[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, December 12, 1995
The Chairman: Order.
I see we have a quorum. I'd like to start, because we have a vote this morning. The bells will ring at about 10:05 for a 10:35 vote. So we may give ourselves about 15 minutes to get over for the vote.
This morning we're going to have an introductory briefing from officials from the Department of Justice. I'd like to welcome them. I'd like to introduce Mary Dawson, who is associate deputy minister, public law.
Perhaps, Ms Dawson, you could introduce your colleagues who are with you and then give us your presentation.
Ms Mary Dawson (Associate Deputy Minister, Public Law, Department of Justice): It's a pleasure to come and talk to you about Bill C-84 at last.
My colleagues who are with me are Oonagh Fitzgerald, the regulatory affairs coordinator in administrative law in the Department of Justice; Don MacPherson, who's in the administrative law section; and Ryan Rempel, who's also from the administrative law section.
I'd like first to give you a general overview of the bill. I was a bit hesitant, because it is about a 20-minute overview. It will cut into the time, but it is important to give you a sense of the broad objectives and the main components of the bill.
I would then propose to take you through the bill quickly, if you wish, or you might prefer to use the time to home right in on your questions. I'm easy either way.
I'd like to point out as well that we provided you with a small, black briefing book, which contains a quite thorough clause-by-clause commentary on the provisions of the bill.
As we take you through the bill, you may want me to pause between the major elements in order for me to answer some of your questions. We have read Mr. Bernier's list of questions and we will be pleased to answer all of them later on in this exercise.
I believe it might be preferable today to first give you an opportunity to see how the bill would work in a general way.
Let me first put Bill C-84 in context. Since the 1993 report of the subcommittee on finance entitled Regulations and Competitiveness, there has been a widespread recognition that Canada's regulatory system is outdated, overburdened, excessively costly, and unresponsive to current economic and social needs. This is having an adverse impact on Canada's ability to compete in the global economy.
The report recommended a major overhaul of the system, including revising the Statutory Instruments Act and the internal regulation-making process, harmonization of international, foreign, federal, and provincial regulatory standards and greater reliance on standards set by expert bodies, improved consultation and public accountability in the making of regulations, more flexibility in the design of regulatory schemes, and more innovative and efficient approaches to achieving compliance with policy objectives.
Last fall the Industry Canada initiative on building a more innovative economy built upon these ideas and set out a program of regulatory reform that included both legislative and administrative reforms to the way in which the federal government regulates.
As part of the program, two bills dealing with regulatory reform were introduced this spring, our bill, Bill C-84, and a Treasury Board bill, Bill C-62, the Regulatory Efficiency Act. I mention the two of them together to avoid any confusion between the two bills.
The Treasury Board proposal was designed to deal with the practical difficulties of amending regulations. It would offer a way for specific enterprises or individuals to substitute a more appropriate way to comply with existing regulatory requirements once a compliance plan has been negotiated with the responsible minister.
Bill C-62 has not yet been scheduled for second reading or referral to committee. It was the subject of some considerable criticism from parliamentarians, and labour and environmental interest groups. In contrast, our bill, which is really a housekeeping bill, received a positive reaction from the groups we consulted. So it's important to me that you don't confuse the two bills, as I think a number of people have.
I'll move on to the objectives of the legislation. The purpose of Bill C-84 is to streamline and reduce delays in the current regulatory process at the federal level in Canada while preserving protection of the public interest in legality, accessibility, and parliamentary oversight.
Although the reforms we're considering to the Statutory Instruments Act are part of this government's broader efforts towards building a more innovative economy, they have been a matter of concern and study for some time now. In fact, the limitations of the current regulatory process were consistently identified as requiring attention in the course of the government-wide consultations that took place during the regulatory reviews of 1992 and 1993. In the Department of Justice itself we have certainly been looking at the act for some years, with a view to fixing up some of the technical difficulties in it.
I should stress that the proposed changes would not radically alter the present system. The effect of the changes would rather be to clarify some uncertainties that presently exist from a legal point of view, to streamline some elements of the process and to modernize the system by providing a legislative framework for electronic publication of regulations and to facilitate the exchange of information and comments on the basic rules of the regulatory process.
I should underline that Bill C-84 doesn't stand alone but is supported by other administrative improvements in the way regulatory departments develop regulations and in the way the Department of Justice reviews them, which will help to streamline the regulatory process. For example, improvements have been made by having PCOJ lawyers draft from client departments' instructions rather than having PCOJ examine the client's draft and then redraft it. In addition, pilot projects are under way to apply principles of plain-language drafting to regulations. As well, greater involvement of the departmental legal services units in helping client departments to plan for their anticipated regulatory needs seems to facilitate the provision of timely and appropriate levels of service. So the bill is really part of a much wider initiative.
The current Statutory Instruments Act provides the procedural framework for making federal regulations. Enacted almost a quarter of a century ago, the Statutory Instruments Act is intended to promote several basic legal safeguards that reflect the fact that regulations are an important form of law, having a binding legal effect. Some of these aspects are, first, legality. The legality of regulations is ensured through the Justice examination and through parliamentary scrutiny.
The second one is transparency. Through requirements relating to drafting standards, registration, publication in the Canada Gazette, and availability for public inspection, the act ensures persons affected by regulations can find and read them in an authoritative form.
Accessibility and enforceability: through the requirements of registration and publication, the act ensures regulations are accessible to those affected by them and subject to them and thereby are legally enforceable.
Finally, in terms of accountability, accountability to Parliament is provided through referral of regulations and other statutory instruments to the standing joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations.
So why is reform required? Over time, the regulatory process established by the Statutory Instruments Act has come to be viewed as an impediment to the timely and efficient making of amendment and repeal of federal regulations. The current operation of the Statutory Instruments Act makes it difficult for federal regulators to respond in a timely manner to changing needs with new and improved regulations because the regulatory process is too cumbersome and time-consuming.
Indeed, the Statutory Instruments Act is seen as such an impediment to responsive regulations that departments are looking for ways to avoid the process it sets out. New and revised legislation often now includes specific exemptions from the Statutory Instruments Act in an effort to avoid the undue delay and inefficiency in regulation making. So that's one strong impetus for us to fix the act up, because we are concerned at the increasing trend to avoid the act.
It's well understood that regulatory regimes are not well tailored to evolving circumstances. Not only do they increase unnecessarily compliance cost to government, and therefore to taxpayers, but they also impact negatively on respect for law, competitiveness, and economic growth, as well as upon the working regulations of the regulated private sector and government regulators.
Our legislative reforms are designed to streamline, simplify, and expedite the regulatory process, and thereby to improve the capacity of departments to respond quickly and effectively to public concerns, as well as to rapidly changing circumstances in a global economy.
By facilitating the amendment and abrogation of outdated regulations, regulatory departments would be better able to implement new ideas as to ways for the government to encourage compliance with federal policy, for example through the use of non regulatory alternatives, negotiated instruments and administrative fines rather than quasi criminal enforcement models.
The proposed reform of the regulatory process would allow timely changes to regulations and would generally reduce the negative impacts on economic growth and competitiveness that are caused by these delays.
In addition, over the years we've seen a number of areas where technical improvements could be made to the Statutory Instruments Act. These revisions will give us a chance to make those adjustments.
Finally, a statutory basis for electronic publication of and comment about regulations will provide for a more effective and less costly mechanism for exchange of information about regulations in Canada.
I'll turn now to the basic elements of the reform proposal. Reform of the Statutory Instruments Act calls for a careful balancing of the interests in streamlining, simplifying, and expediting the regulation-making process with the interests in ensuring adequate opportunity for notice, public comment, and for effective oversight by Parliament of the creation of subordinate legislation.
The approach being considered by Justice would address the following elements. First, the bill uses plain language. It changes the title of the act to the Regulations Act, eliminating the term ``statutory instrument'', and redefines regulation in a principled way to cover essentially any document named in a statute that contains rules of conduct - that is, rules that have binding legal effect and are of general application.
If you contrast the definition section of the bill that is before you with the complicated, virtually unreadable, language of the definition section of the Statutory Instruments Act, you'll see what led us to make these changes.
You will also notice that our bill as a whole reduces the text of the law by one third. Secondly, the bill provides an appropriate kind of review. Currently, most documents subject to the Statutory Instruments Act are treated in the same way. That is, they're all subject to the legal examination, registration, and publication requirement of the act, even though there is no real need for some kinds of documents to undergo this time-consuming process.
The new Regulations Act will provide for different classes of documents and will rationalize and tailor its treatment of each in order to maximize flexibility and streamline where appropriate.
It is fundamental to recognize that if we're going to have a responsive and efficient regulatory system, intelligent decisions have to be taken about what should go through the process and what need not go through. We simply can't afford to process every ministerial or governmental document through the full regulatory process.
Let me give you a sense of what documents are or are not covered.
First of all, regulations that are made under an enabling provision that calls it a regulation or specifies another type of document to be used will continue to require full Justice review as well as registration and publication in accordance with the full process set out in clauses 6 to 12 of our bill.
Some regulations are not of such a level of significance as to require detailed legal scrutiny, but should be subject to registration and publication. These are exempted from the requirement of Justice review by subclause 7(4). Examples of these include rules of procedure developed by tribunals or courts, or amendments to lists such as schedules of prohibited substances.
Thirdly, other regulations that would not ordinarily be subject to the regulatory process may be made subject to all or part of the process in the public interest by order of the Governor in Council under subclause 5(2).
Finally, some documents other than regulations may be made subject to all or part of the regulatory process in the public interest by the Clerk of the Privy Council under subclause 5(3).
The following documents will be exempt from the regulatory process as set out in clauses 6 to 12.
First, there are regulations that are exempt from the regulatory process because Parliament has exempted them under another act. These already existing statutory exemptions are unchanged by the proposed Regulations Act. It is the same regime under the current system.
Secondly, there are regulations that are currently exempted under paragraphs 28(a), (b) or (c) of the Statutory Instruments Act. Existing exemptions have been grandfathered in this bill by clause 28. This reflects the fact that the underlying policy of the bill is to streamline and unburden the regulatory process and reduce the number of documents having to go through it. If the bill were to require that presently exempted documents go through the regulatory process, this would undermine these fundamental objectives.
In that connection, it's useful to recall that this was an initiative that was part of the microeconomic agenda of the government and it is being done to some extent with an eye to improving our economic competitiveness.
Thirdly, there are regulations that the Governor in Council by regulation exempts from the application of the regulatory process. The current powers of the Governor in Council under the Statutory Instruments Act to grant exemptions are brought forward and rationalized under clause 5 of the new act. You will notice that for the first time these exemptions are made expressly subject to a rigorous public interest test. So basically we have generalized, but then put a test that would apply to all of them.
For example, section 5(4) requires that these powers be exercised in a way that respects the public interest in the principles of legality, accessibility and government accountability in making regulations, taking into consideration the importance of achieving regulatory goals, including safety, health, the environment and sustainable development, and of reducing regulatory costs and delays.
The power of the Governor in Council to exempt from publication any regulation where publication might jeopardize national security is maintained in section 26 g) of the new act. Even if it is rarely exercised, this power is an important guarantee in cases of national emergency.
It should not be overlooked that even though some regulations may be exempted from the process, the regulation granting the exemption will be registered and published and will be subject to review by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.
Finally, regulations that are not labelled as regulations in their enabling statutes will not go through the regulatory process unless the Governor in Council so requires in the public interest under subclause 5(2). However, these regulations will be subject to the standing joint committee's scrutiny. This is a new provision and gives the standing joint committee access to material that was previously not subject to the committee's scrutiny. This is the ``magic formula'' material.
The bill codifies and clarifies the law. Subclause 11(5) sets out the common law defence that is available where a law has not been published as it applies to regulations that are subject to the general regulatory process.
I understand there may be some concern that the scope of the defence is too limited. We would certainly be pleased to discuss this further at an appropriate time.
Clause 16 clarifies the ground rules for making use of incorporation by reference and confirms the existing practice of the federal government. The government regards incorporation by reference as a valid and useful technique for harmonization of standards between jurisdictions. By clarifying the law these provisions will facilitate use of this technique to reduce duplication and overlap in federal, provincial, and territorial standards and to take advantage of recognized international standards to reduce the domestic regulatory burden and to improve Canada's global competitiveness.
I would like to underline at the outset that the reason why bilingualism is not dealt with in the bill is that it is already addressed in the Constitution and in the Official Languages Act. We are certainly of the view that respect for Canada's two official languages is fundamental. The pre-existing requirements of the Constitution and the Official Languages Act are unaltered by this bill.
Section 16 provides for incorporation by reference of outside material such as documents produced by a standards organization or an international organization, either in its original form or with some minor changes required for adapting the material to the Canadian context.
It also provides for incorporation by reference of material produced in cooperation with another government for the purposes of harmonization.
Further more, it provides for incorporation by reference of technical or explanatory material produced by other departments.
The bill provides that documents can be incorporated as they exist at a particular date or as amended from time to time. The availability of ambulatory incorporation by reference is an important feature for facilitating harmonization. The regulatory department continues to monitor the changes made to the reference document and can amend the regulation if the standard is changed so that it no longer conforms to the enabling provision. In the meantime, the ambulatory incorporation allows for efficient and continuous harmonization without the delays involved in having to amend the regulations every time the standard is slightly changed.
It's important to note that clause 17 sets out the obligation for departments to take reasonable steps to ensure that incorporated material is accessible to the persons likely to be affected by the regulation. How this is done will vary from case to case, but the fundamental accessibility obligation is unequivocal. As well, paragraph 26(f) enables the Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing reasonable steps to be taken to ensure access.
I can't underline the importance of the incorporation provisions strongly enough. It's been a problem for many years, as we all know, at one level or another. What we have in the bill is an accurate reflection of the advice we have been giving for years and that in fact the government has been operating under. I'm sure you'll have a number of discussions on incorporation by reference.
The bill modernizes the process and offers hope for enhanced public access. One important innovation in the bill is that it provides the flexibility for publication of the Canada Gazette by electronic networks or other electronic means. The bill does not require this innovation but allows for it through the power of the Governor in Council to make regulations under paragraph 26(c).
Clause 26 also allows for regulations to be made establishing an electronic system for public consultation on proposed regulations. As electronic networks become more widely used, electronic publication of the Canada Gazette is likely to become the best way to ensure broad public access.
The bill also provides, in clause 20, for the use of electronic forms in order to facilitate electronic filing by regulatees.
In addition, the bill makes several technical improvements to the Statutory Instruments Act: for example, by uniting the rules on the coming into force of a document in the regulations act itself, clauses 21 to 23, instead of having to turn to both the Statutory Instruments Act and the Interpretation Act; and, secondly, by clarifying and simplifying the language describing the role of the Department of Justice in reviewing proposed regulations to reflect the reality of client service today.
The bill enhances parliamentary oversight. The bill provides an improved oversight role for the standing joint committee, while the scope of the review is somewhat diminished by the elimination of the class ``statutory instruments'' and a focus on the term ``regulation''.
One must not lose sight of the fact that the term ``regulation'' is defined much more broadly in our new proposed act. Indeed, we feel that any instruments removed from the scrutiny are of minimal significance.
The bill provides for parliamentary scrutiny of all regulations except those exempt under paragraph 26(g) and for scrutiny of any other documents that are required to be registered.
As well, the committee will be able to call for incorporated material and review the propriety of incorporation.
Even documents that meet the principal definition of the regulation but do not go through the regulatory process because they are not expressly named in the enabling regulation will be subject to scrutiny by the standing joint committee.
The committee's mandate will no longer be limited by the expressly authorized wording in the current Statutory Instruments Act definition, a limitation of which the standing joint committee has long complained.
I mention this to you because I understand that there is concern about our limiting the regulatory process to regulations that are expressly named.
I understand that there is interest among members of the standing joint committee to bring into the bill the provisions of the Standing Orders on disallowance of regulations.
In some cases, where regulations are expected to be truly substantive in nature, Parliament has already provided a special disallowance power in the particular enabling legislation. This kind of tailored approach to creating a legal power of disallowance is consistent with the British model and seems to be effective.
We have seen, as well, that the disallowance power provided under the Standing Orders carries considerable political significance and is highly effective. So far ministers have always revoked regulations where a motion to disallow has been adopted.
You should know that we have examined the issue carefully and consulted extensively within government. It was the general consensus that, because this concerns the general mandate of the parliamentary committee, it is a matter best left to the Standing Orders of Parliament, except in those individual cases where Parliament considers that a statutory power should be specifically provided.
The regulatory process established by the SIA is too cumbersome and complex and no longer meets the needs in the area of regulations. Delays in amending regulations are too long and this can impact negatively on the federal government's ability to react speedily and efficiently to changing circumstances in the areas of health, security, the environment, international trade and federal-provincial relations.
The cumulative effects of the reforms contained in Bill C-84 would be to reduce stress on the existing system by reducing the number and volume of regulations subject to the general regulatory process while preserving the important values embodied in that original scheme.
By improving the functioning of the regulation-making process, it will be possible to make, amend, and repeal regulations more quickly and efficiently than in the past. This renewal and modernization of the regulatory process will make it more responsive to changing needs. The process itself will no longer be an impediment to making much-needed regulatory changes.
Provisions on incorporation by reference will permit instantaneous harmonization with important international and foreign standards as they are revised. Canadian standards and Canadian business will no longer have to lag behind advances in the world's best technological standards affecting health, safety and the environment simply because of delays and inefficiencies in our regulation-making process.
That concludes my rather lengthy introductory remarks, but I did think it was important just to give you a sense of where we are coming from and why we feel this piece of legislation is so important.
The Chairman: Thank you, Ms Dawson, for a very thorough and helpful overview.
Normally I'd turn to Mr. Lebel, but I just want to check with Mr. Wappel as to whether he still has to leave shortly for another committee meeting.
Mr. Wappel (Scarborough West): Mr. Chairman, I do. They've asked me to be there. However, how could I give up on such fascinating material in favour of the environment? Might I ask a couple of questions before I have to leave?
The Chairman: Mr. Lebel, because Mr. Wappel has to leave shortly, would you mind if we led off with him?
Mr. Lebel (Chambly): Go ahead.
Mr. Wappel: Good morning, Ms Dawson.
This is rather dry and technical stuff, but maybe you can help me with it. I'm having difficulty with this magic formula. What is a magic formula vis-à-vis regulations? Could you explain that?
Ms Dawson: Under the Statutory Instruments Act, buried in the definition of ``statutory instrument'' are the words ``expressly authorized''. That has been interpreted over the years to mean there has to be a mention of ``by order'' or ``by regulation'' or something in the enabling legislation to make that into a statutory instrument and hence be caught by the act. It has long been a sore point that by not using the magic words ``by order'' the standing joint committee, for example, would not have access to those regulations for scrutiny.
Mr. Wappel: So magic formula means magic words.
Ms Dawson: Yes.
Mr. Wappel: So magic words are really what we're talking about, the magic words ``by order''.
Ms Dawson: That's right.
Mr. Wappel: And in the absence of the magic words ``by order'', it's argued that they aren't regulations that are then subject to scrutiny by the scrutiny committee. Is that correct?
Ms Dawson: That's right.
Mr. Wappel: The proposal in this bill is what, then?
Ms Dawson: The proposal is to move those magic words from the definition of either ``statutory instrument'', which is removed from the bill, or ``regulation'', and to place in the regulatory process provisions such that the only thing that is affected by the magic formula is which process internal to the government is applied to those regulations or whether they would be registered or published. But it leaves them within the regulation definition and hence subject to the rest of the bill, including the scrutiny of the standing joint committee.
Mr. Wappel: So what happens if the words ``by order'' aren't used, assuming C-84 passes in its present form?
Ms Dawson: What would happen is that they would not undergo Department of Justice scrutiny unless somebody specifically requested advice of the department, and they would not normally be registered or published, unless there was an exception made - there's provision for exception throughout the bill - but if they met the regulation definition, they would be subject to the standing joint committee's scrutiny.
Mr. Wappel: But if they didn't meet the new definition, they wouldn't be, because they don't use the magic words.
Ms Dawson: No, because they don't meet the definition of ``regulation''. The bill only covers regulations. On the first page of the bill there is the definition of the term ``regulation''. If it was a document that for example didn't have rules of conduct in it, then it wouldn't be a regulation and it wouldn't fall under this bill. So it would have to meet the criteria for the term ``regulation'' that's set out in the bill in order for the bill to cover it.
Mr. Wappel: It's suggested to us that, for example, if the Governor in Council made a regulation that a particular minister may regulate the transportation of dangerous goods, that would not be considered regulation. Isn't that correct?
Ms Dawson: I don't know why it wouldn't be. It would contain a rule of conduct unilaterally imposed by the government and it would have binding legal effects. It seems to me it would be a typical example of a regulation that would meet the definition.
Mr. Wappel: Notwithstanding the fact that it doesn't have the words ``by order''.
Ms Dawson: That's right.
Mr. Wappel: Do you have a comment on that, counsel?
Mr. François Bernier (Committee Researcher): Yes, Mr. Wappel. I believe if you read on in that material, what we indicate - and I believe Ms Dawson will confirm this - is that the Governor in Council may regulate the transportation of dangerous goods, and any legislation made pursuant to that clause will be a regulation under the so-called principle definition. However, it will not be a regulation for purposes of examination, registration, and publication in the Canada Gazette because the magic formula is retained there and that enabling clause does not contain a ``by regulation'' or ``by order''.
Mr. Wappel: Do you agree with that, Ms Dawson?
Ms Dawson: I don't have the material in front of me but if the words ``by order'' or some similar words are not there, it would not go through the regulatory process. If that's the situation with that current enabling provision, it may be an anomaly with that particular provision or it may be by design. In any event -
Mr. Wappel: That's my question. Would it not be possible for departments to avoid the regulatory process by design by properly or carefully wording the things that the Governor in Council authorizes?
Ms Dawson: Yes.
Mr. Wappel: Isn't the whole point that it shouldn't be the case? Shouldn't we avoid that somehow?
Ms Dawson: It's the policy of the government in this bill to leave itself some flexibility with respect to the internal regulatory process.
Mr. Wappel: Excuse me, Ms Dawson, but wouldn't you agree with me that it leaves it with virtually unlimited flexibility simply by the careful drafting of wording as to what the Governor in Council orders, thereby virtually circumventing the review of regulations? Or it could, in theory.
Ms Dawson: You have to bear in mind that all of this legislation is going through Parliament, of course. It's when it goes through Parliament that the parliamentarians should be having an eye to that particular issue.
An hon. member: That's why we're here.
Mr. Wappel: That may very well be, but you can see how many parliamentarians are here, and you can appreciate that this is hardly - if I may put it this way - high-profile legislation that is going to impact positively or negatively on the voting minds of the constituents at home. Surely it's up to a committee such as this, which we hope is attuned to the legislation and the potential ramifications, to ask these questions. It has to at least point out on the record that there is at least the possibility of wholesale avoidance of the regulatory process by carefully wording orders of the Governor in Council without using the words ``by order'' or avoiding the magic words.
I see you nodding in the affirmative. Just for the record, do you agree with me? Yes?
If that is so, then perhaps we should be considering tightening that up or at least asking the government, via the Minister of Justice, if that was the intent, or if it is an unexpected or unintended result of the way the thing has been drafted.
You indicated in your presentation that you had consulted widely on a number of things, including when things should go to the scrutiny committee, for example. I forget your exact words, but it was decided that it was best left -
Ms Dawson: I forget how I phrased it, but I can comment. It certainly was a reasoned and deliberate decision to retain those words in the situation of the process.
The objective of this legislation is to simplify and deregulate the process. The intention of -
Mr. Wappel: Excuse me. Does deregulation equal simplification? Can you have simplification without deregulation?
Ms Dawson: You probably could, but certainly the two tend to go together - more complexity and more regulations.
Mr. Wappel: That's what we hear with respect to Bill C-62. I took your caveat that this isn't Bill C-62, but I'm hearing the same sort of thing: fewer regulations equals simpler. Well, sure, let's throw out all the regulations and then it will be really simple.
Ms Dawson: No, but this act has taken very great pains to make sure what needs to be regulated is regulated. I can't underline enough that we have left the checks in place in this legislation. The only thing we are using the magic words in relation to is the internal regulatory process in the government.
The objective of this legislation, as I said, was to simplify the process, and it was felt throughout the government that to remove the magic words formula from play in the way this act operates would go in the contrary direction to what was giving us the impetus for this legislation. So it was a very long, deliberated and carefully taken decision on the part of the government when it put this legislation forward.
Mr. Wappel: I hear the answer.
Could I look at the definition? It says ``expresses rules of conduct that are unilaterally imposed''. I presume that's unilaterally imposed by the government.
Ms Dawson: Yes, the person setting the regulation.
Mr. Wappel: So the only people who could do it would be from some branch of the government, correct?
Ms Dawson: I don't know if the government could delegate to some other entity, but basically it would be within the government.
Mr. Wappel: It also says they ``have binding legal effect and are of general application''. What does ``are of general application'' mean?
Ms Dawson: That means it isn't focused on, for example, one individual. It's a rule of conduct that applies generally to some segment of the population.
Mr. Wappel: Well, suppose it's focused on one project or one corporation.
Ms Dawson: Then it would not normally be caught as a regulation, although there are ways under this legislation, by way of exception, to add anything on as a regulation. But the general rule would be that it would not be caught.
Mr. Wappel: What about if it were of general application to a segment of an industry but not all Canadians? Let's say it's chicken processors.
Ms Dawson: It would probably be caught.
Mr. Wappel: Why ``probably''? Why not ``it would be'' or ``it wouldn't be''?
Ms Dawson: Well, it's pretty hard to give advice when you don't have words in front of you, but generally speaking, it would likely be caught.
Mr. Wappel: I'll give you an example. Let's say we have a regulation given by the Ministry of Agriculture as to how to.... I hesitate to use the word ``regulation''. The Ministry of Agriculture wishes to regulate, using the verb, the cleanliness of chicken processors and their places of business and makes some sort of pronouncement - again, I'll not use any words - with respect to that. I take it that would be a binding legal effect, unilaterally imposed and of general application to the chicken processing manufacturer, but not to ordinary Canadians.
Ms Dawson: But the chicken processors are ordinary Canadians in that sense. It's a group of people that is being regulated.
Mr. Wappel: So it's general application to a group?
Ms Dawson: Yes.
Mr. Wappel: So it could be all Canadians, it could be a segment of Canadians, or it could be a very small segment of Canadians?
Ms Dawson: Right.
Mr. Wappel: It could be one company, in theory.
Ms Dawson: I'm not sure it could be one company. It would depend on how big that company was, I suppose, or on whether they had a monopoly. It would depend on the circumstances, but generally speaking it's anything that isn't devoted to Tom Smith or Mary Jones or some particular individual or company as such that didn't represent the totality of an area.
Mr. Wappel: What about an exemption from an act?
Ms Dawson: It's the same thing. A remission order or something like that would normally not be caught.
Am I correct? Yes.
But any exception with a general application would be caught.
Mr. Wappel: Let's take a specific application. I'm thinking of the Kemano project. You're familiar with it?
Ms Dawson: Not particularly, but I know about it.
Mr. Wappel: That was a specific thing and a specific location. Would it be caught if there were a new Kemano?
Ms Dawson: It would depend on the terms of the regulation. I don't know enough about the specifics there to know whether there's something general about that project or not.
Mr. Wappel: For the purposes of the exercise, I'll tell you that there is nothing general, except perhaps how it might impact on the environment across Canada or on the river systems or whatever it may be.
My difficulty is that it seems to me, at least in looking at this and in listening to what you're saying, that with very little effort a virtual amateur, I would postulate, would be able to come up with things that could very easily skirt around the definition of ``regulation''.
Ms Dawson: If in any particular enabling provision we call it a regulation, then it's a regulation as well. But that's an add-on to the general definition.
Mr. Wappel: I would totally agree with that, but what I'm concerned about is not ministers calling things regulations but departments not calling regulations things that really are.
Ms Dawson: As I said before, it would be in a piece of legislation that goes through. You're concerned that somebody might not catch that.
I can't talk on specific cases. These are all complex questions. One could give us the material and have us take a look at it, go away and think about it, and give you an answer. I can't answer specific questions on specific instances off the top of my head.
Mr. Wappel: I'm not trying to put you on any kind of a hot seat; I'm trying to see if we can come to some agreement that if there was a will to avoid having things scrutinized -
Ms Dawson: Right.
Mr. Wappel: - it could very easily be done if we don't have a requirement that the magic words be in the legislation. Am I saying it wrong, or I am not understanding it?
Ms Dawson: We've gone out of our way in this particular formulation of our proposal to develop a principal definition of what a regulation would be. We've tried to put in that definition the elements of what ought to be caught by the process.
We've used jurisprudence and case law and various criteria that have been set up over the years to develop the actual wording of this definition. We've done the best we can to make as complete and as sensible a definition as we can of the term, of the type of things we want to catch.
It's an improvement on the current definition of the Statutory Instruments Act. It's more express and it covers more directly what we feel ought to be covered.
Anything can be scrutinized by the standing joint committee. These magic words problems relate only to the process.
Mr. Wappel: We're advised that, as a result of clause 4, in practice it will be impossible for the joint committee to scrutinize regulations not subject to the regulatory process. In theory we're told that these regulations are subject to review, but if they're not published, the joint committee will not know of their existence. So how could we scrutinize them?
Ms Dawson: There's a requirement under clause 13 and following to index these materials, so you'd have access to the indexes. That's how you'd find out about them.
Mr. Wappel: What clause is that?
Ms Dawson: Clause 14, actually: a quarterly index of unregistered documents published in the Canada Gazette.
Mr. Bernier: Those are not published.
Ms Dawson: Yes, those are not published. There's an inspection power under clause 15.
Mr. Wappel: Let's stick with clause 14 for a moment. A quarterly index of unregistered documents published in the Canada Gazette is to be published in the Canada Gazette. What does that mean?
Ms Dawson: It means that those unregistered documents that are published in the Canada Gazette are to be published in the Canada Gazette. It means what it says.
Mr. Wappel: I can't figure it out. You have some unregistered documents that are published.
Mr. Bernier: Non-magic formula, Mr. Wappel. Non-magic formula regulations obviously are not published, so they're not covered by clause 14, and their titles do not have to be indexed. Neither are they covered by clause 13, which requires the indexing of registered documents. Non-magic formula regulations are not subject to registration. So I think the point you raised initially remains correct and the answer is certainly not to be found in either clause 13 or clause 14.
Mr. Wappel: But we're off on a tangent because now I'm interested in clause 14.
Ms Oonagh Fitzgerald (Senior Counsel, Regulatory Affairs, Department of Justice): May I clarify clause 14 for you?
Mr. Wappel: Yes. Thank you.
Ms Fitzgerald: This provision is based on the old Statutory Instruments Act provision, section 14(2), and it does not relate to the documents that have been registered under this act but rather to the thousands of documents that are expressly required to be published in the Canada Gazette under some other act of Parliament.
So there are other provisions out there where there is a requirement to publish something in the Canada Gazette, and clause 14 is referring to those.
Mr. Wappel: So, as counsel says, that's not an answer to my concern or our concern or the potential concern I've been raising, or however we want to phrase it. I take it that there is no provision for indexing of what we've been talking about, non-magic formula regulations. Is that correct?
Ms Fitzgerald: Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Wappel: So in that event how could the parliamentary committee know about them in order to scrutinize them, assuming that your statement is correct that the committee can scrutinize anything it wishes?
Ms Dawson: I haven't got an answer right off the top on that one. There are further provisions in clause 15 as well, but those are on inspection and copies. I haven't got an answer to your direct question.
Mr. Wappel: Could I ask you to, as you put it, ``consider'' that? The next time you're back - because I'm sure you will be, perhaps for clause-by-clause or before - maybe you could come up with an answer directed to our chair for our examination and for our counsel's examination.
To me, that is a rather important point, because if we're talking about a process where there are potentially thousands of unpublished and unknown documents it becomes impossible for any committee of Parliament to ever examine them. If some of those are substantive and have been put in there because the magic words haven't been used, knowingly or unknowingly, overtly or inadvertently, then again that effectively eliminates parliamentary scrutiny.
Ms Dawson: The only comment I'd make is that we are trying to unburden the process and the objective is to avoid work that we feel is unnecessary or excessively burdensome. So the exercise of trying to index all the unregistered material is in itself an excessive burden, I would suggest, and nothing prohibits the scrutiny if one becomes aware, in one way or another, of the material. Unless it's causing somebody a problem, I'm not sure why you would want to be scrutinizing it.
So the objective of this legislation is to try to pull out what is important or is creating some burdens on somebody and to make the appropriate things out of that mass of material subject to special processes. And what we've tried to do is streamline only those regulations that need to go through the process, which are the justice scrutiny, the regulation, and the publication. We've tried to streamline down to those it is useful to scrutinize in that way or to deal with in that way. But we've tried to make it legally available so that the standing joint committee is able to look at anything that comes to its attention in any way.
I would have thought the standing joint committee would want to devote the bulk of its time to what is of particularly broad significance or of a high level of importance, knowing in the back of your mind that you always have access should somebody raise a problem. If something is creating a problem for a particular Canadian, it's always open to that Canadian to go to his or her MP and make that known.
The assumption in the way we've approached this legislation is that particular problems will bubble to the surface in due course and there are lots of ways to get them attended to. We're trying to unburden the system so the right things come forward.
Mr. Wappel: This is my final comment.
The Chairman: Okay. I was going to interject.
Mr. Wappel: Ms Dawson, I appreciate what you've just said, although it seems to me that we're seeing the bureaucracy trying to help Parliament decide what Parliament should decide is important.
If the scrutiny committee wishes to look at a particular comma in a particular regulation because the scrutiny committee thinks it's important, not because the department doesn't think it's important, that's up to the scrutiny committee in its own business.
It seems to me that it should be able to decide, as the watchdogs of the people, what it considers important as opposed to being subject to what the departments consider we should consider important. When I say we, I mean the scrutiny committee.
I leave it at that. That's a policy thing. I thank you for your answers and I ask you to consider what we raised and come back with some sort of comment on it later on.
I apologize for going on about it....
The Chairman: Not at all, Mr. Wappel. I just wanted to reassure Monsieur Lebel that we will have sufficient time. The House is being called now but we expect bells for a vote in perhaps another five or ten minutes. I believe we have at least another 25 minutes before we have to leave for the vote, depending on how fast you walk across the street.
Mr. Lebel: Thank you, madam, for this presentation. A number of words you used stuck in my mind. You talked about a balancing of the interests in streamlining and in the process. I didn't quite understand this part. You also talked about sensitive and efficient regulation making. These words quite concern me.
My feeling is that the Regulatory Instruments Act is being scratched wholesale because bureaucrats just hate it. Politicians hate it even more. I believe you are throwing out both the baby and the bath water. You are setting up a whole new system in this area.
My concerns are not very far removed from those of Mr. Wappel, the previous speaker. My feeling is that based on the famous principle that you know very well since you are all lawyers, that ignorance of the law is no excuse, when you talk about delegated legislation, you in fact delegate the act to bureaucrats.
This bill is being introduced under the pretense of administrative efficiency and cost reduction, catchy words nowadays in this era of deficits. In my view, with this bill, bureaucrats will have a field day. Their main concern is to make their work easier, but not necessarily to make the general public aware of the constraints that will be laid upon them, because many of these instruments will not even be published. Some things will be kept under wraps and will remain hidden. Obviously, the process will be fast and efficient if nobody is able to fight against this delegated legislation.
I can tell you very sincerely that I came here with the best intentions in the world. I wanted to give the government a chance to come up with something better in the area of regulations. But it strikes me that some bureaucrats - excuse me for the harshness of my words - smelled a good deal. With the huge deficit that we have, they told themselves: «This time, all circumstances are right for us to rewrite the regulatory process or the act. From now on, we won't even have to consult the people any more. We will be able to impose anything we want. There will be no more red tape in our way. We won't have to explain things to our bosses any more and be exposed to the wrath of a committee like the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations». From now on, we will have a free hand. This is what I think you achieved with this bill.
This may sound harsh, but I don't have a very high opinion of this bill. It took me only 15 or20 minutes to make up my mind, the time it took to make your presentation, madam. I find this sad.
Ms Dawson: Would you like me to comment on that?
Mr. Lebel: Yes.
Ms Dawson: Believe me, there is no conspiracy of bureaucrats here. We're trying to make a better system for the people of Canada in general. The objective of this legislation is to increase efficiency and therefore reduce costs for the people of Canada.
We have added a lot of protection in this legislation that did not exist before, such as public interest tests for exemptions and things like that. We have allowed anything that doesn't have....
Mr. Lebel: Madam, how is it possible to reduce costs and to increase efficiency when there are two different definitions of a regulation in this bill? There is one definition in section 2(1) and some vague definition of the regulatory process in section 4. You talk about a magic formula, but I don't know what's magic in all of this.
You talk about efficiency. But it now appears that we will never agree, even after debating for 60 or 70 hours around a table like this, about what a regulation really is under this act.
When it's unclear what a regulation is, you define it by way of the approach taken, the regulatory process. The substance itself is not clearly defined, as Mr. Wappel underlined earlier. Section 14, the only one you have quoted, states:
You will need to show obvious good faith if taxpayers are supposed to know what's going on. There is a maxim that says: «The law is harsh but it is the law», but to comply one needs to know what it says. If it's not published in the traditional ways, at least one must know about it existence. The bill says that the citizen will only have to make reasonable efforts to find out if there is a regulation affecting him or her. I remember having read this somewhere in the bill.
The bureaucrats in the Department of Justice will have a field day and courts will become swamped with cases. And you talk about administrative efficiency? Is this what you are aiming for?
Ms Dawson: I think what this piece of legislation does is to make exactly what the system is quite a bit more transparent than the current act does. It makes some improvements to the system. It draws together the exceptions, sets them out in an organized way and puts some parameters around them. It certainly is an awful lot simpler to read than the current Statutory Instruments Act, and I think it goes in the direction of improvement on all counts.
It's a very complex area of the law. No law that we ever manage to put together is going to be simple. You can pose questions continuously, but it's going to take a few minutes to get one's mind around to the answer. The fact of the matter is that this is a complex area of the law and I'm satisfied that we have made a major improvement to the existing Statutory Instruments Act in this proposal.
Most of the issues that are being raised are existing issues in the current Statutory Instruments Act, and I think this piece of legislation goes a long way to improving it.
Mr. Lebel: Madam, I do not cast a doubt on the efforts you made in writing this bill.
Incorporation was mentioned earlier on. The bill says that you can incorporate in a regulation a document that was written by another government. It could be a provincial government, or the government of the United States, for example, or even an international organization like UNICEF, the Salvation Army or whatever.
We have had problems for several years with that famous regulation no 6903 or 6803 dealing with income tax for those in receipt of a pension for military service in the United States. These people have been arguing with the Department of Revenue for years. They tell the Department that the U.S. Regulation 6803 is in a perpetual flux, because they keep changing rates, ages, hours, etc. and these taxpayers are always trying to catch-up with those changes and never know what rules are applied to them at any given time.
With this bill, you come and tell us that from now on you will be able to incorporate in our regulatory instruments sections of a foreign legislation, whatever changes or amendments are made to it. How will this be any more efficient, madam?
Ms Dawson: The material that is chosen to be incorporated will be that which is a standard of one sort or another. The thrust of this whole approach is to allow for efficient worldwide standardization of certain areas where one country or another or one entity or another is particularly expert. If one did not do that, we would be perpetually behind.
I have to underline as well that we have structured this legislation in such a way that nothing prevents this committee at any time from looking behind any particular incorporated material or any particular regulation that incorporates the material. Indeed, if there were a problem in a particular area, we'd be most happy if the committee did study it. What this bill does is facilitate the sensible incorporation of material that will bring us to the same standard as other people in the world so that we can harmonize efficiently our activities in a particular area.
Mr. Lebel: What you say is quite true. We are sitting here, around this table. We have with us our legal council on scrutiny of regulations, who is an expert in this field and who could tell us today, if he were allowed to intervene, that such and such provision doesn't work or will not work. However, once this bill will have been carried in third reading, passed by the Senate and received Royal Sanction, we will probably never see you again. We will have to live with your bill and it will be catastrophic.
We won't be able to say: «But at the time Ms. Dawson told us such and such». It will be irrelevant by then. The answer will be: «This is what the act says, that's all. Ms. Dawson has retired and she isn't there any more». We will have to live for 30 or 50 years with some legal monster. Everybody will feel like in some sort of tower of Babel and no one will know if a regulation is a applicable to them or nor, if they are affected by it or not, or even if it exists. This is very serious!
Thank you. The bells are ringing and I have to leave. I'm sure we'll see you again.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Lebel.
Mr. Lee, if you have some questions, I think we have a good five or seven minutes.
Mr. Lee (Scarborough - Rouge River): Thank you. By my count we have at least fifteen minutes. This is a half-hour bell; the vote will be at 10:40. It's at least a five-minute walk over there.
The Chairman: You're a fast runner.
Mr. Lee: I'd like to pick up on, or at least start off with, an issue that Mr. Wappel raised, only because it's a good starting point. It had to do with the potential for many types of delegated legislation to escape the potential for scrutiny by Parliament.
I realize we've left the impact of clauses 13 and 14 for discussion later. Ms Dawson, I understand you're going to return with some patchwork to explain how the committee will be made aware of new and amended regulations that wouldn't directly come to its attention from publication in the Canada Gazette.
That raises a broader question, and it is this. I had thought this committee was put in place by parliamentarians to supervise or scrutinize at a distance all the delegated legislation that Parliament might put in statutory form. Is that your understanding?
I will just point out - and it may have been a slip of the tongue earlier - that in answeringMr. Wappel you talked about the government delegating to an agency somewhere the ability to make a regulation. It's a very fine point, but the government doesn't delegate anything. It is in fact Parliament that delegates. Would you agree with that?
Ms Dawson: Yes.
Mr. Lee: So you were just using a generic, small ``g'' government at the time?
Ms Dawson: Yes.
Mr. Lee: The government wouldn't be delegating anywhere; it's actually Parliament that delegates. I had thought the parliamentary function we have in the scrutiny of regs committee was to monitor and scrutinize all the delegated authorities. Do I have that right? Is that your understanding?
Ms Dawson: No, that's actually not my understanding.
The Statutory Instruments Act as it currently stands is the parent of the standing joint committee, and that act certainly didn't envisage the standing joint committee scrutinizing all legislation. In fact, it envisaged that committee scrutinizing less delegated legislation than this act does. This act increases the scope of the standing joint committee's access to what would be referred to it.
The Statutory Instruments Act is what gives the standing joint committee its material, as I understand it. I'm not sure where this other principle would have come from.
Mr. Lee: You're suggesting to us that Parliament's authority to scrutinize delegated legislation comes from the Statutory Instruments Act?
Ms Dawson: Well, I'm not sure, but it's certainly in that act that it's -
Mr. Lee: Well, let's be sure, because I think we'd better get a handle on that. If you're not sure, could I ask counsel to comment on that?
Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, that is correct. The committee is one of two parliamentary committees that has a statutory order of reference. It is found presently in section 19 of the Statutory Instruments Act.
Mr. Lee: So without the Statutory Instruments Act the committee wouldn't exist. Is that a fair assumption?
Mr. Bernier: I assume the committee could exist if Parliament agreed to pass the session order of reference mandating the committee to review delegated legislation.
Mr. Lee: Just to clarify this from my perspective, what's the impact of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons here on the existence mandate function of the standing joint committee?
Mr. Bernier: In terms of review of statutory instruments, the joint committee has no need of Standing Orders or any Standing Order telling it that it may review and scrutinize. There's an act of Parliament giving it that right.
Mr. Lee: Okay.
Ms Dawson, the act of Parliament now in the Statutory Instruments Act sets out the parameters of what Parliament would review under that act. You're suggesting that the basket of reviewable material in the Statutory Instruments Act is smaller than the basket of reviewable material under this Bill C-84. Is this correct?
Ms Dawson: Yes, this is what I'm suggesting. The one obvious difference is the magic words formula under the Statutory Instruments Act is not within the scope of the standing joint committee's review, whereas under this piece of legislation it is. This is one example of the difference. But they're slightly different.
Mr. Lee: Okay. Is counsel in agreement with that?
Mr. Bernier: No, I have to disagree, Mr. Chairman. I think it's important accurate information be on the record of this committee.
The jurisdiction of the standing joint committee under the Statutory Instruments Act allows it to examine and scrutinize every statutory instrument. It is not restricted to those statutory instruments that are regulations. It refers to any statutory instrument. There can be no doubt this is a much broader category than the category of instruments covered by the proposed definition of regulation in this bill.
Now, this being said, it doesn't necessarily mean it is not proper, in a way, to restrict the committee's jurisdiction to regulations. The current definition of statutory instrument covers instruments that are really not legislative in character. They are of an administrative nature. One has to wonder and query why a committee of Parliament would want to scrutinize this kind of instrument.
In this regard, the proposal in Bill C-84 to focus parliamentary scrutiny on the truly legislative category may be a good thing. How this legislative category has been defined may be open to question, and there may be adjustments there.
Generally, one talks numbers here. There can be no doubt that what may be reviewed by the committee under the Statutory Instruments Act, because it includes non-legislative material, is definitely a larger basket than what is in Bill C-84.
Mr. Lee: Would you agree with this, Ms Dawson?
Ms Dawson: Yes, I would agree with this. I was a little bit quick. The objective we've had is to winnow out the wheat from the chaff and this is basically why we made one definition here of regulation, which is broader than the definition of regulation in the Statutory Instruments Act.
We have not included the definition of statutory instrument, which is broader again. But what we've excluded or what we've attempted to exclude should not be very relevant to you. What I'm suggesting is we have, on the other hand, added some things to your jurisdiction that might well be relevant to you.
Mr. Lee: Okay. Of course I speak from a perspective that assumes there is no restriction anywhere in Parliament's jurisdiction or the jurisdiction of a properly mandated committee to take up any of this stuff at any time. It doesn't depend on statute. It would depend on Parliament's will or the mandate of a committee. Is this a fair statement as well?
Ms Dawson: Yes. Parliament can mandate its committees to do whatever it wants.
Mr. Lee: Yes.
I'll just run this by you or counsel. If the standing joint committee, as presently constituted, wished to look at some element of delegated legislation not by definition included in the Statutory Instruments Act, I don't think it would be a problem. But I'll ask you. Would this be within the SJC's mandate?
Ms Dawson: My bet is it probably wouldn't, but I don't have the details. I haven't looked at your mandate.
Mr. Lee: Okay. Let me ask counsel. Could I ask you this question?
Mr. Bernier: Well, I would say no, but then I have to qualify this no. Although departmental representatives have repeatedly asserted the committee may now look under Bill C-84 at the non-magic formula regulations, the standing joint committee has never accepted the Department of Justice interpretation of the words ``expressly authorize''.
As a matter of fact, the standing joint committee has continued to review instruments made under enabling clauses that did not include a magic formula. So from the department's point of view and from the point of view of their interpretation, they undoubtedly consider the bill would broaden the joint committee's jurisdiction in this regard.
From the joint committee's perspective, there is no change whatsoever in the status quo and there is no broadening. The committee has always acted on the understanding that as a committee of Parliament it was free to have its own interpretation of the relevant legislation and it believed its interpretation to be more correct. There is no change.
Mr. Lee: Okay. Is it your view, Ms Dawson, that there is nothing in the current legislation that would narrow the existing field of operation of the SJC as described by Mr. Bernier?
Ms Dawson: No. I think, as Mr. Bernier said, this has been a point of difference over the years between the Department of Justice and the committee.
Mr. Lee: Okay, but does this statute do anything to alter the SJC's current policy on this?
Ms Dawson: I believe the change in the legislation does have this effect, but it's the committee -
Mr. Lee: Okay, what effect? To shrink....
Ms Dawson: It would give access to the committee to those regulations that are not expressly authorized.
Mr. Lee: You mean authorized at the current time.
Ms Dawson: And this dispute as to the exact meaning of those words -
Mr. Lee: Okay. Is there anything in the statute now -
Ms Dawson: Do you mean the current statute?
Mr. Lee: I'm sorry. I mean in this Bill C-84 statute. Is there anything in it that would shrink the field of operation as described now by Mr. Bernier, the way it's really happening up to now? Is there anything in this bill that would cause the committee to shrink its current field of operation?
Ms Dawson: Again, as Mr. Bernier explained, we have attempted to take out material we don't think would be of particular interest to the committee. And by not reproducing the definition of ``statutory instrument'', we've basically produced a definition regulation that lies somewhere between the Statutory Instruments Act definition of ``statutory instrument'' and ``regulation''.
Mr. Lee: So your answer is yes. There is a shrinkage of the field of operation.
Ms Dawson: Yes, there is in administrative type of documents.
Mr. Lee: All right. Would you agree, Mr. Bernier, there is in Bill C-84 an impact in some way on the field of operations of the SJC that would shrink the quantity of delegated legislation from what is currently at hand?
Mr. Bernier: Yes. I'm sorry, not of delegated legislation.
Mr. Lee: I may be using the wrong term.
Mr. Bernier: It would shrink the quantity of documents subject to review by the scrutiny in a very small way, depending on how the definition turns out, and the quantity of delegated legislation, but not in any significant way.
The Chairman: You have one quick question and I think then we should be heading out.
Mr. Lee: Okay, for future reference then, would you just make note of this margin of difference so we can make reference to it later in case we need to? I guess I'd better stop now.
The Chairman: Yes, it might be wise to head to the vote. Mr. Bernier.
Mr. Bernier: I'd like to just ask one question very quickly for the record. At one point, Ms Dawson, you indicated Bill C-84 uses the magic formula only in relation to internal processes of government. I was wondering if perhaps you'd want to revisit this answer and agree with me that publication is not solely an internal government process.
Ms Dawson: Yes. There are three things happening there: the examination, the publication, and the registration.
Mr. Bernier: Now for the second clarification. On at least two occasions you mentioned regulation-making authorities view or perceive the SIA as an impediment to rapid change and so on. I note your use of the words ``perception'' and ``viewing''. I take it this is a subjective judgment with which one may disagree objectively. There are the three elements of process in the SIA: the examination of regulation, registration, and publication. I wonder whether, given these three elements, you would agree the element held responsible in large part for delays, inefficiencies, and so on is the examination element as opposed to the registration and publication elements.
Ms Dawson: Yes, I would agree with that.
Mr. Lee: Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order.
The Chairman: Yes, Mr. Lee.
Mr. Lee: I think we've made a good start here today, but I think I see another couple of hours of useful questioning. I think that could be at our next meeting, if possible. Following that, there will be the issue of witnesses. Perhaps we could suggest that you work with the clerk to nail down an agenda or a series of dates for meetings, and we may be able to collaborate informally on witnesses without having to actually meet.
The Chairman: That's certainly my intention.
I thank our witnesses from the Department of Justice. It has been an interesting discussion, and I look forward to seeing you again.
I think we had best adjourn this meeting.
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