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Proceedings of the Standing Joint Committee for the
Scrutiny of Regulations

Issue 8 - Evidence, October 7, 2010

OTTAWA, Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations met this day at 8:35 a.m. for the election of a Joint Chair (House of Commons).

Senator Yonah Martin (Joint Chair) in the chair.


The Joint Chair (Senator Martin): Good morning, everyone, I call the meeting to order. It is nice to see all of you. Welcome back. Our first item on the agenda is the election of the joint chair and vice-chairs. I will turn it over to our clerk.

Graeme Truelove, Joint Clerk of the Committee: Honourable members, pursuant to Standing Order 106(1), we begin with the election of the joint chair from the House of Commons. I am ready to receive motions to that effect.

Mr. Saxton: I nominate Mr. Kania.

Mr. Truelove: Are there any other motions? Is it the will of the committee to adopt the motion?

Hon. Members: Agreed.

Mr. Truelove: The motion is adopted. If it is the will of the committee, we can proceed to the election of the two vice- chairs.

The first vice-chair comes from the government. Is there a motion to elect a first vice-chair?

Mr. Saxton: I nominate Mr. Anders.

Mr. Truelove: Mr. Saxton nominates Mr. Anders. Are there any further motions? Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

Hon. Members: Agreed.

Mr. Truelove: The motion is adopted.

The second vice-chair comes from the other opposition party, other than the official opposition. Are there any motions for a second vice-chair?

Mr. Kania: I nominate Mr. Masse.

Mr. Truelove: Are there any further motions? Is it the will of the committee to adopt the motion?

Hon. Members: Agreed.

Mr. Truelove: The motion is adopted.

Senator Yonah Martin and Mr. Andrew Kania (Joint Chairs) in the chair.

The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Welcome back everyone, and welcome especially to all the new members.

In terms of this committee, I will say the same as I said last time. I have had the honour of now being the joint chair since the last election. When I took over — I see Senator Wallace is not here now — I had Senator Eyton, who was the first joint chair with me, and then Senator Wallace.

In essence, Senator Eyton said to me — and I think he is 100 per cent accurate — that this is supposed to be a non- partisan committee, so we treat it that way. We do not have speaking orders or limits, and we try to reach consensus. I do not think we have had one vote in the approximately two years I have been doing this. That is the way we have to keep the committee because the work is supposed to be neutral, unlike many other committees of which we are part.

In terms of the agenda for today, the only official item that was on the agenda was the election of the joint chair. With everyone's consent, if everyone has had an opportunity to read the material, we can proceed with the ordinary business of the committee. That is what we did last time.

Mr. Saxton: Mr. Chair, with all due respect, I know Mr. Bernhardt is very keen to begin, as it has been a while since the last meeting, but I feel we have not had enough time to read the material and digest it. Therefore, I would appreciate it if we put that off until the next meeting.

The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): That is fine.

Mr. Lee: This is a procedural thing, but it was not and has not been clear to me — and I have spoken about this before — why it was that the co-chairs were unable to set an agenda for this meeting. Under the house rules at least, there was never a moment in time when our current co-chairs were not the co-chairs.

That being the case, it is not clear to me why the co-chairs were unable to select an agenda, as they normally do. I am just putting that out there. I do not expect a clear, crisp answer because it has been an issue for me for a number of years, and I am just working from the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, not the Senate rules.

Mr. Saxton: With respect to Mr. Lee's point, the other issue is that the material simply did not reach us until the last 48 hours. That is more my concern than the agenda issue because I think we could have agreed on the agenda. It is the material not arriving soon enough that is my concern.

The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): I will address both points. First, Mr. Lee, we discussed this last time. My understanding is that it was a requirement for the House of Commons joint chair to be re-elected. That is my understanding, and that is what I was told, which is why we had this election. Second, to Mr. Saxton's point, if there is a request to adjourn until the next meeting to review the material, especially in circumstances where we have so many new members, I certainly believe that would be fair.

We do not meet every week; we normally meet every other week. We do have the ability to put an extra meeting in and meet two consecutive weeks to make up for it if necessary.

Senator Harb: However, if there are agenda items that our administrators feel are of an urgent nature, we should probably be on top of those. I recall that in some meetings, we have put in motions and deadlines and such things. Therefore, the only problem I have is that if we end up losing two weeks, then those are two weeks out of our window of opportunity to chase the bureaucracy or the administration to ensure that they meet some of their deadlines as well.

I can understand my colleague's concern about this. I also received these yesterday and went through them. By and large, it is pretty straightforward. Most of time they give us a brief overview of what is involved, and then we discuss and take action. I just want to put it on the table so that we will be clear on that.

The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Thank you, senator. I have met with counsel twice in the last couple of weeks to go through matters. I do not think there is anything objectively urgent that could not wait until the next meeting. Would counsel agree with that?

Peter Bernhardt, General Counsel to the Committee: The committee wanted back a number of items at the first meeting, whenever that meeting is. In relation to Mr. Saxton's point about the arrival of materials, I would urge members to please contact us if you do not have the material by the Monday before the meeting.

For a couple of reasons, the material went out a little late this time. However, generally we do get the material there late the week before or on the Monday of the meeting week. If your office has not received it, please let us know, and we will have someone immediately walk over a copy.

Mr. Anders: I have been on this committee before, but this is my new trip back on this term. I do not know if my staff did not provide it to me or whether it is because of the many new members and there was some difficulty that way, but I do not have the material. Therefore, I am in the same boat as Mr. Saxton or maybe even worse off — he at least has the pages.

The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): That is fine. Circumstances are such that people have made the request, and some people do not have the material. There is nothing objectively urgent and we can schedule an additional meeting in any event to make up for lost time.

I would suggest we adjourn, unless there are other comments. The next meeting would be October 21, and we would have this material plus anything added between now and then. Are there any other comments before we adjourn?

We are adjourned. The next meeting is October 21.

(The committee adjourned.)

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