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Evidence of meeting #70 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was clauses.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Gordon Boissonneault  Senior Advisor, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Demand and Labour Analysis, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Sue Foster  Acting Director General, Policy, Appeals and Quality, Service Canada
Margaret Strysio  Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency
Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
Michael Zigayer  Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
Garry Jay  Chief Superintendent, Acting Director General, HR Workforce Programs and Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Jeff Hutcheson  Director, HQ Programs and Financial Advisory Services, Coporate Management and Comptrollership, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Darryl Hirsch  Senior Policy Analyst, Intelligence Policy and Coordination, Department of Public Safety
Ian Wright  Executive Advisor, Financial Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Nigel Harrison  Manager, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
David Lee  Director, Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization, Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Department of Health
Anthony Giles  Director General, Strategic Policy, Analysis and Workplace Information Directorate, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Bruno Rodrigue  Chief, Income Security, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Gerard Peets  Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Department of Industry
Suzanne Brisebois  Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada
Louise Laflamme  Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport
Judith Buchanan  Acting Senior Manager, Labour Standards Operations, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
Mark Hodgson  Senior Policy Analyst, Labour Markets, Employment and Learning, Department of Finance
Stephen Johnson  Director General, Evaluation Directorate, Strategic Policy and Research Branch, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
James McNamee  Deputy Director, Horizontal Immigration Policy Division, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Graham Barr  Director General, Transition Planning and Coordination, Shared Services Canada

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Thank you, Chair.

We just heard from witnesses about this last week. I think what the witnesses said is fresh in our minds. Plus we've also been through it with the department earlier on, a couple of weeks ago. I don't need to speak to this anymore. I think we should just go to the question.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

Mr. Brison.

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Chair, there's a real concern and question hanging over this. We've heard from witnesses warning us that this measure is unconstitutional. We've also received a written submission from the Canadian Bar Association, which stated:

The right to an in-person hearing before the Board is critical to the integrity and transparency of the parole process....

In our view, the proposed amendment will violate s. 7 of the Charter, namely, that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” ... This cannot be demonstrably justified as a reasonable limit on a constitutional right.

Once again, Mr. Chair, that is from the Canadian Bar Association, warning us that what we're about to pass is in fact unconstitutional.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Brison.

Are there further comments?

Ms. Glover.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

I just need to add, in response to the statements made...let's not forget that the board will retain the authority to conduct a review hearing for decisions where warranted. So where there are complex cases or other reasons, that option still exists. But most importantly—and this goes against everything Mr. Brison just said—the offender retains the same rights to appeal a PBC decision to the PBC's appeal division. That right still remains, so nothing is taken away from the Constitution or the charter, because there are still provisions allowing that appeal.

Am I correct in saying that, Madame Brisebois?

June 5th, 2012 / 8:20 p.m.

Suzanne Brisebois Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada

Yes, you're correct.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Thank you.

That's it.

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

(Clauses 526 to 530 inclusive agreed to on division)

Thank you, madam.

We will go then to division 38, which is clause 531, the Coasting Trade Act.

Ms. Nash, please.

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Yes. It is bizarre that the Coasting Trade Act is before the finance committee. It makes no sense, and yet here we are debating seismic surveys in coastal waters—which should not be before the finance committee.

We just heard recent testimony on this. This clause would allow foreign or non-duty-paid seismic vessels to perform seismic activities on Canada's continental shelf without obtaining a coastal trade licence. These tests are conducted for oil exploration. We believe that government review and assessment of these activities is important.

We heard from Mr. Len Zedel, a scientist, who said “fish catch rates have been noted to decrease in response to seismic surveys”. He said “The intention of the present legislation”, this bill, “is to provide easier access for oil companies to seismic survey vessels, but if it has the desired effect, the concern is that you'll have more seismic survey operations” and consequently “significantly more environmental impact”. He said it was the “cumulative” effect of these seismic surveys that he's concerned about. He believes there could also be impacts on the fishing industry, for obvious reasons, if fish are affected by the surveys.

So one could argue for greater control over the industry rather than less, to constrain and manage the impact—the industry meaning the seismic survey.

We also heard from Professor Richard Steiner, who said:

We know that impacts can go out to 50 or 60 kilometres on certain species...and the effects can be quite profound, particularly with continuous sound pulses over a long period of time.

Professor Steiner said that Canadian standards for seismic mitigation should be better, and that the Canadian and U.S. governments should “develop a bilateral agreement to make seismic mitigation and monitoring consistent across our borders”.

The reason I'm quoting extensively from these scientists is that this is an issue that should have more study. Again, it's not properly before the finance committee. We believe it should be sent to the appropriate committee and be properly studied.

So we're not going to be supporting it.

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Ms. Nash.

I'll go to Mr. Van Kesteren, please.

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Ms. Nash is right. We did have some excellent testimony in this regard on the Coasting Trade Act, and she is right that there was some testimony in regard to the sound and the impact of that. However, this act deals with something quite different, and that is the ability for vessels other than Canadian vessels to conduct tests. The testimony I heard—and I think the government side would agree with this too—is that although there are challenges, those challenges are being met. Those challenges are worldwide. The issue here is whether or not we will allow vessels other than those licensed in Canada only to do seismic testing.

I was looking for my notes, but if my memory serves me correctly, there's a very small number of vessels that currently are able to do this research. This would expand that and give our oil extraction companies a better opportunity to compete. This, of course, we know, is very important to places like Newfoundland and the other Atlantic provinces, for gas and oil exploration, and as such this is very important for the economy.

As I said, the testimony that I heard... Those two individuals who testified on the effects of sonar charging recognized, as do most people in the world, that there are effects, but we are working towards those things. The issue here again is the oil extraction and the need for other vessels to be able to do that.

I would further say, as a last point, that currently there are but two countries that limit seismic surveying to those ships that are licensed by their specific nations, Canada and Nigeria. Every other nation allows for other ships to come in, so we're just following that pattern.

Thank you, Chair.

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Van Kesteren.

I want to ask our officials a brief question to follow up on these two sets of comments.

Professor Steiner had some very good testimony. He recommended that if we allow obviously foreign vessels into Canadian waters or off the shore of Canada, we ensure that Canadian laws and regulations apply to the ships in these waters.

Can one or both of you comment?

8:25 p.m.

Louise Laflamme Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport

In the case of programs that are under the offshore boards of Canada, yes, they have existing regulations that control emissions from seismic vessels. There are also other standards and practices applicable to other vessels, including those that are not part of the offshore board programs for offshore development. Speculative seismic activity and non-speculative seismic activity are covered under existing regulations.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

They're both covered under existing regulations.

8:30 p.m.

Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

That will not change, obviously, if a vessel is not Canadian.

8:30 p.m.

Chief, Marine Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Transport

Louise Laflamme

Nothing with respect to environmental or safety regulations changes.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I appreciate that clarification very much.

(Clause 531 agreed to on division)

We'll thank our two officials for that.

We'll then go to division 39, which is clauses 532 to 577.

I have an amendment for clause 538. I'll have Ms. Nash speak to the division generally.

8:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

We heard testimony on this. The testimony told us that this was not a major change taking place, because the special labour relations board did not hear many cases, so it was being folded into the CIRB.

The idea was raised, and we think it's important, that there not be a loss of expertise previously provided by the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal when cases are heard in the arts sector at the CIRB.

In response to a question, I believe the officials said this expertise would be made available. The information and jurisprudence would be transferred. But there's nothing explicitly on that in the bill. That's why we're proposing this change.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you for your comments.

Are there any further comments?

We'll have Mr. Adler, please.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I want to say that the tribunal over the last five years has really seen a decline in its activity. In fact, since 2006, it's averaged a little over one application per year, with a sitting time of roughly one day per year.

In the spirit of efficiency and cost savings for the taxpayers, the government is proposing to transfer the functions of CAPPRT to the CIRB.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Adler.

(Clauses 532 to 537 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 538)

I will ask Ms. Nash to move NDP-46.

8:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

I move NDP-46.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

That amendment is admissible.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clauses 538 to 577 inclusive agreed to on division)

We'll go to division 40, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act, clauses 578 to 594.

I don't have any amendments here, but I have discussion.

We'll have Monsieur Mai, and then Mr. Brison.

8:30 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Division 40 provides for the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the repeal of its founding legislation.

We must not forget that the round table plays the role of catalyst in defining, interpreting and promoting sustainable development principles and practice. One of the round table's roles is to conduct research and gather data from analyses on key issues related to sustainable development. Another one of its roles is to provide governments with advice on how to integrate environmental and economic considerations into their decision-making process.

The objective of the round table is truly to maintain a balance among the economy, development and the environment. In this case, we are all perfectly aware of the government's position. Legislation is being appealed and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is being eliminated. This is a direct attack. In practice, they are saying that it is not important to obtain data or advice, or to determine what the environmental impacts are. They are opting for more ideological processes.

That is why the NDP is introducing an opposition motion in the House today. We are doing this specifically to stop the Conservatives from muzzling scientists and researchers. By setting aside all scientific analyses, the government is making more ideological decisions, often directed by lobbies. I think this is really appalling. There is not much more I can say about this, except that the government's decision in this matter is clearly unacceptable.

We have heard officials—even from the other side—say that they would hold discussions with environmental groups and listen to what they had to say about this. In order words, they would look for information elsewhere. However, we can see now that the Minister of the Environment is accusing environmental groups of money laundering and calling them radicals. Yesterday, a number of environmental groups and human rights organizations, along with thousands of individuals, gathered for a boycott. They wanted to show that, with Bill C-38, the government was going too far and taking away environmental groups' freedom of expression. We see that the same issue comes up in other parts of the budget, including those that concern charity organizations.

So we will vote against that part.