Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Budgets and Administration
Issue 5 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Thursday, June 13, 1996
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration met this
day at 10:00 a.m.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: I now call to order a public meeting of the Internal Economy
Committee. The first item before us is the budget for the fisheries committee.
We have with us today Mr. Desmarais and Senator Comeau to tell us what the
committee plans to do this year.
Senator Comeau: As you know, the Fisheries Committee is seldom required to deal
with legislation. Most fisheries matters are dealt with through regulations
contained in omnibus fisheries bills.
This year will be quite different in that we are expecting to receive two rather
large pieces of legislation. One will be Bill C-26, to establish the Oceans
Act, and the second bill, which will probably come to us in the fall or spring
of next year, will deal with the Fisheries Act. Both will be extremely complex
and difficult bills.
We do not have any special inquiries on the docket for the foreseeable future.
The committee has been requested to examine some of the West Coast fishery
issues, and we are still considering that request.
What we are seeking from the Internal Economy Committee today is the approval of
the legislative budget which you have before you. You will note that it is a
very modest budget. The internal economy committee has requested that, among
other things, we put together a communications package. We agree with that
concept. Many committees, the fisheries committee being one of them, do
tremendous work and very little of this work is communicated to the public or to
the media or even to senators themselves.
To remedy that, in part, the Fisheries Committee intends to advise honourable
senators and the general public of some of the tremendous work the committee
has done in the past and what it intends to do in the future. As you can see,
we intend to proceed modestly, with $10,000 allotted in our budget to prepare
summaries of the excellent reports the committee has produced in the past as
well as the positive feedback we have received from those reports.
We intend to produce what we call a Senate fisheries update to inform people as
to the specific issues we are dealing with as well as to provide a list of the
witnesses who will appear before us. We will not be issuing great numbers of
these updates, but they will be provided to those people who are interested in
the fishery. We hope to have available a number of "stock" speeches
for senators who are invited to speak to the public or to the media on what the
committee is all about.
These are just a few of the points that we are considering for the
communications plan. As I say, it is quite modest. However, fisheries is an
extremely complex subject, and we need to simplify it somewhat so that more
people out are aware of what happens in our fishery communities.
The remainder of the budget is quite straightforward and modest, and I urge the
committee to accept it.
Senator Carstairs: I move the adoption of the report.
The Chairman: Are there any comments or questions?
Senator Wood: I agree that it is a modest budget, but I have some difficulty
with the working lunches and dinners in the amount of $2,000.
Senator Comeau: That is a good question, and I appreciate it. We have noticed
that our committee has been having some problems with the time slot that has
been allotted. We have been assigned Tuesday afternoons at four o'clock or when
the Senate rises. We have noticed that our past three or four meetings have
conflicted with other extremely important committees -- agriculture, for
example. I think we do have to look at a different time slot.
The only time slot that we seem to be able to find -- and it is still producing
a few problems -- is during lunch. Obviously $2,000 is not going to cover all
of our meetings but, if we provide lunch once in a while, it may be a bit of an
incentive so that senators will not have to bring in a sandwich in a paper bag.
Senator Spivak: I had understood that the oceans legislation was coming to the
committee under energy, the environment and natural resources. Is that not
Senator Comeau: I cannot determine where the proposed Oceans bill will be
referred. That is left for powers other than myself. The bill to establish the
Oceans Act, while it does deal with environment issues, deals predominantly
with fisheries and fisheries-related matters -- for example, fees for coast
guard services, for small boats, and mainly issues involving fisherpeople.
Senator Spivak: In other words, it is not clear at the moment. It may indeed go
Senator Comeau: It could go to environment; it could go to agriculture for all I
Senator Petten: The indication, senator, is that it will probably go to
fisheries. However, if your committee would like to have it, because I am on
the Fisheries Committee, I should be happy for you to have it.
Senator Comeau: I am reminded by my clerk that, as activities are listed now, it
is scheduled to go to fisheries.
The Chairman: Thank you. Are we in accord with this proposal, colleagues?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Comeau: Thank you.
The Chairman: The next item before us is the budget of the Agriculture and
Forestry Committee (Special Study -- Forestry).
Senator Spivak: First of all, Senator Nick Taylor and I are here on behalf of
the chairman of agriculture, Senator Len Gustafson, who has asked us to come
and speak to this matter. I think the clerk has distributed a short summary
document and a map where the boreal forest is indicated in the green section.
To begin with, forestry has not had, to put it mildly, a high profile in the
agriculture committee. As you know, agriculture has had to deal with a number
of pressing issues and, since April 1989, only 10 hours have been devoted to
forestry. At one time a million people were employed in the forestry industry,
and the industry has not been dealt with at all by the Senate.
It is true that forestry is a provincial matter. However, national standards
certification and issues such as the impact of forestry on fish, navigation,
migratory birds and the air, as well as the economic impact on jobs, forestry
research which has been done by the federal government and forestry agreements
which have been in place until recently, are all federal matters.
The committee will basically conduct a fact-finding mission. The first thing we
will look at is jobs. There has been tremendous job loss in the forestry
industry as a result of new technology. The United States has three or four
times as many jobs per cubic metre of timber harvested as we have.
We will also look at things such as the allowable cuts, the cutting practices,
and the inventory. Some time ago I had a mapping project carried out in
Manitoba and, hopefully, that will be updated, as to the operations of the
forestry and the environmental impacts of the forestry industry, including the
pulp and paper industry.
Another thing that needs to be examined is the impact of climate change. It is
predicted that carbon dioxide emissions will double by the year 2040, which
could result in the boreal forest moving 900 kilometres north. It is not clear
whether that forest will be able to move into the permafrost and the tundra and
whatever else is up there.
That is not something that I think we can do anything about, but it is a serious
warning which has been given to us by the Canadian intergovernmental panel on
climate change. Those things are no longer in doubt. The only thing that is in
doubt is how fast they are going to happen. The least that will happen is that
the CO2 emissions will double.
I am sure Senator Taylor would like to add something, but that is the scope of
the study. I should say that it is long overdue because the Senate has not done
anything in this area which is so important for Canada.
Senator Taylor: I have very little to add except to say that, as a freshman and
having been the opposition critic for forestry in the legislature for about 10
years, when I went to brief myself on the agriculture and forestry committee, I
was amazed to find nothing in the proceedings of the committee where a tree was
even mentioned, except perhaps that it was cut down to plant wheat. The
forestry industry, along with the paper and fibre industries, deserves much more
than that, so I suggest that we start looking at it.
It is a complicated and large issue, part of it complicated politically by the
fact that in most cases the provinces own the forest resources, particularly in
the boreal forest, and they think they can buy them and sell them and develop
them as they please. There is an environmental fallout as well as a monetary
fallout resulting from the competition among the provinces in the royalties that
they charge in an attempt to undercut each other in the foreign markets.
We are also looking at a whole new biotechnology movement. We are now finding
that many antibiotics can be produced from forests that are 100 or 150 years
old; whereas, a regenerated forest is only 20 to 75 years old. I think that is
an area that we certainly should be looking at. The Senate can offer some
balance to the treatment of our forestry industry as opposed to the House of
Commons which is more politically motivated. The boreal forest now ranks with
the Amazon forest in importance, and we should be doing some investigation.
We are just nibbling around the edges in starting to look at the boreal forest.
Later on we will have to deal with the four coastal forests in B.C., the
forests in northern Ontario, and the Acadian forest in the Maritimes. Rather
than try to do it all at once, we thought we would start with the newest one on
the block, the one with the newest technology, the one that has really been
exploited, the boreal.
Senator Cochrane: I realize that you will be looking at the impact on the
environment. Senator Spivak, do you know whether anything of this nature has
been examined by the environmental committee?
Senator Spivak: No.
Senator Cochrane: Nothing on forestry?
Senator Spivak: Nothing on forestry. This examination will involve the
environment, but that will be only one part of it. There are other issues, jobs
being the main one. This is a fact-finding mission.
Senator Cochrane: You will be meeting with industry people, and so on.
Senator Spivak: Yes.
Senator Taylor: Senator Cochrane and I serve on the energy and environment
committee and, when on a trip to Alberta we were being wined and dined by the
oil and gas industry, there were headlines in the newspapers in Alberta about
the pulp industry polluting the water and ruining the fishing industry such
that most of the fish in northern Alberta could not be eaten.
Senator Cochrane: Yes, we have to look at those issues.
Turning to the specifics of your proposal, senator, would air travel not be
absorbed through senators' aeroplan points?
Senator Spivak: As far as I am concerned it could be, but I understand that that
is not the policy.
The Chairman: There is a principle involved here that you should think carefully
about, Senator Cochrane. The points are attributed to senators and, if
committees start using them, senators will have no points left for their own
travel. Should committee work be funded in that way or should committee work be
funded by committees?
Senator Cochrane: Is it the policy of one committee to use travel points and the
policy of another committee not to do so?
The Chairman: This committee historically has discouraged other committees from
encroaching on travel points. Travel points are funded in a statutory vote, and
this is a program vote. We can handle statutory votes a little better than we
can handle program votes, if push comes to shove.
Senator Cochrane: But there is not a consensus among committees as to the way it
The Chairman: In the past, this committee has consistently encouraged committees
to include their travel expenses in their budgets. The committee can change
that practice any time it wishes, but up until now we have been encouraging
committees to present all expenses in their budgets.
Senator Cochrane: It has not been done in my case.
The Chairman: Every now and then some committee chairman says, "Why do we
not all sneak off somewhere on our points?" I know that happens.
Senator Wood: Is this $76,000 in our current budget?
The Chairman: Actually, it is not. We are getting to the point now where we are
almost 20 per cent over our budgeted amount. I should remind you that last year
we spent only 54 per cent of what was requested. When we discussed this
question previously, I felt that the committee was of the view that it was
better that we encourage committee chairmen to strive to do more work and
eventually spend more of the money that was allocated for them. Historically,
we have given committees more money than we actually set aside in the budget
and, historically, they have rewarded us by spending only half of what we
budgeted for them.
To be honest, I am not concerned at this stage. If, in fact, the level of work
doubled in the Senate, then I would start to worry.
Senator Wood: I have two questions, one having to do with the per diem and the
other one with the communications consultant. I see that the has to pay $500
per day for a consultant, while the budget we just approved was for $400. Why
is there a difference, and is it customary to pay the per diem? I am not aware
Senator Spivak: I was not aware of that. I think we could adjust it to whatever
The Chairman: Different committees hire different levels of consultants. Some
hire pricey consultants and some hire not-so-pricey consultants. I have to say
that $400 to $600 is in the ballpark. As you recall, we have encouraged people
to shop around. Many consultants, if they know you are considering other
consultants, will bring their price down. There are many talented people
With regard to the per diem, while I hate to admit this, we have four or five
different systems of travel in the Senate, which at some point we will have to
consolidate. Committees tend to travel on a per diem basis. The hotels are paid
for by the committee and then there is a per diem for meals.
Senator Cohen: The social affairs committee, for its study of Bill C-12,
received proposals from three communications consultants. The person we
preferred met the going price. I agree that there should be more emphasis put
on shopping around, as you have suggested.
The Chairman: Perhaps we could ask the staff to obtain information as to what
consultants have been hired and whether the committees were satisfied with
those consultants. We could then keep a file as to what consultants were
satisfactory and what the going rates are. That would help us significantly in
Senator Cohen: I notice that you have a specialist and a research coordinator.
Would you explain those.
Senator Spivak: One kind of specialist would be someone like Dr. David Shindler,
who is an outstanding scientist and who has just received a Stockholm prize for
his work on the impact of emissions on water. Another kind of specialist would
certainly be somebody who specializes in forestry. We have listed here one
specialist, but there might be two or three within that category.
The research coordinator would assemble the information and probably would do
the writing and the analysis. In other words, one person would be hired for the
duration of the study; the other people would be on contract as required. We
might require an economist on a part-time basis to deal with the jobs aspect,
but no decision has been made in that regard.
Senator Cohen: I think the study is important.
Senator Spivak: What I am saying is that one specialist might become three.
Senator Cohen: By virtue of the work you are going to be doing?
Senator Spivak: Yes, within that budget.
The Chairman: Senators, are we comfortable with this proposal?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Forrestall: When can we expect the committee to study the Acadian forest
Senator Spivak: I cannot answer that.
Senator Taylor: Some members have requested that we study the Pacific coast
forest and the Superior region. If we feel it necessary, we may even consider a
subcommittee. But we must remember the Agriculture and Forestry Committee has
not even looked at forestry for 20 years, so they have asked us to do this
Actually, we might even be thinking of splitting the committee, but I think our
main job this time around is just to give the other members a flavour of how
big the problem is.
Senator Forrestall: My point is that I think you will avoid a lot of
communications problems if, no matter how vague it may seem, you include a
schedule of visitations to these various areas To look at the boreal
exclusively and not the coast or the Acadian --
The Chairman: Perhaps we could defer this budget the priorities have been set,
Senator Forrestall. That was a joke.
Senator Spivak: As you know, the temperate range forest in B.C. has received a
lot of study and attention. The B.C. government is probably light years ahead
of everybody else in Canada in terms of land use and looking at the problems of
the temperate forest. The situation is not perfect, far from it, but it gets
the most attention.
The reason for looking at the boreal forest at this particular time is that
there is an assault -- and I hate to put it that way. Let me say there is
suddenly a huge amount of development in the boreal forest without any real
study of what the cumulative impact of that might be. We are beginning to see
signs of what is happening. I am not talking only about jobs. For example, in
my own province 300 jobs have resulted from giving away one-twentieth of the
province -- one-twentieth. Moreover, there are some concerns about the track
record of one of the major forestry companies.
That is the reason for looking at the boreal forest. At the moment it is a hot
issue. This is just fact-finding, senator; we are not looking at a research
study because we could not possibly do that. After we have completed our work
on the boreal forest, I hope we can look at the Acadian. I would love to do
Senator William J. Petten (Acting Chairman) in the Chair: I should like to point
out to my colleagues that Canada does not end in Acadia. It ends over in
Newfoundland. If you go across the Gulf --
Senator Spivak: Absolutely. The boreal is in Newfoundland.
Senator Taylor: Actually, Newfoundland people were the first to develop the
The Acting Chairman: True. Is it agreed that we accept this proposal?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Acting Chairman: The next item, colleagues, is foreign affairs. The chairman
and the clerk of that committee are here. Senator Stewart, please.
Senator Stewart: As I mentioned when I appeared before this committee earlier
this spring, a great deal of the work of the foreign affairs committee has to
do with particular studies in trade: the western hemisphere study, the study
which is now in progress on the relations between Canada and the European
Union, and I am anticipating two studies when we have completed the report which
is now being prepared. One of those would relate to the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation Conference and the other would be a monitoring of the ongoing
relations between Canada and the European Union.
That is where the bulk of our effort has been, and I expect will be, focused. We
do not receive very many bills, although we have had some major bills in the
past -- the Free Trade Agreement bill, the NAFTA bill, the World Trade
Organization bill. I expect that we will receive some bills in the next few
months, such as one flowing from the agreement between Canada and France on the
mutual recognition of certain kinds of legal documents. The bill will be quite
technical, and I anticipate that it will come to the foreign affairs committee.
I cannot say, as Senator Comeau did, that the committee will receive major
bills, so the budget which is before you is to some extent providential.
We have included a line for a communications consultant -- and I heard what was
said earlier with regard to the engagement of suitable persons for that
position. You will notice that we have made some provision for registration at
conferences. The trade area seems to be one that breeds conferences. Some of
these conferences are productive, and it would useful if we could be
represented there. The travel and communications budget, to some extent, refers
to those conferences.
The witness expenses on page 2 represent a transfer to the committee of costs
which previously would have been covered by the budget of the committees
You will notice that we have included under "Professional and Special
Services" an item for working lunches. I agree with what Senator Comeau
said in this regard, but let me add to it.
I happen to be a member of both the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Fisheries
Committee, and both committees meet on Tuesdays when the Senate rises. The
Foreign Affairs Committee also can meet on Wednesdays. But you are beginning to
get tired of hearing me complain about what often happens on Wednesdays. There
seems to be a bias against meeting on Mondays and Fridays and, consequently, we
are being pushed toward noontime meetings. The foreign affairs committee is
sitting at noon today in an attempt to finish up our report.
That is the explanation. If there were some way in which committees could
overcome the conflict problems, it would help significantly. I do not like
working lunches, but they seem to be one minor remedy to the congestion
Senator Forrestall: I wonder if the senator could tell me how he can get away
with a $564 per diem for two days for three people. The last per diem I
received was entirely taken up by breakfast -- and I did not order breakfast;
it was ordered for me. I am obviously missing something there.
Senator Stewart: I am told that those are the Treasury Board guidelines by which
we are governed, whether we like it or not.
The Chairman: In fairness, the amount you can claim depends on what country you
Senator Forrestall: Where is this from?
Senator Stewart: This is Canada. If it were Bonn, that would get you halfway
The Chairman: When your colleagues go to conferences, do they provide a report
back to the full committee so that everybody benefits from their visit?
Senator Stewart: The tense is important here. This is not something which the
committee has done in the past; in fact, I have complained at times about other
committees doing this. I am beginning to reform my views and conclude that this
may be a desirable approach. The committee sent its researcher to a conference
at the University of New Brunswick about two years ago at the expense of the
committee. I went at my own expense, as I recall.
I certainly made no formal presentation regarding my presence at that
conference. I can see in the work of the researcher the benefits of the
conference, but it would not be correct to say that in either case there was a
formal presentation made to the committee. However, that would seem to me to be
a sensible thing to do.
The Chairman: I only raise it because the current thinking is that, rather than
sending the whole committee to a conference, a couple of representatives could
go and then report back to the full committee. That seems to be a more
economical way of using Senate funds. However, the key part is that they do
bring back a report that other people can benefit from.
My last point is simply to note that a paper is being circulated as we speak,
which is intended to deal with some of the conflicts that committees have with
meeting times. We will be awaiting with great interest your response to the
Is there a consensus that we accept this proposal from Senator Stewart?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Are there any other items of a public nature that need to be dealt
with? The naming of the committee room was solved for us yesterday. Anyone who
was not in the chamber should know that, by resolution of the Senate, the room
across the hall will be called the Aboriginal Peoples' Room, I believe. That
will assist greatly in the planning of the decor in the room.
Senator Corbin: Senator Willy Adams on a number of occasions, both in public
yesterday and in private to some of us, has been requesting to see a sketch of
what the room will look like. I think we owe him the courtesy of providing a
sketch of what the room will look like, certainly in its structure if not the
decor or the furnishing aspect of it. He has expressed strong objections to
putting the aboriginal people, to use his words, in the basement. He thought it
should be next to the Hall of Honour in room 256-S.
I have taken this up with the Clerk of the Senate, and I am not aware that
Senator Adams has been satisfied in that respect. Is there anything we can in
The Chairman: We can do a lot. First of all, I can assure you that it is going
to be a first-class committee room. We have more than a sketch; J.-P. has given
us a virtual reality video showing what it will look like from different
We can arrange for a complete briefing for Senator Adams on it, which I think
will put his concerns to rest. If not, we will invite him back and discuss it
further with him.
Senator Corbin: Everyone agrees that the room should be decorated with artwork
by aboriginal people, some of the greatest in the world. I presume this
committee is going to look into that.
The Chairman: Yes, we should have some good stuff in there.
Senator Carstairs: I think we have, clearly, four consultants for whom we have
to pay no money at all. Those are our four aboriginal members of the Senate. I
think they should be consulted on all aspects of the decor.
We also have to remember that this is the Aboriginal Peoples' Room and that all
aboriginal groups should be represented, including the métis. We have to
ensure that the room reflects the constitutional definitions of aboriginal
peoples in this country.
The Chairman: Perhaps we could ask the staff to prepare a proposal which would
take these things into account and also to draft an approval process through
which the Senate could take your suggestions into account. Would that meet with
the committee's approval?
Senator Carstairs: Absolutely. I also think all aboriginal senators should be
made aware of when this committee intends to discuss this issue again.
The Chairman: I was going to suggest that, before the document comes here, they
Senator Cochrane: Not only should they be made aware, Senator Carstairs, but I
think they should be involved. Will our aboriginal senators be involved in this
The Chairman: The responsibility rests with this committee, but we have been
trying to find a process through which they will be involved. I think everyone
is on the same wavelength there.
Senator Cochrane: Do not forget the aboriginal people of Labrador.
The Chairman: The Beothons.
Senator Cochrane: The word is "Beothuks," senator. We have the Innu
and the Inuit there, and the Micmacs.
Senator Forrestall: How are we going to avoid calling it the Longhouse?
Seriously, a long time ago in the other place, when the question of what should
happen to the Reading Room first came up, that was to have been the native
people's room. I do not know whatever happened to that. No basement there.
Senator Poulin: Since this is a public meeting, I think we should commend all
those who spoke yesterday in the Senate. The feedback that I got from our four
colleagues was that there was a strong consensus that the Senate recognize
Canada Aboriginal Day. I think it was really appreciated.
The Chairman: I do not have the text in front of me.
Senator Poulin: I was not there, unfortunately. I was on the phone with Senator
The Chairman: Perhaps someone here can help us. There was also a discussion of a
ceremony or a celebration to mark that day. Who is to be responsible for that?
If it is the responsibility of this committee, we do not have much time to put
a proposal in place or even to find a location.
We need a steering committee or we need a group who might take this in hand. It
is very short notice. I know that Sharon has very little on her plate these
days, but are there other people here who feel that they could contribute to
Senator Corbin: I would not mind being involved in that because I have supported
the idea all along. Are you suggesting that we try to do something for the
The Chairman: Yes.
Senator Corbin: I do not think we should do anything at this point. The Senate
has made an important decision and that, in itself, is significant. I think we
ought to wait until the place is ready and then have a proper ceremony.
The Chairman: I hear you. A ceremony could take place in a number of ways. We
could just have a declaration in the chamber reconfirming the motion. We did
receive a motion from the Senate asking us to do something about a -- can
somebody give us the exact wording, please?
Senator Cohen: Perhaps, when we make the announcement, we could have a
sweetgrass ceremony in the Senate confirming the fact that it is Aboriginal Day
and that we are naming this room the Aboriginal Peoples' Room. As well, we
could do a press release. It would be very effective.
The Chairman: I have difficulty agreeing to having a sweetgrass ceremony because
I am not sure that that would be recognized by the Inuit.
Senator Cohen: It works for me.
The Chairman: But that is the problem. We all have our own views about it. What
I am suggesting is that we have a working group to consult with the people
involved. Senator Corbin has volunteered to chair that group.
Senator Poulin: I will help you.
The Chairman: Senator Poulin and Senator Cohen will assist you, so we have a
committee of three.
Senator Corbin: What is our mandate?
The Chairman: Your mandate is to fulfil the request that came from the Senate. I
think we really need to delegate this completely to this committee, colleagues,
because there is not much time available to deal with it.
Your mandate is to put the whole thing together and see what works. Talk to
these people. We have three in our caucus and one in the Conservative caucus.
Have a chat with them to see what would be appropriate.
Senator Corbin: Am I right in assuming that we do not move if they feel that we
The Chairman: Yes.
Senator Corbin: It is ultimately their decision more or less.
The Chairman: Gary O'Brien will also assist you.
The motion says nothing about June 21, but there certainly was discussion about
it. Is it agreed that we delegate this task as we have just discussed?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: The next item that we need to deal with in public is the location
of the bust of Senator John M. Macdonald. Again I am looking for a committee
here. Do we have a letter from Senator DeWare?
Mr. Bélisle: I have the letter.
The Chairman: Has it been translated?
Mr. Bélisle: No.
The Chairman: Could you give us the substance of the letter then, please.
Mr. Bélisle: Senators, as you all know, the bust of the Honourable
Senator John M. Macdonald has been completed. The request from Senator DeWare,
who was responsible for this project, is to find a location for the bust. In
the letter she indicates that the preference is the foyer or the antechamber of
the Senate. She mentions both in the letter, and she is seeking consideration of
this issue by this committee.
The Chairman: Does she mention any other places?
Mr. Bélisle: She does not mention any other places.
Senator Wood: Are there any other places?
The Chairman: Yes, there are. Historically, these matters are handled through a
subcommittee of this committee that examines the alternatives and reports back
with a proposal after wide consultation.
Senator Cochrane: Is there any objection to the foyer or to the antechamber?
The Chairman: Usually the subcommittee goes around with a list of places and
determines whether there are concerns. In other words, what I am suggesting is
that the committee determine which place has broad acceptance.
Senator Carstairs: I just wondered if there is any history on this. I notice,
for example, that the portrait of Senator David Croll, which I gather was done
in celebration of his advancing years, is in the Reading Room. The portrait of
another senator is there as well.
Was there a reason that those portraits were hung there? It seems to me that the
three are celebrating the same kind of thing.
The Chairman: It has always been an arbitrary process, but I am sure that the
staff could come up with some sort of history. Frankly, it has usually been an
ad hoc process.
It is important that the sponsors of the sculpture as well as honourable
senators feel that the place chosen is appropriate.
Senator Carstairs: I agree that the committee should seek some history on this,
but I also feel that we should act fairly quickly on this.
The Chairman: I will ask Senator Cochrane and Senator Wood to look into possible
locations. Is two weeks sufficient time to report back on it?
Senator Wood: Yes.
The Chairman: We would ask that you carry out as broad a consultation as
possible and try to obtain consensus from all interested parties, including the
sponsors of the sculpture.
Senator Corbin: We have an archivist in the Senate. Would it be possible to
obtain an inventory of all the art work that belongs to the Senate?
The Chairman: I think we have it.
Senator Corbin: Could it be circulated to members of the committee?
The Chairman: Yes, of course.
Mr. Bélisle: Yes.
Senator Corbin: Including the paintings borrowed from the War Museum which are
hanging in the chamber?
Mr. Bélisle: Yes.
The Chairman: The next item of public business is item 13, authorizing the
resumption of tours of the East Block by the Library of Parliament. This is a
no-cost event. I will ask Paul to speak to that.
Mr. Bélisle: You will recall that two years ago the Senate reduced its
budget by 4.2 per cent in the interests of fiscal restraint. One of the first
programs to go was the East Block tours sponsored by the Senate which had a
cost of about $100,000. The program has been kept going by the Senate on an ad
hoc basis. There is someone in communications who will conduct a tour on a
one-to-one basis if there is a special request.
There is no more money in the budget to operate this program during the summer
months. Consequently, we have a request that the Library of Parliament be
authorized as of July 2 to administer the visitors' program in the East Block.
The chief librarian has also requested that they be permitted to operate a
visitors' boutique from a mobile cart located at the Privy Council doorway in
the East Block. I have been assured that the cart would not be in the way of
senators or tourists using that doorway.
The Chairman: Are the security people satisfied with that from an evacuation
point of view?
Mr. Bélisle: Yes.
Senator Carstairs: As a parent, I have real problems with this. I do not think
we should be hawking souvenirs on Parliament Hill. We already have a room where
people can go to purchase souvenirs, if they wish. If we put these mobile carts
around where children can see them, it puts pressure on parents to purchase
those souvenirs. We have a room where souvenirs are sold, and I do not think we
need mobile carts to do the same thing.
Senator Petten: I agree with Senator Carstairs on that point.
Regarding to the tours, who will train the guides? We have had experience in the
past where they make all sorts of jokes. We have enough problem without guides
going around and running us down.
Mr. Bélisle: I have monitored the guides and their speeches during the
year. I sent three or four letters last year based on negative comments that
were heard, and they have addressed those. They are very appreciative. Last
year I brought all the guides in at the end of the summer and asked them for
these negative comments They provided me with about 40 questions and some of
the most derogatory comments that are made by the tourists, and I have prepared
responses for them. I will be meeting again with the guides as soon as we
adjourn to ensure that they know that my office is always open if they need
help to answer a question. Sometimes they attempt to answer questions that they
know nothing about. Last year I overheard a guide telling a tourist what the
salary of a senator was, and it was all wrong.
We are trying to address these problems. Now the program is under the aegis of
the Library of Parliament and the Library of Parliament is accountable to both
Houses on a 50-50 basis.
Senator Petten: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Could we obtain the text for the tour of the East Block?
Mr. Bélisle: It was circulated earlier at the meeting today.
The Chairman: Was that the East Block text as well?
Mr. Bélisle: The text for the East Block tour is the one that we in the
Senate used to give. I will give you that.
Senator Petten: Now the library is doing it and you are monitoring it?
Mr. Bélisle: Yes.
The Chairman: I just wanted to know if we can have the text that the library is
going to use in the East Block, please.
Mr. Bélisle: Yes, senator.
Senator Poulin: Just to give you an example, yesterday I saw Senator LeBreton
speaking with a group of children and it was priceless. There was warmth, there
was realness, and you should have seen the attention of the students. There was
a guide there, as well, but their reaction was even swifter than with a guide.
Would the Library of Parliament feel comfortable, when they get requests for
tours, with calling the clerk to see if there is a senator available for maybe
half an hour for a Q & A period?
The Chairman: We have been dealing with this issue now for more than a decade.
The tours go through every 15 minutes or whatever. I suspect you will find that
Senator LeBreton appeared because she was acquainted with the tourists.
Senator Poulin: Yes. Senator Pearson has been doing it a lot also.
The Chairman: The problem was that none of us had enough hours in the day to
join the number of tours that go through. It is a terrific idea. Perhaps the
answer would be to have a roster where we could have one senator on duty for
each day of the summer.
Senator Nolin: Obviously, some of our colleagues have agreed to be part of that.
The Chairman: Everybody who agrees should be roped into it right away.
Senator Nolin: Marie and I will look into that.
The Chairman: I would just caution you against promising somebody a program that
will produce a senator on demand, because in the past it has been like pulling
Senator Nolin: The idea is to make sure that for those of our colleagues who
want to participate in that type of activity we will find a way to make it
The Chairman: The point I was making was that, if I was asked to show up on
Monday for two hours, I would probably say "yes," but it grew into
something much bigger than that.
Senator Corbin: I want to say quite emphatically that I disapprove of the way
this place is being transformed into a Disneyland on the Rideau. I am not, in
principle, objecting to access for Canadians to their institutions, but I think
a lot of the operation is still very undisciplined and noisy.
This morning we had a wall-to-wall group of tourists walking down the second
floor corridor. A constable saw them coming and did not make way for senators
to go through. It has to be better disciplined. I am really shocked. The
concept of this being a place of work is going out the window very fast, and I
have to object.
The Chairman: The questions before us relate to the resumption of the tours of
the East Block to be handled by the Library of Parliament and the mobile cart
for souvenirs. I am hearing a consensus for the tours to be resumed in the East
Block and I am hearing reservations about the mobile cart of souvenirs. Is that
Senator Corbin: They already have access to the main store.
Senator Wood: If we were to remove the cart, would there be any financial
implication to the Senate?
Mr. Bélisle: No. The reason for the cart was to raise revenue to pay for
the guides. The visitors' program, as I mentioned earlier today, has a cost of
$1 million, and the selling of souvenirs was to help pay for that.
The Chairman: Are we agreed on those issues?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: The last item we have on the public agenda is a document which has
been circulated by Senator Oliver. I will ask him to speak to it briefly.
Senator Oliver: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this opportunity to speak briefly
about a proposal to have a parliamentary group meet with industry to study an
aspect of high technology. The U.K. Parliament has a group called PITCOM, on
which this proposal is modelled, which works quite effectively.
I have written letters to the key players in the industry in Canada and each one
of them has endorsed the idea.
The purpose is to give parliamentarians an opportunity to meet with members of
industry about twice a year to discuss issues and to work on long-range policy
by which parliamentarians can educate themselves and members of the industry
can have an opportunity to meet with parliamentarians.
Unlike most committees and groups who come before this particular committee, I
am not asking for money but merely approval to form such a group. The British
PITCOM organization is coming to Canada in September and they would like to
meet with a comparable group and to meet with members of industry and
parliamentarians in Canada who have an interest in this area.
I commend this proposal to you and I would be prepared to respond to any
questions you may have.
The Chairman: Could you tell us exactly what you are asking us to do, senator.
Senator Oliver: At page 2, we have proposed:
"That the Senate Internal Economy committee recognize the existence of the
Canadian Parliamentary Information Technology and that it grant it the
privilege of using Senate Committee rooms and related services for its
meetings, provided that the use of such services does not interfere with the
work of Senate Committees."
The Chairman: Are there any comments on this proposal, colleagues?
Senator Wood: Would this be a standing committee?
The Chairman: No, this would not be a committee; it would be a working group. Is
that correct, Senator Oliver?
Senator Oliver: Yes, sir.
The Chairman: It would be a working group of senators. Senator Oliver is asking
that the group be allowed to use committee rooms, together with the translation
facilities, at times when they are not being used by committees, to meet with
the British group, in the first instance, and then with other groups later on.
Senator Oliver: That is correct.
Senator Wood: And there would be no cost to the Senate?
Senator Oliver: There would be no cost to the Senate.
Senator Wood: Beyond using the services that are presently in place.
The Chairman: Yes.
Senator Milne: This seems to be a joint House of Commons and Senate committee.
Senator Oliver: We would invite members of the House of Commons as well.
Senator Milne: Who is "we"?
Senator Oliver: This committee, once it is formed and up and going, would invite
senators who have an interest. Senator Bonnell has written me a letter saying
that he approves of this and supports it 100 per cent.
Senator Milne: I am just wondering how you would get House of Commons
Senator Oliver: Once we received approval from this committee, we would invite
members of the House of Commons who have an interest in these areas to
participate in the meetings.
Senator Milne: Would they become part of the committee?
Senator Oliver: Yes.
Senator Poulin: The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications
has, under the chairmanship of Senator Bacon, set up a special committee on
telecommunications to continue the study that was begun by the special
committee chaired by Senator Oliver in the previous session. There is work
being done in the Senate currently in terms of telecommunications research.
The Chairman: Is there likely to be a conflict between that committee and the
group you are proposing?
Senator Oliver: I foresee no conflict whatsoever. We are going to be dealing
largely with members of the industry. I have received letters from some of the
key companies in Canada saying that there is no forum for them to meet with
parliamentarians to talk about policy issues.
There is a Senate committee which deals with legislation and special studies,
but the purpose of this group would be to work with industry in developing
long-range policy. It in no way conflicts with any committee of either the
House of Commons or the Senate. It is not designed for that.
Senator Poulin: I find the idea extremely interesting. It is one which would be
of interest to both business and government.
Perhaps the suggestion could be brought before the subcommittee to consider at a
The Chairman: You are suggesting that Senator Oliver go before that committee of
the Senate to get approval for this group?
Senator Poulin: Yes, that is an option.
Senator Carstairs: You mentioned the British parliamentary committee, PITCOM. Is
that, in fact, a parliamentary committee in the usual sense of a parliamentary
committee in Britain, or is it an ad hoc parliamentary committee?
Senator Oliver: It is ad hoc, and there is no money allotted to the British
committee either. Their revenue is raised through subscriptions. The
subscription for corporations, in Canadian dollars, is about $500. The
subscription for an individual is $80.
Some of their revenue is used to produce a magazine called the PITCOM Journal. I
have contributed an article to this journal in which I talk about ways that
people in the Canadian industry can learn from things that they are doing in
the British industry. For example, a Canadian cable company, Videotron, which
does business in the U. K., makes most of its revenue not from cable but from
telephone. We in Canada have been talking about convergence as something we
would like to do in the future.
In the article I mention a number of things that it would be useful for us to
talk to people in the U. K. about. When the group comes here in September, they
want to meet with parliamentarians and with people from industry to exchange
It would really be an opportunity to exchange ideas. It would not be a
parliamentary committee to study legislation.
Senator Wood: If this group intends to use the translators and the researchers,
is it likely that the group will be requesting funds in the future? Who will
pay for these translators and researchers?
The Chairman: I cannot think of a precedent quite like this. Having said that,
if somebody is using their own researcher, I do not have any problem with their
Senator Wood: They are using their own researchers. The document refers to
Library of Parliament researchers.
The Chairman: Any senator can use the services of a Library of Parliament
researcher. In terms of the translators, that is not a direct Senate cost. It
is a government cost, but it is not a cost that comes out of our budget.
This group is something new. It is an animal that we have not dealt with on an
ongoing basis before. Having said that, it is an interesting proposal and it is
up to this committee to follow up on it.
Senator Milne: If this British PITCOM committee is coming at the beginning of
September, there are time constraints on any decision that is made.
The Chairman: I think Senator Oliver was hoping for a nod and a wink today, but
it is up to the committee.
Senator Corbin: Could we hold off on our final decision until next week?
The Chairman: If that is the wish of the committee.
Senator Petten: I think that would be ideal.
Senator Corbin: And that would not prejudice anything.
The Chairman: No. Perhaps people like to think about it a little more.
Senator Corbin: Yes.
The Chairman: Do you have further documentation that the committee could have in
addition to this piece of paper that you have given us?
Senator Oliver: I have a whole file.
Senator Petten: Summarize it, please.
Senator Corbin: Do you have more information on the British PITCOM committee?
Senator Oliver: Yes. I can provide whatever information I have. I have a number
of letters from industry. Ted Rogers and others say have said that it is a
tremendous idea and have wished me luck.
Senator Milne: I would just like to hear some feedback on it from the House of
Commons as well.
Senator Corbin: I would like to put a tough question to Senator Oliver. Why is
the industry not paying for this and doing it on their own in, say, a hotel
conference room? Why are we doing this in parliament rather than in the private
Senator Oliver: I am basing it on the U. K. model which is a "parliamentary"
committee -- not a standing committee, but a parliamentary committee. I see it
as an opportunity for the Senate to take the lead in helping develop long-range
policy and an opportunity to enhance the image of the Senate in an area which
is very important for Canada.
The Chairman: Senator Oliver, I think some people believe that this is an
interesting idea. However, there are some concerns, as you have heard. If you
could put together an information package and provide it to the committee, that
might alleviate some of the concerns.
Senator Oliver: If members of the committee come up with other questions after
they have given the proposal more consideration, I will try to address those
before next week either in writing or otherwise.
The Chairman: This ends the public portion of the meeting.