Tuesday 23 September 1997

Appointment of subcommittee


Chair / Président

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)

Mr Sean Conway (Renfrew North / -Nord L)

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce PC)

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron PC)

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt ND)

Mr John R. O'Toole (Durham East / -Est PC)

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)

Clerk / Greffière

Ms Donna Bryce

Staff / Personnel

Mr Lewis Yeager, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1534 in room 228.


The Chair (Mr Derwyn Shea): The select committee on Ontario Hydro nuclear affairs is convened. We have one item of business before us. Before I begin with that item of business, I would like to welcome Vice-Chair Monte Kwinter, from the Liberal Party. I appreciate his presence on the committee. I appreciate Sean Conway's membership on the committee. Floyd Laughren is from the New Democratic Party, and I appreciate his presence here. We have, from the government, Doug Galt, who will be acting as the parliamentary assistant for the minister in this regard, John O'Toole, Barbara Fisher and Helen Johns. I appreciate everybody here on the committee. It's a distinguished group.

Lewis Yeager is the senior research officer. He will also be joined by Anne Marzalik, who is a research officer, to attend the committee.

Of course we know Donna Bryce, who has now learned to spell my name and has discovered a new spelling for Floyd Laughren as well. That all happened just in the last hour or so, and we have now forgiven her. We've moved past that -- almost.

We have one item before us. I know there has been some discussion informally by members of the committee, but this is the first meeting of the committee in its formal session, so I am in your hands. I have an item before us. Either we will or will not appoint a subcommittee, so I'm in the hands of the committee.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): A point of order, Mr Chair: Is there not a requirement to elect the Chair?

The Chair: No, it was appointed by Parliament.

Mr Galt: That's automatic, done, finished, over with. Okay.

The Chair: The terms of reference took care of that. Parliament took care of that for us, but I appreciate your asking. That's why I was so presumptuous and took the chair. I assumed Parliament overrode the committee, Mr Galt.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Chair, may I move a motion?

The Chair: I have a request now for my attention from the Vice-Chairman.

Mr Kwinter: I move that a subcommittee on committee business be appointed to meet from time to time at the call of the Chair, or at the request of any member thereof, to consider and report to the committee on the business of the committee, that the presence of all members of the subcommittee is necessary to constitute a meeting and that subcommittee be composed of the following members, Mr Shea as the Chair, Mr Galt, Mr Conway and Mr Laughren, and that any member may designate a substitute member on the subcommittee who is of the same recognized party.

The Chair: Is there any discussion on the motion?

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Who can I designate?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Peter North.

The Chair: We'll strike that one.

Mr Galt: I would certainly think, in terms of the Liberal Party, with Monte Kwinter being the Vice-Chair, that he would be very much in order to be on the subcommittee. I would think that would be a natural, that he would serve in that role. There's nothing wrong with Mr Conway serving there, of course, but I just see that with Mr Kwinter in the Vice-Chairman role and his putting forth the motion, it would be kind of embarrassing to nominate himself. I would like to nominate Mr Kwinter, if I may.

The Chair: I'm in the hands of the committee, but I trust that each caucus has had a chance to do its own internal caucus. You've asked a question of Mr Kwinter. I'll turn to him.

Mr Kwinter: Just for the record, I find no slight in the fact that I am not on this subcommittee. It was a decision that we made collegially. Mr Conway, who has incredible experience in Hydro affairs over the years, I think would be an admirable member and I'm wholeheartedly in support of him being on this subcommittee.

Mr Conway: I just exercised the Jesse Helms priority on seniority matters. I'm the Jesse of our caucus.

Mr Galt: So you're not accepting the nomination.

Mr Kwinter: No.

The Chair: Any other discussion on the motion before us? If not, I'll call the vote. All in favour? Opposed? Carried. Thank you so much. That was unanimously passed. I appreciate that.

Any other business before the committee today?

Mr Laughren: Yes. I don't know whether you want to do it now or whether you want to have the subcommittee deal with this. It's in your hands, I guess. The whole issue of staffing and expert assistance to the committee, the scheduling and all that stuff: Do you want to leave that to the subcommittee?

The Chair: I was going to suggest that we allow the subcommittee to meet now, for example, and proceed through all of that activity and report to the committee as quickly as possible. I have asked the clerk to go through the agendas of everyone to see if we can ensure that we have windows of time, and she is already in the process of doing that. The subcommittee can walk through this and then, as you know, it has to bring forward a unanimous response anyhow to the committee; it'll speed up by the process of walking through it. But if all members want to be here for that, by all means feel free to stay part of it. I'd like to do that to facilitate the matters of the committee and get us moving into the substantive areas as quickly as possible.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I just want as soon as possible to get some clarity in the intent. There's a fairly intense window of time here, and I would like to clear my own path in terms of the intent: evening meetings? I know that's a discussion yet to be held, but weekends -- there's a lot of commitment of time. I'm prepared to make that, but the sooner we get a sense of how much material we need to use in preparation, what's the intent for travel, locations etc, stuff like that, the better. I have lots of commitments specifically in the riding. I'm a commuter, so if we're going to be meeting at night, I need to know that.


The Chair: I think that's a reasonable comment. In fact, in that regard, I know the first blush indicates that Tuesday afternoons seem to be more free for more members than any other time.

Mr Galt: Good.

The Chair: Did we catch you, Mr Galt?

Mr Galt: Yes, I think that's great.

The Chair: You're happy? We'll have to speak to your party whip. Also, it raises a question about evenings or weekends. I'm perhaps less excited about going to weekends because I recognize a number of the members of the committee are from out of town.

Mr Conway: And there's parish work.

The Chair: Thank you so much, Mr Conway. I'm glad you reminded me of that. My curate doesn't happen to be in town right now; he's in Scotland. That's an extra problem for me. Thank you for reminding me. I have to get back to my mansion too; I have to see that every once in a while.

It does raise a question. Can I ask members if they have any comments they'd like to make about evening meetings, just to begin with.

Mr Conway: I think there's going to be a fundamental difference of opinion on that. I've got a lot of sympathy for people in and around Metro, including my friend from Bowmanville. I'm here typically four days a week, so Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings are generally all right with me. But I think it's a bit unfair to people like Kwinter and yourself and others who, because of your Metro status, have a pattern of doing riding events. Similarly, weekends: I'm quite prepared to do the odd Saturday, if we have to, but I don't think it's reasonable to assume that we will get a lot of weekend work in.

Mr Galt: I was just going to see if there might be a straw vote or who might be available tomorrow morning for the committee, whatever the subcommittee decides, so we could get, as Mr O'Toole has raised, some plans in place.

The Chair: You're talking about the full committee?

Mr Galt: Yes.

The Chair: Because it would be my hope that the subcommittee will meet immediately following the meeting of the committee. Tomorrow morning, Mr Laughren is in committee and Ms Fisher is in committee as well. We have to see what we can do in terms of working our way through it; that may be awkward. But I will give an undertaking to try to get us together as quickly as possible to respond to the subcommittee's suggestions.

Mr Laughren: I want some clarification on intentions. The Legislature sits for what, another month?

Mr Galt: For ever.

Mr Laughren: No, no, I gather it is the intention to have a break after Thanksgiving.

The Chair: That is my understanding.

Mr Laughren: And that's about, what, three weeks after this week, or is it two? I'm not sure.

The Chair: The House leaders are still discussing it. It may be two weeks or thereabouts. I think there's still some discussion with the House leaders.

Mr Laughren: The reason I raise that is, is it our intention to sit as a committee between now and then, or were people thinking we would condense it all into the break, the three or four weeks before we come back for the throne speech in November?

The Chair: Can I suggest that given the scope -- I know the detail into which many members would like to go in the areas of economics and a whole range of things -- anything we can do at this end, right now, will allow us to take more time in greater depth, even during the break. That would be my suggestion to the committee; it can do with it as it will.

But picking up a point about Tuesdays, for example, since Tuesday afternoons are available, and being responsive to Mr Conway's sensitivities to other members of the committee, I'm wondering if there may be an opportunity in terms of Tuesday afternoons and evenings as one option. I put that only as a thought to members right now to think about. Subcommittee can wrestle with that and the committee can still deal with it. That may be one option, instead of messing up everything else. I'll leave it in your hands. I know that everybody has got commitments in terms of classes and any number of other things, but I'll leave that in your hands and we can deal with that momentarily.

Anything else for the committee to deal with at this point?

Mr O'Toole: Just on a broader nature, the timetable, as I understood it initially, was some early report in October, and the other reporting point was early in December.

The Chair: Yes.

Mr O'Toole: Has there been any flexibility or discussion on that?

The Chair: Yes. You will recall that yesterday in the House, a motion by Mr Wildman removed the October 3 requirement for an interim report. Indeed, I had already indicated that the interim report was that we hoped to be meeting. I think that made the point very clearly. I think we all recognized the difficulty of hitting that deadline.

December 1 still stands before us, unless for some reason as we go through this, there is a reason for any extension, but that is the path we'll focus upon. That's what Parliament has told us to address ourselves towards, so we'll stay with that, unless we have some other reason to change our minds as a committee as we move through this process.

Any other issues to raise? If not, I will declare us adjourned. If subcommittee would be good enough to stay behind, we'll work our way through a list and we will report out to the committee as quickly as we can possibly get it back together again.

The committee adjourned at 1546.