Wednesday 16 December 1998
Professional Foresters Act, 1998, Bill 71, Mr Ramsay / Loi de 1998 sur les forestiers professionnels, projet de loi 71, M. Ramsay
Environmental Protection Amendment Act, Bill 34, Mr Carroll / Loi de 1998 modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement, projet de loi 34, M. Carroll
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Chair / Présidente
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand PC)
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND)
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North / -Nord PC)
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North / -Nord L)
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph PC)
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent L)
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls PC)
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South / -Sud L)
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East / -Est ND)
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa PC)
Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming L)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent PC)
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Viktor Kaczkowski
Staff / Personnel
Mr Michael Wood, legislative counsel
The committee met at 1546 in committee room 1.
PROFESSIONAL FORESTERS ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LES FORESTIERS PROFESSIONNELS
Consideration of Bill 71, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry / Projet de loi 71, Loi concernant la réglementation de l'exercice de la profession de forestier.
The Chair (Mrs Brenda Elliott): The standing committee on resources development is called to order. Our purpose this afternoon is to attend clause-by-clause hearing of both Bill 34 and Bill 71. Because we have an environment bill in the House, we'll move directly to Bill 71, An Act respecting the regulation of the practice of Professional Forestry. Comments or questions as we begin our discussion of the bill?
Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): It's been brought to my attention by some of the government members that they feel we need more time to consider clause-by-clause of Bill 71. There are some concerns that are being expressed that I'm only now finding out about. To accommodate that and to try to keep the bill alive, I'd like to move a motion that would do two things. I'll move the motion and then we can discuss it.
The motion would be that we request permission for the resources development committee to sit for up to two days in either January or February for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 71, and that we request the government House leader to carry over the bill into the next session of Parliament if the House prorogues the Legislature.
I'm quite open as to the terminology of this. We just don't know if we're going to adjourn or if it's a prorogation. We're not sure. Of course, if we prorogue, all bills die except for those that are carried over. This would be my attempt to try to keep the bill alive and I believe that's the government members' wish also. That's the motion.
The Chair: Does anyone wish to speak to that motion that's now on the floor?
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I do, because I'm concerned about it. I appreciate that it's being moved by the mover of the bill. However, let me raise two concerns.
It is not as if people were not aware that this bill was coming forward. If you go back and look at the history of this particular bill, the professional foresters association spent quite some time lobbying members about what they wanted to do in an extensive way this fall, so there was quite an extensive lobby done and a number of MPPs were included in that. It is also true that long before that the foresters association had met with the Ministry of Natural Resources and had talked to them about the extensive consultation they had. They had gone through the bill and, as I understand it, had assistance in the drafting of the bill. The Ministry of Natural Resources was well aware that this was going to be coming forward, that all they were looking for was a sponsor, because the ministry itself was reluctant to bring it forward, for reasons I have yet to understand.
I find it passing strange that we are here with two days to go and suddenly a number of concerns are coming forward. I'm going to assume they are concerns of the Ministry of Natural Resources, because I haven't yet had a chance to hear from the government members. I'm assuming now concerns are coming forward from MNR which frankly I think should have been dealt with a long time ago.
We've put Mr Ramsay in an awkward position. We had a number of people who were here yesterday who have spent a lot of effort and a lot of time to do this right and to get support. Frankly, at the 11th hour someone is coming forward -- and again I assume it's ministry staff -- to voice objections and concerns that should have been dealt with a long time ago. I resent that this is happening at the very last hour, because we are putting a lot of people in a very bad position.
Second, I would really like some clarification as to whether or not the government is even in a position to carry forward a single piece of legislation if the House prorogues. It was not my understanding that legislation could be so-called "saved" and carried forward into the next session if indeed the government calls a new Parliament. I would like to be very clear that that in fact is even a possibility before I would ever agree to having that done. I'm very concerned, and this is probably in the back of everyone's mind, that the House will not sit again.
We have come this far, we are this close. This is the third time the foresters have tried to do this and we may well lose a piece of legislation that I think has widespread support among members and affiliated associations. We should deal with it.
The Chair: Just in conversation with the clerk about whether or not a bill can be transferred into the next session in the event of prorogation, my understanding is yes, if it is done by way of a motion. So that is accurate. Mr Ramsay's motion would be in order.
Ms Martel: Thank you. May I raise a second point then, Madam Chair? Can I get some confirmation from the government members that their House leader is going to give consent to carrying this piece of legislation forward, that this has been dealt with by his office and they are clearly here expressing what he will do?
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I'm not in a position to tell you what the House leader is going to do. We are certainly going to request -- we're not fighting against this bill; we are all in favour of it. For us to hear that it's been on for months -- I was advised less than a month ago, probably less than three weeks ago, about this bill. I was in favour of it then, I'm in favour of it now, but I'm not in favour of some of the wording in here.
Mr Ramsay has been provided with a set of loose guidelines about what needs to be done. It was not MNR staff exclusively who requested the changes. There is some language in here that allows some broad interpretations of people's capacities and we want that tightened up.
If you're suggesting that we should vote on a bill that we don't like just because we haven't got enough time to study it, I'm afraid that's not the way I operate and I would have to be against this bill even though I want the bill to go through. I would rather wait and vote for a piece of legislation that is right than vote now on something that should have been changed.
Ms Martel: Then perhaps someone can give me some indication of what the exact concerns are and why they could not be dealt with this afternoon after the other legislation that we were supposed to deal with first anyway.
Mr Preston: I'll give you a very loose interpretation. Some of the wording in the bill is very loose.
Mr Ouellette, you speak to that; you're the one who decided there's a problem with it, and I agree with you.
Ms Martel, you want someone; we're all someones.
The Chair: I would ask that your comments be directed through the Chair, please.
Mr Preston: Sorry, Chair.
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): In regard to the motion, first of all, I'd like to congratulate Mr Ramsay on his good work on this piece of legislation, because I think it's very good. There are some specific concerns about an area; for example, area 3(1), and I understand an amendment is coming forward. I have not had an opportunity to fully review the amendment and the impact of that on the scope of the professional forestry practice, the guidelines and their ability to deal with other aspects of the forestry, whether it's cutter-skidders, whether it's landscapers, whether it affects municipalities or if Ontario Hydro is putting a line through or if a pipeline is going through, how those come into play in those specific aspects.
There are a number of things. Specifically, as well, I understand we have seen the amendment for the practice by individuals and Mr Ramsay has been very accommodating on an amendment in that area as well. Quite specifically, I think there were 17 areas that the Red Tape Commission had concerns about. We didn't have the opportunity to go over that, or at least I didn't. I was only brought in on this committee yesterday, from personal interest as opposed to being actually on the resources committee. Mr Ramsay has been very accommodating on that.
The one thing I would ask -- I don't know if the government has discussed it -- on the motion as it has been brought forward is, is it amenable to two separate motions or do we need it as one motion to have the committee sit for carry-over?
Mr Ramsay: It doesn't matter to me.
Mr Ouellette: We had discussions on the carry-over and there did not appear to be any difficulties from my perception of the conversations we've had of carrying over in the event of proroguing, just in case that came. But we did not have discussions with any other body about giving the committee the authority to sit as well, and I'd ask Mr Ramsay about possibly separating that because I don't want to cause conflicts with the motion as brought forward.
Mr Ramsay: Madam Chair, I'd be quite happy to see the motion split into two separate requests if that is what the government wants. The reason I had suggested that we get on with this is that if we do come back in the spring, we don't how long that would be for. I thought that if in the intersession we were able to sit for a day, which is all it might be, then we would have everything ready to go so that when and if we do come back, hopefully the government House leader could call the bill right into the Legislature for third reading.
If the clerk would split the motion into two requests, that's fine.
The Chair: Just for clarification, the new motion would then read --
Mr Ramsay: That we request permission for the resources development committee to sit for up to two days in the intersession -- I guess we could say that; I had it before in either January or February.
Then it would be separate now that we request the government House leader to carry over the bill into the next session of Parliament, if required.
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): First of all, the Ministry of Natural Resources has great support for this particular bill and congratulates Mr Ramsay for bringing it forward. The Attorney General's ministry has not had a chance to review it, and because of the exclusivity of some of the powers within the bill, we think they should. That's one of the reasons why we want some extra time on this bill to go forward. The Ministry of Natural Resources will be expressing that interest to the House leader's office, to encourage him to carry the bill over.
The Chair: Further questions or comments? Seeing none, we have two motions on the floor. We'll deal with the first motion, requesting that the standing committee on resources development meet in either January or February in the intersession. All those in favour? Opposed? Carried.
The second motion dealt with the carry-over into the next session in the event of proroguing. All those in favour? Opposed? One opposed. It's carried.
Any further business for the standing committee on resources development? At this point we will recess and reconvene at 10 to 5 to deal with Bill 34. Thank you.
The committee recessed from 1559 to 1651.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA PROTECTION DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT
Consideration of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act / Projet de loi 34, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement.
The Chair: All right, colleagues, we reconvene for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act. We have the bill before us and my first question as we begin is, are there any questions pertaining to section 1 of the bill? Seeing none, shall section 1 carry? All those in favour? Carried.
Section 2: Questions or comments or amendments? Seeing none, shall section 2 carry? Carried.
Section 3: Questions or comments?
Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): Will this be the last chance I have to make any comments?
The Chair: It's moving along very quickly, so I think so.
Mr Carroll: I mean, is this the appropriate place for me to make just some general comments?
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Spare us till we've passed it and then those of us who want to leave will leave.
Mr Carroll: I just wanted to say a couple of things. First of all, I want to thank members of the committee for getting the bill to the stage where we at least had some public hearings, and that involved all three parties. I think the public hearings were worthwhile. We had a lot of interest from some very divergent sources: the OMA, the motor vehicle manufacturers' association, certainly the petroleum industry. So we had a lot of input in a lot of various areas; quite conflicting input I might add, actually in many cases diametrically opposed input, all seemingly put forward as fact.
I'm not sure that what we have here is exactly --
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Is he taking a shot at someone?
Mr Carroll: There was certainly a lot of different input, but I think we need to have more discussion on this issue. My hope is that the members of the committee would work with me to try to advance the agenda on cleaner fuel by engaging the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Energy into a discussion about the use of oxygenates in fuel, the use of ethanol in fuel, the whole area of renewable resources used as an additive to motor fuel.
I don't hold out any particular illusions as to what's going to happen to this bill when we refer it back to the House. I would hope that all of you on the committee will join with me in asking that the discussion not stop, that we do what we can to prolong the discussion so that we can work on this issue that I think is very much a positive for the environment. It's certainly positive for the agricultural community and positive for job creation in the province.
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Let me say that I've been pleased to provide my support for this bill, and I do want to recognize and acknowledge Mr Carroll's fairness in recognizing the role that former Agriculture Minister Elmer Buchanan and a former MPP from Chatham, Randy Hope, have played in the development of an ethanol entity within Ontario, a seed planted that clearly will grow and come to fruition as the years unfold.
I think all of us were moved tremendously -- certainly I was -- by the comments of Dr Boadway who spoke of the stunning negative health effects of our air directly related to pollutants right now and emphasizing the importance of our doing something about this above and beyond partisan lines. Recognize that the air is breathed by Tories, Liberals and New Democrats alike and there's no special party membership that holds one immune to the effects of bad air.
It's also been a pleasure to be a part of talking about improving our air quality as opposed to many of the debates in the House, which have seen us putting forward a defence of protections that have been in place for decades that, in my opinion, your government has dismantled piece by piece, very much to the detriment, and in the opposite direction I'd say, through you, Chair, to Mr Carroll, of the goals that you're trying to achieve with this bill.
Let me close by saying that it's been a particular joy to watch the members of the government side recognizing there are times government needs to play a very strong role and mandate that some things be done even when there are elements of the economy that don't want a mandatory aspect to a particular measure. It's been refreshing and I would hope that those who spoke in favour of making these measures mandatory felt that oxygen and recognized how good it feels to put the public good as the top priority and make everything else subservient to the public good, because at the end of the day that is often what mandatory measures like this mean.
With that, I will wrap up, Chair.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I think it's interesting as you work through a bill such as this -- it's a very simple bill. What is it, four sections, five sections? It points out the difficulty we have in the Ministry of the Environment as you try and come up with something. This one seems quite simple when you first look at it. They put some alcohol in the gasoline and it's good for agriculture, it's good for the environment, and then you start looking at it and, oh dear, it raises the volatility level. Then you end up with volatile organics coming off it at a greater level and therefore other regulations need to come into play to recognize this happening. Yes, it reduces particulates, it reduces some of the other pollutants, but with every move you make to try and protect the environment, it does get complicated and you just never win, trying to please either those who are pushing for environmental improvements or those who are sort of resisting and holding back.
I certainly applaud Mr Carroll for bringing this forward. The intent is right. In some of the chats we've had I think there are some technical difficulties and maybe it needs the technical expertise of those who have that information for input into the bill, but certainly in theory it's great and it's something that probably should happen down the road, and because of his interest and drive it probably will in time.
The Chair: Further questions and comments to section 3?
Mr Christopherson: That speech sounded an awful lot like the kiss of death for this bill to me.
The Chair: Seeing none, shall section 3 carry? All those in favour? Carried.
Shall the long title of the bill carry? Those in favour? Carried.
Shall Bill 34 then carry? All those in favour? Carried.
Shall I then report this bill to the House? Agreed.
Thank you, colleagues. On that note, our committee shall adjourn and I guess we will reconvene at the call of the Chair some time in January or February.
The committee adjourned at 1700.