Evidence of meeting #46 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was business.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Justin Vaive

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Our meeting will now come to order, colleagues, if you're ready. I hope you are.

We have two matters of business before the committee today.

Our first item of business is a notice of motion from Mr. McGuinty. We will then move on to consider the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999).

Is everyone agreed that we should start with Mr. McGuinty's motion?

The motion is that, with regard to a committee study of the supplementary estimates (B) for the fiscal year 2006-07, the Minister of the Environment be invited to appear.

Seeing as no one wants to speak to this....

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

I'll speak to this.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Mr. McGuinty, you're on. You're the first person to ask, so I think you can have the floor.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Good.

Is everyone here, all the members?

Mr. Chair, I move this motion, which reads as follows: “That with regard to a committee study of the supplementary estimates (B) for the fiscal year 2006-2007, the Minister of the Environment be invited to appear.”

Before going into the motion, I wonder if I could ask the clerk to speak to some of the timeline challenges we've had here, Mr. Chair. Is that agreeable?

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

There are some timeline challenges that the clerk was explaining to me.

Justin, over to you.

March 1st, 2007 / 11:05 a.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Justin Vaive

The timeline challenges involve the fact that the supply period for this year ends on March 26, one week after the House comes back. It also relates to the fact that the last allotted day for this supply period, otherwise known as an opposition day, has not yet been designated by the government. If the last opposition day were to occur on the last day of the supply period, which is March 26, there would be a way for the committee to study the supplementary estimates line by line and still be able to report those supplementary estimates back to the House under the proper timelines the standing order provides for. However, if the last opposition day is any time before March 26, the committee would not have the time to consider the line-by-line supplementary estimates and report them back to the House in order for the committee to fall within the parameters of the standing order in question.

Mr. McGuinty's motion refers to inviting the minister, and that can be done up until the last day of the supply period on March 26. The purpose of the minister's coming would be more for information and taking questions from the members on the issue of the supplementary estimates. But depending again on when the last opposition day is, the committee may be beyond the point at which it can lawfully report the supplementary estimates to the House with any potential changes to those supplementary estimates.

The reason is that the supplementary estimates have to be reported back three days prior to the end of that period. If the last day is March 26, that would mean the last day the committee could report back would be March 21. If the last opposition day were to occur some time before March 26, the committee would have to report the supplementary estimates three days before that last opposition day. For example, if the last opposition day were to occur on March 22, that would mean this committee would need to report those supplementary estimates no later than March 19, which is the first day back after the break, and the committee has already agreed to cancel its Monday meeting on March 19 to allow members to hear the budget.

So those are some of the issues related to the timelines. There are also potential issues related to the schedule that the committee has given itself for the two weeks between the March break and the Easter break, but of course it is up to the committee.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you very much, Mr. Clerk.

Are there any questions? I have Mr. Cullen and then Mr. Warawa.

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Chair, we're giving this a hard look.

I'd like the consideration of the committee...and this will be an actual amendment to Mr. McGuinty's motion that I would like him to consider as well.

I believe all of us received a letter from the Auditor General of Canada, so I assume it came to all committee members on February 26. We can get copies made or make copies available if you don't have it with you. I think Monsieur Bigras has one--or maybe not.

Anyway, regardless, let me get to the point of the letter that matters. Her words are:

We have noted the announcements by the government of its environmental plans. The government introduced the Clean Air Act as “the first and central component of its environmental agenda”. Other announcements followed...

We note the lack of a clear response to date to the recommendations of our 2006 climate change report.

--this is the Auditor General's climate change report that came through the Commissioner of the Environment--

At the time we were finalizing the report, the government stated it accepted our recommendations and would address them in its climate change approach then underway. We replied that we expected the government would, in due course, describe its action plan in response to the recommendations.

As you may know, we suggested to the chair of the House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in December that the committee might wish to consider requesting such an action plan from the government.

The Auditor General told the government, when they were preparing the commissioner's report, that they needed a plan and that the plan should come forthwith. That was in the summertime. The government knew that report said yes, they would do it. The commissioner released her report in the fall saying, here's the plan; the government has accepted the recommendation to release a plan. And here we are in March with that recommendation having been accepted and not having been fulfilled.

The tone of this letter is actually quite serious, because it's everything the government has agreed to do.

Here is the friendly amendment that I wish to move to Mr. McGuinty's motion: That the Government of Canada bring forth an action plan addressing the recommendations made in the 2006 climate change report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

You have that in writing, I trust?

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Yes.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Perhaps you could submit it. Here comes the clerk to pick that up.

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

This is a friendly amendment.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Okay. Before I go to Mr. Warawa, I don't want to cut you off. Are you finished, Mr. Cullen?

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Yes.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you.

Mr. Warawa, and then Mr. McGuinty.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

I'm just trying to follow what's happening here. The motion that's on the floor right now is that: “With regard to a committee study of the supplementary estimates B for the fiscal year 2006-2007, the Minister of the Environment be invited to appear.”

That's the motion that's on the floor now. Perhaps the clerk could read back, then, what is being proposed by Mr. Cullen, because it changes it.

11:10 a.m.

The Clerk

The wording of the amendment proposed by Mr. Cullen is: “That the Government of Canada bring forth an action plan addressing the recommendations made in the 2006 climate change report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.”

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I have a point of order, Mr. Chair. It's just to be clear. It's an addition. It's not affecting and changing Mr. McGuinty's motion; it's an addition to his motion.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

It's fine, you said.

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Well, I don't know that yet, but we'll see.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Okay, you're saying you'll have to wait and see.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

I want to wait to find out if Mr. McGuinty is accepting that as a friendly amendment.

What is being proposed as the total motion would be what this end is, correct? Two points.

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Colleagues, the clerk has suggested to me that because it deals with a separate issue, they should be treated as two separate motions. So that's how I propose to proceed.

If that's agreeable, we can vote. We can proceed with the first motion and then we can go on, if colleagues agree, to Mr. Cullen's motion, because it's all under committee business.

Go ahead.

11:15 a.m.

The Clerk

Since the motion proposed by Mr. Cullen falls under the rubric of committee business, which is what we're on right now while we're dealing with Mr. McGuinty's motion, it doesn't require the usual 24 hours' notice that the committee requires for most motions.

Committee business tends to be a very broad category. Since most things can fall within the category of committee business, it would be acceptable in terms of past practice for Mr. Cullen to bring forward his motion, following the committee's dealing with Mr. McGuinty's motion.

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Mr. Vellacott.