Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 75
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I received a notice today
from the Leader of the Government in the Senate requesting, pursuant to rule
22(10), that additional time be provided for consideration of Senators'
Statements for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Isobel
Finnerty, who will retire from the Senate on July 15, 2005.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I was eager to speak today
to pay tribute to Senator Isobel Finnerty because I regard myself as president
of the Isobel Finnerty fan club.
Let me say just a few words about her background. She was born and raised in
Timmins, Ontario. She knows Northern Ontario inside out. Her husband, Les, has
been with CN management, so they have lived all over Ontario, in such places as
Ottawa, London, Toronto and Burlington. She knows this province inside out, like
no one else, and she knows it politically.
Something I really like about her is that when you look in the Canadian
Parliamentary Handbook under "Profession," it reads "political organizer."
To me, that is a badge of honour because it is people like her who make our
democracy work. There are cynics out there who might think that this is just
political patronage. We have many lawyers in this place, and I am one myself; we
probably have too many. We have some senators from the medical and teaching
professions and from the business world, but a place like this, which is a
political institution when it comes right down to it, always needs several
people whose background is political organizing. Senator LeBreton, for whom I
have the highest regard, could fall into that category, as could Senator Mercer
and Senator Murray, and one of my great heroes, Senator Davey. We need people
who know how our parliamentary and political systems work at the grassroots. No
one has paid their dues longer and harder, in by-elections, general elections
and leadership conventions, to make parliamentary democracy work in this country
than has Senator Finnerty. We need a few people like her in the Senate, and a
few more of them on both sides.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will second that!
I am pleased to rise today to honour our colleague Senator Finnerty. As
Senator Smith pointed out, she is a native of Timmins, Ontario and, as she has
demonstrated, Timmins certainly produces good citizens.
Senator Finnerty began her remarkable career when she was appointed to the
Timmins Parks and Recreation Commission at the tender age of 19, where she
served as the sole woman member. When one thinks of it, a woman at the table was
a rare commodity at that time. She served until 1967. She has served on boards
and committees, contributing greatly to whatever community she was living in at
In 1994, she was invited to Benin, Africa, as an international trainer for
the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Senator Finnerty, as Senator Smith pointed out, is a partisan, and good for
her. She has worked hard for her party for several decades, provincially and
federally, across the country. She has been active in the campaigns of people
such as John Turner, Jean Chrétien, Brian Tobin and Ralph Goodale, to name a
few. She has worked with well-known Liberals such as Elinor Caplan, David
Peterson, Doug Frith and John Munro.
During her time in the Senate, she has devoted her energies to the Standing
Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, as one would
expect from someone from Northern Ontario.
I am told by many who know her well that she is a woman who gets the job
done. We all know the old reality in politics: When a job has to be done, ask a
busy person because they always find the time to take on an extra job.
While we are definitely on different sides politically, I do admire her
energy and stamina. I will miss seeing her in pictures of the Liberal caucus.
Practically every time there is a photo op at a Liberal caucus, there she is, at
the head table.
I wish Senator Finnerty all the best. I hope she will enjoy having a little
extra time to spend with her family and I would ask her not to devote so much
time, please, to the Liberal Party!
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, shortly after Senator
Finnerty was appointed to this chamber in 1999, she came to Vancouver for a
conference. When I heard she would be in town, I made absolutely sure that she
came out to dinner with me and my husband.
I was hoping at that time that if I showed her around the city, I would be
able to thank her for all she had taught me over the years. I took her on a tour
of Queen Elizabeth Park and then down to India town, where we were able to try
on a few different saris.
Her appointment was such a great thrill that I was concerned that she would
get so caught up in her duties as a senator that she would never again find the
time to visit me in Vancouver. I remember making her promise to put aside a
little bit of time to visit with me again.
Honourable senators, my wish came true two years later when I had the honour
of being summoned to this place myself.
Like many others, I have had the opportunity to work with Senator Finnerty on
a number of campaigns over her breathtaking career. She has worked selflessly to
help others realize their dreams and goals. She can look at many people in this
chamber, in the other place and at those who sit in legislatures and assemblies
all over the country and identify them as people she has helped to realize their
dreams and potential.
Her efforts to improve our political system to be inclusive and to allow so
many others to make their mark have been exemplary. She is one of the best
campaigners and organizers this country has ever seen.
Isobel Finnerty is a trailblazer for Canadian women becoming involved in
political activism. She is a consensus builder and a promoter of greatness. She
is a compassionate and caring person who has become like a sister, mentor and
role model for me and others. It would be impossible to appreciate just how many
lives she has touched or how deeply she has touched them.
It is with great pleasure, mixed with some sadness, that I pay tribute to my
friend, because I know that it means we will be missing her in this chamber.
I invite her once again to call me, be it for dinner or a chat or sari
shopping, because I will be just as thrilled to see her or hear from her as I
have always been.
I know honourable senators will agree with me when I say that we will miss
her very much.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, Senator Finnerty and I worked
closely together on the National Finance Committee. During a good part of that
time, she was my deputy chair. As a representative of the governing party, her
role on the steering committee was to ensure that government legislation moved
ahead. She did so quietly and efficiently, and for this I would say that the
government is in her debt.
She and her party have a majority on committees, as they do in the Senate.
However, her approach to our business has always been one of negotiation and
honourable compromise. There are two sides to this chamber and at least two
sides to most questions that come before us. All sides must have an opportunity
to develop their arguments and to make their case, at which point we should come
to a decision. Senator Finnerty has an instinctive appreciation of those working
assumptions of our legislative system. Her understanding comes not from a long
parliamentary background, for she was appointed here only six years ago, rather,
it springs from her deep roots as a partisan in the Liberal Party.
She is one of those political volunteers who emerges or is thrust forward
from the crowd because of an exceptional ability to mobilize, motivate and even
inspire hundreds of others who are committed to the party as an instrument of
service to the country. Deeply attached to her own political family, and wise
from political experience, it is impossible for Isobel Finnerty not to
understand and even empathize with the perspective and the predicament of her
adversaries in other parties.
Partisans like Isobel Finnerty contribute to the culture of collegiality that
distinguishes the Senate at its best, even when we disagree profoundly on
principles and policies
I believe she knows that, for my part, I always enjoyed our encounters and
looked forward to them. I will not go so far as to say that we traded political
secrets. She is far too discreet for that — and so was I, when I knew any
political secrets. We did trade insights, however, and hers were always
thoughtful, interesting and informative. Isobel Finnerty knows not only where
the bodies are buried, but also how many of them are likely to turn up for the
For those who believe, as I do, that restoring political parties to their
proper and vital place is the cure for much of what ails our electoral democracy
and our parliamentary democracy, Canada, as Senator Smith and Senator LeBreton
have said, needs more Isobel Finnertys.
I thank her for her time and our association in this place.
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, in rising to pay tribute to
our colleague and my friend Isobel Finnerty, I must say that I do not know of
any Liberal of my generation who has participated in more election campaigns in
so many diverse locations across this nation than she has.
Senator Finnerty began her lifelong affair with politics as a child when one
of her brothers sought a seat in the Ontario legislature in the 1930s. Fresh out
of high school, she was the first woman on the Timmins Recreation Commission in
Northern Ontario, arguably one of the first women in Canada to sit on such a
When she married her husband, Les, she began a lifetime of moving around the
country, remaining a couple of years here and a couple of years there, while Les
advanced up the ranks of the CNR to his final position as chief engineer of our
In each community, Isobel left a legacy of service with local Liberals. For
more than 50 years, probably more Liberals have been trained and prepared for
election readiness by Isobel Finnerty than by any other Liberal in Canada.
Having left her mark everywhere, Isobel Finnerty was the logical choice to
become executive director of the federal wing of the Liberal Party in Ontario in
the late 1970s. That was when I met her. In the early 1980s, she became chief
political advisor to the Honourable John Munro, Minister of Indian and Northern
Affairs, and she managed his national leadership campaign in 1984. When Greg
Sorbara, the current Ontario Minister of Finance, contested the leadership of
the Ontario Liberal Party in the late 1980s, Isobel Finnerty was his campaign
manager. When Jean Chrétien sought the leadership of the Liberal Party of
Canada, she had a leading role in his Ontario campaign and subsequently served
as the Ontario campaign manager for the party in the victorious general election
I mention here only a few highlights of the life of one of the top political
organizers ever of the Liberal Party.
Isobel Finnerty and I served many years together — I think it was eight years
— on the national executive of our party. Those were exciting years. They
included Mr. Trudeau as the leader of our party, then briefly as the retired
leader, and ultimately leader again. These were the years of the multiple
by-elections of 1978, back-to-back general elections in 1979 and 1980, the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the National Energy Policy and the brief Joe
Clark interregnum. They were, indeed, many exciting years.
In our party, political strategists wonder about Isobel Finnerty's uncanny
sense of knowing what to do and when to do it. Her timing in the decision-making
process has always the quality of being impeccable. Isobel's dual capacity for
insight and instinct always made her a formidable adversary.
There are those who claim that Isobel Finnerty must be psychic or
clairvoyant, perhaps in the grand tradition of William Lyon Mackenzie King;
otherwise, how could anyone ever be as good as she is at what she does?
I am sad that Isobel will be leaving us soon. I wish her every happiness and
contentment in her beloved cottage in Timmins and in her winter home in
Burlington. Her kind does not lead us into battle often. Isobel Finnerty's je ne
sais quoi, her energy and determination, and her organizational leadership will
be greatly missed. Good luck, Isobel.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, I am not certain how long I
have known Isobel Finnerty. We met at least 25 years ago in the midst of
political organization. We know that Senator Finnerty has about 50 years of
experience in the political trenches. With a huge contribution before becoming a
Member of Parliament, as we say in the West, the Senate was not her first rodeo.
My husband and I had the good fortune to become associated with her about
halfway through her political life. Isobel Finnerty came to Saskatchewan to help
many times. She has a sense of what to do and when to do it. She has a focussed
understanding of the challenges of the big picture and, at the same time, an
extraordinary grasp of the details. Her many successes over the years are part
of the Canadian political story. We will miss her expertise and dedication.
I am deeply grateful to Isobel for the friendship she extended when I first
arrived here. She was always gracious and helpful, and she is a person of great
Senator Finnerty and I sat together on the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. The topics were at the cutting
edge of the future. On one of our fact-finding missions, we shared the
experience of driving the $12-million fuel cell car that was still in its
infancy in California. Committee hearings, both in Ottawa and elsewhere,
addressed pressing issues. I know Isobel will miss that interaction.
Retirement is not only a time of reflection, but also a new beginning.
Retirement will not mark an end to Isobel's contributions to Canada. We wish
Isobel Finnerty every success in her future challenges. Thank you, Isobel.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, it is days like these that
we senators both lament and celebrate. The retirement of a colleague is a day to
commemorate, especially when the colleague is Senator Isobel Finnerty.
Isobel's extraordinary dedication to politics and to this place cannot be
matched. She has been a staunch promoter of women in politics from a young age.
She is the most influential export out of Timmins, Ontario, surpassing even
Shania Twain and Senator Frank Mahovlich.
While I was executive director of the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia in the
early 1980s, I had the pleasure of working with Senator Finnerty, as she was
executive director of the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario. Her presence at
the table during national executive meetings was unforgettable, her style of
leadership unique, and her patience broad.
An interesting story that Isobel may not want me to tell you occurred at the
Sheraton Hotel, in Toronto, during a provincial leadership campaign, the
campaign that elected David Peterson as provincial leader.
She and I were at an establishment in the hotel that served beverages, and we
were chatting about the politics of the land, when we noticed, almost at the
same time, that we were both wearing very unique wedding bands. Initially we
thought they were specially made at two separate places in the country, but they
were identical. The wedding bands, both hers and her husband Les's and mine and
my wife Ellen's were identical. It was extremely unusual. I knew then that our
sense of style was equal.
I also realized that politics is deeper than appearance and material things.
Isobel would influence me and many others to explore a realm of ideas in our
vision for Canada. After that day, I knew she was someone I would come to know
more and more.
In fact, I went on to work with her again during the 1990 leadership
campaign, which saw the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien elected as leader of the
Liberal Party of Canada.
Honourable senators, I can only hope that Isobel remains active in politics.
She is truly an icon in the Liberal Party, an icon I could only wish to clone.
Her experience and determination will most definitely serve the young generation
well as they enter their own political futures. I wish her and Les all the best
in the future.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, there are some people who
are born with a natural gift to teach, to guide and to persuade others in a way
that pulls the victim into action before they even know they have been hooked. A
prime example of that gift would be our retiring colleague, Senator Isobel
Finnerty. She has succeeded as a community activist, a philanthropist and a
political wizard throughout her lifetime. For the last six years, she has been
one great senator.
This woman is a patriot who is as tough as nails with a heart of gold and who
gives politics a good name wherever she works in the democratic process across
Canada and in other countries of the world. I doubt there is a political role
that Isobel has not played for her party, prime ministers, premiers, cabinet
ministers, MPs, MLAs, anyone who wanted to run, and particularly women.
I first met Isobel — it is hard for me to say this — a quarter of a century
ago here in Ottawa. I was enclosed in the world of parliamentary politics as an
advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau, and she had just become the executive
director of the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario.
Although Parliament always has its challenges, as we see these days, it
seemed to me that my friend had the tougher calling. I learned a lot from her
during that period, which actually was a blessing when totally unexpectedly I
found myself chairing our national campaign in 1993. Thank heavens for people
like Isobel Finnerty. I am one of those who believe that politics is a noble
cause in this country.
Although one should not reveal cabinet secrets, during a tribute to Senator
Finnerty a week ago, the Prime Minister asked who had been helped by Isobel in
their campaigns over the years, and it seemed that practically everyone in the
room leapt to their feet and stood cheering from every corner of this country.
That kind of energy and wisdom has been part of her contribution as well in the
I was astounded to note, honourable senators, that over the last six years,
she has served on almost every Senate committee. I will name them — because the
list is huge: National Finance; Banking, Trade and Commerce; Foreign Affairs;
Transport and Communications; Agriculture and Forestry; Energy, the Environment,
and Natural Resources; Legal and Constitutional Affairs; Rules, Procedures, and
the Rights of Parliament; and the Standing Joint Committee of the Library of
Parliament. Few of us can claim that variety, and I admire you for it, Isobel.
Clearly, this is a senator who took full advantage of her all too short time
here. I will miss her dedication and her good advice, but also the humour, the
kindness and the encouragement she has offered me at times when life was a bit
I say to you, my friend, keep up the good fight, but take lots of time to
smell those red roses with the family who loves you.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, my friendship, my working
relationship and my admiration for Isobel Finnerty predate her membership in the
Senate. It goes back to 1978, and specifically in that role as political
However, there is a Senate connection. In 1978, Prime Minister Trudeau
recommended the appointment of the Member of Parliament for Parkdale, the
Honourable Stanley Haidasz, to the Senate, resulting in a vacancy in the House
of Commons, which later that year was one of 15 by-elections that were fought on
October 15, 1978, including mine.
At that particular time, the government was not in the best of favour with a
lot of citizens. We won one out of the 15 by-elections; it was in Montreal. Mine
did not work out either, but I must tell you that we kept it tight and very
close because of the skills and dedication of Isobel Finnerty who came onto that
campaign. I have been forever grateful for all that she did. Her organizational
and people skills were outstanding.
The one interesting by-product of all of this is that, even though I did not
become a member of Parliament at that time, I did go on a couple of years later
to become the Mayor of Toronto. That successful campaign had the support of
I wish to finish by congratulating Isobel for her many years of political
organization and her many years of community service and service to the people
of Canada through this body, the Senate of Canada.
I know she will continue to make a difference in many people's lives in this
country, as she has made a difference in mine. Thank you, Isobel.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, it is with a great
deal of pleasure that I rise to join in paying tribute to our friend and
colleague the Honourable Isobel Finnerty. At the same time, however, there is a
profound sense of sadness, because the senator will certainly be missed by all
at the Senate.
In her past six years of service in her Senate appointment, she has worked
extremely hard on many committees and served as co-chair of national caucus.
While the senator certainly has been busy during her time in the chamber, her
life and her work before the Senate was every bit as busy and challenging.
Approximately 57 years ago, at the age of 19, she was appointed to the
Timmins Parks and Recreation Commission, where she served as the only woman for
over 20 years. Also during that time, she served as campaign manager for
candidates in the Timmins area in every municipal, provincial and federal
election. In fact, over the years, she has served in a management capacity or as
a campaign chair in more than 40 constituency-based contests in Timmins and
across the country, as well in several federal and provincial leadership races.
I doubt anyone in the history of campaign management for any political party in
Canada can match or equal the record of this very remarkable woman.
Among the long list of accomplishments of her career are a number of firsts.
For example, she was the first woman federal executive director in Ontario for
her party. She was the first organizer for a federal political party in the
Never content to sit idle, she has given of herself to a number of worthwhile
organizations outside the political arena. She has volunteered countless hours
for the Stratford YMCA, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Burlington Arts
Senator Finnerty is a woman of great intuition. As has been said, she knows
what to do and when to do it. She has a great deal of old fashioned common
sense. Her grassroots activism and tremendous generosity of spirit set a great
example for all of us in public service.
Senator Finnerty, I wish you and your husband Leslie many years of good
health and happiness.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, much has been said here about
the legendary talents of Senator Finnerty in the organization of the Liberal
Party. However, I know Senator Finnerty through my work with her on the Standing
Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, where she was
not only my friend, but a great friend of the environment. In that capacity, I
did not see a hint of partisanship. She is one of the most fair-minded,
open-minded and generous people I have ever met.
She even told me that she was an observer at one of the Conservative
conventions when it was still Progressive Conservative, and she said that she
was bowled over by the policy.
I also had the occasion to travel with her, which was an absolute delight. At
one point in Vienna, we went on a shopping tour. It was then that I realized
what a wonderful grandmother she was because we had to find the perfect ballet
outfit for her youngest granddaughter.
Isobel, it has been a pleasure to know you. I hope that will continue, of
course, after you have left the Senate. It has been a delight to work with you
on the committee. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy retirement and have as
much fun in the future as you have had here all along. We have had a lot of fun
with you. I wish you the best of luck, Isobel.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for tributes and
Senators' Statements has elapsed. It is time to call on Senator Finnerty.
Before I do so, I draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of
family and friends of Senator Finnerty, including her husband Les and our former
colleague, the Honourable Laurier LaPierre, as well as members of her staff.
Welcome to the Senate.
Hon. Isobel Finnerty: Honourable senators, I deeply appreciate the
comments that several senators have made here today. They reinforce the fact
that I leave here with very mixed emotions. It has been an immense honour to
serve the people of Canada in this house. I am particularly grateful to have
been given this opportunity.
Over the years, I have found the Senate to be rich in expertise and
diversity. It has been a wonderful experience for me to have been here among so
many distinguished Canadians for six years.
The media's characterization of the Senate as an inert and inactive place has
its roots in the past. The reality is that today the Senate is a vibrant place.
Through our work in this chamber, on committees, studying important aspects of
public policy and meeting with Canadians, we are building a better understanding
of one another, a prosperous economy and a great future. I also note that the
more than 30 per cent representation of women in this chamber is an eloquent
example for every Canadian institution to follow.
I regret very much that we have failed to get Canadians to fully appreciate
the Senate as the important part of our national political life that we know it
to be. I have been a political organizer since high school. My involvement in
politics has been an integral part of my life ever since. I am distressed to see
the growing level of disinterest in the political institutions of our country.
We must work cooperatively, no matter what one's political stripe, to bolster
Canadian confidence in the way our political system operates.
Politics, above everything else, is people. All the great ideas that capture
our attention and seek our promotion never get implemented without people. We
need to motivate people from all walks of life, from all communities, from every
geographic region, to get them involved, to make a difference and to join in the
common experience of Canada.
I want to acknowledge the generosity of all my colleagues, past and present,
during my years here. I will retire with memories that I cherish greatly. The
professionalism of the Senate staff at every level, including pages, messengers,
constables, maintenance crew and everyone working in administrative capacities,
is a splendid example of how to do things right. I thank each one of you.
I was fortunate to have Robin Russell as my legislative assistant and Anna
Morena as my executive assistant. Robin has been associated with me in a
multitude of political endeavours for almost 30 years. Anna Morena has been with
me from day one. I will miss our day-to-day interaction, her professionalism,
loyalty, energy, judgment, dedication and, above all, her good humour. I will
miss them both.
I have been blessed also by my very close-knit, caring and loyal family. My
husband, Les, has abundant patience and good humour. These qualities have sure
made our marriage work. I would not have followed my career without Les and my
two sons, Lorne and John. They have been particularly patient with me every time
an election bell has rung. In the last 50 years, I have consistently disappeared
from their daily lives because I suddenly got wrapped up in political activity
doing something, somewhere, to promote the causes in which I believe. I can
honestly say that my life has been very rich, indeed. Words cannot express my
deep gratitude to Les and my family.
Honourable senators, I will be following your deliberations from wherever I
am. It has been a great privilege to have been among you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table the fifteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade
and Commerce concerning the special study on issues dealing with productivity
entitled Falling Behind: Answering the Wakeup Call — What Can be Done to
Improve Canada's Productivity Performance?
On motion of Senator Grafstein, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, my question concerns comments
made by one of our colleagues in regard to Karla Homolka, one of the most
notorious criminals in the history of our country.
The Liberal senator in question has been quoted in the media as saying, "I
have to say I have sympathy for her." He also said that the conditions placed
upon Ms. Homolka upon her release are "unjustified." The senator has compared
the use of section 810.2 of the Criminal Code to restrict her movements as, "the
kind of law used in totalitarian regimes." He also compared her prison romance
with a man convicted of murdering his girlfriend to a boarding school crush.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us if the Prime
Minister has asked the Liberal senator in question to withdraw his remarks and
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
Prime Minister has no role to play in the comments on public policy of any
senator in this chamber.
Senator Tkachuk: Unfortunately, the statements that have been
attributed to the senator in question have caused pain to the families of Ms.
Homolka's victims. The senator's comments have also reflected badly upon this
chamber as a whole.
Mr. Tim Danson, a lawyer who represents the victims' families, has said, "I
find it disconcerting because senators come from a very particular and unique
office which carries with it an aura of integrity and prestige."
Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that the words of this
particular senator have inflicted pain on the victims' families and that an
apology is required by the senator in question?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, it is not the role of the Leader
of the Government in the Senate to comment on and reflect on public policy
statements of any other senator. I report for the government.
Whether or not senators in this chamber concur with the particular senator's
point of view, that senator has the right to pursue public policy as that
senator believes it correct to do. I happen not to agree with that point of
view, but I do want to affirm that I would never discourage the courage of any
senator to speak against the dominant paradigm.
Senator Tkachuk: Will the government and the Liberal caucus, then,
disassociate itself from the senator's remarks?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, this series of questions comes
very close to impropriety, so far as I am personally concerned. I will not
answer any further questions on this matter. I believe I have answered fully.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, the Ethics Commissioner in
the other place, Mr. Bernard Shapiro, has released his long-awaited report into
allegations of wrongdoing involving the former Minister of Immigration, Judy
Sgro. Mr. Shapiro found that, during last year's election campaign, 74 of 76
temporary residence permits issued at the request of a member of the other place
were supported by Liberal members, while the other two were supported by
Conservative members. Twenty-four of the permits were directly tied to Ms. Sgro,
and 19 of them were approved by her over a three-day period during the last week
of the election campaign. The report states that they mostly went to relatives
or associates of her campaign workers.
The Ethics Commissioner found these actions to be a clear violation of
principle 7 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Public Office Holders, which
prohibits such a person from using his or her position to help a private entity
or individual receive preferential treatment.
In the wake of this report, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate
tell us what his government is doing to address the blatant use of patronage in
our immigration system?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it
is the custom of Senator LeBreton to read long, partisan political preambles to
short politically partisan questions.
Senator Stratton: This is corruption again. Rotten to the core!
Senator Austin: I will answer the question this way: Under the rules
of the other place, the Ethics Commissioner was asked to provide and has
provided his view. That ends the matter.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Ms. Sgro is no longer a
minister of the government. The Department of Immigration is a major department
in the Government of Canada for which I think the government must answer. What I
read was not a long, partisan preamble, but a report that came directly from Mr.
My supplementary, honourable senators, is based on the fact that the report
also notes that the minister's policy of avoiding partisanship and limiting use
of these permits, "...essentially collapsed during the final weeks and days of
the election campaign. TRPs" — temporary residence permits — "were suddenly very
much more available." That is a quotation, not my statement.
What measures are being taken to ensure that ministers stick to proper
procedures and policies, especially during the upcoming election campaign?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the issue vis-à-vis the
government and the Prime Minister is one that is resolved by former Minister
Sgro having left the cabinet. The question is then one that is retrospective —
it looks at past behaviour and makes a judgment with respect to past behaviour.
The Ethics Commissioner was clear that what he found took place on the part
of the minister's staff was improper and inappropriate. Therefore, we can
conclude that that behaviour is not to be repeated and will not be tolerated.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: My question is a supplementary one to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Where does ministerial responsibility
begin and end, or have the rules changed? When I was a minister of the Crown, I
was responsible for what my staff did. We have had Shawinigate, the sponsorship
scandal and now the Minister of Immigration situation. Have the rules changed
such that ministers are no longer responsible for anything that happens in their
department and the staff is to be blamed? The government leader made reference
to the staff having committed egregious errors. Does the responsibility for that
not lie on the shoulders of the minister?
Is the government leader telling us — and it appears that he is — that, if
his staff, or the staff of another minister, were to do something blatantly
wrong, the minister bears no responsibility?
Could the government leader clarify that for Canadians and for the Senate?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the doctrine of ministerial
responsibility exists, and ministers are responsible for inappropriate things
happening within their statutory responsibilities. However, in Canadian
practice, it has been noted repeatedly that ministers need not necessarily
resign, if they have taken appropriate steps in the arrangement of the
management of their portfolios, if they have used due diligence in the
appointment of people and if the matter in question was not drawn to their
attention but was dealt with at a level beyond their awareness.
There are events that do take place under ministerial responsibility and are
not reported to the minister. The questions that must be asked are these: Is the
management system appropriate? Have the people in the minister's office been
chosen according to appropriate skills? Has due diligence been applied with
respect to their integrity? Having all that, if something undue happens and it
cannot be shown to have been within the awareness of the minister, then the
question of resignation is not necessarily appropriate.
Of course, we saw during the Mulroney era many ministers accused and defended
by such able people as the then House leader Deputy Prime Minister Erik Nielsen.
There are lots of examples of accusations. Some ministers resigned; some
ministers did not resign for a very long time; some ministers did not have to
The issues have to be judged against a set of criteria to which I have
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, the record should show that,
from 1984 to 1988 — when I was caucus chairman and, later in that mandate, a
minister — an individual under scrutiny basically resigned, from what I recall.
That is a known fact. That is why there were so many resignations. When
something did come up, individuals had the honour of respecting the position and
However, in the case of the former Minister of Immigration, Ms. Sgro, I am
puzzled as to how she could be absolved, given that she had to sign the
respective permits, or were the minister's staff signing the visitor permits
that were being issued? Ms. Sgro would obviously have to have known what was
going on, to have been signing them in such numbers as was pointed out by
Senator LeBreton. I do not understand what the minister is talking about.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the latter sentence by Senator
St. Germain may be true, in many cases. However, with respect to the rest of his
question, I shall not go beyond the report on the facts by the Ethics
Commissioner. That stands on its own.
All of this debate is more or less hypothetical. The minister resigned when
the first issue became public. The minister took appropriate steps in the
circumstances at the time and should be well appreciated for what she did.
Senator St. Germain: She did not resign, sir, immediately.
Senator Austin: She did so.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Globe and Mail reports that
last August the federal government expanded its secret audit into payments made
through Technology Partnerships Canada, a controversial fund for corporate
investment, after it was revealed that $2 million in commissions was paid to
consultants by three high-tech companies who received funding through the
program. In order to prevent kickbacks or bribes, the rules of Industry Canada
prohibit paying commissions or contingency fees to obtain financing from
Technology Partnerships Canada.
According to yesterday's Globe and Mail, Industry Canada has now
broadened its investigation to include a random sampling of Technology
Partnerships Canada's 673 approved projects. Fifty-eight projects in total were
selected involving 47 firms receiving more than $490 million from the fund.
My question for the Leader of the Government is this: Given the amount of
money involved, when will the government institute a proper transparency
mechanism within Technology Partnerships Canada to disclose which firms received
TPC funding, how much they received, what they do with it and how much, if any,
of their loans they repay?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it
was TPC's own audit processes that first identified these irregularities between
companies and lobbyists. As Senator Oliver said, the Department of Industry took
decisive action to deal with the abnormalities identified. External auditors
were engaged, a review was undertaken, and initially four companies were found
to be in default of their contribution agreements. That matter has been
remedied. There is a second-phase audit under way, and it is dealing with a wide
variety of TPC applications.
In answer to Senator Oliver's final question, it is the intention of the
Department of Industry to make TPC's applications and the reasons for accepting
them as transparent as commercial criteria will permit.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is
a supplementary and is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
During Question Period in the other place, the question was asked as to whether
any funds from the technology partnership program had ever gone to the Liberal
Party of Canada. The minister, in his response, dodged the question, by stating
— and I quote:
All of the money that was paid to consultants who were helping clients
obtain TPC funding has been returned. All of it has been returned, every cent.
Since the minister did not answer Mr. Schmidt's question, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can the government leader assure us
that funds from the technology partnerships program did not go to the Liberal
Party of Canada? Yes or no?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, if Senator Stratton has a charge
to make or information to provide, we would be happy to receive it. Otherwise,
his question is baseless in fact.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, the session may be coming
to a close, and we have adopted a very special rule for the ethics officer.
Eleven senators here have been completely left out of the loop.
It is my understanding that the Liberals have chosen Senator Carstairs and
Senator Joyal and that the Conservatives have chosen, in secret ballot, Senator
Angus and Senator Andreychuk.
As we have decided democratically, it is done, but I do not agree with it.
These four senators have been elected by secret ballot, according to a rule
passed by the house, with which I disagree. None of the 11 independent senators
— five Progressive Conservatives, five independents, and my colleague and
esteemed friend from the NDP in Saskatchewan — has a say or an understanding of
what the next step will be. It is our understanding that the next step is that
these four senators will get together to choose the fifth member of the
committee. Do not worry, be happy; I am not running for any office. I will not
put my name forward, so senators can relax. However, it does affect the 11 of
us. We would like to know when the provisions of this new, nonsensical statute
will come into effect. Is it now in effect or will it be in effect after the
names of all five senators are officially known? How do we conduct our affairs?
We do not know. The two major caucuses know more than the 11 senators I just
mentioned. I do not speak on behalf of the others.
I may be misinformed when I say that Senators Andreychuk, Angus, Carstairs
and Joyal have been elected by secret ballot to sit on the committee. What is
the next step and when will it be taken? Do not tell me it is up to these four
senators to decide. Senator Austin is the Leader of the Government; he should
know what the next step will be so that we can conduct our affairs
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Senator Prud'homme has asked this question previously, and I doubt that I can
answer any better than I answered before.
The chamber has adopted rules with which Senator Prud'homme disagrees. Those
rules ask the four senators who have been elected pursuant to the rules to
nominate a fifth senator. I am not aware that they have met. Therefore, I am not
aware that they have made a choice. All I can tell honourable senators is that
it is my responsibility, along with that of the Leader of the Opposition, to
bring to this chamber a non-debatable motion advising senators of the names of
the five people who will constitute the Senate Standing Committee on Conflict of
Interest. Of course, I will do so when I have been formally notified who those
Senator Prud'homme: Senator Austin always likes to remind us that I
sometimes disagree. I am a democrat. I fight as hard as I can, and once a
decision is taken democratically, I accept it. I am showing my displeasure. The
decision has been taken. Please stop saying "with which I disagree." I have as
much right as any other senator to disagree. I disagree, but what is done is
Who takes the initiative on behalf of these four members of the new
committee? There must be a boss. How does the committee proceed? Are they all
waiting to be called? Someone must take the initiative to bring them together. I
would have thought that the leader of this house would provide some support and
remind them that they should inform us as soon as possible. I am afraid that we
will adjourn and not know how to conduct our affairs.
I have the card of the Senate Ethics Officer. I want to know what to do. The
11 senators do not know a thing, which is unfair. It is also unfair that not one
of these 11 senators sits on the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets
and Administration, which has 15 members. I attend as a volunteer. The others do
what they want; I do not speak for them.
I was raised to know that the word "fairness" exists, and I find the
situation I have just described to be unfair. I am told to go see someone else.
I am therefore putting myself in the leader's able hands in an effort to learn a
little bit more. Some of the 11 senators do not speak as forcefully as I do, but
they are as interested in this situation because I consulted with them and they
say that they do not know either.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, Senator Prud'homme has made a
long statement and I can provide him with a clear, short answer. He will recall,
as will other senators, the insistence of this chamber and the majority of its
members that the executive play no role in the matter of the administration of
the code for this place. I believe that Senator Prud'homme was of the same view.
With respect to the origin of the rules and the way in which they function,
Senator Prud'homme might wish to address his question to the Chair of the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Tests are currently being done in
England to give final confirmation as to whether an older cow from the United
States has mad cow disease.
An Hon. Senator: Holy cow!
Senator St. Germain: Holy cow; that is true. This one will be unholy
if she is fraught with BSE.
Is the federal government of the opinion that a confirmation of an
American-born case of mad cow disease would make it more or less difficult to
reopen the border to live cattle from Canada, as the U.S. would then have the
same disease status as Canada, in the federal government's view? How would a
positive test influence U.S. public opinion and the U.S. legal proceedings? I am
playing to the leader's legal expertise.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
there is no legal expertise required to answer this question. It is entirely
hypothetical. I will not proceed any further to deal with it on the Senate
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a
question in two parts concerning the business of the house. Senator Prud'homme
states that the session may be coming to an end. I am afraid the contrary seems
to be true. Because we are not involved or particularly care to become involved
in the bipartisan negotiations in this place, I have to ask the Leader of the
Government whether honourable senators should count on being here for, let us
say, the first two weeks of July.
The second part of my question has to do with a specific bill. I am aware of
the discussion and of the speculation concerning Bill C-48 and Bill C-38. There
is another interesting bill on the Order Paper of the other place and that is
the bill — I am sorry I do not have the number — that deals with compensation
for judges. What priority does this bill have so far as the government is
It is an interesting question in view of the fact that I understand that at
least one of the opposition parties opposes that bill, so given the extra time
that Parliament is apt to be sitting, will the government be bringing forward
the judicial compensation bill or will judges be left to live from hand to mouth
for the entire summer?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Senator Murray's concluding words do raise a considerable level of sympathy in
my legal soul.
As best as I can advise, because so many of the answers depend on the
business conducted in the other place, I would expect that we could be in
session until July 13 or 14. That certainly will allow this chamber to deal with
a lot of work.
Honourable senators, I have said publicly several times that the government
wishes to deal finally with Bill C-48 and Bill C-38 before the Senate rises for
the summer break. We can only await the discharge of business in the other place
regarding this legislation to know what will be required of us in terms of
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, my friend did not answer my
question about the bill dealing with compensation for judges. I am interested to
know where that stands on the government's list of priorities in the current
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, having introduced the bill, the
government obviously seeks its passage. With respect to its place on the list of
priorities, I will have to consult the Leader of the Government in the other
place and advise Senator Murray further. I hope that he will not have to wait
too long for the answer.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
my question relates to a bill of which we can speak with certitude in the
Senate, namely, Bill C-43, the main budget bill. That bill is in committee, and
I understand that this evening the Minister of Finance will be appearing on it.
In light of what is happening in the other place and the possibility of a
vote on Bill C-48 tomorrow evening, Conservative senators are offering to the
government that after the minister appears this evening clause-by-clause study
be conducted on that bill, as will be done this afternoon in the Social Affairs
Committee on Bill C-22. A different minister will then appear before that
committee on Bill C-23, after which the committee will conduct clause-by-clause
consideration on that bill.
I am offering to the government that, after the appearance of the Minister of
Finance before the National Finance Committee tonight on Bill C-43, the
committee conduct clause-by-clause consideration of the bill in order that the
committee can report that bill tomorrow. In that case, we would offer leave to
proceed with third reading so that Bill C-43, which contains the Atlantic
accord, which is of great concern to all Atlantic Canadian senators, can be
given Royal Assent tomorrow afternoon at four o'clock. Will the honourable
minister accept that offer?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Kinsella for that
special consideration. However, if Senator Lynch-Staunton or Senator Banks were
here, they would remind Senator Kinsella that it is the Senate practice, as we
have been reminded quite recently, not to conduct clause-by-clause consideration
at the same meeting as a witness has been heard. I think we had better follow
that practice. It is very good practice and, as I have said, we will be sitting
next week and can give the bill third reading then. We have adequate time to
deal with this legislation.
Of course, this bill could have been passed some time ago but for the efforts
of the opposition in the other place. I understand that the opposition wants to
pick and choose its time. It is the role of the opposition to seek its best
advantage. I have been in opposition, and it was not a time I particularly
enjoyed. We took that same approach when Senator Murray was the Leader of the
Government representing the Progressive Conservative Party.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, it is my understanding that two bills are being studied in committee
today with ministers present and that after presentations by the ministers the
committees will proceed to clause-by-clause consideration. That is my clear
Senator Kinsella: Bills C-22 and C-23, which are currently before the
Social Affairs Committee.
Senator Stratton: Honourable senators, if the Social Affairs Committee
is prepared and willing to follow that procedure with regard to those two bills,
I fail to see why, when this side has offered to proceed to clause-by-clause
consideration after the presentation by the minister, in order to ensure that a
bill passes so that Atlantic Canada will get what it needs and deserves, the
government would refuse to do so.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I am sure that the Chairman of
the Social Affairs Committee and the chairman of every other committee are aware
of the practice so long argued for and followed in this place with respect to
clause-by-clause consideration. Senator Lynch-Staunton, Senator Banks and others
believe that it is best practice not to proceed immediately to clause-by-clause
but rather, to paraphrase the argument we have heard here, to respect the
evidence of the witnesses who have been heard by giving some thought to the
significance of it.
Honourable senators, as I have said in response to Senator Murray, we expect
to be here for up to three more weeks. Therefore, there is adequate time to deal
with this legislation.
Senator Comeau: Atlantic Canadians cannot wait.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, in the past, both sides have
agreed to proceed with clause-by-clause consideration after hearing from a
minister. What the Leader of the Government has said is not quite correct.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting the delayed answer to a question
raised in the Senate on June 1, 2005, by Senator Stratton, regarding the Kyoto
Protocol, management of the funding portfolio.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Terry Stratton on June 1, 2005)
Climate change is this country's greatest environmental challenge. The
Government of Canada has been investing in actions to address climate change
since 1997, with funds allocated over successive budgets. While making these
investments is part of the solution, they must be made prudently and
responsibly. There must also be flexibility so that we can learn as we go.
The funding since 1997 has been invested across a wide range of activities
aimed at increasing our knowledge base and supporting action to reduce GHG
emissions. For example, they have helped to:
- uncover increasing evidence of climate change, and improve the
country's understanding of the inherent challenges and risks;
- advance and transfer new technologies that reduce GHG emissions in
areas such as energy efficiency, cleaner fossil fuels, and the hydrogen
- encourage early action to reduce GHG emissions in major energy
consuming sectors such as buildings, housing, transportation, and
agriculture; also to promote strengthened standards for buildings,
appliances and equipment and the development and use of renewable energy;
- enable Canada to play a leadership role in international climate
change negotiations, and strengthen our capacity for domestic policy
These investments, touching all sectors of the economy, were aimed at the
"low hanging fruit" i.e., those measures that put us on the path to emissions
reductions, often at the lowest cost.
Action Plan 2000, for example, comprises 45 measures that target key
sectors accounting for 90 percent of Canada's GHG emissions. Many of those
measures broke new ground. Many that worked well received additional support
through Budget 2003. These include, for example, the popular Energuide for
Houses initiative to cost share home energy audits that will recommend energy
efficiency improvements as well as programs to encourage energy efficiency
retrofits of existing commercial buildings.
These investments have helped to lay the groundwork for the behavioral,
technological and economic changes that will be critical in placing Canada on
the lower emissions trajectory that will be needed to achieve the significant
cuts required over time.
These early investments provided the foundation for the 2002 Climate Change
Plan for Canada, which used a broader range of tools including information,
incentives, regulations and tax measures, across a number of sectors
including: transportation; housing and commercial/ institutional buildings;
large industrial emitters; renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuels;
agriculture; forestry; and landfills.
But an issue as complex as climate change cannot be solved overnight, nor
should expenditures of this magnitude be made quickly. Investments must be
made over many years, and we must learn and adjust as we go. That's why the
funds allocated to climate change have a spending profile that spans a number
of years. Budget 2003 climate change funds, for example, have a five year
Of the $3.7 billion allocated between 1997 and 2003 some $700 million from
Budget 2003 was earmarked for the out years of 2006-07 and 2007-08. This would
allow the Government some flexibility to allocate funds to emerging
priorities, new technologies, or the continuation of programs that have
Of the remaining $3 billion, some $710 million represents endowments
provided to foundations such as Sustainable Development Technology Canada and
the Green Municipal Funds, administered by the Federation of Canadian
The remaining $2.3 billion, allocated across a range of programs and
federal departments, was in most cases profiled over a five year period. Some
$1 billion of that pertains to the four fiscal years after 2003-04, a period
not captured in the documents referred to by Senator Stratton. While much of
that is indeed unspent, it reflects the fact that there is a "ramping" up of
programs over time. In other words, time is required to establish program
infrastructure and access target audiences.
For the period reported to date it is also important to recognize that,
under many programs, there is a time lag between a spending commitment and the
actual expenditure. For example, under the Wind Power Production Incentive,
the incentive supports the first ten years of operation of a new wind farm. In
another example, capital contributions committed to new ethanol plants will be
provided only after the plants are built. The full implementation of these
programs, and the associated expenditures, will not occur for some time to
The Government is working to ensure that climate change funds are used
wisely. That is why the 2005 Climate Change Plan states that investments under
the Plan will be closely evaluated on an annual basis to ensure value for
money, and a continuous focus on actions that result in real and verifiable
GHG emission reductions.
In the 2005 Budget and Climate Change Plan, the Government committed to
re-assessing and re-directing climate change funding to those measures that
best meet the principles of balance, competitiveness, partnership, innovation
and cost effectiveness. The result of this review of all climate change
programming will be a re-allocation of previously committed monies to better
performing or alternatively delivered measures. Officials are in the process
of putting the review in place, with the intent that the results support
funding decisions for the 2006-07 fiscal year.
The funds committed to climate change are very much needed if we are to
achieve our Kyoto commitments. While the 2005 Climate Change Plan put forth a
$10 billion figure, it is important to remember that investments under the
Plan are about more than climate change. They will transform our economy,
boost our international competitiveness, and address smog and other health
risks. Many of these investments, such as energy efficiency and East-West
energy transmission, will need to be made anyway for reasons that go beyond
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government) moved third
reading of Bill C-56, to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement
and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement.
He said: Honourable senators, I do not want to prolong debate on this bill,
but I do want to put a few thoughts on the record. I first want to thank all
honourable senators for their contributions, particularly Senator Cochrane. I
want to thank Senator St. Germain for his participation, both here and in
committee, and for the support that he has given and I know will continue to
give. I want to thank senators on this side as well.
I wish to use this occasion to put some thoughts on the record. Members of
the executive of the Labrador Inuit Association are in the gallery again today,
as is Wally Andersen, the Member of the House of Assembly for Torngat Mountains
in northern Labrador, the provincial riding in question. I salute him,
congratulate him and thank him for the work and time he has put into this cause.
He is a dedicated member of the provincial House of Assembly. He is an Inuk
himself, and I want to put on the record of Parliament his contribution to this
I also want to use the occasion to remember some of the elders who, as
William Andersen said in committee, passed away over this 30-year period. We
should remember them today because they made a contribution. They put much of
their lives into this agreement.
I want to remember particularly the other presidents of the Labrador Inuit
Association, starting with Sam Andersen, then Bill Edmunds, who was a strong
leader for the Labrador Inuit, and Fran Williams, who was the first but perhaps
not last female president of the Labrador Inuit Association, who now still
continues to give great service to northern Labrador with the OKalaKatiget
Society, the communications arm of the Labrador Inuit in Nain.
I want to remember elders who have passed on but who made a significant
contribution. I want to remember Jerry Sillett from Nain, who had a great deal
of respect in northern Labrador and who contributed a lot from his life into
I want to remember Bill Andersen from Makkovik. His son Toby is with us
today. Bill was the chief land claims negotiator for the Labrador Inuit; he put
much of his time and effort into forging an agreement that is creative and
unique and yet strong enough to protect his people. I want to pay tribute to him
today, as he is with us here in the gallery.
I want to remember Chesley Flowers from Hopedale, who also made a significant
contribution to this agreement.
I particularly want to remember Beatrice Watts. Beatrice was a Ford,
originally from Nain. She made an outstanding contribution to northern Labrador.
She was part of the land claims team, but her contribution was in education in
particular. For her contribution to education on the Labrador coast, protecting
the language and culture of northern Labrador, Beatrice was awarded the Order of
Canada and also an honorary degree from Memorial University. I want to put her
name on the record today and to remember her contribution to this process.
I wish to make two further points, one being related to something Senator
Cochrane mentioned in her remarks the other day, that is, the aspect of this
agreement that concerns the territorial sea. The agreement includes provisions
to give the Labrador Inuit some say, not perhaps total say, but a great deal of
say, and a great deal of influence in what goes on in that sea, that territory
off their coasts. The Labrador Inuit are people of the sea. They are people of
the seal. The seal has been the source of substance for the Labrador Inuit, as
it has been for others, for centuries.
It is very important that the Labrador Inuit have control over marine
resources, especially when the time comes that oil and gas off the Labrador
coast are developed. That control will assure for them an important and a strong
role in the development of those resources; it will ensure that they are the
primary beneficiaries of it. This agreement establishes that there must be an
impact and benefits agreement if development is to proceed. I think it is fair
to say that development will not happen in that marine territory unless the
Inuit agree, as was the case in the Voisey's Bay nickel mine.
The second point I want to make is one that was mentioned yesterday in
committee, and that is the whole role of the Government of Nunatsiavut in
education. That particular area of social activity will be most important to us.
All the resources in the world come to no good if people are unskilled and
cannot take advantage of the jobs available. Even if the Labrador Inuit were are
guaranteed priority in jobs, without the skills and the education they will not
be able to go as far as they should.
I was interested yesterday in committee to hear William say that, once this
agreement in place, the Inuit in Labrador can begin consultations with Inuit in
other parts of Canada — Inuit in Nunavut, Inuit in Nunavik, and the Inuvialuit.
In that way, all of the Inuit in Canada can come together to focus on what they
want to do with education in their territory and how they want to provide a
meaningful and useful education system for their people, to ensure that they
take advantage of it.
These are important points to be noted, and I wanted to note them today.
However, I do not want to go on at length. I wish to conclude by underlining
something William Andersen said in committee yesterday, something worth putting
on the parliamentary record as well.
He said that, fundamentally, this agreement is about hope, that the Inuit
have experienced despair. We should not hide the fact that despair has been
there with far too great a presence. We have seen the effects of alcohol. We
have seen the effects of dependency. We have seen the effects of despair. There
is a higher suicide rate in some of our communities, as there is in Aboriginal
communities all across this country. That is the evidence of the despair.
Let me share one particular ironic example. In Nain, about three years ago, a
young man killed himself by jumping off the CBC tower. The CBC tower should be a
symbol of communications in this country, of reaching out, of how we talk to
each other as Canadians, a symbol for the future. It was from that tower that he
chose to commit suicide.
Honourable senators, we should not underestimate or hide the despair. William
said yesterday that this agreement is about hope and about a way of overcoming
that despair and moving on and creating a new future. I think it is important to
underline that, and this agreement will give the Labrador Inuit that ability.
I would simply underline that by quoting Alexander Pope:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be
I hope that will be the case, and I believe it will be with the Inuit.
I simply want to leave them with one phrase from Desiderata, to say
that I hope this applies to them, and I am sure it will.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have
a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the
universe is unfolding as it should.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I too should like to rise
to say a few words in regard to Bill C-56, this historic agreement that will
definitely improve the plight of our Aboriginal peoples in the eastern Maritime
region. I do not have the same background history of the riding as the senator
who has just spoken, but I do have a little bit of experience, in that I spent
some time with the Royal Canadian Air Force flying the area from Greenland along
the Labrador Coast — an area known as iceberg alley. Interestingly, yesterday,
William Andersen said that when the two-kilometre-long icebergs hit the bottom
of the ocean, they scrape 10 to 12 inches off the granite floor, for two
kilometres. I am not sure of the exact numbers, but it was scary. In flying over
this beautiful region, one cannot understand the immensity and the impact of
The fact that water is part of the agreement will be significant in allowing
the Inuit people of Labrador to reach the full potential economically.
Senator Austin is leaving. However, before he leaves, I should like to point
out to him that, under the superb leadership of Senator Sibbeston yesterday,
right after the parliamentary secretary gave evidence, we started our
clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. It puts what was going on before
into perspective. I have no regrets. Senator Sibbeston and Senator Rompkey were
in attendance at the time. It was important to deal with it expeditiously.
We want to be able to expedite these agreements so that our Aboriginal people
can get on with their lives, get on with economic development, and take control
of their own destinies as far as education is concerned. Two Es are important:
expedite and educate.
I have been a strong proponent of the idea that education is the only true
value that will assist our Aboriginal peoples in finding their rightful place in
society and bringing the fairness that has been denied them for so many years. I
look forward to working on other bills of this nature.
I should like to take a moment to make mention of my colleague in the other
place. I have worked with the minister and with Sue Barnes, but it is Jim
Prentice who brings expertise to this task. The Alberta member of Parliament,
who is the lead critic in the other place, has tremendous understanding of the
needs of our Aboriginal peoples. He has worked on Aboriginal files and
agreements of this nature across Canada for the last 15 or 20 years.
It was under his leadership that we, the other place and now this place, are
unanimously approving this particular initiative.
I should also like to make mention of Minister Tom Rideout. I know the
Rideout family. His brother worked for me when I was a minister. I know how
capable they both are as individuals. Under the leadership of the Premier of
Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams, their cooperation should be noted on
the record here today.
We heard from my friend William Andersen from the Labrador Inuit Association.
Yesterday Senator Adams expressed the concern that he has regarding the
fishery in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, where he resides. I hope that our witnesses
from Labrador will be able to have better control of the destiny of the fishery
in their particular region.
Mr. Toby Andersen did an excellent job in negotiating this agreement,
especially as it relates to the future of the fishery and the potential that the
ocean can bring to his people.
I would congratulate Mr. Toby Andersen and thank him for coming to my office
to discuss this file so that I understood it better.
I do not profess to be an expert in Aboriginal affairs in spite of the fact
that my colleagues have decided that I should be a member of the Standing Senate
Committee on Aboriginal Peoples for my entire career in the Senate. Having said
that, one of these days I will most likely understand all of these files. By
that time, I will most likely be ready to retire.
As you go forward, we will be here to assist. As a Metis from Manitoba, I
bring an Aboriginal perspective to this debate. I try to understand your
situation. I think your challenges are different as compared to those of many of
our Aboriginal peoples in the West. However, in certain ways, they are similar.
We all seek fairness, and I think fairness will be served with Royal Assent
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government) moved third
reading of Bill C-58, for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the
public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2006.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C., for the third reading of
Bill C-3, to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the
Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I wish to offer a few
comments at third reading debate on Bill C-3, to amend the Canada Shipping Act,
the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canadian National Marine Conservation Areas
Act and the Oceans Act.
After a rather brief examination, this bill was reported to the Senate on
June 9 by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. The
committee reported the bill without amendment, but did append to its report
certain important observations. In particular, it acknowledged serious concerns
expressed by witnesses engaged in transporting goods by water to northern
I share these concerns, which relate to two key aspects of Canadian marine
policy. The first concern relates to the unchecked authority of the Department
of Fisheries and Oceans to set marine navigation service fees, and the second
relates to the levying of marine navigation service fees against ship operators
carrying goods through northern waters.
At committee, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Jean Lapierre, took
special note of these concerns, which he said were not directly within his
jurisdiction. However, he undertook to discuss the matter and seek a resolution
of the outstanding issues with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and to
report back with the results of these discussions to the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications with the shortest possible delay.
Honourable senators, I look forward to the committee's further advice to this
chamber on the results of these promised ministerial discussions, particularly
since the issues go directly to the possibility of reducing the costs and
expenses involved in providing food and other necessary supplies to the good
citizens of Canada's remote northern communities. These exorbitant costs are
passed on to these citizens and they are difficult to absorb. Given our recent
experience with interdepartmental turf wars in marine-related matters in Canada,
I am sceptical as to a successful outcome.
At second reading of this bill on April 14 of this year, I concluded my
remarks by stating:
...I earnestly hope that Bill C-3 is given more than a cursory study in
committee so that before giving it third reading in this chamber we can be
assured that the bill is indeed policy neutral and appropriate in both form
and substance so that it can accomplish its intended results.
Unfortunately, honourable senators, having carefully studied the testimony
given at committee on Bill C-3, as well as the testimony before the Standing
Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources during the
study of Bill C-15, I am left with a profound concern about the apparent
confusion surrounding the current roles, mandates, and areas of jurisdictions
and authorities allocated to at least three departments insofar as marine policy
and operations are concerned. These three departments include: Transport Canada;
Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and Environment Canada.
In my respectful submission, honourable senators, it is unfortunate that,
even though the government purports to be cleaning up certain jurisdictional
overlap and confusion concerning the operations of the Canadian Coast Guard with
Bill C-3, it has woefully failed to do so.
To make my point, I will cite just one example from a meeting of the Standing
Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. The Honourable Senator Hubley,
who in recent months was the government sponsor in the matter of the
controversial Bill C-15, asked the following question to Mr. Gerald A. McDonald,
Director General of Marine Safety for Transport Canada. He appeared before the
committee on June 8 with Transport Minister Jean C. Lapierre. The transcript of
the proceedings reads as follows:
Senator Hubley: Did the minister say that Transport Canada is now
solely responsible for the policing of marine pollution?
Mr. McDonald: Yes, that is correct. We are responsible for the
approval of the oil handling facilities for the organizations that are
responsible for the cleanup of pollution. We also assumed responsibility for
the National Aerial Surveillance Program, which obviously surveys for
Honourable senators, I dare say Senator Hubley may have been rather surprised
or even dismayed to hear Mr. McDonald's answer, given the testimony she had
heard from Environment Canada officials as to their responsibilities for
pollution cleanup during the hearings on Bill C-15, which lasted more than three
Not surprisingly, Senator Hubley then went on to question Mr. McDonald
Senator Hubley: Environmental legislation appears in many
departments. Is this being coordinated now?
Mr. McDonald: Yes, it is coordinated. You are probably aware of Bill
C-15, which was recently passed, which had some oil pollution response
provisions in it. Our primary pieces of legislation are the Canada Shipping
Act and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act. We work in a coordinated
fashion with the Department of the Environment and the Department of Fisheries
and Oceans. Given the new provisions in Bill C-15, we are in the process of
negotiating an actual enforcement memorandum of understanding with these two
departments on how we will interface in that regard.
Honourable senators, the reality is that great confusion exists within the
very important marine and maritime sector in Canada as to just who has
responsibility for what. I receive complaints from marine sector stakeholders,
including from officials within Transport Canada, on an almost daily basis.
These key players cannot fathom why this government will not restore to
Transport Canada full, complete and clear authority for all matters maritime at
both the policy and the operational levels. They have the manpower and the
expertise to do the job as they once did, proudly and in an internationally
Honourable senators, I am given to understand that the truth is that ongoing
petty, costly and dilatory turf battles are causing great difficulties in
concluding even a simple memorandum of understanding such as the one referred to
by Mr. McDonald in his response to Senator Hubley.
Canada's once proud Coast Guard, now a separate government agency and a
shadow of its former self, at the end of the day is now "owned" by the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, not Transport Canada or Environment Canada.
Our marine pollution detection and enforcement is notoriously weak and could
well be rendered even more so by Bill C-15 and Bill C-3.
Bill C-15 came into being after a jurisdictional battle between Transport
Canada and Environment Canada and was designed to strengthen Canada's marine
pollution prevention and enforcement capacities. It has already been dubbed by
the international marine community as a joke. It will surely be challenged,
likely successfully, in the courts if and when Environment Canada attempts to
invoke its provisions following a major pollution incident. This could allow the
culprits to get off scot-free yet again, as in the Tecam Sea case, to
which I referred in detail in my second reading speech.
My point here, honourable senators, is that the marine and maritime sector,
and maritime matters generally in Canada, are critical elements of this
country's economy, of its environmental integrity and of its national security.
There is an urgent need for a complete review of all legislation involving
marine and maritime policy and operation, especially concerning the role and
jurisdiction of the once proud Canadian Coast Guard. Canadians, our neighbours
and trading partners deserve better than the existing mish-mash of conflicting,
contradictory and overlapping rules, regulations and framework legislation.
Honourable senators, there is strong support for these views in a recent
report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. The
Honourable Senator Kenny will have more to say on this subject shortly.
At the outset, we were told by the government that Bill C-3 was a simple
housekeeping bill to implement a poorly thought-out Order-in-Council passed
without fanfare or serious public scrutiny on December 12, 2003. This bill may
well in fact add to rather than disperse the confusion.
However, as I stated at second reading, the bill appears at least to be on
the right track. The problem is that it does not go far enough, and it conflicts
with a vast array of related laws and regulations.
In conclusion, honourable senators, I urge the government to conduct a
comprehensive legislative review post-haste and to then come up with a
completely new set of marine and maritime laws and regulations, including those
relating to the Coast Guard, the whole under the direction and control of
Transport Canada and the umbrella of the Canada Shipping Act. This matter is
critical and urgent.
The Hon. the Speaker: I see no other senator rising. Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Andreychuk calling
the attention of the Senate to the need for a strong integrated Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the need to strengthen and support
the Foreign Service of Canada, in order to ensure that Canada's international
obligations are met and that Canada's opportunities and interests are
maximized.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, this inquiry has reached day 15. Although Senator Andreychuk is very
much interested in speaking to this inquiry, she is, unfortunately, not
available to speak to it today. I would therefore ask on her behalf for the
clock to be rewound.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed that this matter return to day zero
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Comeau calling the
attention of the Senate to the NDP budget announced in the media by the Prime
Minister on April 26, 2005; the ruination and destruction of the Liberal
budget; the compromised integrity of the Minister of Finance whose previous
position was that such measures were fiscally irresponsible; and the
irresponsibility of the Liberal government in attempting to shore up its
fading support through reckless new spending announcements.—(Honourable
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I assure you that we will have speakers coming up on this issue. I
would ask, again, if we could rewind the clock on this item.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it agreed that this
matter return to day zero and stand?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon rose pursuant to notice of June 15, 2005:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the state of international
He said: Honourable senators, two weeks ago, I had the great privilege of
attending a global health summit in Seattle, a summit whose theme was "Science
Innovation and the Future of Health: Building Partnerships to Transform
This afternoon, I should like to tell you about the ideas surrounding
international health services that were discussed at the summit, as well as some
of my own thoughts on the subject.
I apologize in advance if some of the things I will tell you are somewhat
technical in nature, but I feel it is important to raise them so that we may
open our minds and embrace new ideas and solutions to health care problems
around the world and in our own backyard.
The global health summit considered four major themes — namely, the promise
of science; the impact of science and public health; the impact of science on
health systems and personal health; and, finally, the impact of science and
health on economic growth.
The main question the summit addressed was how to create an improved health
care model for the 21st century. This model will have to be much more
geographically and socially inclusive. It must also combine international
efforts to control or eliminate the large pool of human suffering in developing
countries, suffering that threatens the global community with massive pandemic
Participants at the summit agreed that the 21st century will experience a
health care revolution and will be led by information, that most mobile and
educative of all technologies. In the not-too-distant future, powerful new
technology tools will discover and address the causes of poor health, such as
lifestyles, environment or genetics. These tools will address the causes at the
level of the individual before leading to debilitating and expensive illness.
There are essentially five powerful tools that will drive progress in this
area: first, genomics; second, informatics; third, patient care through
communications technology; fourth, nanotechnology; and, fifth, bioengineering.
The first three areas I have mentioned deal with the building blocks of
biology, bytes and broadband. Nanotechnology and bioengineering from gene chips
to stem cells will help to bring about solutions to some of our most pressing
health care problems.
Honourable senators, to illustrate what I mean by this, let us briefly
consider gene chips, which are small pieces of glass imprinted with thousands of
a person's genes. Today, these chips are mostly used to conduct basic genetic
research, but it is widely hoped that they will one day be used to tailor
medicine to an individual's genetic makeup.
The combination of biology, bytes and broadband is not only the heart of
modern health care, but also it is at the centre of the development of our
overall environment, economy and education. Technological barriers have become
less relevant as we can now access even the most remote of settlements. Today,
the transfer of information is global and instant. By the same token, the
accessibility and power of the best diagnostics tools, critical to an early
health care strategy, have improved exponentially. We all have a stake in
maximizing the potential that technology affords us.
We must engage in digitalization of diagnostics and biomarkers and in
molecular diagnostics and therapeutics. We must begin the utilization of
nanotechnology and the digitalization of medicine. Developing tools for health
risk assessment and therapeutic evaluation will lead to early diagnostics and
therapy. Some of our more optimistic scientists tell us that it is not
inconceivable that, using the chemistry and technology available at this point
in time, diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes may virtually be
eliminated within 10 years. What an incredible thought. This would leave us room
to deal with the horrendous problems caused by mental illness and other
conditions that have not received nearly enough of our attention.
We must move to personalize health care delivery by embracing information
technology and alleviating or eliminating the related fears of privacy invasion.
Information technology holds the potential for the improved management of
diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's with the management systems that
embrace computerized assisted-living, information technology and robotics. This
technology can also help to restore the patient's independence and allow
families to monitor their loved ones regardless of distance.
I point to the example of technology currently available to Alzheimer's
patients. When the door bell or telephone rings in their home, a profile of the
person calling is displayed, helping to eliminate some of the embarrassment and
apprehension that the Alzheimer's patient frequently encounters at this time.
Honourable senators, the global health summit also considered the cost
profile of health models. An early health model may be less expensive than
building and maintaining a health system focussed on late-stage disease. By
shifting the current health care model, the majority of resources used to treat
illness can eventually be relocated to provide practical tools to help and
motivate the individual to understand and maintain their own health before they
become sick. This early health model is a tremendous opportunity for all health
care contributors to unite in the design and collaborative delivery of vital new
Many times before in this chamber, I have drawn attention to the need for a
greater investment in primary health care, which pays close attention to
lifestyle, environment, early diagnosis and intervention. Primary care also
involves electronic health records, remote real-time monitoring and early
screening programs, all tailored to the individual.
Why should a physician's office simply be a place that people visit when
sick? An obvious step forward would be the creation of a centre for health,
fitness and diagnostic resources that interacts with the broader community.
In my opinion, primary care stands the best chance of limiting the advance of
late-stage diseases that are both debilitating and expensive. As a consequence
of this focus on primary care, we will make greater investments in
community-based services centred on the patient and fewer investments in
tertiary hospital institutions. In other words, I believe that an immediate
shift is needed away from institutional care toward community-based primary
Health care delivery needs to move from being our greatest modern cost to
becoming our greatest modern asset. It is the number one economic activity in
the world and our goal should be to capitalize on the opportunities it affords.
Where does this leave us in Canada? It is important that we question the path
we are on, as our current health care system is not sustainable over the long
term. We must join the global initiative to design a new and better model for
health care. This model must be cost-effective and based upon prevention and
early detection. Improvements in productivity will also make the system more
Illogically, we have frequently approached this issue from the point of view
of gatekeeping. The result of this mindset has been long waiting lists and
incredibly expensive treatment of advanced disease.
Our health care system fares particularly badly when we compare it to 24
other OECD countries. With the exception of United States and Switzerland, our
expenditures are the greatest. However, Switzerland, which currently spends
slightly more than Canada, ranks number one in overall performance. We rank
thirteenth. Switzerland ranks third in health outcomes. We rank twentieth.
In Switzerland, health care is funded by health insurance which has three
components: Compulsory basic social insurance; supplementary insurance; and,
sickness, old age and disability insurance. In Canada, 70 per cent of all
services are covered by the government — the single payer — and 30 per cent are
Honourable senators, science and health should be instruments of economic
growth. The accumulation of clinical and biomedical information is a powerful
and beneficial economic activity in itself. As well, the appropriate application
of health care knowledge and wisdom leads to healthier and more economically
We should invest heavily in the development of vaccines to deal with the ever
present threat of serious global pandemics. We must create definitive and safe
ways to control insects that carry and spread disease.
I would particularly stress that the level of debate surrounding health care
must be significantly elevated. The debate must dare to look at the best options
worldwide and adapt them to our own system in carefully measured steps. We must
target the major diseases such as cancer, heart disease, mental illness and
diabetes and work to eliminate or control them. We must join the global effort
to eradicate poverty, pestilence and disease to ease or eliminate the risk of
Honourable senators, in light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision,
we must look for a process of rapid evolution of our own health care system. It
is my firm belief that our system, as it stands today, is designed for the
practitioner, not the patient, and we must change this. It is also my belief we
must preserve the single payer system. The single payer, publicly funded system
is the most efficient and equitable way to pay for health care. However,
competition should be allowed in the delivery systems to improve quality and
Although there are many health care providers, we should think of them
collectively as a monopoly provider because there is no competition among them.
Most doctors do not compete on price or quality of service, and the financing
system precludes competition between hospitals.
Honourable senators, we must remember that competition in health care is not
an end in itself but a valuable tool. I understand that is an idea considered
controversial by some, but it is perhaps the only way to drive productivity
improvements that are so desperately needed. In other countries, competition
between providers has been shown to improve productivity tremendously. In our
own country, we have witnessed the benefits of competition in other industries.
The system could also be made more productive and efficient through better
use of providers, allowing them to use their full range of skills and knowledge.
Currently, scope of practice rules prohibit this. Narrow job descriptions have
limited the range of tasks that health care professionals may be permitted to
perform. Rigid scope of practice rules have also given hospitals little
flexibility in how they deliver service. There must be a way that we can arrive
at a system where the most appropriately qualified health care provider delivers
a service to a patient. We must encourage ingenuity, not an unyielding adherence
to the practices of the past.
I believe we have also reached the point where every Canadian deserves a
health care guarantee for essential services. Honourable senators may remember
that a care guarantee was one of the recommendations of the 2002 report of the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
A health care guarantee would ensure that, for every type of major procedure
or treatment, a maximum waiting time would be established under which a patient
would be entitled to receive care. If a service cannot be provided in a timely
fashion in one particular location, the government would be legally obliged to
pay for the patient to receive that service in another jurisdiction inside or
outside the country. This legal commitment to care would force governments
either to improve access to care and reduce wait lists or pay a penalty.
However, honourable senators, Canada's current health care system is designed
for the rich and powerful. It is not just the poor and dispossessed who have
little clout when it comes to timely access. It is the average Canadian. Our
health care system is designed for the rich and powerful. We have to change
that. By adopting a care guarantee, we would make sure everyone is treated the
Honourable senators, I realize that many of the ideas I have presented to you
today are unfamiliar. Some will require bold and imaginative thinking on the
part of our leaders. The bottom line is that we can and we should do much
better. We must look to the rest of the world and try to keep pace with them.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I wish to ask a question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Keon's time has
Senator Keon: May I have time to answer the question?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted for additional time?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Cordy: I am also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology, and I want to go back to the issue of
the care guarantee because it is extremely important. I think of the Chaoulli
case in Quebec when Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin found that access to a
waiting list is not access to the health care system. Would the honourable
senator expand on his comments on the care guarantee, and how it would improve
access to the health care system, not to a waiting list? What would be the
ramifications if we did not have a health care guarantee?
Senator Keon: I have been a believer in a form of health care
guarantee for a long time. In 1987, the Minister of Health of Ontario, Elinor
Caplan, asked me to chair a committee to deal with waiting lists for cardiac
surgery in Ontario at that time. Out of that came the Cardiac Care Network of
Ontario, which provides a health care guarantee for cardiac surgery. The
committee defined who should be on the waiting lists and who should be treated
within given periods of time. It was province-wide and computerized, and if
someone could not be treated in Ottawa within an appropriate length of time, he
or she could be sent to Toronto. It was not long before the waiting lists for
cardiac surgery came under control. Since that time, virtually everyone in the
province has been treated within the appropriate time as defined by expert
I am aware, as you are, that there have been trials and errors in other
countries respecting wait time guarantees. Politics or limitations of the health
care profession itself have caused the failure to meet wait time guarantees. I
would suggest that, if we rely on expert panels, their findings will be
objective. It is not terribly difficult to establish appropriate wait times for
everyone, and it is not terribly difficult to implement a wait time guarantee.
I also believe that the controversy about allowing private delivery systems
to evolve will then disappear.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, coincidentally,
I was in the process of preparing a statement for tomorrow on a similar topic.
I have collected many sheafs of news clippings of remarks made by Senator
Keon and Senator Kirby. Those statements appear to convey this message: "Save
medicare with a dose of competition. Make hospitals compete for patients. Let's
hear it for health care premiums. Let the market forces drive medicare," and so
I am most concerned about all of this and, as such, I should like to know
Senator Keon's opinion on the benchmarks that were recently released by the Wait
Time Alliance as a reaction to the first ministers' conference last September.
As honourable senators know, the first ministers across this land are working
assiduously to deal with some of the problems the senator has mentioned. I
should like to know if Senator Keon is satisfied with the summary of benchmarks,
by priority level, for diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine, joint
replacement, cancer care, sight restoration and cardiac care.
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, I cannot intelligently answer that
question. I have not had time to study that subject, but it is my intention to
do so. As you know, I have been preoccupied with the work of our committee and I
attended the hearings in Montreal yesterday. I just got back last night. I am
behind in my reading. I apologize that I cannot respond immediately, but I will
express my opinion once I have had an opportunity to read this material.
The Hon. the Speaker: If no other senator wishes to speak, this
inquiry will be considered debated.
Hon. Joan Fraser, pursuant to notice of June 21, 2005, moved:
That the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament be authorized to examine and report on the participation of
senators by telephone or videoconference during public and in camera meetings
of select committees.
She said: Honourable senators, this motion speaks for itself. This is a
question that arises from time to time and, as is so often the case with the
procedure in this place, it ends up raising enormously complex questions.
The Rules Committee, to my understanding, has examined the matter several
times in the past but has not issued a formal report, recommendation or proposal
for a rule change. I, and the members of the Transport Committee, wherein the
question arose yesterday, thought it would be useful once and for all to have a
ruling on this from the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights
I would simply add that the motion refers to meetings of select committees,
which would be both standing and special Senate committees, but of course would
not cover Committee of the Whole or joint committees, because, in both cases,
those require different mechanisms to determine their procedures.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I have a question. Would
Senator Fraser care to modify the text of her motion by adding the words
"absent" before "senators" so that the motion would read "That the Standing
Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament be authorized to
examine and report on the participation of absent senators by telephone or
videoconference..." because senators duly present at committee meetings do
participate in video conferences. Who Senator Fraser is targeting here are
senators who are physically absent from the Senate or its committees.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, obviously Senator Corbin is
right. That is what we are talking about. However, I do not know if the addition
of the word "absent" would not lead us into other thickets.
I am a member of the Rules Committee. We could stress in our discussion of
this motion before the Rules Committee that we are targeting senators who are
away. I fear that adding the word "absent" might lead us down byways that were
not the object of the motion. I know the honourable senator is trying to be
helpful. Would "...senators who are not physically present..." be acceptable?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, the subject matter of this
motion was the basis of some discussion in the Rules Committee yesterday,
although the discussion was not based on this particular motion. I suppose the
motion could be referred to the committee, but the subject is already one of the
items that we have pending in the Rules Committee. It is rather interesting that
it was before the Transport Committee at the same time we were discussing it in
the Rules Committee.
Senator Fraser: In response to that comment, I would remark that it is
indeed ironic that it happened at precisely the same time, but my understanding
is that the Rules Committee did not make a report yesterday. I am suggesting
that this issue, which has been discussed several times, should lead to a report
so that we know where we stand. Since it has been discussed several times, I
doubt that it would take up a great deal of the time of the Rules Committee.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, June 23, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.