Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, unfortunately I
was unable to participate yesterday in the tributes to my friend Peter Bosa.
The weather conditions in Toronto made it impossible for me to arrive here on
My friendship with Peter goes back some three decades - way before either one
of us was honoured with a summons to the Senate. Over the years, our paths
crossed frequently - socially, politically, in business and, more particularly,
in our community activities.
Peter was recognized, praised and rewarded for the many successes he achieved
during his lifetime. He took immense pride in serving his adopted country here
in the Senate of Canada. He loved being a senator, and he served exceptionally
Those of us who knew him a little better remember the total admiration and love
Peter had for his wife, Teresa, his children, Angela and Mark, and most
recently, his little grandson, Tommy. We recall the strength that he derived
from them and how grateful he was for their guidance, encouragement and
Peter Bosa was a man I admired very much. He was a person of dignity and of
gentlemanly behaviour. He was quiet but effective; he was fiercely partisan but
fair; he was loyal, considerate and caring to a fault.
Peter Bosa was an example for all Canadians. He loved his country. He was
dedicated to his job and to his community, and he put his family before all.
I thank him for his counsel, his guidance and his friendship. I, too, shall
miss him. Addio amico!
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, later this afternoon,
the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology will
meet for the purpose of electing a new deputy chairman in place of our
much-missed and much-loved colleague the Honourable Peter Bosa.
Upon assuming the chairmanship of this committee a couple of years ago, I was
delighted to find that Peter Bosa would be the deputy chairman. Our friendship
goes back 35 years to the 1960s when we were both on Parliament Hill as
political assistants for our respective parties. Throughout all of that time,
we had come in contact on many occasions. I knew him as a person with a great
love for his country and for the institutions of our democracy; a partisan, but
always an intelligent and fair-minded partisan.
Those of us who attended Senator Bosa's funeral in Toronto just before
Christmas were able to observe something of the high esteem in which he was
held by his fellow citizens in the large turnout of people at the funeral.
Peter Bosa and I had a habit of wagering on elections. The first such wager was
for the federal election of November 1965. The last such wager was for the
federal election of 1997. It was made while we were both attending the official
opening of the fixed link in Charlottetown, a few days before that election.
There are many reasons, official, political and personal, that cause me to have
the greatest sadness at Peter Bosa's passing. I simply want to record my own
sadness, and the appreciation of my colleagues on the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for his contribution to our
Need to Increase Minimum Flight
Path Elevation over Gulf Islands, British Columbia
Hon. Pat Carney: Honourable senators, on January 13, 1999,
a DC-3 cargo plane flying from Vancouver to Victoria crashed into a residential
area on Mayne Island, one of British Columbia's Gulf Islands. Sadly, both crew
members were killed. Fortunately, the nearby house which was clipped by the
plane on the way down was vacant at the time, and no one on the ground was
This is not the first crash in the region. Three months ago, another cargo
plane flying to Vancouver Island from Surrey crashed into Saltspring Island,
killing its two pilots.
The Gulf Islands lie directly under the flight path between B.C.'s Lower
Mainland and Vancouver Island, including Victoria. This is one of the most
rapidly growing air travel routes in Canada, yet current regulations dictate
that planes may fly as low as 500 feet over the southern Gulf Islands. By
contrast, residential areas in many other parts of B.C. and Canada have a
1,000-foot minimum height with a 2,000-foot advisory height.
The Gulf Islands are home to many residential areas and are well populated,
particularly during the summer months when thousands of tourists visit the
islands to kayak, bicycle, hike and bird-watch. The islands are renowned for
their unique natural environment, and are home to some of Canada's finest
nature reserves. This special nature was recognized in 1974 under the B.C.
government's Islands Trust Act.
Until recently, the Gulf Islands were also renowned for their tranquility. The
increase in air traffic over the area at 500 feet has resulted in so much noise
that residents cannot hear telephone conversations, and many tourists have said
they will not come back.
For the past five years, John Terrett of Pender Island has been waging a
campaign to change regulations on flight altitudes over the islands. The day
after the crash on Mayne Island, my office delivered a petition to the office
of the Honourable David Collenette, Minister of Transport. The petition, which
was circulated by Mayne Islanders Peter Wallbridge and John Terrett, argued
for a much higher elevation, above 2,500 feet, to maintain a minimum level of
peace and safety in the region. They also argued that all aircraft landing at
the islands be required to approach over water, and that propeller-driven
aircraft be required to use three-bladed propellers, a quieter system already
used by float plane companies on the American west coast.
Many people signed this petition including many pilots. When sent to Minister
Collenette in January, over 1,100 islanders had signed on.
Honourable senators, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr.
Terrett and Mr. Wallbridge for their work on behalf of Gulf Islanders, and also
to urge the government to adopt the terms of this petition, to protect the
beauty and the rich natural heritage of the Gulf Islands, to promote quiet and
safety in the region by increasing the minimum flying height to 2,500 feet, by
having all aircraft that land on the island approach over water, and by
requiring a minimum of three blades on all propellers for all propeller-driven
The issue here is not simply noise and the environment; it is, of course, the
safety of the pilots and the passengers who fly.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, I would like
to speak to you about the state of the snow crab fishery, which is directly
affecting the fishers of New Brunswick and the Gaspé.
Coastal fishers generally catch lobster, herring, scallops and mackerel, and
before the moratorium, groundfish as well. Although they have been hit hard,
they continue to ply their trade under difficult conditions.
These fishers, who generally work close to the coast, wish to catch snow crabs
in zone 12, more specifically in what is known as the Shediac Valley and
It seems obvious that there are abundant resources there to allow the fishers
to harvest snow crab in these areas. A good number of snow crab die of old age
every year. This is one reason the fishers wish to access this resource which
is not being fully exploited. We are allowing the snow crabs to die of old age,
instead of letting the coastal fishers harvest them.
The proposal is to open up these zones to these fishers, who would fish
responsibly, without posing any threat or disturbance to the healthy balance of
the abundant stocks.
Honourable senators, for this reason I support allowing the coastal fishers of
New Brunswick and the Gaspé to also have fair access to the snow crab
fishery in these regions, and to prove that a responsible harvest, in keeping
with the principles of good management and conservation, is possible and indeed
Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee
Initiative for Debt Relief for Third World
Hon. Lois M. Wilson: Honourable senators, I am glad to be
back in the Senate chamber after a December-long meeting of the Assembly of the
World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe. At that meeting, at which the
Vatican as well as representatives of sister faiths were present, the 325
churches, Protestant and Orthodox, stated that they:
...appealed to the leaders of the G-8 nations to recognize the urgent need to
cancel the debts of the poorest countries to enable them to enter the new
millennium with a fresh start.
I wish, therefore, to draw to the attention of senators to the Canadian
Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative for Debt Relief, launched on Parliament Hill and
in major cities across Canada last fall. This is an internationally supported
proposal initiated by ecumenical organizations and non-government organizations
worldwide, and strongly supported by a wide spectrum of Canadian counterparts.
The goal of this worldwide initiative is to give leadership to the Canadian
face of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, the goal of which is to cancel the debts of
the world's most impoverished countries by the year 2000. I believe meeting
this goal will be an important step towards addressing the massive inequalities
that currently deform global relationships. I am greatly encouraged by the
response of citizens across this country. The jubilee initiative has shared
information with the Canadian government on the countries we feel are urgently
in need of debt cancellation and how this could be implemented. We see the
bilateral debt cancellation as an extraordinary, one-time measure reflecting
the need to right the imbalance of global relationships and eliminating the
huge debt that continues to undermine progress towards sustainable social
The jubilee initiative is also deeply concerned about the deep cuts to
development assistance over the past six years, when our aid has been reduced
from 0.45 per cent of the GNP in the early 1990s to just 0.27 per cent in 1998,
an all-time low. We see the need to establish a clear timetable to move Canada
steadily forward to a target of 0.35 per cent of the GNP by 2003, beginning,
we hope, with the upcoming federal budget.
We hope that Canada will demonstrate its leadership on the world stage in
addressing global inequalities by advocating these two measures. The upcoming
Cologne G-8 summit is a key opportunity for Canadian leadership on the
jubilee's call for debt cancellation.
The kind of initiatives the jubilee supports represents international
solidarity in a vision of a just and inclusive Canada, a Canada that can with
integrity give bold leadership to the world as we approach the millennium.
Ethical Legal Dilemma- Review of
Issues by Special Senate Committee
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, recently, the
Latimer case, now on appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the
charge of murder brought against Dr. Nancy Morrison of Halifax, Nova Scotia,
for allegedly killing a terminally-ill cancer patient have brought an
ethical-legal question to the forefront of Canada's public policy discussions.
Is the termination of a person's life by someone who believes that they are
acting on compassionate grounds an act of murder as defined by the Criminal
Code or an act of mercy that should not only go unpunished but should be
regarded as an act of comfort and care toward one who is terminally ill? And
what about the Judeo-Christian doctrine about the sanctity of life?
As senators will appreciate, some view the choosing of the timing and the
manner of death as an individual right. Others clearly do not.
In the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Rodriguez case, the late
Mr. Justice Sopinka, a great champion of individual rights, stated:
The principle of sanctity of life is no longer seen to require that all human
life be preserved at all costs. Rather, it has come to be understood, at least
by some, as encompassing quality of life considerations, and to be subject to
certain limitations and qualifications reflective of personal autonomy and
The Rodriguez, Latimer and Morrison cases have forced
the courts to become more involved in the ethical-legal dilemma of balancing
the state's interests in the preservation and protection of human life with the
effect that continuing that life might have on both the patient and the
To this point, the courts have refrained from attempting to rewrite the
existing sections of the Criminal Code through judicial interpretation and have
affirmed, at least in the
Latimer case, the rights of society's most vulnerable members against
intentional killing. In the Morrison case in Halifax, Nova Scotia,
there was insufficient evidence to show that Dr. Morrison had caused the death
in question. Therefore, the courts were able to avoid the issue of determining
a suitable punishment for what might have been classified as a mercy killing
by a physician.
I believe the issue of intentional murder versus justifiable or necessary mercy
killing needs to be resolved by parliamentarians before the courts substitute
their own views on this issue. The Senate is the only legislative body capable
of assuming a leading role in this matter. We now have a public policy vacuum.
It cries out for aid from the chamber of sober second thought.
As legislators, we must realize we are faced with an ethical-legal issue. Some
would argue that compassion for the sick and disabled should focus on
alleviating suffering and pain, not terminating the life of the person who is
suffering, while others, with specific reference to both the Latimer
Morrison cases, would argue that death, through whatever means it is
achieved, is preferable to a suffering, disabled life and that those who wish
to bring about an end to such a life should be protected by the law.
Honourable senators, perhaps it is time to reconstitute the Special Senate
Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide to review the issues raised by
both the Morrison and Latimer cases and present a report to
this chamber which could be used as a basis for amendments to the Criminal
Triumph of Nova Scotia Rink at
National Mixed Championship
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to
make a statement in recognition of the achievement of Paul Flemming and his
rink, of the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax, Nova Scotia, upon winning the
Canadian Mixed Curling Championship at Victoria, British Columbia, on Sunday,
January 17, 1999. The winning rink included Paul as skip, Colleen Jones as
mate, lead Monica Moriarty, and second Tom Fetterly. In Cinderella fashion, the
Nova Scotia rink downed Ontario in a sudden death semi-final on Sunday
afternoon and went on to win the national title over Prince Edward Island that
In addition to this championship, Paul Flemming was named the all-star skip in
this national event, and he was also awarded the Sportsmanship Award, a
recognition voted upon by all players. It is also worthy of note that this
title marked the fourth such in the past seven years to be won by Nova Scotia.
I extend our sincere congratulations to Paul Flemming and the members of his
Allegations of Corruption against
Members-Need for Reorganization of Committee
Hon. Norman K. Atkins: Honourable senators, I wish to
address the recent revelations of corruption in the International Olympic
I speak from the experience of being involved on the bid steering committee for
the City of Toronto for both Expo 2000 and Expo '98, and my friend Senator
Austin was a member of both of those bid committees. In neither bid was the
City of Toronto successful. While these bids are not like Olympic bids, I
formed the opinion at that time that too much attention was paid to meeting the
needs and desires of representatives of the countries empowered to determine
the winning bid.
This experience led me to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Axworthy,
when he appeared in Committee of the Whole last December on Bill S-21, the
Corruption of Foreign Officials Act, the following question:
I am curious as to whether a bid for the IOC - that is, the International
Olympic Committee - although it is not under the definition of "business,"
would apply to this law.
The answer I received from the minister was as follows:
I always thought that involved sport, not business. In today's world, who
knows. That is my answer. I am sorry, senator. I do not think it would apply in
I followed with a supplementary question:
My understanding is that there are non-profit organizations that are charitable
- that is, they are recognized by Revenue Canada as being allowed to collect
money and issue receipts for income tax deductions - and then there are
non-profit organizations that are not charitable. For example, the Olympic
corporation is probably a non-profit organization, and many sports
organizations are run as non-profit organizations. In other words, as a
non-profit organization you can carry on business anywhere you want like any
other corporation. Internationally, I am sure there are many non-profit
organizations that are doing business, including some that are charitable and
some that are not. Will those be covered?
The answer to this supplementary only confirmed the original answer that the
Olympic committee was not covered. Minister Axworthy stated:
I have no doubt there may be other transgressions of the kind you describe.
They are presently not addressed in this bill. The main concern for us was to
deal with the growing incidence of corruption and how it impeded business. From
the discussions we have had with the business community in Canada, it was
their concern as well that we tackle that specific problem in this legislation.
That is why questions about non-profit organizations were not included. There
would only be an attachment if there were an attempt to use a non-profit
organization as a front or to commit conspiracy against the act. It would then
be part of the investigation that the police and justice officials would
It is indeed unfortunate that this new statute does not touch the International
From my experience with bids for international events, I believe fairness in
the determination of the ultimate winner will not occur until there is full
disclosure of all facets of all competing bids. There must be transparency in
the deliberation of the Olympic committee, as well as transparency in their
It is time to revamp and reform the whole Olympic committee system. It is also
time that both Dick Pound, our Canadian representative, and the chairman of the
committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, seriously consider tendering their
It defies logic that Mr. Pound did not know of, or at least suspect, widespread
corruption, since he himself was the object of a bribery attempt. As for the
Chairman of the IOC, he must be held accountable. He must accept responsibility
for what has occurred during his tenure.
Honourable senators, those proposing Olympic bids from Canada should demand
full disclosure and a level playing field for all competing bids, just as we
demand a level playing field for all competitors.
Opening of New Premises for
Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research in Fredericton,
Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, tomorrow
will be a very proud day for the University of New Brunswick, the Muriel
McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research and the Muriel McQueen
Fergusson Foundation. Tomorrow afternoon the centre will officially open its
new home in Fredericton. Its new building was made possible by donations to
UNB's Venture Campaign and is designed to provide increased space for
researchers and visitors.
The centre was founded, as I mentioned yesterday, in 1992, and currently has 19
research teams and more than 200 researchers from across Atlantic Canada
working toward the reduction and ultimate eradication of family violence.
Yesterday, I described many of its research projects in my remarks relating to
Senator Carstairs' inquiry on family violence. I should like to expand on one
additional aspect of the centre's work. The centre and UNB jointly developed
and offer the UNB Certificate in Family Violence Issues. That program is aimed
primarily at individuals who encounter family violence through their work, and
who are seeking to broaden their knowledge and skills in this field. Examples
include transition house workers, social workers, police, clergy, health care
workers, legal professionals and many others.
Honourable senators, the new building will allow the centre to better carry on
its action-oriented research and public education work on family violence,
which is of great benefit to the Atlantic region as well as to the entire
I know that all honourable senators join me in applauding UNB, the Muriel
McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research and the Muriel McQueen
Fergusson Foundation for their efforts to rid our society of this most
insidious and widespread ill.
Interim Report of Special
Committee-Confirmation of Tabling-Motion for Consideration
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I wish to
inform the Senate that, pursuant to the order of the Senate made on Thursday,
June 18, 1998, I tabled with the Clerk of the Senate on Thursday, January 28,
1999, the interim report of the Special Senate Committee on Transportation
Safety and Security.
Honourable senators, I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day
for consideration on Thursday, February 18, 1999.
First Bilateral Meeting held in
Beijing, China- Report of Canadian Delegation Tabled
Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule
23(6), I have the honour to present to the Senate, in both official languages,
the report of the Canadian delegation to the Canada-China Legislative
Association regarding its first bilateral meeting, which took place in Beijing,
China, from November 13 to 21, 1998. The Senate colleagues who accompanied me
were Senator John Buchanan, Senator Pat Carney and Senator Thelma Chalifoux. I
am co-chair of the association.
In addition to the formal consultations held in Beijing, the delegation
travelled to Dalian and Lanzhou to explore trade, cultural, tourism and
political dimensions to the Canada-China relationship.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to interrupt the honourable
senator, but if he wishes to make a statement, it should be introduced as an
inquiry, when the Senate will be pleased to hear from him.
Senator Austin: I was simply following the precedents that I
saw on page 2053 of the Debates of the Senate of October 27, 1998.
The Hon. the Speaker: I shall look at the precedent.
Notice of Motion to Authorize
Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee to Extend Date of Final Report on Study
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, I give notice that
on Thursday next, February 4, 1999, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the motion adopted by the Senate on Thursday, December
10, 1998, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be
authorized to extend the date for the presentation of its final report on the
state of the financial system in Canada from February 28, 1999 to December 31,
That, notwithstanding usual practices, if the Senate is not sitting when the
report is completed, the Committee be authorised to deposit it with the Clerk
of the Senate, and that the said report shall thereupon be deemed to have been
tabled in the Chamber.
Use of Relabelled Anthrax
Vaccine during Recent Persian Gulf Exercise-Court Martial of Sergeant for
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, it has been reported that an internal
memo at the Department of National Defence speaks to the use of an anthrax
vaccine by the department during the Persian Gulf crisis last year. In
addition, there is a report issued by the Food and Drug Administration of the
United States which also expresses concerns about this drug.
Among the concerns is that the anthrax vaccine that was injected into Canadian
soldiers was a vaccine that was relabelled from 1991 with labels of 1997 and
1998. To date we have no idea if Canadian soldiers were vaccinated with this
relabelled anthrax vaccine, and we wish to learn from the Leader of the
Government whether Canadian troops received the relabelled anthrax vaccine. If
they did, what steps have been taken to determine whether this relabelled
vaccine has posed a health threat to our troops?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. I am not aware of any relabelling of
material from 1991 to 1998.
I can say that the Minister of National Defence has personally assured me that
any vaccine injected into members of our armed forces was indeed safe. The
vaccine given to CF members in the Persian Gulf was tested for potency, safety,
sterility and purity.
I understand that the manufacturer was Michigan Biological Products Institute,
and that they conducted the testing in January and March of 1998. The
independent American contractor Mitreteck oversaw the testing and verified the
results. I understand that the results of the testing confirmed that the
vaccine was both safe and effective.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question. To particularize this matter, it has been reported that Sergeant Mike
Kipling has been charged with disobeying an order by refusing to submit to
inoculation with this anthrax vaccine. Sergeant Kipling refused the vaccine
because it had not been sanctioned by Health Canada for general use. The
concern is that this vaccine may be linked to the Gulf War syndrome.
My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is: Will the
government be reconsidering their policy of forced inoculations for Canadian
troops in these kinds of circumstances?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, the current policy
regarding mandatory immunization was designed to ensure that all Canadian
Forces personnel are protected both for their own safety and for the safety of
With respect to the particular case that has been raised by Senator Kinsella
regarding Sergeant Kipling, I understand that the decision to charge Sergeant
Kipling and proceed to a court martial was taken after very careful examination
of the case and was in accordance with current military law. As the matter is
before the court, I believe it would be inappropriate for me to a make any
Dispatch of Peacekeeping Forces
to Kosovo-Possibility of Debate in Senate on Issue-Government Position
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators,
Parliament's role in the approval of Canadian Armed Forces action outside of
Canada in the various roles of peacekeeping, peacemaking and so on is a matter
of more than just passing interest. With respect to international conflicts and
in reviewing the government's decision to place the military on active service,
we should re-examine or revisit these policies. We should do so not only for
Parliament's protection, but also to clarify the complex territory that we are
moving into by failing to deal with it once and for all.
The situation in Kosovo is grave. We have witnessed a massacre and daily
fighting. With the spring season a matter of weeks away, mobility will again
give rise to more active campaigning on all sides of that conflict. The Prime
Minister has said that we might send troops in addition to the CF-18s based in
Italy. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that this would happen only if
the UN Security Council approved it. The Minister of Defence has said that it
would not be an aggressive military force, but rather a peacekeeping force, as
in Bosnia that, I might add, has cost many lives.
Honourable senators, we do not know what we are getting into, whether it is an
invasion or a ceasefire. We do not know how the troops will get out. The list
is endless. We are encountering a situation that might very well start out as
peacekeeping but in a few short weeks could turn into outright war. How will we
get our troops into Kosovo and out again? Under whose command will they be? Who
will feed them and who will lead them through this operation? We do not even
know who will for this action. We do have enough money to pay for snow removal
in Toronto, but how are we going to pay for this proposed visit to Kosovo? I do
not oppose this action in Kosovo, as the humanitarian concerns are too
My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is: Can he assure
this chamber that there will be a debate in the other place prior to a decision
Notwithstanding the answer to that question, could I get an undertaking that a
platform will be provided to allow members of the Senate of Canada to express
their views, particularly on the very complex question of what we do with
troops on foreign soil under a number of different situations and categories?
Any senator could initiate an inquiry for debate, but it would have much more
weight and influence if it were to come about as a result of an initiative of
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): The
honourable senator raises an interesting point. We are determined to take all
possible and necessary action through the United Nations, NATO and the OSCE to
pressure both sides to end the violence and find a peaceful solution to the
Canada has always been willing to back up its words with action when it has
come to conflict in the Balkans. At this stage, as my honourable friend would
recognize, the focus is on diplomacy. It is too early to speculate on what form
a Canadian military contribution to resolving the situation might take.
I am sure that before the government takes the kind of very extensive measures
suggested by my honourable friend, Parliament will be consulted. In that sense,
if there is to be a debate in the other place, as we have a consultative
process, we could also have a debate in this chamber.
Senator Forrestall: I thank the Leader of the Government in the
Senate for that response. Would he not agree with me that the events in the
other place are dictated by certain circumstances that do not restrict the
Senate in conducting an open and public debate? The arguments, pro and con,
with respect to Canada's approach to peacekeeping, peace maintenance and
peacemaking are difficult ones which require active service designations, and
other complex resolutions. Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate not
agree that we might be able to serve the question well by initiating that
debate in this chamber?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, we could very well do
that. Honourable Senator Forrestall could initiate the debate through an
With regard to Canada's situation with respect to its equipment and personnel,
we have currently deployed six CF-18s to Italy as part of NATO's reponse to the
conflict. In addition, we have 32 unarmed personnel serving with the OSCE to
verify the ceasefire agreement of last October. Beyond that, we have
approximately 1,250 personnel serving with NATO's stabilization force in
The Department of National Defence is currently examining options for a
Canadian contribution to a NATO implementation force for Kosovo, should the
negotiations produce an agreement.
Last Saturday, NATO implemented the activation orders for its aircraft
currently in the region. This action led to an immediate increase in allied air
activity on the periphery of Kosovo. NATO has declared, although not yet
enforced, a no-fly zone over Kosovo. Implementation of the activation orders
will also bring NATO aircraft and cruise missile-launching ships to a state of
readiness that would allow them to immediately enforce a no-fly zone over
Kosovo, and carry out initial air strikes.
One event I should also point out to Senator Forrestall and to all honourable
senators is that the negotiations between the parties are scheduled to start no
later than this coming Friday, February 5. The foreign ministers of France and
the United Kingdom would co-chair the negotiations, with a view to granting
Kosovo a significant degree of autonomy, while remaining within the boundaries
of the Yugoslav Republic.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, the minister, of
course, is aware that I could very easily initiate this kind of debate, and I
probably will. I reiterate, however, that I think it would be much stronger and
much more forceful if it came from the government side.
I do so because a future conflict might very well be more like the Korean
situation, where U.S. and other allied forces were engaged with the enemy, and
were brought under great stress. They were being pushed back to the sea. There
was no time for confirmation by Parliament of the change in status before
Canadian troops had to enter the action.
It is to take advantage of that window of time that I again call upon the
government to initiate a debate, to the degree that those who are interested
Senator Graham: Let us then put the time frame in perspective.
As I indicated, negotiations are set to start no later than this coming Friday,
February 5, and they are to be led by the foreign ministers of France and the
United Kingdom. The two parties, as I understand, would have seven days to
agree on the main components of the deal, at which point NATO and the contact
group would assess whether sufficient progress had been made to forestall any
military action. If so, the two parties would have no more than seven days to
resolve the remaining issues. If not, either side would face the prospect of
military action on the part of NATO to bring an end to the conflict.
The other place had a full and useful discussion on the situation in Kosovo
last fall as part of the decision to deploy the CF-18s overseas. As I
indicated, we on this side would welcome - within a reasonable time frame, an
inquiry or a discussion into Canada's role in that very important conflict in
that part of the world.
At this point, it may seem a bit too early to say what our military
contribution might be and, as a result, what form parliamentary consultation
might take. However, recognizing the interest of all honourable senators in
this particular subject, the debate could begin by initiating an inquiry.
Readiness of Helicopters and
Equipment for Military and Search and Rescue Missions-Consideration of Leasing
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is
also to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It relates indirectly to
what Senator Forrestall has asked because, according to the information that I
have been given, the Prime Minister has pledged Canada to a supportive military
Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate not read the recent report of
the House of Commons Defence Committee dealing with the substandard conditions
of the standard of living for military families? Is he not aware of the level
of obsolescence of our military equipment? Does the government not know that
the Canadian military does not have the logistical capability of even getting
the people there, as Senator Forrestall said, let alone getting them out? In
fact, things are so bad that on the north shore of Vancouver, efforts to
retrieve the body of an 11-year-old boy had to be put on hold for several hours
because of mechanical failure of the CH-118 Labradors. As a matter of fact,
there was a graphic picture of an airman sitting beside his CH-118, and a
picture of the scene of the accident.
How can we expect our military to play a role in armed confrontation halfway
around the world if we cannot even rescue a small boy? Is the Leader of the
Government aware of that particular incident?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, yes, I read about that very regrettable incident. I know the feelings
of the Minister of National Defence. As a result of the continual reminders I
receive in this chamber - and appropriately so - I suppose that, around the
cabinet table, no one supports him more than the Leader of the Government in
the Senate in his efforts to improve not only the standard of living for our
Armed Forces personnel, but also the equipment they are supposed to operate.
The story about the 11-year-old boy is very regrettable. I discussed this
matter with the Minister of National Defence yesterday and again this morning.
The conversation was not specifically related to the incident involving the
11-year-old boy but to the equipment in general. He told me that he is
satisfied with the reports from the military officers and those who are
Again, I acknowledge that the Minister of National Defence and the government
must take the ultimate responsibility. However, the minister assures me that
the Labradors and Sea Kings are being checked every day, and that Armed Forces
personnel would not be permitted to fly in unsafe aircraft.
The minister himself, while on the West Coast last week, flew in a Labrador,
and when he was in the United States earlier in the week, he flew in a
30-year-old Sea King with the Chief of Air Defence on the Atlantic coast.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I believe completely
what the Leader of the Government in the Senate is saying. However, in spite of
the safe feelings, the issue is that the aircraft are not serviceable under
certain conditions. They do not start up and they do not operate. This is not a
question of harassment of the minister or of the cabinet. This is a question of
safety on the West Coast.
I live on the West Coast and the minister lives on the East Coast. He knows the
challenges faced by Search and Rescue and the people who are exposed to these
situations. Why is it that this government can spend over $100 million on
firearms registration that will not change a blessed thing in the world, and
yet they cannot lease a couple of helicopters to at least make it safe for the
crews and the people who live in these areas, such as the fishermen and the
people who operate tugboats?
I cannot believe that the Leader of the Government would stand in his place and
say that because the minister rode in an aircraft that the aircraft is safe. I
will ride in one tomorrow morning, too, but that does not mean that they are
serviceable under the conditions in which they are required to operate.
Would the Leader of the Government please tell honourable senators whether
serious consideration has been given to leasing, and whether anything is being
done in that regard?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I can say that leasing has
not been ruled out as one of the options.
Participation in Proposed United
States Ballistic Missile Defence Initiative-Possibility of Debate in Senate on
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, can the Leader of
the Government in the Senate confirm that the Government of Canada will retain
its firm opposition to participating in the possible creation by the U.S. of a
missile defence system in North America, otherwise known as "Star Wars,"
and that Canada will make clear to the U.S. that such action will violate the
ABM Treaty, set back the implementation of START II, and set off a renewed
nuclear arms race? Will the leader ensure that the February 1 article in the
important journal Aviation Week and Space Technology describing Star
Wars as the path to "strategic hell" is distributed to the relevant
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, it is easy to answer the last part of the question with a "yes."
Perhaps I could call upon the very experienced Senator Roche to help me with
respect to the list of "relevant Canadian decision-makers."
With respect to the first part of the question, I believe it is accurate to say
that the government has not made a decision to participate in U.S. programs to
field a ballistic missile defence system for North America. That decision will
be made by the government, not by officials.
At the same time, the government has clearly stated that Canadian officials
will monitor developments in this area and consult with their U.S. counterparts
so that the government can make an informed decision on Canadian participation,
if and when the time comes.
Senator Roche: Honourable senators, I thank the government
leader for his invitation to present my suggestions to him, and I will do so in
the form of a letter.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate says that the government has not
made a decision on this matter. It must be emphasized that even contemplating
such a measure is a direct violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Since the cost to the Canadian taxpayer for the scheme being discussed could be
$600 million, at a time when the Canadian Armed Forces are not being paid
properly and when, as we have been hearing recently, equipment needs to be
upgraded, will the leader ensure that a government sponsored debate will take
place in the Senate before any government action is taken on such a missile
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, that could be part of the
debate that Senator Forrestall was suggesting. It could be a more wide-ranging
On a specific point, Senator Roche cited the figure of $600 million, which I
believe is a figure carried in one of the newspapers today. I believe that
story is misleading on several points. In the first instance, the $600 million
figure, which would be spent over 12 years, refers to what I believe is called
the department's joint space project. This is a group of space-related
programs focused on communications and surveillance that would serve a variety
of Canadian Forces needs.
By way of example, a large component of the project is a space-based
communications system to serve the Army's needs, not to facilitate the
interception of ballistic missiles.
The story suggests that the military is gradually easing Canada toward
participating in a U.S. program which, during the 1980s, received only a
lukewarm reception from the Canadian government. In fact, the development
programs currently under consideration in the United States are much more
modest than the comprehensive defence against thousands of ballistic missiles
which characterized the Reagan years.
The arms control issue raised by BMD programs has also become far less acute.
The government clearly set out the changing nature of these issues in what
everyone refers to as the 1994 National Defence white paper as part of the
renewal of the North American aerospace defence NORAD agreement in 1996.
Use of Relabelled Anthrax
Vaccine during Recent Persian Gulf Exercise-Court Martial of Sergeant for
Refusal-Possibility of Withdrawal of Charges- Government Position
Hon. Norman K. Atkins: Honourable senators, my question is
directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is a supplementary
question with regard to Sergeant Kipling.
Would it not be appropriate for the military to withdraw its charges against
Sergeant Kipling in view of the intelligence that we now have?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the charge was laid by the military forces, and I do not think the
government would want to micromanage that situation. The matter is before the
courts and, as I indicated earlier, I am reluctant to comment on something
which is currently before the courts.
Senator Atkins: Honourable senators, the fact is that when
Sergeant Kipling was charged the information that is now public was not known.
Therefore, should the military not reconsider its actions?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, in the information I
relayed to the chamber earlier, I indicated that there were no adverse or
negative effects from the anthrax injection. Indeed, we were assured by those
responsible that it was safe.
Announcement of Mine Closings in
Cape Breton-Lack of Consultations with Local Community Leaders-Government
Hon. John Buchanan: Honourable senators, last week was a
very difficult and traumatic week for Cape Bretoners and many other Nova
Scotians. I know it was a traumatic week for the Leader of the Government in
the Senate, myself, Senator Murray, and others who over the years have had a
relationship to the coal industry through our families.
I look back on the coal industry with great nostalgia, as does Senator Graham.
However, with the announcements that were made last week, it appears that the
coal industry of Cape Breton is slowly but surely being phased out, and that is
extremely upsetting to the whole community.
Not many weeks ago, the minister promised consultations with community leaders,
the Cape Breton regional municipalities, unions and church leaders. Why did he
go to Cape Breton and make the major announcement of the closing of one mine
within one to two years and the phasing out of another over the next five to
seven years after privatization without consulting the leaders in the Cape
Breton community as he promised he would?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I understand the very strong feelings the Honourable Senator Buchanan
has in this regard, and they are no greater than my own.
On January 11, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Natural Resources, who
is also the minister responsible for Devco, Mr. Joe Shannon, the Chairman of
the Board of Directors of Devco, and I visited and had extensive discussions
with the four unions involved in Devco operations. We subsequently met with
At the time, Mr. Steve Drake, President of the United Mine Workers, submitted
and discussed a plan for the continued operations of Devco. That plan was
examined by the minister and his officials. It was also referred to Devco
management and the board of directors for careful examination. Every item
raised by Mr. Drake in his plan was responded to by the minister.
Unfortunately, the analysis indicated that it was not viable to continue the
operations of the Phalen mine beyond 2000.
There is a block of coal in 8 East which would be feasible to get out, barring
any unforeseen circumstances, such as a geological problem. Beyond that, it was
determined that the other option of mining 1A would be, regrettably, not
Thus, the government had to make a decision, Senator Buchanan. It was not a
window of opportunity but, perhaps, what might be called a window of necessity.
Someone had to make a very difficult decision under very difficult
circumstances, and that is what took place.
Last Thursday, we met with management and the unions. Many family members were
also there and, as you know, we had a public press conference. Then, on
Thursday night, I met with the mayor and all the councillors of the Regional
Municipality of Cape Breton. On Friday morning, we met with members of the
community - business leaders, the clergy, and so on. Senator Buchanan has some
idea of what community means in Cape Breton.
We gave a solid undertaking to the regional municipality, the community and the
unions that there would be consultation with respect to the future of Devco as
an entity, and with respect to the issue of privatization. We also discussed
how that privatization process, which will be transparent, should proceed.
We also ensured and undertook on behalf of the government that there would be
consultations with all of the stakeholders and the community concerning future
regional economic development measures.
Honourable senators, it was a most difficult time. A most difficult decision
was taken after weeks and, indeed, months of agonizing over this particular
problem. We had to determine whether or not the future of Cape Breton rested in
coal alone or whether we had to look for other opportunities to diversify the
economy. That is exactly what we were doing.
Ultimately, on the advice of management and the board of directors, we had to
take the course of action that we did. We determined that it would not be
economically feasible to continue mining coal at Phalen beyond 2000.
Senator Buchanan: Honourable senators, I understand decisions
and how difficult they can be. However, I also understand the word "consultation"
does not mean "just a few hours." The minister has heard the
complaint. It is that the consultations that had been promised are now being
held after the fact. The announcement was made last week about the closure of
Phalen and the privatization of Prince, if Premier MacLellan will agree to the
transfer of licences or leases, which he has said at this point that he will
not do, unless there is proper consultation and unless proper conditions are
met. However, I am told that the consultations that the minister mentions took
place less than a week and a half before the announcements were made.
The other problem is that many people in the mining industry thought that the
plan put forward by the unions for the Phalen colliery appeared to be very
good. Yet, within less than a week and a half or two weeks of that plan being
submitted to Mr. Goodale, it was rejected out of hand by the federal
government, and an announcement was made that Phalen would close.
The other thing that is very disconcerting is that just last year in hearings
of the Special Senate Committee on the Cape Breton Development Corporation we
were told by Devco that the Phalen colliery would have a longevity of 8 to 10
and, perhaps, 12 years. That was just a little over one year ago. Yet, all of a
sudden, the Phalen colliery is to close within 18 to 24 months. In fact, as the
minister is well aware, Devco has now announced that Phalen may close at any
time. They sent a memo to that effect.
How can one possibly say less than one year and a few months ago that they will
stay open for 8, 10 or 12 years and then suddenly say that it will close within
18 to 24 months, and maybe sooner than that, without any long-term
consultations with business leaders? I watched them. I have spoken to some of
the business and community leaders, including the mayor, all of whom say that
really they were not given as much information as they thought they would
receive before the announcement was made. It is fine now to say that
consultations will be held before privatization takes place. That is something
like closing the barn door after the horse gets out.
There is a lot of concern, honourable senators, about this matter. I know that
the minister is concerned. He grew up in a Cape Breton mining family, as did I.
Why were the consultations not carried out over a period of weeks, perhaps, as
opposed to one day and a couple of nights? Why was Premier MacLellan himself
not totally versed on the content of the announcements? He also says that he
was unaware of some parts of those announcements; and he is the Premier of the
great Province of Nova Scotia!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to inform the
Senate that Question Period is substantially over. Therefore, could the
response be short? I cannot accept any further questions.
Senator Buchanan: We will continue it tomorrow.
Senator Graham: Premier MacLellan is, indeed, a great premier
following in the wake of great premiers who preceded him.
With respect to consultation, the Senate itself did great work. I refer, of
course, to the Special Senate Committee on the Cape Breton Development
Corporation which held comprehensive consultations. Senator Buchanan was a part
of them, as was Senator Murray.
Honourable senators, there is a question of safety here. There is also a
question of timing. The timing to take a decision of this nature is never
right. However, in order to get the package for the community which is there
now, which includes -
Your Honour, I beg you to give me just a few seconds to complete my answer, and
then we can carry on tomorrow.
The information the committee had was that the Phalen mine would be viable for
another 8 to 10 years. When we met with the union on January 11, Mr. Drake, the
President of the United Mine Workers, said that the most we could get out of
Phalen mine was four years and, perhaps, five maximum; and out of Prince, we
could expect 10 years. He is on the record as having said that.
Senator Buchanan: He was on the record of the committee, too,
as having said that, as well as pushing for the Donkin mine.
Senator Graham: With respect to Premier MacLellan, I am at a
loss to know what information Premier MacLellan did not have and that the
community was not given on Thursday and Friday.
In 1990-91, when members opposite were part of the previous government, Mr. Tom
Hockin indicated that the mines had to become economically feasible and operate
as a business. The government had advanced at that time something in the order
of $155 million. As a matter of fact, Mr. Hockin said that the new five-year
plan was a result of unprecedented union management cooperation. The plan
called for elimination of federal government subsidies to Devco by 1995.
Senator Buchanan: I remember that very well.
Senator Graham: In 1996, the present government advanced a loan
of $69 million to Devco. Under the plan announced last week, that $69 million,
which had been given in 1996, has been written off by the Government of Canada.
In addition, just before the Christmas break, I announced in this chamber on
behalf of the government that a further $41 million was being advanced to the
corporation to carry it through the fiscal year to March 31, 1999. That amount
is also being written off. There is then an additional $40 million which we
had to find to carry the operations of Devco through to the year 2000.
I will be prepared to discuss the development money tomorrow, if Your Honour is
about to cut me off now, or I can continue and give honourable senators the
whole picture today.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Graham: To recap, then, $69 million from 1996 has been
written off; $41 million to carry the corporation and its operations through to
March 31, 1999 will be written off; another $40 million is needed to carry the
operations through to the year 2000. As well, $111 million is needed in the
human resources plan, which includes $60 million for early retirement, $46
million for severance and $5 million for training.
In addition, $68 million of new economic development money will be spent in
Cape Breton. That is over and above the normal spending through ECBC and ACOA
of $80 million over a four-year period. An additional average of $35 million
per year is spent in Cape Breton through active employment measures by Human
Resources Development Canada.
If you add up all of those numbers, including the write-offs, the money to
continue the operations, the development money through the new package, ACOA
and ECBC and HRDC, I believe the total would come to something in the order of
$559 million, exclusive of the $155 million which was advanced in fiscal
1990-91 by the previous government.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I have a response to a question raised in the Senate on
December 8, 1998 by the Honourable J. Michael Forrestall, regarding the
transfer of responsibility for search and rescue capability to Sea King bases
and the possible transfer of other equipment.
Transfer of Responsibility for
Search and Rescue Capability to Sea King Bases-Possible Transfer of Other
(Response to question raised by Hon. J. Michael Forrestall on December
The Canadian Forces are mandated to provide search and rescue to Canadians
across the country. Primary response for search and rescue missions is normally
assigned to the Labrador. It can be assigned to other aircraft should the need
arise. However, this does not imply a diminishment of search and rescue
We continue to provide search and rescue coverage with the Labrador. Since the
crash in early October, Labrador crews have flown over 600 hours and conducted
more than 50 missions. Furthermore, the Canadian Forces have a number of other
assets, including Hercules, Buffalo, Griffon and Sea King aircraft that can be
used from bases around Canada to provide the high-quality search and rescue
service that Canadians expect from us.
Search and rescue in Canada is a collective effort. It encompasses the efforts
and activities at all levels of government, private and volunteer sectors and a
vast array of organizations and programs that work together to provide search
We remain committed to ensuring that the Canadian Forces have the equipment
they need to continue performing their search and rescue missions in the
future. To that end, this Government announced a year ago the purchase of 15
Cormorant helicopters to replace the Labrador. The first Cormorant will come
into service in 2001.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator De Bané, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C. (Saint-Louis-de-Kent)
, for the second reading of Bill S-23, to amend the Carriage by Air Act to
give effect to a Protocol to amend the Convention for the Unification of
Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air and to give effect to
the Convention, Supplementary to the Warsaw Convention, for the Unification of
Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air Performed by a Person
Other than the Contracting Carrier.
Hon. Fernand Roberge: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join
in the second reading debate on Bill S-23. I travel a great deal, as do most
senators, but I was not aware until now of the intricacies of international
agreements which cover flights between countries.
Having studied Bill S-23 in detail and the two conventions included as
schedules, I believe I can serve as a resource person for all honourable
senators who have lost their luggage, or if something they have shipped by air
has gone astray. I can advise as to the liability, the limits of liability and
the meaning of the small print included on the back of plane tickets or bills
of lading. If I am away on a trip, I am sure Senator De Bané could also
answer those queries.
As Senator De Bané has already explained, Bill S-23 implements Montreal
Protocol No. 4 and the Guadalajara Supplementary Convention. These
international agreements amend the Warsaw Convention on international carriage
Honourable senators will note that the Warsaw Convention that is the subject of
Bill S-23 was signed in 1929. In other words, even though the international
carriage of passengers by air was still in its infancy, the drafters of the
convention thought it necessary to establish for the parties an international
regime of liability setting out the procedures for the carriage of passengers,
baggage and freight.
The Warsaw Convention assigns liability to the air carrier and provides for
maximum liability in the event of death or injury of a passenger, and loss of
baggage or freight. In addition, the convention authorizes a passenger or
shipper to enter into a contract in order to improve the terms of liability.
Canada gave effect to the Warsaw Convention in June 1947 by passing the
Carriage by Air Act. The act has subsequently been amended to reflect new
In addition to making adjustments to the Carriage by Air Act, this bill gives
official Canadian ratification to two international agreements respecting air
flights. The Guadalajara Convention provides that, from a liability aspect,
passengers and shippers entering into an agreement with a contracting carrier
are fully protected, even in cases where the contracting carrier is not the
actual carrier that performs the transportation, or even a part of it.
The Montreal Protocol No. 4 deals with cargo exclusively. It provides for
simplified documentation through electronic transmission of information, as
well as a regime of strict carrier liability with a maximum limit. It is
unfortunate that agreement has not been reached on Montreal Protocol No. 3
which provides for an increase in the limit of liability for passengers and
their baggage. When such an agreement is reached, perhaps the bill
implementing it will be introduced in the Senate so that it can receive the
full level of scrutiny which can be given to it by senators.
At the reading of Bill S-23, I identified only some problems I wanted to bring
to the attention of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications. First, financial liability is determined in Canadian dollars
equivalent to French francs or special drawing rights at a rate established by
the International Monetary Fund. Given that the eurodollar will shortly be
used in Europe, how are we going to deal with the provisions in question in
international air carriage agreements?
Second, clause 3 of Bill S-23 concerns the submission of foreign states to the
jurisdiction of Canadian courts under the State Immunity Act. This is a
determinative clause providing that governments not signatory to the Montreal
Protocol are considered to have explicitly submitted to the jurisdiction of
Canadian courts under paragraph 4(2)(a) of the State Immunity Act. This
paragraph provides that foreign states submit to the jurisdiction of the court
when they submit explicitly to the jurisdiction of the court either before or
after the proceedings commence.
There seems to be some contradiction, unless we amend in Bill S-23 the
reference to another section in the State Immunity Act.
I understand that Canada's international air carriers are supportive of Bill
S-23. I believe the Senate committee studying this legislation should hear from
the air carriers' umbrella group, ACTA, to determine the degree of support.
Also, I would like to know how, from a practical point of view, the passage of
Bill S-23 will affect air travel in Canada.
Finally, I understand that the Department of National Defence has requested
that a reservation to the Montreal Protocol No. 4 be deposited at the time of
its ratification that it will not apply to air carriage involving Canadian
aircraft reserved by or for the use of National Defence. We would like
clarification of this position during the discussions in committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other senator
wishes to intervene, the debate will be considered closed.
Hon. Richard H. Kroft moved the second reading of Bill
C-59, to amend the Insurance Companies Act.
He said: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to express my support for the
legislation before us, legislation that is an essential part of the proposed
demutualization regime for Canada's large mutual life insurance companies. The
proposed regime would set out the rules under which mutual life companies,
which are currently governed by their policyholders, could convert to stock
companies. All demutualizations would require policyholder approval.
Let me first deal with the rationale for the new regime. Canada has four large
mutual life companies that have operated very successfully with the mutual form
of corporate structure. However, a number of developments in recent years have
led these companies to consider demutualization. To begin with, in the past,
these companies were only engaged in selling life insurance protection. A
mutual system of governance made sense in that environment. However, that
source of business now generates only 27 per cent of their income. In effect,
the mutual system of governance now favours a minority of these companies'
Moreover, these insurance companies are now operating in an environment that is
changing rapidly and where consolidation is taking place worldwide. In order to
remain competitive, they require more flexibility to access capital.
Because they are currently owned by their policyholders, they are unable to
issue common shares, a major source of financing for corporations. Conversion
to a joint stock company structure would provide these companies with more
sources of capital.
In addition, demutualization would impose greater market discipline on
converting companies and provide them with a better-understood system of
governance. As a result, converting companies should show improved efficiency
and productivity. Since December of 1997, all four major Canadian mutual life
companies have announced their intention to develop demutualization plans in
anticipation of a new regime that would permit large mutual life companies to
Insurance is a key industry in the Canadian economy, employing over 100,000
people directly and indirectly. The ability of Canadian insurers to compete
internationally is vital to the industry's success. Over half of the sector's
premium income comes from abroad.
Demutualization of large companies has been going on for nearly a decade in
other major countries, such as theUnited States, the United Kingdom, and
Australia. I should like to emphasize that the government is not encouraging
companies to demutualize. The government's role is to remove the regulatory
barriers that prevent companies from pursuing a more flexible corporate
structure. Whether to demutualize is a question that must be decided by the
policyholders of each company.
From the policyholder perspective, policyholders may very well decide that
demutualization is in their best interests. Their contractual arrangements will
not be affected by demutualization, but at the same time, they stand to benefit
by being able to realize the value of their ownership rights and interests in
the companies and from dealing with a company that is more competitive and
efficient. Should the four major Canadian mutual life insurance companies
proceed to demutualize, it is estimated that $10 billion in benefits will be
allocated to their 2 million Canadian policyholders. Whatever their decision,
the proposed demutualization regime provides a comprehensive package to ensure
that policyholders are fully protected and treated fairly throughout the
Let me highlight some of the proposed regime's policyholder protection
measures. First, the decision to demutualize rests with the companies' eligible
policyholders - that is, those with voting policies, the owners of the
companies. In order to proceed, a conversion proposal must be approved by
two-thirds of the company's eligible policyholders who cast votes, either in
person or by proxy, at a special meeting called to consider demutualization.
Before that vote takes place, it is important that eligible policyholders be
well informed of the issue at hand. Companies will therefore be obliged to send
policyholders a comprehensive information package outlining, among other
things, the advantages and disadvantages of demutualization, the estimated
market value of the benefits the individual policyholder would receive, and a
summary of the independent expert opinions on the conversion proposal.
Such opinions will be required on a number of aspects of the conversion plan,
including: the fairness of the allocation among policyholders, the adequacy of
company funds to service current and future participating insurance business,
the future financial strength of the company and the security of policyholders'
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions will review all
information for policyholders before authorizing its release. Furthermore, if
the superintendent were of the opinion that policyholders should receive more
information prior to the vote on demutualization, or that more should be done
to answer policyholders' questions and concerns, he could order that such
measures take place as sending additional information to policyholders or
holding information sessions.
Should a company's policyholders vote in favour of the conversion proposal, an
application for demutualization would then be submitted to the Minister of
Finance, who would review the proposal based on public interest considerations.
If a demutualization proposal were approved, the company would then distribute
benefits to policyholders in exchange for their ownership rights and interests
in the company as described in the conversion plan. The benefits would
generally take the form of shares which policyholders could either hold as an
investment or sell for cash at any time.
It is important to note that demutualization will not affect the contractual
arrangements between the companies and their policyholders. This includes
policyholders' rights to receive insurance protection and dividends, and their
obligation to pay premiums.
Let me say a few words on the post-demutualization period.
I would first like to turn to the proposed regime's safeguards to protect the
companies from losing their Canadian identities or from being taken over once
they go public.
Irrespective of the national identities of their policyholders, who will become
shareholders upon demutualization, converting companies will remain Canadian
insurance companies. They will continue to be subject to regulation by Canadian
regulators; they must maintain their head offices in Canada; and at least
three-quarters of their directors must be Canadian residents. Furthermore, the
widely held rule would be maintained in order to protect converted companies
from takeovers by banks or other financial institutions. In other words, no
person or institution could own more than 10 per cent of any class of shares of
the company. A review of this restriction would take place two years after the
demutualization regulations come into force and would take into account the
need for converted companies to have an appropriate period of time to adjust to
their new corporate structure and market environments.
In terms of legislative amendments, let me now briefly explain the elements of
the regime contained in Bill C-59. Most of the regime would be set out in
regulations, so there are only a few legislative provisions required.
Amendments to the Insurance Companies Act would be required as follows: first,
to provide for a special meeting of eligible policyholders to consider the
demutualization proposal; second, to allow for a relatively longer notice of
meeting period to ensure policyholders are well informed before voting on a
proposal; third, to ensure that only eligible policyholders will vote on the
proposal; fourth, to allow the transfer of excess assets out of the
participating accounts in order to increase the value of the company that would
be allocated to policyholders upon demutualization; fifth, to provide the
superintendent with appropriate authority to oversee the demutualization
process; and sixth, to prohibit directors or officers and employees in the
company from benefiting from demutualization other than benefits to which they
are entitled as eligible policyholders.
The aim of Bill C-59 is to remove a regulatory barrier that constrains the
options available to Canadian mutual life companies. The proposed regime
ensures that, in allowing these companies to pursue demutualization,
policyholder interests are fully protected. Demutualization could bring real
benefits to Canada's large mutual life companies, their 2 million
policyholders and the financial sector in general.
I would note that Bill C-59 received all-party support in the House of Commons
and was passed expeditiously. I encourage all honourable senators to approve
this legislation and send it to committee so that it may be fully scrutinized.
If it then meets with the committee's approval, it can be brought back before
this chamber as soon as possible.
On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate adjourned.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, let me first apologize to Senator Cohen for interrupting
her. Normally, we would rise at this hour to permit committees to sit. I think
there is general agreement, given that Senator Cohen and Senator Maloney both
wish to speak, that for today we will allow the committees to sit even though
the Senate is still sitting.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is there agreement
that committees be allowed to sit?
Resuming debate on the consideration of the Final Report of the Special Joint
Committee on Child Custody and Access entitled: "For the Sake of the
Children," tabled in the Senate on December 9, 1998.-(Honourable
Hon. Erminie J. Cohen: Honourable senators, I rise today to
speak on the report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access,
"For the Sake of the Children."
I begin my commentary on the report with a sincere thank you to Senator Landon
Pearson for her commitment and dedication as the co-chair of this often
emotionally charged committee. Senator Pearson is well known as a child
advocate and for her unending devotion to their rights. I believe that it was
this unwavering dedication which guided us and kept us focused on our mandate:
the best interests of the child.
My Senate colleagues are to be commended for their dependability, their
constant presence and their valuable input. I have served on many Senate
committees, honourable senators, but this was my first experience as a member
of a joint committee. I immediately sensed a difference. At Senate committee
meetings we treat each other and our witnesses with great respect.
Unfortunately, that was not always the case on this committee.
The environment in which this joint committee met was often more volatile and
emotional, probably due to the subject matter we were covering. On many
occasions witnesses, both men and women, were reduced to tears. On one
occasion, a translator had to leave her booth because she was overcome with
emotion. It was very difficult to maintain an objective perspective while
listening to heart-wrenching testimony.
It is always unsettling to be a witness to public pain and controversy. I know
that most committee members made the commitment from the very beginning to hear
testimony with an open mind and an unbiased ear, in order to enable them to
gain a new understanding of the problems of custody and access, not from the
standpoint of mom or dad, but from a child-centred perspective.
That kind of approach, however, does not sell newspapers. At every turn,
differences within the committee were overblown and the press often exploited
our deliberations. This made our original commitment extremely difficult to
maintain. I commend the members of the committee for their discipline and
focus. It was a struggle. However, I feel confident that we did the best that
we could do. For the most part, we were sympathetic to the concerns of a broad
range of witnesses.
Although every member of the committee could probably express some reservations
about the report and the resulting recommendations, I feel that the report
fairly and accurately describes what the committee heard and read, and the
recommendations address the major problem areas.
During the hearings, and almost from the start, it was emphasized repeatedly
that the language used to describe parenting after divorce was a major problem,
both conceptually and in practice. As a result, the committee recommended that
the terms "custody" and "access" be replaced with those of "shared
parenting," based on the concept of parental responsibilities.
The concept of shared parenting is one of the main cornerstones of this report.
It made sense to have this shift reflected in the legal terminology. Shared
parenting does not necessarily mean a 50-50 arrangement, but it does mean that
no longer would there be a primary caregiver and a second parent with just "access"
to the children. This new concept would, it was hoped, benefit the child. By
neutralizing the language and concepts, the committee hoped that some of the
adversarial elements present in divorce proceedings would be lessened. We also
wanted to emphasize the fact that if a child had two parents prior to divorce,
a child had a right and a need to those same two parents after divorce.
On Thursday, January 29, 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada decreed that spouses
could divorce each other but not their children, which lends support to this
very same idea.
When I first agreed to sit on the special joint committee, one area I wished to
learn more about was the area concerning the rights of the grandparent. I had
heard testimony from several grandparents who had been shut out of the life of
As a grandmother myself, I could understand their pain and devastation.
Initially, I had hoped that we might find a way to give grandparents advance
standing with the court, to allow them to apply for access during the initial
deliberations between the two divorcing spouses. However, after numerous
presentations from family law experts, it became apparent that this solution
would not be legally prudent.
What we were able to do, however, was to include the need for contact with
grandparents in the "best interest" test. While I had hoped for more,
I am optimistic that if the best interest test is put in place in the Divorce
Act, courts will understand and rule in favour of our intentions.
One subject that presented difficulties for me was the area of domestic
violence and the attitude at times of some committee members. Since this is a
subject close to my heart, I was prepared to distance myself from my experience
and listen objectively to the witnesses. However, there were instances,
honourable senators, when the need and function of battered women's shelters
were discredited, and the integrity and honesty of the clients and staff was
questioned and maligned.
As a patron of Hestia House, a shelter for battered women in Saint John, New
Brunswick, and a board member since 1981, I am very aware of the valuable work
of the front-line workers and of the situation that many women in my home city
and province face when they are forced to flee violent partners. It was
unthinkable to me that their pain and suffering was taken so lightly by some
While statistics gathered by government tell us that women in violent
relationships are most at risk of injury and death when they are attempting
separation and divorce, some committee members questioned why the issue of
domestic violence needed to be addressed by our committee at all. It saddens me
to report to this chamber that during some committee meetings, the issue of
violence against women was not taken seriously, and occasionally scorned. Some
members and witnesses countered that men are also abused in domestic situations
just as often as women.
Honourable senators, I have never seen statistics to support this claim.
However, even if that were true, does it make the fact that over 90 women are
killed by their spouses each year less horrendous? Does it mean that we should
close the doors and let victims suffer through whatever injury an abuser
chooses to inflict? I fail to understand the usefulness of this tactic, and was
certainly disheartened by it.
In the end, however, I am pleased to report that solid fact and research did
win out over dubious and sensational claims. The report certainly recognized
the importance of this issue and urged further research into this area, mainly
because of the effect on children who witness violence. The report makes it
clear that, even when there is no direct abuse, witnessing a parent being
abused is as harmful to the child as direct abuse, and illustrates the need for
this understanding to be reflected in custody decisions.
Recommendation 45 calls on the federal government to engage in further
consultation with aboriginal organizations and communities across Canada. I
sincerely hope that the federal government acts on this recommendation, because
the issues presented were complex, and the need for us to respect aboriginal
problem-solving methods was apparent. It is also interesting to note that there
are several aboriginal remedies to problems arising out of custody and access
issues that also could be studied and considered by the federal government.
After hearing many witnesses, it became apparent that one of the most efficient
ways of minimizing conflicts between divorcing parents, and thus improving
outcomes for their children, would be a nationwide implementation of a unified
family court system or the expansion of existing ones.
This court system would have a beneficial impact by acting as an umbrella for
the delivery of programs, such as education, mediation, case management,
training of judges and lawyers, services to children and civil legal aid, and
identifying high conflict situations. The majority of problems experienced by
parents before, during and after divorce or separation lie not within the
Divorce Act itself, but are a result of the problems with the structure of the
justice system and the adversarial atmosphere of the application of the law.
The unified family court is an innovative court structure designed to reduce
the complications resulting from the shared jurisdiction over family law
between the federal and provincial governments.
We heard from witnesses who found dealing with two levels of court - the
federal court for their divorce matters and the provincial court for access
problems - difficult. Created through federal-provincial cooperation, the
unified family court combines federal and provincial jurisdiction over family
law matters in one level of court. Federal-provincial cooperation is necessary
to accomplish the combining of jurisdictions, the sharing of funding and the
appointment of judges.
We also heard from many witnesses who felt that the judge hearing their case
was not sufficiently familiar, in many cases, with family law. In many
jurisdictions a provincial judge will have a variety of cases in one given day,
in widely differing areas such as traffic law, criminal law and family law. A
unified family court system prevents this problem by allowing judges to
specialize in family law.
Honourable senators, with the unification of the court, there is also a
combining of support services, such as family counselling, enforcement and
mediation services. This social arm of the court is not generally present to
the same degree in non-unified courts dealing with family law matters. The
presence of these programs is thought to be one of the chief advantages, as the
court helps parties through their family law matters and may contribute to the
non-litigation resolution of disputes.
I am pleased to report that my home province of New Brunswick has been
operating this one-stop service for people seeking remedies under family law
since 1982. Called the Court of Queen's Bench, Family Division, it provides
information, screening and intake services, and legal counselling, mediation
and enforcement services all under one umbrella.
I sincerely hope that all jurisdictions across Canada work with the federal
government to implement a similar system. To do so will require cooperation and
a willingness of the government to add resources. Many expert witnesses told us
that the drastic cutbacks to legal aid and the courts had added significantly
to the problems in family law.
Since the release of "For the Sake of the Children," I would like to
report that I have received some interesting feedback about the recommendations
the committee made. It seems that some feel we did not go far enough to ensure
fathers' rights, and yet there are women's groups claiming that we have gone
Honourable senators, as the special joint committee came to a conclusion, I
heard myself explaining that we could not possibly give everything to everyone,
but we were confident that we gave something to everyone. I sincerely hope that
our recommendations will result in improved lives for certain members of the
family, who, in the past, have had little or no voice - the children - and that
the months of hearings and hard work will bear fruit for their sake.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other
honourable senator wishes to speak, this item shall be considered debated.
Hon. Marian Maloney rose pursuant to notice of December 10,
That she will call the attention of the Senate to volunteerism and the
International Year of Older Persons.
She said: Honourable senators, this is the first opportunity I have had to
address the Senate and to express the honour I feel in representing the people
of Northwestern Ontario and Etobicoke.
The Senate is an important institution in this country and brings together the
perspectives of so many who have contributed so much to the framework of this
country. I am proud to serve with you in making Canada a better place.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the support of my husband and
children. We have always approached community involvement as a family affair,
and I am happy that they are here today as my most trusted advisors and
greatest supporters, along with my neighbours and friends.
My appointment to the Senate has come after many years of community involvement
in Thunder Bay and more recently in Toronto. My involvement has been motivated
by my desire to give back to this country, which has given so much to me and my
Through that involvement, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with
thousands of people who share the same commitment to community that makes
Canada the tolerant, generous country that it is. Many of those volunteers were
older persons, and in this International Year of Older Persons, it is fitting
that their contribution be recognized in this house.
Canada has always enjoyed an active and creative volunteer spirit. Countless
men and women of all ages give freely of their time to many causes without
expectation of recognition or reward. Statistics Canada recently released a
survey which confirmed the generosity of spirit that is a hallmark of this
nation. In that survey, it was found that 80 per cent of Canadians donate to at
least one charity; 70 per cent of Canadians donate to more than one cause; 7.5
million Canadians do volunteer work; and 11.8 million Canadians are members of
community organizations. The survey also expressed promise for our future in
that 33 per cent of young Canadians are involved in volunteer work.
This was an important survey, not because it found that Canadians are generally
community minded, but because these statistics capture, in some objective form,
the contribution volunteers make to the quality of life we enjoy. Too often we
take these contributions for granted. How many of us have asked for information
at our local hospital, to be greeted warmly by a volunteer? Have we asked
ourselves how much these volunteers save our health care system? In many
communities, homes are protected by volunteer firefighters. Can we quantify the
savings? In monetary terms, the contribution is immeasurable.
Volunteerism not only helps to build our communities, but it also builds
bridges between communities. Through volunteerism, Canadians are given a sense
of perspective on how others in our diversified country live, whether it be
understanding the pains of those who suffer, the challenges of those who live
in poverty, or the perspective of another cultural group. Volunteer work
promotes understanding. This is a caring country because we reach out across
our differences to share our common experiences, whether they be painful or
In recent years, we have seen what makes this nation whole, when Canadians
reach out to one another in times of need. The flooding of the Red River and
the Saguenay, and more recently the ice storm in Quebec and Eastern Ontario
showed Canadians coming together to battle back the rigours of Mother Nature.
Working side by side, Canadians set aside any difference they may have had and
joined together in a common cause. They even came to help dig out Toronto.
I do not diminish these tragedies and their heavy toll, but in some strange way
these events in the history of a country bring people closer together,
fostering a sense of dependency, a sense of togetherness, and a sense of common
destiny. It is these events that bring Canada together as a family.
Volunteerism is a critical part of the public good. Our government has taken
steps to promote the interests of volunteerism in this country. It has created
Volnet, a resource on the Internet to help volunteers and organizations which
rely on volunteer support to exchange ideas, to identify new sources of
volunteers, and to foster a greater volunteer spirit in the country.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada called on Parliament to review its
definition of "charity" under our income tax legislation. That review
should begin immediately and we should seriously consider the broadening of
that definition so that all charities can share equally in the benefits of
I should like to focus for a moment on the contributions made by one segment of
volunteers in this country - the older person. As many of you are aware, 1999
has been designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United
Nations. Demographics show that the face of the world is changing. It will
come as no surprise to those in this chamber that we are aging as a society.
Globally, one in 10 people is over the age of 60 and it is anticipated that
over the next few years our lifespans will increase by almost 20 years. As our
lifespans increase, the number of people over the age of 60 will increase to
one in four.
As Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has said, "Our
time is the age of longevity. Life is becoming less like a short sprint and
more like a marathon." The International Year of Older Persons recognizes
this reality and focuses our attention on the contributions older persons have
made to our society and, more important, the contribution they will make in
the future. The challenge, as presented by the United Nations, is to make our
society a society for all ages.
I believe the International Year of Older Persons gives Canadians a unique
opportunity to work toward a society that recognizes and addresses the needs,
aspirations, and contributions of people of all ages. A society for all ages
will promote the principles of independence, participation, care,
self-fulfilment and dignity. These are universal principles applicable to all
persons, no matter one's age, background or experience.
Capitalizing upon their wealth of experience, older persons have an important
role in ensuring that all Canadians lead positive and fulfilling lives. Very
often, this contribution is captured through volunteer work in our communities.
Having been appointed to the Senate only recently, I am familiar with what some
have referred to as "grey power." Some years ago, I chaired
Thunderama, a year-long festival marking the amalgamation of Fort William and
Port Arthur into what is now known as Thunder Bay. In that year, I worked with
many volunteers. The contributions of those who were older were immeasurable.
They brought with them a sense of history, a sense of trusteeship for those who
would follow after them, and a sense of promise that the community they were
building would be a better place.
At Runnymeade Hospital in Toronto, where I have also been active, I see that
commitment every day. Older persons are active in all aspects of the hospital's
operation, from fundraising to sharing a compassionate moment with someone who
is ill or with a family member who is simply finding it too much to bear. No
value can be affixed to these very human experiences.
As our society ages, older persons are meeting the challenges that an aging
society imposes. Look to the village of Glancaster near Hamilton, Ontario where
older persons have designed and developed their own community. This is a
community built on the principles of empowerment, a community where older
persons have shaped their own way of life and have done so on a volunteer
These are but a few examples. There are simpler and equally as important ones.
How many of us know of grandparents who look after grandchildren and help in
that way to shape our future generation. In 1995, about 20 per cent of older
Canadians looked after children in their own homes, offering a nurturing
environment and allowing parents to work without worrying about the problems
associated with childcare.
In this important year, when we recognize the contributions of older persons,
let us renew our commitment to volunteerism. It is through the generosity and
the giving of ourselves that we will contribute to a more tolerant and
accommodating nation. Every person, no matter their circumstances, no matter
their position in life, has a contribution to make, be it large or small.
As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to encourage that
community-minded spirit, to recognize those who contribute so much to our
community, and to find ways to bring people together in the interests of a
common cause - that cause being Canada.
I urge you all to take part in the events in your community this year, even
though I realize that you are all too young.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to
speak, this inquiry is considered debated.
Motion to Permit Committee of
the Whole to Extend Date of Final Report
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition), pursuant to notice of February 2, 1999, moved:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on October 29,
1998, the Committee of the Whole, to which was referred the Report of the
Privacy Commissioner for the period ended March 31, 1998, be empowered to
present its report no later than February 18, 1999.
He said: Honourable senators, I have one word of explanation. Arrangements are
being made for the Privacy Commissioner to appear before the Committee of the
Whole. There remains only the matter of scheduling and timing. The current
order would have required a report from the Committee of the Whole prior to
the time at which we would have heard from the Privacy Commissioner. We hope to
hear from him in a few days here in Committee of the Whole. That is the reason
for the motion.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?