whether he would appear to explain the expediency, or whether he would like Canada Post to appear with the explanation. That action would involve setting aside a meeting for witnesses. Are there other suggestions?
Senator Moore: Mr. Chair, your suggestion addresses a timing issue. We want this matter fixed so I do not know if another letter would be helpful but it must indicate that the joint committee is prepared to disallow. Otherwise, I do not know whether we would gain the attention of Canada Post to act on the issue.
Mr. Norlock: I would like the witnesses to appear here. It would save a great deal of paper and reduce their scurrying around the matter. Let us have officials from both the minister's office and Canada Post so that one party cannot blame the other. I suspect there might be some kind of communication problem. To have them both here precludes their ability to blame the other.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): You suggest we invite them as witnesses. We will set aside time in a future meeting for the purpose, and our letter will make an oblique reference to our concern and the possibility of disallowance.
Mr. Norlock: Yes.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Is that okay?
Senator Moore: Agreed.
SOR/2005-241 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE GUN SHOWS REGULATIONS
SOR/2005-242 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FIREARMS MARKING REGULATIONS
(For text of document, see Appendix D, p. 4D:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: It goes from bad to worse. Regulations proposed to be made under section 117 of the Firearms Act must first be tabled in both Houses. The act, however, provides an exception where the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is of the opinion that changes made to an existing regulation are so immaterial or insubstantial that tabling should not be required. In such cases, however, a statement of the reasons for the minister's opinion must be laid before each House.
Each of these two instruments indicates that the minister will have statements laid before each House of Parliament indicating the basis for the minister's opinion. To date, no such statements have been tabled.
The failure was first drawn to the attention of the commissioner of firearms in December 2005. In May 2007, the deputy commissioner of the RCMP told the committee that the Canadian Firearms Centre was in the process of forwarding a statement of reasons to the minister so that the minister would be able to rectify a number of these failures.
In a June 15, 2007 letter, the acting commissioner was advised by the committee that the committee would review the status of these files in the fall, by which time it was expected that the requisite documents would have been tabled in both Houses. When this proved not to be the case, the committee asked the joint chairman to write to the minister, informing him that the matter will be before the committee at its first meeting in the new year.
As well, confirmation was sought that the statement of reasons referred to in the May 2007 letter were never, in fact, forwarded to the minister's office. A reply has yet to be received from the minister, and the statements of reasons have still not been tabled.
The act does not fix a time within which a statement of reasons must be tabled; but I suggest that a delay such as this clearly defeats the purpose of the requirements, and violates the spirit of the law. As members who have been on the committee for some time are well aware, the non-observance of a tabling requirement also constitutes a prima facie breach of the privileges of the House and, as such, may be treated as a contempt. That summary brings us to where we are this morning.
Mr. Wappel: Is the commissioner of firearms an official of the RCMP?
Mr. Bernhardt: I am not sure if the commissioner is an official of the RCMP, but the Canadian Firearms Centre has now been transferred to the auspices of the RCMP.
Mr. Wappel: That responsibility is what I am interested in. No documents have been tabled; we have received no answer to this letter. I am not convinced that the new commissioner of the RCMP knows what is taking place with this file. I think we should bring him before the committee and bring his attention to this matter.
I think we have also identified a flaw in the legislation, in that there is no time limit with respect to the tabling requirements. Clearly, two years — by any standard — is way too long. It shows us that if the time limit is not there, it will be ignored by the bureaucracy, period.
I think we could make a recommendation at some point to suggest a specific amendment to the statute. However, I want to be comforted in knowing that the commissioner is aware of this situation; and I want to hear what he has to say about why his people have not filed any documents in over two years, which, theoretically, could be a breach of the privileges of the House.
I think this case would be appropriate for the commissioner. I do not suggest the minister at this point, but I am sure the minister will send someone along. I think the commissioner should come here to discuss this matter.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Counsel, on whom does the burden fall to table, to introduce, in the House? Is it the responsible minister?
Mr. Bernhardt: Formally, it is the minister.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): There is nothing wrong with Mr. Wappel's suggestion, but I want to suggest that straighter line. It would be inconceivable to me that the minister, looking dead-on at contempt, would not table these documents quickly.
As this matter sits, it is a contempt scenario. Any member of the House can walk into the House now on a privileged matter, interrupt its proceedings and make it a matter of prima facie contempt. That item is a serious one in our rules, in our law. That is where that matter is.
I know this course of action is possible because I took it 15 years ago as a member of the House, in relation to the Minister of Finance at the time. At that time, the Speaker made a ruling that said this type of delay is a prima facie contempt. I will not walk over to the House and do it, but nothing is stopping any of the others around the table from taking that action.
I think we should write the minister and the commissioner of the RCMP, stating that we are preparing a report that points out the prima facie contempt, and that they have the ability to cure it before we report. We might draw their attention to the fact that any member of the House may raise it in the House at his or her own instance.
I think the minister would have his officials prepare these documents and send them to the House quickly. That action would preclude the necessity of setting aside a meeting to go over what I regard as old ground. This item is a serious default, as counsel points out. It is so serious that I would expect it to be cured, once the right messaging is out there.
That is my suggestion. We will hear from other members, of course.
Mr. Wappel: I do not want to debate you, but I would have thought that the letter of December 12, 2007 would have had precisely the effect that you expected it to have, since, in that letter, we brought to the minister's attention that this item is a prima facie case of contempt. There appears to have been no action taken as a result of that letter — never mind an answer to us — but certainly, the documents have not been filed. I am not sure that another letter saying the same thing would work. Or, do you suggest that we threaten to —
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): I am saying that they fix it, or it will be in the House within a matter of a couple of weeks and they will face a prima facie contempt in the House. I am sure they will respond.
In December 2007, or even beyond that, there was a new minister, new government and new staff; the two-line letter we received on the previous file is an indication of that lack of grasp of the parliamentary functions at play here.
Mr. Wappel: Minister Day has been the minister for some time. He is a competent, responsible minister. That is why I wanted the commissioner to appear before the committee, because the minister cannot possibly be expected to know under what statute which documents need to be filed, and when. A minister must rely on the bureaucracy to advise of those bring-forward dates and things to do.
It is true that this letter was sent to the minister; it is true that no action has been taken. That is why I was curious as to whether the commissioner of the RCMP realized that this matter falls under the purview of the RCMP, and that they should advise the minister accordingly.
If we do not want to waste a meeting, that is fine. I do not think we should be namby-pamby about any letter you suggest. It should be clear that if this matter is not rectified, we will report this matter is a prima facie breach of the House and ask the Speaker to rule on it.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): He does not need to rule; it is a done deal.
Mr. Epp: I refer to the last sentence on page 2 of our December 12 letter to the minister. It states:
. . . we were asked to seek your confirmation that the statements of reasons referred to in Mr. Martin's letter of May 23, 2007, have never been forwarded to your office. Did we receive a response to that letter?
Mr. Bernhardt: We received no response at all to that December letter.
Senator Moore: This suggestion follows on from Mr. Wappel's comments: In your firm letter, I think we should put a timeframe such as ``within 30 days.'' The matter could go on, or go back and forth. Otherwise, how serious are we taking this?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): I think 30 days is liberal.
Senator Moore: Too much? I will agree with whatever the committee decides, but no longer than 30 days.
Mr. Asselin: I think that we should demonstrate our resolve in this case. We must show that the committee has a leadership role and that it takes the matter seriously.
First, let us write to Minister Stockwell Day to advise him that, if he has not tabled the report in the House in a reasonable time frame that the committee can determine, he will be in contempt of Parliament. At the same time, we should send a letter to the Speaker telling him that, if the report has not been tabled in the House by the date we set, the minister will be in contempt of Parliament. A copy should go to the minister.
We write to the Speaker, with a copy to the minister telling him the date by which he must table the report in the House.
But I stand by my position, that we must also advise the Speaker of the date.
Mr. Norlock: I agree with Senator Moore in that we need to give them a specific time so we do not continue to play around with the item. I do not think we need to build the gallows right away. However, I am a member of the Public Safety Committee, and looking at regaining trust, the Brown report, I think this matter is symptomatic of a police force. Those issues could be some of the reasons we are incurring this response.
Yes, the issue is serious. However, for a police force that is burdened with so many tasks and in the throes of, frankly, completely revamping the way they do things, et cetera, it is incumbent upon us to realize who and what we are dealing with at this time, and offer them an opportunity to respond to us after we have told them the gravity of the situation.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): How about the end of February?
Senator Moore: Yes: The letter will go out this week?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Keep in mind, colleagues, the deadline is not ours. The deadline is already contained in the statute, as vague as some may say it is. The deadlines have passed. I can solve our problem by walking over to the House at ten o'clock. We do not need to write any more letters then. The House will be seized of it. We can signal that the matter will go to the House unless they solve it in the context we have discussed here by the end of the month.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): First, we have a week of holidays coming up, so the end of the February may be a little short, given the apparatus. I think the middle of March will do.
Second, I think we all agree the letter should be constructed but it should have the timelines that were mentioned. I think we are agreed on the general strategy.
Third, on an informal basis, I will speak to the minister personally and tell him we discussed this item. I will inform him a letter is coming and he will be alerted to the issue and therefore encouraged to take the simple action to bring the item on side.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): If we agree with Senator Eyton, that is fine. I did not know the government had a holiday coming up.
Mr. Christopherson: Interesting terminology.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Several, apparently. Is that good enough, counsel? Are you clear enough?
Mr. Bernhardt: We are scheduled, I think, to meet on March 13.
Senator Moore: Use that or perhaps the day before as your cut-off date.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Our deadline would be March 10, whatever day that is. Is that okay, Senator Eyton?
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): Yes.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): March 10 will be our deadline.
SOR/2004-274 —REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FIREARMS LICENCES REGULATIONS
(For text of document, see Appendix E, p. 4E:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: Concerns relating to section 8.3(1)(c), section 8.3(2) and section 14(1) that are referred to in counsel's June 15, 2007 letter involve a discrepancy between the English and French versions and a point of drafting. The committee was told that these matters would be taken into consideration when the opportunity arose to make amendments.
This response was felt to be vague, and the committee asked for a firmer undertaking to make the amendments, and a timeframe as to when the amendments would be made.
The second issue concerns section 21(c), which prescribes persons related to a business who must also be eligible to hold a firearms licence for the business to be eligible to hold a licence. This includes any person who has a relationship with an owner, partner, director or officer of the business.
When members considered this provision, they found it inherently vague. There was concern this vagueness might lead to inconsistencies in the application of the eligibility requirement. In view of this concern, the committee asked whether it would be possible to indicate, at least in a general way, the types of relationships contemplated.
The reply from the RCMP, again, advises that the committee's concerns will be taken into account, should the regulations be amended. It is also stated they can give no assurances since the final decision on amendments rests not with them but with the Governor-in-Council.
I suggest this reply might be taken to be a bit disingenuous. Be that as it may, I suppose the next course of action appears to be to write to the minister to seek the desired assurances.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): You are suggestion is accepted.
SOR/2006-241 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FOOD AND DRUG REGULATIONS (DATA PROTECTION)
(For text of documents, see Appendix F, p. 4F:1)
Mr. Rousseau: After the committee examined this matter, committee counsel raised three points in their letter of May 23, 2007.
The first point is that the committee suggested that the provision in question be rescinded because it is not legislative in nature. The second point deals with the drafting of three provisions in the regulations. The letter of May 23, 2007 suggests two ways in which the regulations could be clarified. The third point is that these provisions impose obligations on the minister and the committee pointed out that failure to conform to the regulations constitutes an offence.
The committee therefore wanted to know if the department recognizes that, if the minister contravened the regulations, it would constitute an offence, even though the likelihood of prosecution is probably low.
In its letter of July 21, 2007, the department wrote that its view of the three points had not changed since January 2007. The department also mentioned that the provisions in question came into effect in October 2006 and has been applied in a few cases only.
They also mentioned that legal challenges to these provisions have been filed. This information should not prevent the department from providing a detailed response to the May 23, 2007 letter.
Committee counsel recommend that they write to the department once more to insist on receiving a complete response.
Senator Moore: By what date? It will be a year soon.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Colleagues, when I read this correspondence, I could not figure out why there was a disconnect. The committee writes a letter about two or three things and we receive a reply on one. I could not understand.
Mr. Bernhardt: We had this same discussion yesterday and we ended up at the same point: We could not understand, either.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): This is a new method of ``proceduralizing'' our business. We ask three questions and they answer one. Then, we write back on the two they have not answered, and they respond to us on an old question. Perhaps we need to consolidate our questions and communicate them all at the same time.
Mr. Wappel: We could send a short letter to the following effect: The joint committee wrote to the minister on May 23, 2007, asking for comments on three specific points. The minister did not respond on three specific things. If the joint committee does not receive an answer to those three specific points by March 10, the minister will be called before the joint committee to respond in person.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Very good, Mr. Wappel. Mr. Abel had numbered his paragraphs and underlined the headings; it was so clear. Are members agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2003-28 — RULES OF PROCEDURES FOR BOARDS OF REVIEW
(For text of documents, see Appendix G, p. 4G:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: Three minor amendments have been promised to these regulations. In its last letter, Environment Canada indicates that the amendments will be made in the course of the next review, which is planned to occur some time within the next five years, whenever an appropriate time presents itself. Even though the amendments in question are minor, this five-year time frame seems excessive. Perhaps the committee wishes to advise the department of this view and ask that, because the overall review will not occur for some time, the amendments promised to the committee proceed independently in the interim.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): I agree.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Five years is a long time to ask someone to wait on the issue. Five years with good reason is acceptable but five years until they get around to it is unacceptable.
Senator Moore: Why do we not use that miscellaneous statute process that we used before to clean up these small matters under one miscellaneous statute bill? We could wait a long time for a major review before this matter is looked after.
Mr. Bernhardt: There are two miscellaneous programs. One is for amendments to statutes and the other is an ongoing process of miscellaneous amendments to regulations. Some departments take advantage of the miscellaneous regulations process, and that process could be used in this instance presumably to fast track the amendments.
Senator Moore: Can the joint committee suggest this process?
Mr. Bernhardt: Certainly.
Senator Moore: Ask this question: ``Do you intend to take advantage of the miscellaneous regulation review process?''
Mr. Bernhardt: We can make that part of the suggestion.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): That is a good idea. Do members agree with counsel's suggestion on this file?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2004-68 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE VETERANS ALLOWANCE REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix H, p. 4H:1)
Mr. Rousseau: Mr. Chair, committee counsel raised four points in their letter of May 31, 2007. In its letter of July 31 2007, the department promised changes that would correct the problems pointed out in points 3 and 4. In point 1, counsel noted that, in addition to the names of the spouse and the children, the regulations require all pertinent information on them to be provided.
Counsel asked if there was not a way to specify more precisely the information that must be provided. The department agreed that there was but does not propose to do it for the reasons listed in its letter. First, it wrote, it has a manual that describes what information is required in each case. Second, it considers that the danger in being more precise is that this could prevent the department from asking for a piece of information that is not specified.
Counsel suggest asking for a copy of the manual used by the department in order to find out the nature of the information that can be required and to see if it would be appropriate to make suggestions as to the information that could be required in the regulations themselves.
Point 2 deals with discretionary power that seems unjustified. Section 7 of the regulations grants the minister the discretionary power to accept or reject a document establishing a claimant's status as a spouse. Committee counsel enquired about the circumstances under which a document would be rejected if the document established the status. The department replied that the discretionary power allows the minister to reject a document whose validity could be contested or that contains inaccurate information.
Mr. Chair, if a document's validity can be contested, or if the information it contains is inaccurate, it cannot be said to have established the status of spouse. It can therefore be rejected. To do so, the minister has no need for the discretionary power provided for in section 7.
So, if the committee is in agreement, counsel will write back to the department to explain why the answers to points 1 and 2 are unsatisfactory.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): We can continue to engage in correspondence on this file. For the benefit of Mr. Wappel, I will read something that I thought was cute.
The July 31 letter from Veterans Affairs Canada to Mr. Abel states:
Rest assured, the Department will only ask for ``relevant information'' authorized . . . .
``Rest assured:'' that is the solution. Do not worry, they will not break the law.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): The department does not have a problem but this committee has a problem.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): That is right.
Senator Moore: Page 3 of the same letter states:
I agree that these provisions need to be amended. When next the Veterans Allowance Regulations are opened for amendment, I will share your options with, and rely upon the expertise of, Legislative Counsel, Department of Justice. . . .
Why does the committee not tell the department to amend under the miscellaneous review option? The department uses this extended time period as a reason to do nothing about the issue. Let us show the department how it can expedite the matter, and do a better job faster.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Counsel, I thought this issue was only about where they place the commas, which seemed trivial. However, I read the regulation and, for reasons unknown even to me, I began to read the French version. Go to section 3 of the amending regulation and look at subparagraph 2. The English version begins with, ``Where any person is unable, by reason of physical or mental disability. . . .'' It refers to the concept of ``any responsible person,'' and I do not know what that wording means. Does it mean a person who has a character that seems responsible or does it mean a person who has legal responsibility to care for the veteran?
I am not sure whether the French version reads correctly.
Mr. Rousseau: No, Mr. Chair. There, I think that the English and French versions correspond:
``on the person's behalf by any responsible person.''
``Par toute personne responsable le représentant,'' representing the person, in other words.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): That satisfies my curiosity. The resolution of the file entails more correspondence and a focus on these comments to sort it out. Are members agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2006-152 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE ACCOUNTING FOR IMPORTED GOODS AND PAYMENT OF DUTIES REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix I, p. 4I:1)
Mr. Rousseau: Mr. Chair, the letter sent by committee counsel on March 8, 2007 focuses on six points. Amendments have been promised on points 1, 3, and 4. On point 5, the agency gave a satisfactory explanation of the reason why some changes to the information provided must be made available to the minister after the fact rather than 30 days in advance as is the case elsewhere in the regulations.
On point 2, counsel wanted to know why the minister had the discretionary power to suspend an authorization if, for example, an importer no longer met the requirements set out in the regulations. If that was the case, why would he decide not to suspend the authorization?
The agency replied that the minister could decide not to suspend an operation if the infringement of the regulations was very minor or if the problem had been solved since it was discovered. Committee counsel recommend writing back to the agency suggesting that this be written into the regulations so that their wording would correspond with what actually happens.
Last, for point 6, which deals with a drafting problem in the French version, the department's response is unsatisfactory. Counsel suggested that the words ``tout changement à cette information'' should be used, not ``tout changement de cette information.'' The agency replied that the change would be justified if the verb ``apporter'' were used. The fact is that the verb ``apporter'' is implied in the provision in question. Counsel still feel that their suggestion is valid and propose to write back to the agency on the matter.
If the committee is in agreement, counsel will write to the agency about points 2 and 6.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Is point 2 the one involving the discretion of the minister?
Mr. Rousseau: Yes.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): I read that and I tend to take the same position as the department, where there must be a bit of flexibility when the minister hammers down in revoking. I do not know how to fix the use of the word ``may'' without setting out dozens and dozens of fact scenarios that would allow the minister not to use his or her authority.
Surely this issue of ``may'' and ``shall'' has been dealt with thousands of times legally. I am curious why it is still coming up.
On this particular issue, I feel that the use of the word ``may'' is appropriate. Asking them to fix it puts them in the difficult position of having to deal with those hundreds of fact scenarios that come up from time to time.
Unless counsel is aware of other case law rules of interpretation in drafting that come into play here, I am inclined to leave point 2 in our letter regarding section 10.6(1) and section 10.6(2) the way it is.
Mr. Bernhardt: Where this sort of administrative discretion exists, the request generally goes out to see if parameters can be put on the discretion.
In this case, the department has given a couple of indications. They say that, in general, there would be circumstances where the breach is minor or the breach was rectified soon after it was discovered. Rather than setting out circumstances in detail, if the point is pursued, the committee would be looking for those sorts of things to be added to the regulations.
The minister may decide not to act, where the breach is minor or where it can be easily rectified. Then, at least the minister has some criteria; this is what the minister is to look at when exercising discretion. The minister still has the discretion; these criteria only try to put a fence around it.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): That approach is reasonable. I am not so drafters will be able to articulate that approach easily, but we will try.
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2006-165 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE UNITED NATIONS SUPPRESSION OF TERRORISM REGULATIONS
(For text of document, see Appendix J, p. 4J:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: As the materials note, this instrument made five amendments promised to the committee. In turn, three new matters were raised.
The first concerned an issue we saw in another file earlier, which is provisions that impose duties and obligations on a minister or a judge. Because there is a provision in the United Nations Act that makes it an offence to contravene the regulations, it follows that if the minister or judge fails to comply with the requirement, the minister or judge will have committed an offence. We asked if this consequence was intended.
A similar provision relates to an individual who makes an application the individual is not entitled to make. This action would also result in that person committing an offence.
The initial reply from the department reflected the view that obligations imposed on a minister or a judge were somehow different than so-called ``normal'' obligations imposed on other people. In fact, they were not really obligations at all. For the reasons set out in counsel's letter of January 24, 2007, this response is simply nonsense. The rule of law means the law applies equally to everyone. No one is above the law or not subject to the law by virtue of their status or position.
The department, in its reply of June 18, 2007, now accepts this view. Having recognized the point, if the department wishes to keep these provisions in the regulations, that is its business. Obviously, the odds of a prosecution in these circumstances are remote.
At the same time, I think the first reply received from the department illustrates that there is a value in reminding regulation-makers from time to time that the law applies to everyone, including officials and bureaucrats.
Turning to the two drafting matters raised in point 2 of the committee's letter of September 18, 2006, amendments have been promised and a progress report seems to be in order.
Finally, point 3 concerns duplication between these regulations and Part II.1 of the Criminal Code. The department agrees that an entity included on the Criminal Code list could always also be included on the list under the United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations, but explains the reverse is not necessarily the case. The department also notes that inclusion in the Criminal Code list has some broader consequences.
If members are willing to accept this response, their reply on this point would be taken as satisfactory.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Any comment? I have one. I was struck by the tone apparent in the department. I did not like it. Counsel has already referred to the lack of attention, or at least the cursory attention, given to rule of law.
In the June 18, 2007 letter from the department to Mr. Bernhardt, in the middle of the second paragraph, I was struck by the attitude that allowed them to say:
It is precisely because these provisions are obligations that judicial review and appeal are available as remedies in the event that the Minister or judges fail to meet those obligations.
I perceive that view as a kind of myopia. Appeal is available for the citizens of this country who may be subject to these regulations. Appeal and review is for everyone, not only for ministers and judges who are trapped by the provisions. I was struck by that view. I call it myopia on the part of a department dealing with regulations that deal directly with rights and liberties.
Everyone knows that the response to 9/11 was quick. I know Mr. Wappel and Mr. Norlock have spent time reviewing some of these issues at the Public Safety Committee. However, I do not know whether we are dealing with a full deck here on the other side.
I will not point the finger at the writer of the letter necessarily; but I raise the flag, on the record, that someone who would draft a regulation that conspicuously implicates, and would penalize, a judge and a minister for failure to do something — for an omission, essentially — has got this thing wrong. This is not rule of law.
If the judges saw that routine administrative actions on their part had been criminalized by a regulation, they would react. It is not clear to me that we have another issue here involving that. Yes, they can make regulations, but is this an unusual or unexpected use of power, where they set up a judge, they create an obligation? They do not consult with the judges and the judicial community; they simply write them in. If the judge fails to do something, if a judge fails to comply with these regulations, there is an offence.
I have a lot of time for the people trying to keep the country safe from terrorists, but there is a problem here that the department does not see; it has not noted that paradigm. The counsel has seen it. Counsel calls it a rule of law issue. It is much bigger than counsel has described here, in my opinion. I flag it as apparent on the face of this letter.
Counsel's suggestion in dealing with the file is fine, but I think there is a problem. Other colleagues may want to leave it there.
Senator Moore: In view of your remarks, should this concern be pointed out? What will we do with this information? Do we have an obligation to lay out your concern?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): The person writing to us on behalf of the department said that the reason they put in the appeal provisions was in case a minister or judge was found guilty. They can appeal after they are found guilty. Therefore, the provisions are included in case they were convicted of an offence, she says. This thinking is wrong- headed.
Senator Moore: It is discriminatory and is an inequality before the law.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): We can send it off to the judicial counsel to see if they have any thoughts about it. I am sure they will. That can be sent off informally later.
Counsel's suggestion about fixing this item is okay. We can proceed as counsel suggests.
Is that okay?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2007-50 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE ONSHORE PIPELINE REGULATIONS, 1999 (MISCELLANEOUS PROGRAM)
(For text of documents, see Appendix K, p. 4K:1)
Mr. Rousseau: As the comments at the beginning of this file indicate, the passage of SOR/2007-50 had the effect of correcting 19 problems that the committee had identified.
In the correspondence on SOR/2007-50, two points were raised. Point 1 deals with a problem that the committee has already pointed out: a lack of clarity in the provision in question. An amendment was promised. The regulations have been amended but the amendment has not been put into effect.
The board provided an explanation in its letter of May 24, 2007 and confirmed that it still intended to make the promised change. However, the present plan is for that to be done as part of a complete review of the regulations that will take place between 2007 and 2010.
Given that this is about the committee's position that section 6 of the regulations should be clarified, this reply could be considered satisfactory as long as too much time does not pass.
Point 2 deals with the drafting of section 37 of the regulations; committee counsel, in this case myself, accepted, in the June 1, 2007 letter, that the amendments made to the regulations seem to be satisfactory and that it is not necessary for the others to be made.
If the committee is in agreement, counsel will monitor the progress on the first point and keep the committee up-to- date in the usual fashion.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SI/2006-100 — REMISSION ORDER CONCERNING CERTAIN EXPENSES INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE TSUNAMI DISASTER OF DECEMBER 26, 2004 IN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
(For text of documents, see Appendix L, p. 4L:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: Two points were questioned here. On the first one, which concerned a possible discrepancy between the two versions, as the department explains, any possible discrepancy could have no practical consequence. Only Canadian citizens can apply for a Canadian passport. Therefore, whether they refer to Canadian victims or victims who are Canadian citizens, it comes to the same thing.
The second issue concerned exactly who was considered a victim for the purposes of the order. The intent was that only people who are outside Canada and, presumably, actually experienced the tsunami were considered victims. This intent should have been more clearly stated. However, given that the deadline for seeking remission on this order was December 6, 2006, members may well conclude there is little to be gained by seeking clarification at this time. If that is the case, the file can be closed.
Mr. Epp: Are we aware of any outstanding cases?
Mr. Bernhardt: I have no idea.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/88-560 — CRIBS AND CRADLES REGULATIONS — AMENDMENT
(For text of documents, see Appendix M, p. 4M:1)
Mr. Rousseau: When the committee considered this matter on March 1, 2007, it suggested that the promised amendments be made without waiting for the full review of the regulations to be completed.
In its letter of July 20, 2007, the department explained why it felt that this would not speed things up. The explanation seems acceptable provided progress is made.
In the letter, we read that the department hoped to publish the proposed regulations before the end of 2007. A check reveals that this does not seem to have been the case. It would be appropriate to ask where matters stand, and, if the department can offer no guarantee of its time line, to repeat the suggestion of making the promised amendments to the regulations separately.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): I hate to be picky this morning. No pun intended, but it is a bit of a sleeper. This regulation has been sitting for 18 years. I think we have been far too kind to the department.
Your suggestion, counsel, is that we look for a time commitment from them? That is not unreasonable. However, I think I would have reported this one or disallowed it at some point. I have grown weary of this one.
Mr. Epp: In their letter, they state it is their intention to publish the draft amendments in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette by the end of 2007.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): That is a great plan. Let us ask counsel if they did publish it or not.
Mr. Rousseau: As I said, no, the regulations do not seem to have been published. We checked as we prepared for this meeting, and it has not been done.
On the other hand, we did check why the committee has been so patient for all these years; the promised amendments are matters of drafting.
This partly explains why the committee has been so patient. Proposed regulations have been prepared, even published, and then discussions with the parties involved have resulted in the regulations never being passed.
Yet more regulations should be published shortly, since the hope was to publish them by the end of 2007.
As I said, at this stage, the best idea might be not to accept any more delays and, if they cannot guarantee the time lines, to insist that the promised amendments be made separately.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): As joint chair, I want to flag this item as conspicuously delinquent. I would like counsel to seek the firm timeline from the department, indicate to the department the committee is becoming impatient and bring back the item at an appropriate time for future disposition.
Senator Moore: Is that for next week?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): We have a lot of fish to fry here; we have a busy agenda. Do not forget Canada Post is out there and we must deal with them: Cribs and Cradles Regulations, Canada Post postage, et cetera.
SOR/2003-283 — SOLVENT DEGREASING REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix N, p. 4N:1)
Mr. Rousseau: When the committee considered this file on May 31, 2007, it accepted that the promised amendments would be made, in accordance with the department's time line, in 2010.
The committee also wanted to know if the department was ready to make the amendments separately if the date had to be put back.
In its letter of July 30, 2007, the department wrote that the review of the effectiveness of the regulations could be somewhat delayed but that, if the review had to be delayed until after 2010, it would look at the question again to decide if the promised amendments really could wait until the review had been completed. This response can be considered satisfactory as long as it does not imply that the promised changes will not be adopted until after 2010. If the committee is in agreement, counsel will ask for confirmation of this.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): These amendments are technical amendments only and do not impact the rights and liberties of people.
Mr. Rousseau: The problem is one of drafting. To a certain extent, it implies tightening the requirements on keeping certain files. But it is only about tightening the requirements. The committee is not challenging the validity of the provisions.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Do members agree with counsel's suggestion?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2005-380 — DECISION BODY TIME PERIODS AND CONSULTATION REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix O, p. 4O:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: An amendment to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act has been promised to resolve an English-French discrepancy. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development intends to pursue this amendment in the course of its five-year review, which is to be completed May 2008. If members agree, we will ask the department whether the completion date for the review remains this May and whether the amendment in question will be proposed at that time.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Are there comments or questions? Counsel, why do we not use the miscellaneous statutes on this file?
Mr. Bernhardt: In this case, a review is coming due and they expect it to be this May. They responded by letter in August 2007 to say that they should have it completed by May 2008. That being the case, I can see their point. If it were May 2010, that would be another matter.
SOR/94-356 — EASTERN TOWNSHIPS WOOD PRODUCERS' LEVIES (INTERPROVINCIAL AND EXPORT TRADE) ORDER
SOR/98-277 — QUEBEC WOOD PRODUCERS' LEVIES (INTERPROVINCIAL AND EXPORT TRADE) ORDER
(For text of documents, see Appendix P, p. 4P:1)
SOR/94-789 — SCIENTIFIC OR TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FEES ORDER (RESEARCH BRANCH — AGRICULTURE)
(For text of documents, see Appendix Q, p. 4Q:1)
SOR/2004-255 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE PORT AUTHORITIES OPERATIONS REGULATIONS (MISCELLANEOUS PROGRAM)
(For text of documents, see Appendix R, p. 4R:1)
Mr. Rousseau: If the committee is in agreement with all the files under the heading ``Progress,'' we could take them all at once. Progress on all these files simply means that counsel continue to monitor progress and to keep the committee up to date.
We can say that, in all these files, things are progressing normally.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): At least three files are moving forward successfully. Thank you for monitoring them.
SI/2007-69 — WITHDRAWAL OF CERTAIN LANDS IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (EDÉHZHIE (HORN PLATEAU), N.W.T.) FROM DISPOSAL ORDER
(For text of documents, see Appendix S, p. 4S:1)
SOR/2003-218 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE PARI-MUTUEL BETTING SUPERVISION REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix T, p. 4T:1)
SOR/2006-146 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADA GRAIN REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix U, p. 4U:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: There are 25 amendments promised in connection with these three files. Progress on these amendments will be followed up in the usual fashion. I also note for the record that SI/2007-69 made several corrections that were previously promised in connection with a predecessor to this order.
SOR/78-572 — AIR REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
(For text of document, see Appendix V, p. 4V:1)
SOR/80-756 — AIR REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
(For text of document, see Appendix W, p. 4W:1)
SOR/2000-80 — PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS, 2000
(For text of document, see Appendix X, p. 4X:1)
SOR/2007-117 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE BOATING RESTRICTION REGULATIONS (MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENT)
(For text of document, see Appendix Y, p. 4Y:1)
SOR/2007-170 — TARIFF AMENDING THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS FEES TARIFF
(For text of document, see Appendix Z, p. 4Z:1)
Mr. Bernhardt: Seven amendments were promised in connection with these files. As well, the revocation and replacement of the Air Regulations by the Canadian Aviation Regulations means that the two old files, SOR/78-572 and SOR/80-756, can be closed.
SI/2006-89 — OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SECRETARY EXCLUSION APPROVAL ORDER
SI/2007-91 — ORDER FIXING NOVEMBER 22, 2007 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ACT
SI/2007-95 — ORDER FIXING OCTOBER 26, 2007 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF PART 7 OF THE ACT
SI/2007-105 — ORDER FIXING NOVEMBER 17, 2007 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF SUBSECTION 103(2) OF THE ACT
SI/2007-106 — ORDER FIXING NOVEMBER 17, 2007 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE ACT
SI/2007-108 — ORDER FIXING JANUARY 1, 2008 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE ACTS
SI/2007-109 — ACT PROCLAIMED IN FORCE NOVEMBER 2, 2007, EXCEPT SECTIONS 3, 5 AND 11 TO 16
SI/2007-110 — SECTIONS 3, 5 AND 11 TO 16 OF THE ACT PROCLAIMED IN FORCE NOVEMBER 2, 2007
SI/2007-116 — ORDER FIXING DECEMBER 30, 2008 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE ACT
SI/2007-117 — ORDER FIXING DECEMBER 17, 2007 AS THE DATE OF THE COMING INTO FORCE OF THE ACT, OTHER THAN SECTION 13
SOR/2006-142 — SPECIAL APPOINTMENT REGULATIONS, NO. 2006-14
SOR/2006-276 — ORDER AMENDING THE ALLOCATION METHOD ORDER (BEEF AND VEAL)
SOR/2007-3 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-11 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-46 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-51 — ORDER AMENDING THE INDIAN BANDS COUNCIL ELECTIONS ORDER (METLAKATLA)
SOR/2007-85 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-111 — ORDER AMENDING SCHEDULE 1 TO THE FIRST NATIONS GOODS AND SERVICES TAX ACT (2007-1)
SOR/2007-153 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-154 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-164 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE BROADCASTING DISTRIBUTION REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-173 — GENERAL PREFERENTIAL TARIFF WITHDRAWAL ORDER (BULGARIA AND ROMANIA)
SOR/2007-175 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE SPECIAL IMPORT MEASURES REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-188 — ORDER AMENDING THE GENERAL IMPORT PERMIT NO. 100 — ELIGIBLE AGRICULTURAL GOODS
SOR/2007-189 — ORDER AMENDING THE GENERAL IMPORT PERMIT NO. 2 — CHICKENS AND CHICKEN PRODUCTS FOR PERSONAL USE
SOR/2007-198 — REGULATIONS REPEALING THE BRITISH COLUMBIA INTERIOR VEGETABLE MARKETING BOARD (INTERPROVINCIAL AND EXPORT) REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-205 — ORDER AMENDING PART I OF SCHEDULE I TO THE HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS ACT (FLAME RESISTANCE TEST METHOD)
SOR/2007-219 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-220 — ORDER AMENDING THE ORDER PRESCRIBING THE FEE TO BE PAID BY FOREIGN NATIONALS TO PARTICIPATE IN AN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH EXCHANGE PROGRAM IN CANADA
SOR/2007-236 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CONTRAVENTIONS REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-250 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-259 — ORDER AMENDING SCHEDULE I TO THE HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS ACT (ASBESTOS PRODUCTS)
SOR/2007-261 — ORDER AMENDING THE IMPORT CONTROL LIST
SOR/2007-269 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE COMPENSATION FOR DESTROYED ANIMALS REGULATIONS
SOR/2007-299 — DEEP PANUKE OFFSHORE PRODUCTION PLATFORM REMISSION ORDER, 2007
SOR/2008-3 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
Mr. Bernhardt: We have reviewed these 36 instruments and have found them to comply with all of committee's criteria.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): Thank you, counsel. I note the demise of a file that went back to 1978. Sometimes we do finish files.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): The following information was handed to the joint chair, Senator Eyton, from Senate Caucus Research. Members will be pleased to hear that the gun regulations statements, which had not been tabled in the House of Commons in accordance with the statute, have been drafted, signed by the minister and are on their way to the Clerk of the House of Commons. That turnaround is quick.
Mr. Epp: It beats taking 30 years.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Lee): They must have been listening. That action likely will solve our problem. Thank you, Senator Eyton. I see no further business.
The committee adjourned.