Day 3: Request for Shawn Buckley to appear at the Senate Committee as the voice of concerned citizens across Canada, tabled and denied.
READ DECEMBER 1 2010 SENATE COMMITTEE MEETING TRANSCRIPT
Senator Cordy: I think we all believe very strongly in the principle behind Bill C 36. We believe that when a Canadian anyone, for that matter shops, they should feel confident that the consumer product they are buying is a safe product. We all believe firmly in that.
I look back at what we did this time last year, I believe it was with Bill C 6, and this committee deserves a lot of credit. We used sober second thought; we made many amendments to this bill, to the new Bill C 36.
When the minister brought forward Bill C 36, as much as she said last year that the amendments that this committee made were not good, she incorporated them when she brought Bill C 36 forward.
I think what the Senate does best is sober second thought. We look at a bill and we determine whether or not we can make the bill as good as it can be; we have a responsibility to do that.
I am very disappointed with the process that was followed in the deliberations on Bill C 36. I received hundreds of emails, together with phone calls and faxes, asking that Shawn Buckley appear before the committee. I made a motion to that effect before the committee. That motion was defeated by the Conservative majority on this committee, and that is their absolute right to do that.
However, I also found it a bit frustrating that we had four panels, three of which were government panels. We had one panel that was made up of people from outside of government officials. I think that is unfortunate because I believe that we have a responsibility to people who wish to appear and make presentations before our committee.
I believe that due process has not been done. Therefore, while I agree with the bill in principle, I disagree with the way in which it was rushed through this committee.
Senator Eaton: I would like to thank everybody for their time and attention. Senator Day, especially as critic, has taken a lot of time, as well as Senator Cordy. However, I would like to remind my honourable colleagues that we heard many witnesses, including Shawn Buckley last year at this time. If you say that the bill has been improved, I do not see why we should waste this committee’s time hearing Mr. Buckley get on one of his hobbyhorses over and over again. I am sorry, that is the way I feel. We are wasting time.
Senator Callbeck: I support the principle of the bill, and I think everyone here does. However, as I have expressed before, I had dozens of emails from people across the country wanting us to hear Mr. Shawn Buckley, who is, as you know, a constitutional lawyer, and he appeared before on the other bill. They feel it was important for him to be heard on this bill, Bill C 36.
It has been brought to our attention that there are concerns here about whether this bill is unconstitutional. I think it is important that we hear from him. If we do not, I do not consider that we are really doing our duty.
We have been, as I say, requested by dozens and dozens of people to do this. As I have expressed before at the committee, I would like for us to hear from him. As Senator Cordy has said, we had four panels and three were from the government. We have only had one panel from the general public.
I support the principle, but I do not think we have done justice to this bill.
Senator Martin: I want to acknowledge, as Senator Eaton has, the work of the committee members, and especially the critic of this bill for his thorough examination. I also want to bring to everyone’s attention that the process that has been in place has been a multi year process.
Yes, last year when we looked at Bill C 6, we had several more sessions as a committee to look at it. At the same time, between that period and this time around, we heard from the officials and the other witnesses, the stakeholders, that the consultation has been a multi year process, and it has been ongoing.
I know that I have met with stakeholders individually in studying this bill, as sponsor. I have had a chance to read through the emails that you speak of, but I also feel that we received, in our office, many emails that were in support from a number of different stakeholders.
I am confident in the process that has been undertaken at this point. I have also been involved in this committee where we have taken fewer sessions to look at bills that have been thoroughly examined in the past. As Senator Day and others have noted, the minister, the officials, did take advice from the committee on the previous bill and many of those amendments were incorporated.
However, so as not to diminish or dilute the effect we need to have with this bill, we all know it is 40-plus years overdue and we need to strengthen our system in line with the international jurisdictions and regimes that are out there. With this agreement, I am very confident in the work that has been done, not only during our committee sessions but prior to it and over the years.
I ask all senators around this table for your support in seeing quick passage of this bill.
Senator Merchant: Mr. Chair, I, too, want to say that a lot of good work has been done regarding this bill and that some of the changes were made because of the previous times that the same text has been examined.
However, this is the first time I had sat in on this bill and I had not heard Mr. Buckley, although I did read over his presentation from the transcript. I think we ought to have given him a chance because he is very qualified. I could not understand why he has been singled out as a person that we do not need to hear from again.
For that reason, while I support the merits of this bill, I think that we did not really give it due process, so I will not be able to support it.
Senator Day: Just to clarify the record, I wonder if we could have the clerk tell us if there have been any further written submissions, because that is all part of our consideration that we should be applying. I read in six, I think, on the last occasion, that we had received.
I was a little late getting here because I was trying to find out what else had been received. My records indicate that three more have been received. I presume these are people who had requested to appear but we told them, sorry, we cannot hear from you but send in a written submission. The others names I have are Natural Health Products, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Consumer Interest Alliance.
Jessica Richardson, Clerk of the Committee: None of them asked to appear; they just did written submissions.
Senator Day: Those written submissions have been received, as I understand it.
Ms. Richardson: Yes.
Senator Day: Have they been circulated to everyone?
Ms. Richardson: Yes, they have been.
Senator Day: Everyone has received those, so we can apply proper consideration to all of the submissions – other than the hundreds and hundreds of people who have written to us and emailed us, making submissions, and we are trying to bring forward their point of view of here.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my dilemma here, because I do have a dilemma. I believe, as Senator Martin has pointed out, that this Hazardous Products Act legislation required updating; we just want to ensure we do the very best thing. To spend an extra day or two in a democratic process is never a waste of time, in my view. Then we will all be assured that we have achieved the best we can do here in the Senate for the people of Canada.
DECEMBER 1 2010
[BILL C-36] STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE MEETING