Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue 1 - Evidence - November 20, 2007

OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources met this day at 5 p.m. to examine and report upon emerging issues related to its mandate.

Senator Tommy Banks (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: I propose, subject to your approval, that we deal first with the budgets of the committee, which we will take forward to the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, and the, we should go in camera to deal with future business of the committee. If you agree, we will proceed.

I call your attention to the two budgets before you. The green one is the budget for legislation, and the yellow one is for special studies and emerging issues. We will deal with the green one first. These budgets take us through to March 31, 2008.

Both of these are pro forma. The legislation budget is $10,000, and it accounts for the working meals and incidental expenses that we will undertake in respect of dealing with legislation which comes before us.

The special study on emerging issues, which is on the yellow sheet, will include whatever we decide to proceed with. Again, that budget accounts for meals and other incidental expenses having to do with those studies, and it includes two conferences. Conference 1 is Globe 2000, and on the other side we have conference 2, to be determined. You can see the details.

The total for our special studies and the like is $44,263. We can deal with these amounts because we do not anticipate any expensive, significant travel beyond those conferences before March. We will discuss things that happen after that in camera.

I invite your comments on either or both of the two budgets before us.

Senator Kenny: Inasmuch as there is no special travel or other things, would this be a good time to make provision for more than two conferences?

The second point is that somewhere there should be a footnote that says these conferences are only examples.

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Kenny: Then there is the flexibility, when another conference arises that has not been anticipated, to deal with it that way.

The Chair: We always do that, of course, except that conference 1 is one we know we want to send someone to, the one in Vancouver. You are right about the others.

Is there agreement that we should include more than two conferences?

Senator Kenny: Include the monies on the off chance that there are more than two conferences available. If the monies are not used, they will lapse and not be wasted.

Senator Cochrane: We only know of one, do we, chair?

The Chair: It has been my practice that once we are up and running, an order of reference that exists and we begin assessing our work plan, then we ask the staff and senators to identify any conferences that they may be aware of that they think would be useful to us. We have not done that yet. The only one here that is specific is Globe 2000, which we always send someone to, in Vancouver. We have been specific for that reason.

We have not canvassed anyone yet for conferences that might be useful for us. We will do that as a matter of course. As Senator Kenny said, these are examples.

Senator Kenny: The library also has a service in which they provide a search. On another committee, I receive a report once a month on upcoming conferences at different locations. It is useful. They describe the conference, and the menu is significant.

The Chair: We will do that, and we will circulate that list as a matter of course to members.

There is a specific proposal from Senator Kenny. Would you like to make that a motion?

Senator Adams: Two more conferences or only one?

The Chair: One more.

Senator Kenny: Which would make three.

Senator Adams: Last spring, at the Internal Economy Committee, we did not have any budget. We had a conference in the States and I was in LA for about four or five days. Now the conference will be in Texas. With the new models coming out, attending conferences outside of Canada is a little different. If I, as a member of the Energy Committee, want to go to the States, I need to go to the Internal Economy Committee.

Senator Kenny: That is, if he wants to make an individual visit, absent the committee.

The Chair: Oh, without the committee.

Senator Adams: Yes.

The Chair: Yes, Senator Adams, if the committee sends people to a conference, regardless of where it is, it would be approved in advance by internal economy. We say we do not know which conferences we will send people to, but this figure is about what they will cost.

Senator Adams: Okay.

The Chair: If you go on your own, that is different.

Senator Kenny, do I take it as a motion?

Senator Kenny: Yes.

The Chair: A motion is on the floor, seconded by Senator Adams, that we increase the budget so we have a total of three rather than two conferences that might occur between now and March 31.

That change will adjust the total upwards by $20,380, and the bottom line becomes $64,643. I remind you, as Senator Kenny has said, and this situation has often happened. Any unused portion of this budget, once it has been approved, cannot be used for some other purpose. That money reverts. When we say we will use the money for conferences, it can be used only for conferences. We cannot put it to another purpose.

We have a motion that we amend the special study on emerging issues budget by an additional $20,380.

Senator Kenny: When you complete the committee's work on the review that has been under way, do you anticipate a report being presented?

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Kenny: Do you anticipate promoting that report?

The Chair: Yes, but not in the fiscal year ending March 31. We will go to internal economy with an order-of- magnitude style of budget, informing them now of what we will ask for in December for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2008. That is when we anticipate the report will be.

Senator Kenny: Why did I think the report would be completed by February?

The Chair: We had hoped it would be, but it will not, given what I think we will probably do in our work plan.

Senator Kenny: I understand.

The Chair: A motion is before us. All in favour of the motion?

Senator Cochrane: We are not sending any research people to this Globe 2000 conference, are we?

The Chair: No; when we asked the Library of Parliament to send people, the Library of Parliament has paid their costs, and we will do that as a matter of course. We will urge that our researchers go to that conference. However, that expense is not our budget.

Senator Kenny: Can we ask the library to pay our costs?

The Chair: We can try.

All in favour of the motion in amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Opposed?

The budget for special study and emerging issues is approved in the amount of $64,643.

With respect to the $10,000 for legislation, are there any questions, suggestions or amendments? If not, I invite a motion to pass it.

Senator Kenny: So moved.

The Chair: Senator Kenny moves the motion that we approve the budget for legislation in the amount of $10,000. All in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Opposed? That motion is carried. Again, that money can be spent only on that purpose. If we do not spend it on that purpose, it reverts.

Before we go in camera to discuss future work, which I hope we will be able to do quickly, I apologize for the fact that there are no meals here today. The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration is having their organizational meeting as we speak, and so we have no money.

Senator Kenny: I am disappointed with your explanation. I thought you were going to say there is no free lunch.

The Chair: That too, but this ain't lunch.

Senator Adams: I have an invitation to eat from the Mining Association of Canada.

The Chair: I did not know this, senators. I always assumed that internal economy survived throughout a prorogation or a dissolution of Parliament. It does, until the moment that the Committee of Selection introduces the motion for the new Committee of Internal Economy. Between that point and the organizational meeting, which they are having today, it is a blank.

Senator Kenny: It is not when they introduce the motion; it is when the Senate adopts the motion.

The Chair: Then there is a blank, and we cannot spend any money, not a dime. That is why there is no food here today.

Senator Kenny: Do you have a hat we can pass?

The Chair: I do.

I propose that we now adjourn the public part of this meeting and go in camera to discuss future work. Is that agreeable to senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The meeting continued in camera.

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