Evidence of meeting #3 for Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-38 in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was environmental.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo  National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
  • Fred Denning  President, The British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.
  • David Schindler  Professor of Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, As an Individual
  • Terry Quinney  Provincial Manager, Fish and Wildlife Services, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • William Amos  Director, University of Ottawa - Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, Ecojustice Canada
  • Ron Bonnett  President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
  • Kevin Obermeyer  President and CEO, Pacific Pilotage Authority
  • Scott Vaughan  Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • Clarence T. Jules  Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

9:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Thank you.

We also heard last night about the capital intensity of some of the major resource projects and how when proponents are going to decide whether or not they're going to move forward with it, they have to consider the window to market.

The challenge becomes this. How do we ensure that the integrity of the environmental assessment process is maintained, but also ensure that there's timeliness and predictability for business review? Given what you've just said, do you think the changes that are in this section of the budget implementation act could lead to increased jobs for aboriginal Canadians?

9:55 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

The short answer, of course, is yes. I think people will benefit from any opportunity where you have the streamlining of reviews and what not.

I say that because of the experience I've undertaken dealing with tax issues right across the country. We provide model by-laws, where there is a single point of entry for first nations when it comes to property tax. And if you apply that to how the legislation is looking for further development, of course, the answer would have to be yes.

9:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

Thank you, Ms. Rempel. Seven minutes have elapsed.

Ms. Leslie, for seven minutes.

May 29th, 2012 / 9:55 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

And thank you to all the witnesses for being here tonight, again, as my colleague pointed out, so late.

My first question is for Mr. Vaughan. I've only been in this role of environment critic for a year, so I'm still learning a little bit about what your office does. I know you're mandated to review certain things because it's a legislated review, for example, but my understanding is that you also take on projects of your own to review or to do an assessment of.

Am I correct in that? Do you have that kind of autonomy?

9:55 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Scott Vaughan

That's absolutely correct, yes.

9:55 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Have you, or has your office, done a review of the budget bill, of Bill C-38?

9:55 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Scott Vaughan

No. Our office would not be mandated to look at a bill. Our office would only be mandated to look at when an act is finalized, because a bill is policy and we stay out of policy. So that would be outside the scope of our office.

9:55 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

So you wouldn't have looked at the environmental proposals in this bill and done an analysis?

9:55 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Scott Vaughan

We're starting. Obviously, we're looking at this with great interest, and we've had various interviews with departmental officials because it's going to affect some work we have under way right now. One example would be the offshore petroleum boards for both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. So the changes in CEAA are going to affect them as responsible authorities. Because of that and some other work we're doing, we've had various interviews.

So we've done some analysis, yes.

10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Okay.

When I see this list of things that you suggest the subcommittee should review, obviously they've piqued your interest in some way. I want to ask you about paragraph 15, where you propose that we think about the changes to fish habitat and assessing aquatic biodiversities and ecosystems more broadly. What are your concerns? What are the red flags that appear for you?

10 p.m.

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Scott Vaughan

Again, and I wouldn't say “red flags”, but I would say—

10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Chair, a point of order.

10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

Mr. Storseth, a point of order.

10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's my understanding that Mr. Vaughan is a public servant. I would like to make sure to remind the committee of page 1068 of O'Brien and Bosc, which says:

Particular attention is paid to the questioning of public servants. The obligation of a witness to answer all questions put by the committee must be balanced against the role that public servants play in providing confidential advice to their Ministers. The role of the public servant has traditionally been viewed in relation to the implementation and administration of government policy, rather than the determination of what that policy should be. Consequently, public servants have been excused from commenting on the policy decisions made by the government.

Including what those policies should be.

10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

Did you want to respond to that, Ms. Leslie?