REGS Committee Meeting
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THE STANDING JOINT COMMITTEE FOR THE SCRUTINY OF REGULATIONS
OTTAWA, Tuesday, March 2, 2021
The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations met this day at 11:00 a.m. [ET], by videoconference, to organize committee business.
François Michaud, Joint Clerk of the Committee: Good morning, everyone. My name is François Michaud, and I am the joint clerk of this committee. It is my duty and privilege to proceed with the election of the joint chair for the Senate.
I’m now ready to receive a motion to that effect.
Senator White: I will move to start the meeting.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): We have started. I would now like a motion to elect a joint chair.
Senator White: Okay. I move to elect the joint chair.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): I will need a name.
Senator Woo: I move that MP Dean Allison from the House of Commons be joint chair.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): Thank you, Senator Woo. We usually start by electing the joint chair for the Senate, if you don’t mind.
Mr. Allison: I propose to nominate Senator Woo to be the joint chair.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): Thank you, Mr. Allison. Are there any other nominations?
Seeing none, it is moved by Mr. Allison that Senator Woo be joint chair of the committee. Is there any opposition to that motion?
Seeing none, I declare the motion carried.
I now invite my colleague Paul Cardegna to preside over the election of the joint chair for the House of Commons.
Paul Cardegna, Joint Clerk of the Committee: Thank you, François. I am Paul Cardegna and I am the joint clerk of the House of Commons for the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.
Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), the first joint chair must be a member of the official opposition — [Technical difficulties]
I am now ready to receive motions to elect the joint chair.
Senator Woo: I move MP Dean Allison to be the joint chair of this committee.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Cardegna): Thank you, Senator Woo.
Are there any other nominations for the position of joint chair?
Senator Woo has nominated Dean Allison for the position of House of Commons joint chair. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion? Is there anyone opposed to the motion?
I declare the motion carried and Mr. Allison elected as joint chair. We will now proceed to the election of the vice-chairs.
Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2) of the House of Commons Standing Orders, the first vice-chair will be a member of the government party.
I am now ready to accept nominations for the position of first vice-chair. Are there any nominations for the position of first vice-chair?
Mr. Badawey: For the Liberal Party, I would like to nominate Mr. Fayçal El-Khoury.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Cardegna): Thank you, Mr. Badawey. Are there any other nominations for the position of first vice-chair? Mr. Badawey has nominated Mr. El-Khoury. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion? Is there anyone against the motion? I declare Mr. El-Khoury duly elected first vice-chair.
The position of second vice-chair, pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), is to be filled by a member of another opposition party. I am now ready to receive nominations for the position of second vice-chair.
Ms. Brière: I would like to nominate Caroline Desbiens.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Cardegna): Ms. Brière has nominated Ms. Desbiens. Are there any other nominations for the position of second vice-chair?
Ms. Brière has nominated Ms. Desbiens as second vice-chair. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?
Is there anyone against the motion?
I declare Ms. Desbiens duly elected second vice-chair of the committee.
I will now invite the two joint chairs to take the chair.
Senator Yuen Pau Woo and Mr. Dean Allison (Joint Chairs) in the chair.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you, clerks. Good morning, everyone. It’s my pleasure to be joint chair together with Mr. Allison and we will be sharing the responsibility for today’s agenda.
I will take you through the next few items and then turn to him for the balance of the meeting.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): Senator Woo, if I may interrupt, I think Mr. Badawey has a question.
Mr. Badawey: No question, Mr. Clerk or Senator Woo. I was going to begin the process of introducing the routine motions.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you for making that offer, but I’m pleased to proceed. If you have some comments on those motions, I’m happy to hear them. The next routine motion is on the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. I’m going to look to the clerk for advice on whether they would like me to read the motion in full or if you will do that for us. This is a routine motion. The appointment of the subcommittee is done after the usual consultations and is a routine matter for this committee.
Clerk, would you like me to read the motion?
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): I would like to encourage you to read out the motion.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): I will do that now. It is moved by Mr. Badawey:
That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be composed of the Joint Chairs, the Vice-Chairs, as well as, after the usual consultations, one Senator and one member from the other recognized party in the House of Commons;
That the Subcommittee be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the committee with respect to its agenda, to invite witnesses, and to schedule hearings; and
That the Subcommittee report its decisions to the Committee.
Is there a seconder? Thank you, Senator Martin.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): You don’t need a seconder in committee, Senator Woo.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you. I will pause for a minute to see if there is any discussion. All in favour? If anyone is opposed to the motion, please speak up at this time; if not, the motion is carried.
Thank you, colleagues.
We’ll move now to the next item, which is the motion to publish the committee’s proceedings, and I will read it to you. It is moved:
That the Committee publish its Proceedings in both official languages.
Could I have someone to move that motion, please? Thank you, Senator Boyer.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): We’re back on. Thank you for your patience. We’re at motion 5.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you. We have a motion moved by Senator Boyer that the proceedings be published in both official languages. I see no opposition, so the motion is carried.
Motion 5 was carried and we now move to motion 6:
That the Committee’s General Counsel review the unrevised transcripts of the proceedings of the Committee.
This is a standard procedure because of the very technical nature of our transcripts. May I have someone move that motion please?
Thank you, Senator White. All in favour, none opposed. Motion carried.
Now we move to motion 7, the adoption of the first report. I will read the motion:
That the Committee concur in the First Report and that the Joint Chairs so report to their respective Houses.
Senator White: So moved.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you, again, Senator White.
Tanya Dupuis, General Counsel to the Committee: Before the joint committee adopts its first report, I would like to propose a change to item 7 of the joint committee’s review criteria for the committee’s consideration.
I can explain why. The Statutory Instruments Act is amended from time to time. It was amended in 2015 to include provisions concerning incorporation by reference.
We would recommend to the committee that item 7 be amended by deleting the words “with respect to transmission, registration or publication” in item 7, so it would now read: “has not complied with the Statutory Instruments Act.”
I can read it in French.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): If there was translation, I’m not sure that’s necessary but I look to our francophone colleagues who may want to have a more precise rendition. This seems to be a substantive matter that goes beyond the first report. To my understanding, the first report is simply about the election of the joint chairs as well as the procedural routine motions we just went through.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): For REGS, the first report does go further than that. It does set the quorum. It also sets the principles that will guide the committee in the study of regulations, so it’s more than what you’re used to in the Senate in terms of first reports.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Could you comment on the specific request from our colleague about making amendments to the first report?
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): Obviously a member of the committee would have to move the amendment that Ms. Dupuis suggested.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Let me invite some comments and discussion. This is coming out of the blue, if I may say that, and I don’t know that anyone here has spent any time thinking about it. I wonder if you might like to elaborate a bit more as to the purpose, intent and consequence of this amendment.
Mr. MacGregor: My only request is I have the first report open, so if Ms. Dupuis can read out the amendment again, I can follow along with the current wording.
Mr. Badawey: I just want to clarify something. It seems we went through the routine motions up to “the committee publish its proceedings in both official languages.” I don’t recall going through the following routine motions, the last four, and having had them voted on for general counsel, joint chair, “at the discretion of the Joint Chairs,” and the last one, “That the committee empower.” I don’t recall us actually voting on those routine motions.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you, Mr. Badawey. We did, in fact, complete up to motion 6. Motion 5 was the publishing in both official languages. That was moved by Senator Boyer and adopted.
Motion 6 was moved by Senator White. It was that the committee’s general counsel review the unrevised transcripts, and I believe that we voted on it and it was adopted.
I would look to the clerks to correct me if I’m wrong, but we are now on motion 7, I believe, which is the adoption of the first report, and we have a proposal from Ms. Dupuis to amend the report. Is that correct? I wonder if you would like to come back in on this proposed amendment to help us understand the intent.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): If I may, the first report has always been adopted the way it is up until now, but Ms. Dupuis is suggesting an amendment, and she would be the best person to explain why.
Ms. Dupuis: At the beginning of each parliamentary session, the joint committee adopts a report containing its review criteria. This report contains our mandate that is proposed to both houses of Parliament. During the year, the joint committee reviews the regulations on the basis of the criteria that we set out in the committee’s first report and is approved at the beginning of each new session of Parliament.
I can reread the proposed amendment, but I would also like to inform members that the joint committee’s authority to review and scrutinize statutory instruments is not restricted or limited by this report. The joint committee is not bound to review regulations in accordance with the enumerated criteria. The committee retains its authority to review an instrument of delegated legislation on any other ground. This is just a general mandate, a sessional order of reference that we adopt at the beginning of each parliamentary session.
I’m proposing to make item 7 a little more general, more inclusive, to include amendments that were made to the Statutory Instruments Act. Also, by making it more general, if there are any future amendments to the Statutory Instruments Act, we would not have to revisit this criteria yet again.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you for that. That’s quite clear. It allows for more scope, as I understand it, and that, presumably, is a good thing for the committee.
This is the advice of our general counsel, so I’m prepared to put this to a vote now.
I believe you cannot move the motion as such, Ms. Dupuis. Someone else would have to move it. Is that correct?
Ms. Dupuis: Correct.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): I would look to one of our members to move what our general counsel has proposed.
Mr. MacGregor: I so move.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Thank you, Mr. MacGregor. Let me see if there is anyone against this amendment? Seeing no opposition, the amendment is adopted.
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Michaud): Mr. Chair, we still need to adopt the first report, as amended.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Let me reread the original motion:
That the Committee concur in the First Report and that the Joint Chairs so report to their respective Houses.
I believe Senator White has already moved this motion.
Senator White: That’s correct.
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): Let me confirm that everyone is in agreement. I see no opposition, so that motion has been adopted.
Let me now turn to Mr. Allison to pick up on motion 8.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Allison): Thank you, Senator Woo. Let’s move on, then, to motion 8, authorization of expenditures. I will read out the motion:
That either Joint Chair or, in accordance with the direction of the Joint Chairs, either Joint Clerk be authorized to approve payment of expenditures of the Committee.
Do I have a mover for that motion? Mr. Calkins, thank you very much. Do I have anyone opposed to that? Seeing none, let’s move on to motion 9, travelling and living expenses of witnesses:
That, at the discretion of the Joint Chairs, the Committee may reimburse reasonable travelling and living expenses for one witness from any one organization, and payment will take place upon application, but that the Joint Chairs be authorized to approve expenses for a second witness should there be exceptional circumstances.
Do I have someone to move that? Senator White, thank you. Is anyone opposed to that? Seeing none opposed, so carried.
We will go to motion 10, travel by members:
That the committee empower the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure to designate, as required, one or more members of the committee and/or such staff as may be necessary to travel on assignment on behalf of the committee.
Do I have anyone to move that? Thank you, Mr. Morrissey. I now call anyone opposed to that motion? So carried.
We’re going to move on to other business:
That the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations appoint Ms. Tanya Dupuis as general counsel of the joint committee in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed to between the joint committee and the Library of Parliament.
Do I have someone to move that? Senator Martin, thank you very much. Is anyone opposed to that? So carried.
The next motion reads as follows:
That the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations appoint Ms. Geneviève Lévesque as counsel of the joint committee in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed to between the joint committee and the Library of Parliament.
Do I have a mover for that? Mr. Davidson, thank you. Is anyone opposed? So carried.
Those are all the routine motions that we have before us. Before I adjourn, are there any other comments, suggestions or motions?
Mr. El-Khoury: If we go back to motion 1 regarding the election of the joint chairs and vice-chairs, we stopped at number 4. So for 5 and 6, senator, it says one member from all the recognized parties in the houses. We didn’t have that.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Allison): I will ask for comments from the clerk on this. The Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations is a new committee for me, so I would ask for any comment. I’m reading the motions — I think Senator Woo did the same — that we have before us, which have been the standard motions here. Are there any comments from either one of our joint clerks?
The Joint Chair (Senator Woo): I will start first and then the clerks can jump in.
We did elect, of course, two vice-chairs. We went through those motions. What you are referring to, I believe, is the motion on the subcommittee, the steering committee. What we said in that motion was that there will be the usual consultations, after which we will identify the members to be on that committee. So we did not specify who they would be, but we did say that there would be consultations, as specified in the motion, to identify any members that are needed for a subcommittee.
Clerk, could you confirm if that is, in fact, what we did?
The Joint Clerk (Mr. Cardegna): Yes. If you look at the text of the motion, it talks about one member from the other recognized party of the House of Commons. On this committee, that person would be the member from the NDP, Mr. MacGregor. And, of course, the member from the Bloc is covered under the vice-chair, as is the member from the government, and, of course, the two joint chairs and one other senator.
So in response to your question, the fact that there is only one member from the NDP and that they are represented as the other recognized party in the House of Commons, Mr. MacGregor would have a place on the steering committee.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Allison): Thank you very much. Are there any other comments?
Ms. Desbiens: Thank you very much for giving me the floor. Before we close the motions portion, I would have liked to see an agreement to schedule a sound test before the meeting starts. If we could move a motion to this effect, it would allow the interpretation services and the technicians to do some testing, and the committee could start its meeting on time.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Allison): That’s a great idea, Ms. Desbiens. We will encourage people to come on the call a little bit earlier, maybe 15 to 20 minutes earlier so we can do that.
If there is no other business, then I am going to seek adjournment.
Senator White: I will move that.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Allison): Thank you, Senator White. Is anyone opposed to that?
Thank you very much, everyone. Once we have a chance to talk, we’ll get back to the committee about what times we will be looking at, with consultations from the House and the Senate.
Thank you, everyone, for joining us today, and we look forward to chatting again.
(The committee adjourned.)