Evidence of meeting #38 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendment.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Vincent Ngan  Director General, Horizontal Policy, Engagement and Coordination, Department of the Environment
John Moffet  Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection Branch, Department of the Environment
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Angela Crandall
Émilie Thivierge  Legislative Clerk

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

I call this meeting to order.

Before we pick up where we left off, I just have a couple of very quick items to deal with.

At the last meeting, Ms. May raised a point about whether the motion that allows independent members to present amendments would allow her to speak to a motion of an independent member that is deemed inadmissible, and I said I would get that to her and members of the committee. I read the motion closely and discussed it with the legislative clerk. I don't have that interpretation and I'll mention why.

If you look at the motion, in part (b) about amendments from independent members, it says they “shall be deemed to be proposed during the said consideration”, so I take that to mean during the process and following the process that every member is part of.

I don't see it as being that the minute that the amendment is sent into the clerk, the independent member can speak to it even if it's inadmissible. Also, it doesn't make sense to me because that would mean that all members would be able to speak to their inadmissible motions.

June 7th, 2021 / 3:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I have a point of order. I would prefer it, Mr. Chair, if you describe my role accurately. The motion says, independent or members of non-recognized parties.

I am not an independent member of Parliament.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

I apologize. I should have said—

3:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I am a Green Party member of Parliament.

I had thought, Mr. Chair, that the third part of the motion is quite affirmative that each member is allowed to speak.

I understand your ruling. I'm not challenging you, and I know we are rather pressed for time, but in previous committees at which I have been appearing since this motion was first brought forward under the fiction that each committee chose to draft a motion that was identical to everyone else's motion, I've been allowed to speak to each of my amendments deemed to have been put forward.

I don't mean to trespass on your time any further if you want to finish what you were going to say, Mr. Chair.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

It says here that, during clause-by-clause, “the Chair shall allow a member who filed suggested amendments...an opportunity to make brief representations” as well. There's been no time limit really imposed on anyone, including the member from the Green Party, and the member from the Green Party makes substantive comments and is not filibustering the committee, so there's no need for enforcing the idea of brevity.

I guess, Ms. May, that means that when you do get the floor on an amendment that's admissible, there's nothing stopping you from referring back to an amendment that was inadmissible.

Anyway, I just wanted to get back to you on this. I did take it seriously and discussed it with the legislative clerk.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, I just wanted to briefly comment on this.

I've already raised many of the points specific to the amendments that Ms. May placed earlier, which you ruled inadmissible, so I won't go to that. I will talk about the future process.

As MP May referenced, she has gone to other committees and had different experiences. I don't want to undermine anyone's credibility, whether it be yourself or the law clerk, because I do believe that we're all trying to work together in good faith. One thing I would consider, Mr. Chair, is that I know there is a committee of all the chairs of committees, and this is something that perhaps you might want to bring three, because to have inconsistent rulings where you're making a judgment call and someone else is making a judgment call....

Perhaps the different House leaders who make these motions, compelling independent or non-recognized party members such as MP May to come to this process only to find out that she's not even able to speak in favour of it or to challenge a position.... To me, it's a principle of natural justice that if a ruling is given against your amendment, you would be able to speak to it.

Just for the sake of consistency, I would encourage you, Mr. Chair, to perhaps discuss this with other chairs and perhaps discuss it with the different House leaders, so that if a motion does come forward again perhaps there can be some clarity as to the admissibility or the ability of an independent or a non-recognized party member to be able to speak to it.

I believe that fundamentally we should be able to make reference to it, and it shouldn't be up to a member to make arguments on behalf of another member's rights. Those rights and privileges are something that we all should be looking out for in these kinds of cases.

I would ask you, Mr. Chair, just in the spirit of trying to make for a better process next time, to take this to your fellow chairs and discuss it perhaps with your—

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

I'll take it under advisement.

The other item is regarding an error in the French version of amendment G-8. The Senate picked this up in the prestudy.

The phrase is, in French, pris en compte, with no “e” on pris. We adopted prises, which is grammatically incorrect. I assume there is unanimous consent to revert to pris, instead of prises. As I say, it's a technicality.

Mr. Albas.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, before you seek unanimous consent, although I imagine you can ask for someone to do that, one of the things that I and other Conservative members have been arguing, and quite frankly, that I've also heard from MP May, is that this process has been rather—what's the word I'm looking for?—compressed. There has not been sufficient time to review and have proper discussion about these things.

Rather than have someone ask for unanimous consent and for us to deny it, right now, I'm a person who believes in good governance, but I also think there is a principle here. The Liberal members have been jamming and basically opposing any other amendments. The process, in this case, hasn't been clean. This is just another example of having to bend over backwards and to ask things that are outside the usual process because things were not followed.

Rather than asking for unanimous consent and us just saying no, I ask you to maybe leave it with us for a bit. My understanding is that we have a very long session today. Perhaps we can deal with it after we have a break, so that I can speak with my other members to see if they want to allow that.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

That is fine with me, after we have our break. I would find it very unusual if the Conservative Party opposed taking “es” from the French version and making it grammatically correct, but....

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Chair, on that point, it is the right of every parliamentarian to express—

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Yes, it is.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

—opposition or to allow a process to go forward.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Of course it is.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

If you would like to make that a political argument, I would say that would probably not be the position of the chair to be making, but I do want this committee to work well. Therefore, if you wouldn't mind following that process, we'll have that discussion.

I will say that Conservatives here have raised a number of concerns about this process. Again, whether it be having to bend over backwards to allow Mr. Bachrach's change for nine years and 366 days, because they voted down MP May's similar amendment, there have been issues here where the government seems to think it can get what it wants when it wants it, despite the usual rules and process. Therefore, I appreciate that.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

You will be conferring with your members to see if we can—

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Yes, Mr. Chair. I would appreciate that. That's a big courtesy.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Then we'll come back after the break and find out what the answer is.

Now we can continue. The floor is back to....

Yes, Mr. Bittle.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

I want to respond to that very quickly.

It's ironic that Mr. Albas is saying that this matter has been compressed. This is a very short bill, yet we are many hours into this process and the Conservatives are slow-walking this bill. Having originally supported it, now they're against it. Maybe they'll support it yet again. We don't know. They're going to consult.

They're even dragging on an issue of whether to correct the French language in this bill on a minor point. To say that this is compressed is interesting, given the amount of time, including the amount of time that Mr. Albas has spent already in this meeting on a couple of very minor points.

It's interesting. It's ironic. I will stop.

In the past, I know that the members of this party have asked for unanimous consent to change a vote because they perhaps weren't paying attention. That's acceptable from the rest of the House, but it's denied in these particular cases for Mr. Albas if it will delay this process even more. It's rather unfortunate. I want to point that out. Thank you.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Okay. Now we will resume—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

No, Mr. Chair. I'd like to respond to that, please.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

Okay.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Look, when we have a vote in the House of Commons and someone incorrectly hits yea or nay when they were supposed to vote for the opposite and then begs for the House to allow them to change it—because that's the process that's been laid out—that cuts both ways. That's applicable to all parties. That's to make sure that those members of Parliament can actually represent their constituents properly and have their vote accounted for. In a minority Parliament, I would hope that all members would realize that this is a fair process.

When it comes to raising concerns around the process, we had 72 briefs—plus—that came in afterwards. Through no fault of the legislative clerk, these things had to be translated so that all members, regardless of their language, would be able to read them in their preferred official language.

That was compromised because, Mr. Chair, we ended up having to submit amendments. Like all parties, we submitted our work, and the fact—

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ya'ara Saks Liberal York Centre, ON

I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

We're entering into the field of debate. It's really not the time or the place for this. We really do need to get to work on the process of getting through this bill. I really don't feel it is the time for this.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia

We agreed you'd come back....

Mr. Albas, you had the floor anyway.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

I have one final point I'd like to make, Mr. Chair, because Mr. Bittle did throw these barbs at Conservative members.

I would just say that if the government cannot write proper English and French in its amendments to its own bill, they have larger problems than people like me.

(On clause 14)