Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 1 - Evidence - November 13, 2007


OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Standing Committee on Transport and Communications met this day at 10:05 a.m., pursuant to rule 88 of the Rules of the Senate for the purpose of holding its organization meeting.

[Translation]

Denis Robert, Clerk of the Committee: Honourable senators, I see a quorum. As clerk of the committee, it is my duty to preside over the election of the chair. I am ready to receive your motions in this regard.

Senator Oliver: I move that Senator Bacon be chair of the committee.

Mr. Robert: Senator Oliver moves that Senator Bacon be chair of the committee. Are there any other motions?

Hon. Senators: No.

Mr. Robert: I invite Senator Bacon to take the chair. Congratulations! You are elected chair of the committee.

[English]

Senator Lise Bacon (Chair) in the chair.

The Chair: I wish to thank honourable senators for their confidence. We will try to pursue what we started during the last session of Parliament. I will now take a motion for the election of deputy chair.

Senator Dawson: I propose Senator Oliver.

The Chair: Will Senator Oliver accept?

Senator Oliver: Yes, I will accept with pleasure.

The Chair: Congratulations on your nomination Senator Oliver. We have good people on this committee and I am sure you will enjoy being deputy chair.

With respect to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure, I wish to appoint the other member of the committee to be a member of the steering committee. Do I have a motion so we can start working right away?

Senator Tkachuk: I move Senator Dawson, if that is acceptable to you, chair, and acceptable to Senator Dawson, of course.

The Chair: Is that acceptable Senator Dawson?

Senator Dawson: It is acceptable.

The Chair: The motion is agreed to.

Senators, I also need a motion to print the committee's proceedings, which is the fourth item on the agenda.

Senator Dawson: I so move.

The Chair: The motion is agreed to. The chair is authorized to set the number to meet demand.

The next item on the agenda, number 5, is pursuant to rule 89, and gives the chair authorization to hold meetings and to receive and print evidence when a quorum is not present.

Senator Oliver: I so move.

The Chair: Shall I read this item?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Item number 5 is agreed to.

Item number 6 concerns the financial report. It states that the committee adopt the draft first report prepared in accordance with rule 104. Senators have a copy of the report. Do I have a motion on that item? The motion is carried.

Number 7 on the agenda is with respect to the research staff.

Senator Tkachuk: I so move.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Tkachuk. The item is agreed to.

Number 8 concerns the authority to commit funds and certify accounts.

Senator Pépin: I so move.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Pépin. Senator Pépin is replacing Senator Fox this morning.

The next item on the agenda concerns travel.

Senator Dawson: I so move.

The Chair: The item is agreed to. We will get back to that.

Number 10 is the next item and concerns the designation of members travelling on committee business.

Senator Pépin: I so move.

The Chair: The item is agreed to.

The next item is travelling and living expenses of witnesses.

Senator Pépin: I so move.

The Chair: The item is agreed to.

Number 12 is the electronic media coverage of public meetings.

Senator Dawson: I so move.

The Chair: The item is agreed to.

Number 13 is the budget for legislation, and you have Appendix C before you.

Senator Tkachuk: I so move.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Tkachuk. The item is agreed to.

The next item, number 14, concerns the time slots for regular meetings. The scheduled times are still Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.

Senator Oliver: At what time does the Tuesday meeting finish?

The Chair: We usually stop around eleven o'clock. We have a caucus meeting, and I believe you also have a caucus meeting near that time.

Senator Tkachuk: Yes, we do.

Senator Oliver: At what time does the meeting end on Wednesday night?

The Chair: We sit for a maximum of two hours.

Senator Tkachuk: I used to want to work until midnight, but Senator Bacon would not allow it.

The Chair: We have dinner at 5:30, prior to the meeting.

Do you agree on that?

Senator Oliver: Agreed.

The Chair: Next is other business, number 15.

You have a pink notice of motion before you.

Honourable Senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate,

I will move,

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on current and potential future containerized freight traffic handled at, and major inbound and outbound markets served by, Canada's

i) Pacific Gateway container ports

ii) east coast container ports and

iii) central container ports

and current and appropriate future policies relating thereto.

That the Committee submit its final report no later than March 31, 2008, and

That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the Committee on the subject since the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament be referred to the Committee.

It is the same dossier that we have been working on. We have to go back to the House and receive permission to do it again.

Senator Tkachuk: We will move all the testimony forward; is that right?

The Chair: Yes, and I will move that the committee submit its final report not later than March 31, 2008. We had December 31, 2007, but we will move it to March to give us enough time to complete the report. I will further move that the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the committee on the subject since the first session of the 39th Parliament be referred to the committee. We will pursue what we have already started.

Senator Oliver: As I understand it, there is no government legislation on either communications or transport ready to come to this committee.

The Chair: There is one in the House, but it is not ready to come to committee.

Senator Oliver: I think it was amended by the NDP so it will be back in committee for a while. The rule in this committee, I think, is that government legislation would take priority over study.

The Chair: Yes, we stop studying what we have on the motion, and then we will pursue the work on the containerized freight.

Senator Oliver: Due to the number of senators on the government side, it is very difficult for government senators to travel for studies like this, particularly when the Senate is sitting. Therefore, if more travel were envisaged, there would have to be consultation with the whips and the leadership on each side.

The Chair: We usually do consult with the whips and the leadership.

Senator Oliver: I do not think we would be allowed to travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

The Chair: We have one trip to Halifax, in your own province.

Senator Oliver: It is an important city.

Senator Tkachuk: Okay. Forget what he said previously.

The Chair: Halifax is one city we have to visit.

Senator Dawson: We went to Montreal on a Monday and Tuesday, so I guess we could negotiate.

The Chair: Could we negotiate Tuesday?

Senator Tkachuk: Senator Oliver, Senator Bacon always consulted with me on travel. We did not have any problems organizing travel with the whips. There was never an argument. We just got it done.

The Chair: Perhaps we could leave on a Sunday, do our work on Monday and Tuesday, and come back for Wednesday. We will deal with that with the whips.

There is another trip to Prince Rupert. We missed Prince Rupert when we went to Vancouver. We traveled to Prince Rupert but could not land. We have discussed traveling with four senators, two from each side, plus a researcher and the clerk. That is the minimum number of people to go to Prince Rupert. The timing for that will also have to be discussed with the whips. If we extend our reporting date to March 31, we will have time to do both.

We will take those two trips. We will not travel abroad.

Under ``other business,'' we must submit a budget to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. You have it in your dossier and it includes the trips to Prince Rupert and Halifax.

Senator Oliver: Are these the same numbers that were presented to that committee for the previous trips to Prince Rupert and Halifax?

The Chair: They are close.

Mr. Robert: I copied it from the past budgets.

Senator Oliver: If it was approved before, why do we not agree with this, unless you think we will incur additional charges? If not, I move the adoption of the budget.

The Chair: It is agreed.

Senator Dawson: I move the motion on the Pacific Gateway container port.

The Chair: That is agreed.

Senator Oliver also moved the motion regarding power to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other persons as may be necessary.

That is agreed.

We will meet next week. In the meantime the steering committee will meet.

Senator Dawson: I want to welcome the new researcher.

The Chair: Yes, welcome Ms. Padova. Congratulations and best wishes. We are also pleased to have Terrence Thomas with us again. Welcome to our committee. I know you will enjoy it. We work hard here.

Senator Dawson: As you know, Senator Mercer is still on sick leave, and he has been ``Mr. Halifax'' on this issue since the beginning. I think we should make sure we get a full update on him before we plan to travel to Halifax. We had always thought of going to Halifax first, but in order to be sure that Senator Mercer is available, perhaps we could to travel to Prince Rupert first.

Senator Oliver: Senator Mercer is in Halifax.

Senator Dawson: He is, but he is not mobile. I do not think he can travel right now.

The committee adjourned.


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