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THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, met this day at 3:15 p.m. to give clause-by-clause consideration to the bill.

Senator Serge Joyal (Chair) in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chair: Honourable senators, welcome to the meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. We are continuing our clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

[English]

When we left off last week, we were on clause 37 and it was an amendment proposed by the Honourable Senator McIntyre. Senator McIntyre, you have the floor in consideration of the amendment to clause 37 on page 26.

[Translation]

Senator McIntyre: I withdraw my amendment.

[English]

The Chair: Senator McIntyre is withdrawing his amendment. Do I have the concurrence of the committee to allow Senator McIntyre to withdraw the amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Agreed. Thank you, Senator McIntyre.

We will now go to the next senator on the list of amendments in relation to clause 37.

[Translation]

Senator Ringuette, as the sponsor of the bill, I would ask you to table the amendment that you want to make to clause 37 on page 28. I believe it is amendment... I will give senators the amendment number. It is amendment PR-13.

[English]

It is PR13 in the list of amendments that have been circulated. I will repeat the number to make sure our colleagues have a copy of it. Welcome, Senator Smith, we will make sure that you have a copy of the amendments.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: I would like to say that I have an amendment to clause 37 on page 27.

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Boisvenu: What document are you referring to?

Senator Ringuette: Amendment PR-13.

The Chair: Senator Boisvenu, I also have an amendment to clause 37 on page 29, line 27. On what line is your amendment? Usually, we would consider it after we examine the other amendments.

Senator Boisvenu: It is at line 18.

Senator Ringuette: On what page?

Senator Boisvenu: On Page 27, line 18.

The Chair: Yes, Senator Boisvenu, the amendment that I have to that line was an amendment that followed Senator McIntyre’s main amendment. There were two other amendments related to Senator McIntyre’s main amendment.

I’m sorry, Senator Ringuette. I think it is amendment C-15. Do you have amendment C-15 with you, Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Dupuis: Mr. Chair, could I verify something with you before we move on to amendment C-15? I thought there was another amendment, C-13, that was distributed just today.

The Chair: Yes, that is the amendment that was withdrawn.

Senator Dupuis: That is the one that was withdrawn. Okay.

The Chair: Yes, it was withdrawn.

[English]

C-13 has been withdrawn.

Senator McCoy: Thirteen is no more?

The Chair: No more. I sought the concurrence of the committee and I received it.

Senator McCoy: That was C-13. Is there a C-14? We’re on C-15.

The Chair: No, that’s it. This number doesn’t exist in the list of the amendments, senator.

All honourable senators have a copy of C-15? May I invite Senator Boisvenu to table the amendment?

[Translation]

Could you table the amendment, Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: With pleasure, Mr. Chair. It is proposed that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 37, on page 27, by adding the following after line 18:

75.3 Within 30 days after the end of the first month in which a ministerial adviser or a member of ministerial staff receives severance pay or any similar payment as a result of the end of his or her employment, the minister for whom the person was an adviser or member of ministerial staff — or, if that minister is no longer in office, the President of the Treasury Board — shall cause to be published in electronic form the following information:

(a) the name of the person;

(b) the date on which they ceased to serve as a ministerial adviser or member of ministerial staff; and

(c) the total amount of the payment.”.

This is an amendment that pertains to the voluntary disclosure of expenditures or the payments that an employee may receive. It applies particularly to cases involving severance pay or other similar payments. That is it.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator Boisvenu: It is not currently included in the act.

Senator Dupuis: I want to be sure I understand where all that is being inserted. Senator Boisvenu, if I understand correctly, clause 37 on page 25 of Bill C-58 states, “Sections 72 to 77 of the Act are replaced by the following”, and that is followed by sections 72, 73, 74 and 75.

Senator Boisvenu: Yes, it would be part of section 75 on travel.

Senator Dupuis: Clause 75 on travel expenses. You’re saying you want to add a section 75.3.

Senator Boisvenu: Well, it will actually end up being section 75.1, but the number is not really important at this point. The legislative drafters will put them in order.

Senator Dupuis: So it’s section 75.1.

Senator Boisvenu: Because there is a section 75 but no section 75.1, 75.2 or 75.3, so 75.3 will become 75.1.

Senator Dupuis: That is what I wanted to know. That section talks about briefing materials, ministerial advisers, ministerial staff members, travel expenses, hospitality expenses and contracts.

Senator Boisvenu: There are no severance expenses. You are talking about payments.

Senator Dupuis: Yes, so you are talking here about severance pay or any other similar payments.

Senator Boisvenu: The severance pay given to senior officials gets published. This would just add to that.

The Chair: Are there any other comments before we proceed with the vote?

Senator Ringuette: Senator Boisvenu just told us that it is the same situation for senior officials.

Senator Boisvenu: When they are given severance pay.

Senator Ringuette: But where is that found in Bill C-58?

Senator Boisvenu: If a senior official leaves his or her job and is given severance pay, for example, that amount is made public.

Senator Ringuette: Where is that found in the bill?

Senator Boisvenu: Listen, I didn’t go through the whole thing.

The Chair: I believe it is in section 75 at the bottom of page 26.

75 Within 30 days after the end of the month in which any travel expenses incurred by a minister, any of his or her ministerial advisers or any member of his or her ministerial staff are reimbursed, the minister shall cause to be published in electronic form the following information:...

Senator Ringuette: That pertains to transportation and travel expenses. None of those sections have anything to do with severance pay. Senator Boisvenu just told us that senior officials are required to disclose these amounts. I would like him to tell us where in Bill C-58 it talks about the disclosure of severance pay amounts on the part of senior officials.

Senator Boisvenu: Perhaps I am thinking of my former life when I worked with the provincial government. When a deputy minister left, the amount he or she was given was made public.

Senator Ringuette: That is not in Bill C-58. I think this amendment is unfounded and completely out of order.

The Chair: Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

Senator Boisvenu: I would like the senator to explain why my amendment is out of order. The bill already talks about travel and transportation. I am talking about someone leaving their job and introducing the notion of voluntary disclosure for severance pay. Take for example Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, who left his job. We do not know whether he got any severance pay, but if he did, that amount is not subject to Bill C-58. However, if he moved to Ottawa, the cost of his move would be made public. All I’m saying is that, if we are talking about voluntary disclosure, that expense or that severance pay, which is paid for by Canadian taxpayers, should be made public.

[English]

Senator Gold: It strikes me that this is out of scope. It’s a whole new category of expenses that were not contemplated in the bill. Having said that, why don’t we proceed to the vote.

Senator Batters: This is the Access to Information Act. It’s a complete revamp of the act brought forward by the Government of Canada. This is in the section directly dealing with amounts paid for ministerial staff and exempt staff. We were dealing with travel expenses. This is just yet another type of payment. There aren’t that many types of payments that are potentially included for that type of employee, but severance pay is certainly one of them. As we’ve seen, when we try to get answers about these types of things from the Government Leader in the Senate, we don’t get answers. Maybe the act should be amended so we can get some answers there.

[Translation]

Senator McIntyre: I think that we support Senator Boisvenu’s amendment. It amends the bill so that employees’ severance pay must be disclosed. I think that Canadians have the right to know how much that is costing them. It is a matter of transparency.

The Chair: Does anyone else have anything to say?

[English]

In relation to the argument of Senator Ringuette, I would like to refer you to the decision of the Speaker last week in relation to the motion introduced by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Senator Smith was there. I don’t have the text, but I asked for the text of the ruling of the Speaker. Essentially, it was this: Was the amendment within the scope and the principle of the motion? The same principle applies in relation to an amendment introduced in relation to legislation. What is the scope and the principle of that legislation.

The scope of the legislation covers a certain amount of information. It’s at the end of the Speaker’s ruling.

I would read again, if you allow me, honourable senators, the section of the ruling of the Speaker in my opinion that applies in this circumstance:

The issue of the receivability of amendments usually arises in terms of proposed changes to bills, where issues of principle, relevancy, and scope have been examined with some regularity. As noted in a ruling of December 9, 2009:

It may generally be helpful to view the principle as the intention underlying a bill. The scope of the bill would then be related to the parameters the bill sets in reaching any goals or objectives that it contains, or the general mechanisms it envisions to fulfil its intentions. Finally, relevancy takes into account how an amendment relates to the scope or principle of the bill under examination.

That is the principle. I understand that the scope of the bill, of course, is to allow greater access to information for ministerial advisers or any member of his or ministerial staff. What the amendment seeks to achieve essentially is to add additional information within that category of people. So the amendment of Senator Boisvenu doesn’t change the category. We remain within the category, so within the scope. And the principle is to add additional information. In my own interpretation of the amendment, the amendment is receivable.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Amendments C-15 and C-16 are of a similar nature. Amendment C-16 has to do with reimbursements for relocation. Senators will recall that, when the Liberal government took office, Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet claimed nearly $1 million in moving expenses. It was all over the news. That’s when the Prime Minister promised to be more transparent.

Amendments C-15 and C-16 are therefore similar in nature. Ministers incur expenses that are not covered by the act. If I want to know how much severance pay a chief of staff received, the law would not allow me to have access to that information. With regard to voluntary disclosure, any significant expenses incurred on behalf of the state that are paid for with taxpayers’ money should not be kept secret. That information should be voluntarily disclosed. It would make the process more transparent.

Senator Gold: You gave your opinion and I agree with it. Can we proceed with the vote?

[English]

The Chair: If there is no other intervention, I will ask the question to the honourable senators. Seeing no other intervention, all those in favour of the amendment as proposed by Senator Boisvenu, please raise your hand.

All those opposed?

It’s a tie, so the amendment is defeated.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Yes. In keeping with the transparent approach promised by the Liberal government, I propose that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 37, on page 27, by adding —

Senator Ringuette: We do not have the amendment.

[English]

The Chair: I’m sorry, honourable senators. I should have prevented you from speaking by asking that the amendment be circulated. It is identified by the letters and date C-16. It’s being circulated.

[Translation]

Could you officially table the amendment, please, Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: That Bill C-58 be amended in clause 37, on page 27, by adding the following after line 18:

75.4 Within 30 days after the end of the month in which a ministerial adviser or any member of ministerial staff receives a payment or reimbursement for expenses related to relocation, the minister for whom that person is an adviser or a member of ministerial staff — or, if that minister is no longer in office, the President of the Treasury Board — shall cause to be published in electronic form the following information:

(a) the name of the ministerial adviser or member of ministerial staff;

(b) the date of the payment or reimbursement;

(c) the amount of the payment or reimbursement; and

(d) the reason for the payment or reimbursement.”.

The Prime Minister could have tabled this amendment because it relates to the election promise he made a few years ago to be more transparent about expenses, particularly the moving expenses of advisers. Basically, I’m here to say that this was a government promise. I know that the vote might be divided on this issue, but I am putting the ball in my independent friends’ court. Will you honour the Prime Minister’s promise?

[English]

Senator McCoy: I’m more favourably inclined to this amendment, Senator Boisvenu. The reason I didn’t quite go to approve your previous amendment was it was a personal payment to an individual. I notice all the way through that we’ve been careful not to say, “We will publish my staff’s paycheque.” We’ve been keeping some personal information in check, if I can put it that way. So I think it’s dealt with in the aggregate for privacy reasons. So severance packages, curious though I might be about them, I thought fell in that category. But relocation expenses are more akin to travel expenses, which we are publishing.

I’m forever being told by my colleagues that if the government promised it in an election campaign, then we must do it. Now, I don’t happen to subscribe to that particular philosophy because the government throws promises that it made in the election campaign out the window and front door on a regular basis. So I don’t think that’s a cut-and-dried rule. That’s another argument for another bill. So don’t get me on that. I don’t want to go on a rant.

I think this one has a kinship to travel expenses, so I would vote in favour of this.

[Translation]

Senator McIntyre: I have something to add. In her 2017 recommendations on how to improve Bill C-58, the Information Commissioner said, and I quote:

The government promised the bill would ensure the Act applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices appropriately. It does not.

End quote.

[English]

Senator Batters: On this particular one, I note that there are some provinces — I know that Saskatchewan does this — where all payments above a certain amount are published once a year so you can tell whether that payment is for severance, whether that payment is for the regular salary. If the Government of Saskatchewan pays a certain amount of money to people, the public gets to know about that by virtue of this document being published once a year. And Ontario has something they call a Sunshine List or something like that that is a similar thing where if a payment is above a certain amount, people’s names are published. I think that’s an important aspect of the public having this type of information.

In the matter Senator Boisvenu referred to, yes, we were dealing with for both Chief of Staff Katie Telford and for Gerry Butts, who was the principal secretary, their moving expenses were well in excess of $100,000. These were not $2,000 expenses. I’m not sure why anyone would be opposed to this. Again, I think these are the types of things the public deserves to know the answers to.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: I don’t want to start debating with Senator McCoy, but severance pay is a public expense, not a private one. I just want to remind her of that.

Senator Ringuette: First of all, Public Services and Procurement Canada has a contract for all employee relocation. If I am not mistaken, a bidding process is held every three years for federal government employee relocation.

Basically, moving expenses are not calculated by the employee but by a contractor. A little further on in the bill, it indicates that any contract over $10,000 will be proactively published.

The information that Senator Boisvenu is seeking is covered under “Contracts”, which will surely also pertain to the publication of information regarding the government’s relocation supplier. I do not know what contractor has the contract right now, but the information is already available. I do not see why we would add this to the bill.

The Chair: Can I ask you a question? Do the relocation contracts to which you are referring pertain to public servants, that is to say members of the public service, or do they pertain to ministers’ political staff? Are both groups covered by the same contract?

Senator Ringuette: As far as I know, yes. I can tell you, however, that there is a different contract for the armed forces. The armed forces hold their own bidding process and use their own moving companies.

The Chair: I ask the question because, when I was a political staffer over 40 years ago, moving contracts were covered by the minister’s budget. Things may have changed since then, but at the time... I’m talking about the early 1970s —

Senator Ringuette: As far as I know, they fall under the same contract, and it is only in exceptional cases that the Public Works contractor is not —

The Chair: Is not the responsible authority.

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

[English]

Senator Batters: Just a couple of short points responding to what Senator Ringette was saying.

Actually, for moving expenses, it’s not only contracts that are payable on these types of things. It’s not only amounts paid to third parties, but on the Butts and Telford moving expenses, there were very significant amounts that were classified as incidental amounts payable to both of those people, and they initially received quite a significant amount for those incidentals that was in excess of $10,000, and perhaps in excess of $20,000 — I can’t recall right now — and they voluntarily paid some of that back after there was public uproar about those amounts.

Those were amounts that, in addition to all of their other moving expenses, were paid to them personally and I guess they were meant to compensate for smaller amounts that were not otherwise covered, but they added up to a significant amount.

One other thing I wanted to bring up is that I know in Saskatchewan — I was a ministerial staffer as well, for a while there, as a chief of staff — and I recall when our government came into power in 2007, ministerial employees who had incurred relocation expenses were allowed to be disclosed under The Saskatchewan Act because there were a number of people who had to explain relocation expenses if they were above a certain amount, something that was fully disclosed to the public and to the media.

The Chair: Thank you.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: When it comes to relocation, the government may do business with a certain company in the larger centres. However, if a person is located in Abitibi, if he or she is leaving Abitibi to come and work in Ottawa, there may not necessarily be a designated moving company. When people move — I myself had to move seven times when I was a Government of Quebec employee — there are moving and relocation expenses that they have to pay for themselves, for example, window and floor coverings. Those are added to the cost of temporary housing, which could last a week or two before the person finds an apartment. Often, the “moving” costs are just a small part of the actual cost of the relocation. For example, an article in La Presse indicated that the moving expenses for Mr. Butts and his employee came to over $127,000 and $80,000 respectively for a total of over $200,000. Mr. Trudeau said in that article that he would take full responsibility for the lack of transparency. He promised that his spending would be more transparent moving forward.

I think there are expenses incurred above and beyond what is charged by the movers.

Senator Ringuette: Obviously that information is already available because our colleagues are commenting on it. We already have that information.

Senator Boisvenu: It was made available through an access to information request, not voluntary disclosure, which is not the same thing.

[English]

The Chair: All those in favour of the amendment as proposed by Senator Boisvenu, please raise your hands.

All those opposed?

It is a tie. The amendment is defeated.

[Translation]

Let’s move on to amendment C-16, which would ordinarily be proposed by —

Shaila Anwar, Committee Clerk: I’m sorry. It’s this one.

The Chair: We have finished with amendment C-16. Let’s move on to an amendment moved by Senator Ringuette on behalf of the President of the Treasury Board. Senator Ringuette, if you would, it is amendment PR-13.

[English]

Do all honourable senators have a copy of the amendment PR-13?

[Translation]

Yes. I imagine. I do not have a name. Please proceed, senator.

[English]

Senator Batters, you don’t have a copy? A copy of PR-13 for Senator Batters, please.

[Translation]

You can table the amendment, please, Senator Ringuette.

Senator Ringuette: The amendment reads: That Bill C-58, in clause 37, be amended by

(a) replacing lines 1 to 8 on page 28 with the following:

Contracts over $10,000 77 (1) Within 30 days after the end of each of the first three quarters and within 60 days after the end of each fourth quarter, a minister shall cause to be published in electronic form the following information with respect to any contract that is entered into during the quarter in relation to the activities of the minister’s office that result in expenses being incurred by the minister or by any of his or her ministerial advisers or any member of his or her ministerial staff if the value of the contract is more than $10,000:

(b) replacing line 21 on page 28 with the following:

so that its value exceeds $10,000, or within 60 days after the end of that quarter if that quarter is the fourth quarter, the minister shall cause

(c) replacing line 27 on page 28 with the following:

that its value is increased or decreased by more than $10,000, or within 60 days after the end of that quarter if that quar- ter is the fourth quarter, the minister shall

The Chair: Do you have an explanation?

Senator Ringuette: Yes, there is a problem with regard to year end. The time frame of 30 days is not sufficient to ensure that the end-of-year expenses are all added up, particularly with regard to contracts. For example, a contractor sends his statement of account at the end of March. The spending occurred in March, but the payment will not be made until April. We need to take that lag time into account. That is why the government is requesting this amendment.

Senator Boisvenu: Why did the government not include that in the bill? Why does it want to amend the bill now?

Senator Ringuette: At least it recognized —

Senator Boisvenu: That it made a mistake?

Senator Ringuette: Senator, please. I think that recognizing this and keeping that flexibility at the end of the fiscal year should be acceptable.

Senator Boisvenu: I understand that there was no flexibility when the bill was drafted.

[English]

Senator Batters: I am wondering why there would need to be an extra time frame at the end of a fourth quarter. It doesn’t have to do with when it’s paid. It looks like it’s when the contract is entered into for the particular dates that are being referred to here. The fact that you happened to enter into that contract in the fourth quarter doesn’t mean that it will take more time than any of the other three quarters. I could see if there is something in here about when it’s paid, but I don’t see anything in there indicating about when it’s paid. I don’t know why there would be additional time required.

The Chair: Any other comments, Senator Ringuette, to the issue raised by Senator Batters?

Senator Ringuette: Absolutely not.

The Chair: Are honourable senators ready for the question? All those in favour the amendment please raise your hand.

All those opposed? All those who abstain?

The amendment is carried.

[Translation]

Let’s move on to the next amendment, which is Senator Ringuette’s amendment PR-14. Senator Ringuette, please propose your amendment.

[English]

Senator Ringuette: Senator Batters, do you have it, PR-14? Okay?

I move:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 37, be amended by replacing lines 30 to 34 on page 28 with the following:

Expense reports

78. A minister shall cause to be published an annual report of all expenses that were incurred by his or her office and were paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

That’s in addition to the proactive disclosure.

The Chair: Questions?

Senator McCoy: The effect of your amendment is to say “annually,” but that means I could wait a long time before I see a report. The way it is worded here, it’s within 120 days. That’s within four months. March 31 there would be a report. The other way around it says any time annually.

I really think that the disclosure of information of this kind is generally kept to the last minute. Governments are huge. This is probably the lowest task on some administrative assistant’s table. I already find searching the website of the government is much more difficult to find information than it was 20 years ago. I’m inclined to keep their feet to the fire with 120 days. But you’ve got a good answer, I can see. You are looking at me with a smile on your face, so you go for it.

The Chair: Senator Ringette, do you want to answer the question?

Senator Ringuette: If you allow me, Chair.

The Chair: Yes. After that I have Senator McIntyre.

Senator Ringuette: The annual report here is in regard to the public accounts. The public accounts have a time frame to be tabled, but not necessarily 30 or 120 days. This is entirely different from the proactive disclosure continuously on the minister’s website.

Senator McCoy: It so happens that I was in the public accounts last week. I did it electronically. I’m used to the old days, where we got a document delivered every year that was about six inches thick, printed on both sides, with line after line of specific expenses in it. I could find my way around there. It was all aggregated information. I could find nothing specific in the electronic version of the public accounts.

I appreciate your answer, but it still doesn’t answer my query. Maybe that’s just my ignorance. Maybe we should actually say, in your amendment, that it will be published in an annual report. Why don’t we mention that in the public accounts?

Senator Ringuette: Senator McCoy, in regard to public accounts, it’s in an aggregate format because you know the thickness of the book. You have to take into consideration that, now, with Bill C-58, there is a detailed proactive disclosure that people will have access to.

Senator McCoy: I don’t want to hold up the proceedings here, but I must say —

The Chair: I want to call the attention of honourable senators to reflect upon the substance of an amendment, but I am bound to efficiency, so I recognize Senator McIntyre.

[Translation]

Senator McIntyre: If I understood correctly, senator, this amendment would replace clause 78 of the bill. I noticed that, in this amendment, you took out the words “in electronic form”, but left them in for amendment P-13. Why is that?

Senator Ringuette: The Public Accounts are published in book form and are also available electronically.

Senator McIntyre: So why did you take out the words “in electronic form”?

Senator Ringuette: Because the information is already available in electronic form.

[English]

The Chair: It’s more a generic term than the identity of the support. that’s how I understand the amendment.

Senator Batters: On this particular one, what it really comes down to is previously we had a 120-day deadline. Now, with the final stages of this particular bill, the government is bringing forth an amendment that takes out all timeline on this one. I concur with what Senator McCoy was saying, namely that that annual report could be published who knows when. It could be published quite some time after the fact. I think that if the government could explain why they need a lengthier time than 120 days but still put a time frame on it, that might be acceptable. To simply take all the timeline off, and no indication on when such an annual report would be published is not acceptable.

The Chair: Senator Ringuette to conclude because I don’t have any other senators on my list.

Senator Ringuette: I reiterate that there is a certain time frame for public accounts to be tabled in Parliament. Sometimes it exceeds 120 days, but it’s still the reporting mechanism that Parliament requires.

The Chair: I see. I will move, then, with the question. All those in favour of the amendment, please raise your hands?

Senator Boisvenu: On division.

The Chair: All those opposed?

The amendment is defeated.

Sorry, all those who abstain? I should have asked. There is one abstention.

[Translation]

Senator Gold: Excuse me, Mr. Chair, but what were the results of the vote?

The Chair: Yeas, 4; nays, 5; and abstentions, 1.

Senator Gold: I didn’t see the abstention.

[English]

The Chair: I am in the hands of honourable senators, Senator Gold, as you understand.

Senator Dalphond: The result is that we will keep this clause as it was drafted by the government?

The Chair: As it is printed in the bill.

[Translation]

Let’s move on to amendment PR-15. Senator Ringuette, could you please propose that amendment.

Senator Ringuette: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

I move:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 37, be amended by replacing line 24 on page 32 with the following:

that its value is increased or decreased by more than $10,000, or within 60 days.

This motion would amend subsection 86(3) to align requirements for government institutions to proactively publish contracts over $10,000, as per the current Treasury Board policy. It’s similar to the amendment for ministers’ offices.

The Chair: Any questions for Senator Ringuette on this amendment? No questions. Then I will call the vote. All those in favour of the amendment, please raise your hand.

All those opposed?

Amendment carried.

[Translation]

Let’s move on to Senator Pratte’s amendment AP-10. Do you have it, Senator Pratte? You didn’t withdraw it, did you?

Senator Pratte: No, I didn’t withdraw it.

[English]

The Chair: Everyone has the amendment, AP-10? Senator Batters, do you want it?

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: It is proposed that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 37, on page 34,

(a) by replacing line 31 with the following:

91 (1) Subject to subsection (1.1), the Information Commissioner shall not exercise”; and

(b) by adding the following after line 36:

(1.1) The Information Commissioner shall review annually the operation of this Part and include comments and recommendations in relation to that review in the report referred to in section 38.”

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the Information Commissioner can report each year on how the proactive publication and disclosure regime is working. The provisions of the bill already prevent the commissioner from intervening and responding to complaints. However, the objective is to enable the commissioner to review the system and determine whether the institutions are performing their role and whether the system is working properly.

We asked the commissioner and she was receptive to this idea.

The Chair: Are there any comments? Senator Ringuette?

[English]

Senator Ringuette: The Information Commissioner should not be given oversight over proactive publication by institutions supporting Parliament or the courts, due to potential infringement of parliamentary privilege and judicial independence. The Information Commissioner has indicated that her office would require additional resources again if it were to take on responsibility in relation to proactive publication. She is not advocating this and I have her testimony that dates October 17, 2018.

I will also add that now with mandated proactive disclosure, not only do we have one person overseeing the disclosure, but we have all the national media and also all the public that expressed some interest on this. So there are millions of people, hopefully, that are paying attention to what is proactively disclosed.

I see no purpose at all for this amendment and I also find with this additional burden on the commissioner, with all the new burdens that were added by a certain amendment that was passed by this committee, I don’t think that we can impose this and we have no evidence that this additional task is necessary with all Canadians having the ability to view and question the disclosures.

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: My question is for Senator Pratte. Senator Ringuette expressed some concerns on behalf of the government because this amendment would create a position that would oversee the government’s activities. However, from what I understood from the amendment, that person would provide an outside look at how the section on proactive communication is actually being applied in the departments without actually investigating any departments.

The Chair: I also have my own interpretation of the proposed amendment. Senator Pratte is asking the Information Commissioner to examine the application of “this Part”, but what does that refer to? Unless I’m mistaken, I believe it refers to the part that applies to the federal institutions identified on page 29. I’m not trying to defend your amendment, Senator Pratte. I’m trying to understand it. I believe “this Part” refers to the part about federal institutions, which are clearly identified and defined as senior officers or employees, government entities, et cetera. It seems to me that this amendment applies only to these institutions.

Am I reading your amendment wrong?

Senator Dalphond: My question is about the nature of the amendment. I understand that we are talking about departments, agencies and individuals. In fact, Senator Ringuette mentioned a kind of quasi-judicial power to review and interfere with the system. I just want to understand the nature of the amendment.

Senator Pratte: First, the part the amendment refers to is Part 2 on the proactive publication of information. We are talking about Part 2 of the bill, which is begins on page 19. Second, with regard to the amendment to subsection 91(1), it is very clear that the Information Commissioner cannot exercise any powers in relation to proactive publication under this part, meaning that the commissioner cannot respond to complaints. However, what the amendment will change is that it will enable the Information Commissioner to keep an eye on the overall system. The idea behind the amendment is that proactive disclosure is a significant step forward, but it is not the same as access to information. It is very different. I believe, as do others, that it is an excellent idea to have an outside party oversee the proactive publication regime to determine whether it is working or not.

Senator Ringuette: Mr. Chair?

The Chair: Yes?

Senator Ringuette: Perhaps to clarify the comments Ms. Maynard made in answer to Senator Pratte’s question, I will quote what she said on October 17, 2018:

[English]

As I mentioned, the bill does not currently provide for that. To demonstrate that oversight is warranted, I plan to track how many times people submit access to information complaints in the course of the next year. An authority such as an auditor comes to mind, a bit like the Auditor General who audits institutions, which are required to meet certain financial obligations. A mechanism like that might be an option. If I were given additional powers, I would need the resources commensurate with those powers.

[Translation]

In other words, the commissioner said that she is going to keep track of the complaints her office receives in that regard over the next year. As you know, a review will be conducted in a year. So, one year from now, Ms. Maynard will be able to provide us with more information and tell us whether this section is particularly problematic based on whether she received any complaints.

The Chair: I understand. I have a number of senators on my list.

Senator Dupuis: If we look at subsection 91(1), which is found on page 34 of the current version of Bill C-58, it reads, and I quote:

The Information Commissioner shall not exercise any powers or perform any duties or functions [...]

[English]

. . . any powers or perform any duties or functions.

[Translation]

That means there are no powers, duties or functions in relation to the proactive publication under this part, which, as Senator Pratte noted, begins on page 19. That applies to the Senate, the House of Commons, parliamentary entities, government institutions, ministers and so on. The commissioner cannot exercise any powers or perform any duties or functions, and what’s being added here is that the commissioner is being given the power to exercise powers with respect to evidence. I feel that contradicts what’s in subclause 91(1). If the commissioner cannot intervene, the bill states the following in English:

[English]

Exercise any powers or perform any duties or functions.

[Translation]

In that regard, “including” includes receiving, which means receiving complaints and investigations, and it’s much broader than that. To me, this part completely contradicts that clause; it doesn’t modify it.

Senator Gold: I certainly understand the idea, and I support it in principle, but, for reasons Senator Ringuette mentioned, I’m thinking of the commissioner, who, if I understand correctly, says there will have to be additional resources. Given that we have already decided to keep the watching brief, and given all the innovative changes in the bill, I think the next step may be to wait for the annual review, when we’ll be in a better position to determine whether the amendment is well founded.

[English]

The Chair: Are senators ready for the question? All those in favour of the amendment as proposed by Senator Pratte, please raise your hand.

All those opposed? Did you raise your hand to vote against your amendment now, senator?

All those who want to abstain?

The amendment is carried. Yes, 5; nay, 3; abstentions, 0.

[Translation]

Let’s move on to amendment C-18. We’ll make sure the amendment is distributed.

Senator Boisvenu: I move that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 37 on page 35 by adding the following after line 2:

91.1 Information and documents published under this part shall remain publicly available in an electronic format for at least 15 years from the date of publication.”.

The Chair: Explanation?

Senator Boisvenu: There is currently no obligation to archive or retain these documents, but I think it makes sense to retain them for a certain period of time so they can be consulted.

The Chair: Questions or comments?

Senator Ringuette: Please give me a moment to reread it.

The Chair: Certainly. I see your hand, senator, go ahead.

Senator Dupuis: I need some clarification.

The Chair: Okay, one question before I give Senator Ringuette the floor. Senator Dupuis.

Senator Dupuis: Thank you. Senator Boisvenu, are you saying that all information published by senators, government institutions, the Senate and the House of Commons will have to be retained in electronic form for at least 15 years from the date of publication? Is that it?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes, those are the documents subject to proactive publication.

Senator Dupuis: What I want to know is whether there are rules that govern the retention of Senate documents.

Senator Boisvenu: I’m talking about documents related to proactive publication.

Senator Dupuis: Yes, but there are rules about proactive publication of Senate and House of Commons documents. I don’t know, but why would we talk about 15 years here when there are rules that are—

Senator Boisvenu: Because it’s not in the act.

Senator Dupuis: The Senate has rules about the mandatory retention of documents.

Senator Boisvenu: We looked into that for proactive publication, and there won’t be. There are rules for documents related to studies we carry out and to bills. At the administrative level, there are records retention requirements for those documents. According to my information, however, there are no archiving dates for proactively published documents, such as ministers’ expenses and everything we mentioned earlier. That’s my understanding, anyway. Maybe Senator Ringuette has information about that? Are there archiving dates for documents related to proactive publication?

Senator Ringuette: I have to admit I don’t know.

Senator Boisvenu: We didn’t find any in the act.

Senator Dupuis: Not in this rule. I mean Senate rules about document retention, including documents subject to proactive publication. We could end up—

Senator Dalphond: What document are you talking about? Something in the Rules of the Senate or—

Senator Dupuis: Documents covered by the act. I don’t know which Senate rule that would be. I checked with the Senate archives. I imagine they steered me straight, and that’s what they told me. That’s why I’m saying this amendment to the bill would make it 15 years. Why 15 years if it’s seven years in the Senate for other things?

Senator Boisvenu: I understand. Thank you. However, proactive publication mostly has to do with office expenditures. For example, if we do a study in the Senate, no matter what it’s about, proactive publication doesn’t cover that. Proactive publication mostly has to do with political staff.

Senator Pratte: Can we ask a departmental official to confirm that?

The Chair: Senator Ringuette, you’ve suggested inviting a Treasury Board official, right?

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

[English]

The Chair: Ms. Ruth Naylor, would you please come to the table?

[Translation]

I’m told we also have—

[English]

Ms. Jacqueline Strandberg, Counsel, Legal Services, from the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada. Would you come to the table, please?

Ms. Naylor, you heard the question from Senator Dupuis. Essentially, the questions that have been raised around the table are about the protection and accessibility of documents for a period of time.

Ruth Naylor, Executive Director, Information and Privacy Policy Division, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: My understanding is the members are interested, Mr. Chair, in understanding whether the proactive publication requirements here would in any way displace the records retention requirements that otherwise would apply to those records that are being proactively published. The rules that are in place would continue. For government institutions’ records, for example, proactive publication would not in any way change what they are required to do in terms of preserving information that’s of business value or being able to respond to an Access to Information request with those same documents.

In fact, the intent of the bill for the government institution records is that, despite proactive publication, an institution would still be required to respond to an Access to Information request that applies to those same records.

The Chair: Anything to add, Ms. Strandberg?

Jacqueline Strandberg, Counsel, Legal Services, Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada: No, I support absolutely what Ms. Naylor says.

Senator Pratte: In brief, information that would be divulged through proactive disclosure, such as expenses by ministerial staff, what is the requirement for this information to be available?

Ms. Naylor: I’m less familiar with the rules for ministerial staff. I can speak very clearly to the rules for government institutions, which I’m more familiar with.

Senator Pratte: Okay.

Ms. Naylor: For government institutions, there’s a series of requirements, depending on the nature of the record. Anything that is of business value has to be retained. Personal information, though, has to be destroyed within two years. It can’t be retained beyond a two-year period following its last administrative use.

Senator Ringuette: With regard to expenses, that’s the issue that we’re looking at here.

Ms. Naylor: Yes, for senior officials and so on, those would be retained for whatever the rules are that currently exist so that someone could continue to request them under the Access to Information Act. For the exact period of time, I’m not as familiar with exactly what the retention schedule is, but there are retention schedules in place and currently there doesn’t seem to be a concern around the availability of those records. They’re frequently requested right now under the Access to Information Act.

Ms. Strandberg: I should clarify that ministers’ offices aren’t currently subject to the Access to Information Act, so you wouldn’t be able to make an access request for that information anyway. You wouldn’t be able to receive it. Although it is being proactively disclosed under part 2 of the act, you wouldn’t be able to make a subsequent Access to Information request under part 1 as it’s being amended.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: I proposed the amendment because of the Cinar case in Quebec. Here is what Monique Dumont, an access to information expert consultant with the Quebec Federation of Professional Journalists, said:

I have been working with federal and provincial access to information legislation since the 1990s. I started with the Cinar case. I collaborated with the RCMP and other federal departments. People can’t do the same thing now. For one thing, documents would have been destroyed because there are no longer any requirements for the retention and production of documents. Today, governments can make decisions without retaining any documents that explain why the decisions were made. When our members make access to information requests, they are told there are no documents.

[English]

Senator Gold: I just want to clarify my understanding of your testimony, Ms. Naylor. There will be documents where the rules particular to those documents, or that class of documents, may require balancing whatever the considerations were during a period of time perhaps considerably less than the 15 years. What I understand, then, is that this amendment would, with one stroke of a pen, have the effect of changing whatever particular rules have already been put into place for the retention of different categories of documents.

Ms. Naylor: Yes, that’s correct. Without having an opportunity to look at it in detail, the issue that would come to mind for me in particular would be records that involve personal information, where there are some strict rules in place and they are there to protect the privacy of Canadians.

Senator Gold: Thank you.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: I’m just trying to understand your comment, Ms. Naylor. You say there are rules, especially for government institution records, but you don’t know if that is also the case for the retention of political records. Is that correct?

[English]

Ms. Naylor: Yes, that’s correct. For political records held in a minister’s office, for example, I think it’s correct to say that there’s a separate set of rules concerning the retention of those.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Do you know if there are rules for retention?

[English]

Ms. Naylor: I can offer that there are rules set out in policies for ministers’ offices which are established separately from rules for government institutions, for example, given that there are particular considerations to protect the political process and confidential discussions that might occur there. There are particular rules around the conservation of records for ministers’ offices, and that includes what kinds of records should be provided to Library and Archives Canada and in what circumstances.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Do you know for sure what that retention schedule is?

[English]

Ms. Naylor: Not without further research.

The Chair: I have no more senators on my list, so I will call the vote. All those in favour of the amendment as introduced by Senator Boisvenu, please raise your hands.

All those opposed?

Abstentions?

It’s a tie, so the amendment is defeated.

[Translation]

We’ll move on to the following amendment by Senator Pratte, amendment AP-11.

[English]

That is AP-11. I invite honourable senators to take the amendment and I will ask Senator Pratte to introduce the amendment.

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: Let me just check what that one is.

The Chair: You haven’t done your homework, Senator Pratte.

Senator Pratte: I believe the objective is—

The Chair: It’s an amendment to clause 37 on page 35, so go to the next page, clause 37, pages 35 and 37. You want to delete lines 7 to 15 on page 35 and add a new paragraph after line 29 on page 37.

Senator Pratte: Right. Very good.

The Chair: Does that help you get situated?

Senator Pratte: This is Bill C-58?

The Chair: Yes. I’m still talking about Bill C-58, anyway.

Senator Dupuis: It’s 2019, and we’re in the Senate of Canada.

Senator Pratte: The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that reviews conducted at the one-year and five-year marks are not departmental reviews but are conducted by the parliamentary committee responsible for this file under section 99. It would be a parliamentary committee review rather than a departmental review.

Senator McIntyre: If I understand correctly, Senator Pratte, the amendment says the five-year review of the act should be carried out by Parliament, not the designated minister. Is that right?

Senator Pratte: Exactly.

Senator McIntyre: Your amendment would ensure that the review of the act would be parliamentary, not departmental. I believe Senator McCoy raised this issue in October, if I’m not mistaken.

[English]

The Chair: I will stop the honourable senators, because the amendment is not on the table. It has not been read formally by Senator Pratte.

I’m sorry to interrupt you, Senator McIntyre. I will give you additional time to think about your argument while Senator Pratte is introducing the amendment.

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: It is moved that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 37 as follows:

(a) on page 35, by deleting lines 7 to 15;

(b) on page 37 by adding the following after line 29:

99.1 The committee referred to in section 99 shall review this act in the year after the date on which this section comes into force and every five years thereafter and shall report on its review to the Senate, the House of Commons, or both houses, as the case may be.”

Senator McIntyre: So the purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the review of the act will be not just departmental but parliamentary. Okay, but unless I’m mistaken, Senator McCoy raised this on October 17, 2018, and a number of times since.

[English]

I think you raised this issue before, Senator McCoy.

Senator McCoy: Yes, and I am waiting to see where you will all sit. I will get on the speakers list after — Senator Ringuette hasn’t had a chance. She should have a chance to speak.

Senator Ringuette: First, I would say that, as far as I can recollect, this would be the first act that requires committees to review the legislation. For instance, the Bank Act has a five-year review mechanism by the department, and the department tables in both Houses of Parliament the review for their consideration.

What we have, essentially, are three reviews — one by the minister and his department of the modernization or required changes to the act. That report is tabled in both houses and both houses entertain each of them, and also a review. Right now, the process is that you have three reviews.

I don’t see how, first of all, this is directing a committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons. I don’t think we can, in legislation, direct committees of either house. This is the mechanism that would be put in place. We can’t direct, within legislation, committees. We can say, for instance, as in the Bank Act, that the committee may review the report, or shall review the report.

I strongly believe that, in doing this, we are removing the department that has the day-to-day knowledge of the operation of a said act and its implication.

For instance, do we really think that all the review that was done by Treasury Board and the different institutions of Parliament in regard to this bill, that a Senate committee could have taken the Access to Information Act, reviewed it, and provided all that we have in Bill C-58? I don’t think so.

Ms. Naylor, maybe you want to add something to my comments. Essentially, what we would be doing is removing a critical part of the review mechanism. The part that deals on a daily basis with an act, we would be removing that. I don’t think that a Senate committee — even the prestigious and professional Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Senate — could have reviewed the current act and provided such modernization in a very comprehensive way, as Bill C-58 is doing.

The Chair: Senator McCoy, I think you wanted to add to that?

Senator McCoy: Yes, I would be delighted to address this question. I don’t quite know where to start. There were one or two witnesses, not from the government, who had one or two kind things to say about this bill, but those kind comments were diplomatic and few and far between.

I would say that if you were to talk to the knowledge holders on this bill, including Suzanne Legault, the former Information Commissioner, the efforts of the minister in deconstructing Bill C-58 were severely criticized. My difficulty is that Parliament has established an arm’s-length officer or agent of Parliament in the Information Commissioner. The purpose of having officers of Parliament is to help the House of Commons and the Senate to take on their traditional and constitutional roles, which is to keep an eye on the government and make sure it is doing the right thing at all times. That’s what we are doing. That’s what our job is.

Suddenly, now you’ve put, more or less, the cat among the pigeons, because you say, “Let’s get the minister, the government, to go and review this in a year’s time.”

Look what happened this time around. We left it in three ministers’ hands: the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Justice, and what was the third? PCO? Or maybe that is the same minister. Look what happened.

They did not consult with the Information Commissioner. She put out a report in 2015, after much consultation on her part, travelling across the country, speaking to knowledge holders. From an evidence-based point of view, she brought forward suggestions. Working hand in hand with her colleague, another officer of Parliament, the Privacy Commissioner, she came up with I think 85 recommendations as to how to modernize the Access to Information Act of Canada, and they were practically all ignored.

Now you say, “Let’s have a review by the very people who ignored the knowledge holders the first time around.” So I am saying that this process of access to information is a regime that is meant to have an arm’s-length, neutral agency make sure the public has access and that that access is not barred by the very people to whom access is required. It is quasi-judicial.

Bev McLachlin, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, has said that without this act, democracy won’t work. We need neutral oversight, not the very person who is in the government who is being overseen.

I’m supportive of this particular amendment, and I think we should definitely put it forward to the government and hope the government accepts it. From what the sponsor says, I don’t know if there is any appetite for her to sell this amendment to the government. But I must say that, if not she, then one of us should go and speak to the incumbent ministers and bring to them the reasoning.

Of course, we have done similar work in the past, and of course, we can do it again. I’m perfectly confident of our skills and ability to take this thing forward.

Although it has taken us so long to get the amendments we have put forward so far, my view is that they are a mere band-aid. We are merely keeping this act barely afloat in the 21st century by the lengthy amendments we’ve brought forward. We need a far more systemic overview — a look that it has not received from this government or the civil servants. I don’t know why they would suddenly be trusted to do it in the next year when they’ve had four years to do it and failed.

[Translation]

Senator Ringuette: Would you please call Ms. Naylor?

[English]

The Chair: Ms. Naylor, please come to the table to comment on the point that has been raised. Have you understood the question or the issue being debated by the senators?

Ms. Naylor: Yes, I think senators are seeking to ensure a very effective review of the Access to Information Act.

The Chair: That’s the objective of Senator Pratte’s amendment.

Ms. Naylor: It might be helpful if I speak to the intention of the proposal that is in Bill C-58. I will step back to note for senators’ information that Bill C-58 retains the existing power in the Access to Information Act now. Parliamentary committees, both in the House of Commons and in the Senate, have a power for permanent review of the act. This committee and the House of Commons committee can already review the act at any time it wishes. That appears on page 37 of Bill C-58. It is brought forward from current subsection 75(1) in the Access to Information Act. It says:

The administration of this Act shall be reviewed on a permanent basis by any committee of the House of Commons, of the Senate or of both Houses of Parliament that may be designated or established by Parliament for that purpose.

Therefore the intent of adding a provision to require the minister to also undertake a review was in order to add additional — let’s call it — effort that would have to be undertaken on the part of the minister. Presently, there is no requirement for the minister to make that effort. That was the intent of this provision. It was in no way to displace the very important role that’s been played over time by the parliamentary committees. The parliamentary committees, of course, would then have the benefit of work done by the minister on this issue such that they could then take their approach and follow their processes to further review and report back to the minister. The intent was to strengthen those obligations.

The Chair: Thank you, Madam Naylor.

Senator Gold: I won’t repeat the point that Ms. Naylor made, but that’s something that came to mind.

I want to make a comment on Senator McCoy’s comment. To be sure, the Information Commissioner is and should be arm’s length from Parliament, but that’s a separate and distinct question about within whose responsibility lies the legislative framework within which he or she works. That’s for both government to bring forward and we, as parliamentarians, to ultimately pass and review.

So it seems to me that, not only does the Senate committee and its equivalent in the other place, retain — and I hope — take up its responsibility to review the administration of the act, but nothing would stop this or the Senate from mandating this or another committee to do a more in-depth study that goes beyond simply the administration of the act within the four corners of the act but that would take a proper look — which we ought to do in the next Parliament — on how we can take access to information much further than Bill C-58 does, even as amended.

For that reason, I’m not sure I can support the amendment.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: I understand what you’re saying, Ms. Naylor, that section 99 of Bill C-58 incorporates subsection 75(1) from the current legislation. I see that it already exists in the current legislation and it is being repeated. What I do not see in Bill C-58 is subsection 75(2), entitled “Report to Parliament”. This committee is tasked with doing a comprehensive review of the provisions of the legislation and the consequences of its enforcement within one year from the start of the review.

An entire process has been laid out. Would the amendment we’re talking about contradict what would remain in the current legislation? I understand from the amendment that we are talking about a permanent review of the act. I wonder if we want to provide for a review after one year and then every five years and if we want to include these words instead of replacing the word “permanent” with the phrases that are here, which would correspond much better to what is in the current legislation anyway.

[English]

Ms. Naylor: Interesting. I think the question was around the intent behind eliminating subsection 75(2). That was eliminated simply because it was an artefact of the original bill passed in 1983. It was meant to trigger that first review that would have been undertaken by parliamentary committees at that point.

Essentially, it created, at that time, an authority for permanent review. More specifically, there must be a review in a certain time frame. That was the original intent. This was eliminated only because it refers to something that needed to occur in 1986 and was no longer therefore required.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: I am also aware of the fact that there are five-year departmental reviews required under certain acts that are never conducted, yet they are provided for under legislation. If we want to guard against that and ensure that Parliament has a House of Commons committee or a joint committee to do this review, we propose deleting subsection 93(1) of Bill C-58 and replacing it with, “transfer the authority to conduct a review in the hands of a committee of Parliament”.

[English]

The Chair: Of course, I cannot resist drawing the attention of honourable senators to the fact that subsection 75(2) of the original act was defective because it recognized only the responsibility of the House of Commons. In 1983, as you know, there was some kind of a — and I will say this tongue in cheek — the Privy Council didn’t consider that the Senate was part of Parliament.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: If you look at subsection 75(1)... I just want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. Parliament designates a committee of the House of Commons, of the Senate or of both Houses of Parliament. The committee we are talking about in subsection 75(1) undertakes—

The Chair: I was referring to subsection 75(2).

Senator Dupuis: Yes.

The Chair: And by the House of Commons. The timeframe is authorized by the House of Commons.

[English]

In one it referred to the Senate, but in two, no.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: So any chance of extending the deadline rests with the House of Commons.

The Chair: Exactly.

[English]

There were two different treatments of both houses. At that time, I could remember some of the legislation where the Senate was not mentioned in review of legislation, while, in fact, in my humble opinion, the Senate was better positioned to do that kind of work, but that’s my personal appraisal of the situation. I’ve always stood for that position, as you know, honourable senators.

I think the argument is well positioned. If I may offer Senator Pratte a comment to his amendment, the first part of the amendment, on page 35, which aims to delete section line 215 would, in fact, remove the ministerial responsibility of reviewing. I’m not sure that I am spontaneously in favour of that, because if Parliament really wants to be effective, to rely on the report of a minister who reviewed the act is certainly helpful. I would say “de-balancing” the ministerial review with the parliamentary review, personally I won’t be involved in the review but I would certainly want to rely on the ministerial review that would be undertaken by Treasury Board and Privy Council and the other agencies of government involved.

I don’t want to take a stand, but inasmuch as I understand proposed section 99.1, which you want to add, the first part of your amendments might be more problematic, especially if what you aim for is what Senator McCoy has stated that in fact we should do as much as we can to be sure that Parliament is in a position to be best equipped and with the capacity as directed by the statute, to initiate the review as per what you state in the second part of your amendments.

I don’t know if I have helped or if I have been unhelpful.

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: Yes. I have no objection to withdrawing the first part.

The Chair: The first part?

Senator Pratte: I find the second part is still relevant, however. Although we say a parliamentary committee is tasked with the permanent review, we know the workload of parliamentary committees. Even if we spell out that the review has to be done after a year or every five years, there is a good chance it will not be done. I would keep subclause (b), but I am prepared to get rid of subclause (a) so that the minister is also required to conduct a review.

[English]

Senator McCoy: If I may add, I think Senator Dupuis has started us on a track here. Ms. Naylor has pointed out what was done in 1983 when we first passed this bill, and that was to require a report back from committee — at this time it would be plural, Senate and the House of Commons — in three years. And I’m happy to accept the help of the minister, but I have to say again, it’s not the ministers that I have found the most helpful. It’s the officer of Parliament in this case that I have found most helpful. In any event, maybe what we could do is keep the parallel to section 75 in the current act and substitute in the second subsection of 75, subsection (2), new dates, and, of course, reference to a Senate committee that reports back in an expeditious way in I would say two years, but that would then possibly also act as a spur, if you will, to the minister’s office.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Ministers have tremendously busy schedules. They do turn this thing over to civil servants because they simply can’t do everything themselves. So what we’re really talking about is the people who are subject to answering the requests for information are put in charge of writing how they will be done. So you are putting the fox amongst the chickens and they, as we all know, are under-resourced and in many cases, through no fault of their own, because in years when there were budget cuts one of the first things that went were the ATIP sections.

It is with understanding and respect for the civil servants, who have had to struggle with the implementation of that act, who have lost much in their departments and to reach out and get the knowledge holders active on it so that we do get a neutral and knowledgeable, evidence-based review.

I come back to my suggestion then. In clause 99, if we adopt the first part of clause 99 as subsection 1, and then adopt subsection 2 with new dates and a reference to both Houses of Parliament, so it just mirrors the section 75 that was in the original act, I would go along with that. I would suggest a two-year reporting date, and then I’m more or less in your hands. I’m loathe to leave this ministerial review at one year, but I’m in your hands on that because I think there would still be enough impetuous behind it. And I’m interested in getting a systemic review of our access to information system in Canada.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: Along the same lines, the idea of the second part of the amendment where it proposes adding an item... Section 99.1 could become section 99.2. Keep section 99 on page 37, but copy exactly what is there: “The committee referred to...shall undertake a review...and shall submit a report... or both Houses of Parliament”, as the case may be, but I would add what is currently in section 75 because we are talking about a report that would include the findings and recommendations of the committee, as the case may be, and any changes that would be recommended.

We will be losing something if we remove section 75 as it now stands. We will not know whether everything is going well or not. However, we could also incorporate, into this type of report, not only findings but also recommendations on changes that should be made. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to include that wording.

Senator Pratte: We could propose an amendment to the amendment.

The Chair: Yes, we could propose an amendment to the amendment because I have to proceed in the right order anyway when it comes to the first part of Senator Pratte’s amendment, and then the amendment to the amendment proposed by Senator Dupuis, and then finally the suggestion that was made by Senator Dupuis.

[English]

So I will seek the concurrence of honourable senators to allow Senator Pratte to remove sub (a) of his amendment. Do honourable senators agree with that? Agreed.

So Senator Pratte, your amendment, as it stands, is with the new paragraph 99.1, and we have sub-amendments proposed by Senator Dupuis, which is essentially to keep from the original 75.2 the following words, to be added at the end, and I will read them in English:

. . .shall submit a report on each review to the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament, as the case may be; a report to Parliament thereon, including a statement of any changes the committee would recommend.

Senator McCoy: That’s not what I understood we were talking about.

The Chair: We have the proposal of Senator Dupuis.

[Translation]

After the words “as the case may be”, add “a report to Parliament thereon including a statement of any changes the committee would recommend”. Is that is, Senator Dupuis?

Senator Dupuis: In other words, section 99.1 in Senator Pratte’s amendment copies part of the current subsection 75(2) regarding the report to Parliament. The dates are different and it says the review shall be undertaken immediately within the year following implementation and then every five years, and a report shall be submitted. That is already stated in subsection 75(2). The last lines of that subsection are added and copied in the amendment. I propose an amendment to the amendment, the second part of Senator Pratte’s amendment, where in reference to the report that would be submitted we would add, “thereon including its findings—the findings of the report—and a statement of any changes that would be recommended”.

The idea is to uphold the spirit of the current legislation which the authorities have been used to operating with since 1983, but clarify the timeframe we might want, after a year initially and then every five years.

We will maintain what is in the current legislation, the possibility of including not only findings, but also changes that might be recommended.

[English]

The Chair: Everyone understands the scope of the subamendment?

Senator Ringuette: I would want for us to get back to some realism. Maybe, Mr. Chair, because I think that you’re one of the senior senators around this table, you could maybe recall that it says: Review and report and that we have the opportunity to permanently review the legislation.

I can’t recall when any committee of the Senate did a review of the access to information, except if it had a bill in front of them or if they were looking at a report from the commissioner.

The Chair: I will answer your question —

Senator Ringuette: Please.

The Chair:  — specifically in relation to this act.

Senator Ringuette: Okay.

The Chair: I read from the information that is provided in relation to the Access to Information Act, that the Information Act was reviewed in 1986: Committee undertaking a review must submit a report within one year as starting a review or such further time authorized by the House of Commons. It is the House of Commons only, as I stated earlier.

There has been no review since that time.

Senator Ringuette: Exactly.

The Chair: In The Access to Information Act: First Steps Towards Renewal, a report tabled in June 2009 and retabled in March 2010, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics recommended that the act be amended to require parliamentary review every five years.

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

The Chair: So, in other words, there was a recommendation by the House of Commons committee to do a review every five years. The facts speak for themselves. But on the other hand, it’s not because it is provided by the act and it has not been done that we should remove it from the act. Those are two separate issues.

Senator Ringuette: And I don’t disagree with you, chair, and I don’t want us to pass the rest of the day on this issue, but I think that we have to be realistic. Most of the time, a review is triggered when a report is tabled. Many reports were tabled in the Senate in regard to access to information but at least now we have the one-year review. We know the process now. The minister will review, will table the report, the report will be tabled in both Houses of Parliament and referred to the committee to look at the report and the review.

The Chair: I will add that information for the enlightenment of senators in this debate.

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has undertaken two statutory reviews, that I am aware of, in the last 12 years, the DNA Identification Act — and I wonder if there are senators around the table who remember that — and section 46 of the Criminal Code in relation to sexual offence proceedings.

I see some assistants being mindful of the review we did. So, in other words, it’s rather rare. Let’s put it in those terms. It’s rather rare. I will repeat my point. It’s not because it’s done rarely that we should remove the obligation. That’s another aspect. It depends on the importance we put in the legislation in relation to that issue.

Senator McCoy, quickly, because I look at the clock and we have still some other amendments.

Senator McCoy: What I’m concerned about is that we don’t have a drop-dead date included in this subamendment. Because it has been oral, I haven’t heard it. So if we’re going back to having the minister do a one-year review and include that, where’s the drop-dead date that was in 75(2) of the existing act?

The Chair: Well, it is in the proposal of Senator Pratte. It’s what I read in Senator Pratte’s amendment, because in section 99 there was no date. But in Senator Pratte’s amendment, there is a specific obligation to undertake a review within one year. After that, every five years later. So Senator Pratte’s amendment reinstates some deadlines, and Senator Dupuis has added some specific elements that were in the original 75(2).

Senator McCoy: So if I saw this in writing, you’d probably tell me I’d like it? And you’d like it. In that case, this is maybe a very technical thing, but I think you will want to put an “s” on the word committee in Senator Pratte’s proposed 99.1. It says : “the committee referred to in section 99.” You’re going to want to say “the committees.”

Senator Dupuis: It’s one committee.

The Chair: The committee is referred to in section 99. One understands that it could be a committee of the House of Commons, the Senate or a joint committee, depending of the decision of each chamber. So it’s “the committee” that would be established or designated according to section 99. I think it’s clear, in my humble opinion, to the honourable senators.

Senator McCoy: If we use the word “the” in English, it designates one, if you use the word “a” committee in English, it means you can have more than one; “a committee” could be —

The Chair: The one referred to —

Senator McCoy:  — designated or created. Any committee?

Senator Dupuis: By any committee.

Senator McCoy: It’s a technical point that we could leave with you.

The Chair: Can I —

Senator McCoy: Yes.

The Chair:  — propose to the honourable senators so we can move forward that we authorize steering to review with the legal adviser to make sure that the wording reflects the intention that “the committee” that has been mentioned in Senator Pratte’s amendment is any of the committees in 99 above, which I think meets your preoccupation.

We will adopt this wording, “any committee,” and again we’ll check —

Senator McCoy: So “any committee” will work.

Senator Batters: Wouldn’t “a committee” be better than “any committee”?

The Chair: I would prefer a committee. We will test that with the law clerk. So is the subamendment proposed by Senator Dupuis carried?

Senator Pratte: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division. Thank you.

Is the amendment, as amended, proposed by Senator Pratte carried?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Shall clause 37, as amended, carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: Thank you, honourable senators.

We move to clause 38, page 38. I have the amendment PJD-4. I understand it’s an amendment proposed by the Honourable Senator Dalphond. Do you want to take the bill at page 38? If you want to take a copy. Do honourable senators have a copy of amendment PJD-4? I feel like a bingo caller.

Senator McIntyre, I was a favourite visitor in the bingo hall in my riding when I was an MP. That’s why I have the impression of doing that.

Senator Dalphond, could you introduce the amendment, please?

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: With leave of the committee, could I begin a general presentation for about five or six minutes to explain the nature of the amendments before talking about each clause? There are nine that are quite similar.

The Chair: Go ahead.

[English]

Senator Dalphond: As you know, the Judges Act allows federally appointed judges to be reimbursed for four categories of expenses. The first is expenses incurred to sit at a place other than their usual place of residence, which is section 34 of the Judges Act. It covers hotels, meals and travel expenses, like air or train fare or car-related costs. The commissioner said that these expenses amount to about $11 million per year.

The second group of expenses include those to attend training or activities related to the proper administration of justice. It refers to section 41 of the Judges Act. It covers travel expenses, registration fees, meals, hotels and communications expenses. The commissioner said that these expenses amount to close to $17 million per year.

The third group is incidental expenses to judicial functions and they are provided at section 27(1) of the Judges Act. This section covers court attire such as gowns, subscriptions to legal reviews and updating of codes and other legal books, a laptop computer when not provided by the province and home security systems, et cetera. Each judge is entitled to claim up to $5,000 per year. The commissioner said that these expenses amount to about $5 million for the 1,200 federally appointed judges.

Finally, section 27(6) of the Judges Act allows for reimbursement to a limited number of judges of what is called representational expenses. Those who are entitled to claim up to a maximum per year ranging from $5,000 to $12,500 per year are the nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, the 38 chief justices and associate chief justices of the Superior and Federal Courts, and the eight regional justices of the Ontario Superior Court.

This covers hospitality expenses, for example, to welcome a foreign visitor or to participate in a social event organized by the local bar or the provincial bar. The commissioner said that these expenses amount to $430,000 per year.

Bill C-58 deals with these four classes of expenses in four different sections. Moreover, because these four categories of expenses are managed by the Registrar of the Supreme Court for the judges of the Supreme Court, and by the commissioner for judicial affairs for the other courts, you find eight sections.

For these eight clauses, I propose presenting the information collectively in categories basically by court instead of presenting personal and individual information. This is my proposed response to the government’s very laudable objective of ensuring maximum transparency with respect to the use of public funds while avoiding three possible negative effects obviously not perceived by the drafter of the bill, who may be less familiar with the functioning of the judicial system than those witnesses we have heard here. Those include representatives from the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Judicial Council, and the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association.

The first possible negative effect was described as a disincentive for judges to sit outside the usual place of residence in order to avoid having to report these expenses and being subject to criticism in comparison of one judge to another. Some judges have to travel across the country, such as Federal Court judges or the Tax Court judges. Others have to travel across the province to provide bilingual services in places like Northern Ontario or New Brunswick, or to provide judicial services in remote communities and First Nations.

The second type of negative effect perceived by the witnesses was the chilling effect that it will have on judges participating in conferences at a time when we are encouraging judges to participate more in conferences about discrimination, family violence, social realities and sexual offences, et cetera. We have a bill before this committee that was proposed by the Honourable Rona Ambrose dealing with this issue of judicial training. As an example of the potential negative impact, will a judge from Halifax accept an invitation to a conference in Vancouver knowing that his expenses would be very high, when a judge from Vancouver would only have to drive there? Some judges would be reluctant to attend these conferences in order to avoid being subject to criticism because they incurred $5,000 or $6,000 to travel.

And finally, the impact on the individual independence of judges was mentioned by the witnesses. For example, identifying every incidental expense, like a home alarm system, with the name of the judge concerned will only provide information that could be abused by ill-intentioned persons. On a similar note, some witnesses have referred to the rise of cyber bullying of judges.

In conclusion, my proposals will see expenses broken down by court and by category. Not only will all the information provided for in the bill be published, but more will also be provided. For example, the applicable guideline for each class of expense will be disclosed, which is not the case now. Moreover, the power proposed to be granted to the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs to provide exemptions will be strictly limited because providing information in the aggregate will remove most cases where the commissioner might have to rely on the exclusion provision.

Finally, the provisions that exempted from disclosure the expenses incurred by the Canadian Judicial Council will be removed, so more information will be provided.

Unless there are questions, Mr. Chair, I propose that maybe we deal with each of the sections, which is going to be more technical, but this is the overall framework of the amendments that I propose. Thank you.

The Chair: Before we open the discussion, I have, of course, the responsibility to ask Senator Dalphond to formally move the amendment.

Senator Dalphond: Can I do it section by section? Should I do four pages right away?

The Chair: I will invite you to first move the amendments that appear on the page identified PJD4.

Senator Dalphond: I think this is coming as a result of the other amendments.

The Chair: Yes, but I have to deal with them the way that the bill is drafted.

Senator Dalphond: Okay. So then the first will be —

[Translation]

Motion:

That the bill in clause 38, page 40—

[English]

PJD-4 will commonly add conclusions if we have this other amendment.

The Chair: Well, then I will invite you to move the amendment identified by PJD-3.1, but I will have to ask the honourable senators if they have that amendment, to be sure that they are done sequentially. I know it’s complex in terms of spreading the amendments on that section, but I have to be consequential in terms of calling the amendment.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: I just want to make sure we have the right amendment. Is it PJD-3.1 revised?

The Chair: Yes. Exactly.

Senator Dupuis: Perfect.

The Chair: It is the document named, “Dalphond 2019-04-03”. Is that the one you have, Senator Dalphond?

Senator Dalphond: Yes, Mr. Chair.

[English]

The Chair: Again, I ask honourable senators: Do you have those amendments identified PJD-3.1 revised? Senator McIntyre, do you have the text?

[Translation]

Senator McIntyre: Are we talking about clause 38, pages 40 and 41 and 45 to 47, is that it?

The Chair: That’s right.

Senator Dalphond: Unfortunately, the amendment has 10 clauses. It makes the drafting a bit tough. I propose that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 38, on page 40.

(a) on page 40,

(i) by replacing line 33 with the following:

“which any incidental expenditure incurred by any judge of”, and

(ii) by replacing lines 37 and 38 with the following:

(a) the total amount of the incidental expenditures reimbursed;

(b) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;”

(b) on page 41,

(i) by replacing lines 1 to 3 with the following:

(c) a detailed description of each class of incidental expenditures reimbursed;

(d) the number of judges who received a reimbursement for each class of incidental expenditures; and

(e) the applicable guidelines.”

The Chair: Are you going to continue?

Senator Dalphond: I will leave it at that, if the committee agrees, because that covers section 90.06 and section 90.07 will be covered by the same exercise.

The Chair: I prefer that you table all the amendments. That would make it easier to discuss it afterward.

[English]

Could you read the other amendments, please?

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: Do you want me to read the eight clauses in one shot?

The Chair: Sorry, legally if you want the report to reflect the amendments I have to have them on the table in due form.

Senator Dalphond: That’s okay. I will read the rest another time. However, if you want—

The Chair: I think it’s better to present all the amendments because the same principle applies according to the different categories that you identified earlier in your presentation. Please, continue.

Senator Dalphond: Okay. I covered what are called incidental expenditures and I will now move on what are called representational allowances.

(ii) by replacing line 5 with the following:

“which any travel or other expenses incurred by any judge of”,

(iii) by replacing lines 11 to 15 with the following:

(a) the total amount of the expenses reimbursed;

(b) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(c) a detailed description of each class of expenses reimbursed;

(d) the number of judges who received a reimbursement for each class of expenses; and

(e) the applicable guidelines.”

The Chair: Then?

Senator Dalphond: (iv) by replacing line 18 with the following:

“penses incurred by any judge of the Supreme Court are re-”,

(v) by replacing lines 22 to 26 with the following:

(a) the total amount of the expenses reimbursed;

(b) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(c) a detailed description of each class of expenses reimbursed;

(d) the number of judges who received a reimbursement for each class ofexpenses; and

(e) the applicable guidelines.”,

(vi) by replacing line 28 with the following:

“which any travel or other expenses incurred by any judge of”, and

(vii) by replacing lines 33 to 37 with the following:

(a) the total amount of the expenses reimbursed;

(b) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(c) a detailed description of each class of expenses reimbursed;

(d) a description of the meeting, conference or seminar, its date, its location and the number of judges in attendance; and

(e) the applicable guidelines.”;

(c) on page 45,

(i) by replacing line 27 with the following:

“which any incidental expenditures incurred by any judge of a particular court is”, and

(ii) by replacing lines 31 to 35 with the following:

(a) the name of the court;

(b) the total amount of the incidental expenditures reimbursed for that court;

(c) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(d) a detailed description of each class of incidental expenditures reimbursed;

(e) the number of judges who receive a reimbursement for each class of incidental expenditures; and

(f) the applicable guidelines.”

(d) on page 46;

(i) by replacing line 2 with the following:

“which any travel or other expenses incurred by any judge or”

(ii) by replacing lines 7 to 11 with the following:

(a) the total amount of the expenses reimbursed;

(b) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(c) a detailed description of each class of expenses reimbursed;

(d) the number of judges who received a reimbursement for each class of expenses; and

(e) the applicable guidelines

(iii) by replacing line 14 with the following:

“curred by any judge of a particular court are reimbursed under section 34 of the”,

(iv) by replacing lines 18 to 22 with the following:

(a) the name of the court;

(b) the total amount of the expenses reimbursed for that court;

(c) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(d) a detailed description of each class of expenses reimbursed;

(e) the number of judges who received a reimbursement for each class of expenses; and

(f)the applicable guidelines.”

(v) by replacing line 24 with the following:

“which any travel or other expenses incurred by any judge of a particular court”, and

(vi) by replacing lines 29 to 33 with the following:

(a) the name of the court;

(b)the total amount of the expenses reimbursed for that court;

(c) the number of judges to whom a reimbursement was made;

(d) a detailed description of each class of expenses reimbursed;

(e) a description of the meeting, conference or seminar, its date, its location and the number of judges in attendance; and

(f) the applicable guidelines.”, and

(e) on page 47, by replacing lines 5 to 9 with the following:

90.22 The Registrar, the Chief Administrator or the Commissioner, as applicable, may, on an exceptional basis, decline to cause to be published information or any part of the information described in any of sections 90.03 to 90.09, 90.11 to 90.13 and 90.15 to 90.21 if they determine that the publication, even in the aggregate, could in-”

I am really sorry to have imposed this torture on you, but the text has been read.

The Chair: Thank you, the amendment is now well tabled.

Senator Ringuette: I want to congratulate Senator Dalphond. Obviously, this was a long undertaking for him, and not only the reading of it.

The Chair: And the reading, yes.

Senator Ringuette: In addition to having read, at least twice, the testimony the committee received last fall.

As for the provisions in question, I believe Senator Dalphond has managed to bring both transparency and security of the person into the text, in the person of the judges. We have to make sure that the administration of justice remains independent. For the reasons I have just indicated, I am going to support the amendment submitted by Senator Dalphond.

The Chair: Thank you. Senator Boisvenu?

Senator Boisvenu: In clause 90.22, you write “may on an exceptional basis, decline to cause to be published information or any part of the information”. Can you explain to me what that means, and under which circumstances they could refuse?

Senator Dalphond: You will recall that witnesses commented on clause 90.22. First, the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges and the Canadian Judicial Council were concerned that the authority to exempt applying the law to protect judiciary independence was being entrusted to the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs rather than to judges. I took that concern into account, but I think it is becoming much less important now that we will be publishing aggregate information, by court, rather than individual data for every judge, which means that the exemption requests should be exceptional. The purpose here is to keep provision 90.22, but I add the words “on an exceptional basis” and also after publication “in the aggregate”, in order to show clearly that those powers continue to exist in exceptional circumstances. I don’t foresee any for the time being, but if exceptional circumstances were to arise, the valve would be there. However, it should not be used too often, which should align with the judges’ concerns, and with that of the government also, as it wanted maximum uniformity. So I think this would attain those two objectives.

The Chair: Senator Boisvenu, if I remember the examples that were given correctly, there was the case of Prince Edward Island, where the judges are so few in number that people could identify the judge or judges. That example was mentioned, as you will recall, Senator Dalphond. It may be a situation that should be re-examined. I’m not saying that we can’t publish the information. I am saying that there should perhaps be an evaluation of the impact of publishing in circumstances where the judge could be identified by name and picked out.

As I was saying earlier, the objective is not to prevent publication. I think the amendment’s purpose is the publication of expenses. However, the amendment does deal with the concern about the identification of persons. I think that is the objective you are pursuing by adding “on an exceptional basis” to provision 90.22, if I remember the discussions that took place. In fact, I think you were present when this was raised around the table.

Senator Boisvenu: I simply wanted to raise...

Senator Dalphond: You wanted to mention a brief clarification on that point raised by the chair. The conversations I had with the Commissioner for Judicial Affairs led me to conclude that we must take cases like that into account when a court only has two or three judges, as is the case sometimes in the Canadian North or on Prince Edward Island, where there are only four judges on the Supreme Court, Trial Division and three or four on the Court of Appeal, depending on whether there are supernumerary judges or not. It could happen that in certain cases, the expenses identify the judge even if that is not necessarily obvious. If that happens, the commissioner could publish the information every six months instead of every three months. He could provide the information when there is enough of it to ensure that the expenses do not clearly identify one person.

The Chair: Because the time period remains. The publication time frame has not changed, as Senator Dalphond said, or at least that is what I understand. There is nothing in the amendments that affects the publication timeline, which advances the bill’s transparency objective. It is really in circumstances where the publication of the information could allow people to identify individuals that we must assess the impact of publication, as compared to the bill’s objective. I think that is the biggest concern.

Senator Boisvenu: I’d like to go back to the comments the senator made on transparency. It would have been interesting to raise that matter in the context of the voluntary disclosures and the senator’s work on that.

The Chair: Thank you. I understood the argument, Senator.

Senator Dalphond: I don’t know if that question is for me, but I want to say that I supported Senator Boisvenu’s amendment earlier, but it was defeated.

Senator McIntyre: Senator Dalphond, you have certainly done painstaking work here. I congratulate you on this excellent work. I was wondering if you were inspired by the model proposed by the Canadian Judicial Council and the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association.

Senator Dalphond: That was the starting point, but as you can see, if you have the brief in front of you, the end point was different. It is much more detailed and more complete. They did not talk about guidelines in their proposal, for instance, which addressed global reports. However, as for the representational allowances of the chief justices, there are 38 chief justices I referred to who are in positions of authority, that is to say the chief justices, the associate chief justices, and the assistant chief justices, depending on courts involved.

Some of the courts are not very big and do not have two judges in positions of authority. In fact, 18 courts only have one chief judge. As for the representational allowances of justices of the Supreme Court, the expenses of the nine justices are compiled and the registrar reports them, and for the 38 others, the report will be done for all of Canada, and not by court. If this were done by court, there are 18 courts where we would automatically know the name of the judge. That is the only amendment that discusses the allowances for all of the chief justices, all 38 of them.

The Chair: That is the same point I was discussing earlier. That means that someone will be appointed, and this will open the debate on the assessment of judges’ performances as compared to the expenses incurred. That is what we want to avoid in the amendment proposed by Senator Dalphond.

You will agree, Senator McIntyre, that Senator Dalphond’s amendment generally aligns with the objectives and even goes beyond what was presented by the two organizations we heard. In my opinion, this is also part of the review of the bill. If, after a certain time, we can assess how this information is received, processed and so forth, the committee will be tasked with evaluating the act and reviewing the impact these publications have had. We will then be able to make improvements to it. I think that is an important step toward transparency, in keeping with the bill’s objective.

Senator McIntyre: Let’s say that the two meet. Both organizations were proposing a model according to which the expenditures of each court would be published quarterly, correct?

Senator Dalphond: That is correct. They did not realize that that would create a problem for the chief justices. I think they had not thought of that.

Later, I will submit a clause on eliminating the exemption for reports by the Canadian Judicial Council. There would be more transparency, because the bill as it was originally conceived meant that we had the judges’ individual expenses and not those of the Canadian Judicial Council. There was a black hole that will now disappear. The expenses chief justices will incur to take part in the meetings of the Canadian Judicial Council will be part of their travel expenses. This will appear in the expenses of their court.

[English]

The Chair: I think, senator, there is an important distinction to be made. This amendment is different in nature than the one that was introduced in the House of Commons and was refused by the government. You will remember that.

So I think this amendment, in my opinion, achieves a fair balance from what we heard from the witnesses and experts who were called at the table to testify and the overall objectives that the government wanted to satisfy, which we heard from the Minister of Justice when he did appear. So this, in my opinion, is a fair role of this chamber, in revision of legislation, to come forward with a balanced solution to this issue.

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: I would add that when the minister testified, I asked him what would be acceptable and he simply answered that the ball was in our court and that he would consider everything we would propose. And so I drafted some amendments, and I’d like to thank all of the members of the committee who made comments to me and suggested things.

We added, for instance, that a detailed description of every expense was required, and the word “detailed” did not appear in the bill. So we are more specific than the bill. The guidelines were not there either. Thank you very much, because the version you have is the fifth or sixth version from the first one. It is thanks to your co-operation and to the comments I received from those who had testified that I was able to do something better.

[English]

Senator McCoy: I’m going to support Senator Dalphond’s amendments and realize that they are necessary in the circumstances. But I also want to point out that the former Infromation Commissioner, on pages 10 to 17 of her 2017 report, pointed out that the proactive disclosure provisions in Bill C-58 are a regression, not a move forward, and it is not what she intended at all. She had expected to have access to information requests made, for example, of our Senate administration, not out of your and my office expenses. That has not been touched at all. It is those kinds of significant differences that were not based on the knowledge holders and recommendations that have led me to take an interest in having a proper, systemic review of this decision.

In truth, I think Senator Dalphond has improved the situation but — and my own background being legal — I’m sorry that the judges have been drawn into this in any way shape or form. We’ve grown up with a system where more or less — at home in Alberta, anyway — when a person was appointed to the bench, it was like they were put in some kind of nunnery or monastery. And they held themselves separate. That was part of their independence.

And now we are trying to bring them out into the public eye and almost commodify what they do for us which is beyond price. So as a matter of principle, I want to be on the record to say I do not support proactive disclosure for the judiciary, but in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, this is yet another Band-Aid and I will accept that Senator Dalphond has done his best to make it as painless as possible.

The Chair: Thank you, senators. Having no other senators on my list, I will call the vote on the amendment as tabled by Senator Dalphond.

All those in favour of the amendment, please raise your hand.

Senator Boisvenu: On division.

The Chair: Thank you, honourable senators. On division.

I have another amendment in the package in relation to that section of the act which is the one identified —

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: Just to lighten things up, I’d like to say that we are going to improve our average a great deal by adopting four pages in just a few minutes. Thank you very much.

[English]

The Chair: I will make comments at the end of the exercise, on the whole of the operation. I won’t singularize one amendment in lieu of another. But, Senator Dalphond, if you want to to move the amendment PJD-4 to complete that set of amendments in relation to clause 38.

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: I move that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 38:

(a) on page 38, by replacing line 21 with the following:

“to 90.02 to 90.24”; and

(b) on page 47, by deleting lines 30 to 34.

[English]

The Chair: Do all honourable senators have the amendment? PJD-4.

Senator Dalphond: I move:

THAT Bill C-58 be amended in clause 38,

(a) on page 38, by replacing line 21 with the following:

“to 90.24.”; and

(b) on page 47, by deleting lines 30 to 34.

By deleting the exemptions for the Canadian Judicial Council on page 47 and on page 38, it does change from 90.25 now to 90.24, if we delete 90.25.

The Chair: So it is a consequential amendment. Senators are ready for the question? All senators who want to support the amendment, would you raise your hand?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Shall clause 38, as amended, carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division. Thank you.

We then move on to clauses 39 to 40. We have no notice of any amendments. So shall clauses 39 to 40 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

Some Hon. Senators: Carried.

The Chair: On division, thank you. And I have, on clause 41, from Senator Pratte an amendment identified as AP-13.

I understand it a consequential amendment that we adopted previously.

Senator Pratte: It is a renumbering of paragraphs.

The Chair: It is renumbering, but we have to do it to be sure that the bill remains coherent.

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: I move that Bill C-58 be amended in clause 41, on page 49, by replacing line 7 with the following:

(a) paragraphs 5(1)(b) and (d) and subsection 5(3);

(a.1) section 7;

[English]

The Chair: Any questions? I see no objections. All those in favour of the amendment as proposed by Senator Pratte? Agreed?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Is clause 41, as amended, carried?

On division, thank you.

Then we move on to clauses 42 to 47, the clerk has received no proposal of amendment, so shall clauses 42 to 47 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Carried.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division, thank you.

We move to clause 48. I have an amendment by Senator Ringuette which appears to be consequential.

Senator Ringuette: That Bill C-58 has —

The Chair: Sorry to interrupt you, I want to be sure everybody has PR-16.

Senator Ringuette: I’m happy that we are moving.

The Chair: Please go ahead, Senator Ringuette?

Senator Ringuette: I move:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 48, be amended by replacing lines 10 to 13 on page 52 with the following:

missioner under subsection 36(1.1) or section 36.2 of the Access to Information Act.

As you said earlier, this is consequential to the consultation process that the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner want in the bill.

The Chair: Any questions before I call the vote on this? Are honourable senators agreeing with the proposed amendment introduced by Senator Ringuette?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Shall clause 48, as amended, carry? On division.

The clerk hasn’t received amendments in relation to clauses 49 to 52. Shall clauses 49 to 52 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division. Thank you.

We move now to clause 53. The Chair received an amendment PR-17 from Senator Ringuette. Senator Ringuette, do you want to proceed with the amendment?

Senator Ringuette: Thank you, chair. I move:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 53, be amended by replacing line 3 on page 54 with the following:

tion Commissioner under subsection 36(1.1) or section 36.2 of the Access to In —

And again, this is a consequential amendment. It is a welcoming agreement with the relationship of the Privacy Commissioner and the Information Commissioner.

The Chair: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Shall the amendment as introduced by Senator Ringuette carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Shall clause 53, as amended, carry? On division.

The chair and the clerk have received no amendments in relation to clauses 54 to 62. Shall clauses 54 to 62 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

On clause 63, the clerk received an amendment by Senator Ringuette. Would you like to introduce the amendment identified as PR18?

Senator Ringuette: Yes, I move:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 63, be amended by replacing lines 19 to 21 on page 60 with the following:

First anniversary of royal assent

63 Sections 36 and 38 come into force on the first anniversary of

The Chair: I understand this is a consequential amendment with amendment PR-11 that you introduced?

Senator Ringuette: Exactly. It is a consequential amendment.

The Chair: And it was adopted by the committee.

Senator McCoy: For clarification, only sections 36, 38 and 60, I suppose — can you refresh me on what those three sections are? It will be 36, 38 and 60?

Senator Ringuette: Yes, it is the order-making power of the commissioner. You will recall that originally the bill wanted to have the order-making power a year after Royal Assent to give the commissioner’s office the time to address the new process but the bill has been in the Senate for year and a half, so the commissioner is ready to move forward on Royal Assent.

Senator McCoy: But sections 36 and 38 will not come into force? You are leaving them not in force for a year? They come into force on the first anniversary, it says. I’m trying to remember, if you don’t mind, what sections 36 and 38 say, without going back and crawling through this bill.

Could somebody give me the answer?

The Chair: Section 38 is the amendment we just accepted in relation to Senator Dalphond. It deals with the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada, Courts Administrative Service and Office of the Commissioner of Federal and Judicial Affairs. That is the section that will come into force. Section 36 is about proactive publication of information dealing with the Senate, House of Commons and parliamentary entities.

Senator McCoy: You are saying that the proactive disclosure for senators, ministers, MPs and judges is not coming into force for a year?

The Chair: That’s it, on the first anniversary, to allow the system to put into place the mechanisms to be able to provide for that information.

Senator McCoy: Thank you for that. I’m sorry to hold this up, but I was a bit cross-eyed trying to remember what these sections and so forth are.

Senator Batters: I wanted to make a quick point on that. Currently, we do have proactive disclosure that has been posted for quite some time on the Senate website. There are some small differences, some things that we are frankly doing better than this particular government bill provides for. There will need to be a bit of time for us to adjust and conform to this bill, but there are many times that we’ve been doing. To a great extent, the Senate has already been proactively disclosing all of those types of things for the most part.

The Chair: That will remain, of course, during the next year.

Senator Batters: Yes, but there is some need, especially with the electronic nature of it, to ensure everything is properly in place to conform with the bill.

The Chair: Well done, senator. I know that the Senate has been publishing more information than there is in this bill for at least five years, if I remember well.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Perhaps I was distracted. If we make this information public, why would we wait a year to do so?

Senator Ringuette: We are standardizing the system. We want to make sure that all of the institutions, and Parliament, abide by the same system. I think this will make things easier for citizens who are looking for information. The system will be essentially the same.

Senator Boisvenu: I want to understand your notion of standardization. With whom and among whom?

Senator Ringuette: Pursuant to the bill we are about to adopt.

Senator Boisvenu: I understand that this is for voluntary disclosure?

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

Senator Boisvenu: The Senate is already doing this. Why wait a year? Your answer is that we need some type of standardization.

Senator Ringuette: Yes, but the Senate produces certain documents. The House of Commons produces certain documents. Certain institutions and ministers’ offices produce documents. What Bill C-58 will prescribe is the manner in which the entire electronic system will work.

The Chair: This does not prevent publications from continuing.

Senator Boisvenu: That was my next question. If this clause did not come into effect immediately, what would be the result?

Senator Ringuette: I am not an electronics technician, but perhaps we could ask Ms. Naylor. Perhaps Ms. Naylor could provide some clarifications on this?

[English]

The Chair: Madam Naylor, will you come to the table to answer the questions of Senator Boisvenu in relation to the deferral of the coming into force of section 36, whereby the points raised by Senator Boisvenu are to the effect that the Senate already publishes the information that is contained in section 36.

Ms. Naylor: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. The one year deferral doesn’t replace the current requirements as the committee has recognized. It is to allow time for any changes to those requirements or any new requirements brought into place by Bill C-58, for the business processes, let us call it, to be put into place by the House of Commons and the Senate, in order to ensure that the requirements of the bill will be met. My colleague from Privy Council Office may be able to add a bit more detail.

Mary Rassi, Research & Policy Analyst, Democratic Institutions, Privy Council Office: There are also new requirements in the bill as it relates to the institutions that support Parliament. That includes the Library of Parliament and the Senate Ethics Officer. Some of these requirements for proactive disclosure are new for them as well. While senators and members of Parliament have been proactively disclosing for some time, not all agents or institutions of Parliament have been doing so. This one-year period will allow time for those institutions to be ready.

The Chair: Thank you.

Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Chair: Is the amendment proposed by Senator Ringuette carried?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: On division.

Shall clause 63, as amended, carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: Thank you.

Honourable senators, that, of course, completes the overall list of clauses in the bill, but there are consequential amendments that we have stood in the first part of our work, you will remember. I have one in relation to clause 13, an amendment that has not yet been distributed. I will ask the clerk to distribute the amendment, which is introduced by Senator Dupuis.

Senator Dupuis, could you introduce the amendment, please?

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: I am going to read the proposed amendment to clause 13, on page 5 of the bill, and I want to specify that this is a consequential amendment suggested by those who help us to analyze the impacts or effects of the amendments, and require that they be phrased as follows:

That Bill C-58 be amended in clause 13, on page 5, by replacing subsection 1, (as amended by decision of the committee on March 20, 2019), with the following:

13(1) Paragraphs 30(1)(b) and (c) of the act are repealed.”

The Chair: Could you name the line? There is no line in the amendment?

Ms. Anwar: No, because this amendment amends an amendment that was already adopted.

The Chair: This changes an amendment that we already adopted; very well.

Ms. Anwar: This will change the numbering of the lines in the initial version, but I have the amendment that was adopted.

[English]

The Chair: We want to be sure that our minutes properly reflect that section.

Senator McCoy: Am I understanding this correctly, Senator Dupuis? This arises from fees. Subsection 30(1)(b) in the act refers to people who have been required to pay an amount in excess of $5, I presume. Subsection 30(1)(c) is talking about time limits that have been extended, where the person considers the extension unreasonable. That has also been deleted.

In effect, in the act now — this is consequential, is it: Subject to this act, the Information Commissioner shall receive and investigate complaints but not for fees in excess of $5 and not for unreasonable extensions of time?

The Chair: I understand that it’s following an amendment originally introduced by Senator Carignan.

[Translation]

You had proposed a subamendment to this clause, and this is to ensure that the title of the clause also reflects the existence of the subamendment that became paragraph (c).

Senator Dupuis: We wanted to change Bill C-58 so that this would now read as follows:

13(1) Paragraphs 30(1)(b) and (c) of the act are repealed.”

We had already repealed paragraphs 31(1)(b) and 30(1)(e).

The Chair: That is correct.

[English]

Any questions in relation to that? As I mentioned, it’s essentially to give effect to an amendment by Senator Carignan.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Can you tell me which of Senator Carignan’s amendments this is?

Ms. Anwar: It is amendment C-8, moved by Senator Carignan. Afterwards, in committee, a subamendment was proposed by Senator Dupuis. This was done at the meeting and there is no paper version. We will have to wait for the report to be prepared but I can read the text, if you wish.

[English]

The Chair: We could find the amendment of Senator Carignan, C-8.

Senator McCoy: C-8 only dealt with the extension. It’s an amendment saying that no extension will be longer than 30 days.

[Translation]

The Chair: Exactly. And we added this:

“sauf avec l’autorisation du Commissaire de l’information”.

And in English, we added this:

[English]

except with the prior written consent of the Information Commissioner.

Senator McCoy: That’s 30(1)(c); I agree. 30(1)(b) I think has to do with Senator Pratte’s amendment, which had to do with fees.

The Chair: Let me check that.

Senator McCoy: It’s a precise act and I want to make sure we are being precise.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: We had already repealed paragraphs 30(1)(b) and 30(1)(e). That was done at the previous meeting. Senator Carignan’s March 25 amendment, in addition to my subamendment, makes it necessary to delete paragraph 30(1)(c).

Ms. Anwar: This began with amendment PR1, to which we added clause 6.1.

The Chair: Yes, precisely.

[English]

There was an original amendment of Senator Ringuette. We have subdivided the amendment of Senator Ringuette.

I don’t know if you remember, Senator Ringuette. It was PR-1, an amendment to section 6. We have divided the amendment proposed by Senator Ringuette into two parts. There is one part, if I remember well, that was set aside; and the other part of the amendment was adopted. The (c) of that amendment was:

The Act is amended by adding the following after section 6:

[Translation]

Ms. Anwar: Afterwards, Senator Carignan’s amendment C-8 added clause 6.2, and Senator Dupuis’ subamendment added some additional text.

Senator Dupuis: The subamendment, yes.

Ms. Anwar: By adding this text, you now need this one, consequentially. This was done at the first meeting as well as the second, and now, today, at the sixth meeting.

[English]

Senator McCoy: Which amendment was it that spoke to section 11 of the act? I don’t have it right to my fingertips here. It had to do with the question of fees.

Senator Dupuis: 8 to 12 inclusive were adopted on division with no discussion, no amendments.

Ms. Anwar: I don’t know if you’re talking about the act or the bill, but the amendments are relating to the bill.

Senator McCoy: It says here: Paragraph 30(1)(b) and (c) of the act are repealed. So 30(1)(b) of the act —

The Chair: Could you tell us the page, senator, you’re referring to?

Senator McCoy: Where am I? I’m in the Access to Information Act. I am looking at 30 —

Ms. Anwar: It should be page 27, is it under the complaints section?

Senator McCoy: I’m looking at 30(1)(b) and it’s on page 26 of the act. It’s under the “complaints” section. And 30(1) says:

Subject to this Act, the Information Commissioner shall receive and investigate complaints . . . from persons who have been required to pay an amount under section 11 that they consider unreasonable . . .

That’s what 30(1)(b) says. Now I think you’re quite right that it’s consequential, because I think we removed any excess payment. That was the amendment that went to fees that I thought was Senator Pratte’s.

Ms. Anwar: I think that these amendments, according to the bill, are dealing with section 5 of the act and section 6 of the act.

Senator McCoy: That’s not what 30(1)(b) says, so you might want to check your consequential amendment.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: This is paragraph 31(1)(b), and I quote:

(b) from persons who have been required to pay an amount under subsection 11(2), that they consider unreasonable; [...]

[English]

Senator McCoy: When you look at section 11, of course, that is in the act and section 11 in the act talks about, starting on page 7:

Subject to this section, a person who makes a request for access to a record under this Act may be required to pay ... at the time the request is made, such application fee, not exceeding twenty-five dollars . . . before any copies are made, such fee as may be prescribed by regulation . . . before the record is converted . . . such fee as may be prescribed by regulation . . .

I thought we had eliminated all of that.

Senator Pratte: Which is why we deleted 30(1)(b), because there couldn’t be any complaints about excessive fees because the fees cannot go over $25.

Senator McCoy: I was just trying to remember where we did that. We did do that, though, didn’t we?

The Chair: Senator, in my notes when the debate took place, I added, by hand, on my copy paragraph 30(1)(b) and (c) because we have deleted the fees, as you will remember. That’s why it’s essentially a consequential amendment to the amendments that we adopted in relation to that section.

Senator McCoy: Okay. All right. Thank you for helping me track it back.

The Chair: Is the amendment proposed by Senator Dupuis carried?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: Shall clause 13 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: Thank you. We have Senator Ringuette’s amendment to clause 16, page 8, lines 23 to 26. It’s identified on your sets of amendments as PR5.

Senator Ringuette: Yes. This was moved in error, if my memory is correct. In 31 — just a second.

The Chair: I’m reminded by the clerk that the original amendment was not properly drafted and you committed to go back to the department to have better phrasing of the amendment, if I remember well.

Senator Ringuette: I’m proposing the following, with your permission.

The Chair: Thank you. Could you move the amendment, senator?

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

The Chair: It’s PR5.

Senator Ringuette: The amendment reads:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 16 be amended by replacing line 31 —

The Chair: It’s not by replacing, it’s by deleting.

Senator Ringuette: Let me start again, please.

The Chair: Senator Pratte, you had a question.

Senator Pratte: No. So, Senator Ringuette, you’re moving another amendment, or a new version of this amendment?

Senator Ringuette: Yes.

The Chair: It’s a new version of an amendment that was stood because the phrasing of the amendment was not — I was to use a word that —

Senator Ringuette: It could have been better.

The Chair: That’s putting it diplomatically.

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: Is the amendment clear or do we require verification? I thought you needed external verification.

Senator Ringuette: No.

[English]

The Chair: Could you move the amendment, senator?

Senator Ringuette: The amendment reads:

That Bill C-58, in Clause 16, be amended by replacing lines 25 and 26 on page 8 with the following:

on the fifth business day after the date of the report.

The Chair: I’m sorry. The new text of the amendment is PR 5.1. The other one was the defective one. We removed PR5, to be replaced by PR 5.1.

Senator Ringuette: Exactly.

The Chair: Could you move the amendment, senator, please?

Senator Ringuette: Yes, I just did.

The Chair: Well, I want you to re-read it because there was confusion.

[Translation]

Senator Ringuette: Fine.

I move the following amendment:

That Bill C-58, in clause 16, be amended by replacing lines 25 and 26, on page 8, with the following: on the fifth business day, after the date of the report.

[English]

The Chair: Any questions?

It’s the word, “report” instead of the word, “order.” Yes. It was to make sure that the language was the same in the article.

Any questions in relation to that amendment? Shall the amendment carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Chair: Senator Boisvenu has brought it to my attention that the hour has lapsed. In relation to that clause, we still have an amendment from Senator Pratte, AP5, and we have an amendment of Senator Ringuette, PR6, and C-9 also stands alone.

AP5 and C-9 are to the same effect, so could I invite the senators who are the sponsors of those amendments to caucus in order to see if there’s not a possibility to have one text? Could you allow me to distribute C-9, senator?

[Translation]

Senator Boisvenu: We will have to talk about it with Senator Carignan, because he is the one responsible.

[English]

The Chair: That being the case, I see that the hour is gone and it’s been called to my attention that we have completed our work for the time that is allocated to us.

Honourable senators, maybe you want to know how many more amendments there are. There are a few of them, and I would hope we could be here at 10:30 sharp tomorrow morning so that we could complete the clause-by-clause consideration tomorrow morning, if possible.

[Translation]

Senator Dupuis: Since the notion of “few” is relative, can you give us some idea of the number? You say there are few amendments; may we know how many there are?

Ms. Anwar: At least four, five or six amendments.

[English]

The Chair: I have three amendments in relation to section 16 and two of them could be merged. Then there is one amendment from the government in relation to clause 17. And I have one amendment on clause 21 by Senator Pratte and then another amendment on clause 24 by Senator Pratte. Of course, the report has been circulated. As you know, the draft report has already been circulated, and we have invited honourable senators to transfer to us their comments. So we have a draft that has been aired, if I can use that word. I would expect that it would be rather expeditious to adopt the report.

The report is essentially, as you know, the recital of the witnesses that we have heard and the course of study that the committee has been following. So there are no contentious observations as far as I can tell. So I hope that we would be able to complete tomorrow morning if possible. Of course, I’m always in the hands of the honourable senators, as you know.

Senator Gold: It’s my hope as well that we will finish.

May I ask a question of the clerk? Have you received written comments from senators on the report, such that they might be incorporated in and we can obviate the need to spend a lot of time on the report?

The Chair: Yes, senator, I could say — without disclosing any confidential information — that Senator Dupuis has provided observations in relation to the Aboriginal people’s right to have access to information in relation to their objectives. That has been circulated. I have also received notes from Senator McCoy today in relation to the report that —

Senator McCoy: I’m happy to have you circulate those to all members of the committee. The clerk was very helpful in assisting me in getting them translated so we could actually share them with all members of the committee. So by all means, you could fire those out. It’s in an email form. It’s fairly short.

The Chair: It’s point form. It’s not a formal text, but it’s point form. Those are the only two kinds of input in the report that the clerk has received and that I have reviewed, of course, considering the importance of the issue and the time we have spent on that bill.

Does that enlighten you, senator?

Senator Gold: It does. I just want to confirm that the comments from my office — and they were very modest — about alluding to the suspension of our study for a period of time were received by the clerk.

Ms. Anwar: Did you send them recently? Okay.

The Chair: We are aware now.

Senator Gold: Thank you.

The Chair: We’ll make sure they’re taken into consideration.

[Translation]

Senator Dalphond: Will the next meeting be held here or in the usual place?

Ms. Anwar: It will be at the Wellington Building.

[English]

The Chair: I thought it would be proper to sit in this room because we are closer to the Senate if they have a vote. Tomorrow morning the Senate doesn’t sit, so we could be far from the fire.

Senator McCoy: So we are going back to Wellington?

The Chair: We are going back to Wellington tomorrow morning.

Thank you, honourable senators, for your cooperation. We appreciate very much your contribution to the debate.

(The committee adjourned.)