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Proceedings of the Standing Joint Committee for the
Scrutiny of Regulations
Issue 16 - Evidence - November 1, 2012
OTTAWA, Thursday, November 1, 2012
The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations met this day at 8:30 a.m. for the review of statutory instruments.
Senator Bob Runciman and Ms. Chris Charlton (Joint Chairs) in the chair.
BILL S-12 — AN ACT TO AMEND THE STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS ACT AND TO MAKE CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS TO THE STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS REGULATIONS
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): We will get under way. Off the top, we have a special agenda item, which I think we have circulated to all members, in respect to Bill S-12, amendments to the Statutory Instruments Act and the Statutory Instruments Regulations. This is a response to a report the committee issued in 2007. That was Report No. 80. The bill is expected to go to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in the next few weeks.
There are a number of options available to the committee in terms of whether we wish to respond to this and, if so, how we might respond to it. I will at this juncture turn it over to counsel.
Peter Bernhardt, General Counsel to the Committee: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As you indicated, the bill will likely be referred elsewhere. Being a joint committee, I think it is perceived that there are difficulties between the two houses with referring legislation to a joint committee. At the same time, the committee does have a general order of reference that authorizes it "to enquire into and report upon: the appropriate principles and practices . . . in the drafting of powers enabling delegates of Parliament to make subordinate laws; in the enactment of statutory instruments; in the use of executive regulation." That would allow the committee to study the impact of the bill on parliamentary scrutiny of regulations and on the regulatory process.
There is some precedent for that kind of two-track approach. The memo dated October 30 that was circulated to members together with our comments refers back to the example of Bill C-25 some years ago where the committee undertook a study like that.
As always, it is entirely for members to decide if and how they wish to proceed. It might be thought odd, however, that a bill that was introduced solely because of the work of this committee would not somehow be dealt with by the committee. By way of options, the memo suggests at least some consideration could be given to asking officials to come in and give the committee a briefing and an opportunity for members to ask questions.
What has also happened on this type of occasion in the past from time to time is that this committee might make representations to the committee studying the bill. In this case it looks like it would be the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Usually that would be done by the joint chairs, accompanied by staff, if they so desire. The situation is somewhat unusual in this case because the Senate joint chair of this committee is also the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
I suppose the kind of preliminary discussion members will have to have about the bill is whether they wish to undertake something and, if so, what form it would take.
As for the bill itself, we are prepared this morning to go through and do an oral briefing, if members want that at this time. Again, it is up to members as to how they want to go about that.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Let us have some feedback.
Mr. Saxton: Chair, given the history, I think that the committee does have some valuable input into this. However, I do not think that duplicating the work of a Senate committee is necessarily something we want to do, either.
Since this is going to a Senate committee — your Senate committee — I propose we let it go to committee and let us have representation there, either through letter or via a witness from this committee going before that Senate committee, to explain our experience and our recommendations with regard to this particular bill.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Are there any other comments?
Mr. Boughen: Mr. Chair, I am new on this committee. I have a lot of catching up to do with reading. As we all know, this file is pretty big and I have not had time to really understand it all.
I support my colleague's position: I think we need time to get acquainted with this. Since we have representation on another committee looking at this very issue, it is not that we are kind of out in the cold; we are in the game, as it were.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Are you agreeing with Mr. Saxton?
Mr. Boughen: Yes.
Mr. Masse: The only thing I am worried about is that if we cede all ground to this right away — it might be worthy to get a briefing from the departments in here. That would at least show there is interest from this committee to look at the issue. Then we can plan on how we want to participate. Maybe it is a representation.
I agree with Mr. Saxton in that we do not want to duplicate efforts. At the same time, if we just dismiss it here today, we probably will not be participating at all in the actual evolution of the bill.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): I did not interpret Mr. Saxton's suggestion as dismissing it. I think he was suggesting that perhaps the joint chair, along with legal counsel, appear before the Senate committee to testify with respect to the committee's views related to the bill.
Am I interpreting that correctly?
Mr. Masse: What I meant was ceding our study of the bill or being involved with the bill as an entire committee. I do not think it is a bad strategy, but I would be interested to get a briefing, I think, from the department.
Mr. Albas: I support what Mr. Saxton is saying. Considering how we will interface is a prudent way of moving forward. One thing I think we should bear in mind is that this committee really exists to scrutinize regulations and, where it sees fit, make recommendations to the government on how it can best continue to regulate to the benefit of all.
I get a little leery when we talk about actually scrutinizing law. I think that is what the Legal Committee in both the Senate and the House are supposed to do. That is their job and their function. I do not mind giving input, but let us again put it into perspective. Regarding Bill S-12, probably from the direct suggestion from this committee in the first place, incorporation by reference is being increasingly used and there should be some better parameters around it.
I want us to keep our main thing as the main thing and that is focusing on the work we do here, which is scrutiny, rather than the work we should be doing on either legal committee.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Are there any other comments?
Senator Hervieux-Payette: If I understand correctly, this legislation allows us to better understand the process of delegation by reference. I am a little bit confused about the terminology in French and in English, but I see two issues: sub- delegation and delegation by reference.
Jacques Rousseau, Counsel: Incorporation by reference.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Okay. I would not want us to complicate things by trying to simplify them. I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page. I was just not thinking that this is related to the Senate committee studying the issue, but this issue has to do with the existence of our committee. It hits close to home. But there still has to be a link between those who are asking that this issue be resolved and making sure it is simplified to make the job easier. On the other hand, we are the ones who made this request. So there has to be a link. That is why I am asking you to provide us with the procedure so that we can review it in the coming weeks and see whether we all agree on the procedure.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): We have two proposals before us. Mr. Masse suggested that we have Justice officials before the committee to explain the legislation. The other option, as proposed by Mr. Saxton, was that we ask the co-chair and legal counsel to appear before the Senate committee to make a presentation when they are discussing the legislation.
Mr. Saxton: I think counsel already offered this morning to give us a briefing. He is ready to give us a briefing today. If Mr. Masse and others wanted, we could have it right now by counsel, or we can have it at a future date.
Mr. Masse: My concern is that we can get a briefing; that would be great. I am for it today by the counsel if we want to do it today. However, without first doing a briefing by the Department of Justice, we are taking action by sending you to actually make representation. I thought it would be logical to have the briefing from the department first to get an idea where they are coming from. We have counsel's interpretation, which we will need to have anyway, and then we will need the Department of Justice's opinion. I would rather have that than take action before the briefings.
Senator Moore: I have just been through this briefly, and there is a lot here. It looks to me like this bill does not do what we wanted. It puts the onus on citizens to prove they had access to regulations, rather than the government keeping the onus and ensuring that things are available. It is open-ended. It applies to international agreements. I do not think we intended that. There are some concerns and I am wondering: Is our committee today supposed to be expressing concerns for our leadership to take to the Senate committee? I would like to have someone answer some questions about these concerns. If the way I read it is what it is, I do not think it is acceptable. How do we make that point and how do we amend this thing?
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): I take it you agree with Mr. Masse that we hear from Justice officials?
Senator Moore: I think I am. I would like to have officials tell us on record that this is what the bill is doing, which I do not think is what our committee intended when we sought this.
Mr. Albas: We have our counsel — our experts on regulations — and have been asking for this. I would actually prefer to hear what their views are over Justice. I imagine those committees, in the Senate and in the House of Commons, will have both the minister as well as those officials before them. Again, ours is not the mandate to scrutinize what could be our future laws, possibly, or bills. Our job is to scrutinize regulation.
We have staff who are more than prepared to present what they think is the view of counsel in regards to it. If we want to hear them today, they are prepared. I would say we start with that. If you have not read the legislation, if you do not feel comfortable, then let us have our officials who are here and ready to go before we decide to go down any other paths without knowing what it is we are dealing with.
Mr. Anders: It sounds to me like Mr. Masse is advocating a duplication of effort.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: It seems to me that we have to do two things first. We have to do our regular work and we have to consider the future and see where we are heading with these new measures. I think that the two activities have to do with having our own committee staff and the people from the department to deal with the technical aspects. We have a direct relationship with them in terms of all the regulations that we study and that still have to go to the Department of Justice. So we have a direct relationship with them. We should hear from the two sides before we even say whether we agree or not and before we send our people to testify. They will give testimony based on what we provide them with. But in order to give them something, we should know what this is all about.
I do not think that we can get through today's regulations and I think that we would need to have a meeting where we spend one hour with the department and one hour with our counsel. Afterwards, we would be ready to make a decision. But right now, I think that we should be doing our current work on the regulations we have before us and plan a meeting so that we have a good understanding of the issues. And then you as our representatives, as witnesses, can present the committee's position. To do so, we have to make sure that the committee fully understands the issues and the amendments being proposed. But I do not feel that we are ready to do that this morning. I think that we need to take a step back to do the work and, eventually, we can have a meeting just on this topic.
Senator Harb: Believe me, this is probably the most important issue to ever come before this committee. There is nothing new here. We have been going at it, according to the report, from the early 1970s. Over and over again, it is saying the same thing. What did the government do? They say, "Okay, fine, you are saying what I have been doing is illegal." They prepare a bill, come to Parliament and say, "Here we go. It is before you. I want you to approve that what I have been doing illegally is now legal, and from here on I want to go further."
My thought is that a bill that really goes to the heart of a committee, and the committee does nothing about it, renders the committee frankly irrelevant. Even if we have to do a parallel study of the legislation, we must do that, because it goes to the essence of democracy. This is a non-partisan issue and this committee, the House of Commons and the Senate have unanimously supported the report that was tabled in Parliament, adopted by Parliament and given to the ministry. The ministry responded and said, "Look, we both agree to disagree, but here is what I want to do."
Frankly, this is the executive branch imposing its authority over the legislative branch in a way, using ministers who ultimately are going to vote on it. In my opinion, in a conflict of interest, they should not be voting on it. If the executive is putting this matter before the legislative branch, only members of Parliament should vote on it; it should not be a whip vote. Each member of Parliament should vote as he or she sees fit. If we want to go down in history as members who have made a difference to the democratic process, this is it; this is our test now. Otherwise, it is bypassing democracy, bypassing Parliament.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): This is the final comment. We should get a motion or two on the floor. I think we are going around in circles here. There does not seem to be consensus.
Mr. Albas: I would suggest that at the next meeting, our officials give us a briefing of what their interpretation is. If any of the members want to join in and hear the Senate Legal Committee presentation of the Minister of Justice and his officials, they certainly can do that. I actually sit on the Justice Committee on the house, so eventually it will come there as well. Nothing stops any of us from going there and listening to what they have to say. That being said, I am hearing that by having officials come here for an hour and our own for another hour, it is a whole meeting. We have a lot of work just right here.
Going back to the senator's comments earlier, I appreciate that there has been a lot of history on this. However, we have to look at the fact that our committee made valuable recommendations. The government has put forward legislation. It is up to both houses to decide what it wants to do and it is up to us to be able to, at the end of the day, respect this is both houses' independent decision.
This committee is supposed to scrutinize regulations, not potential law. That being said, Mr. Chair, I propose that at the next meeting we have a briefing by our officials specifically on Bill S-12, and then we will decide where to go.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Can we agree on the approach that we have a briefing at the next meeting? If possible, we will try to adjust the agenda so we can put a specific time into the agenda.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: This is a big change. We need a whole meeting. I would be prepared to come here next week just to hear about this. It is fundamental to this committee. As Mr. Masse is saying, we should have officials here to explain the legal basis.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): I am looking for a motion.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I move that we hear from one after the other: the ministry first and then one hour with our people. Then we can make a report about it.
Senator Moore: Chair, I think that is right. If you and your joint chair went before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, you would be putting forward the views of the committee, which we have not established. We need to have briefings and to come to a committee position on this so that you will have something to take forward with the support of the committee. I hope that it would be unanimous like it was before.
Mr. Saxton: I would like to propose an amendment to the senator's motion that first we hear from counsel on this subject so he can brief us. Once we hear from counsel, we will determine the next step.
Mr. Masse: I see it the other way around. We would hear from the department on their position and have our counsel provide an analysis of what the Department of Justice is saying.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): We cannot agree on anything today, can we?
Mr. Masse: No. I trust counsel, who deals with the files and does all the work, which is not that much work, really, when you look at the history of this committee. We probably have a lot of stuff in the queue coming forward, I am willing to bet, but it is not a lot compared to what has been happening in the past. I would rather have counsel respond to others' interpretations of the work that we have to do on this and the changes that will take place. Counsel will have to deal with the consequences of whatever takes place after that.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Mr. Saxton, why do you not agree that we hear both? Being well-informed is not a negative thing and certainly makes sense for such an important subject matter. As Mr. Masse said, we should hear the department first. They drafted the bill so we should see where they are going with it. We will also hear from counsel to let us know whether their direction is in accordance with the principle of the regulation.
Mr. Albas: We could go around in circles arguing the best way forward. I recognize the concerns that the bill put forward by the government may not be exactly what the committee has asked for. Why do we not do this: Let us simply stop talking and listen to counsel, who is prepared to do a briefing now. If we still feel as strongly about this, then we can pick up where we left off. Quite honestly, we should not be getting antsy about a subject that we have not been briefed on. We should start with the experts, who are paid to brief this committee.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): We have a lengthy agenda remaining to complete, and other members have additional commitments. I would like to move on. We have a motion and an amendment to the motion. We will deal with the amendment first. The motion moved by Senator Hervieux-Payette was that the Department of Justice testify, followed by counsel at the next meeting. It seems to me it should be counsel initially and then Justice, because then we would have a better understanding of the kinds of questions we would like to ask Justice. In any event, Mr. Saxton moved an amendment to the motion that counsel brief the committee at our next meeting.
We will deal with the amendment.
Senator Moore: Change the motion to counsel first and then the Department of Justice and we can go for it. We want to hear from both.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): The amendment by Mr. Saxton is that we hear from counsel only at the next meeting. All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed?
Mr. Saxton: The chairs are nullifying each other's votes.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): I have a procedural question. I have no idea if I am not in the chair whether I am allowed to vote. I am happy to do it either way.
Mr. Breitkreuz: On a point of order, I heard that it was tied, so the joint chair would vote to break the tie.
Mr. Albas: To clarify, it has been my experience in other bodies and councils that the chair typically does not vote unless it is a tie. I just want clarification on that because we want to give the joint chairs the complete clarity that they only weigh in when there is a tie.
Mr. Saxton: I support Mr. Albas' idea. I fully understand why there is confusion on this subject because we have not had a vote in this committee in years.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): I have to say that was my understanding as well. I was not aware that my joint chair was asking the question to counsel. I would have participated if she had participated. The vote has occurred, I am advised.
Marcy Zlotnick, Joint Clerk of the Committee: Joint committees do not have the same procedures as other committees. House of Commons committees do one thing and Senate committees do another. There is a void when it comes to joint committees.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): The amendment fails, and we are on to the original motion.
Mr. Saxton: What was the vote, Mr. Chair?
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): It was nine to eight, I believe.
Ms. Zlotnick: No, it was eight to eight.
Mr. Saxton: Are you voting against the amendment, chair?
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): No. I am not voting. I was advised that I could not vote. The clerk told me that the vote had already occurred.
Mr. Saxton: It is a tied vote, I understand.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): That is what you told me. I should have stayed in bed this morning.
Mr. Vellacott: You have a bright legal mind, Senator Runciman. You are in the chair, so you have the right to cast a deciding vote. Having not voted before, you can vote now if you so choose.
Mr. Saxton: Considering the other chair has chosen —
Mr. Pacetti: Chairs normally request that the work continue.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Do I have the right to vote at this time? I have the right to vote, and I am voting in support of the amendment.
I will move on. The original motion has been defeated — end of story.
I am not sure how long the briefing will take based on this conversation, so perhaps we should devote the next meeting to this matter.
Mr. Bernhardt: We can. That very much depends on questions from members.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Based on today, I suggest we devote the complete meeting to this.
The other question raised was whether we should have a special meeting. Do we want to deal with that? The week after next is a break week. Is there a will to do that?
Mr. Breitkreuz: Our schedules are really filled up. I think we should do it at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): The bill will not be coming to the Senate committee for a few weeks in any event, so I think we have adequate time.
Mr. Albas: Before we move on, I wanted to bring something up in regard to the steering committee. Before we had the summer break, I did bring up that there was supposed to be a scheduled steering committee meeting. It did not happen because it was cancelled. I wanted to put it forward to the joint chairs that if they could look into that and maybe arrange a new steering committee meeting, there is some business we would want to discuss in regard to the structure of our reports to make them more efficient for members.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Perhaps we can do that next week.
Let us move on to the regular agenda, then.
FEE SCHEDULE (FEES TO BE PAID FOR MARINE NAVIGATION SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE CANADIAN COAST GUARD)
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): This item has been before the committee for nine years. Eleven points were identified. There has been correspondence with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and only one issue remains unresolved.
Mr. Bernhardt: As members will remember, the issue here is whether fees for navigation services that turn in part on the gross tonnage of an individual ship constitute a legal tax.
Back at the October 4 meeting, members decided they would like to have an opportunity to review the correspondence and work done by the committee on this file prior to the latest exchange of correspondence before considering whether this might be an issue that could be addressed in a committee report. I think the idea proposed was that the report would be a way to deal with the issue more generally — setting out the committee's views and perhaps seeking a government response.
As the summary in the materials explains, the distinction between fees and taxes has been given considerable attention by the committee. Back in 2003, the committee heard witnesses from a number of departments involving a number of files, including this file, the broadcasting licence fees and certain business licence fees in national parks. We have included the relevant passages from the various committee proceedings. Suffice it to say that quite a bit of work was done at the time.
What happened next was that the last two fees I mentioned were challenged in court, and they were the subject of rulings by the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Based on these rulings, the decision was made to resume correspondence on this file individually back in 2007.
Again, the note sets out the issue here and the correspondence back and forth in some detail. A presentation on that was made by counsel back on October 4. I can go through that again, if members wish. Otherwise, the situation this morning is simply that it now falls to members to decide how to proceed next, perhaps with a report or perhaps writing back to the department or the minister.
Mr. Albas: I want to thank counsel for putting together this statement. At the last meeting I specifically said, "You make mention of Transport Canada's response to our counsel, and they cited a number of court cases that document and support their case." I got a chance to read through it.
I am not sure if every member was able to go through the document; it was rather lengthy. I certainly can understand if some people excluded going deep into this file because there are so many other files that are just as important in this meeting.
That being said, Mr. Chair, I have to say that I found some of the arguments from Transport very compelling. If you look at pages of the October 9, 2007 letter, there are a number of very good points, both on point 9. This is under 51:
If one accepted the defendant's position, the Minister would be placed in a situation in which not only would he have to charge all ships receiving his services, he would also have to charge them at the same rate. There would therefore only be one fee applicable to all ships regardless of category, activity and the region in which they operated. In my opinion, such position not only is contrary to the wording of s. 47 of the Act, which is quite broad so as to allow the creation of classes based on ships' nationality in setting fees, but also contrary to what Parliament intended. The latter would not have conferred power to set fees if its intention was to set a single fee for all, since it would only have to indicate that fee in the Act directly.
Mr. Chair, there are a number of other references I can point out in here that I think are reasonable. The department puts forward not only a legal case but also a case of practicality. I am sure many of us here either have colleagues who would be greatly affected or whose constituents would be greatly affected if you suddenly had these large-tonnage ships paying the same price as the small vessels that are for much smaller commercial enterprises. I think the arguments legally address the concerns.
I would simply put forward the motion, Mr. Chair — since that probably would get the work done here efficiently to kind of make up for some of our time — that we close the file.
Just before that, Mr. Chair, I also want to say that I feel that counsel has presented a very good argument. If you look on this file, there are a number of victories for this committee. I just believe that as elected officials we have to not only take the legal arguments in case but also the practical implementation. I certainly do not want to go to my colleagues whose constituencies would be affected by this and present them with that inevitable issue if our counsel proves that their legal argument has more merit than Transport Canada.
My motion is made, Mr. Chair, and I look forward to the discussion.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): It is moved that we close the file.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: From a practical perspective, very often we would probably say that the officials are right because they often operate in difficult contexts in terms of the amendment process of regulations, legislation and so on.
From the pragmatic perspective, I do not think that this is really the nature of our committee's work. Our work is more of a legal nature. And it is not as if it was the first time that we had a case like that because there are cases that have required millions of dollars in court costs to prove if it was a tax or a management fee.
In terms of management fees, size does not matter. It is like saying that, if I weighed 120 pounds and someone else weighs 200 pounds, we can charge that person more for their plane ticket. There is no connection between size and service. If the service is the same, sure, you can bring up other arguments, such as the use of the waterways, the fact that dredging must be carried out as well, and all that; but that is not the case.
In the current case, a service is a service and a tax is a tax. And although you are saying that this is very practical, that is not the nature of our work. So I do not agree with our position to let this go because it makes sense from a pragmatic perspective. I think that we can simply say that the government would currently force companies to go to court and that case law in this situation will agree with the users.
I do not think given that we know what it costs to go before the Supreme Court and given that we know that the case law is quite clear on this matter, we can say as a committee that we will agree because that is the practical thing to do anyway. I am against the argument that it is more practical and I think we should keep things at the legal level.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Does anyone else wish to participate?
Mr. Bernhardt: I have a couple of comments in connection with the passage quoted from the shipowner's case. First, this case was decided a year before the Eurig decision, which is the decision that the committee is basing its view on. This case was decided before that.
Second, no one has ever suggested — this committee or anyone else — that there has to be a single fee. All that was suggested was that if you have a different fee structure, there must be a relationship. You must be able to say we are basing the different fee structure on the fact that different people require a different level of service that costs us different amounts to provide.
As for the comment that if Parliament wanted to set the fee, it would have done it in the act directly, you can say that about any regulation. If Parliament wanted to make a regulation, it would pass it in the act specifically. The obvious advantage to doing it in the regulation is that it is a lot easier to change a regulation than a statute.
The committee can decide how it wishes to view the various jurisprudence, but I am not sure that the shipowner's case is particularly convincing.
As a final comment, one of the reasons for including all of the past proceedings of the committee in the materials was so that members could see just how much work the committee has devoted to this issue over the years in a number of cases. I would simply caution members that they should probably think carefully before deciding that all of that work was basically unnecessary at the end of the day.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Hearing that, are there any additional comments?
Mr. Albas: There are many cases, also in Eurig, that support Transport Canada's position. I understand that counsel has worked very hard on this. I appreciate their work. One of the things we have to do as elected officials is to judge many different weights. Part of it is the legal argument and the other part is the practicality of how Parliament will have to address this. Whether we see it as fit to throw to Parliament or not is up to the committee. That being said, I put forward a motion and given that we have only had one response to it so far, I would suggest we put it to a vote.
Mr. Masse: I listened to what counsel said — and going through the material too — when they talked about Parliament setting the fee structure. That is extremely odd. I do not think I have run across an issue or law, other than fines and penalties and stuff like that, where they would want us to get that detailed. Obviously, something like that should be in regulations, because it will change from year to year depending upon the different laws that change in terms of inspection. I think that says enough in terms of the way they are treating this file. I do not think we should abandon all the work right now.
Senator Moore: Counsel, in view of your comments, what do you suggest we do? Should we go back to the department again?
Mr. Bernhardt: That is certainly a possibility.
Senator Moore: How do we bring this to a head and get it resolved?
Mr. Bernhardt: This issue has come up in other contexts. The proposal for a report was so that the committee would have a formal statement it could refer to. When this issue arises, rather than starting the argument from scratch — going through the various process of correspondence, ratcheting it up, going back to committee and so on — the committee would be able to say here is the committee's views as set out in report X. Here is the report and how the committee views these issues. That was one possible direction.
Another possible direction would be to say no, this file should be pursued like any other file, on an individual basis through further correspondence to whomever the committee decides.
The third option would be for the committee to say no, the committee is satisfied with what is being done and we will accept the position advanced in this case by this department. That will have ramifications for other files. For the sake of consistency, I presume the committee would want to take the same position on those other files as well.
Senator Moore: That is not been our position in the past.
Mr. Bernhardt: No, it has not.
Senator Moore: How do we advance it further, short of closing the file? I do not think we should do that. What do we do next, short of going to the Supreme Court? How do we press our position?
Mr. Bernhardt: If the consensus of the committee was that a report was not the way to go and the issue were to be pursued, it would be done as any other file. There would be a letter back to the department or if members wish, back to the minister, pointing out there still was not an explanation of how that other factor in Eurig had any meaning under the view they are advancing of the case law. That would be a typical process. However, as always, that is for members to decide.
Mr. Saxton: I think it is obvious we do not have consensus this morning. Mr. Albas has a motion before committee, and I now propose that we take it to a vote.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: May I make a comment?
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Briefly, please, senator.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: We can perhaps find some middle ground; the least we can do is establish our basic position, as counsel suggested; at least, let us not say that we completely agree. We should state our position and say that we do not agree, end of discussion.
It would be the middle ground to close the file. However, it is at least the principle on which it should be done and has not been done. Otherwise, we will look ridiculous in other files when we will come back to this argument. They will establish a precedent of having closed a file that was not meeting the legal requirements. Let us at least go with the position that there is a position of principle. This does not meet it, but we close the file anyway. I do not think in the records we should say —
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): We have a motion on the floor, unless you wish to —
Mr. Albas: I want to offer a viewpoint. First, we have fine legal counsel. Transport Canada probably believes their legal arguments are just as valid. We have to say where do we go from here? We cannot offer disallowance in this case. As counsel rightly put forward, it is up to the elected officials here to make a decision: Do we pursue this? Do we write a report? I have put forward a motion of where I think we should go, and I think there will be a vote on it. I certainly appreciate the senator's opinions, but at the end of the day, it is up to elected officials to make these decisions, or else why have elected officials at all? Why not leave it — no offense — to counsel? As parliamentarians, it is up to us. What we will be doing in a moment is exercising that.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): I do not want to prolong this. I think it is fruitless. We have a motion on the floor. I will call the question. The motion is to close the file, as moved by Mr. Albas. All those in favour of the motion? Opposed?
The motion carries. The file is closed.
SOR/95-212 PLANT PROTECTION REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix A, p. 16A:1.)
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): The next item is Plant Protection Regulations. This is a concern first raised in November 2000. The remaining point of contention involves sections 8, 9, and 46, which prohibit the use of documents for purposes other than which they were issued.
Mr. Bernhardt: Mr. Chair, the one issue still in dispute concerns these provisions that basically deal with punishing fraud. The prevention of fraud is a criminal law purpose. The purpose of the Plant Protection Act, however, is to prevent importation, exportation and spread of pests in Canada. This is a regulatory, not a criminal, purpose. The law makes that distinction. There is a principle that regulations cannot be made for a purpose outside the scope of the parent act.
Both sides here agree that the Plant Protection Act is regulatory and not criminal legislation. However, while the committee has interpreted these provisions as creating criminal offences, the agency argues that despite the possible relationship to fraud, they are regulatory offences and fall within the scope of the act.
The purpose of these provisions is not to regulate the import or export of plants, per se. Instead, they are designed to punish people who use or possess false documents. The case law in the correspondence discusses the distinction between prohibiting an activity because it is inherently wrong, which is typically how you think of criminal law, and prohibiting an activity unless certain rules are followed. The agency argues that these provisions should be considered valid because they are part of an overall legislative scheme, and the purpose of that scheme is regulatory; and thus the prohibitions take on a regulatory characteristic. The possession of a document for a purpose other than that for which it is issued would be valid because the overall purpose at the end of the day is pest control.
Clearly, a standard can be imposed under the act that regulates an otherwise legal activity. For example, if there were no law and no regulation, a person could import a plant without presenting it and the accompanying documentation to an inspector. The reasons for restricting imports in this way are not because the activity is sort of inherently wrong; it is simply to protect Canada's agricultural and forestry industries. That makes the offence regulatory in nature. The question is whether you can say the same thing about an offence involving fraud. Fraud is more like a behaviour that is wrong in and of itself, if you will, in a traditional criminal sense.
Accepting that the Plant Protection Act permits the creation of offences pertaining to fraudulent acts, you would have to conclude that you could adopt provisions targeting other criminal actions, for example, theft, if they were enacted for an ultimate pest control purpose. If this were the case, you could prohibit things like fraud, theft and so forth under a great many federal acts simply on the argument that doing so is a way to pursue the purpose of that act.
There are also provisions in the act that the committee has suggested are sufficient for purposes of enforcing the act. As I have mentioned before, you have to present imported plants and the documentation to an inspector. If you present a plant without the documents or with incorrect documents, you are violating the act anyway. In addition, the act also gives inspectors power of entry and seizure. The agency wants to be able to intervene before an attempt is made to import or export the plant. They call this their "preventive approach." If the person has not yet imported or exported the plant, the person in possession of the document has not yet violated the act.
The provisions in question permit a person to be charged and the documents to be seized simply because mere possession of them is unlawful, aside from importing and exporting. I suggest that if the agency wishes to add this weapon to its arsenal, however, it has to ask Parliament to amend the act either to set out these provisions in the act directly or to give clear authority to the Governor-in-Council to make regulations having this effect.
Mr. Saxton: I recommend that we write to the department to ask one more time for a conclusion to this matter. We will wait and see what they have to say.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Are there other comments?
Are members agreed with that approach?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/96-252 — SEEDS REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
(For text of documents, see Appendix B, p. 16B:1.)
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Item No. 4 on our agenda, under Part Action Taken, deals with the Seeds Regulations and has been before the committee since 2004. One part of this file was dealt with earlier this year. The CFIA says that the remaining amendments will come into force in 2013.
Mr. Rousseau: Mr. Chair, you have summarized the issue well. I would like to add that, for sections 74 to 76, we should continue to monitor progress in the usual manner.
Mr. Saxton: I agree that we continue to monitor the situation.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): We are in agreement.
SOR/2006-141 ORDER 2006-87-04-01 AMENDING THE DOMESTIC SUBSTANCES LIST
(For text of document, see Appendix C, p. 16C:1.)
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Item No. 5, under Satisfactory Reply, is amendments to the Domestic Substances List. This involves clarification of the appropriate statutory authority for deletions to the Domestic Substances List.
Mr. Bernhardt: Mr. Chair, the issue here was simply whether the correct enabling authority had been recited when this amendment was made. I should emphasize that the legality of the order is not affected simply by reciting the wrong provision. There was correspondence going back and forth as to whether subsection 87(2) of the Environmental Protection Act should or should not have been recited. The department was simply asked to assure the committee that in future when substances are deleted from the list the provision would be mentioned.
At one point, the department eventually conceded, in its words, that the committee's view had some merit and advised it would consider seriously the point of view in the future. When that response was put before the committee, members did not find it satisfactory, and the department was asked to confirm whether it actually agreed with the committee. This led to correspondence basically revolving around the distinction between making a correction to the name of a substance and revising the name of the substance and actually removing or replacing the substance.
In the end, there is agreement that if a substance is simply being deleted or the name being corrected is accidentally identified as some other substance, then they will refer to section 87(2) in the future. Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, there does not seem to be anything further to be done on this particular file.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Are you recommending that it be closed?
Mr. Breitkreuz: I would go along with this and close the file.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Is there agreement?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2012-41 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADA STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix D, p. 16D:1.)
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Item No. 6 is amendments to the Canada Student Financial Assistance Regulations. The question was whether the Minister of Finance concurred with the amendment as required by the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act. The response is that he did concur. Is there anything to add, counsel?
Mr. Rousseau: That is exactly what happened. And given the response that the committee has just studied and that enables us to avoid having the same discussions we have had on this matter, we could simply close the file.
SI/2012-23 — WITHDRAWAL FROM DISPOSAL OF CERTAIN TRACTS OF TERRITORIAL LANDS IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (THAIDENE NENE (EAST ARM OF GREAT SLAVE LAKE) NATIONAL PARK RESERVE) ORDER
(For text of documents, see Appendix E, p. 16E:1.)
SI/2012-24 — WITHDRAWAL FROM DISPOSAL OF CERTAIN TRACTS OF TERRITORIAL LANDS IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (SOUTH SLAVE / NORTH SLAVE REGIONS) ORDER
(For text of documents, see Appendix F, p. 16F:1.)
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): Items 7 and 8 deal with regulations on Withdrawal from Disposal of Certain Tracts of Territorial Lands in the Northwest Territories. There is a discrepancy between the French and English versions. The department believes that the terms do not have any impact on that section and do not believe that changes are required considering the order expires in March 2014.
Mr. Rousseau: Exactly. Just like all the other similar orders in council, they expire after a while. They are replaced on a regular basis and, usually, the committee says it is satisfied once the department makes a commitment to make corrections in the subsequent orders in council. If the committee is satisfied this time as well, this file, as well as item 8 on the agenda, can be closed.
Senator Moore: In situations where we anticipate the department doing what is set out in the correspondence, as in the other case before that, do you look or how do you know? Do you bring this forward and then check?
Mr. Bernhardt: There will be future orders and amendments, and when we review them, we will be looking at them with a mind to what was promised in the past.
The Joint Chair (Senator Runciman): The recommendation is to close both files. Do we have concurrence?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2009-18 — REGULATIONS AMENDING CERTAIN REGULATIONS ADMINISTERED AND ENFORCED BY THE CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Moving on to the more controversial half of the agenda, we have Item No. 9. First is the issue with respect to regulations administered and enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and it is again an issue of harmonization of the French and the English.
Mr. Rousseau: The letter of March 25, 2011, provides an overview of the amendments promised to harmonize the drafting of the regulations. Previously, when the committee received the letters of March 25 and November 25, 2011, the agency was planning to have the promised amendments come into force in 2012.
In the letter of June 21, 2012, the agency informed us that the necessary amendments were still being developed and that they would come into force in 2013. But it would be appropriate for the committee's advisors to write back to the agency and see what progress has been made since June and to ask the agency to confirm whether it is still planning to have the amendments come into force in 2013.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/90-576 — ATLANTIC PILOTAGE AUTHORITY REGULATIONS, AMENDMENT
(For text of documents, see Appendix G, p. 16G:1.)
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): We are moving on to Progress (?), Item No. 10. Drafting instructions for amendments have been sent to the minister, have they not, counsel?
Mr. Bernhardt: That is correct, Madam Chair. We now have a time frame of mid 2013. This has been pushed back from the previous time frame, apparently because there is to be a complete rewrite of the regulations, at least in part to create a new compulsory pilotage area. There have been a couple of previous postponements. I think originally these were hoped to have been done in 2010.
We have had some delays, but if members are willing to accept the mid-2013 time frame, I propose monitoring the file. We will probably ask for a progress report early in the New Year.
Mr. Anders: If this will be a rewrite, it will probably make sense for us to review it once we view the rewrite.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Is there agreement with counsel's recommendation?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/99-122 — FARM IMPROVEMENT AND MARKETING COOPERATIVES LOANS AND FEES REGULATIONS, 1998
(For text of documents, see Appendix H, p. 16H:1.)
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Moving on to No. 11, our committee had made an initial request that ended up leading to a full review of the Farm Improvement and Marketing Cooperatives Loans and Fees Regulations, 1998. The department is advising us that progress is now imminent.
Mr. Rousseau: The file dealt with a number of questions related to illegal provisions, powers unnecessarily discretionary and criteria for decisions made subjectively.
At this stage, it would probably be appropriate to ask the department to now indicate when the expanded bill will be passed. If the department does not know or if the date is too far ahead, perhaps the department would be ready to make a commitment to pass the promised amendments regardless of the other changes mentioned in its July letter. If the committee agrees, counsel will write back to the department on that matter.
Mr. Boughen: Perhaps we could write back and ask for a time limit.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2002-198 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE SEEDS REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix I, p. 16I:1.)
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Next is Item No. 12, Regulations Amending the Seeds Regulations. We had a promise of action that was to occur this fall, but so far we have not been apprised of any progress.
Mr. Rousseau: In this file, amendments were promised for 5 of the 10 points raised in the beginning. Of the five points, the committee has called into question the validity of the provisions in three cases. When the committee studied that file on November 18, 2010, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was expecting the proposed changes to be published in the fall of 2010.
Since then, as we can see by reading the letters from the agency, the changes that were first supposed to be adopted in 2011, are now part of the agency's regulatory modernization initiative. This exercise should take place over the next three years.
The chairs of the committee have already sent a letter to the minister, as part of the review of other files — not the one the committee is examining today — to suggest that the amendments promised for those files be passed regardless of the regulatory modernization initiative.
At the meeting of October 18, the committee was informed of the minister's response. The minister indicated that the agency was weighing options to address the committee's concerns as quickly as possible. The committee instructed counsel to ask the agency what the options are. The letter was sent on October 22. It would be appropriate to ask the agency whether the options in question will apply to this file. If the committee agrees, counsel will write back to the agency on this matter.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: In that letter, could we at least set a time? When they have three years to complete a job and when we ask questions about specific items, perhaps we could ask to get a more specific answer to those specific points after Christmas? We cannot delay things for three years. It has to be done and the specific questions that were mentioned have to be addressed.
Mr. Rousseau: Very well.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Do my colleagues agree?
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Does that seem reasonable?
Mr. Saxton: Can you remind us when the committee reconvenes after the holiday break? It would be the first meeting in February, I guess.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Mr. Saxton, are you searching for a date?
Mr. Saxton: I am searching for a date because I understand the senator wants to apply a deadline. I am trying to determine what would be a fair and adequate deadline.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): For the purposes of the discussion, while the clerk is searching, are you comfortable saying that we need a report back by our first meeting in the New Year, and we can fill in that date later?
Mr. Saxton: If counsel thinks that is a reasonable length of time for the department to respond.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): The clerk is advising me that no meeting dates have been set at this point, but we know when the house comes back. If you are comfortable suggesting —
Mr. Saxton: Counsel, what would be an adequate length of time for the department to respond?
Mr. Bernhardt: Our standard procedure would be four months.
Mr. Saxton: Four months?
Mr. Bernhardt: It will be about four months from now until the first meeting in the New Year, I would think. It will probably be February before the first meeting, so we are looking at three and a half months, anyway. The first meeting, I assume, will be February.
Mr. Saxton: What would counsel recommend as a fair date?
Mr. Bernhardt: We can say the first meeting in the New Year.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Is there agreement?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
SOR/2005-168 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE ORDERLY PAYMENT OF DEBTS REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix J, p. 16J:1.)
SOR/2012-42 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE VETERANS HEALTH CARE REGULATIONS
(For text of documents, see Appendix K, p. 16K:1.)
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): We have two items on the agenda under Action Promised, both dealing with the harmonization of French and English versions.
Mr. Rousseau: File SOR/2005-168 has to do with harmonizing the French version of the regulations with that of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Amendments were promised. Counsel are going to follow up on the file in the usual manner and they will keep the committee informed of any developments.
In SOR/2012-42, the amendment was promised with a view to correcting the discrepancy between the English version and the French version of the regulations. Once again, counsel are going to follow up on the file in the usual manner and keep the committee informed of any developments.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): We are agreed.
SOR/2011-229 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REGULATIONS
(For text of document, see Appendix L, p. 16L:1.)
SOR/2012-22 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE METAL MINING EFFLUENT REGULATIONS
(For text of document, see Appendix M, p. 16M:1.)
SOR/2012-88 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE LOBBYISTS REGISTRATION REGULATIONS
(For text of document, see Appendix N, p. 16N:1.)
SOR/2012-99 — REGULATIONS AMENDING CERTAIN REGULATIONS MADE UNDER SECTIONS 160, 191 AND 209 OF THE CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT, 1999 AND REPEALING THE LIST OF HAZARDOUS WASTE AUTHORITIES (MISCELLANEOUS PROGRAM)
(For text of documents, see Appendix O, p. 16O:1.)
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Under Action Taken, there are four items. Do we need to discuss any of those, counsel?
Mr. Bernhardt: I note for the record, Madam Chair, that in totality they make some 40 amendments requested by the committee. There is one I would mention in particular, under SOR/2012-99. One of those amendments deletes an ultra vires requirement to submit information.
SI/2012-19 — ORDER AMENDING THE CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE ACT DEPUTY HEADS OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE OF CANADA ORDER
SI/2012-20 — RIGHT OF PERMANENT RESIDENCE FEES REMISSION ORDER (2012)
SI/2012-25 — WITHDRAWAL FROM DISPOSAL OF CERTAIN TRACTS OF TERRITORIAL LANDS IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NAATS'IHCH'OH NATIONAL PARK RESERVE) ORDER
SI/2012-26 — ORDER RESPECTING THE INTERIM FEDERAL HEALTH PROGRAM, 2012
SI/2012-27 — APPOINTMENT OR DEPLOYMENT OF ALTERNATES EXCLUSION APPROVAL ORDER
SI/2012-28 — ORDER FIXING APRIL 5, 2012 AS THE DAY ON WHICH THE ACT COMES INTO FORCE
SI/2012-31 — ORDER FIXING MAY 3, 2012 AS THE DAY ON WHICH CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE ACT COME INTO FORCE
SI/2012-32 — ORDER AMENDING THE WITHDRAWAL FROM DISPOSAL OF CERTAIN TRACTS OF TERRITORIAL LANDS IN NUNAVUT (NORTHERN BATHURST ISLAND NATIONAL PARK) ORDER
SI/2012-33 — RENÉ HÉROUX REMISSION ORDER
SI/2012-34 — KENT MACDOUGALL REMISSION ORDER
SI/2012-35 — KATHLEEN VIROSTEK REMISSION ORDER
SI/2012-36 — ORDER FIXING MAY 24, 2012 AS THE DAY ON WHICH THE MAJORITY OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT COME INTO FORCE
SI/2012-40 — ORDER FIXING JUNE 13, 2012 AS THE DAY ON WHICH SECTIONS 52 TO 107 AND 147 OF THE ACT COME INTO FORCE
SI/2012-41 — ORDER FIXING SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 AS THE DAY ON WHICH SECTIONS 46 AND 47 AND SUBSECTIONS 57(1) AND 62(1) OF THE ACT COME INTO FORCE
SOR/93-580 — GENERAL EXPORT PERMIT NO. EX 27 — NUCLEAR-RELATED DUAL-USE GOODS
SOR/2008-179 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE GREAT LAKES PILOTAGE TARIFF REGULATIONS
SOR/2008-312 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADA HEALTH TRANSFER AND CANADA SOCIAL TRANSFER REGULATIONS
SOR/2009-294 — REGULATIONS AMENDING CERTAIN REGULATIONS MADE UNDER THE BROADCASTING ACT
SOR/2009-327 — REGULATIONS AMENDING CERTAIN REGULATIONS MADE UNDER THE FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL FISCAL ARRANGEMENTS ACT
SOR/2010-251 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE GREAT LAKES PILOTAGE TARIFF REGULATIONS
SOR/2011-92 — REGULATIONS AMENDING CERTAIN REGULATIONS MADE UNDER THE FISHERIES ACT
SOR/2011-137 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE GREAT LAKES PILOTAGE TARIFF REGULATIONS
SOR/2011-202 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE METAL MINING EFFLUENT REGULATIONS
SOR/2011-225 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE SPECIAL ECONOMIC MEASURES (IRAN) REGULATIONS
SOR/2011-316 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FREEZING ASSETS OF CORRUPT FOREIGN OFFICIALS (TUNISIA AND EGYPT) REGULATIONS
SOR/2012-90 — GENERAL EXPORT PERMIT NO. 44 — NUCLEAR-RELATED DUAL-USE GOODS AND TECHNOLOGY TO CERTAIN DESTINATIONS
SOR/2012-111 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FOOD AND DRUG REGULATIONS (1633 — FOOD ADDITIVES)
SOR/2012-112 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE FOOD AND DRUG REGULATIONS (1608 — DISODIUM ETHYLENEDIAMINE-TETRAACETATE
SOR/2012-115 — ORDER 2012-112-04-14 AMENDING THE DOMESTIC SUBSTANCES LIST
SOR/2012-116 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN CHICKEN MARKETING QUOTA REGULATIONS
SOR/2012-117 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD REGULATIONS
SOR/2012-120 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE GREAT LAKES PILOTAGE TARIFF REGULATIONS
SOR/2012-122 — ORDER AMENDING THE SCHEDULE TO THE FIRST NATIONS FISCAL AND STATISTICAL MANAGEMENT ACT
SOR/2012-123 — "SEAROSE FPSO" REPAIR OR ALTERATION REMISSION ORDER, 2012
Mr. Bernhardt: Finally, there is the usual list of statutory instruments that have been reviewed and found to comply with all of the committee's criteria, and I believe that is a list of 34 this morning.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Are there any comments on any of those items?
Mr. Albas: Since we are at the end of the meeting, I want to clarify some of my earlier comments.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): Can we first agree to note these and take our usual course of action? Is everyone okay with that?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Albas: I think it was during the second item on the agenda, Madam Chair, I made reference to "elected officials" a few times. That was an oversight on my part. I just wanted to ensure the senators were well aware that I should have said —
Senator Moore: You said parliamentarians once.
Mr. Albas: I just wanted to ensure people understood I misspoke. I hope no offence was taken; it was simply an oversight on my part.
The Joint Chair (Ms. Charlton): I am looking to the senators for guidance on that. Is the apology accepted? It is.
With that, the meeting is adjourned.
(The committee adjourned.)