Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the third party amendment to clause 60 of Bill C-7.
I agree with the hon. member the bill is a complex and at times controversial bill. All parties were eventually unanimous in the substantive changes and amendments to the bill that improve the bill a great deal.
However I speak to the specific amendment of the hon. member to clause 60 that would read:
"portion of an item, after the governor in council has consulted with those persons who will be directly affected by the amendment".
The purpose of the amendment is to get the governor in council to consult with those who would be directly affected by a change in schedule made by the governor in council.
There is already in place a democratic process within the machinery of government that answers the particular concern the hon. member for Macleod brought forward. Government is required to consult with those who will be affected by the proposal and the public at large before making any changes.
The only exception to this requirement is where public safety is concerned and where on an urgent and emergency basis one needs to make a change to the schedule within 24 hours. Even then there
is a process wherein an emergency scheduling provision in the interests of safety of the public would allow it to happen.
Turning to the broader process the member is speaking about, the process provides for the machinery of government. Government is required to prepublish for a minimum period of 30 days in The Canada Gazette , part I, any proposal to change scheduling. The prepublication period may vary, depending on the nature of the proposal.
For example, if the proposal was to have international implications and would therefore have impact on GATT, there is an agreement in GATT that there would be a minimum of 75 days of prepublication to allow other countries to respond.
Not only would interested parties respond if this were done a national level. Any citizen at all could provide comments or suggestions about the content of the proposal and about their concerns on the proposal. Then the government is obliged to report to the governor in council on those consultations, the feedback or input from parties directly affected, from concerned citizens or from the public at large. Also it is to report on the proposed remedies to be brought forth to address concerns. If this amendment represents a major shift in the original proposal, and if the concerned parties that have had input want another shift, there is a requirement to prepublish once again to discuss the new shift.
All the bells, whistles and hoops have been jumped through in the process already so I fail to see what the hon. member's amendment would do to improve the process in any way, shape or form. It is already public. It is already open to disclosure. If disclosure requires change there is a requirement for further disclosure and for a further period of 30 days to discuss it. As I said before, internationally there is a requirement to prepublish for 75 days.
There is a fail safe mechanism already there to answer the hon. member's concerns about the issue.