House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.


Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Dartmouth, Social Programs.

We will resume debate. When I suspended the House the hon. member for Saint-Jean had the floor.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, just now, my hon. colleague from Elk Island was saying that an entire year went by before he could finish his speech. I probably hold the record for having my speech interrupted five or ten minutes by a fire alarm. That is always fun.

I do not know if my subject was too hot, but I was explaining the importance of the various levels of government and talking about the power of the media. I do not think that lobbyists will convince journalists because, given their ethics and their code of conduct, they cannot do this.

The role of these famous lobbyists is known, but some facts are needed to understand how they proceed. The fact that Bill C-15 has come back to the House with amendments from the Senate shows that it took some effort. However, over the years, these people have wielded undeniable power. Clearly, those earning $300,000 or $400,000 per year to lobby must provide results and their employers must ensure that they benefit from this.

This has somewhat distorted the democratic process in the House of Commons. This happens elsewhere too, probably in other Parliaments around the world.

Now, we could talk about lobbyists forever, but also about political party financing, which is also a major problem. Those who contribute the most to federal parties' campaign funds are probably the ones best able to hire the most competent and most expensive lobbyists. That is where the problem lies.

For example, it is not surprising to see, when it comes to bills that interest the ten biggest contributors to the Liberal Party, a certain number of lobbyists are involved, trying to win the government over. If the bill seeks a reform that goes against the interests of these donors, the lobbyists try to convince the government to change its approach and protect the company for which they work.

Naturally, this creates a number of distortions. I think that the average citizen does not have the same power as the President of Bell Canada or the lobbyist hired by Bell Canada. This, to some extent, circumvents the democratic workings of Parliament, both with regard to the executive branch, where the ministers and the Prime Minister can be subject to pressure or have meetings with lobbyists, and with regard to backbenchers like us. Obviously, we are sometimes solicited by lobbyists.

Sometimes people talk about getting together for a meal but nothing ever comes of it. However, lobbyists often take it one step further and say, “When you organize a cocktail party, would you like us to help?” One thing leads to another and if they are not careful, people get caught in situations that are not democratic in our society and they empower lobbyists.

We were disappointed by this bill. We will support the bill, as amended by the Senate, but our problem is that Bill C-15, as a whole, does not suit us.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, we put forward many amendments that were defeated. Among other things, there is the obligation to disclose meetings with officials and ministers. There are officials such as deputy ministers or senior officials, who can become victims of lobbyists. When I say victim, I mean they can become influenced by these individuals and become convinced that such and such a bill or policy could be detrimental.

If they were required to disclose the names of ministers they meet with or the fact that they met with the Prime Minister, this would give us a primary indication of the people who rub shoulders with ministers, the Prime Minister or senior officials in a department. This could alert us to what is going on and allow us to better control the situation. The amendments we put forward to address this were defeated.

As far as disclosing the amounts devoted to lobbying, everyone listening will understand that a $4,000 lobby campaign is not the same as a $400,000 one. The latter will be far more intensive. Moreover, in the bill this is referred to as the intensity of the lobby—that is what we called it.

It is certain that, if a lobbyist is paid $400,000 a year and has a $4 million budget at his disposal for a campaign—and this is a plausible figure because there are some among the top 10 contributors to the Liberal Party who can afford that—understandably, the lobbying can be intense.

The higher the figure, the more the lobbyist is paid, the more it is felt that there will be pressures on the government, departmental officials, ministers, the Prime Minister or MPs, in order to sell their idea, block a reform, or change it in such as way that it will not affect the organization for which he works.

This is, therefore, an important point for us, and the reason we introduced our amendments.

As far as disclosure of the amounts is concerned, this too was turned down. Another point that could be addressed—and which I touched upon here—is lobbyists' fees. There are often differences. Lobbyists can be consultants or paid lobbyists. Some have an annual salary. Understandably, if one person earns $40,000 and another $400,000, this affects the intensity of the promotion campaign or lobbying that is carried out. Once again, this has been dropped from the bill. It is not there.

Then there are the fees with strings attached, about which there have been scandals. We had the sponsorship scandal in which certain companies could get back a percentage of what was going to be charged to the government. This too was turned down. It is not in the bill.

As for the disclosure by lobbyists of their positions, it is also important to know which person on a list of lobbyists has held a high-level position in the federal administration. These are, unfortunately, all things that were left out of the bill. Today we find ourselves dealing with a totally wishy-washy bill that does not provide what is needed to protect society. This is most unfortunate.

I had examples, like the sponsorship scandal I just mentioned. There is also another aspect. I am the defence critic for my party, and hon. members should see all the lobbying going on for the replacement of the Sea Kings. There are many lobbyists representing various companies. Four big consortiums have submitted proposals to the government. Members should see what these lobbyists are focusing on. Even if I am only a backbencher, I often meet with these people, and they tell me, “You know, our approach is the best. Our proposal is the best overall”. All these people are moving in our circles and the ministers' circles.

Another example is strategic air transport. The government indicated it needs aircraft to transport troops to any theatre of operations around the world. So, the number of aircraft required is being considered. All major strategic air transport companies are consulting together and hiring people to meet with us, sometimes to appear before us and to convince us that Boeing or Airbus, for example, is the best option.

Lobbying causes a great deal of distortion. As I said earlier, it is unfortunate that the amendments we proposed were all defeated. Certainly, the amendment coming back from the Senate fosters a bit more transparency. It will ensure that people who have held senior management positions in government are required to provide some background. This will give a better idea of where they are coming from and probably where they are going as well. This is the kind of thing we would have liked to see expanded on in the bill. Unfortunately, it was not.

There are even lobbyists being hired by the Prime Minister now.

Earlier I mentioned the Sea King example. The Prime Minister's office hired a lobbyist to advise him on the matter. It was a lobbyist from Eurocopter, which provoked a great deal of mistrust among government officials because the individual was working in the Prime Minister's office. I do not know if he is still there because this goes back about two years ago now. This person worked for Eurocopter, one of the consortiums bidding on the Sea King contract two years ago, and he was brought into the Prime Minister's office.

Therefore, it is easy to understand all of the mystery surrounding lobbyists. How many are there? What do they do? How much are they paid? Whom do they meet? None of this is taken into account in the bill, and all of the amendments were rejected.

We do not take issue with the amending act from the Senate. It will add transparency; however, we would definitely have liked to see much more transparency.

I am pleased to have had this opportunity to express my views. I know I was interrupted by an alarm, but I feel that, like my colleague, the member for Elk Island, I was able to summarize my thoughts. I am now ready to answer questions from my colleagues.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to respond to something the member said early on in his speech before our little outdoor break. In his opening statements he commented on the Senate and said that it was his view that the Senate ought to be abolished.

Just to add a little light to the argument against that, I would like to point out to him that one of the big grievances that we have in the outlying areas of this country, whether it is Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic provinces or way out west where we come from, is that we are totally electorally overrun by the huge majority in Ontario and Quebec. We have a lot of respect for them and, yes, in this House we have representation by population, but the fact is that when there is an election 60% of the members of Parliament come from those two provinces.

We currently have 301 members and I believe 178 of them come from Ontario and Quebec. We think that if the Confederation is to work smoothly, and for those of us in the outlying regions being defined as outside of Ontario and Quebec, we need some way to balance that power, which is where a triple E Senate would come in. It would have an equal number of senators from each province, or at least from each region, and they would be elected to give them legitimacy. However right now bills cannot become law unless they pass both Houses.

We could even have some other rules engaged there. However if it is a good rule or a good law that is being proposed, I think the senators, who would represent all the provinces equally, would agree to those laws because they would be good for the country. If there were a deliberate attempt, as we have seen on numerous occasions, by the central Canada government to ride roughshod over those of us in the more distant regions, a triple E Senate would provide a good balance of power.

The reason we are promoting the continuation of the Senate is to improve it by making it equal and by making it elected so that it can actually do its work. We would still have population representation here in the House of Commons and Ontario and Quebec would continue, we expect, to dominate this place.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though I do not agree with the hon. member for Elk Island, I think he has made an interesting contribution to the debate. It is true that one could discuss the Senate at length, and whether or not it should be elected. For our part, we suggest abolishing it.

If he is looking for equity in votes and in the way power is exercised, we think it is not necessarily attainable through the Senate, since an elected Senate will cause other kinds of problems I would like to tell him about.

There would be a certain division and overlap of powers. I am a Bloc Quebecois member from the riding of Saint-Jean and if there were a senator who was not from my party—from any party at all, if he is not with the Bloc—he would always contradict me in some way: me, the elected member. He could neutralize some of my authority. Things are no better if you create constant dissension between the elected senator and the elected member for the riding.

If I were in his place, I would be working instead for proportional representation in the House of Commons. It is true that under our system the person with the most votes is elected. We have seen some situations, for example, such as in 1997 when the Progressive Conservative Party received more than 20% of the votes, but only had two members in the House of Commons. That is a problem.

I fully agree that people should be free to discuss the ways a vote coming from British Columbia could be equivalent to a vote coming from Ontario. It might be possible to do this with proportional representation, or in combination with another model; it could also follow the current model. The Canadian people could elect someone based on the proportion of votes received. There are many ways to do it. It is a debate that is going on in Quebec at present.

Still, to go from there to saying we could now elect the Senate, which would compete with the elected members of the House of Commons, I have a problem with that, although I am always ready to discuss it with my hon. colleague when the occasion arises.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to assure the House that of all MPs in the opposition, the member for Saint-Jean leads in his concern for transparency and accountability, and he has been active on that file in many ways. His very presence in the House on this debate on the amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act is an indication of his passionate desire to further legislation that calls for transparency, not just to make the Government of Canada operate more efficiently but to ensure that the Government of Canada leads the world in terms of transparency and accountability.

I think the member for Elk Island, the member for Saint-Jean and myself would agree that while Bill C-15 has brought in some improvements to the Lobbyists Registration Act, they fall far, far short of what could be done, and I think all three of us will continue to campaign to get the government to bring in better amendments.

I wanted to comment very briefly on the issue of the Senate and direct a question to the member for Saint-Jean on that issue. I certainly do not agree with abolishing the Senate. I have great reservations, as the member for Saint-Jean has, on having an elected body because if the Senate were an elected body, then it would greatly diminish the power and authority of the House of Commons and it would make it eminently more difficult to do business as Parliament. We would have to have a separately elected president as they have in the United States to have two elected houses if we were going to have a workable situation.

I ask the member for Saint-Jean, if he suggests that the Senate be abolished, why would we even be here debating today because the Senate has addressed an amendment, it has improved upon that amendment, an amendment by a backbench MP, and has returned it to the House. I would submit that the Senate has done a very fine job, at least in this instance.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot for seeking transparency; he is clearly concerned about this concept. The excellent work he has done with regard to access to information shows too that he is concerned about this issue.

Now, he is talking about the example before us today. Even if we recommend abolishing the Senate, it has not been abolished. There are currently two Houses, and the Upper House considers all the bills from the House of Commons. Sometimes, the Senate returns the bills with amendments, as is the case today.

If I say that we want to abolish the Senate, this raises another discussion about whether having two Houses is mandatory. Some countries have a second House, others do not.

I have faith in the elected representatives of the people. Those sitting in the House of Commons are elected, they are invested with electoral and democratic powers by the voters, who are responsible for putting us here. I think that if they have put their trust in us, we could, at the least, consider in full all of these bills, without submitting them to the consideration of a second House. We have sufficiently debated them in committees and elsewhere to make this kind of amendment.

There is no obligation, today, to adopt the Senate's amendment. The House could say that it does not consent and that would be the end of it. So, in terms of the second House, we are prepared to discuss the matter because, as things currently stand, senators are appointed by the Prime Minister, and as I was saying earlier, there are some one hundred lobbyists in the Upper House currently. Should it be desirable to get rid of some of them, it might be a good opportunity to say that we are abolishing the Senate. But I am interested in continuing this discussion with my hon. colleague on this matter.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec


Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I have heard what my colleague from Saint-Jean has said. In a way, he is not wrong, but even one of the greatest sovereignists in Quebec, Mr. Lebrun, has described the Canadian parliamentary system as the finest parliamentary system there is. Churchill said that, while not perfect, there was nothing better.

In all countries, be it France, England, the United States, Canada, any of the major countries, there is a second chamber. There is a reason for this. I was one of those who questioned senatorial appointments. I would likely prefer to see them elected rather than appointed, except that I do see the Senate as having a role to play. It is the one to balance things out for the regions, compared to the House.

Quebec can elect 75 members, and Ontario 101. For Prince Edward Island and the west, however, the situation is a bit different. Thus its role becomes more important, but the role of those who are in the Senate should be that of wise men and women. Perhaps there ought not to be any partisanship when senators are appointed; perhaps they would need to be appointed the same way judges are.

In this instance, I find that the amendment proposed by the Senate is justified. It is one, moreover, that had been raised by an Alliance MP at the time, and the Senate reworked it. The senators found a flaw and have proposed this amendment, which is totally in order today.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to persist with my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry on the purpose of the amendment before us because we support it. Nor do I want to engage in a big debate on the Senate either. I do not think that was the purpose of the amendment. However, I am still interested in continuing this discussion.

Currently, senators are appointed on a partisan basis by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister does not appoint many people who are not Liberals. At present, the equity that my colleague speaks of does not exist. There are 28 Progressive Conservative senators and the rest are all Liberals, except for a few independents.

I maintain my argument that the Senate should be abolished and that perhaps there should be a review of how to restore the balance of power with election to the House of Commons under a system of proportional representation.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to comment on the Lobbyists Registration Act and the amendment. It has been very interesting to listen to the comments by the members. I especially was interested in the comment by the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot who said that it would be better if the government brought forth better amendments. The very distinguished member for Saint John and I were just talking about these amendments. Right now we think perhaps there is another that could be made to the registration act, and that would be an amendment to include ministers.

I am sure the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot would support this amendment if we were to move it. Therefore we will talk about it right now and see where it goes. It ties in with another subject we have been talking about and that is the softwood lumber issue.

As we all know, the Minister for International Trade recently put on the table in Washington an offer with which hardly anyone in Canada agreed. We do not know where it came from and why the offer was put forth because we cannot identify who the minister was representing. He should be representing Canadians, the Canadian provinces and the softwood lumber association but we have a hard time finding out exactly from where this came.

Perhaps an amendment should be considered to ensure that ministers, if they were to lobby on behalf of a private sector or something like that, should have to register.

The minister talked about a Team Canada approach and working together with a unified program and everything, but we cannot find who he is representing. We would like to know who he represents. Perhaps this should come under an amendment to the Lobbyists Registration Act so ministers, if they did happen to represent someone else, should have to register.

The minister often stands up and says that they represent the regions. He has often said that they represent the Maritimes because it wants them to do certain things. However recently it became very clear that he did not represent the Maritimes. Four Atlantic provinces wrote a letter to him dated May 30, just days ago, about his proposal to drag Atlantic Canada into the quota system for softwood lumber. The four Atlantic premiers said:

Certain of Canada's actions have ignored the conditions specific to the region, and have thus been contrary to Atlantic Canadian interests

We would think that the minister would represent interests of all regions. Therefore we wonder who he is representing.

Then the premiers go on to say:

The most recent, and possibly most serious, of these actions is the unilateral offer made on May 23 by the Government of Canada to the United States. This offer includes Atlantic Canada with the rest of Canada in a two-year interim arrangement, where we would be restricted by a tariff rate quota.

We have never had tariff rate quotas and the four Atlantic premiers are saying that they do not agree with what the minister is doing.

We will explore this more. The minister is not obviously representing Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island because the premiers have all signed a letter to him just days ago saying, “Don't do this”.

Again, we do not know who the minister is representing. The letter goes on to say that this unilateral Canadian offer is unacceptable to both industry and government. Therefore the minister does not represent the industry in Atlantic Canada. We have to hone in on whom he is representing because we really do not know.

He has said in the media that he represents the Maritime Lumber Bureau and he is acting on its behalf. That is strange because the Maritime Lumber Bureau just wrote him a letter on May 29, just days ago, and sent a copy to all the Atlantic ministers and most of the MPs. This letter could not be clearer. It states, “We were excluded from the quota system and we must again be excluded from any attempt to allocate quota”.

This is diametrically opposite to what the minister is trying to do. He is trying to drag Atlantic Canada into the quota system. Therefore I guess he does not represent the Maritime Lumber Bureau. He said he did. He said that he was asked to work on behalf of the Maritime Lumber Bureau and speak on its behalf, but based on this letter from the Maritime Lumber Bureau, it appears that he does not represent it. Therefore we still have not found out who the minister represents in this case.

I just spoke to the Maritime Lumber Bureau in Fredericton at its annual meeting. The directors passed a motion authorizing the executive of the Maritime Lumber Bureau to take whatever action is necessary to prevent the government from going ahead with the offer that was tabled in Washington, for some strange reason on behalf of someone who we still have not found yet. A motion was tabled at the Maritime Lumber Bureau's annual general meeting which says that the executive is authorized to take whatever action is necessary, through liaison or action with members of Parliament, or just lobbying, or whatever the law allows. The directors of the Maritime Lumber Bureau are authorizing the executive to take legal action against the government to redress this situation where the government has put an offer on the table in Washington with which nobody in Atlantic Canada agrees.

If it is not Atlantic Canada, maybe he represents the people from Alberta. Amazingly enough to me, we have a copy of a letter that the Alberta Softwood Lumber Trade Council sent to the minister which says that the people in Alberta absolutely oppose this offer. They are against it completely, for different reasons than Atlantic Canada, but they are against this quota system which drags them into the system again. Again, the Minister for International Trade obviously is not representing the people of Alberta.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Who is he representing?

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

That is the thing. We do not know who he is representing. That is a good question. We do not know who he is representing. That is what we are trying to explore here and find out. If he is only representing a small number of companies, then perhaps he should be registered under the Lobbyists Registration Act, so that we know who he is representing. He does not represent the people of Atlantic Canada. He does not represent the governments of Atlantic Canada. He does not represent the people from Alberta.

Maybe he represents the people from British Columbia. But no, yesterday in the newspaper, the British Columbia minister of forests, Mike de Jong, said that B.C. wants no part of the proposed Canadian quota scheme aimed at resolving the softwood lumber trade war with the United States. Mr. de Jong said that he has told Ottawa that British Columbia is not interested in that deal, period. He went on to say that he will not support a new Canadian plan to resolve the lumber dispute if it involves a return to the quota system. He said that he has concerns not so much about what is being discussed at this stage, but about what it might lead to. The article went on and on. He said all kinds of things. There are a host of problems that emerge when trying to assign quotas based on historical quotas.

We have just gone through six of the ten provinces. I do not know what the other provinces are saying. They have not said yes or no, but strangely enough today, I asked the minister in question period if he would stand and name just one province that supports what he is doing. He said he has a team Canada approach, that he has wide support, that he is in consultation with all the provinces and all the industries and all the associations. I asked him to name just one. I asked him to name one province. I asked him to name one association. He did not name one.

Maybe it is the business community, but holy mackerel, here is a letter dated June 2 from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents 105,000 small and medium size businesses. The federation took the time to write to that very minister on June 2 to say that over 1,200 of its members operate businesses in the logging and forestry services and wood products businesses. Its members also totally oppose the offer that somehow was put on the table in Washington. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business took the time to write to say that it does not want to be part of that and the 1,200 businesses that it represents and the thousands and thousands of employees do not want the government to do this.

There is another thing and that is the way it evolved and the way it happened. At 4:30 on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 21, the Minister for International Trade met with representatives of the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland, and also representatives from the Maritime Lumber Bureau, for a briefing and an update on the negotiations. There was not a word about the offer which was dated the very next day, Thursday, May 22, which dragged everybody from across the country into the quota system and took away the exemption that Atlantic Canada has had for 17 years.

Not a word was said. On Wednesday afternoon they had a meeting and on Thursday, the minister, or the department, sprung this proposal on everybody. Before they did that, before they told anybody, they took it down to the U.S. Then on Saturday, the government called and told one industry in Atlantic Canada about this. That was the first word they had.

Just imagine how you would feel, Mr. Speaker, if you sat in this room thinking you were being treated fairly, having gone to all the trouble of coming here from Atlantic Canada to be briefed by the minister himself and not being told what the government was going to do the very next day. They were kept in the dark totally about what the government was going to do the next day.

The minister has also broken trust with the industry and the governments in Atlantic Canada. I cannot imagine why the government presented this proposal, which again drags Atlantic Canada into the quota system and takes away the exemption it has had for 17 years.

The Maritime Lumber Bureau spent millions of dollars and spent years negotiating this with the United States. They never have accepted a cent of government money. They did it all themselves. Yet the government has put this proposal on the table which takes away the 17 years of hard work and millions of dollars by the Atlantic Canadian industry, with no consultation, no input, no opportunity to object.

Again, I do not know who the minister is representing.Today the minister has been quoted in the newspapers. He is saying things that we cannot nail down. If we find out who he is representing, perhaps we should move an amendment and have him register under the Lobbyists Registration Act.

Today's Edmonton Journal quotes him as saying:

Our team Canada approach is very solid. We don't have to be in total agreement on every comma.

This is not about commas, and there is no agreement. He says that we have agreement, that our team Canada is very solid. Team Canada is completely split. He is going one way and six of the ten provinces are going exactly diametrically the opposite way. There is no team Canada. There is no unified approach. There is no agreement on this. In fact there is more disagreement by far than there is agreement.

If he is saying that he is representing team Canada, it just is not true. Again, we are still trying to find out whom he represents.

Then we come east. In an article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald he said:

The Maritime [Lumber] Bureau has also asked us to work on their behalf.

The Maritime Lumber Bureau said exactly the opposite. The Maritime Lumber Bureau said “We want the minister to do the opposite of what he is doing” and he stands in the House or says in the media that he is acting on behalf of the Maritime Lumber Bureau.

The Maritime Lumber Bureau said just a couple of days ago, on May 29, in a letter addressed to the minister “We were excluded from quota and we must again be excluded from any attempt to allocate quota”. But he, all by himself, or his department, went down to Washington and put on the table down there, without asking anybody, a proposal that drags everybody back into the quota system, exactly against the wishes of the Maritime Lumber Bureau.

We have to ask ourselves, where is the team he talks about? Where is the unified position? He talks about everybody being together and representing everybody, but I cannot find out whom he represents.

He does not represent the people in Nova Scotia. They have said so. He does not represent the people in New Brunswick, as the very distinguished member for Saint John has pointed out. He does not represent Prince Edward Island. He does not represent Newfoundland, as the very distinguished member for St. John's East pointed out to me a minute ago.

He does not represent any of the governments and he does not represent the industry. They have all said that they want to go in a different direction than the one the minister is going in. He does not represent Alberta. He does not represent British Columbia. Who does he represent?

The deal was written on May 22. It was given to the Americans on Friday, May 23. On the following Monday, I met with the minister to ask why he would do this. Why would they table such a proposal which sabotaged 17 years of work by the Maritime Lumber Bureau and the entire Atlantic industry? He said that it really was not a government proposal, that it was transmitted on behalf of the industry. I said that it was not the industries that I know of because they are totally opposed to this. He said that it was the five major companies. I think it was five; he either said five or six, I do not recall exactly. He said it was either the five or six major companies.

If he is not representing the people, if he is not representing the governments of the provinces, if he is not representing the softwood lumber industries, perhaps he should register under the Lobbyists Registration Act. Perhaps we should move that amendment.

Lobbyists Registration ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. I remind him that he still has five minutes for his speech and also will have a 10 minute question and comment period when the House resumes debate on Bill C-15.

It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from March 24 consideration of the motion that Bill C-205, an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act (disallowance procedure for statutory instruments), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I want to indicate that there has been extensive consultations involving all parties in the House. The member for Surrey Central will be making a motion at this time based on those consultations.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. There has been discussions with various members from all political parties. I table a document and I move:

That, the text of the said document be substituted for the text of Bill C-205; and that the bill, as amended, be reprinted; provided that the bill, as amended, retain its status and precedence; and that the motion standing on the Order Paper in relation to Bill C-205 be amended by substituting the name of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for that of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to adopt the motion?

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-205 is a little bit technical. Many members are asking me some questions about the bill since I am the sponsor of the bill. I ask for unanimous consent that my concluding remarks, which were originally for five minutes, be extended to approximately ten minutes.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent of the House for the request made by the hon. member for Surrey Central?

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-205 sponsored by my colleague from Surrey Central who has done a lot of work in this area. It fixes some essential procedures here in the House.

The member for Surrey Central has worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents and for the people of Canada to bring a greater degree of democratic accountability to the House of Commons. He has spent many long hours in the House and in various committees in the pursuit of parliamentary reform. This bill is a product of his experience and hard work as co-chair of the scrutiny of regulations committee. It should be given very careful consideration.

The purpose of the bill is to provide for a disallowance procedure for statutory instruments or delegated pieces of legislation which are more commonly known as regulations. Disallowance is one of the traditional means for a legislature to oversee the creation of regulations. A disallowance procedure would give parliamentarians an opportunity to reject a statutory instrument made by a delegate of Parliament.

It is significant to note that 20% of laws in Canada stem from legislation debated and passed by Parliament. The remaining 80% of laws are made up of regulations. As opposed to legislation, regulations receive virtually no debate in the House of Commons or Senate. There is no public input or study and there is no media scrutiny.

The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations carries out the only scrutiny, which is very limited, of regulations in Parliament. This committee, although generally misunderstood, is an essential watchdog protecting democracy, controlling bureaucracy, and holding the government to account. The committee does not judge regulations on the basis of policy matter, general merit or necessity. Its study of regulations is instead limited to the questions of validity and legality. Members follow uniform and clearly defined criteria in their examination.

When the joint committee agrees that a regulation should be revoked, it makes a report to the House of Commons containing a resolution to the effect that a regulation or part thereof should be revoked. Once that report is tabled in the House the applicable procedure will depend on a decision by the responsible minister. Unfortunately, the current disallowance procedure is seriously defective.

The procedure currently practised resulted from a recommendation of the special committee on reform of the House of Commons back in 1986. Before that time there was no general disallowance procedure in place at the federal level in Canada. The government of the day placed the disallowance procedure in the Standing Orders with the intention it would remain there on an experimental and temporary basis until such time as a decision could be made to its effectiveness. If successful, it was the intention of the government to implement a statutory procedure.

In the last 16 years we have seen the effectiveness of having a so-called temporary disallowance procedure, but still nothing has been done to give it a statutory footing. The current procedure, because it is contained in the Standing Orders, limits the possibility of disallowance to the statutory instruments that are made by the governor in council or by ministers of the Crown. As a result, the considerable body of delegated legislation created, for example, by the CRTC, the Canadian Transportation Agency or the National Energy Board is not subject to the disallowance procedure provided in the Standing Orders.

All members would agree that it is desirable that all statutory instruments subject to review by Parliament under the Statutory Instruments Act be subject to disallowance. There is no reason why a regulation made by the governor in council or a minister can be disallowed by Parliament while a regulation made by some other delegate of Parliament cannot.

Another defect of the current procedure is that it relies on the cooperation of the governor in council or the minister concerned to carry out a disallowance after the House of Commons has ordered it.

In itself, an order of the House of Commons cannot effect the revocation of a regulation. The authority that made a disallowed regulation must still formally intervene in order to revoke that regulation following the creation of a disallowance order. While the House could deal with the matter as one of contempt, there are no other legal sanctions or even consequences that arise from a failure to comply with the disallowance order. An order of the House of Commons that a particular regulation be revoked is not binding on the author of the regulation and cannot be enforced by a court.

Placing the disallowance procedure on a statutory footing, as this bill recommends, would remove the need for a regulation making authority to take subsequent action to give effect to an order of this House, thus eliminating the potential for conflict between Parliament and the executive. The procedure would also be made more efficient as there would no longer be a need for the House of Commons to address an order of the cabinet ordering the revocation of a statutory instrument. The legislation itself would now deem a disallowed instrument to be revoked by eliminating the need for further action by the governor in council, or the minister who adopted the disallowed instrument. Compliance with the disallowance decision would be improved by eliminating any possibility of a regulation making authority not complying with the disallowance order of the House.

By providing a clear legislative basis for the current disallowance procedure, Bill C-205 would, first, allow Parliament's authority to extend to all instruments, subject to review under the Statutory Instruments Act, instead of only those made by the governor in council or minister. Second, it would remove the necessity for additional action on the part of the regulation making authority in order to give effect to an order of the House that a regulation be revoked. This disallowance procedure is important to restore transparency and protect democracy in the House of Commons.

Bill C-205 reflects the all party consensus of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations on the need to strengthen parliamentary oversight of the hundreds of federal regulations made each year pursuant to legislative authority delegated by Parliament.

This private member's bill should appeal to all members of the House, regardless of partisan affiliations. Currently, the powers of the governing party, and particularly the executive, are sweeping. If members are to provide the necessary checks and balances, they must be accorded certain rights. Their views are crucial to the continued functioning of Parliament. Accepting these small changes to the scrutiny of regulations would be a significant first step in our efforts to make Parliament more responsive to Canadians. I urge all members in the House to give the bill very careful consideration and to pass it as soon as possible.

In conclusion, we on this side of the House are trying constantly to improve the democracy in this place by allowing MPs to be more effective in performing their duties here. One of the things that needs to be emphasized is that so much of what happens here concerns enabling legislation. We pass enabling legislation which then allows for a lot of regulations to be made. In effect, we are now saying that those regulations must be more carefully scrutinized. There must be a process, a mechanism, to ensure that those that are disallowed, those that are scrutinized, have the proper attention given to them.

I want to thank the member for Surrey Central for all the work he has done on Bill C-205. Many people listening to this may not be fully aware of the significance of the bill. Let me assure everyone listening that this is a very important step in improving democracy in the House. I again thank the member for bringing Bill C-205 forward. I look forward to everyone passing the bill.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill C-205, which is specifically designed to strengthen parliamentary control.

I take this opportunity to thank my colleague from Surrey Central for bringing this important question to the House for debate.

As a member of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, I obviously want, and it is my duty, to ensure that our rules are efficient and respectful of democracy.

It is important to point out that the purpose of the bill before us today is to provide a legislative basis for the disallowance procedure for statutory instruments by enshrining it in the Statutory Instruments Act. The current procedure set out in the Standing Orders of the House considerably limits our responsibility as parliamentarians to efficiently oversee delegated legislation.

Under Bill C-205, the disallowance procedure will now apply to all statutory instruments, which seems to me to be very important, given that it is currently limited to regulations made by the governor in council or by a minister of the Crown.

Many regulatory organizations, such as the CRTC or the Canadian Transportation Agency, escape our purview. If we want to extend the control we have over delegated legislation to all statutory instruments, it is imperative that it be provided for in an act, in addition to the Standing Orders of the House; all the more reason to pass this bill.

Many have been hesitant to have such organizations come under the control of Parliament, because of potential interference in organizations which are operating at arm's length to some extent. I do not think that it will prevent them from managing their affairs appropriately and in accordance with their mandates. On the contrary, I think that these organizations should be accountable, since they are publicly funded.

Our committee already reviews the bylaws of these organizations. It would therefore only make sense that we could repeal them. However, these organizations must not forget that they have regulatory power only because it was delegated to them by Parliament. We must never lose sight of the fact that the function of Parliament is to ensure the proper use of public funds and to legislate. It is normal, indeed essential, that Parliament have the right to oversee the use made of this delegated power and hold these organizations to account.

We vote on bills in the House, but we delegate the responsibility for regulating several aspects of these bills. These are aspects that can have a major impact on our constituents. Regulations can mean life or death for projects, individual rights or the economic survival of businesses.

When we consider the fact that the lion's share of the law that governs our society is contained in regulations, and not in the acts themselves, it becomes critical to ensure that regulatory power, this delegated power, is exercised in accordance with the purposes for which it was delegated and that the intent of the legislator has indeed been respected.

One specific aspect of this bill that caught my attention is the fact that after having voted in support of a resolution in the House, the text will be repealed within 30 days, whereas under existing procedure, it is simply an order of the House calling on the government to repeal the text in question.

The problem is that the government has discretionary power to decide when it will repeal a regulation and also to decide whether or not it will repeal it. There is no legal way of punishing the government for violating an order of the House.

Another aspect that also deserves our attention is the fact that prior to using a disallowance procedure, there are all kinds of exchanges, letters and even promises made by the government before it amends the regulation in question.

Years can go by from the moment a regulation is deemed to contradict the spirit of the legislation and the time the government finally decides to amend it.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations, which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage referred to during a previous debate, is a good example to illustrate that the government is not always quick to respond.

When the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations tabled a report recommending that certain articles of the regulations be repealed, more than seven full years had gone by from the time of the initial discussions with the government on the matter. That means that during this time, the government or the department or the organization continues to enforce the regulation illegally, which is an abuse of power. That is extremely dangerous in terms of democracy.

I believe that respect for our democratic institutions is extremely important. As it happens, I had the honour of being a guest speaker at the seminar on Parliament in the 21st century. I have also taken part in other events and published articles on democratic institutions and the importance of making changes that contribute to increasing the public's confidence in and satisfaction with their representatives.

One aspect that seems very serious and may have negative consequences for our democracy is the excessive concentration of power in the hands of executives. For instance, the governor in council and cabinet ministers have been given impressive regulatory power. But they hold this power directly from Parliament itself, and because of this, they must be accountable for the way they exercise this power. If the executive exercises its powers without respecting the spirit and the letter of enabling legislation, Parliament should have a legal means of intervening, and that is precisely the purpose of the bill before us.

Our system and our rules must be flexible enough to permit members to play their role to the fullest and to preserve in this place the rights and freedoms of those we represent. My fundamental belief is that members should have much more power within Parliament.

That brings us back to the very essence of our role as parliamentarians. We must never lose sight of our prerogatives, especially that of creating legislation. Of course, this is a complex task, and the very technical aspects of regulations and many other considerations make it necessary for us to delegate some of this power. But make no mistake, the supremacy of Parliament remains, as does our duty as parliamentarians to ensure it is respected.

Based on this principle, I fail to see why anyone would deprive us of the fundamental right to maintain control over this delegated legislation. No doubt Bill C-205 will be one step closer to the preservation of our parliamentary supremacy. The more democratic this control, the healthier our democracy will be.

We are pleased to give our support to Bill C-205.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to express my support for Bill C-205, an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act.

The bill introduced by the member for Surrey Central would provide a statutory basis for the current disallowance procedure and extend the application of that procedure to regulations made by persons or bodies other than the governor in council or ministers of the crown.

Bill C-205 is in keeping with a long-standing all party consensus of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations for the reform of the current disallowance procedure.

I would like to take a few minutes to deal with one particular feature of the bill. I refer to proposed subsection 19.1(10), which provides that a disallowed regulation is deemed to be repealed at the expiration of 30 days following the day on which the disallowance of the regulation was adopted by the House. It has been argued that this provision would create a situation in which the government would be deprived of the flexibility it needs to consider the implications of a disallowance ordered by the House.

A comparison between the procedure proposed in Bill C-205 and statutory disallowance procedures in other jurisdictions or with negative resolution procedures in existing federal statutes will show that the suspension of the effect of a disallowance for a full 30 days that is proposed in Bill C-205 is unique. In most other jurisdictions, as well as in federal statutes, a regulation is repealed immediately upon disallowance.

In light of these various precedents, including federal precedents, I would argue that in suspending the effect of a disallowance resolution for 30 days, Bill C-205 would provide for far greater flexibility than any other similar procedure. It is precisely in order to preserve the ability of the government to establish an appropriate alternative temporary regime where one is needed that Bill C-205 delays the effective date of revocation by 30 days. That provision strikes an appropriate balance between the need to have a disallowance procedure and the need to give a regulation making authority sufficient time to formulate an alternative course of action.

It is also of interest to note that the usual notice and comment period for proposed regulations following pre-publication in part 1 of the Canada Gazette is 30 days. If the government considers this a sufficient period of time for citizens to assess and comment on a proposed regulatory initiative often involving many pages of regulations, one wonders why a similar period, which is in addition to the minimum of three weeks provided before a resolution becomes an order of the House, would not be sufficient for civil servants to assess and react appropriately to the disallowance of a statutory instrument. Are members expected to believe that our public service is incapable of dealing with a proposed revocation within a period of 51 days while it is perfectly possible for their Australian or Quebec counterparts to do so within 21 days?

In her intervention, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage emphasized the argument that a statutory disallowance procedure would deprive the government of the flexibility needed to gauge the impact of revocation. Revocation might create a legal vacuum, it was said, and the government could find itself hard pressed to determine the alternative legal measures required to fill the legal vacuum.

Interestingly, the parliamentary secretary chose to illustrate her argument by referring to the disallowance of section 58 of the “Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Regulations” by the House on October 3, 2001. That particular case provides an excellent example of the approach taken by the joint committee with regard to disallowance.

First I would note that the disallowance of section 58 of the fresh fruit and vegetable regulations did not create a legal vacuum, and this was no accident. In electing to disallow section 58, which provided for cancellation of a registration, the joint committee deliberately left section 57 in place, knowing that this section would allow the suspension of any registration where an establishment was found to have contravened the applicable regulations.

The standing joint committee was very careful to propose the disallowance in such a way that the repeal of section 58 would not impair in any way the enforcement capability of those administering the regulations.

The government took a full eight months to comply with the disallowance order of the House, a delay that many would say is not acceptable. The decision to proceed with the amendment of other regulations at the same time as it complied with the disallowance of the House was a decision the government made. It was neither required nor inevitable.

Effective parliamentary scrutiny requires effective parliamentary control. At present there exists a gap between the two, and Bill C-205 is intended to bridge that gap by ensuring that all regulations are subject to oversight by the House of Commons. This can only be achieved by the means of legislation and this is what Bill C-205 is about.

There has been much talk lately of a democratic deficit. Full parliamentary control of delegated legislation, with such exceptions as are warranted, would significantly reduce that deficit. It is simply an anomaly for the House of Commons to have the authority to disallow a regulation important enough to be made by the governor in council or a minister, but to lack any authority with regard to a regulation made by secondary delegates such as the Canadian Transportation Agency or the CRTC. When they exercise regulation making powers, those entities are exercising a power that was given to them by the House and the House has a right to control the exercise of that power in appropriate circumstances.

I want to congratulate the hon. member for Surrey Central on Bill C-205 and I want to state that we support the bill.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

June 4th, 2003 / 5:55 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario


Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the bill today, which relates to the important responsibilities that parliamentarians have to oversee the exercise of the delegated law-making powers.

For the past 30 years these responsibilities have in large part been discharged by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. It has performed an invaluable service to the House and to the Canadian public in its review of statutory instruments made under acts of Parliament.

The committee examines thousands of statutory instruments each year and carefully notes any concerns they raise in terms of the committee's review criteria. These criteria focus on legal concerns rooted in the rule of law and the Canadian Constitution, particularly the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The committee carefully and diligently pursues its concerns and deals with the concerns of the authorities entrusted with that power to make regulations and other statutory instruments.

One of the ways of ensuring that its concerns are addressed is through the disallowance procedure in chapter XIV of the standing orders of the House. These procedures have worked well. The government has complied with all eight of the disallowance resolutions adopted by the House.

I fully support the principles of parliamentary scrutiny of regulations underlying Bill C-205, as well as the need to recognize the disallowance procedures in law.

However, as I noted during the last session in the debate on Bill C-202, it gives rise to a number of concerns. These concerns have to do with how disallowed regulations are to be revoked, particularly the timeframe for revocation and the challenges it might pose for the making of replacement regulations to fill gaps that may be left by this revocation. I also noted concerns about ensuring proper public notice of revocation and extending the disallowance procedures to statutory instruments made by non-ministerial bodies.

Finally, I drew the attention of the House to the absence of a role for the other place in the disallowance resolution.

Today we have before us a proposal to substitute another bill for Bill C-205. I am pleased to say that the new bill addresses the concerns that I previously mentioned.

I would like to point out that the government is committed to ensuring that parliamentarians have an effective role in overseeing the exercise of delegated legislative powers. Not only has it implemented the eight resolutions under the existing disallowance procedures in the standing orders, the government recently amended the cabinet directive on law making, which is available on the website of the Privy Council Office.

The amendment addresses the treatment of concerns raised by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. It establishes a series of requirements for government departments, which is extraordinarily important in the process of governance.

They are to have one or more designated persons to whom the standing joint committee may address its inquiries. All inquiries are to be coordinated by a departmental tracking office to facilitate timely responses to all correspondence from the committee. Each department is to establish appropriate timelines for responding to inquiries. If a time line cannot be met, the committee is to be advised of the need for an extension. If an inquiry involves a legal issue, the department's legal services unit is to be consulted. Each deputy minister is to receive a status report from their departmental tracking office on a regular basis. A copy of the status report is to be provided to the minister's office.

I believe that these procedures will go some distance toward improving the government's accountability to Parliament on regulation making.

These steps that have been taken clearly demonstrate the government's commitment to the principles underlying the parliamentary scrutiny of regulations. It is extraordinarily important and I urge the adoption of the bill.

Statutory Instruments ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to conclude the debate on Bill C-205, an act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act, or the disallowance procedure for statutory instruments.

Before I begin the debate I would like to take this opportunity to thank members from all five parties in the House who have contributed to the debate, particularly those members who have signed the supporting letter in support of the bill.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to the co-chair, the vice-chair, the general counsel and the very hard working staff of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

I would also like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice for his hard work and cooperation on this issue.

Regulations play a significant role in our lives, whether good or bad. Every day everyone is affected by statutory instruments, commonly called regulations.

As many of my colleagues already know, disallowance is one of the traditional means at the disposal of the legislature to control the making of delegated legislation by giving legislators an opportunity to reject a subordinate law made by a delegate of Parliament.

Variants of the disallowance procedure have been in existence in other Commonwealth jurisdictions for many years. The bill is intended to provide a legislative framework for a similar procedure at the federal level.

The bill would provide a legislative basis for the procedure that is currently set out in our standing orders and would extend the application of that procedure to regulations made by agencies or bodies other than the governor in council or ministers of the crown.

I might add that Bill C-205 is consistent with the recommendations made by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, which I co-chair, and many others, for the reform of the current disallowance procedure.

The Parliament of Canada is the source of all legislative authority that is delegated, not only to the governor in council and ministers, but also to various other regulation-making authorities, such as the CRTC and the Canadian Transportation Agency. When they exercise that delegated authority to make regulations, those entities are exercising a power that finds its source in the House of Commons and in Parliament. Parliament therefore has not only a right but a responsibility to control the exercise of those powers.

For well over 30 years now, regulations made pursuant to the enactments of Parliament have been subject to parliamentary oversight and scrutiny. The members and the staff of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations have painstakingly reviewed thousands of federal regulations.

However effective parliamentary scrutiny must be accompanied by effective parliamentary control. This was not always the case.

The gap was partly addressed in 1986 when the government of the day agreed to be bound by standing orders providing for a disallowance procedure. However, because of the non-legislative nature of our standing orders, the current procedure could only deal with a portion of the regulations subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

When the current procedure was first implemented, it was stated to be an experiment, and with its success leading to a statutory disallowance procedure. The experiment has been a success and this success justifies us in extending the scope of the disallowance procedure in order that parliamentary control coincides fully with parliamentary scrutiny. This can only be achieved by means of legislation, and this is what Bill C-205 is about.

The procedure set out in the bill has been endorsed by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. I am proud to recognize that Bill C-205 is really a work of the collective efforts of members of all parties in the House, particularly those who now sit on the scrutiny committee.

More than three decades after the enactment of the Statutory Instruments Act, I believe the time has come for the Parliament of Canada to give itself the means to ensure full democratic control of federal delegated legislation. If passed, the legislation will be a major historic milestone in restoring accountability and in democratic and parliamentary reforms.

By placing the current disallowance procedure on a statutory footing it will make it possible to close the gap between parliamentary scrutiny and parliamentary control. It will also ensure that the procedure is legally effective.

This legislative proposal has been carefully designed to allow parliamentarians to exercise their responsibility for the effective oversight of regulations, while providing the flexibility required by regulation-makers to respond appropriately to a disallowance.

I am happy to say that the concerns raised by some members earlier did not go to the principle of the bill but focused on some perceived practical difficulties with the bill as it stands now. These comments have been very useful, and I am pleased to report that the members of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations have had discussions as to how the bill might be improved. A consensus was reached among all members on proposals for amendments that will address the issues that were raised.

As I have always said, this is a non-partisan issue. It is the responsibility of all members of the House to make sure parliamentary control over delegated legislation always applies.

Should the House agree to send the bill to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights I can assure the members that it is my intention to propose those amendments in order to address the concerns raised.

Bill C-205 is intended to ensure that parliamentarians are in a position to exercise their responsibility for the effective oversight of the exercise of the legislative powers they entrust to various delegates.

I will conclude with two main issues. First, the disallowance procedure has to be on a statutory footing, which the bill would accomplish. Second, the delegated authority to make regulations has been applied to the issuing of statutory instruments by governor in council, ministers, agencies and boards, but that Parliament's scrutiny only be applied to the regulations or statutory instruments made by the governor in council and ministers and not those made by the various agencies and boards. Knowing that 80% of the laws in this country are made by regulations or statutory instruments, it is very important that Parliament have the authority to scrutinize and review the regulations made by all agencies and boards.

Therefore, with the adoption of the bill, 100% of the federal regulations will be coming under the scrutiny of Parliament. I urge all the members to vote to send the bill to committee. I thank members in advance for their support on this important initiative.