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Evidence of meeting #18 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendment.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Renée Caron  Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment
Raymond MacCallum  Senior Counsel, Human Rights Law Section, Department of Justice
Sarah Cosgrove  Manager, Legislative Advice Section, Department of the Environment

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

The meeting will resume in public.

Mr. Bigras.

9:15 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

It seems to me we agreed at the last committee meeting to ask the Department of Justice to come and make a presentation to us to provide answers to the questions raised by the industry before we proceed with the clause-by-clause consideration. I saw there were some witnesses on the agenda. Does that mean that the Department of Justice officials will be testifying this morning before we proceed with the clause-by-clause consideration?

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Acting Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

That's my understanding of the matter.

We will now hear from Renée Caron, Sarah Cosgrove, Linda Tingley and Raymond MacCallum. Mr. MacCallum is from the Department of Justice, Ms. Caron, Ms. Tingley and Ms. Cosgrove from the Department of the Environment.

You are aware that we have invited you first to inform us about certain reservations, certain demands that the marine industry made last Thursday when some of its officials appeared. You know that we've invited you to clarify their concerns. I imagine you've prepared evidence or that you have a few words to say to us before we move on to questions.

9:15 a.m.

Renée Caron Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Mr. Chairman, we haven't prepared a presentation, but we are ready to answer all the questions committee members may have.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

We'll start with Mr. McGuinty.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning, everyone, ladies and gentlemen.

May I ask, first of all, have you read the transcripts of the last meeting?

9:15 a.m.

Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Renée Caron

Yes, we have.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Okay. Have you synthesized through those transcripts and distilled down from those transcripts, either through questions from us or from the witnesses, the salient points we'd like you to address?

9:15 a.m.

Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Renée Caron

We certainly have studied that testimony, Mr. Chairman, and we hope we would be able to answer the questions that the members may have.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

I see my colleague Monsieur Bigras exhibiting some concern.

We're hoping you're here to address the particulars of the issues raised by the last set of witnesses. We need some guidance here from you as experts. As independent and objective public servants, we need your help in navigating through this. There are different positions that have been put forward to the committee, to Canadians, and to us. We are not the experts, so we're hoping that you have had an opportunity to distill the fundamental questions that have been raised by the shipowners and other parties in the last meeting, and that you are here in a position to provide us with some guidance and some answers about the merits of their concerns and how we ought to proceed, so as parliamentarians and legislators we can make this bill better.

Are we ready to go? I can go into tough questions, but I'm hoping you're in a position in the half hour to help us understand how we ought to proceed.

9:15 a.m.

Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Renée Caron

Yes, Mr. Chairman, Environment Canada can give a little bit more information to the committee regarding the consultations that were done in relation to the bill. That point was raised. Another key point that was raised, I believe, regarded the impact that the bill might or might not have regarding the economic viability of the shipping industry, in a general sense, but also in relation to their ability to recruit seafarers. We also can address—

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Mr. Woodworth.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

I'm just trying to understand the questions.

I received a letter dated May 4 to Mr. Bezan, the chair, from Cynthia Wright, the acting assistant deputy minister, which attached some detailed responses from the ministry to the issues that were raised by the shipping industry. As a matter of a point of order, I just wanted to be sure that has been given to all of the members, because it seems to me to be the starting point for our discussions this morning.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Your point is noted.

Mr. Bigras.

9:20 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

I understand what Mr. Woodworth is telling us. However, there was an agreement at the last committee meeting that Department of Justice officials would appear. We've received an explanatory letter from the department, just as certain witnesses who appear before our committee file briefs. That doesn't prevent us from asking witnesses questions. It's not because the department has submitted an explanatory letter that Mr. McGuinty can't ask a number of questions.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

I'd have to agree.

We'll continue. Mr. McGuinty will continue asking his questions.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

I agree with Mr. Woodworth, except that the letter sent to the chair was delivered to me seven minutes ago. It might have been distributed by e-mail, but this is the first time we've seen it, so no one has been in a position to actually look at the detailed answers provided by Ms. Wright.

So you're on a good track, Madame Caron. You were just breaking it down for us, so maybe you could help us work through it. There were a number of particular legal issues that my colleague Mr. Woodworth and I and others raised, and we're hoping you're in a position to give us some clarity on how to strike the appropriate balance here.

9:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Renée Caron

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The third point that Environment Canada could speak on, again with some support from our colleagues at Justice, would be the impacts, if any, of the bill with regard to the civil liability convention and the Marine Liability Act regime. Of course there are the legal issues, and we would turn that over to the Department of Justice to be able to speak to the question of strict liability and imprisonment in particular.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Could you also address in your legal comments, if you can, quickly, not just the strict liability and imprisonment but also the question of conflict of laws between domestic and international? That was raised repeatedly by all sides of this committee, what impact it will have, and I recall a witness, whose name escapes me, Mr. Chair, who sat over there where Ms. Cosgrove is, the lawyer from the Maritime Law—

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Mr. Giaschi.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Giaschi repeatedly raised questions in his answers about the question of conflict here. And then there were a number of questions raised about the constitutionality.

If someone can start and maybe walk us through that, that would be very helpful.

9:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Renée Caron

Mr. Chairman, would you like us to start with the Environment Canada issues or the Department of Justice legal issues?

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

It doesn't matter to me. What does Mr. McGuinty want?

9:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Legislative Governance, Department of the Environment

Renée Caron

In relation to the issue of consultation, Environment Canada proceeded with the usual practice through the development of Bill C-16, and that included the protection of cabinet confidence. During the development of the bill, Environment Canada did consult internally with other affected government departments, including extensive consultations with Transport Canada. These consultations with Transport Canada were at both formal and informal working levels, and these definitely informed the development of the bill.

Also per the usual process, the provisions of the bill were fully vetted by the Department of Justice all the way through the bill's development to ensure that it was consistent with the charter and with the Constitution.

The day after the bill was tabled, on March 5, Environment Canada did send out a notice to a long list of stakeholders affected by the bill, covering many different industries. This included several in the shipping industry, notably the Shipping Federation of Canada, the Canadian Shipowners Association, and the Canadian Maritime Law Association. We opened the lines of communication with stakeholders as soon as possible after the bill was tabled. Representatives of the shipping industry did provide valuable input during the process following the March 5 notice that was sent, and the government wishes to address a number of unintended errors in the bill that were identified. Accordingly, eight draft government motions, which relate to the shipping industry's concerns, have been brought forward, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with the shipping industry as we hope to move forward with the implementation of Bill C-16.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Thank you.

Do you have another issue to address?