THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
OTTAWA, Tuesday, May 7, 2019
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, to which was referred Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, met this day at 5 p.m. to give clause-by-clause consideration to the bill.
Senator Rosa Galvez (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good evening, and welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. My name is Rosa Galvez. I am a senator from Quebec, and I am the chair of this committee. I will now ask senators to introduce themselves.
Senator McCallum: Mary Jane McCallum, Treaty 10, Manitoba region.
Senator Woo: Yuen Pau Woo, British Columbia.
Senator Simons: Paula Simons, Alberta, Treaty 6 territory.
Senator Cordy: Jane Cordy, and I’m a senator from Nova Scotia.
Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, Alberta, Treaty 6 territory.
Senator Tkachuk: Senator Tkachuk from Saskatchewan.
Senator Mockler: I am Percy Mockler from New Brunswick.
Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, Nunavut territory.
Senator Richards: David Richards, New Brunswick.
Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Patti LaBoucane-Benson, Treaty 6 territory, Alberta.
Senator Massicotte: I am Paul J. Massicotte from Quebec.
Senator Carignan: I am Claude Carignan from Quebec.
Senator Seidman: I am Judith Seidman from Montreal, Quebec.
Senator Neufeld: Richard Neufeld, British Columbia.
Senator MacDonald: Michael MacDonald, Nova Scotia.
The Chair: Today we continue our study of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
As agreed, we are now at the stage where we will begin going through the bill clause by clause. Before we begin clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-69, I would like to advise members that we have officials from different departments who can be called to the table to answer questions if members wish.
I would also like to remind senators of a number of points regarding the process. If at any point a senator is not clear where we are in the process, please ask for clarification. I want to ensure that at all times we all have the same understanding of where we are in the process.
In terms of the mechanics of the process, I wish to remind senators that, when more than one amendment is proposed to be moved in a clause, amendments should be proposed in the order of the lines of a clause. Therefore, before we take up an amendment in a clause, I will be checking whether any senators had intended to move an amendment earlier in that clause. If senators do intend to move an earlier amendment, they will be given the opportunity to do so.
If a senator is opposed to an entire clause, I will remind you that, in committee, the proper process is not to move a motion to delete it, but rather to vote against the clause standing as part of the bill. If committee members ever have any question about the process or the propriety of anything occurring, they can certainly raise a point of order. As chair, I will listen to arguments, decide when there has been sufficient discussion of a matter, order and make a ruling.
The committee is the ultimate master of its business within the bounds established by the Senate and a ruling can be appealed to the full committee by asking whether the ruling shall be sustained.
As chair, I will do my utmost to ensure that all senators wishing to speak have the opportunity to do so. For this, however, I will depend upon your cooperation and ask all of you to keep your remarks to the point and as brief as possible.
Finally, I wish to remind honourable senators that if there is any uncertainty as to the result of a voice vote or a show of hands, the most effective route is to request a roll call vote which obviously provides unambiguous results. Senators are aware that any tied vote negates the motion in question.
If there are no questions, we will proceed.
Senator MacDonald: I would like to address the committee, if I could, as deputy chair. I thank everybody around the committee for all their hard work in the past few months. It’s been an arduous process and has been difficult at times, and time-consuming. I want to thank everybody for their patience. I even learned some patience myself over the last few months.
However, I want to address a few things before we begin, including concerns related to the committee process as well as the path we should take forward.
First, I would like to express my concern with the inadequacy and timeliness of the official evidentiary record. We have only just received the transcripts from our hearings in Eastern Canada. This may not be an issue for those who were able to attend these hearings, but for those who were not there — and I have heard from several — there has not been a record to consult. It shouldn’t have to be said, but the testimony from Atlantic Canada and Quebec must be provided full consideration.
My second comment relates to the first. Some senators raised concern that the transcripts from our travel are only available in the language spoken on the floor. With the exception of Quebec City, the majority of the testimony heard was in English, meaning some senators are still unable to consult the French record. Also, many of the briefs submitted have yet to be translated. Notably, the Government of Quebec submitted a lengthy document outlining their detailed concerns with specific aspects of the bill. This document was received in French, and the English translation has yet to be received.
Several senators on this committee had to be absent last week due to commitments with Bill C-48 in the Transport Committee, including Senator Tkachuk, the critic of this bill; Senator Neufeld, a long-time chair of this committee; and myself, a long-time member of the Transport Committee. Unfortunately, we weren’t here when government officials provided their briefing last week regarding the project list. Details of that briefing have implications on the committee’s work and the amendments we propose. We need to adequately consult with stakeholders on the matter.
We as a committee have agreed to have our amendments ready, vetted, translated and had drafted by the law clerks and available to our committee clerk by May 1 in order to begin clause-by-clause consideration this week. On such an expansive bill, this has proven to have been an unrealistic request of our law clerks. In many cases, despite having them submitted weeks ago, senators have only just received their amendments. This is the reality we are facing with the size and complexity of this particular bill.
There was an agreement on the record last week to revisit the discussion of clause-by-clause consideration as well as the reporting date when the committee was to meet on Thursday. Unfortunately, on Thursday the chair did not see fit to honour that agreement and quickly adjourned the meeting before it could be discussed. That discussion was meant to be in the spirit cooperation following constructive talks had by committee members on Tuesday evening.
Here we are today with a complex issue, an inadequate record and we are about to dive into clause-by-clause consideration of one of the most controversial bills I have seen in my 10 years in the Senate. I wish we could have had that constructive discussion on Thursday, but we were denied that opportunity. That was a missed opportunity.
We have heard this over and over again during our hearings: “We have to get this right. We have a difficult task, but we have to get it right. There are serious consequences to getting this wrong. Livelihoods across this country are at stake.” Our side is committed to having clause-by-clause consideration of the bill completed by next week. We want to fix this bill, and we are prepared to work diligently to get it right.
The bill itself is nearly 400 pages in length. Getting through clause-by-clause consideration in an orderly and timely manner will be difficult, especially with so many amendments expected and committed to a tight deadline. Colleagues, we have listened to Canadians across the country, quite literally. We went to Vancouver, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, St. John’s, Halifax, Saint John and Quebec City in addition to the many hearings here, in Ottawa. This has been the most extensive study of legislation I have ever seen by a committee. Now we must act on the evidence. We have to advance what the witnesses told us is required to address this seriously flawed legislation.
Judging from what I have heard from stakeholders over and over again, there is a commonality of support for packages of proposed amendments. We have also heard over and over that again these packages must be considered a suite of amendments, a system that must be adopted holistically. It was made clear to us for a variety of reasons that cherry-picking certain amendments cannot be an option. The committee heard that Bill C-69, in its current form, is not an option. The prevailing view of the bill in the country is overwhelmingly negative. We heard it from the provinces, the municipalities and the national industry associations.
In fact, industry has told us that their proposed amendments already represent a significant compromise on their part in good faith and they are not willing to further compromise on their compromise. We need to strike the balance between environmental protection and resource development, and we need to do it by next week. I think working clause by clause in this circumstance will only prove difficult and time-consuming.
With that said, and in the interests of efficiency, I am prepared to table a system of amendments that Conservative senators, and others, are prepared to adopt at clause by clause. All of these amendments are based on the evidence and proposals from municipal associations. They have been asked for in principle by provincial governments and in fields on matters of share jurisdiction.
Last but not least, these amendments come from key national industry associations that have argued their case — organizations such as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, which provides tens of thousands of middle-class jobs in our country. We heard countless organizations, including provincial governments, endorse those packages.
I am tabling the amendment package for your consideration. They are labelled “CPC,” as well as “CC” for those prepared by Senator Carignan. These are reasonable amendments based on the multitude of common proposals we heard over and over again. You won’t find any surprises in these amendments.
The Chair: Do we have your amendments?
Senator MacDonald: Yes. In the interests of making our task more timely and reasonable, I am proposing that committee members also endorse the amendments proposed in this package. I want to note that endorsing these amendments will not prevent us from considering additional amendments affecting other areas of the bill during clause by clause. I propose the following motion:
That, the committee agree to endorse the package of amendments hereby tabled, which are based entirely on the requests made by municipal associations, key national industry associations, and asked for in principle by the provincial governments.
The Chair: I just want to make a point of clarification, because the deputy chair mentioned that I adjourned a meeting last Thursday. The agenda was exhausted, and the time had ended. I was not aware that your group or your caucus wanted to have a discussion. However, I did propose to use Monday to discuss, and that was of no interest. I wanted to put that in the record.
Senator Woo: Thank you, chair. Thank you, Senator MacDonald, for your suggestion. We have only just received the package, so it’s difficult for us to take in all you have said.
Senator MacDonald: We just received a bunch ourselves.
Senator Woo: As you all know, we tried to have a process where we could have shared amendments weeks earlier, but some colleagues insisted that amendments would only be shared at clause by clause. That’s water under the bridge.
You have moved a motion that we adopt 192 pages of amendments on the spot, when we have seen this for only 30 seconds. That seems to me to be not just an impossible task for us but an irresponsible action on our part when we have not had time to review the amendments carefully.
I want to raise another point and get some clarification from you. You have mentioned that these amendments are from witnesses, and you referred specifically to amendments from industry groups. I remember well that a number of industry groups — I think, to be specific, they were the oil and gas industry groups, CAPP and CEPA — gave us an extensive package of amendments which they said they wanted us to adopt in total, holus-bolus, without any cherry-picking, as you say.
At a quick glance, it looks to me that the vast majority of these amendments reflect the entirety of the CAPP and CEPA packages. I accept that both groups have submitted their amendments to us in good faith and in advocating for their industries, but I ask senators to think very carefully about whether it is appropriate for senators in the upper house of the Canadian Parliament to take a substantial package, written entirely by an industry group, and to adopt it holus-bolus, without our value-added, sober second thought and an attempt to balance the interests put forward by industry with the other interests affected by this bill.
What I would like to suggest, colleagues, is that we not take amendments uncritically as they are given to us from witnesses but that we use our own intelligence, judgment and wisdom, based on the witness testimony we have received from many groups, and we craft amendments that try to strike a balance.
Now, without prejudging how you will react to the ISG amendments, we have done exactly that. We have listened to the views of industry. We have listened to the views of municipalities, of NGOs, the provinces and First Nations groups, and we have not taken the language they gave us because I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to simply take language as given to us.
We are senators. We are not stenographers. What we have done is taken the information and the input and we have crafted amendments that respond to the issues and the needs that these various stakeholders have put forward, but have done so in a way that protects the integrity of the bill, maintains the intent of the new impact assessment agency and, very importantly, aligns the different interests and the delicate balance that was struck in coming up with this bill in the first place.
My admonition to colleagues is to, with due respect, reject this proposal to vote for 192 pages of amendments in one shot, both on the grounds of practicality — we haven’t had time to review it — and on the grounds of principle: we should not simply be taking verbiage from interest groups and approving them without our value-added and sober second thought.
The Chair: Before continuing with the debate, Senator MacDonald, do you agree that your amendments be shared with officials?
Senator MacDonald: Yes. And there are 192 pages, but it’s 70 amendments, just for the record.
Senator Richards: I just wrote a little note here. I won’t be as long as the other two, I don’t think. I have listened to witnesses during both the western and eastern hearings. What struck me is that the vast majority of witnesses who are most directly affected want substantial amendments to Bill C-69, such as provincial governments, companies and workers in the oil and gas sectors and the First Nations through whose territories these pipelines will run.
Opposition to Bill C-69 came, for the most part, from witnesses opposed to any development of Canada’s national resources. Senators on this committee should think about the duty to represent our provinces. We are appointed to represent our provinces, and our provinces of all political parties have presented amendments. I think we have to at least look at them to support them.
In addition, we need to remember the people who are most affected by this bill, the companies whose livelihoods and very existence are affected. More than 100,000 workers have already lost their jobs in the oil and gas sector. These workers reside not only in the Prairie Provinces and B.C., but right across our country. In New Brunswick, there are thousands of workers I know formerly employed in Western Canada now sitting at home in New Brunswick waiting for a call to return. If Bill C-69 passes without the sort of amendments proposed by the provinces and industry associations like CAPP, then they may never get a call back.
This same situation pertains to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. We heard support for amendments from the majority of First Nations people and an overwhelming sense from the majority that they, too, wish to work, compete and prosper in the global market. Their amendments must also be studied and considered.
On another note, I heard from a woman interviewed in Alberta who said she supported arts, culture and education more than pipelines, but I know that arts, culture and all that goes with it, including research, invention and health care, cannot exist without the economic leverage that supports this growth. Losing billions of dollars is not conducive to encouraging art, nor is it true that culture or any social program exists independently of a vital economy. For these reasons, I support Senator MacDonald’s motion.
Senator Simons: As you all know, I’m a senator from Alberta, where this bill is of keen interest to the people I represent. What cheers me in all of this is when I look at the two packages, there is not a lot of radical difference. I think, frankly, that it would be wonderful if my Conservative colleagues on this committee, whom I have really grown to respect over these last few weeks of travelling together — we’ve been in and out of each other’s suitcases. We were privileged as members of the ISG to be able to access the incredible depth of knowledge and expertise of Senator Wetston, who, as you know, is an expert in regulatory law.
I think it’s a bit of a shame that it took us until this meeting to share our amendments, because there is not actually a tremendous amount of daylight between them. I actually think that Senator Wetston has come up with some very ingenious and elegant legal solutions to things that CAPP and CEPA have raised. I think he knows more about regulatory law than pretty much anyone and has come up with suggestions that I think CAPP and CEPA would agree are even better than their initial run through the bill.
We are evenly split across this table. If you defeat all of our amendments and we defeat all of your amendments, we’ll look ridiculous and we will not have improved the bill. We need to come up with a package of amendments among us that has the support of the committee with which we can go back to the Senate and say, “We put aside partisan differences. We worked together to make a better bill — amendments that the government will find much harder to turn down, because they come with the legitimacy of the support of this committee.”
Gentlemen, with respect, I’d rather we not measure whose package of amendments is bigger. I wish that we could take a moment to catch our breath, go through them and decide. For example, let’s look at the amendment our Conservative colleagues have proposed to clause 1.02: “Fostering sustainability and improving investor confidence in all regions of Canada.” Meanwhile, ours says, “Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to enhancing Canada’s global competitiveness by building a system that enables decisions to be made in a predictable and timely manner, thereby providing certainty to investors and stakeholders, driving innovation and enabling the carrying out of sound projects that create jobs for Canadians.” Those are the same. It would be ridiculous for us to fight about, “You take mine; I’ll take yours.” Could we not collectively draw upon the relationships we’ve built over the last few months, go through these and say, “Oh, that’s actually a good idea. We hadn’t thought of that” or “Actually, our wording and yours — we’re agnostic between them.”
You propose all of yours, and we propose all of ours. They don’t go forward. Couldn’t we please have some common sense and rationalize this?
Senator MacDonald: If I could respond, we’re not proposing not to have common sense and to work with this. What we are proposing with ours is to accept the amendments in principle and good faith. We understand you will have to go through them all in detail and decide which ones are acceptable and which ones are not.
We don’t want to get into a tug of war. We’re just refusing each other’s —
Senator Simons: But couldn’t we perhaps invest some time to look at them side by side and note that they are two different ways of saying the same thing? You might discover that you like our formulation better on one, and we might discover we like your formulation on another. I shouldn’t say “we,” because, of course, in the ISG, we are independent senators. As an Alberta senator, I might find that I like an amendment you’ve proposed better than one in our package.
We will have wasted the time and money spent on all of those public hearings and the time invested in this bill. We need to bring forward a package of amendments that we can take back to the full body of the Senate, and stand behind them and not say that it passed by a margin of one vote. If we can come back to them and tell the chamber that we passed these, then we can say to the Government of Canada, “We have a broad consensus of ways that will improve your bill and make it better at achieving the goals you want it to achieve.”
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Woo: I just wondered if Senator MacDonald could clarify something. He said he’s asking for us to approve the package of amendments in principle. That’s quite different from approving the amendments. I don’t understand what “approving in principle” means, either.
Senator Tkachuk: He’s not on the speaker’s list, and he’s already spoken.
Senator Woo: I’m asking for a point of clarification, if I may. Senator MacDonald, are you saying that if we accept your motion, the entire package is accepted in total as amendments? Is that what you’re asking for?
Senator MacDonald: We want all of ours to be accepted in principle, as yours is, as you put yours forward.
Senator Woo: I don’t understand that.
Senator MacDonald: These proposals come from provinces and industries. We want to put them up as an entire package to be accepted.
The Chair: We all understand it’s the entire package.
Senator Seidman: I want to speak in support of Senator MacDonald’s motion. I want to remind us all of the extraordinary testimony we’ve heard from the provinces on Bill C-69 and why we’ve paid particular attention to the provinces’ testimony in our amendment package. Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told this committee that Bill C-69, as currently written, does not work for Alberta. Current Premier Jason Kenney told the committee:
Madam Chairman, this bill, if passed in anything like its current form, will, in the submission of the Alberta government, be a disaster for the Canadian economy and will seriously rupture national unity.
If it passes in anything like its current form, the Government of Alberta will launch an immediate constitutional challenge . . .
The Saskatchewan Minister of Energy and Resources Bronwyn Eyre told this committee:
It’s hard not to be cynical that, as provinces, we are simply being co-opted by this process, which is why this part of the process in the Senate with you is so important. It provides a chance to turn things around when it comes to what would be an economically devastating bill . . .
I would also note that the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan voted unanimously to call on the government to halt this bill. The government of Manitoba wrote this committee a letter that reads:
Manitoba is concerned that Bill C-69, in its current form, will increase regulatory burdens, costs, and timelines for projects, without meaningfully improving environmental outcomes. The effect of these changes ultimately will drive down investment, compound the economic losses in the resource sector, and sacrifice jobs.
Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford told this committee:
We believe that if passed in its current form, Bill C-69 would, potentially, stymie economic growth and competitiveness, kill jobs and rob hard-working Ontario families of the opportunities they have a right to access.
Quebec Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change Benoit Charette told this committee that they asked to come before us precisely because they have had no meaningful discussions with the Government of Canada about their concerns with Bill C-69, which they have expressed over the course of the last two years. Furthermore, the bill, as it was adopted by the House of Commons, does not address their most important concerns.
Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady told this committee:
As senators, you have the opportunity to amend this legislation and create a bill for impact assessment that balances environmental protection with economic development.
The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador agrees and respectfully asks for amendments to Bill C-69 in order to realize the full potential of our offshore resources, not just for Newfoundland and Labrador but indeed all of Canada.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told this committee:
Let me be frank: This bill, in its current form, is an impediment to investment in New Brunswick, in Atlantic Canada and in Canada’s energy sector. I have spent months hearing from community leaders, business leaders and individuals from all walks of life. It’s very hard not to conclude that this bill is a no-pipeline bill.
And he implored us to substantially amend Bill C-69.
Four Atlantic premiers, including three Liberals, signed a letter that reads:
. . . Bill C-69 as it is currently drafted . . . will not meet the dual objectives of environmental protection and economic growth. The Bill is also inconsistent with the joint management principles of the Atlantic Accord Acts and introduces considerable discretion into decision-making processes that should be predictable and science-based. . .
We all heard this testimony. It’s pretty powerful when you put it all together and listen to it.
So it’s not business as usual for almost every province that has come to us with such serious concerns about government legislation. These governments were democratically elected and represent the vast majority of Canadians, and a clear majority of them are specifically asking us to amend Bill C-69. For that reason, I support Senator MacDonald’s motion, which includes these concerns of the provinces.
Senator Cordy: I agree with Senator Simons’ comments that it’s a shame we didn’t receive amendments ahead of time, because we would have been able to compare them and see commonalties and distinct differences.
I’ve gone through all of the CAPP amendments. I’ve examined them closely, because I know they presented a very clear package. Some of their amendments I agree with and some I couldn’t agree with, so I couldn’t support the whole package.
I think we’ve all agreed that we could have amendments. We have one package of 192 pages from the Conservative caucus. We have 157 pages from the ISG. We have a stack from Senator Carignan. I have amendments, and I think somewhere in all of this paperwork we have amendments from Senator Mitchell.
I don’t think there’s anyone around the table who is suggesting that there should be no amendments to this bill. That’s a positive thing.
We’ve all worked extremely hard. We’ve listened to a lot of witnesses. I think it’s over 200 witnesses. We’ve read testimony, if for some reason we weren’t able to attend a meeting. I’ve certainly read the testimony from meetings I wasn’t able to attend. We’ve all worked extremely hard on this legislation.
Like Senator Richards, I’m also from Atlantic Canada. There are many Atlantic Canadians who have gone to work in Alberta, or many from Nova Scotia who travelled back and forth. Coming to Ottawa, I would see them on the plane on Monday mornings, and I would see them on Thursday night or Friday morning flying back to Nova Scotia.
That stopped a number of years ago, in 2013-14. I wasn’t seeing the people on the plane. You could see what was happening, because the oil industry has its peaks and valleys. You could see the valleys starting in 2012-13.
That was long before Bill C-69. I heard people saying it was as a result of Bill C-69, but it started long before. It started with the previous government, or certainly what I saw on the airplane did.
I can’t approve a package of 192 pages without examining it closely, not after all the work that I’ve done in listening to witnesses and preparing amendments and reading. I’m a quick reader, but I felt like I was reading non-stop. But I did it because it was important.
I thought that we would work through the various clauses and we would look at all the amendments that came forward from a particular clause, and we would be able to say, “I like this one better than I like this one,” or, “Maybe we should blend the two,” which would have been an advantage, as Senator Simons said, to getting them beforehand.
I can’t just, in good conscience, vote for a whole package.
The Chair: I will notify you that at 5:54 there is a vote in the chamber. I think we have time for two more senators to speak before that.
Senator Tkachuk: We still have 15 minutes before the vote. I think we should go now, actually. The vote is at 5:54, is that what you said?
The Chair: Yes. We will listen to you and then we will go.
Senator Tkachuk: I’ll try and make it short, then. I just wanted to make a number of points.
We have asked that these amendments be placed and accepted in principle.
The Chair: It’s not in principle. He has said that it’s as they are.
Senator Tkachuk: Yes, this is the hard work of the municipal leaders, the provinces and industry to present amendments to us. We want all of these amendments to be considered. We’re still going to have to deal with them one by one, but we want all of them considered.
That’s what we have here in front of us, and that’s why we’ve tabled all of the amendments and we’ve asked that they be accepted. They will all be part of the process.
I agree with Senator Simons. We have a package of amendments that we should have a strong look at that has been put together by the ISG senators, and this is going to be a complicated process. I would rather that we take some time to have a look at both sets of amendments and have the law clerk see which ones are similar so that we can move all those and discuss those amendments together. I think we can move through the process a lot quicker, which I think is in the interests of the government and the majority in the Senate.
Senator Simons, I know we can all agree here on amendments. Whoopee for us if we get them passed, but I remember we did this in Transport. Both sides agreed, and the government rejected almost all of them.
That’s something where we can work, at the same time, to see whether any of these amendments will have the acceptance of the government or whether they will reject them, and whether the ISG will stand fast with the amendments or melt with the government’s proposal.
The Chair: Senators, I will let you go to vote. When we come back, I will wait until everybody is here to start.
(The committee suspended.)
(The committee resumed.)
The Chair: Colleagues, we will resume the meeting.
Senator McCallum: I wanted to bring people’s attention to First Nations issues and the environment. They are the people who are most affected. When I look at what’s happened in the communities, it’s destroying the environment, biodiversity, the land base and the lives of First Nations and it is through the adverse impacts of resource extraction.
We had a lot of environmentalists who came and presented their concerns about the marine environment when we went to the East Coast, what was happening there with seismic exploration, the dams all across the North and what has been left on the lands of First Nations. I want everyone to remember that. I’m not against the economy, I just want a balance because we can’t continue to adversely impact the lives of one segment of Canadians, the Indigenous people. Thank you.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you very much. I want to echo the sentiments of Senator Patterson who thanked everyone for doing so much work. It’s clear that has continued with the level of —
The Chair: You mean Senator MacDonald.
Senator Mitchell: I’m sorry. What did I say? Senator MacDonald. I’m sure Senator Patterson was thinking that too. Senator MacDonald, I’m sorry.
It’s clear that the level of that intense work has been sustained, as we see in the volume and I’m sure the excellence of these amendments.
I would like to, however, address a couple of the assumptions that have been made about why the Conservative package should be considered at once.
First, it was argued that we have heard from municipalities, provinces and industry, and that’s absolutely true. Of course, they’re extremely important stakeholders, and they might be seen as being beyond stakeholders. But as Senator McCallum indicated, they are not the only stakeholders, interest groups or people we’ve heard from during this process. We’ve heard from environmental groups, Indigenous peoples and ordinary Canadians across this country. I think it’s true that in my years here, I’ve never been more approached, lobbied or received greater input with greater intensity than I have in this, but it hasn’t only been from industry, from municipalities and from provinces.
The second assumption is not true. It’s a problematic assumption that there’s been overwhelming opposition. I don’t agree. There’s been intense opposition from some highly sophisticated groups who come with highly sophisticated lobbies. But there has been a great deal of support for this bill as well from, among others, certain industrial sectors — not just a single industrial sector that is the only one that has had input and happens to be in opposition — as well as environmental groups, Indigenous peoples and ordinary Canadians across this country. I want to make that very clear.
Then it brings me to the point that not only is there support, there is also support for amendments. That brings me to the process of how we would amend. I can’t believe that we would be asked to write a blank cheque on 200 pages of amendments. I just don’t see how it is that we would do that.
What we would miss is the ability to look at the two, three or four packages of amendments in comparison and maybe we’ll find — in fact, I think we might — where they sometimes complement, supplement and clarify one another. That’s helpful. We would also miss the opportunity to look at exactly where they overlap or conflict, and where serious specific debate, consideration and analysis would have to be done.
The case of Bill C-49, which was ably handled by Senator Tkachuk, was very different because the clerks could look at, categorize and compare the amendments. But, in fact, the amendments were all written by the same clerks, sometimes for different senators, and they couldn’t tell one to the other they were doing it until it came together. You could see they were exact copies so you could get rid of one.
I think in this case they won’t be exact copies. I think the most effective and the only way we go through it is page by page, line by line, clause by clause, comparing what various senators have presented and then look at whether they supplement, complement or whether they’re in conflict and make decisions on the spot.
What I am concerned about is that we’ve had this bill for almost a year and here we are finally getting to clause by clause with maybe five sitting weeks to go. We have to do third reading. We have to report. We have to get the message over and back. And again we’re an hour and a quarter into this process, at our first opportunity for clause-by-clause potential, and we haven’t even started.
I think we should say, “Thank you for the proposal,” let’s set that aside, get to work and start going clause by clause, line by line and page by page. If we get after it and spend four or five hours tonight get a good start, we’ll find we will get through this quickly and do our jobs on behalf of Canadians.
Senator Massicotte: Chair, a point of clarification. We can talk about a lot of stuff. My understanding, in discussion with Senator Tkachuk and Senator MacDonald, is that the intention of his motion was not to say we must adopt and accept the amendments word for word. I think the intention was more to say that he submits this for our serious consideration, we endeavour to seriously study every amendment proposed, and to assist us in the process we will hereafter give all our amendments to the law clerks. Then we will have a table of comparisons of all the amendments to allow us to know exactly what we agree and don’t agree with as a working tool in the future.
We are not being asked to accept the amendments as proposed. That’s off the table. That’s a point of clarification. I think we’re finally adopting a good process.
Senator Carignan: The purpose of the motion is to expedite the study of a considerable number of amendments from each side. Therefore, we would accept the proposed amendments in principle, including them in the bill, and, then, deal with each of them as part of the clause-by-clause consideration. That doesn’t stop us from moving a subamendment for clarification further to an amendment by the ISG senators. The idea is to include, from the outset, the package of amendments that we have agreed to in principle. It would speed up the process significantly if we want to meet our goal of adopting the report on May 16, I believe. That’s the idea behind the motion.
Senator Woo: Point of order, chair. I don’t believe there is such a process in clause by clause, and I would like our clerks to clarify if this is even possible. I’ve never heard of approving amendments in bulk in principle. Senator Massicotte tried to be very helpful in clarifying that that wasn’t the intent of Senator MacDonald’s motion, but Senator Carignan has now, I think, contradicted Senator Massicotte. Maybe Senator MacDonald can clarify it for us, because it’s his motion. We need to know exactly what you’re asking us to vote on.
Senator Mitchell: I’d like to add to that point of order. What this has the implications of doing is passing all of these amendments. So in order for them to be rejected, they would have to be rejected with a majority vote. Everybody here knows full well that we have a 50-50 split. Once these are passed in amendments, you could never get rid of them with a 50-50 split.
If you want to do it that way, then we would pass all of these in principle. Although I don’t know how you would pass two amendments in principle that would be based on conflict in principle. It just doesn’t work. I’m very suspicious, because I’ve never heard of it before. I think that may be the implication. I’m not saying you have thought that through, but I’m pretty sure that’s the implication. Once they’re passed in principle, we can’t defeat them on a tie vote, and all we’ve got here are tied votes. It emphasizes that we don’t want to play games like this, that we have to treat this very seriously and above politics and above reproach. We need to be able to deal with these in substance and not be tricked. I think we have to really watch that.
The Chair: Senator Cordy, is it related to —
Senator Tkachuk: A point of clarification, Senator Mitchell. Who is “we”?
Senator Mitchell: I’m saying this committee will be in a position where it will only be able to defeat those ostensibly passed — in fact passed — amendments on a majority vote. There is no way to get a majority vote, basically, because we’re split 50-50. I don’t think we need to go down there. All we need to do is start talking about the amendments. Nobody is stopping them from supporting their amendments.
The Chair: I want clarification from the senator who put up the motion. What exactly is your intent? Can you clarify?
Senator MacDonald: I’ll read the last part of the motion to you. The motion was, “That, the committee agree to endorse a package of amendments hereby tabled” — and who put the motions up are the municipalities, national industries — “and asked for in principle by the provincial governments.”
We want our amendments, along with Senator Wetston’s amendments — the ISG amendments — turned over to the law clerks so they can go through these amendments and put together a package of amendments that we can all go through and vote on.
The Chair: It is clear that we had a different understanding of what the motion was. It now appears more clear that the intention is to put the amendments from the Conservative caucus together with the amendments of the ISG and all other amendments so that the law clerk’s office can put them together and prepare a document that allows us to compare them.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Agreed? Is that the question?
Senator Simons: Then we need to amend the motion, because that’s not what the motion says.
Senator MacDonald: I can withdraw that motion and put together a new motion.
The Chair: Can I put the motion, then? So I move that the law clerks take all the amendments that have been submitted up to today into a new document that allows us to compare and to come to the next meeting and go clause by clause —
They do not do the comparison, that’s true.
They say they can review for duplications and identify where there are multiple amendments. They’ll do that?
Maxime Fortin, Clerk of the Committee: The law clerks don’t provide legal analysis.
The Chair: No need for analysis. Is that agreed? Question. Who agrees?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Unanimous?
Some Hon. Senators: Unanimous.
Senator Mitchell: I don’t know if this is the point when I should raise this, but I will raise it and you can tell me when we should discuss it.
This now, of course, raises the question that we’ve lost tonight’s time to work on clause by clause. We need to think about other meetings, extending meetings or extra meetings because we have a deadline of next week.
The Chair: We need more time. We will move a motion in chamber that we have permission to sit on Monday and maybe —
Senator MacDonald: We already have an extra day. Normally, we would be sitting Tuesday, Thursday and potentially Monday, but now we’ll sit Thursday, Tuesday, Thursday and potentially Monday. We have an extra day already.
The Chair: Do we have agreement?
Ms. Fortin: You don’t have permission to sit.
Senator Woo: I move a motionthat we request the Senate give us permission to sit on Monday, notwithstanding that the Senate may then be sitting.
The Chair: Agreed?
Ms. Fortin: Just Monday, or do you want Tuesday authorized too? Do you want to extend the hours on Tuesday and Thursday?
The Chair: We want to extend the hours on Tuesday and Thursday just in case.
Senator Woo: I would like to amend my motion to sit on Monday, even if the Senate is sitting; to also be able to sit on Tuesday and Thursday, even if the Senate is sitting; and to have the possibility of sitting an extra hour on any of those days if it’s needed.
Senator Neufeld: Monday is just wide open, so we need to have a time.
Senator Woo: How about 6:00 to 8:00, or 6:00 to 9:00?
The Chair: Yes, 6:00 to 9:00 on Monday.
Senator Cordy: Chair, I thought the agreement was that we present a report to the Senate on Thursday. So we would have to sit on Thursday morning, extended hours, of this week and possibly —
The Chair: After we finish with the amendments, we have to give them time to do the report. So, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen on Thursday.
Senator Mockler: I’ve seen that other amendments were provided to us in committee today. Have you had any other indication that senators or others will bring amendments to you?
The Chair: In the chamber.
Senator Mockler: In the chamber only. That’s okay. Thank you. That’s what I wanted to know.
Senator Cordy: If we sit this Thursday, which we will be doing, we’ll be looking at amendments. Do we already have extended hours? I don’t think it was a blanket permission.
The Chair: We have extended hours.
Senator Cordy: We have extended hours for Thursday? So Monday we’ll sit from 6:00 to 9:00, and on Tuesday, we will sit from 5:00 until when?Why don’t we extend Tuesday’s hours?
The Chair: It is 5:00 to 9:00.
Senator Cordy: Because then perhaps we could finish on Tuesday. Then they can work on them, and they’ll be ready perhaps Thursday or Friday.
The Chair: We’ll do our best.
Senator Mitchell: The leadership has an agreement to get this done by May 16. That’s been endorsed by the Conservative leadership. Basically, therefore, we have three meetings — Thursday, Monday and Tuesday — so we have to be very committed to getting it done so we can meet that agreement. Thursday we have to have a written report that we can then approve. Or Friday; or we can report back Friday, I think. But the deal is May 16.
Senator MacDonald: The agreement for May 16 is to finish clause by clause. The agreement with leadership was to finish clause by clause, not the report.
Senator Woo: I’m part of the leader’s group, and the agreement is to complete clause by clause the week of May 14, that’s correct.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you, Senator Woo.
The Chair: The staff will need the break week to prepare the report. Is that okay? Okay. I think we are done for tonight. Any more issues? No more issues?
Before we adjourn, I want to tell members of this committee that the deadline for submitting amendments to be included in the table has passed.
Senator Neufeld: Does that include Thursday’s committee?
The Chair: No.
Senator Patterson: Point of order. Madam Chair, I don’t believe you can arbitrarily reject any further amendments.
The Chair: It’s for the table that we want to compare.
Senator Patterson: I’m working on an amendment, and I don’t want to have my privileges eliminated by the chair.
The Chair: I understand, but a table will be ready and you can submit it to the committee on the spot.
Senator Neufeld: You may have to amend something to get to clause by clause.
Senator Patterson: Thank you.
The Chair: So with that, the meeting is adjourned.
Senator Carignan: Point of order. You need a motion to adjourn the meeting. I move the motion.