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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 66

Tuesday, February 6, 2007
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool Speaker pro tempore



THE SENATE

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Sheila Watt-Cloutier

2007 Nobel Peace Prize—Congratulations on Nomination

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, it fills me with great pride to draw your attention to the nomination of Canadian Inuit leader and climate change activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

[Translation]

On February 1, two members of Norway's Parliament, Boerge Brende and Heidi Soerensen, announced the joint nomination of Ms. Watt-Cloutier and the former Vice President of the United States, Albert Gore.

The members of the Parliament of Norway wanted to highlight the two candidates' efforts to focus the world's attention on the impact of climate change. They also wanted to recognize their contributions to developing tangible solutions to the problem.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier is from Kujjuuaq in Nunavik and now lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She has dedicated her life to environmental conservation and protecting the rights and interests of the Inuit.

During her early years as Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, she succeeded in convincing the organization's member states to sign an agreement banning the production and use of pollutants that contaminate the Arctic food chain.

In 2005, she received the Norwegian Sophie award and the Governor General's Northern Medal for her leadership on environmental issues. Ms. Watt-Cloutier was also named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. That same year, she received the Canadian Environment Awards Citation of Lifetime Achievement.

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[English]

We congratulate Ms. Watt-Cloutier on her dedication to preserving the environment and, most especially, on her nomination for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

We hope this good news will help convince the Prime Minister — a latecomer to the environmental cause — to put even greater distance between himself and his former views that efforts to combat climate change are "a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing countries." We hope he has changed his mind.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of members of the European Free Trade Association Committee.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Reopening of Gander Weather Office

Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, in 2003, the federal government decided to close the Gander weather office, much to the distress and outrage of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am happy to say that today the people of my province can be confident that the weather forecasts on which they rely are local ones made with the most accurate forecasting technology available.

Earlier this month, on January 9, the new weather forecasting centre opened at the Gander International Airport terminal. It marked the first time since July 5, 2004, that the forecast originated in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is particularly important in a province like mine, one that has unique weather patterns, where weather forecasting is fundamental to the robust environmental and ocean technology industries. It is also positive because it marks a return of much needed federal jobs to my province.

Honourable senators, I would like to commend and congratulate Gander resident Pat Dwyer. He is a PSAC member and Gander International Airport firefighter who organized a petition to bring weather forecasting back to the province from Nova Scotia. Pat decided to get involved because he was concerned for the lives of people living in this province who travel the highways and the seas. He also felt that federal jobs and services were important.

While the initial goal was to get 100,000 signatures, in the end more than 125,000 people signed the petition. In the process, weather forecasting became a political issue in the last federal election campaign.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper was among the people who signed the petition, and I am pleased to see him follow up that signature with real action. He said he would restore regional forecasting, and that is another promise he has kept.

I also thank and commend Pat Dwyer for taking the initiative to organize the petition and to get out in the community and mobilize people around this issue. He really raised the profile of the weather forecasting situation, and I believe his efforts were critical to getting the service returned to our province. It is due to the actions and efforts of citizens like Pat Dwyer that democracy and political participation are alive and well in Canada.

[Translation]

Official Languages

Fortieth Anniversary of Laurendeau-Dunton Report—State of Bilingualism

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, yesterday Radio-Canada released the results of a survey it commissioned to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Laurendeau-Dunton Royal Commission, which led to the adoption of the Official Languages Act in 1969. The survey explores how Canadians see bilingualism and how important it is to them.

The survey results are very interesting because they support the findings of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages' 2006 study. Most Canadians support bilingualism and linguistic duality:

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[English]

Eight Canadians out of 10 support the idea that Canada is a bilingual country, and an overwhelming majority of Canadians also believe that the prime minister should be able to speak both English and French. As the Commissioner of Official Languages said in reaction to the poll, "It is clear that Canadians have definite expectations of the language abilities of their elected officials." Interestingly, students are some of the biggest supporters of Canada's two official languages, thereby reinforcing the fact that there is a continued interest in learning Canada's two official languages.

[Translation]

However, the survey shows that even though Canadians are interested in learning our two official languages, they still do not have enough opportunities to do so. Continued promotion of second language programs is needed so that Canadians who want to can learn the country's other official language.

Honourable senators, our federal and provincial governments must continue encouraging the creation and provision of second language learning programs and continue promoting linguistic duality in order to enhance the vitality of our official language minority communities. By making it easier for people to access these programs and by encouraging cultural exchanges between different regions, we will build a skilled workforce to meet the needs of the 21st century.


[English]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Aboriginal Peoples

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Refer Documents from Study on Bill S-16 during Thirty-eighth Parliament to Current Study of Bill S-216

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate I shall move:

That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples during the First session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament during its study of the subject matter of Bill S-16, An Act providing for the Crown's recognition of self-governing First Nations of Canada, be referred to the said Committee for its study on Bill S-216, An Act providing for the Crown's recognition of self-governing First Nations of Canada.

[Translation]

Transport and Communications

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Canadian Television Fund

Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on the objectives, operation and governance of the Canadian Television Fund, and

That the Committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2007.


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QUESTION PERIOD

Prime Minister

Speech to Canadian Club of Ottawa

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain why the Prime Minister chose, today, to give a speech described by his strategists as a mini Throne Speech setting out a new direction for his government, just steps from Parliament Hill, to businesspeople, breaking with the tradition whereby such a speech is given in Parliament to the representatives of all Canadians, not just Canada's elite?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. The Prime Minister was invited by the Canadian Club of Ottawa to deliver a speech to mark the first anniversary of the swearing in of the new Conservative government. If the honourable senator had watched the speech, she would know that the Prime Minister summarized the accomplishments of the government thus far. It was a lengthy speech. He laid out in more specific terms some of the goals of the government for the remainder of this winter session and for the spring session. It was a speech that prime ministers of whatever political stripe would give to an audience such as the Canadian Club.

Of particular note in the Prime Minister's speech was when he talked about the environment and illustrated by graph the challenges we face in dealing with the environment, where the commitment line was from the previous government and what happened under the previous government.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, this speech given outside Parliament is the second example in less than 24 hours of the Prime Minister's contempt for our institution.

Position on House of Commons Motion Regarding Kyoto Protocol

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us how the Prime Minister can still claim to wish to protect the environment when, yesterday, he ordered his caucus to vote against the motion to honour Kyoto Protocol commitments and did not even participate in the vote?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, it is absolutely untrue to say that the Prime Minister is in contempt of Parliament. With regard to the motion in the other place, even supporters or supposed supporters of the Liberal Party, people such as Jeffrey Simpson and members of the editorial board of The Globe and Mail, underlined on Saturday the fallacy of this motion. We opposed the motion because it recognized the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as the only mechanism to regulate emissions. If that were indeed the case, why did the Liberal government not take up this mechanism between 1997 and 2005?

The Environment

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—Proposed International Body—Government Position

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, this self-styled new government has been dismantling Canada's international reputation with its lack of action on climate change. We have a Prime Minister who, in March of 2003, said the Kyoto Protocol was "the worst international agreement this country has ever signed."

Since taking office, the Prime Minister's government has undermined the international process and cut $5.6 billion from climate change programs that were working and that were helping, and the government has missed UN reporting deadlines.

Recently, with the report issued last week in France, the government of France, together with 45 other countries, are calling for the creation of a new international environmental body on climate change to move the agenda forward. Will the government support that new environmental body on climate change?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I thank Senator Eggleton for the question.

As I said in this house last week, the Prime Minister, during his year-end interviews, acknowledged that the Canadian population expected their government to take action on the environment. He took note of it and made a commitment to do just that.

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Our new Minister of the Environment, John Baird, went to Paris. From all reports, including those in the media, Mr. Baird acquitted himself admirably there.

With regard to the climate change report, Minister Baird is working on this file 24/7. I am sure he is looking carefully at this report. I will leave it to Minister Baird to respond. When he does, I will be happy to inform honourable senators in this place.

Senator Eggleton: Honourable senators, it is hard to have much faith in the commitment made by the Prime Minister when we look at his history in regard to the Kyoto Protocol and comments such as those I quoted a moment ago. He has been dragged, kicking and screaming, and that is not the kind of commitment that this country needs, nor is it one that the people of this country look forward to.

Let me ask a supplementary question about another commitment made by the previous Minister of the Environment, Rona Ambrose, who went to a summit in Nairobi. There the assembled countries agreed to submit a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of their climate change programs by February 23. Will the government assure Canadians that Canada will meet that obligation on the deadline of February 23; yes or no?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question. If he watched the Prime Minister's tremendously powerful speech today, he would have seen the graphs that were used in the speech that underscored the challenge the government faces with the issue of greenhouse gases, to say nothing of the fact that the previous government did absolutely nothing on the issue of pollution. In fact, our record is perhaps the worst in the world.

With regard to the February 23 date to which Minister Ambrose had committed, I will take that question as notice and return to Senator Eggleton with an answer.

[Translation]

Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does she agree that environmental protection can only be carried out within a global framework and that all countries must be involved if we wish to protect the environment? If that is the case, is the Kyoto Protocol the only truly global initiative at present?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, of course Kyoto was an international agreement; and the situation the planet faces now is one on which all countries and all governments, no matter their political stripe, must work in the interests of their citizens. The previous government signed on to the protocol with the full knowledge that they were not able to live up to its commitments. In fact, the Prime Minister of the day was quoted as saying that he signed on to it only to beat the Americans, and he did not even do that. That is not a valid reason for signing on to such an important protocol.

To answer the question briefly, of course this issue should seize us all. We all live on this planet together. The government has made some serious first steps in dealing with this issue. Minister Baird has represented the country well.

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Minister Lunn and the Prime Minister have made announcements over the past few weeks. In December, Minister Ambrose, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health made important, world-leading changes in terms of categorizing toxins. The government is committed to doing everything it can reduce greenhouse gases and deal with air pollution, the quality of our water and, of course, the safety of the food we eat and the products we use in our households.

House of Commons Motion Regarding Kyoto Protocol

Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, it seems to me that whenever experts or scientists agree, the Conservatives disagree. Of great concern to me is their total disagreement with child care experts on quality child care and early childhood development. Of equal concern is their disagreement with Kyoto. Canada's new Minister of the Environment was "astonished," his own word, that 400 scientific experts agreed in Paris on Kyoto, on the human aspect of global environmental change. Why then, in view of this recent massive scientific support, did the Conservatives vote against Kyoto again last night in the House?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I have answered that question. The motion that was put forward by the opposition was not supported because, as pointed out in the media and by environmental experts, it was simply playing politics. Most people saw through it, and this government is committed to making real, positive changes in our environment.

Prime Minister

Position of House on Motions Regarding Kyoto Protocol

Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I am astounded that the leader would say that Kyoto was "playing politics." There must be many people around the world who are not sincere about the environment. Certainly, it is anything but politics. It is a worldwide issue and has the support of many countries.

The supplementary question will be on sober second thought, our constitutional responsibility. Honourable senators, I believe that the wisdom, experience and passion of senators on the environment should be transmitted to our naive Minister of the Environment, our astonished minister, and to the Prime Minister, who avoided the fire last night vis-à-vis Kyoto by failing to vote. The Prime Minister, an expert on firewalls, does not support Kyoto because he seems to believe that any government can limit its own legislation and regulations on the environment and can create walls around Canada; the air above, the land mass of his own country and the water touching its shores. This Prime Minister does not accept expert warnings. The winds and tides circulate air and water around the planet, hence Kyoto. He still believes that "Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme ..." and that "It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto ...".

Will the honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate exercise her constitutional responsibility and soberly, on behalf of all senators in this house, ask the Prime Minister to change his position on Kyoto?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator. I did not say that Kyoto was playing politics; I was simply reporting that the media said that Mr. Dion and the Liberal Party were playing politics.

The honourable senator lists what she believes are the Prime Minister's beliefs on the environment and, of course, she is dead wrong.

With regard to the vote in the House last night, as I pointed out in an earlier answer, we do not believe that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is the only mechanism to regulate emissions. We believe in Bill C-30, the clean air act, which is a better way to fight climate change and air pollution. We will work hard with the committee studying the bill to get things done on the environment, and I hope the honourable senator will urge her Liberal colleagues in the other place to work with that committee in order to strengthen Bill C-30 in the interests of all Canadians.

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Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I am interested in the reply of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that the Honourable Senator Trenholme Counsell is "dead wrong" when she quotes the actual statements of the Prime Minister. It is hard to imagine that she is, therefore, dead wrong.

However, the Prime Minister has an opportunity to stand up and say clearly that he repudiates the statements he made earlier. Will he make such a statement?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will not respond to such suggestions because, for example, we could ask Mr. Chrétien to repudiate his reasoning for signing on to the Kyoto Protocol in the first place.

As the Prime Minister has said publicly today, in many interviews at the end of the year and in the other place, he acknowledges the science of climate change. He also said that he acknowledges the desire of the Canadian public to have parliamentarians work together to strengthen our laws on the environment. This will be the first government to have actual targets and regulations as opposed to voluntary targets, which were the flavour of the times under the previous government. Of course, we know the results of that approach. Our emissions went through the roof and our rate of air pollution is probably one of the worst in the world.

I doubt very much that anyone would expect me to take any lessons from the failed experiment of the previous government. Our government is making a genuine effort. We will be bringing in real targets, proposals and laws to deal with not only the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, but also pollution and the quality of our water and food.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question for the Leader of the Government. This is a simple issue. The House of Commons voted yesterday; the House of Commons expressed its will. The elected representatives of the people of Canada expressed their collective will. I take it from the minister's lengthy responses that the government of the day has no intention of respecting the will of the House of Commons. Is that true?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, as I pointed out earlier, the motion voted for by the majority in the House of Commons — where, we must remember, there is a minority government — does not, in the view of the government, recognize our real challenge, which is dealing with the proposed clean air act.

Over the past couple of weeks, people in the government and environmental experts have realized that the Kyoto targets cannot be met. Even Stéphane Dion, last summer in an interview with the National Post, admitted that they could not be met. The Liberal deputy leader, Michael Ignatieff, agreed that they did not get it done, as did a whole host of people on the Liberal side. As a matter of fact, the previous Minister of the Environment, Mr. Anderson, even went so far as to say that Stéphane Dion, the present leader, was once not as committed to Kyoto as he now proclaims to be.

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Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.

The Environment

Policy on Climate Change—Request for Time Line

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I guess that constitutes a "no."

Senator Rompkey: John Diefenbaker is turning over in his grave.

Senator Banks: I will return, if I may, to the answer the Leader of the Government provided to Senator Eggleton, which was that they will get around to it someday and will let us know about those emissions controls when they can.

The government had no difficulty in changing the tax regime. It was elected to govern.

I have two questions. First, how long will this be the "new" Government of Canada?

Senator Day: Not much longer.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.

Senator Banks: My second question deals with the second part of the leader's answer. None of us were surprised to hear her say that the previous government was guilty of inaction.

Senator Nolin: The "old" government.

Senator Banks: Let us say that our government was guilty of inaction. Let us say that — for the sake of argument, but only for the sake of argument — that is true. We have heard that before, and I expect we will hear it many times again.

The leader's party was supposed to be a government in waiting, and they were elected to be a government. The present government is, to use a word that found favour on her side, "dithering." Everyone knows what needs to be done. The proof that it needs to be done has been a long time coming. Even the Prime Minister seems to have come to the realization on the road to Damascus about what needs to be done. Regardless of how he arrived at that conclusion, we are delighted that he has done so. When will the present government do it? The previous minister said in the middle of January and the present minister said maybe it will be later. The present government has been in office for a year and knows the facts. The facts are known to everyone.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I could stand here and take up quite a lot of the honourable senator's time listing the achievements of the present government

Senator Di Nino: That is a good idea.

Senator Tkachuk: List them.

Senator LeBreton: Since my honourable friend specifically mentioned the environment, as he knows, announcements have been made over the past few weeks following the change of ministry.

Going back to the motion last night in the House of Commons, it sought to tie our efforts to fight climate change solely to the Kyoto Protocol. We already know, as admitted by people on the honourable senator's side from the previous government and more recently, that this is not reasonable and not doable. However, there are a variety of mechanisms available to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution.

To tie the government to a motion in the other place that everyone says was —

Senator Milne: To an international agreement.

Senator LeBreton: — put there for purely political reasons is not the way to go.

Senator Milne: It is a black eye for Canada.

Senator LeBreton: This is a serious issue and people want the government to proceed. They know that it will not be fixed with a snap of the fingers.

The Minister of the Environment has already consulted widely and has received many kudos from environmentalists and others, including scientists he met in Paris.

Senator Rompkey: Name them!

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will say this: When the government rolls out its environmental plan, it will be markedly better and a great improvement on the decade of inaction by the previous government.

Senator Banks: When will that happen?

(1440)

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, as I said to Senator Eggleton, we have the budget coming up and the government is considering many initiatives. I would simply ask the honourable senator to be patient.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Wheat Board—Plebiscite on Marketing of Barley

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, last Thursday the Leader of the Government in the Senate responded to a question that I posed on the questionable language used in the upcoming barley producers plebiscite by stating that Minister Strahl decided to ask his officials in the accounting firm KPMG to explain the language it used on the ballot. However, it seems the minister was only concerned with the plebiscite requiring barley producers to list the tonnage and acreage of the barley sown over the last five years. This had nothing to do with the question I posed in this chamber on February 1.

I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following question again because I am quite certain that she did not intend to mislead this chamber.

On January 22, Minister Strahl announced the ballot question. The question allows voters the choice to either: A, retain the single desk for the marketing of barley; B, remove the Wheat Board from the marketing of barley entirely; or C, allow producers to market their barley to the Canadian Wheat Board or other buyers.

Critics of the plebiscite question as written have used descriptive terms such as "bizarre," "incompetent" and "diabolical" when describing the choice of wording approved by Minister Strahl.

The option openly preferred by this government allowing producers to market their barley to the Canadian Wheat Board or other buyers happens to be written in the first person singular while the other plebiscite questions are not. Skewed wording always produces skewed results.

Quite simply, this is not a fair and honest question for Canadian barley producers. Is this the best the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food can do, given the political pressure applied by Minister Strahl to push the government's agenda on to Canadian barley producers?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator Milne for that question. She was quite right about the question last week. I was focusing on the delay on the vote that was taking place and the changes to the producer declaration form. It has been delayed a week.

I have had a look at the ballot choices and I think the ballot choices are clear. I do not see anything bizarre. The choices are: The Canadian Wheat Board; not the Canadian Wheat Board; or a marketing choice. I do not see how you could describe those questions as bizarre. As Senator Milne remarked, questions on a ballot can skew the vote. However, I was raised on a farm and I am quite sure those barley producers out West are pretty clear on how they will vote. I think it would be an insult to them to suggest that they could not figure out the three questions on the ballot.

Senator Milne: Honourable senators, since the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has already admitted making an estimated $12,000 mistake regarding the composition of this plebiscite, I want to know if the Leader of the Government in the Senate will bring this concern to his attention. Perhaps he needs to be shown that there is more than one mistake in the drafting of this plebiscite, regardless of the leader's opinion on whether farmers can figure it out or not. I am sure that the minister would not want to make a mockery of this important exercise.

As politicians, we know how important it is that a clear question be asked in any plebiscite. Also, since this initial misprint will cost the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food $12,000 for a new plebiscite package, I want to know if this money will come out of the programs that are being used to assist Canadian farmers.

Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Milne for that question. Minister Strahl is a very conscientious, hard-working minister. I will simply point out to him the premise of the honourable senator's question. I certainly will also point out to the minister that I do not agree with the premise.

(1445)

As the Prime Minister announced today in his speech, with regard to the whole agricultural industry, we intend to make special new efforts to assist farmers.

Going back to the barley producers, we have not changed the question or our intentions. We are doing what we committed to do in the last election, and that is to provide marketing choice for our barley and wheat producers. We do not think Western farmers should be thrown in jail or penalized for selling their product direct to market.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table two responses to oral questions raised in the Senate by Senator Rompkey, on October 31, 2006, regarding the Workplace Equity Office, closure of services in Atlantic region, and by Senator Grafstein, on October 31 and November 8, 2006, regarding the increase of minimum wage in federal jurisdiction.

Human Resources and Social Development

Workplace Equity Office—Closure of Services in Atlantic Region

(Response to question raised by Hon. William Rompkey on October 31, 2006)

There is not, and never has been, a plan to reduce the number of officers providing employment equity services in Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to have a local employment equity contact person, as will New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Employment equity services for Prince Edward Island will continue to be delivered by the New Brunswick regional office.

No one will lose his or her job.

Increase in Minimum Wage in Federal Jurisdiction—Increase in Minimum Wage

(Response to questions raised by Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein on October 31, 2006 and November 8, 2006)

Question: Would the federal government, in an act of leadership, re-establish a federal minimum wage— specifically, a federal minimum wage of $10 per hour— for adult workers in federal jurisdictions, to help those hard-working Canadian families to work their way across the poverty line? Will the government act as a leader, in the hope that the provincial governments might follow?

Answer: As Senator Grafstein knows, Professor Harry Arthurs has just completed the first comprehensive study of Part III (Labour Standards) of the Canada Labour Code in some 40 years. He submitted his final report and recommendations to the Minister of Labour on October 30, 2006. In his report, Professor Arthurs did make a recommendation that the federal government examine its role with respect to the minimum wage.

The Minister of Labour has undertaken to consult with employers, unions and employees in the federal jurisdiction on the recommendations. A course of action will be determined after the conclusion of these discussions.

Question: Could the government leader table in the Senate any economic studies that would allow us to determine whether an increase in the minimum wage across Canada would, in any way, enhance the economy or work against the economy?

Answer: There is a wide range of studies on the minimum wage issue. We are pleased to suggest a few of the more relevant ones.

STUDIES AND REFERENCES

1. Gunderson, Morley (2005). Minimum Wages in Canada: Theory, Evidence and Policy. Paper Prepared for the Federal Labour Standards Review Commission. http:// www.fls-ntf.gc.ca/

This paper, conducted for the purposes of Professor Arthurs' review of Part III of the Code, suggests, on the basis of an extensive literature review, that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage may have a 1-3 per cent negative effect on employment among teenagers and young workers (generally under 25). Gunderson focuses primarily on the effect of minimum wages on teen employment. More generally, this review further suggests that recent research on the employment effects of minimum wages since the 1990s is mixed. Some studies suggest a negative effect on employment, while others find no measurable impact.

2. Statistics Canada (2004). Federal Jurisdiction Workplace Survey. http://www.statcan.ca/

The Federal Jurisdiction Workplace Survey found that fewer than 600 workers, or less than .07 per cent of the federal jurisdiction workforce covered by the minimum wage provisions of the Canada Labour Code, earn the minimum wage. Close to 9,800 earn less than $8.50 per hour, while roughly 18,300 earn under $10.00 an hour.

3. Fortin and Lemieux (2000). "Income Redistribution in Canada: Minimum Wages versus Other Policy Instruments", Adapting Public Policy to a Labour Market in Transition. (Eds.) W.C. Riddell and F. St.-Hilaire. Institute for Research on Public Policy.

In Canada, Fortin and Lemieux find that individuals in the lower half of the distribution of family income (adjusted for family size) account for nearly 70 per cent of the earnings of all minimum wage workers in Canada. This suggests that increasing the minimum wage would have a progressive effect on income distribution.

4. Saunders, Ron (2006). Risk and Opportunity: Creating Options for Vulnerable Workers. Canadian Policy Research Networks. http://www.cprn.org/en/ doc.cfm?doc=1371

The main argument levied against minimum wage increases is that doing so results in job loss, especially among low-skill workers. However, in labour markets where employers are large enough to influence market wages, the theoretical outcome of job loss is not as clear cut as the neo-classical economic approach implies. If minimum wage increases are implemented gradually, the reduction in employment opportunities appears to be low and would tend to be concentrated among teenage workers.

Recent studies find that minimum wage increases can have a statistically significant negative effect on teenage employment (a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage has been found to affect teenage employment in the 1 per cent to 4 per cent range, depending on the study). This disemployment has also been found to affect youth between the ages of 20 to 24, though to a lesser extent. Among adults, many studies—including those by the OECD — find that minimum wage increases have virtually no statistically significant effect on adult employment rates.

5. OECD (1998). "Making the Most of the Minimum Wage: Statutory Minimum Wages, Employment and Poverty," Employment Outlook.

This study reports that minimum wage increases do result in wage increases for low-paid workers who are directly affected, and also may affect other low earners who may experience wage increases via a spillover effect (cited by Saunders, 2006).

This same study examined 9 countries during the 1975 to 1996 period and concluded that:

First ... a rise in the minimum wage has a negative effect on teenage employment. Secondly, negative employment effects for young adults are generally close to zero or insignificantly different from zero. Thirdly, for prime-age adults, the most plausible specifications suggest that minimum wages have no impact on their employment outcomes (Cited in Gunderson, 2005).

6. Edagbami, Olalekan (2006). The Employment Effects of the Minimum Wage: A review of the literature. Canadian Policy Research Networks. http://www.cprn.org/en/ doc.cfm?doc=1410

A recent CPRN literature review examining the effect of the minimum wage comes to similar conclusions. It suggests that a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage may have a 1.4 per cent to 3.7 per cent negative impact on teenage and youth employment (those under age 25). The CPRN review concludes:

The minimum wage is generally harmful to teenage, and to a large extent, youth employment. There is little or no negative employment effect for adults ages 25 and above.

7. Gouvernement du Québec (2002). Rapport Du Comité Interministériel Sur La Révision Des Critères De Détermination Du Salaire Minimum.

Full doc (French only): http://www.travail.gouv.qc.ca/ actualite/revision_salaire_minimum/ rapport_complet.pdf

Exec summary (English): http:// www.travail.gouv.qc.ca/actualite/ revision_salaire_minimum/summary2.pdf

A similar conclusion that minimum wages tend to affect only young workers (under the age of 24) was also reached by the Interdepartmental Committee Concerning the Review of the Criteria to Determine the Minimum Wage.

Scouts Canada

Private Bill to Amend Act of Incorporation—Message from Commons

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons returning Bill S-1001, respecting Scouts Canada, and acquainting the Senate that they have passed this bill without amendment.


[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Constitution Act, 1867

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill S-4, to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure).

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, it is a privilege to have an opportunity this afternoon to reflect on the substantive nature of Bill S-4 and, especially and mainly, on its constitutional implications.

I will address my remarks to honourable senators on the aspect of the powers of the Parliament of Canada to enact such a bill, which is referred to in the preamble to Bill S-4, in the fifth "whereas," which reads:

WHEREAS, by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, Parliament may make laws to amend the Constitution of Canada in relation to the Senate;

Before I address honourable senators on the scope of section 44 of the Constitution Act, I want to make some general comments on the appropriateness of that bill.

First, we were told by the government spokesperson on the bill that the bill intended "to refresh and bring new ideas into the Senate" and 1that "the Senate becomes a more vibrant chamber, fuelled by new ideas and experiences" by a more rapid turnover.

That seems to be the objective of the government initiative. I was tempted to conclude in reading it that this spin is because the bill has no constitutional substance. If we are to change anything meaningful in the Senate, the Senate being the federal chamber, the house that embodies the federal principle, that is, the protection of minority rights and the spokesperson for regional or sectional interests, any important changes to the Senate should aim to address those objectives — the functioning of the Senate in discharging its constitutional duty to protect the regional and sectional interests and the minority interests.

The government introduced that bill suddenly. There was no study or white paper; there was no discussion of substance as to why to proceed with that priority of tenure. It is surprising, honourable senators, because I had an opportunity to review the actions of the House of Lords at Westminster when the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to address the matter of reform of the House of Lords. First, they appointed a royal commission in 1998 and the first item they wanted to address was the powers and the functions of the House of Lords. Once that was done, they determined the composition of the House of Lords. It was not done the other way around.

(1450)

The British government prepared three more white papers on the reform of the House of Lords following the report of the Wakeham commission in 2000. There have been three white papers since 1999. Last week the Leader of the Government in the House of Lords announced that the government will publish a white paper next week in which it will pronounce on the tenure of the Lords who will be elected for a period of 15 years. I would advise any senators who still have an interest on the comparative analysis of this chamber to that of the House of Lords to read that white paper, the fourth one in less than six years, prepared by the British government.

I have counted 12 reports of the House of Lords and the House of Commons in Westminster that address one aspect or another of reform of the House of Lords. A substantial effort has been made at Westminster to reflect and think before the government legislates.

In Canada, we are addressing the issue differently. The government introduced Bill S-4 in the Senate and Bill C-43 in the other place. However, the first issue that should have been addressed is the power and the function of the Senate. The government made an announcement on January 10, 2007, less than three weeks ago. The Chronicle Herald in Halifax noted that the government has laid out a public tender not to exceed $900,000 to study the "electoral system," "the political parties," "the House of Commons" and "the Senate, e.g. the role it should play and the powers that it should possess."

The article goes on to say, "The tender calls for a private think-tank to join forces with a polling firm to canvass a cross-section of Canadians. . . ."

Senator Fraser: Shame.

Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, if we are to address the composition of this chamber and the appointment process, the first question we should ask is whether we should change the power and role of the Senate. We will not know the results of the public consultations before the end of May when the private firm, or think-tank, will issue its report.

The government is pressing the Senate to study Bill S-4 but, at the very least, we should have the benefit of the report if we are to take a rational, comprehensive and coherent approach in the review of the role of this chamber.

Before attacking my main issue, I will speak to the turnover in the Senate. A kind of easy-going caricature has been expressed, that senators are appointed for 45 years. The Constitution provides that a candidate cannot be called upon by the Governor General to sit in this chamber until he or she is 30 years old, so, of course, the maximum tenure is 45 years.

I want to examine the statistics on the distribution of such numbers throughout the history of the 140-year-old Senate. Professor Gerald Baier, from the MacMillan Centre for International and Area Studies at Yale University, testified before the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform in its consideration of Bill S-4. Professor Baier stated:

The spectre of the 45-year senator is a bit of a canard. I think in the history of the Senate and of the 875 Canadians who have served in this body, only one from 1885 to 1933 served 45 years or more.

I repeat: one in 140 years. Will this be the argument for changing the tenure of senators?

Professor Baier continued:

If you expand that scope of tenure to 35 years or more, 28 senators have served that amount of time, all appointed before the restrictions on tenure passed in 1965, and those who served for life. Among senators appointed after 1965, only eight served 30 years or more and only one of them is presently in the Senate, although not in the room at the moment, that being Senator Austin.

Out of 875 senators in total, only 59 have served more than 30 years. I do not think the danger of long-serving senators alone is sufficient reason enough for a limitation.

Honourable senators, I compared the ages in this chamber with that of the American Senate, the inspiration for the Triple-E Senate. Allow me to present some figures from that comparison. Four senators have sat in the U.S. Senate for more than 40 years, the best-known of those being Senator Bird, who has sat for 48 years. Currently, seven senators have sat for more than 30 years and five senators for more than 25 years in the U.S. Senate. If that does not describe a Senate full of old cronies, I wonder what does.

Let us compare those numbers to numbers in this chamber. The Senate has one senator who has served for more than 30 years, and Professor Baier identified Senator Austin earlier. Three senators have served between 25 and 29 years and 10 senators have served between 20 and 24 years.

Honourable senators, in less than four years, 30 per cent of senators in this chamber will have changed. Currently, there are 11 vacancies. There will be one more vacancy later this year, four next year and 12 in 2009. In less than four years, 30 per cent of the numbers in this chamber will have turned over.

What do we want to accomplish by establishing a revolving door? We can make the comparison of the turnover in our chamber to the slate of eight in the U.S. Senate. Honourable senators, let us be serious when this house is accused of not having the kind of regular and gradual turnover that is built into the appointment process.

The issue of tenure and turnover are not what I want to discuss this afternoon. I want to address the simpler question but I did want to bring that to the attention of Senator Tkachuk so that the honourable senator will think about what will be created by changing the tenure of senators. It is not as good as apple pie or motherhood. It will have a major impact on the functioning of this chamber.

Honourable senators, allow me to address the fundamental question: Do we, the House of Commons and the Senate as a Parliament, have the power to change the tenure of senators? Yes or no?

Senator Tkachuk: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Senator Joyal: The answer, honourable senators, is given by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Senator Stratton: Who governs this country?

Senator Joyal: Let me tell honourable senators, although they might not like it, what the Supreme Court of Canada said about that in 1980 and how the Supreme Court of Canada has interpreted the Constitution.

Senator Segal: Mike Pearson had a view.

Senator Joyal: The Supreme Court said:

At present, a senator, when appointed, has tenure until he attains the age of seventy-five. At some point, a reduction of the term of office might impair the functioning of the Senate in providing what Sir John A. Macdonald described as "the sober second thought in legislation." The Act contemplated a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom, where members of the House of Lords hold office for life. The imposition of compulsory retirement at age seventy-five did not change the essential character of the Senate. However, to answer this question, we need to know what change of tenure is proposed.

The Supreme Court left the question open because, when it was asked to report, there was no specific limit proposed to the court for its consideration. The court said, come back to us with a number and we will tell you if you are entitled to do it.

(1500)

I hear the Honourable Senator Tkachuk saying no to that decision of the Supreme Court. Well, I will tell my honourable friend that I have reviewed nine scholars, experts, law specialists and law professors who have reviewed the scope of section 44 since its enactment in 1980. I will name them: Peter Hogg in 1980; Professor Ronald Cheffins from the University of Victoria; Stephen Scott from McGill University; Peter Meekison, who was Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Government of Alberta in 1980; Professors Henri Brun and Guy Tremblay from Laval University in 1990; Professor Benoit Pelletier in 1996; James Ross Hurley in 1996; Warren Newman; and former Honourable Senator Gérald Beaudoin. All of them will say that the decision of the Supreme Court in 1980 is still valid today in interpreting and defining the scope of section 44.

Honourable senators, there are two elements to the scope of section 44. The first is that a change which merely affects the fundamental features and characteristics of the Senate in certain respects is beyond section 44. The second is that a change which impairs the functioning of the Senate as the provider of sober second thought in legislation is also beyond the reach of an amendment under section 44. In other words there are two tests. If we effect one of these essential characteristics of this chamber, it is beyond our capacity, and if we impair this chamber in exercising independent sober second thought, it is beyond section 44.

Honourable senators, I do not provide that scope for your reflection; rather, those are the compilations of all the authors who wrote on the subject before Bill S-4 was introduced in this chamber.

I understand that I am short of time, and I would request five more minutes.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Joyal: Thank you, honourable senators.

When we look into the discussion of this issue, it is quite clear that if we bring the tenure to eight years, this chamber will change in one of its fundamental characteristics. Change in this chamber was to be gradual and continuous, not done by a group of senators or a group of MPs in the other place through an election.

What would have happened in the past had we had tenure for eight years? I will refer to the testimony of Gordon Gibson, a researcher with the Fraser Institute, who testified before the Special Committee on Senate Reform on September 20:

In the past 100 years, prime ministers in power for eight years and longer would include Messrs. Chrétien, Mulroney, Trudeau, St. Laurent, King and Laurier, for a total of 76 of those 100 years. Borden and Diefenbaker would have appointed three-quarters of the Senate; Mr. Pearson, in five years, 60 per cent and so on. The unthinkable would have been commonplace had Bill S-4 been an element of the original Constitution of the country.

In other words, if a Prime Minister is elected for two terms spanning eight years, according to the letter of Bill S-4, he would have appointed the full chamber. It is a daily temptation for the Prime Minister to control his caucus.

I see Senator Comeau making remarks. We have difficulties in both places selecting the chairperson of a committee. Imagine a Prime Minister who has the capacity to totally control this place. There will not be an element of balance, that is, a group of senators who are not under the total control or whim of the Prime Minister.

I think, honourable senators, that this house would not be in a position to exercise the independence we need to consider legislation. Moreover, this house would not have an element of "built in" continuity because we could not rely on a minority of long-serving senators in the institution.

If senators are appointed for eight years, what will happen in terms of the age slate in this place? It will not be a place built on a majority, on experience.

Honourable senators, look at yourselves individually and what you represent. Suppose you were here for eight years and you were appointed any time after 30 years of age. There would be a different chemistry of thinking and of acting.

If we are to change this place and make it comparative to the other place, I will tell you what will happen. I looked into the 695 special reports of the committees in the other place in the last 25 years. I reviewed their general trend and compared them with our 253 reports in the same period. I can say that our own reports have a broader perspective, analyze different options of new policies, and provides a more in-depth study of issues where consensus needs to be built before the government chooses a definitive approach. In the other chamber, issues are canvassed more on the management side than on the very nature of the policy and its impact on the long term.

If we change the nature of the tenure, we will put into motion a different regime than what we have known. If the Government of Canada wants to do that, government has one thing to do, which is to obtain the concurrence of the provinces. That is the way the Constitution functions. The Senate is not a house controlled by Parliament; it is a federal house.

Honourable senators, if we are to move forward on this issue, we should refer this bill to the Supreme Court so that we know that we are doing the right thing at the right moment.

Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Will the honourable senator take a question?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I understand that the honourable senator's time has expired.

Senator Joyal: I would ask for five more minutes. I am in the hands of the chamber.

Hon. Tommy Banks: I move that Senator Joyal be given time to answer questions.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry, but I am advised that I cannot put that motion. The senator's time is finished.

[Translation]

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I move adjournment in the name of Senator Furey, who could not be here today, but would like to speak on this important issue at a later sitting.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, seconded by Senator Tardif, that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate, in the name of Senator Furey.

[English]

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those in favour of the motion will please say "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those opposed to the motion will please say "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I believe the "yeas" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Have the whips come to an agreement on time?

The bells will ring for one hour. Call in the senators.

(1610)

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Atkins Gill
Austin Harb
Bacon Hays
Baker Hervieux-Payette
Banks Hubley
Biron Joyal
Bryden Lovelace Nicholas
Carstairs Mahovlich
Chaput Merchant
Cook Milne
Corbin Munson
Cordy Phalen
Cowan Poulin
Dawson Poy
Day Ringuette
De Bané Robichaud
Downe Rompkey
Dyck Spivak
Fairbairn Stollery
Fox Tardif
Fraser Trenholme Counsell—42

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk Meighen
Carney Nolin
Cochrane Oliver
Comeau Segal
Di Nino St. Germain
Gustafson Stratton
Keon Tkachuk—15
LeBreton

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Cools—1

Income Tax Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Austin, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-215, to amend the Income Tax Act in order to provide tax relief.—(Honourable Senator Fraser)

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, a little more than a year ago, the Liberals offered one version of tax relief, a version that offered nothing to the one third of Canadians who do not have a taxable income. We, the current government, offered a different version, promising to cut the GST to ensure that all Canadians benefit from tax relief. Unlike the Liberals, who broke their promise to do something about the GST — that is, to axe the tax — we delivered on our promise to reduce the GST. As a result, Canadians this year and next will save $9 billion at the checkout counter.

Our platform was clear, that we were offering a GST cut of a full percentage point and other tax relief measures in place of a reduction in the lowest marginal tax rate, not in addition to it. Nothing was hidden.

In fact, the tax relief offered in our first budget went beyond what we had promised, as we implemented a more generous version of our original tax proposals.

For example, while we originally said the lowest marginal rate would remain at the status quo — 16 per cent — last year's budget announced a rate of 15.5 per cent. We brought in an employment tax credit to recognize the costs faced by working Canadians.

As for the basic personal amount, the temporary increase in Senator Austin's bill is a bit of a shell game as it does not change the provisions of the existing Income Tax Act that tie the calculation of credits to the lowest marginal rate. Thus, his bill would indirectly reduce the value of the basic personal amount to 15 per cent of the creditable amount from the 15.5 per cent rate proposed in the budget.

When you do the math, Senator Austin's bill has a minimal impact on the basic personal amount in the short term and permanently reduces the value of that credit in the long term.

While I presume that this result was not his intent, it has been made clear to me that a consequential effect of his bill will be to reduce the tax savings from the age credit, the pension income credit, the disability credit, the medical expenses credit and the tuition tax credit.

A small handful of Canadians with extremely high medical or tuition expenses may actually find themselves paying more taxes as a result of his bill because those credits will be devalued by half a percentage point.

Honourable senators, the last budget of the new government delivered a total of 29 tax cuts. We promised a cut in the GST and we delivered. We promised a transit tax credit and we delivered. We promised a fitness credit for children and we delivered. We promised an apprentice tax credit and we delivered. We promised tax relief for tools and we delivered. We promised a textbook tax credit and we delivered. We promised to exempt scholarship and bursary income from taxation and we delivered. We promised to increase the pension income credit. We not only delivered but we also allowed pension income to be split for tax purposes. We promised to reduce the small business tax rate and we delivered.

(1620)

Senator Austin is suggesting that Parliament cherry-pick between the Liberal and Conservative platforms from the last election. If Canadians wanted the Liberal platform, they would have voted Liberal.

The last thing this government wants to do is to become yet another tax- and-spend Liberal government that promises everything and delivers nothing. We did not imitate the Liberals when we kept our promise to cut the GST. We did not imitate the Liberals when, after 12 years of broken child care promises, we gave parents choice in child care with a universal child care benefit. We did not imitate the Liberals when we replaced Liberal talk with practical actions to clean up Canada's air, land and water. We did not imitate the Liberals when we moved to clean up the Liberal mess by passing the Federal Accountability Act, the toughest anti-corruption law in Canadian history. We did not imitate the Liberals when we reversed the Liberals' soft-on-criminals approach by introducing tough new laws to crack down on crime, and we did not imitate the Liberals when we supported our brave men and women in uniform by rebuilding the Canadian Forces.

Instead of running a government for the benefit of insiders and special interests, Canada's new government is getting things done for all Canadians.

While much has been accomplished, there is still more to do. In the months ahead, this government will cut taxes even further for families and individuals, restore fiscal balance to our federation, continue to provide full support for our brave troops, diplomats and aid workers engaged in our vital mission in Afghanistan and continue moving forward on practical, realistic and achievable strategies for protecting the environment.

Honourable senators, the Liberals want to turn back the clock. We believe that the time has come to look forward, and, for that reason, I recommend we not proceed with this bill.

On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.

Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Gerard A. Phalen moved second reading of Bill S-222, to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to enact certain other measures, in order to provide assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking.—(Honourable Senator Phalen)

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to introduce Bill S-222, to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and to enact certain other measures to provide assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking.

In 2005, the government introduced, and this chamber passed, Bill C-49, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code, Trafficking in Persons. That legislation was a necessary first step in Canada's effort to meet its obligation under the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. This international protocol was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 and ratified by 117 countries, including Canada, who signed it on in May of 2002.

One primary goal of the protocol is to maintain a careful balance between law enforcement and victim protection. Accordingly, the protocol specified that any individual exploited through trafficking is to be considered a victim of trafficking and not a criminal.

Article 6 of the protocol ensures that domestic, legal and administrative systems provide victims with physical and psychological recovery, including housing, counselling, legal, medical and material assistance as well as employment, education and training opportunities.

Article 7 of the protocol deals with immigration and holds that signatory countries must consider laws that would allow trafficking victims to remain in the country either temporarily or permanently.

Unfortunately, Canada has taken only that first step, and in the last four years since we signed the protocol, Canada has done virtually nothing at the federal level to provide a safe and secure environment for victims. We are talking about anywhere from 800 to 16,000 victims in Canada. In fact, a recently published study on human trafficking by the Future Group, a Canadian-based non-governmental organization dedicated to combating human trafficking and the child sex trade, gave Canada an F for its abysmal record of treating victims. Eight countries were rated by the Future Group study. The results ran from a B-plus for the United States to a B for each of Australia, Norway and Sweden to a B-minus for Germany and Italy and a D for the U.K. Canada was the only country of the eight to receive an F. Their report said the following:

Canada's record of dealing with trafficking victims is an international embarrassment . . . Canada has ignored calls for reform and continues to re-traumatize trafficking victims, with few exceptions, by subjecting them to routine deportation and fails to provide even basic support services.

The Future Group is not the only organization criticizing Canada's inaction on its treatment of victims of tracking. In December 2005, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention criticized Canada for its detention policies, commenting that those people held in immigration detention often must pay a cash bond for their release, yet victims of trafficking often lack the connections or financial resources necessary to obtain such a release. Trafficking victims are thereby victimized once again.

For these reasons, I believe that the next step we need to take is Bill S-222. This bill was developed after looking at the practices in other developed countries, such as Australia, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United States. Each of these countries has a system in place to provide for temporary or permanent residency for victims; to provide support for physical, psychological and social recovery of victims; and to enable the investigation of trafficking.

After looking at the variety of systems in other developed countries, I decided to base this bill on the T-Visas program in the United States, which is designed to ensure that victims of trafficking who are able and willing to assist law enforcement with the prosecution of these slave traders can access the assistance that they need to break away from their traffickers.

In 2001-02, the United States T-Visas system resulted in the issuance of 136 T-Visas to victims of trafficking. It enabled them to remain in the country for up to three years, and it also resulted in 350 trafficking victims being given access to federal and state services, including employment authorization, housing and medical care.

The first part of Bill S-222 deals with the necessary changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In 1997, the RCMP announced that they had smashed a sex trafficking and human smuggling ring in Toronto. At the time, the RCMP painted a stark portrait of Thai and Malaysian women sold into slavery for prices ranging from $7,500 to $15,000 and then forced to work off their debts, totalling $35,000 to $40,000, through prostitution. The women's freedom was severely restricted. They had little food or access to medical care. Nevertheless, these unfortunate souls were arrested and charged with prostitution-related offences along with their traffickers. If that was not enough, they were even portrayed in the press as willing sex workers.

One columnist in The Toronto Star wrote the following:

Sex slaves, my fanny. Indentured sex trade workers, yes. Exploited concubines, possibly. Self-conscripted whores, apparently.

As these victims emerged from the glare of publicity, they then had to deal with finding food and shelter as well as dealing with their legal difficulties. One of them recalled:

I was afraid and worried about how long they were going to put me in jail. I thought it might be forever. . . . I had no money and didn't know anybody. I did not even know the street names or directions. I had lived with friends who used to work at the massage parlour. . . . I just lived day to day.

Seven months later, two of the victims flew back to Thailand and were promptly arrested at the airport. They were charged with travelling on false passports and failing to cooperate with the Thai embassy's investigation here in Canada.

(1630)

In 1998, the RCMP and the Toronto area police forces' Project Trade targeted five people alleged to be brokers or agents involved in selling women's services to brothel owners, who in turn required that each woman service up to 500 customers before they were allowed to keep a percentage of their earnings.

The story of one of the victims of trafficking who was caught up in Project Trade was documented for the Status of Women Canada in a document prepared by the Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women. This young Thai woman was arrested along with 67 others. She was kept in jail on prostitution charges for two months and a further two months on immigration charges.

The irony of this situation, and clearly why we need this new legislation, is that when finally released this woman found that she owed her trafficker a further $4,000 for legal and bail fees because the only person she knew in Canada, and therefore the person she asked for help, was indeed her trafficker.

Honourable senators, these cases clearly demonstrate the horrific situation in which these persons find themselves. If you were in their shoes, would you come forward and assist law enforcement to ensure your traffickers were prosecuted? If you were arrested for prostitution, did not speak English, did not know anyone in Canada except your traffickers, had no way to earn a living and were likely to be deported back to your home country, would you be anxious to help prosecute your traffickers? The RCMP estimates that only 1 in 10 victims of trafficking report the crime.

Fortunately, there have been some improvements in the system. In March of 2006, we learned about a pilot program of the RCMP and the B.C. Public Safety Ministry called the Care and Protection Program. This initiative will see victims of trafficking who have been identified by the police as potential witnesses being assisted with access to health care, psychiatric care, legal assistance and other help.

Honourable senators, I cannot tell you how pleased I was to read about this pilot project, and I believe we need to give our law enforcement officials, all across Canada, all the tools necessary to help these victims. I believe this bill will help all Canadian law enforcement officials assure potential witnesses that they can remain in Canada for the duration of the prosecution and beyond, and that they will have access to all the necessary social services.

I was pleased to read this past May that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced 120-day temporary resident permits for victims of trafficking. I believe that this is a good first step. However, I must point out that Statistics Canada 2004 figures show that the average length of time it takes for crimes against persons to be tried in superior court in Canada is 367 days. We therefore need a much longer and more comprehensive immigration and support system to assist these victims and to ensure their participation in the prosecution of their human traffickers.

Honourable senators, in October of 2005, I spoke in this chamber in support of Bill C-49. At that time, I said we needed a victim-centred approach and that it was my hope that the good work of Bill C-49 would be continued and that we would soon see legislation similar to the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act. That was 15 months ago, and I see no sign of any victim protection legislation coming forward.

Honourable senators, that is why I seek your support for this bill. It puts in place a system for what we are calling victim protection permits. These permits will allow a foreign national to remain in Canada as a temporary resident for an initial 120-day reflection period, and then if they qualify, for up to three years. In order to qualify for such a permit, these persons must be or have been victims of human trafficking; they must assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers; and, there must be a significant possibility that they or members of their family would suffer hardship, retribution or harm if they were removed from Canada.

If a victim of trafficking meets the conditions for a victim protection permit, it would deem that person to have the status of a permanent resident for the purpose of eligibility for medical and social programs. It would also provide authorization to work in Canada and allow the permit holder to apply for permanent residency at the end of the three-year period.

I believe these changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will ensure that victims of trafficking who are willing to assist law enforcement with the arrest and prosecution of their traffickers will be able to remain in the country and access a full range of necessary social services.

Honourable senators, this legislation deals with the immigration status of victims of trafficking, but it does not stop there. Part 2 of this legislation, also borrowing some ideas from the U.S. and the Norwegian models, provides for the establishment and operation of a national, multilingual, toll-free help telephone hotline operated by the Department of Health to provide an information and referral service for victims of trafficking. The idea behind this hotline is that these poor victims come from backgrounds where people mistrust law enforcement officials. If we are to have any hope that victims will come forward, we must provide avenues, such as this hotline, that they would see as safe, and we must publicize the hotline's availability throughout the country and in the appropriate languages.

This legislation further mandates the appointment and training of persons in the Department of Health to provide counselling and assistance to victims of trafficking. These specially trained workers would develop networks of law enforcement, immigration and social service providers specializing in services to victims of trafficking and walk the victims through these networks of assistance.

The final item in this legislation is a public awareness campaign. This campaign would inform people about the changes to the immigration laws and the availability of the hotline and the specially trained contact people in the Department of Health. The campaign would target people like workers in women's shelters, clergy, food bank workers and the many other front line social service providers.

Honourable senators, imagine if you can the difficulty faced by someone like a worker in a women's shelter faced with encouraging some poor victim of trafficking to go to the police knowing she might be charged with criminal activity herself and in a few months she might be deported.

I believe these community-based people are the ones to whom victims would first turn, and we have to educate these people on the changes to the immigration laws and the services available to victims of trafficking if we are to have any hope that they would encourage such victims to report their traffickers.

Honourable senators, to put this legislation in a nutshell, my belief is that with this legislation a victim of trafficking could contact a front line community worker or could call the toll free hotline directly and speak to someone in their own language who would then put them in touch with workers from the Department of Health. This specially trained worker would arrange such things as meetings with the correct police officer in the city, contact with immigration officials and lawyers, health and social service benefits, et cetera. Victims willing to assist law enforcement would be granted special victim protection permits to allow them to remain in Canada while they assist law enforcement with the prosecution of their traffickers, and eventually they would qualify to apply to be landed immigrants.

I would like to leave you, honourable senators, with a quote from Victor Malarek's now famous book, The Natashas, on the subject of human trafficking. He said:

Breaking this atrocious form of sexual exploitation must be a moral, legal and political imperative. . . . Trafficking of women for sexual exploitation is a crime against humanity. It shames us all.

Victor Malarek is right, honourable senators, and I believe that passing this legislation will be another step in Canada's protection of victims of trafficking and the prosecution of their human traffickers.

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I would like to thank Senator Phalen for bringing this important issue to the chamber, for the information he provided, and for the work he did in bringing this bill forward.

We must realize that we cannot blame only the originating countries for trafficking. Countries through which the people who are being trafficked travel have to take responsibility, as do receiving countries like Canada, for helping victims of this crime. Senator Phalen spoke of some of the horrific situations that victims find themselves in once they arrive in the countries to which they are sent. I heard at a conference that people are now trafficked more than arms. Trafficking of drugs is the most common, trafficking of people is next, and trafficking of arms is third.

Senator Phalen said that one in 10 victims report their situation. Does the honourable senator have any information on how many victims of trafficking are arriving in Canada?

Senator Phalen: The RCMP claim that 800 people a year are trafficked. NGOs claim that the number is up to 16,000 each year. I do not know the correct figure, but I believe that the NGOs would have a more accurate count, because it is to them that these people are going.

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: I move the adjournment of the debate in the name of Senator Jaffer.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thought that the practice of adjourning debate in the name of other senators was not usual. Senator Jaffer is not here. If we have gone back to the practice of adjourning in another senator's name, we will let it go, but it was my impression that we were no longer doing that.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: This is not the first time we followed this procedure today.

Senator Moore: I have never heard of a rule prohibiting the procedure. Are we making rules up as we go?

Senator Comeau: Senator Moore and I have raised good points. There is a difference of opinion. Perhaps we could ask the Speaker to rule on whether the rules provide that we can adjourn debate in the name of another senator. If that senator is away for a few months or a year or two, or whatever, we can address the matter then. I think we can leave it to the Speaker to decide whether the rules do provide for us to adjourn debate in someone else's name.

Senator Phalen: My understanding is that Senator Jaffer will be absent this week but will be here next week.

Hon. Terry Stratton: From my years of experience in this chamber I can say that there is no evidence that Senator Jaffer would allow this item to stand adjourned in her name. She is not in attendance at this moment and that precludes us from adjourning the debate in her name.

Hon. Lorna Milne: I believe that if Senator Jaffer were here, Senator Moore would not be able to move the adjournment in her name. The Rules of the Senate are quite clear that this is common practice. It is used weekly, if not daily. In my 10 years here, this is the first time I have ever heard reference to a rule prohibiting it, and such a rule simply does not exist.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I thank the honourable senators for their interventions. I will look into what our rules provide for and how often this practice has been used.

In the meantime, I will accept Senator Moore's motion.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

On motion of Senator Moore, debate adjourned.

Point of Order

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I rise on a point of order. Under our rules, we should not refer to the presence or absence of another senator. I know that when it happens, it is almost never ill-meant. Nonetheless, it has been happening with increasing frequency over recent months, and I am simply taking the opportunity to remind honourable senators of our rules.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): This reminder reinforces the point made in the previous point of order. If an honourable senator is not present, we do not know whether he or she is agreeable to having an order adjourned in his or her name. The very fact that such a motion is made indicates to everyone who can read and listen that the senator is not present. That makes the case more strongly that we should not adjourn orders in someone else's name, because it shows that that senator is not in the chamber at that time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In addition to researching whether items can be adjourned in the name of another senator, I will look into references to the absence or presence of senators in the chamber.

Constitution Act, 1867

Report of Special Committee on Motion to Amend—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hays, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the adoption of the second report of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform (motion to amend the Constitution of Canada (western regional representation in the Senate), without amendment but with observations), presented in the Senate on October 26, 2006;

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Campbell, that the second report of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform be not now adopted but that the motion to amend the Constitution of Canada (western regional representation in the Senate), be amended as follows:

(a) by replacing, in the third paragraph of the motion, the words "British Columbia be made a separate division represented by 12 Senators;" with the following:

"British Columbia be made a separate division represented by 24 Senators;";

(b) by replacing, in clause 1 of the Schedule to the motion, in section 21, the words "consist of One hundred and seventeen Members" with the following:

"consist of One hundred and twenty-nine Members";

(c) by replacing, in clause 1 of the Schedule to the motion, in section 22, the words "British Columbia by Twelve Senators;" with the following:

"British Columbia by Twenty-four Senators;";

(d) by striking out, in clause 2 of the Schedule to the motion, in section 27, the words "or, in the case of British Columbia, Twelve Senators,"; and

(e) by replacing, in clause 2 of the Schedule to the motion, in section 28, the words "exceed One hundred and twenty-seven." with the following:

"exceed One hundred and thirty-nine.". —(Honourable Senator Bryden)

Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to the motion to amend the Constitution of Canada regarding western regional representation in the Senate, which is now commonly referred to as the Murray-Austin motion.

I would like to begin by quoting from a book with which we are all familiar, Protecting Canadian Democracy, which was edited by our colleague Senator Joyal:

At its inception, the federal system of governing in Canada was devised to accommodate the various needs and bolster the respective strengths of the original partners in Confederation: Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The historical record is emphatic: there would have been no agreement on Confederation without the provision of an Upper Chamber possessing genuine powers....During the Confederation debates, Sir John A. Macdonald stressed the importance of checking the legislative power of governments elected largely by the heavily populated areas of the country:

"To the Upper House is to be confided the protection of sectional interests; therefore it is that the three great divisions (now four) are there equally represented for the purpose of defending such interests against the combination of majorities in the Assembly."

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Quoting from page 275 of Protecting Canadian Democracy, George Brown, leader of the Reformers, which later became the Liberal Party, in Upper Canada at the time of Confederation stated:

Our Lower Canada friends have agreed to give us representation by population in the Lower House, on the express condition that they shall have equality in the Upper House. On no other condition could we have advanced a step. . . . and it was quite natural that the protection for those interests, by equality in the Upper Chamber, should be demanded by the less numerous provinces.

That, honourable senators, was and still is the deal, the contract, the compact that made our Confederation possible; a deal among Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces, later signed onto and accepted by the Western provinces, that guaranteed in exchange for the less populated provinces accepting representation by population as the method of choosing members to serve in the House of Commons, the more populated provinces accepted that an equal number of senators be appointed to represent each of the four major divisions of the country regardless of the population of each division.

The immutability of the deal made by the founding provinces at the time of Confederation was emphasized by the Supreme Court of Canada as recently as 1980 in re Upper House. The citation is 1980, S.C.R.54.

. . . It is not open to Parliament to make alterations which would affect the fundamental features or essential characteristics given to the Senate as a means of ensuring regional representation and provincial representation in the federal legislative process. The character of the Senate was determined by the British Parliament in response to the proposals submitted by the three provinces in order to meet the requirement of the proposed federal system. It was that Senate created by the act to which a legislative role was given by S. 91. In our opinion, its fundamental character cannot be altered by unilateral action by the Parliament of Canada and S.91(1) does not give that power.

Honourable senators, while the motion before us does not purport to change the fundamental and essential equality of representation among the four divisions represented in the Senate, that can only be done by a constitutional amendment under section 38, adoption of the motion would basically say that the Senate prefers and supports that basic representation in this place be changed from equal representation for each of the four divisions to unequal representation. This would be accomplished by increasing the representation of the Western provinces division by 12 senators to 36 in the original motion, or by doubling the number of senators in the Western provinces division to 48 if the amendment should carry.

A question comes to mind: Why would we do that? The Constitution of Canada, honourable senators, states:

22. In relation to the Constitution of the Senate Canada shall be deemed to consist of Four Divisions:—

1. Ontario;

2. Quebec;

3. The Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island;

4. The Western Provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta;

which Four Divisions shall (subject to the Provisions of this Act) be equally represented in the Senate as follows: Ontario by twenty-four senators; Quebec by twenty-four senators; the Maritime Provinces and Prince Edward Island by twenty-four senators, ten thereof representing Nova Scotia, ten thereof representing New Brunswick, and four thereof representing Prince Edward Island; the Western Provinces by twenty-four senators, six thereof representing Manitoba, six thereof representing British Columbia, six thereof representing Saskatchewan, and six thereof representing Alberta; Newfoundland shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by six members; the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by one member each.

Honourable senators, I return to the question: Why is it now desirable to amend the Constitution so that the four divisions of Canada are unequally represented in the Senate?

Senator Murray, in speaking to his and Senator Austin's motion stated:

The Constitution Act of 1915 created the Western division, with 24 seats equally divided among the four provinces. . . . In terms of Western representation, the Senate has stood still for more than 90 years.

Honourable senators, the Ontario division, the Quebec division and the Maritime provinces division have stood still for 140 years. Since these three divisions have had a much longer period of inertia than the Western division, perhaps it would be desirable to determine whether they or any of them would prefer to be unequally represented before amending the more contemporary Western provinces division.

Honourable Senator Murray goes on to say:

The geographic, demographic, cultural, political and economic realities of Western Canada are underrepresented in this place. Western Canada's importance in this country is not properly reflected in the composition of the chamber.

In light of the fact that the Western division presently has one senator for every 403,450 people and the Ontario division presently has one senator for every 522,550 people, it would seem that the division Senator Murray represents — and I had hoped he would be present — has a greater demographic grievance.

The Ontario division might find it desirable to amend the Constitution of Canada as well. If it had a champion for its cause, seven more senators would set its division at 31 senators instead of 24, bringing their ratio of senators to people to the same level enjoyed by the Western division. Presently, the Western division is demographically better represented than the Ontario division.

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To continue with the list of realities that, since 1915, have caused the Western division's 24 Senate seats to become inadequate, it would be helpful to know what geographical changes have occurred, since 1915, to warrant an overweighting in the number of seats required for the western division.

Similarly, what cultural contributions, opportunities or burdens cry out for more Senate seats in the western division than in Quebec, Ontario or even the Maritime provinces division? What are the political and economic realities that would warrant equal representation?

The political and economic realities are that the Western division has the Prime Minister of the country, billions and billions of dollars in economic activity and the fastest growth in the nation. That is not bad for a division that, since 1915, has been neglected and has only an equal number of senators with the other three main divisions, as prescribed by Constitution of Canada.

Senator Austin in speaking to the motion said:

This resolution is not intended to reapportion Senate seats. Quite frankly, it is a part of the role of the Senate to reinforce the parliamentary presence of the lesser populated provinces.

No, the motion does not reapportion Senate seats. It arbitrarily awards 50 per cent more seats to the Western provinces division by the motion and 100 per cent more seats if the amendment carries, while maintaining the 24 seats for each of the other three main divisions. If adopted, this motion clearly breaks the contract upon which Confederation was founded and that the western provinces division agreed to and signed on to at least by 1915.

It is disingenuous to protest that this is just a first step and the resolution must meet the section 38 constitutional amendment process and — nudge, nudge, wink, wink — do we really think that will happen?

Honourable senators, this is not the way we do business in this chamber. I will not support this motion, first step or not. Its adoption would break the deal the four divisions made for equality among the four divisions. We cannot simply break the deal. We, perhaps, can negotiate a new deal but that negotiation must take place among all the constitutional players, particularly the provinces, and not simply in this chamber.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable Senator Bryden, your time is up.

Senator Bryden: Half a minute.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Four minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Bryden, five minutes.

Senator Bryden: Thank you, honourable senators.

I will not abuse my time.

Finally, honourable senators, I want to align myself with the suggested approaches outlined by Senator Hubley in her thoughtful and carefully crafted speech on this issue, and I commend it to you.

Thank you for listening, honourable senators.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: I have a question for the honourable senator.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will you accept questions, Senator Bryden?

Senator Bryden: Yes, I will do the best I can.

Senator St. Germain: Honourable senator, perhaps you explained this but how do you square the argument of the additional six seats for Newfoundland and Labrador that were established? I carefully listened to you speak of the original divisions of the western provinces, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, yet you do not explain how we can co-exist or survive with the six seats in Newfoundland and Labrador that were established. What is your rationale with regard to that issue?

Senator Bryden: I cannot swear this is exactly right, but my understanding is that at the time of Confederation there were 24 seats set aside for the West. Also, I believe, five seats were set aside in the hopeful event that Newfoundland would join our Confederation. The West had totally signed up by 1915; Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949 and, at that time, the six seats were allocated. I think it was after that time that the single seats for the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and now for Nunavut were assigned.

Senator St. Germain: At what time did you say that the five seats were assigned on the possibility that Newfoundland would join? Was this after 1915 or prior to 1915?

Senator Bryden: The best answer I can give you is: I am not sure. I know that they were not assigned until 1949 because Newfoundland was not a province until 1949.

Senator St. Germain: I realize that, but I think it is important that, as senators, we somehow acquire that information. I understand the argument you put forward, but then we have this factor to deal with and it exists. To me, it lends credence to the possibility that if we could add then, why can we not add now? Since I represent British Columbia, I think we should pursue the question.

Senator Bryden: I wish to make one quick response to that. The four main divisions were struck at the time of Confederation.

Senator St. Germain: Agreed.

Senator Bryden: Ultimately, they were all assigned by 1915. Canada, in 1949, then acquired a whole new territory. It was not as if the territory was there and we expanded into it; it was a new participant in Confederation. Newfoundland did not negotiate the 24-seat equal designation between each of the four founding divisions. I believe — once again lots of people here know their history better than me — that initially five seats were anticipated to go to Newfoundland. I cannot imagine Newfoundlanders wanting to negotiate, but they negotiated with the country of Canada for up to six seats at the time of Confederation. That is the best I can do.

Just because Newfoundland is there, I do not know why that gives us a right to change the rules by which everyone else joined.

Hon. David Tkachuk: I take it the honourable senator is not in favour of my amendment to 24 seats for British Columbia?

Senator Bryden: Honourable senator, that reminds me of this story. A long time ago we had a gentleman in here who was good with figures and the only thing he spoke to when I was here was the budget.

Senator Comeau: That was Senator Bolduc.

Senator Bryden: Exactly: He peeled strip after strip off the Liberal budgets. I had an opportunity to stand up and ask him a question. When I stood up, I said, honourable senator, other than that, was there anything in the budget that you did not like?

On motion of Senator Nolin, debate adjourned.

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Study on Concerns of First Nations Relating to Specific Claims Process

Report of Aboriginal Peoples Committee—Motion to Request Government Response—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples entitled: Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice, tabled in the Senate on December 12, 2006.—(Honourable Senator St. Germain, P.C.)

Hon. Gerry St. Germain moved:

That the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, entitled Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice, tabled in the Senate on December 12, 2006, be adopted; and

That, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Indian Affairs and the Minister of Justice being identified as ministers responsible for responding to the report.

He said: Honourable senators, last spring, the Senate mandated the Aboriginal Peoples Committee to study the specific claims process and to report with recommendations addressing policy and program changes, if necessary. I wish to comment generally about the committee's December 12, 2006 tabled report, entitled Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice.

Honourable senators, the settlement of Canada over the last several centuries has indisputably taken place on lands that belong to indigenous peoples organized as tribes, nations, communities — people which today are known as the First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

In the British tradition and in accordance with international law, the opening up of lands for immigration and settlement was to have been done in a just process involving fair compensation. To a large degree, that role was accomplished. Treaties were made, surrenders of land were entered into and leases were signed.

While there may still be disputes as to the precise meaning of some of these transactions, disputes which are before the courts today as Canada's Aboriginal law evolves, Canada's history shows that settlement took place without the sad violence and dispossession that has characterized settler-indigenous relationships in other countries.

For that reason, Canada and indigenous peoples alike continue to have within their reach all the elements to develop a positive, productive relationship that meets the standards of the 21st century. There were, nonetheless, all too many instances of grievous injustices, gross unfairness and dishonest transactions. The historical record establishes beyond any doubt that there were instances of outright fraud to enrich government officials, failure to reserve the agreed-upon amounts of lands for the exclusive use and benefit of the First Nation involved, surveying of lands intended to be "farming lands" which were, in fact, little more than swamps and muskegs, neglect in resolving well-founded complaints, and failure of agents to uphold the honour of the Crown.

As settlement progressed, First Nations were devastated by disease, changing economies, racism and paternalistic policies. They found it difficult to find anyone to listen to complaints about problems in the land transactions and, too often, grievances were not taken seriously. For a shameful period, there were decades in which it was actually prohibited by law for First Nations to retain lawyers to take their claims to the courts. Deprived of the economic benefits of lands to which they were entitled, many First Nations slipped deeper into poverty and despair.

In the 1960s, however, the federal government found it convenient to address land claims. Officials discovered there was no list of claims, no idea of the extent of claims or the funds which might be required to settle them. A claims commissioner appointed to resolve claims — a task expected to be completed in three or four years — discovered the number of claims was overwhelming. There was no process in place to deal with them.

The urgency of resolving claims increased with the Calder decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, which reinforced the concept of Aboriginal title. One thing was certain: Lengthy and costly litigation would not be able to resolve these disputes and Canada's court system could not easily handle the burden of the hundreds of new and complex cases.

The result was, for the first time, the establishment of a federal policy and process to handle First Nations specific claims. The concept seemed fair and practical. First Nations would file claims; officials and federal lawyers would recommend whether the Minister of Indian Affairs would accept the claims as outstanding, lawful obligations; accepted claims would then go to the negotiation level to reach agreement on a settlement and fair compensation would be paid. It was simple, but there were serious problems.

The claims came in by the hundreds, not by the dozens. The number of officials to handle the claims proved to be severely deficient. The complexity of the claims was much greater than expected. Much more time than expected was required to do research both to substantiate the claim and for governments to substantiate that settling the claim was justified. The pace of negotiations slowed to a near standstill. Insufficient funds were allocated to pay for the settlements that had been agreed upon; and in the face of increased expectations that claims would be settled, the slow process seemed to add to the frustrations accumulated over decades of inattention to the injustice.

After several well-publicized confrontations arising from unresolved claims, the federal government agreed to establish an Indian Claims Commission under the Inquiries Act, a temporary solution until a permanent independent mechanism could be created in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations and regional organizations. A joint task force was established to work out the details. The commission commenced hearings into appeals of decisions of the minister to reject claims.

Thirty years after the government's belated decision to settle specific claims, and 15 years after the establishment of the temporary commission, the situation has worsened rather than improved. The backlog of claims has increased at every step of the process. Hundreds of claims have been mired in the process for 10, 15 and 20 years plus. Specifically, more than 400 nations — status Indian bands — have submitted roughly 1,300 specific claims since 1970. Approximately 900 claims have yet to be resolved.

There may be questions over the causes — insufficient staff, lack of resources allocated, overly complicated process and unreasonable standards. One thing is certain, however: The frustration of the First Nation claimants is again palpable, near the boiling point and, in some instances, already resulting in protests and occupations. It is against this backdrop that the committee opened its hearings on the specific claims process.

Honourable senators, when governments have chosen to address specific claims, they have done so in isolation and failed to integrate the resolution of claims into overall Aboriginal policy.

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One witness, Mr. Jerome Slavik, a lawyer with more than 20 years' experience on specific claims, described the policy by saying:

There is a complete disjuncture between the government's stated interests of using claims as a platform to achieve economic self-sufficiency and self-government, and the process and criteria that claimants must go through to get there.

In Mr. Slavik's view, the government must see claims resolution as essential to economic and social development and to improvements in quality of life and governance. After all, specific claims are not arcane legal problems but injustices that occurred in the real world and that carry real consequences. In many cases, these injustices robbed First Nations of their ability to participate in the economy. In this light, the policy's stated goal of meeting outstanding obligations is all but meaningless. However, where claims have been settled, the compensation often has led to substantial economic progress for our Aboriginal peoples.

In his testimony before your committee, honourable senators, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs also recognized the economic significance, the significant value of negotiated settlements and, perhaps more importantly, that time is of the essence. In his presentation before the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, the minister said:

In contrast to litigation, negotiated settlements are jointly developed by the parties in the process of working together, and from what I have seen over the years, this certainly strengthens relationships. Negotiated settlements are the best way to go in terms of building relationships and achieving economic development objectives and so on. They can certainly lead to win-win circumstances.

Honourable senators, I have become convinced that the vast majority of specific claims result directly from the profound level of disrespect for First Nation peoples that existed for many decades in this country.

The complexity of many claims is another factor that delays, settlements. Claims often involve multiple levels of government and, in some regions, such as the Prairies, removing tracts of land from a municipal tax base imposes financial hardships on residents of that municipality. Many claims necessarily involve the provinces or private land owners. While history and the complexity of individual claims tend to slow down processes, my impression is that the government specific claims policy itself is largely responsible for the growing backlog.

This report, then, is dedicated to looking toward the future rather than to the past. Its purpose is neither to assess, blame nor demand vague "improvement." Instead, it is the committee's hope that its recommendations will be a clear blueprint for change. It is the committee's intention that its recommendations be the subject of prompt evaluation by government and consideration of First Nations.

The committee sees no reason why a joint task force cannot be convened in a very short period of time, mandated to determine short-, medium-and long-term mechanical changes that can be implemented by the federal government without delay. Adequate resources for negotiations and claims settlements have been lacking for many years and therefore, Canada's lawful obligations to First Nations are not being met. Officials of the government, legal practitioners and First Nations' representatives and researchers from across the country appeared before the committee. All made it abundantly clear that previous governments have not responded appropriately to the huge potential liability that specific claims represent for Canada.

Consequently, the committee concluded its study and has recommended that in the next federal budget there be an increase in the funds available for settlements and no less than $250 million per year allocated to a fund for the payment of specific claims settlements. Our second recommendation is the establishment of an independent claims resolution body within two years, in full partnership with First Nations and capable of reaching settlements on claims within five years of their submissions to this new body. Recommendation three asks for the provision of adequate resources for the existing process; increased human and financial resources for specific claims at the Department of Justice and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; and equal access for First Nations to government records necessary for documenting claims. Our fourth recommendation asks for the adoption of new guiding principles of fairness, inclusion, dialogue and recognition of regional differences.

Honourable senators, our Senate committee has proposed a limited number of specific measures to address what are really the specific choking points in the specific claims process. The committee believes that there is no reason why a nation as prosperous as Canada cannot afford to meet its outstanding, lawful — I repeat, lawful — obligations, in particular when these settlements have such great potential for dramatic improvement in the economic well-being of First Nations. Indeed, Canada cannot afford not to do so.

With concerted political will to act, the current blemish of human rights injustice can be removed and replaced by a positive relationship demonstrating true justice.

Honourable senators, members of my committee worked seriously and aggressively on this file. I have heard prime minister after prime minister say that we live in the greatest country in the world. I am not speaking from a partisan point of view but rather, I am speaking as a concerned Canadian and as a concerned member of a committee that has a responsibility to our Aboriginal peoples. I do not think Canada will ever achieve its real greatness until it has dealt fairly with our Aboriginal peoples — our First Nations.

Hon. Jack Austin: Would Senator St. Germain take a question?

Senator St. Germain: Yes.

Senator Austin: Senator St. Germain is aware that I am in support of this fifth report and that the committee has done very good work. I am curious, however, that there is no mention of Bill C-6, which was passed in the Thirty-seventh Parliament when the Honourable Bob Nault was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Bill C-6 set up a legal regime that does almost everything that Senator St. Germain has presented today with respect to the processing of specific claims of Aboriginal communities.

The honourable senator is aware that Bill C-6 was passed by Parliament and has not yet been proclaimed. Did your committee examine whether that bill would carry out most of the purposes for which this committee has reported, or are there deficiencies in that bill that you feel make it nugatory?

Senator St. Germain: My understanding is that the bill has been proclaimed but it has not been enacted. Is that correct?

Senator Austin: It was passed by Parliament. It simply has not been proclaimed.

Senator St. Germain: Bill C-6 was a topic of discussion during the hearings and deficiencies were brought forward by the Aboriginal communities that we are trying to serve. In approximately 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the instances stated, they could not see going forward with Bill C-6 because it did not meet the requirements of fairness, as far as they were concerned. They believed that the Senate committee should proceed on its own and make a report to the government. In the matter that we have reported, about 80 per cent of the witnesses who appeared before the committee supported this method to proceed over proceeding with Bill C-6.

We did not do an in-depth study of Bill C-6 but the topic was raised numerous times, and the Assembly of First Nations spoke to it as well.

Senator Austin: The official position of the Assembly of First Nations is that they were opposed to the proclamation of Bill C-6. Is that correct?

Senator St. Germain: If I recall, that is correct. The AFN said that they want an outside body to adjudicate the specific claims because currently, the government acts as judge and prosecution. Bill C-6 did not provide that in any way, shape or form.

Senator Austin: I happen to disagree with you. Bill C-6 sets up three bodies, one of which is an outside, independent judicial body to examine claims and make the reference to negotiation. If negotiation is unacceptable to the claimant Aboriginal community, then the claim proceeds to an independent judicial body.

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However, the point that the honourable senator is making, is that the Aboriginal partners are rejecting the Bill C-6 methodology and therefore we are starting again from the beginning to deal with the process. As the Honourable Senator St. Germain knows, the existing Indian Claims Commission is based on an Order in Council that was passed in 1983. That is its legal reality, and we have tried very hard to put in place a statute that would provide for a true process. If the honourable senator's report leads to that, I would be delighted.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator St. Germain has run out of time.

Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I ask leave for another four minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[English]

Senator St. Germain: I am surprised the honourable senator has risen. It was his government that brought forward Bill C-6 and why was it not put into effect. This is the question. I know why it was not put into effect, because the Aboriginal community was not satisfied that the independent body was truly independent. It was department and government driven, as opposed to being selected in an impartial method, with true Aboriginal representation. Whether that is a reality or not, if we can expedite the process and if Bill C-6 could be utilized, although it was part of a former administration, if it is good for the Aboriginal people, I do not care where it comes from. However, if it does not help these people who have been browbeaten for the last 150 years, I think it is time we get our act together and work with them each step of the way in a manner that is beneficial to them.

Senator Austin: Would the chamber allow me an additional question?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Austin: I agree with all the good nostrums that the honourable senator has just announced. However, he has put his finger on the problem, that the Assembly of First Nations and other Aboriginal representatives wanted to have a veto over the appointment by the Governor-in-Council of members of the independent commission and there was a constitutional problem facing the government. How does the Governor-in-Council share appointment power with a third party? Did the committee actually focus on that issue?

Senator St. Germain: No, we did not, but the fact is clearly stated in the report from the feedback, that there has to be a high level of consultation with the Aboriginal community as a whole, and I think the honourable senator would be in agreement. If we fail to do that and continually do what we have done, we will always get what we have always got and it is not satisfactory.

On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Effectiveness of Canada's Promotion of Democratic Development Abroad—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, for the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to examine and report on the effectiveness of Canada's promotion of democratic development abroad; the role of the Parliament of Canada in this context; and

That the Committee shall present its final report no later than December 31, 2007, and that the Committee shall retain all powers necessary to publicize the findings of the Committee as set forth in its final report until March 31, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Downe)

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, my purpose today is to explain the intent of the reference for the committee on the study of democratization, and seek the approval of the chamber to proceed. I am appreciative to the Honourable Senator Downe who gave me permission to speak, even though it was adjourned in his name. We do not want to replicate the work of the House of Commons on democratization, which is a much larger and broader study, but to look specifically at the role of the organizations that report directly to Parliament; for example, the Westminster Institute in the United Kingdom, the Endowment for Democracy which reports to the Congress in the Senate in the United States, and the focus of those organizations, specifically on the strengthening of political parties abroad, as opposed to the many other aspects that are important and substantial, relative to the democracy project. As the resolution contemplates, it would be a brief study, talking to witnesses who have been involved in this area of activity, comparing the approaches of other countries with our own and making recommendations as to how this chamber might wish to proceed in respect to going forward. Our budgetary requirements, when that matter is discussed, will be modest and we are not contemplating excessive travel. We will use video conference to moderate cost and make the best use of members' time.

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: The honourable senator has just stated that there would not be excessive travel. Why is he not seeking permission for the committee to travel in the motion?

Senator Segal: When the matter was discussed in the steering committee, there was agreement that we could do this without travelling, and asking for travel privileges when we agreed not to might be a touch superfluous. I am in the hands of my more experienced colleague.

Senator Corbin: I am not attempting any mischief here, for I am a member of the steering committee and we have a good working relationship. However, having given further thought to the whole idea of travel, it seems to me that as much as video conferencing is useful, it is not as useful as meeting people on their ground. This is very much a parliamentary initiative and it seems to me members of the committee would all gain if they did indeed travel to Westminster or to the American Congress. Although I have given that a great deal of thought, I have not had the opportunity to discuss it in private with my other colleagues; however, I feel that we would be missing something if we did not go on the ground and talk at length with these people who have gathered quite a bit of experience over many years. This is why I am suggesting that perhaps we should include in the motion a proviso for travel, if need be.

Senator Segal: I am at a loss as to how to do that. I do not know if we are allowed to amend this motion. We could consult broadly with our leadership relative to the timing of any travel due the sensitivity, relative to the roster, certainly on this side, but that being said, if that is an amendment that my colleague would like to make, I would support it without hesitation.

(1740)

Hon. Joan Fraser: It has occurred to me, as I listen to this debate, that the motion does not need to include any reference at all to travel. Normally that is done, if memory serves, when a budget is presented to the Internal Economy Committee. It seems to me that this mini-debate we have been having indicates that the committee itself may wish to take another look at the matter before submitting a budget. However, that does not mean we could not accept the study. Senator Corbin always offers food for thought, so it will be interesting to hear what he says.

Hon. Jack Austin: I wanted to ask a question of Senator Segal so that I better understand the meaning of the motion. Do I understand that one objective of the proposed motion is to examine the work of all interparliamentary committees, for example, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group, to see whether we are promoting democratic values through the interparliamentary process? Would that be one area of your work?

Senator Segal: I have no reason to apprehend that those matters would be excluded from the committee's consideration.

Senator Austin: I am even less clear, then, about the meaning of the role of the Parliament of Canada in this context; can the honourable senator give us an explanation?

Senator Segal: The reference should be the role of Parliament, parliamentarians, institutions that report to Parliament and organizations that are part of Parliament as separate from bureaucratic organizations or NGO organizations who have no connection with Parliament but who also do excellent work in the area. It is not contemplated that they would be the primary focus of this study. This study would look at parliamentary agencies and organizations relating to Parliament, and we would look at not only what happens in our context but also at what happens with organizations such as the Westminster Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy, which report not to the state department or to the foreign and colonial affairs department but rather to their respective parliaments.

On motion of Senator Corbin, debate adjourned.

Canada's Commitment to Darfur, Sudan

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Dallaire calling the attention of the Senate to the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan and the importance of Canada's commitment to the people of this war-torn country.—(Honourable Senator Jaffer)

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, all of us, I am certain, have a deep sense of frustration when we focus on the human rights abuses bordering on genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan and now taking place in the neighbouring countries of Chad and the Central African Republic. After more than 20 years of fighting in Southern Sudan and the death of hundreds of thousands there, the Khartoum authorities signed a treaty that gives Southern Sudan a high level of autonomy as well as a role in the Sudan government — so far so good in Southern Sudan.

Probably encouraged by the Southern Sudan situation, several groups in Darfur have asked for the same arrangement. It appears that at times these groups have cooperated, and, at other times, they were rivals.

The response of the Khartoum authorities in Darfur is now well known to the world. It has been savage, enabling Arab tribes, known as "the Janjaweed militia," to attack, rape and murder countless people and to burn to the ground their communities. The Janjaweed have been armed by the Khartoum authorities and supported in the air and on the ground by the Sudanese military. It is reported that over 200,000 people have been murdered and over 2 million Darfurians are refugees in Chad and the Central African Republic.

What has been the world's response? First, there was a decision that responsibility to act was that of the African Union. This organization of African nations was able to muster a patrol of 8,000 poorly equipped and undertrained soldiers who have acted largely as observers without the power to separate the refugees from the Janjaweed. The soldiers have been sparsely supported by the United Nations and the world community, although it is fair to report that Canada has been a leader in supplying money and equipment; decisions taken by the Martin government and, so far as I know, still supported by the Harper government.

Canada has sponsored, and the UN has proclaimed, the "responsibility to protect," but what does it mean in action? The Khartoum authorities have relied on the doctrine of state sovereignty to deny the UN and the world community access to the region. The attempts by NGO groups to provide humanitarian assistance have been frustrated by the Khartoum authorities. The Janjaweed have targeted aid workers with murder and rape, and most agencies have withdrawn their workers. The Khartoum authorities simply do not want witnesses to their actions.

In spite of the horrors of Rwanda, the world community is not prepared to risk the personnel and pay the costs of dealing with the responsibility to protect in Darfur. Indeed, Sudan's Arab neighbours solidly supported electing Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, as head of the African Union. Fortunately, the other countries in Africa denied him that outrageous result.

The Davos conference of self-proclaimed world leaders that met last month conferred about Africa but said nothing about Darfur. President George Bush does not have Darfur on his short list of world problems marked with an urgent tag. President Hu Jintao spent two days in Khartoum last week. How high up the list of items for his visit was Darfur? Keeping in mind that China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, President Bashir has threatened a holy war against any country or people who take resolute action to protect the lives of Darfurians. He has been supported by alleged spokesmen for al Qaeda who say they will sponsor terrorism in the lands of those who resolve to take action.

The Darfurians are Muslims, as are the Sudanese authorities and their Arab militia, the Janjaweed. It is so easy for the world community to say to itself that these are Muslims killing Muslims; why intervene? Of course, they could visit their terror on us at home.

There are reports that the Janjaweed are beginning to attack the Darfur people in camps in Chad and Central Africa. Should a massacre begin there, will we stand and watch because the threat of terror intimidates us? I wish I knew the answer, but I have my suspicions.

Our colleagues Senator Dallaire and Senator Jaffer, along with Ambassador Robert Fowler, were members of a three-person Canadian team delegated by the Martin government to analyze and understand the situation and enter into a dialogue of reason with Sudan. Senator Jaffer also previously served as Prime Minister Chrétien's special envoy. The members of the team are leaders for Canadian opinion for Darfur. I hope Canadians will listen to them in the future.

I am pleased to note that Senator Dallaire was invited to appear before a U.S. congressional committee yesterday. I am certain he made a persuasive case there for UN action in Darfur.

I go back, honourable senators, to say that the situation is of enormous frustration. The inability of the world community to respond to the devastating behaviour of Sudan and its militias in Darfur creates a pathetic sense in so many of us about the way in which the world system is evolving.

On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.

(1750)

Canadian National Vimy Memorial

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Dallaire, calling the attention of the Senate to the final phase of the restoration of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, begun in 2001 under the auspices of the Canadian Battlefield Memorials Restoration Project. —(Honourable Senator Banks)

Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I rise to speak briefly to Senator Dallaire's inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to the final phase of the restoration of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. This project, which began in 2001 under the auspices of the Canadian Battlefields Memorial Restoration Project, is nearing completion, and an official rededication ceremony is expected to be held in April of this year.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 7, officials from Veterans Affairs Canada, the Canadian Battlefields Foundation and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will update the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs on the status of this project and the detailed plans to commemorate and rededicate the restored Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

I look forward to providing a detailed update to all honourable senators following this meeting.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I will be pleased to share with you the details of the ceremony, once they have been provided to the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, tomorrow, Wednesday. I move adjournment of the debate.

On motion of Senator Meighen, debate adjourned.

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, given that it is almost six o'clock and that there are very few items remaining on the Order Paper, is it agreed, honourable senators, that we not see the clock?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Kyoto Protocol

Government Position—Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Mitchell calling the attention of the Senate to the stated intention of the Canadian government to weaken the Kyoto Protocol, and to dismantle 15 climate change programs, including the One-Tonne Challenge and the EnerGuide program.—(Honourable Senator Fraser)

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, given the vital importance of this inquiry on the environment and our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, I move the adjournment of the debate.

On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 7, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.