Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 1 - Evidence - February 21, 2001


OTTAWA, Wednesday. February 21, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications met this day at 5:30 p.m. for an organization meeting.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Patrice, Clerk of the Committee: Honourable senators, I see we have a quorum. As Clerk of the Committee, it is my duty to oversee the election of the Chair.

[English]

I am ready to receive a motion to that effect.

Senator Fitzpatrick: I am pleased to nominate Senator Bacon as chairperson of the committee.

Mr. Patrice: If there are no other nominations, it is moved by the Honourable Senator Fitzpatrick that the Honourable Senator Bacon take the chair of this committee. Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Lise Bacon (Chairman) in the Chair.

The Chairman: I wish to thank Senator Fitzpatrick and all the members of the committee. In the past, we have done a great job in this committee.

[Translation]

I think we can continue to do the same thing.

[English]

We need a motion for the election of deputy chair of the committee.

[Translation]

Senator Angus: I move that the Honourable Senator Forrestall be elected Deputy Chair of the committee.

[English]

The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: The next motion has to do with the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure.

Senator Adams: I nominate Senator Callbeck.

The Chairman: It is moved by Senator Adams that the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be composed of the chair, the deputy chair and Senator Callbeck, and that the subcommittee be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the committee with respect to its agenda, to invite witnesses and to schedule hearings.

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Congratulations, Senator Callbeck.

I need a motion to print the committee's proceedings.

Senator Forrestall: How many did we print last year?

Mr. Patrice: We started last year with 225 copies, which was sufficient for the demand. With the new real-time system in place, we can print additional copies, regardless of the number, on short notice.

Senator Forrestall: For how long are those proceedings kept?

Mr. Patrice: The files are archived.

The Chairman: Senator Forrestall has moved that the committee print its proceedings and that the chair be authorized to set the number to meet demand.

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: I need an authorization to hold meetings and to print evidence when a quorum is not present.

Senator Callbeck: I so move.

The Chairman: Senator Callbeck moves:

That, pursuant to Rule 89, the Chair be authorized to hold meetings, to receive and authorize the printing of the evidence when a quorum is not present, provided that a member of the Committee from both the government and the opposition be present.

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: The next item has to do with the financial report. I need a motion pursuant to rule 104 that the Chair be authorized to report expenses incurred by the committee during the last session.

Senator Fitzpatrick: I so move, Madam Chairman.

The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Last year, we spent $15,602.74 for legislation. With respect to the special study on the order in council authorizing certain major air carriers to negotiate and enter into any conditional agreement, we spent $17,300.20. With respect to a special study on the policy issues for the 21st century in communications and technology, we spent $54,227.96. That was money spent by the Subcommittee on Communications.

I heard that their report is ready. May I ask, with the approval of the committee, that Senator Spivak and Senator Finestone review the report and table it here.

Senator Spivak: I reviewed what was sent out to me and corrected it, but I do not know where it is.

The Chairman: Maybe you could review the full report together.

Senator Finestone: I have worked on it and have sent in amendments, but I did not see the final draft.

Senator Spivak: No, I did not see a final draft.

The Chairman: That is why I am asking both of you to review the final draft and make a report here to the committee. Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: The other subcommittee, Transportation Safety, did not have any expenses last year.

For research staff, I need a motion that the chair be authorized to seek authority from the Senate to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other personnel.

Senator Finestone: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: There is another motion on subcommittee on agenda.

Senator Forrestall: Excuse me, Madam Chair. Could I perhaps ask a technical question of the clerk? With respect to professional help, is that an authority that will extend to a request from a subcommittee of this whole committee for funds to engage consultants?

The Chairman: No, that would be the full committee, I understand.

Senator Forrestall: I am sorry, this authority we are giving here now is just for the full committee.

The Chairman: Yes.

Senator Forrestall: The subcommittee of this committee prepares a budget and comes in front of you. Part of that budget is $6,000 for consultant fees and travel expenses. That is dealt with separately?

Mr. Patrice: That would be separate because it would be a special study and it would have to be granted by the Senate when the budget is submitted to the Senate. It is a separate one.

Senator Spivak: When you grant this authority, does that mean that the committee has to approve what you do, or is it an unlimited mandate?

The Chairman: It is an authorization.

Senator Spivak: What does that mean? That is what I am asking.

Mr. Patrice: You are talking about the motion?

Senator Spivak: I am talking about the motion for research staff.

Mr. Patrice: The research staff for this one is just the authority for the chair to receive the permission from the Senate.

Senator Spivak: It has nothing to do with the committee?

Mr. Patrice: Ultimately, it comes to the committee when you come to the next motion.

Senator Spivak: I was wondering whether or not that is something that needs to be vetted by the committee. Getting this authority, we do not need to vet it any more?

Mr. Patrice: After that, if you want to hire staff, the steering committee must be involved.

Senator Spivak: Okay.

The Chairman: I need another motion:

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be authorized to retain the services of such experts as may be required by the work of the Committee; and

That the Chair, on behalf of the Committee, direct the research staff in the preparation of studies, analyses, summaries and draft reports.

Senator Setlakwe: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: I need another motion:

That, pursuant to section 32 of the Financial Administration Act, authority to commit funds be conferred on the Chair, the Deputy Chair and the Clerk of the Committee; and

That, pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act, and guideline 3:05 of Appendix II of the Rules of the Senate, authority for certifying accounts payable by the Committee be conferred on the Chair, the Deputy Chair, and the Clerk of the Committee.

Senator Fitzpatrick: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: I need another motion:

That the Committee empower the Chair to designate, as required, one or more of the members of the Committee and/or such staff as may be necessary to travel on assignment on behalf of the Committee, and

That the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be authorized to:

1) determine whether any member of the Committee is on "official business" for the purposes of paragraph 8(3)(a) of the Senators Attendance Policy, published in the Journals of the Senate on Wednesday, June 3, 1998; and

2) consider any member of the committee to be on "official business" if that member is: (a) attending a function, event or meeting related to the work of the committee; or (b) making a presentation related to the work of the committee.

Senator Callbeck: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: I need a motion for travelling and living expenses of witnesses:

That, pursuant to the Senate guidelines for witnesses expenses, the Committee may reimburse reasonable travelling and living expenses for no more than two witnesses from any one organization and payment will take place upon application, but that the Chair be authorized to approve expenses for a second witness should there be exceptional circumstances.

Senator Angus: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Forrestall: It allows for no more than two witnesses?

The Chairman: No more than two, and usually it is one.

Senator Forrestall: Do we have in here an authority for you to group witnesses together so that we do not have fifteen times two, which is 30? We spent the last year on Air Canada. It is fine to have up to two, but if there are 10 people all saying the same thing, that is 20. Do we have authority, or is it implicit?

The Chairman: It is two witnesses from any one organization.

Senator Forrestall: You are confident that you have the power to say no. I am serious about this matter because the situation can get out of hand. On one hand, one does not want to limit the point of view being expressed; on the other, some control has to be maintained with respect to the number of witnesses.

Senator Finestone: Further to what Senator Forrestall said, if you recall the Air Canada hearings, we put together groups from across the country. When it was independent airlines, they came in. We certainly did do groupings at that time. I presume that is de rigeur and one can do it.

Senator Forrestall: I remember the list and it was lengthy.

Senator Finestone: I have a question, Madam Chair; it goes back to something Senator Spivak asked. You asked the senator and myself to look at this report and bring it in to you. That report is in whose hands? I believe Senator Poulin was the chairperson.

The Chairman: She was the former chairperson of the subcommittee.

Senator Finestone: So we can ask her in a formal way?

The Chairman: Yes. We will tell her who she can contact.

Senator Finestone: You will be making that contact so that the senator and I can get that report?

The Chairman: I will let you know. The only way to do it is to ask her, and mention to her that both of you would review the draft report.

Senator Finestone: Thank you very much.

The Chairman: I need a motion

That the following budget application be approved for submission to the Standing Committee On Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, subject to the granting by the Senate of authority to engage the service of personnel.

The budget we have now, which we want to submit to Internal Economy, is $10,000 to start with. That is what we usually do. All committees do that. Martin Brennan will still be hired as a professional to the committee because we have a few bills before us.

Senator Angus: Does that come out of that $9,000 or is it in addition to it?

The Chairman: It is out of that $9,000.

Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: We will have to go to Internal Economy to ask for that sum to start with.

Senator Spivak: I wish to return to the report. We will have a look at it. Who will do the redrafting?

The Chairman: I want you both to review it.

Senator Spivak: We will review it. Who will redraft it?

The Chairman: The committee will decide, based on the recommendations.

Senator Spivak: It would be nice to get it done and published.

Senator Finestone: At the time of starting this committee report, it was to be the second stage of a three-stage report. Does this mean that we will wait and see what the content of this second stage is before we embark, if we embark, on a third one?

The Chairman: Yes.

I need another motion to submit an emergency fund, which is an application pursuant to Guideline 3:03 for the amount of $10,000 for legislative activities.

Senator Angus: I so move.

The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: Honourable senators, is it agreed that I seek authorization from the Senate to permit electronic media coverage of public meetings?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: The time slot for our regular meetings is Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30. I wrote a letter to our leader asking to change Wednesday's meeting. However, I do not think we have been very successful. I mentioned that we had done our best last year and now it is up to someone else to do it this year. I think we worked hard enough last year on Wednesdays. However, I do not have a formal answer on that question.

Senator Angus: These two times do not work for me at all.

The Chairman: I will try again. I have written a letter to our leader.

Senator Forrestall: Can we meet at 9:30?

The Chairman: Yes, let us change it to 9:30 on Tuesday. With regard to Wednesday, I will get back to the leader.

The Chairman: Any there any other matters you want to discuss, senators?

Senator Spivak: There is one thing. I sent the clerk all the material concerning CRASH. The only thing about it that I would like to raise has to do with the trucking hours, which I think is a very important issue for the public. It is time-sensitive. Could we at some point look at that? Decisions are imminent, as I understand it.

The Chairman: The clerk will distribute copies to members of the committee.

Senator Spivak: I am asking that it be placed on the agenda earlier than later.

Senator Forrestall: That is a good idea. The senator is quite right. The most expedient way to handle it would be for us to establish the other subcommittee as quickly as possible and refer that information to the subcommittee. We should let the subcommittee start its work with that. I say this all against the background of there being three bills that we will have to deal with.

Senator Spivak: It is an imminent decision that will increase the hours. It is very bad for truckers and for the public. The only people it is good for is the trucking association.

Senator Forrestall: Would you agree with that?

Senator Spivak: Yes.

The committee adjourned.