Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Issue 36 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 9, 1999

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, to which was referred Bill C-66, to amend the National Housing Act and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act; and Bill C-64, to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, met this day at 3:55 p.m. to give consideration to the bills.

Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, I see a quorum.

Colleagues, we have a rather heavier agenda today than we had foreseen. We have two government bills, Bill C-66 and Bill C-64, and I had intended to proceed immediately to clause-by-clause study of Bill C-66 today. However, a request was made through our colleague, Senator Chalifoux, to hear the witnesses from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, who have some views on this bill.

In view of the importance of this organization, the importance of the bill, and the significance of the views they want to express, I felt that I should accede to that request. They are here today and we will hear from them.

You will also recall that last time we met, we made it clear to the government that they could have the last word as witnesses. Thus, the officials from CMHC are here. After we have heard from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, I will turn to the officials from CMHC.

Then, if it is your wish, we will do clause-by-clause study of Bill C-66.

After that, we will be hearing witnesses from the government on Bill C-64.

First, we have some housekeeping to do in regard to the budget of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. You will recall that the subcommittee elected a new chairman, our colleague, Senator Balfour, who is here today, and that the Senate gave the committee a reference that renewed its general mandate to monitor and to inquire into matters that affect veterans. This committee, in turn, sent the reference to our subcommittee.

The subcommittee intends to go in the fall to Charlottetown, which is, as you know, where the Department of Veterans Affairs is located. They have put in a budget, which is before you, in the amount of $17,500 for this purpose. The Chair would entertain a motion to adopt the budget of the subcommittee.

The chairman of the subcommittee is here if there are any questions.

May I have a motion for the adoption of that budget?

Senator Gill: I so move, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: If there are no questions for the Chair of the subcommittee, is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: The budget is adopted. I wish to thank Senator Balfour.

Let us now turn to Bill C-66. Our witnesses are from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Their president, Harry W. Daniels, whom you see before you, is no stranger to parliamentary committees. He is accompanied by Frank Palmater, Vice-President; and Lorraine Rochon, the Chief of Staff.

I understand that you have a brief opening statement, Mr. Daniels.

Mr. Harry W. Daniels, President, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples: Mr. Chairman, first, I must apologize for disrupting your schedule. We are very appreciative of the time you have allowed us.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is a national advocacy organization designed to serve and protect the interests of its aboriginal constituents -- namely, Métis, Indians registered and unregistered, and treaty and non-treaty persons of aboriginal ancestry living off reserve. They number more than 800,000 people and constitute the largest group of aboriginal citizens in this country.

We have had an opportunity to review Bill C-66 and I must tell you, senators, that we have grave concerns with this bill. It does not make merely cosmetic changes to the National Housing Act, but substantive changes. For example, it will open up the possibility of insuring housing loans on reserve without the need for a DIAND guarantee. We welcome this change, which is not a cosmetic change. It promises to have a major and substantive impact on aboriginal people.

Similarly, the bill removes impediments to renovation loans for urban homeowners, which is a substantive change too, and one with which we agree.

We also endorse the expansion of CMHC's research mandate to include housing finance and affordability. I know this will have a major impact on the type of research projects that CMHC will be funding. As a matter of fact, we have some ideas on housing affordability that we would like to share with CMHC at the appropriate time.

These positive aspects of the bill pale in comparison with the negative impact that some of its provisions will have on aboriginal people. For instance, the bill repeals section 95 of the National Housing Act. Section 95 is the legislative basis for the Urban Native Housing Program, other non-profit housing programs, and a good part of the Rural and Native Housing, or R N H, portfolio. What will happen to the non-profit housing program once this provision is repealed?

The bill provides for a new proposed section that will give sweeping powers to CMHC to make loans and contributions to housing projects and to set the terms and conditions of those loans and contributions. How will this provision impact the existing aboriginal housing portfolio? Will CMHC begin to seize what it considers to be surplus revenues of aboriginal housing corporations? As I read the proposed section, that will be a possibility.

After this bill is enacted, the National Housing Act will say virtually nothing about social housing. We do not agree that CMHC should abandon its social housing role.

Also, the bill removes any reference to aboriginal people in the National Housing Act. My understand is that we are to be considered "persons." The aboriginal peoples of Canada are distinct peoples, as set out in section 35 of the Constitution. The federal government agrees with this. Yet, where is there any recognition of Indian, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Canada in this legislation?

We are just as concerned with what the bill does not do as with what it does. Bill C-66 purports to be a major revision of the National Housing Act. In fact, it is the first in decades. It would have provided the federal government with a golden opportunity to act on the promises it has been making to aboriginal people in the Liberal Red Book and in "Gathering Strength."

In "Gathering Strength," the government admits that "...one of the most important element of people's sense of wellbeing is access to good quality housing."

Where are the housing programs for aboriginal people off reserve? I would like to know what CMHC plans do about the housing shortage for aboriginal people off reserve in Ottawa alone, where there are over 800 people on the waiting list. Over 400 Indian and Métis seniors are waiting for social housing units and the situation is even more serious out west. We find this unacceptable.

In "Gathering Strength," the federal government committed itself to self-government for aboriginal people. It states in that document that:

The federal government is prepared to consider a variety of approaches to self-government, including self-government institutions, devolution of programs and services, and public government.

Why, then, is Bill C-66 silent about self-government? Why cannot CMHC devolve responsibility for aboriginal housing programs to aboriginal people?

When HRDC removed itself from direct delivery of training programs, it did not devolve aboriginal training programs to the provinces, but to aboriginal organizations. Why cannot CMHC do the same for aboriginal housing programs?

In "Gathering Strength," the federal government promised to build a new relationship with aboriginal peoples. In that document, the Government of Canada states that it "agrees with the underlying view that policy development and implementation and the delivery of programs and services should reflect the new relationship."

How does this bill establish a new relationship with aboriginal people? It removes all reference to aboriginal people in the National Housing Act. It does not involve us in the policy development process or in program delivery. It ignores our very existence as distinct peoples. It fails to recognize any federal responsibility for aboriginal people.

If this is what the federal government means by a new relationship, then do not ask me or my organization to support this bill. However, I believe that it is possible to save this bill by making a few key amendments.

First, we suggest that a clause enabling CMHC to enter into social housing agreements with representatives and agencies of the aboriginal peoples of Canada be added to the bill. This would create an aboriginal equivalent to section 99 of the National Housing Act, which authorizes social housing agreements with the provinces.

Second, we suggest that a notwithstanding clause be added to the bill to ensure that existing social housing agreements and non-profit housing arrangements will not be affected by the repeal of section 95 and the introduction of the proposed new section.

Third, those parts of the bill that deal with CMHC's board of governors should be amended to guarantee that at least one of the eight directors will be an aboriginal person. This would give a clear signal that CMHC is serious about involving aboriginal people in the policy development and decision-making process.

Fourth, CMHC should be obliged to table any terms and conditions made under the revised National Housing Act in Parliament. This would serve to open them to parliamentary scrutiny.

Before I thank you, Mr. Chairman, I want to table with the committee a documentary that I produced, which was shown on Rogers television, entitled, Nobody's Indians. It sets out in detail the deplorable housing conditions of Indians living in the bush in the three northern Ontario communities of Pickle Lake, Sioux Lookout, and Red Lake. These people, who have left the reserve, live under trees and in garbage dumps.

I am in the process of editing Nobody's Indians II, depicting the situation in downtown Vancouver and places like Toronto and Montreal, which is also deplorable. If we are not involved in any changes regarding housing we will lose everything. This issue involves all aboriginal people off reserve.

We also have a copy of A Question of Fairness, which was produced by our organization, and I will provide you with more copies if I can, Mr. Chairman.

Senators will find that if the National Housing Act is to be changed to the exclusion of aboriginal peoples, then we will have a very serious problem in this country.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Daniels. Did you or your organization appear before the House of Commons committee that studied this bill?

Mr. Daniels: I confess we did not, Mr. Chairman, for a number of reasons. We do not have a lot of staff to take care of things and we did not hear about this issue until last spring. I was made aware of it recently by Senator Chalifoux and others. I am glad that we have had this time to speak to you. Had we done it before, we might have had some impact.

The Chairman: Do you know if any of the other aboriginal organizations appeared before the Commons committee?

Mr. Daniels: No.

The Chairman: Were you consulted on the bill?

Mr. Daniels: No, I was not.

Senator Cohen: Mr. Daniels, thank you for your presentation. It was succinct and to the point.

When the minister appeared before this committee, I asked him why, when they are doing a major revision of the National Housing Act, and when there is a housing crisis in Canada, they did not address that issue. That is the major issue, after creating a playing field level in the part of the bill that deals with insurance. The minister was non-committal. He said they had spent "X" number of dollars and he told me what they have done. However, I did not even realize that the issue was as great as it is in the aboriginal community. I thank you for bringing this to our attention today because I think the concern about social housing and the abdication of the government's responsibility to do something about this sooner rather than later is very valid. I wanted to make that point and be on the record as saying that as a committee, we have already asked the minister about it. We will include your recommendations too, which are very good.

Mr. Daniels: We are very concerned about this. We have proposed to CMHC that they make other changes in social housing for aboriginal people.

The situation is not good. If we had more people and more time, we would have been on top of this. We are a very small organization representing a lot of people, but we are underfunded. Those are not excuses; those are facts. Any support we can get in making noise about the National Housing Act being changed to the exclusion of our constituents would be greatly appreciated.

Senator Cohen: Your suggestion for having someone from the aboriginal community sit on the board of directors is also very valid. Some of the criticism of this bill has been that the people who sit on the board should be more representative of those Canadians who need social housing. Thank you for emphasizing that for us once more.

Senator Wilson: Just to echo Senator Cohen's support, you have brought something very important to our attention.

With respect to appointing an aboriginal person to the board of governors, you would perhaps be in a much stronger position if the aboriginal community came up with a nomination. Do you have any suggestions as to how that might work?

Mr. Daniels: That is a very good suggestion. I think most of you understand that 79 per cent of all aboriginal people in Canada live off reserve. Of the 480,000 Indians who are entitled to live on reserve, 53 per cent do not. Only 220,000 Indians live on reserve. There are currently about 40,000 Inuit, and they have nothing to do with reserve lands.

We must find someone to sit on the board who knows the ins and outs of this issue. I do not care who it is. Maybe we could elect or appoint someone. When social housing policy is being developed, we would like someone on that board who can speak for our people and to their situation. It should be a person well respected by all three communities -- Indians, Inuit, and Métis.

Senator Wilson: I would urge you to give a little more thought to that because you might get good support for this proposal, in which case, who should that person be? The aboriginal community is no more homogenous than the dominant community. I do not know how that could be done so that the person would be accountable to the aboriginal community and feel supported, but I am sure if you give it more thought, you can come up with something.

Mr. Daniels: I agree. It is a point well taken. It should be someone who knows what they are doing and what they are talking about. We can find people like that. I am sure the three national organizations can get together, talk about it, and come up with someone. We will find a formula if it comes to pass that this recommendation is made to CMHC, supported by this group.

The Chairman: Mr. Daniels, the idea of devolving housing to the provinces has been kicking around for quite a while. Have you discussed with the government, either the political leadership or the public service, the general proposition that they ought to devolve social housing to aboriginal organizations?

Mr. Daniels: Yes, we have discussed that with the premiers at two meetings now, as something they might support. Instead of them getting the responsibility for social housing, our people and organizations should get it. We should run those kinds of things.

The Chairman: Are you suggesting that the initiative would have to come from the provinces rather than from the federal government?

Mr. Daniels: How many provinces are left?

Mr. Frank Palmater, Vice-President, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples: Three provinces have yet to sign the transfer agreement.

Mr. Daniels: We have intervened at various times, but no one seems to listen.

The Chairman: I do not know the answer, but it is an interesting question. You make the point that when HRDC removed itself from direct delivery of training programs, it did not devolve aboriginal training programs to the provinces but to aboriginal organizations. You then ask why the CMHC cannot do the same for aboriginal housing programs. When I ask that question of officials, I am sure the answer I will get is that this is a policy question.

At what stage are your discussions?

Mr. Daniels: We have approached Minister Gagliano and others at housing meetings in Toronto and Vancouver, but we have not met with a great deal of success or positive response.

Senator Chalifoux: The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs is conducting a study on aboriginal housing. An action plan, not just a study, will be available by the end of September.

The Chairman: How would it happen? Would if be up to the provinces, to whom the social housing programs have been devolved already, to further devolve them to the aboriginal organizations, or would the federal government do this?

Mr. Palmater: It could happen if the agreements that the federal government signed with the provinces contained that provision.

In the three remaining provinces, if the provision were put into the agreement, a section in each agreement could say that whatever benefits this signatory would benefit everyone who signs on.

The Chairman: Which three provinces have not signed on?

Mr. Palmater: B.C. has said it definitely will not sign simply because of the social problems of aboriginal people and some of the co-op housing units they have out there.

Ontario is another. There is some word that Ontario will sign, but only if the co-ops and the aboriginal organizations are not part and parcel of the deal.

I know for sure that Quebec has not signed on, but that is more for monetary reasons than anything else.

Senator Watt: Mr. Daniels, you mentioned in your introduction that you felt this bill does not really encompass what it should in terms of aboriginal people across the country. In your opinion, it seems to be geared more towards band Indians on reserve and does not deal either with Indians off reserve or the Inuit.

North of 60 seems to be where the line is drawn with respect to applications and where the government's responsibility begins and ends, even though that does not really work in a practical manner.

I believe the Inuit of the Northwest Territories will be adequately covered by this bill. Is that your understanding?

Mr. Daniels: I do not know. I have not gone into it in that depth. They may be taken care of under the Nunavut agreement.

Mr. Palmater:With the combination of this bill and the Nunavut agreement, the Inuit will be taken care of under this new National Housing Act.

Senator Watt: Under the transfer agreement?

Mr. Palmater: Yes.

Senator Watt: The Government of Canada has very clear legal obligations. Certain sets of treaties were enacted by Parliament. That is, the relationship was fixed between the two nations, the general public of Canada as represented by the Crown, and the aboriginal groups represented by various organizations. From time to time, those organizations do reach legally binding agreements with the Crown.

If you were to take those legally binding agreements to the Supreme Court of Canada, you would certainly win. There is no doubt about that. It has been happening throughout the years. When the federal government says we are not bound or that is not our responsibility, the rulings usually say otherwise.

Mr. Chairman, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement was enacted by Bill C-9 and a particular piece of legislation that was also put together by the province back in 1975.

I want this question as part of the record: Will a legally binding agreement, such as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, override that agreement which is considered to be a treaty between the two nations?

If that is the case, there is a very clear obligation on the Government of Canada, but since 1993 it has denied its legal responsibility. We have taken them to task. Today it is in the hands of a dispute resolution mechanism.

The government simply says they have no responsibility because this is a policy matter. In negotiating with the Crown, there is much "give and take" taking place. If you give up something, you want to gain something in return.

I remember this clearly because I was one of the chief negotiators on the question of housing. I wanted to ensure the continuation of the program and its accessibility to Indians, whether on reserve or off reserve. That will apply precisely to the aboriginal people living in James Bay and to the Inuit living in Northern Quebec.

I am sorry to say that this bill has overlooked this matter. How will we rectify that? We will need to draft a clause because this is a legal text that was signed between the two nations. We have been having a problem with that since 1993. I was the last person who delivered 40 houses to Northern Quebec. After that, the government began to renege on its responsibilities.

We also have the Tate report leading up to 1993. It was finalized in 1993 due to the fact that the Government of Canada said it no longer had responsibility for the extension of social programs. They were able to extend it for two more years, up to 1995. Again, this year, they granted another $5 million. We need to fix this. I do not know whether we can do that in this bill, but we definitely need to reflect that problem.

Mr. Daniels: On page 8, we suggest adding a notwithstanding clause to ensure that existing social housing agreements and non-profit housing arrangements will not be affected by the repeal. We could add a statement to the effect that "in treaties and in modern day agreements as protected by section 35 (3) of the Constitution Act of 1982."

Senator Watt is correct. We have been discussing this, but we are not sure how it affects treaties and modern day agreements. If it overrides them, all our treaties to date may be of no effect whatsoever. I do not know that; I am not a lawyer. We need advice on that.

[Translation]

Senator Gill: I would just like to remind people of some of the facts; they may not always be very pleasant memories, but it is important to bear them in mind. In 1970, I was involved in the Board as a chief. The housing allowances from the Department of Indian Affairs were about $5,000 or $6,000. There was no other way of obtaining housing on the reserves inside the communities, and there was absolutely nothing available outside. That lasted for a couple of year.

As I recall, the CMHC program began around 1983 or 1984. The need is significant both inside and outside the communities. A lot of people are leaving the communities to go outside, and those needs will have to be met. They are the backlogs, and we will eventually have to tackle that problem.

I am a member of the Indian and Inuit Affairs Committee and I am sponsoring this bill. We have started to do some work in that committee, particularly in terms of the relationship between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. We are currently looking at a lot of different issues.

I would like to hear your views on the following points. In New Brunswick, Quebec and all across Canada, agreements have been reached with groups that you might call cooperatives or with other groups as well. Agreements have been signed with CMHC. In my region, Gilles Bérubé has a housing program involving between 2,000 and 4,000 units and the need is just as great outside the communities.

I do not think we need to get too hung up here. Having looked carefully at Bill C-66, which amends the other act, it is my impression, unless I am mistaken, that terms such as "Indian" are being taken out in order to remove certain constraints. Is your perception the same as mine? Once those constraints have been removed, I think that through negotiations and the work we are doing in the housing sector, we will be in a position to move forward.

The circumstances of the aboriginal communities are quite special. I do not think one can say that the situation in the communities was a problem or a handicap. We knew that CMHC could go into the communities, but that it could not do so through other intermediaries. I am now convinced that we will be able to do that. There will still be some issues for aboriginals that leave the communities, and I think that will probably have to continue to be negotiated, but my feeling is that this legislation will remove the obstacles. At the same time, we will obviously have to continue to negotiate. I have heard that there are about ten different offices managing housing stock, which is a considerable number. It is important that these programs be pursued and improved.

Will it be possible, through your organizations, to continue to manage the housing inventory via negotiations and to make improvements in that area? I am trying to determine whether the bill will be an obstacle in that regard. My feeling is that it removes certain barriers that existed previously. I would like to hear your comments in that regard.

[English]

Senator Cohen: Senator Gill has a very fine argument but it really does not have anything to do with the bill we are discussing today. This is what will happen after the fact but today the bill is before us to make recommendations. I just wanted to be on the record with that.

Mr. Daniels: We are appearing here because of the uncertainty about what is happening. I say this out of pure ignorance -- and I am not assigning blame to anyone -- namely, that it appears to me that there has not been much discussion on aboriginal peoples regarding these changes to the act. All I am trying to do here is to bring this point forward; namely, that we do have the National Aboriginal Housing Association. We know of about 120 groups in Canada that belong to NAHA. We wonder how this will affect those agreements.

Senator Gill, I would rather see something put in place before you remove either the constraints on the government or the constraints on us. If Senator Chalifoux and her other colleagues have something else to put forward, then please discuss it. This place is considered to be the house of sober second thought. Let us then give sober second thought to this and say, "There are some tough impacts on the aboriginal community here. We must to look them." Many of the 800,000 people I spoke of do not have the financial means to do this themselves.

Mr. Palmater: For a number of years -- because the federal government is committed to the transfer of social housing responsibility to the provinces -- aboriginal housing organizations have been attempting to fit within the little niche that exists. Coming from New Brunswick and working in housing, as I did for almost 13 years prior to becoming involved in aboriginal politics, I know the way the province and the federal government interpret agreements. By the time a program gets to the recipients, it is sometimes totally different from the original conception because of restrictions and circumstances not being taken into consideration.

I am not saying that the bill is all bad. There are some good parts to it. You could do what Senator Gill suggests, and pass this bill that allows CMHC to do some of the things that it will have to do to become a Crown corporation responsible for housing in the new millennium. However, the government has devolved its responsibility for social housing. Nothing in this bill gives us, as aboriginal people, security. Nothing in the social transfers gives us security. We have all kinds of commitments from provincial governments saying, "We will not hurt what you have now with the federal government." However, not one province in this entire country has come up with a social housing policy for off-reserve aboriginal people. Yet it is now their responsibility.

There is no funding. Where do they get the funding? We have had premiers say to us at meetings, "We want to help these people but we do not have any money to do so. Our coffers are drained now." There is no social housing from the national government, so we now have these social programs. Social programs, however, do not generate enough money to create opportunities for the provincial governments to build new units. There are no new units. They do not exist, so how will we deal with that need of the aboriginal people? We are here as elected representatives of the aboriginal people. The need is definitely there. We know that.

If you remove the restrictive clauses that now inhibit CMHC, but add other things that allow CMHC to do what this bill will allow them to do, we will again be neglected. The restrictive clauses should be taken out. We state that in our position; namely, that some of those changes will help CMHC to become a better organization. They want to devolve all social housing responsibility to the very provinces who are constantly telling us, "We do not have the money to pick up the tab." They sweeten the pot by saying, "We will give you a little more in this transfer." A clause in the social transfer agreement allows each province to opt in on a favourable deal. That is to say, if one province negotiates a better deal, then the others can opt into it. In some provinces, the social housing transfer has done well -- for example, in Nova Scotia. The aboriginal provider of housing in Nova Scotia has the responsibility for all social housing, not just aboriginal. That involves over 2,000 units. We provide the management for all those units, but Nova Scotia is the only province that does that.

There are provinces where, if aboriginal housing providers get into trouble, CMHC places them into receivership or sends them to court to find out why there is a problem. We put forward a proposal to CMHC in December, but someone will be talking to me about it only next week. That is fine because they are busy, but so am I. That is quite a long time to wait for a response. We wanted to take a look at those housing organizations that are in trouble and try to help them, through the aboriginal society that was set up to deal with their problems, find a solution to them. For example, if your management skills caused CMHC to shut you down, then we will seek training for you. There are all kinds of opportunities, but we are not getting them.

I do not want this bill to be passed in the hopes that what Senator Chalifoux and others in the Aboriginal Affairs Committee do will make it better. That never works. We have 500 years of history that tell us that will not happen.

Mr. Daniels: By way of an explanation on how transfers take place, on March 22 we met in Regina with the provincial premiers. Roy Romanow chaired the meeting and all of the premiers were there except the premier of Quebec. We spoke about the Canada Health and Social Transfer. The provinces were given $916 a month per person for everyone in the province. Based upon that, Saskatchewan was to get $78 million on behalf of our people; Quebec, around $2 billion; Ontario about $1.7 billion, and so on. I told them, "I can agree with you getting that money if you can put your plan on the table today concerning how you will deliver that money to all our people." However, it was too late because they had already signed their agreement. In addition, I told them, "If each premier can tell me how he plans to spend that "head count" money on our people, that is fine." I sat there and not one plan was put forward. I then said to Mr. Romanow, "Give me the $78 million, then. I am a Saskatchewan resident. I will build the capacity. We will train the technicians and the teachers and keep the hospitals and the schools open. We will spend the $78 million on our people to do it." We are saying "no" to having this money taken away from us and given to the provinces. The only person who agreed with the concept of giving us the money on a straight transfer and under our control was Mike Harris. He said it in the plenary session when everyone was listening. He said, "I like that plan because I cannot do it." Behind closed doors, after everyone was protecting a little till of $78 million or 2 billion, Mr. Harris said, "I still like Mr. Daniel's plan the best because I cannot do it. We do not know what his people want. Why not give them the money?"

The Chairman: That is an extremely interesting anecdote.

Mr. Daniels: Where is CMHC's plan for the aboriginal people?

The Chairman: That is a good question. Mr. Daniels, I do not know if any member of the committee will take you up on your amendments. As you know, that can either be done here when we go into clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, or it can be done at the report stage -- that is, assuming the bill goes back to the Senate -- or at third reading.

I will leave it there because I do not know if senators are ready to take your suggestions and draft amendments and present them today, whether they want to do so, or whether it will be done at all, and if so, when they might try it. Meanwhile, however, the committee has an opportunity to explore some of these matters with the officials from CMHC, who are here waiting to be heard from this afternoon. They came here prepared to discuss the testimony that we have heard from other witnesses on this bill. They have now heard you and they have a copy of your brief. They will, perhaps, volunteer some comments. Whether they do or not, senators can explore these matters with them.

On that note, I will thank you and call the officials from CMHC to the table.

Mr. Daniels: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If anyone wants to talk to us, we are willing to answer any questions in private or away from this table. I want to thank the Senate committee for hearing us. We appreciate it. We wish you the best of luck in your deliberations.

The Chairman: Senators, the witnesses from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation are well known to you.

I understand, Mr. Rochon, you have a brief opening statement to make.

[Translation]

Mr. Marc Rochon, President, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Thank you for your invitation to again discuss Bill C-66 with the committee. I would like to respond to a number of points raised by witnesses in their statements, particularly with respect to a level playing field in the area of mortgage insurance and some of the effects of Bill C-66 on social housing.

Let us start by talking about mortgage insurance. Our competitor, as you know, claims that the main purpose of the legislation is, and I quote:

...to level the playing field between CMHC and GE Capital.

However, that is incorrect, as far as we are concerned. We do admit that certain provisions of the bill may have that effect, but that is not the primary objective of Bill C-66.

Bill C-66 is primarily aimed at providing the Government of Canada with the means it requires to help Canadians to obtain appropriate housing. The purpose of this bill is not to guarantee a market share to one of the most powerful corporations in the world. We are in favour of fair competition, and this legislation will indeed provide for a new financial framework between our shareholder and CMHC, a framework that will foster a more level playing field.

[English]

Nevertheless, Mr. Chairman, because the committee heard quite a bit about the difference between the government guarantee provided to CMHC and that to GE, the 100 per cent versus the 90 per cent guarantee, I thought you might be interested in some additional information. You were told that GE's market share could not continue to grow. GE told you that banks would be reluctant to commit additional business to them because of the marginally higher capital requirements associated with their insured loans. The evidence we have suggests otherwise.

Last October, for example, the Royal Bank of Canada, the largest mortgage lender in this country, instructed its branches to send 50 per cent of their mortgage insurance business to GE. In May of this year, the same bank again wrote to its branches urging them to provide more business to GE. If Royal Bank branches follow this instruction, the result will be a significant increase in GE's market share and a corresponding reduction in CMHC's.

Also in May this year, the Bank of Nova Scotia wrote to its branches advising that the bank and GE had "undertaken a significant partnership in other key business areas." The letter goes on to urge branches to utilize GE.

Rather than cutting back on doing business with GE, as the president of GE Capital suggests, at least two major banks have taken steps in the last few weeks to increase the business they send to GE Capital.

It would appear that other benefits that GE is able to offer clients more than compensate for any perceived disadvantage from the government guarantee. What are these advantages? As a large, diversified, multinational company, GE has the ability to leverage mortgage insurance business, and I quote, "through partnerships in other key business areas." We do not know the details of this partnership or what the other key business areas are; but presumably, the Bank of Nova Scotia is directing mortgage insurance business to GE in return for business provided by some other part of the GE empire.

Mr. Chairman, let me give you another example. I have in my hand a brochure issued last fall by GE and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce offering a gift certificate for GE appliances to consumers whose new home mortgages are insured by GE. Mr. Chairman, we do not make stoves and refrigerators at CMHC. All we offer is top-notch service with no hardware attached.

CMHC does not have these kinds of cross-marketing advantages.

Also, as our minister pointed out, GE is not required to perform the public policy functions that CMHC is required to perform, and this is the essence of our raison d'être as a Crown corporation.

The government can require CMHC to use its profits to provide mortgage insurance to Canadians who would otherwise be denied it in the private market. Last week, GE said they were accepting applications from everywhere in the country, but they did not say that they were approving applications from everywhere in the country. We do, Mr. Chairman, and will continue to offer our services from sea to sea to sea.

In 1995, the then president of GE Capital Mortgage Insurance said, "In 1996, we will be going after the entire Canadian market." What he really meant was that GE would be going after the most profitable parts of the Canadian market. It is called "cherry-picking." They did not go after the rental market; they have not been present on reserves with First Nations; nor did they go after innovative, affordable housing projects for low-income Canadian, all of which, by government policy, our institution insures.

Last week, GE said that they would consider performing those non-commercial functions, but only if subsidized by the government. Mr. Chairman, with Bill C-66, Canadians would obtain these benefits, at no additional cost, through CMHC. Why should our citizens have to pay more to deal with GE?

[Translation]

Our competitor does not require additional assistance from the Canadian Government in order to remain competitive. It already benefits from the inherent advantages of a multinational corporation. In actual fact, it is CMHC, given its responsibilities with respect to the public interest, that will need to be on its toes at all times in order to compete with this very powerful opponent.

All of these comments are intended to set the record straight, but in terms of a guarantee, the real debate has to do with the method that should be used. Is legislation the best way of determining what kind of support the government should be providing to private enterprise? We do not think so. In our view, it is better to use the current agreement between GE Capital and the Department of Finance -- an agreement that GE Capital is apparently in the process of negotiating with our colleagues at the Department of Finance.

I would now like to address the issue of social housing, something you have just been discussing with Mr. Daniels.

[English]

Two key issues have been raised -- the protection of assistance to existing social housing projects, and the ability of the new NHA to respond to housing needs of low-income Canadians, including native Canadians, or aboriginals.

There has been understandable concern in this period of change about support for existing projects. I think we have heard some of this concern again this afternoon, but I state that the Government of Canada is still spending some $1.9 billion a year on some 645,000 existing social housing units. Many Canadians depend on this support for decent and affordable housing. This is why the Government of Canada has confirmed many times that it will honour all its financial commitments. Many of these units are part of non-profit and cooperative housing projects that, in addition, have individual legal agreements governing the provision of government assistance. These contracts cannot and will not be changed without the agreement of both parties. Even if the administration of these agreements is transferred to provincial governments, or a separate administrative agency, as suggested by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, residents of co-ops and non-profits are protected.

[Translation]

In terms of the impact of these changes on the government's ability to provide housing assistance to low-income Canadians, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Any form of housing assistance currently available under the National Housing Act will remain in place when Bill C-66 has become law. Only Bill C-66 can give the Government of Canada the flexibility it needs to design new forms of assistance and work cooperatively with other levels of government, the non-profit sector and the housing industry.

Bill C-66 will make the National Housing Act a far more powerful and modern tool for helping disadvantaged Canadians find suitable housing.

Thank you for your attention. I hope that after hearing these comments, you will be in a position to support the legislation as currently drafted.

[English]

Senator Doody: Mr. Rochon, thank you for that very spirited and commercial presentation. I think the corporation is in the very best of hands and that we do not need to worry too much about the competition.

Frankly, sir, I was quite impressed with your presentation, but you failed to answer a couple of questions that have been bothering me since I first had a look at this bill.

First, why do you object to equal treatment for the private sector? The minister has said clearly that he favours creating a "level playing field" as far as he can. He feels that the rules of the game should be the same for everyone and it is up to the Department of Finance to decide whether this is indeed practical or possible. It seems to me that since the private and public sectors are offering the same services, they should be treated the same under law.

The insurance part of the bill has bothered me as well.It gives the corporation plenty of room to manoeuvre in terms of new directions, new products, and changing the approach to the marketplace. All of this is unspecified, but it does give you limitless opportunities to move into new areas. My understanding is that the private sector, the competition, does not have that opportunity under this proposed legislation. They are allowed to follow in your direction, provided that is approved by the governing or regulatory authorities. However, they do not have the same impetus to go out and try new areas and develop new products. Perhaps you could explain to us the rationale for that because, up to now, it has escaped me.

Mr. Rochon: First, I will repeat my minister's position on the question of the 100 per cent guarantee. I do not think it is the object of this bill. It is a discussion and a negotiation between the Department of Finance and that private company.

Senator Doody: Excuse me. Perhaps I have been operating on an incorrect premise. I got the very clear impression from listening to the minister here -- and I can check the record later on if I have to -- that he feels making the rules of the game equal for all the players is one of the prime purposes of this bill. I am pretty sure he said that.

Mr. Rochon: Mr. Chairman, the president of GE Capital did mention to you that they are in negotiations with the Department of Finance. His expression was that "the puck is not in the net yet." and I assume that those negotiations are ongoing. That is not for us to decide.

Senator Doody: I was referring to the minister's comments.

Mr. Rochon: I did tell you, senator, that we do welcome the competition. We want to compete on a level playing field, and it is for the government to decide how it will manage things between itself and GE, via the Department of Finance.

By the way, we do not offer the same services as GE. We offer better services to all Canadians, wherever they live in Canada, from sea to sea to sea.

The Chairman: What is your objection to having the same guarantee for CMHC and its private sector competitor? It is not conceivable, is it, that the Crown would bring CMHC down to a 90 per cent guarantee?

Mr. Rochon: Why not?

Senator Doody: Because it is a Crown corporation.

The Chairman: The Crown owns it and would have to stand behind it. Are you aware of any Crown corporations where the Crown stands behind them less than 100 per cent? I am not.

Mr. Rochon: On this one, I believe it is for my political masters to decide how they intend to handle it. I do not believe that it is material to this bill at this time.

The Chairman: I accept that, but is it your position that having the same guarantee would impact you negatively?

Mr. Rochon: It would impact us. Whether it would be negative or positive remains to be seen. We live with the facts as they are today, and if the rules of the game were to change, I guess we would then be in a position to answer you.

[Translation]

That is purely hypothetical, and I cannot answer that.

[English]

The Chairman: But you are not expressing an objection in principle.

Mr. Rochon: No.

The Chairman: Are you not, so far as we know, advising the government against proceeding as Mr. Gagliano suggested they might?

Mr. Rochon: We provided advice to Mr. Gagliano before he appeared before you, Mr. Chairman. He made the statements he made, and we will live by them.

Senator Doody: Can I get an answer to the second part of my question about new product development?

Ms Karen A. Kinsley, Vice-President, Strategy, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: The issue that GE articulated is that they are limited, in their view, to providing new products on the marketplace with the government guarantee. Nothing prohibits a private sector company from innovating and bringing products to the marketplace. Their concern is that they cannot do it with the government guarantee. The question before us is, should the government be supporting everything that GE may want to do in the marketplace, or should it be, in the context of fair competition, only supporting those things that CMHC is mandated to do?

To date, the government has suggested the latter. We appreciate that GE may not like that and that they would like a government guarantee for everything they do, but I am not sure that is a reasonable proposition, since there are risks to the government in the event that those products fail.

Senator Doody: Once again, I must have misheard or misread the testimony. My understanding of the testimony I heard was that a private company was asking for the same rights, privileges and opportunities to develop new products that are given to the corporation. I do not think they asked -- at least, they did not say so specifically, to my knowledge -- that everything they did be given the government guarantee no matter what it might be. That would be outlandish. Even the most optimistic business person would not expect the government to be that foolish. Surely we have not developed to that stage. My impression was that they expected the same rules and the same opportunities that the Crown corporation has.

Ms Kinsley: They have all the ability to do all the things that CMHC can do in the marketplace today.

Senator Doody: Under this proposed legislation?

Ms Kinsley: Under the existing legislation, as well as this bill.

Senator Poy: Mr. Rochon, in your presentation, you addressed the problem of social housing and the new forms of housing assistance. The new bill will give the government a lot of room in which to work in that respect. Could you address the issues that have been raised by Mr. Daniels?

Mr. Rochon: Yes, I believe we can provide you with some answers. I will ask my colleague, Mr. Stewart, to take this on.

Mr. Douglas A. Stewart, Vice-President, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Mr. Daniels covered a lot of ground. I have not had a chance to go through all of this, so I will speak to some of the main points. I will ask my colleagues, Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Asselin, to jump in to supplement my comments.

The key thing I would like to point out is the difference between government policy and legislation. Much of what Mr. Daniels talked about related to questions of policy. There were questions about how much money is going into social housing programs for aboriginal peoples, for example.

Mr. Daniels and the government may disagree on policy matters -- and there are a number of healthy disagreements -- however, I think that they should agree on the effect of this bill. The effect of this bill is to make available to the government, a far more powerful tool for providing housing assistance to people anywhere in Canada who need it. This bill will ensure that we can do everything we do today more efficiently and do more of it.

One of the key aspects of this bill is to remove some of the restrictions placed on CMHC with respect to partnerships. That will allow us to work with many more types of organizations than before, including aboriginal organizations.

The CMHC has a proud record of working with aboriginal organizations in the past. I thank Mr. Palmater for his comments about the Nova Scotia arrangement -- I think André Asselin has first-hand knowledge of those arrangements -- and those working relationships will only be enhanced by this proposed legislation.

Most social housing arrangements in Canada are subject to agreements between the federal government and the organization delivering that housing.

I want to make this absolutely clear. This bill will in no way impact those agreements. Those agreements are in place and have primacy. Nothing in this bill will impact the existing agreements that govern the provision of social housing to individual groups in Canada.

With respect to the devolution of social housing to the provinces, I have circulated clause 22 of that agreement. If you look at that clause, you will see that there is an ironclad requirement that the provinces honour those agreements, even after they have signed the devolution agreement with the federal government and begin to administer those projects on our behalf.

Senator Poy: You mentioned that the government will honour the existing agreements, but Mr. Daniels is worried about the future. What happens in the future if it is not written into this bill? Where will they go from here?

Mr. Stewart: These long-term agreements will exist well into the future. The government will honour the commitments made in those agreements until they expire. Those agreements are in place for many years to come, and they will be honoured.

Mr. André Asselin, Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Marketing Division, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: It is important to realize that most of these agreements have been struck for 35 years and that the federal government is committed to continuing assistance under those agreements. It is important to note that much of the assistance provided to the provinces, not just to the urban native groups, has been provided under those very same agreements. If there were something nefarious in this bill and the changes to section 95, the provinces would have some concern about our ability to take assistance away from them. There are no such concerns anywhere on the record. It is important to stress that point. There is absolutely nothing in this agreement that could be negative for First Nations.

[Translation]

Senator Lavoie-Roux: I know that you are not the one who drafted this legislation, but I imagine you were consulted. Were the aboriginal communities consulted about this? There seems to be quite a discrepancy between what the bill says and the representations being made by the aboriginal communities about the bill.

I refer here to page 6 of Mr. Daniels' brief, and I quote:

[English]

In "Gathering Strength," the federal government promised to build a new relationship with the aboriginal people of Canada.

[Translation]

He is asking to be represented on the board of directors. Is that something you see as feasible and desirable?

Mr. Rochon: Yes, it both feasible and desirable.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: And who will make the final decision?

Mr. Rochon: Whoever appoints the members of the board of directors -- in other words, our shareholder, the Government of Canada.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: On that issue, were the aboriginal communities consulted?

Mr. Rochon: Throughout the negotiations with the provinces, there were regular meetings between my minister and various aboriginal groups. There have always been regular meetings between my minister and various aboriginal groups.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: Then how do you explain the fact that there is such a gap between what the bill says and what the aboriginal communities are seeking?

Mr. Rochon: I believe this legislation will meet the needs of aboriginal communities to a far greater extent than does the current act. It is a question of how you interpret the scope of the amendments. I guess there is a need for education in that regard.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: It seems to me that your positions are so completely opposite on important issues that one wonders whether the representations of the aboriginal communities were not completely ignored -- those are my own words -- when this bill was being drafted. Did they have an opportunity to make representations?

Mr. Rochon: Yes, they had an opportunity to do so at the House of Commons. They decided to give you the privilege of hearing their presentation this afternoon.

[English]

Senator Butts: I want to follow up on Senator Lavoie-Roux's statement and ask a specific question. A representative of the Bank of Montreal told us about the nine-person board, seven of whom were aboriginals, that had a say in all the things we are talking about. What is the relationship of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with that board?

Mr. Stewart: There is no formal relationship between the Bank of Montreal and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with respect to the aboriginal housing banking program. That is strictly a private sector initiative and it is a private sector board.

Senator Butts: That board presumably could have appeared before this committee as witnesses?

Mr. Stewart: Yes.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: In response to Senator Lavoie-Roux, you said there were consultations with aboriginal communities. We apparently are being told that some groups were not consulted. In your consultations with the provinces, were certain groups more regionally-based than nationally-based?

Mr. Rochon: Briefing sessions were provided to all groups that are our traditional clients and those who took advantage of them said they were satisfied. I presume the others had some knowledge of the draft legislation and the assurance that it would meet their requirements. My colleague, Mr. Stewart, has just informed me that he did consult national aboriginal associations.

Senator Robichaud: So, there were consultations?

Mr. Rochon: Yes.

[English]

Senator Chalifoux: I thank you for your interesting presentation, even though I do have some concerns about it. This bill affects the relationship with all aboriginal people, whether on reserve or off reserve, because off-reserve treaties would still qualify. CMHC has the most impact on aboriginal people of any federal department outside of DIAND, and for off-reserve people, it has the most impact.

I have been involved in aboriginal housing for about 20 years. At one time, 40 per cent of federal funding for off-reserve housing came from CMHC. Considering this great impact, what was the outcome of aboriginal consultation on this bill?

Mr. Stewart: I think we are starting to get into questions of policy.

Senator Chalifoux: No, I do not think so. This is consultation, not policy. I am asking about consultation on this bill. How many aboriginal organizations were consulted and how many organizations appeared before you when you were working on this bill?

Mr. Stewart: When drafting the bill, we offered briefings, as Mr. Rochon said, to all the groups with which we have traditionally dealt. I personally made a presentation to the housing committee of the AFN. We went through the bill in detail and government funding for aboriginal housing programs was one of the items we talked about quite a bit. In the end, it was accepted that this was not so much an issue of legislation but of what the government would do with the proposed legislation.

Senator Chalifoux: How will this bill affect section 95 of the National Housing Act?

Mr. Stewart: This bill will make section 95 even more powerful than it is today. It will allow us greater freedom to respond to the needs of low-income Canadians.

Senator Chalifoux: You are talking about low-income Canadians. It is interesting that two-thirds of all Canadians own their own homes. We are one of the best housed people in the world. Yet less than 5 per cent of aboriginal Canadians own their own homes. Where is the benefit for aboriginal people in Bill C-66?

Mr. Stewart: One benefit is that we will have greater freedom to introduce new mortgage insurance products. We will have greater opportunity to offer those mortgage insurance products on reserve. We will have greater ability, if the government wishes, to encourage home ownership in more traditional ways.

Senator Chalifoux: I am very familiar with Métis urban housing in Alberta, as I worked on that many years ago. At that time, we wanted to be able to offer our tenants the opportunity to buy their homes. We were told that if we did that, we could not replace the existing low rental homes.

Will this bill assist tenants to buy their own homes and still retain part of the housing portfolio for low rental?

Mr. Stewart: I will defer to Mr. Brodksy for the exact legal response, but the thrust of the bill is to remove many of the legislative restrictions that may have prevented us from doing those types of things in the past. In general, the bill will give us far greater ability to introduce these innovative programs without influencing the existing situation.

Senator Chalifoux: The existing housing associations would have to negotiate new agreements for buying housing for the working poor and that sort of thing. How does CMHC feel about entering into new agreements? You have talked about old agreements. I am talking about new agreements.

Mr. Stewart: The government's policy is to transfer the administration of those agreements to the provinces.

Senator Chalifoux: That is bad.

Mr. Stewart: The negotiation would be between the group and the province if they wanted to change the agreement.

Senator Chalifoux: That is not good news for the aboriginal peoples in this country. Treaty Indians are under federal jurisdiction. The Métis are in limbo. Some are under federal jurisdiction and some are under provincial jurisdiction. It is a sad situation because it seems to me that you are abdicating your responsibility, especially to the treaty Indians in this country.

Senator LeBreton: It will not surprise Mr. Rochon that I have a question about how the new board of directors will be selected.

First, your presentation was, typically, excellent. You spoke about your competitors in the private sector. I do not believe you were suggesting, Mr. Rochon, that the private sector competitors are not free to use innovative ideas to pursue the market within the bounds of the licence? You were not suggesting that they somehow have an advantage over CMHC by having access to other products?

I believe you said, in response to one of my colleagues, that you did not fear the competition in any event, that you would just have to deal with it. The minister stated, in his testimony, that he personally had no problem with it. He threw the ball into the court of the officials of the Department of Finance.

I should like you to clarify that.

Mr. Rochon: I do wish that I had a little factory to produce stoves and fridges to give away to incite people to come to us. That is part of the marketplace. That is the way it works, and culturally, we will have to adapt to that because we are a 51-year-old institution and this is a new challenge for us.

That being said, my minister's words are my words. We believe that the Department of Finance will resolve its differences, if any, with GE and that is the way it is. In no way will we shy away from the competition, and in no way will we prevent GE from innovating if it feels that it wants to do so.

Senator LeBreton: Or any other private sector competitor, which is entirely possible now.

Mr. Rochon: Our objective is to lead them, not to follow them.

Senator LeBreton: Thank you for that.

This is an unfair question, perhaps, because Mr. Rochon and I used to share responsibilities in another time. Nevertheless, we talked about the changes to the makeup of the board of directors, and on page 19 of the bill, clause 25(1), 6(1), it states that, "The Board of Directors shall consist of the Chairman, the President and eight other members."

In the explanation, we discussed the change that would remove "two public servants" and draw from the private sector. It seemed to make great sense, since Canada Mortgage and Housing is a stand-alone Crown corporation competing in the private sector. I had the advantage of getting out some old documents that I have. Why, then, in this bill, did they leave in the subsection that states "The board, with the approval of the Governor in Council, shall appoint three vice-presidents and fix their salaries"? Perhaps this is an unfair question, but is that really necessary if we are taking public servants off the board? We already have the instructions regarding the chairman, the president, and eight other members, but are there people filling these three vice-president positions at the present time?

Mr. Rochon: No.

Senator LeBreton: Does it make sense to leave that in there? -- not that I am suggesting that this is something that we could not do, perhaps, when we are cleaning this up at a later date. Does it make sense to leave that in there? Would it not be something that you, the chairman, the president, and the board would decide for yourselves rather than having it under Order in Council? -- not that I would ever have tried to remove some of my own responsibility in a past life. However, it is a rather redundant section to have in the bill. Perhaps one of your people, or you, can answer if you can.

Mr. Rochon: The shareholder, the government, considered this question and decided that the status quo would prevail in terms of those positions. However, the government has not exercised its appointing authority for those positions over the last four years.

Senator LeBreton: That does not mean that they will not in the future.

Mr. Rochon: The government may, in the future, decide to exercise its appointing authority.

Senator LeBreton: Is that not unfair to the management of the CMHC? We all know what it is like to be searching around for people and you have three people appointed to Canada Mortgage and Housing by Order in Council. Obviously, you are competing. You have your own business plan. Does this not cause difficulty for the president and management of Canada Mortgage and Housing to have them sitting there, even though they are not filled at the present time?

Mr. Rochon: Since the government has not exercised that prerogative, we do not know if it will cause us difficulties or not. We are very resilient. I am sure that if the shareholder requires additional staff on our payroll, we will accommodate our shareholder.

Senator LeBreton: For the record, these three positions -- and this is my personal view -- could have been left out of this act when we were redoing it. It was not necessary to have that in the act.

Senator Watt: I will try to describe the way I understand the bill first, and then I will ask some questions.

The bill will allow CMHC to expand its capacity to work with the First Nations and to consider commercial ventures that would assist First Nations. It then goes on to say that CMHC will continue to provide financial assistance to existing commitments made to housing projects on reserve at an annual cost of approximately $160 million. It states that it will also fund new commitments at the rate of approximately 1,000 units per year, as well as provide $8 million per year through a residential rehabilitation assistance program. Is that correct?

Mr. Rochon: I presume so, yes.

Senator Watt: It then states that the Indian and Indian band still remain fully covered by Bill C-66. I believe that is the case; is that correct?

The Chairman: What are you reading from there?

Senator Watt: I am reading from the government's response to Senator Chalifoux.

My point is that in this bill -- they kept talking about Indian band and Indian people -- there is no reference whatsoever to either the Métis or the Indian. Clearly, there is an advantage for the Inuit and the Métis when you are moving away from social housing to a commercial-venture type of situation. However, that has always been missing within our society.

Getting back to the social housing issue, this particular bill worries both the Métis and the Inuit. There seems to be a departure from the social commitment that the Government of Canada has made. If the agreements are to be honoured, as your colleague says, why do we not explicitly mention them in this proposed legislation so that the worry within our aboriginal people will not result in a confrontation. Confrontations are very costly.

Mr. Stewart: I should like to comment on the references to aboriginal groups in the bill. In the existing NHA, there are references to Indians and to Indian bands. The act, as amended by Bill C-66, would remove all of those references so that there would be none at all. We took those references out to ensure that there were no provisions of the bill that would restrict us. Sometimes in the past, when trying to do something with a group, the questions became: Was this an Indian band? Could we do this? We took all those references out so that now the entire bill is available for use for all Canadians, no matter who they are.

Mr. Brodsky: There is explicit provision in the bill that preserves the status of existing project operating agreements under their existing regime. Clause 38 of the bill is a transitional provision that ensures that existing provisions continue to apply. This prevents anyone from violating existing agreements. This was one of the points Mr. Daniels raised. The answer is already contained in the bill provision to protect existing agreements. That is the clause.

Senator Watt: That leads me to raise another question. If that is the case, why have we been having a constant problem negotiating with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Government of Canada regarding housing?

Mr. Rochon: We cannot answer for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Senator Cools: My question is unrelated to everything that has been said before. It is in respect of clause 11. (1) of the bill on page 13, under the heading "HOUSING RESEARCH, COMMUNITY PLANNING AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT." This section permits you to:

(j) carry out research and planning and provide services and information that relate to the financing of housing, housing affordability and choice, living environments or community planning, or that are intended to contribute to the well-being of the housing sector of the national economy.

Therefore, there is an international dimension to the bill.

What does that clause mean and why is it required?

Mr. Brodsky: This part of the bill is intended to support the policy directive that is introduced by the new clause 3 of the bill for CMHC's mandate in the area of housing finance to pursue affordability, competition, and the other objectives.

This will make it clear that CMHC does have a research mandate in these areas: financing of housing, housing affordability of choice, community planning, and generally to contribute to the wellbeing of the housing sector in the national economy. This provision complements the generally stated mandate in the proposed new section 3 of the act.

Senator Cools: I understand that; I just do not understand the international component.

The Chairman: This has been much discussed by the minister and others.

Senator Cools: I am curious as to what a Canadian Crown corporation does internationally in the promotion of housing.

Mr. Stewart: When the government reviewed our mandate in 1996, in response to industry requests, we were asked to help the Canadian housing industry to sell its products and services abroad, and we have taken on that role.

One of the key tools for helping the housing industry to sell its products and services abroad is information. These provisions of the bill will allow us to do research and create information that will permit builders, product producers, architects, developers, and anyone else involved in the housing industry, to obtain better information in order to enter foreign housing markets.

The Chairman: I thank the officials for appearing again. We have thoroughly canvassed the issues in the bill, and even some issues wider than the bill. Thank you very much.

Colleagues, this is our third meeting on this bill and there are no further witnesses to be heard. It is on the agenda that we will proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

I can take you through this bill clause by clause, as is the normal procedure. There are other options, however. If any senator wishes to propose an amendment, with leave, I could go immediately to the clause that you wish to amend. If there are no amendments to propose, with leave, the Chair could entertain a motion to report the bill without amendment. I am in your hands.

Senator Doody: Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment on the part of the bill that interested me most in the beginning, although the social housing part is becoming more and more interesting.

I was inclined, in the beginning, to offer several amendments on the social provisions of the bill, but I do not sense any enthusiasm for amendments from the committee as a whole. The minister said clearly that his prime objective in the bill was to create a level playing field for the industry as a whole. I understand that discussions are ongoing with the Department of Finance that show signs of being productive.

Instead of going down the route of clause-by-clause study with amendments that will probably not clear the committee or the Senate anyway, I suggest that we ask our staff to prepare wording to the effect that these things have been brought to our attention and are worthy of consideration, and that we commend the minister for his sympathy with the problems that have been expressed. We should try to get on with the positive parts of this bill while stressing the perceived problems of the aboriginal people and the social housing as well as the business matters; the opportunity for the entire industry to take advantage of the marketplace on an equal footing.

That is how I would like us to proceed, but of course it is up to the committee.

The Chairman: Senators know that there are plenty of precedents for a committee reporting a bill without amendment to attach a narrative in which certain observations and/or recommendations are made. I believe that is what Senator Doody is suggesting with regard to mortgage insurance.

Senator Doody: Yes.

The Chairman: What about some of the things we heard this afternoon?

Senator Doody: I think that could be addressed as well. There were some very serious and sincere concerns expressed that may or may not be covered by this bill. The officials indicated that the concerns of the aboriginals were not valid. We may point out that there are concerns and ask for responses. However, I do not think we should try to amend the bill at this time. We do not have the research facilities to do that sort of thing anyway.

Senator Cools: I would like to support the concept of attaching a commentary to the report on the bill that would reflect many of the concerns that were heard today.

I have been doing some reading on the clause-by-clause study of bills. A habit is creeping into the Senate of not adopting bills in committee. I urge that the bill be adopted without amendment prior to us voting to report the bill without amendment. I understand that many senators may not want to be bothered to vote clause by clause, but we can vote on clusters of clauses.

The Chairman: I agree with you, senator, and with leave, I will so proceed.

Senator Cools: I support Senator Doody's wish to attach a commentary.

Senator Gill: I agree with that.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: I do not know if it can be done the way Senator Doody wishes. One amendment was recommended on page 8 of the brief. It appears to me to be very legitimate to have one of the eight directors be an aboriginal. We should at least have this amendment. It should be added to the bill somewhere.

Senator Doody: Can we add it as a recommendation?

Senator Lavoie-Roux: Yes, as a recommendation.

The Chairman: We can add anything as a recommendation, provided we have agreement.

Is that satisfactory to the committee?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: It is an observation or a recommendation.

Senator Cohen: I agree with Senator Doody and everyone else. We should make a strong statement about social housing and homelessness in Canada, zeroing in on what we heard from the aboriginal community. There is certainly not enough being done, even with the units they are building. I would end with the example of the Province of Nova Scotia. They have been successful, so obviously it can work.

The Chairman: Senator Butts, do have you any objection to using Nova Scotia as a model?

Senator Butts: No.

The Chairman: The devil is in the details. Our friend from the parliamentary library is our draftsman and he has heard the testimony. He can draft a brief narrative along the lines we have discussed, but I will have to find a way to circulate it among senators tomorrow morning, assuming I report the bill tomorrow afternoon. Is that satisfactory?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Let us be very clear about how this is to work, colleagues. I do not want any misunderstandings tomorrow afternoon.

As soon as we can tomorrow morning, the clerk and I will send all members of the committee an e-mail. If I hear from you, we will discuss what needs to be discussed. If I do not hear from you, I will go ahead with the narrative.

Is that understood?

Senator Cools: Mr. Chairman, we will say that we are reporting the bill with the following observations. It must be clear that there are observations.

The Chairman: I will come to how we will report the bill.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: They could be observations and recommendations.

Senator LeBreton: Do we have time to put in observations now, or should we wait until we go through the bill clause by clause?

The Chairman: Senator Doody is suggesting that there would not be any amendments. He suggests that the observations on mortgage insurance and social housing, as well as the issue of the board of directors, could be part of the narrative that will be presented with the bill.

If members of the committee agree with that and with the process I have suggested, then I will move to entertain a motion that we dispense with clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

Senator LeBreton: For clarification, I would like to include an observation about the necessity for three vice-presidents. This is an age of efficiency and the bottom line. Since these positions are not filled, I would like to see an observation stating that this section is not necessary. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation seems to operate without them. Could I make that observation now?

The Chairman: You are not trying to amend the bill. You want to make an observation, and there are two ways of handling this. One way is to state that, "Some members of the committee felt that..." If your observation has general agreement, we can say, "The committee feels that..."

What is your point again, senator?

Senator LeBreton: One of the clauses in the bill states that the board, with the approval of the Governor in Council, shall appoint three vice-presidents and fix their salaries. As the witnesses testified, these positions have not been filled for some time and may not be filled. Why are these positions there when, in the name of efficiency, they are not required? Why not remove them from the books to prevent the possibility of abuse? Let us not kid ourselves. There could be abuse. Governments come and go.

The Chairman: Your point is that the Governor in Council has had this power for some considerable time.

Senator LeBreton: They are not using it now, but there is no guarantee they will not use it in the future. If I were the management of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, I do not know if I would be thrilled to have people who might not even have the necessary expertise moved into the organization. From the testimony we have heard, it appears that the government has not filled these three positions. They obviously see no need. Why not remove the temptation for any government in the future to use these three positions? There are also associated costs above and beyond the salaries of three vice-presidents of a Crown corporation, such as offices and secretarial help. This is not needed.

Obviously we have a well-run Crown corporation. Why would we leave this hanging there? If we were running a government agency, we would not want the phone to ring and hear someone say, "By the way, three people are coming to your office tomorrow morning and they will be vice-presidents." I hope I am supported by my colleagues in that. I agree with Senator Doody.

Furthermore, I am asking for checks and balances. If we see this abuse in the future, we will have it on the record that we did not approve when this matter was before this committee.

[Translation]

Senator Gill: In fact, if I understand correctly, we will be passing Bill C-66 without amendment. We will be including some observations, however, to be drafted according to instructions. If we want them to be general observations, they will have to have the approval of the majority of committee members, even though this is secondary to the legislation. However, I think it is important that we be specific. If those observations only have the approval of certain senators, I would suggest that we state that.

The Chairman: That is precisely the question I was going to put to the committee. You heard Senator LeBreton's comments. In your view, is this a general observation supported by the entire committee or only certain senators?

[English]

Are some senators in agreement with this one?

Senator Robichaud: Some.

Senator Poy: Some.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: If we say we want to report the bill without amendment, we should not be trying to slip in some disguised amendments.

[English]

Senator Doody: Call it "observations and recommendations."

The Chairman: If senators have second thoughts about amendments, I can always provide them at report stage, or third reading and so on.

Senator Cools: When I was making my suggestions about recording observations, I took it as given that the observations reflected in the report would find consensus among all of us. Whereas I am prepared to support observations that meet the agreement of all of us, I am not prepared to support observations that only some members of the committee have. I thought we were speaking in general to the concerns of social housing and the aboriginals -- that is, the wider concerns that we can all agree upon.

In addition, I think that the concern that Senator LeBreton is raising is a valid one; however, I think you can deal with it equally effectively during debate at third reading.

Senator Doody: That problem has been faced in committee before and it is usually dealt with by saying, "As well, some honourable senators expressed concern with clause `X,' et cetera, and felt that it was redundant or unnecessary."

The Chairman: There is no procedural difficulty.

Senator Cools: A few weeks ago, on the floor of the chamber, a question was raised on this very point. I believe it was raised by Senator Lynch-Staunton or Senator Kinsella. The speaker at the time said whatever he had to say. In any event, the issue here is that there is wide support for bringing forward some clearly articulated observations to communicate to the government that we did not think that all was well. To this extent, we should stay with consensus. If we do not want it, that is fine.

The Chairman: I appreciate that.

Senator Cools: That is okay with me.

The Chairman: What Senator LeBreton, and others, are suggesting is felt by some senators to be vastly preferable to importing this U.S. custom of a minority report. We do not want to do that.

Senator Cools: No, we do not want to do that. However, if we continue on this path, I will reconsider my support for including observations.

Senator LeBreton: Perhaps I am trying to save some poor devil in the future from getting a phone call and saying, "I want that recognition." I support having a narrative because we have worked hard in this committee and given a lot of attention to this bill. We have had witnesses and heard arguments from both sides. For us to report the bill without amendment and not include a narrative to at least articulate certain points is wrong. People ask, "What do you do?" We have just spent hours and hours in this committee and a narrative would help answer that question.

Senator Doody: I think we have all agreed on a narrative.

Senator LeBreton: Senator Cools was suggesting that perhaps she would withdraw her support.

Senator Cools: When I stated that I was supporting Senator Doody's request for a narrative with some observations, I said that implicit in my suggestion was that those observations would meet with the agreement of all of us.

Senator Doody: Even if some senators do not agree, the narrative could be expressed as a majority opinion or the opinion of most senators, or some, or many, or whatever. You will never achieve unanimity on everything.

Senator Cools: How will you arrive at a consensus as to what the narrative will be?

The Chairman: The genius of this will be in the drafting and the e-mail will be sent to you tomorrow morning, if that is satisfactory.

Honourable senators, with leave, it is moved by Senator Butts that the committee dispense with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-66.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Senator Cools: No. I am not prepared to dispense with clause-by-clause consideration. I am prepared to vote on clauses in large clusters, even if one vote would comprise every single clause of the bill. One cannot dispense with clause-by-clause consideration of a bill.

The Chairman: I will accept that. Let me have a motion, then, that the title, the short title, and clauses 1 to 43 inclusive, be adopted by the committee.

Senator Butts: I so move.

The Chairman: Carried.

I now need another motion.

It is moved by Senator Cools that Bill C-66 be reported to the Senate without amendment.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Senator Cools: As long as we pronounce on the report, that is fine.

The Chairman: It is agreed that a narrative will be presented at the same time as the bill, the draft text of which will be circulated to your offices by e-mail. In the case of Senator Cools, it will go out by fax tomorrow morning.

If I do not hear from you, I will assume that you have approved the draft text.

Thank you all.

We now must deal with Bill C-64. These are famous last words, but Bill C-64 is a non-contentious bill. I would ask the officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage to come to the table, please.

Bill C-64, An Act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, was given second reading in the chamber last week. It was sponsored by our colleague, Senator Poy. I believe you have copies of a letter from Matthew Teitelbaum of the Art Gallery of Ontario expressing their support for this bill.

I had a telephone call today from Richard Darrack, from the Canadian Museums Association, who wanted to express their strong support for the bill, how much they appreciate the efforts that have been made by all political parties, their interest in this bill, and the obvious interest of the Senate in seeing the bill move forward. They are hoping for speedy passage, as they regard the bill as an important step forward.

If that is not enough for you, we have some officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage here.

May I ask for an opening statement from Ms Sarkar.

Ms Eileen Sarkar, Assistant Deputy Minister, Arts and Heritage, Department of Canadian Heritage: Mr. Chairman, my opening statement covers the basic elements of the bill and the approach we are taking to it.

The first point that we generally make when explaining this bill to people who do not spend their lives in insurance indemnification matters is that indemnification is not insurance. It is where the state itself assumes the financial risk instead of paying out insurance premiums.

The federal government did have quite a fine insurance program between 1985 and 1995. It paid out about $6 million over that period through a cost-shared program and facilitated a lot of travelling exhibitions in Canada. What has happened is, the demand has outweighed the capacity to keep paying out insurance premiums.

Under the indemnification, we would only provide compensation for damages or losses. That would be the only money that would actually flow out of the government coffers. Therefore, we would have to ensure that those who are accepted into the program meet strict criteria.

There are 14 industrialized countries that have indemnification programs -- and I will not cite them -- that are similar to the elements that we have put together for the Canadian program. There have been no, or at least very few, claims in any of those countries. As an example, in the U.S., where an indemnification program has been in existence for 24 years, they have paid out a total in two claims of $102,000. People who put together exhibitions are, by nature, quite conservative and careful people.

[Translation]

The objectives of this program are as follows: to improve access to our heritage; provide for more interprovincial travelling exhibitions; facilitate the hosting of major exhibitions -- here we are talking mainly about exhibitions from abroad or those with fairly significant economic spinoffs -- and to reduce costs while minimizing risk.

[English]

The Canadian museums are major supporters of this bill and have been lobbying for it for about a decade. What they will get from it is, either they will pay no insurance premiums or reduced premiums. In cases where they would pay no premiums, it would be because their in-house insurance on their collections would cover the deductible that will be built into our coverage.

I will give you one example that you might find rather striking. In the mid-1990s, there was a Group of Seven exhibition mounted by the National Gallery. It started in Ottawa and travelled to Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. The cost to insure it while it travelled was $80,000. We have estimated that if the indemnification program had been in place at that time, the cost of insurance would have been $5,000 because they would only have had to pay the deductible.

We expect that they will redirect the moneys that they save into all the other museum activities that are so important to them, including mounting exhibitions. They will also be, and they have told us this clearly, in a competitive position when they go to negotiate with foreign countries for bringing exhibitions to Canada. Many of these countries really appreciate having the government backing.

[Translation]

In terms of program eligibility, for international exhibitions, only one venue would be required. In other words, the exhibition could be presented in only one museum in a single province. However, domestic exhibitions must travel to at least two provinces in order to foster exchanges among Canadians. There will be stringent eligibility criteria in a number of areas, including security, environmental control and artefact handling -- for obvious reasons, namely to reduce risks. Finally, we will have access to the advice of risk management experts in selecting candidates for the program.

[English]

I mentioned before a deductible, which will be built in. It is the principle of shared risk. We are saying here that for the small claims, which cover what we call the "nuisance" claims, the bumps and dents when exhibitions are moved around, the museums would take out insurance or use their in-house insurance to cover that. It is really cost effective because, otherwise, you would have a bunch of bureaucrats spending very labour-intensive time dealing with small claims. Insurance companies do that better.

We believe this is a partnership between the government and the institutions. It is also what is done in all of the other countries that have indemnification programs.

My point is the economic impact and benefit, both to the host institution and to the province, region, and municipality, in terms of jobs and tax revenues. For example, when the Art Gallery of Ontario mounted the Barnes exhibition from September 1994 to January 1995, there was net economic activity of $137 million in goods and services in the greater Toronto area. More than 2,000 jobs were created. In total, $42 million in federal, provincial, and municipal taxes was raised. We have comparable figures for the Renoir exhibition.

Senators, that completes the presentation. We would be happy to answer any questions.

The Chairman: What happened to the program that you referred to that existed between 1985 and 1995?

Ms Sarkar: Basically, it disappeared during the program review exercise, along with a number of other programs.

The Chairman: How was it sanctioned? Was there a bill such as this, an act of Parliament?

Ms Sarkar: No. It was a spending program.

Mr. David Walden, Director, Moveable Cultural Property, Department of Canadian Heritage: It was a straight program of the department for which there was no legislative authority of any sort. It was established to purchase insurance on a cost-shared basis.

The Chairman: By bringing in legislation, you want to be sure that the program does not fall victim to some cost-cutters in the future, is that it?

Ms Sarkar: I also think that if the government is assuming a $1.5 billion risk, one would want legislative authority for that, as exists in other countries.

The Chairman: If I heard you correctly, you said that the program in place between 1985 and 1995 had paid out about $5 million or $6 million. Was that paid out in small dribs and drabs, or were there one or two large payments? What were they?

Mr. Walden: That was the total cost of the insurance purchased over that 10-year period. It was purchased on a cost-shared basis with the institutions. The total purchase price was approximately $6 million.

The Chairman: It was not a case where there were large expenditures and some loss or damage involved, was it?

Mr. Walden: Total claims paid was under $600,000, but that was what the insurance industry calls "dollar one insurance." In other words, there was no deductible in those cases. The majority of the claims were for very small amounts, some as low as $150.

Senator LeBreton: What you are doing is saving money on an insurance policy that you did not really require. By following the procedure set out in the bill, there will be quite a cost saving from year to year as opposed to paying an insurance premium and not making any claims. Is that right?

Ms Sarkar: Yes. No money goes out of the federal government coffers unless there is a claim and the small claims would be covered by the deductible. Given the demand today and the mounting of more major exhibitions, I think if we were still in a cost-shared insurance program, the demands would be higher.

Senator Butts: In your presentation it states, "international exhibitions, one venue." Who decides where that is going to be? I am presuming "venue" is where it shows. Is that decided by the exhibitor or by whom?

Ms Sarkar: I may defer to my colleague, who knows a lot more about this than I do, but my understanding is that we would receive an application from a museum, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Musée des beaux-arts in Montreal, that would have negotiated with another museum -- the Louvre or a museum in London -- to bring an exhibition to Canada. If that organization satisfied our strict criteria designed to ensure the collection would be well handled and well presented, then we would approve a choice or decision made by one of our clients.

Senator Butts: That is what is covered in your eligibility criteria then?

Ms Sarkar: Yes.

Senator Butts: On the domestic ones where two provinces are involved, who decides which two provinces?

Mr. Walden: Again, the program will respond to requests for indemnification after the institutions -- the museums, archives and libraries -- have organized the exhibition and have determined the tour schedule. It will be the organizers of the exhibition. What routinely happens is that one institution will organize an exhibition and then offer it to other institutions across the country that have similar collections or a population that would be interested in that particular subject.

Senator Butts: So you have no ability anywhere in this to ensure that smaller provinces or poorer provinces would have a better chance of getting these exhibits than they have today?

Mr. Walden: We did a survey of exhibitions that were insured under the previous insurance program and exhibitions which are anticipated from now until 2002, and institutions in every province are capable of hosting exhibitions that would be eligible under this program.

Senator Butts: The province could apply to have it?

Mr. Walden: It would be the host institution within the province.

The Chairman: The House of Commons committee that studied this bill recommended, if I recall correctly, that there be a review of the legislation after five years. What was that about?

Mr. Jeff Richstone, Legal Counsel, Department of Canadian Heritage: Yes, senator, there was a decision by the committee to insert a review clause. This is a common type of clause, as you will see, in a number of statutes. We currently have over 50 statutes on the books that have these kinds of clauses.

The Chairman: I see. They actually inserted the clause.

Mr. Richstone: Yes. It appears as clause 5.1, and it was to enable Parliament, after that period of time, to have an overall review of the legislation, how it is working, and to make recommendations and hear such evidence as it deemed appropriate.

The Chairman: Here we go again. I am not quarrelling with you, but just for the information of government members, the clause now reads:

The administration of this Act shall, five years after the coming into force of this Act, be reviewed by the parliamentary committee that may be designated or established by Parliament for that purpose.

However, the little explanatory note in the margin says:

Review of Act by House of Commons.

I do not know whether these explanatory notes are part of the proposed legislation.

Mr. Richstone: They are not.

The Chairman: Perhaps we should insert, "Review of Act by Senate."

Mr. Richstone: Mr. Chairman, if I may, there was a procedural history to this. It originated in one form in the other place in committee, and it was changed to another form at the report stage without the marginal note being changed. I hope the Chair will entertain a suggestion from legal counsel that perhaps the marginal note could be changed. It can be changed by the Senate or Senate editors, I was told, without amending the bill because this is normally done. I would pass it on to whoever does this kind of thing.

The Chairman: We can make it, "Review of Act by Parliament."

Mr. Richstone: As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Interpretation Act does say that marginal notes do not assist in the interpretation of the act, but most of us look at them anyway to help us out, and it would be helpful to have a fully reflective marginal note.

The Chairman: That is fine. Apart from that, as to the substance of the provision, when it talks about a committee designated by Parliament, as legal counsel to the department that is interested in this bill, does this mean Parliament as we understand Parliament, which is the Senate and House of Commons, or does it mean whichever house gets there first?

Mr. Richstone: I would quail, Mr. Chairman, in answering a question that you pose to me on a matter of parliamentary procedure. I would suggest that you have far more experience in that matter than I.

The Chairman: Thank you. I am interested in the subject. I do not think that you want curbstone, layman's opinion. I do not think that one house could purport to act on that. Parliament is Parliament, and includes the Senate and the Commons.

Mr. Richstone: The point is well taken. At the same time, there are precedents in our statute book now for this very clause. We have a section similar to that in the Official Languages Act, section 88. We have a section similar to that in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We had a section similar to that in the recent amendments to the Copyright Act, Bill C-32, in the last session of Parliament.

The Chairman: Calling for a review?

Mr. Richstone: A review by such committee as may be determined or designated or established by Parliament. That is the general phraseology used.

The Chairman: Has it been acted upon?

Mr. Richstone: In the Official Languages Act, it was.

The Chairman: That is by a joint committee.

Mr. Richstone: Again, I only offer this as my understanding and not the official position of the department. Of course the department could not take any official position in terms of Parliament, since that is Parliament's prerogative. My understanding is that the leaders of the two Houses of Parliament decide among themselves, and then the two Houses entertain resolutions as to which house or joint committee would take on the duty.

The Chairman: I think that would have to be done in this case. I think both Houses would have to agree. Do we agree on that?

Hon Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Colleagues, are there any further questions for the officials?

[Translation]

Senator Ferretti Barth: A travelling exhibition is presented at a specific time of the year -- one year in Quebec, and the following year in Ontario. It may even travel all across Canada and abroad.

If a travelling exhibition is very successful in one province, will it be possible to bring it back to the same venue the following year?

Ms Sarkar: That is a fairly technical question. Yet every request will be reviewed. There is an overall limit set in the legislation, which is $1.5 billion in a single fiscal year. That is something that would have to be calculated. Also, it is the institution hosting the exhibition that applies the eligibility criteria.

Senator Ferretti Barth: You referred to the program previously available through the Department of Canadian Heritage. Under the legislation, you have to meet the requirements of the departmental program. If you do something this year, the following year, you will not be able to do it.

With this legislation, it will be possible for a travelling exhibition to come back a year or two later. Presentation is not limited to a single year. Am I right about that? Will it be possible to repeat exhibitions?

If I want to organize a travelling exhibition this year, will I be able to do the same thing next year or two years later in the same venue and the same museum?

Mr. Walden: In practice, that is not the way it works. Normally the venues are chosen in advance. The exhibition then travels to the various institutions. That did happen recently with a Van Gogh exhibition presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario which was then given approval to travel to Winnipeg.

Senator Ferretti Barth: So, it could be presented again in the same venue?

Mr. Walden: Normally another exhibition would be planned for that venue.

Senator Ferretti Barth: The purpose of this legislation is to promote art across Canada. A travelling exhibition can go anywhere. If an exhibition is successful in one province, can it return to that same province at a later date?

Ms Sarkar: Nothing would prevent that from happening. If the organizers of the exhibition want to repeat the experience, and if all the partners agree, there would be no problem bringing forward that exhibition as a candidate for our program. It would not automatically be disqualified just because it had already been approved once.

[English]

The Chairman: Colleagues, once again, I can take you through this bill clause by clause, or if any of you wish to draw my attention to a clause you wish to amend, I can go immediately to that clause.

Failing either of those, the Chair could, with leave, entertain a motion that the title, the short title, and clauses 1 to 6 inclusive, be adopted and form part of this bill.

Senator LeBreton: I so move.

The Chairman: Thank you, senator. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

I would now entertain a motion that Bill C-64 be reported to the Senate without amendment.

Senator LeBreton: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Carried.

Thank you all for attending.

The committee adjourned.