Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 48
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, the University of Alberta is
100 years old this year. During those 100 years, the University of Alberta
Golden Bears men's hockey team has played in gold medal games for the Canadian
Interuniversity Sport national hockey championship on 17 occasions. On March 23,
it won that championship for a record-setting thirteenth time in an exciting,
hard-fought, could-have-gone-either-way game in which the Golden Bears squeezed
out a one-point victory over the defending champion University of New Brunswick
My condolences to Senator Day.
I know that all honourable senators will join me in congratulating the
University of Alberta Golden Bears men's hockey team, which has now won the
University Cup more times than any other university in Canada.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, April 9 is Vimy Ridge Day. It
marks the time, 91 years ago, when Canadian soldiers did what many before them
failed to do. After months of meticulous planning, preparation and exercises,
they conquered what, until then, had been an impregnable German position. For
the first time in war, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps went into battle
together, and together they succeeded where other Allied forces had failed. They
took Vimy Ridge, at no small cost — 10,000 casualties, 3,598 of them fatal.
The battle began at 5:30 a.m. The hardest thing many of us face today is
getting up at that hour. Few of us can imagine the sacrifices of life and limb
those 10,000 young men made under the most horrible of conditions.
Let me read a snippet of what took place. This is from the Veterans' Affairs
At 5:30 a.m., April 9, 1917, Easter Monday, the creeping artillery
barrage began to move steadily towards the Germans. Behind it advanced
20,000 soldiers of the first attacking wave of the four Canadian divisions,
a score of battalions in line abreast, leading the assault in a driving
north-west wind that swept the mangled countryside with sleet and snow.
Guided by paint-marked stakes, the leading infantry companies crossed the
devastation of No Man's Land, picking their way through shell-holes and
shattered trenches. They were heavily laden. Each soldier carried at least
32 kilograms of equipment, plus, some say, a similar weight of the
all-pervasive mud on uniform and equipment. This burden made climbing in and
out of the numerous trenches and craters particularly difficult. There was
some hand-to-hand fighting, but the greatest resistance, and heavy Canadian
losses, came from the strongly-emplaced machine-guns in the German
When our soldiers, the descendents of those who fought at Vimy, are risking
their lives in Afghanistan, it is a particularly poignant time to remember what
took place 91 years ago. We owe those who fought at Vimy our commitment never to
forget them, just as we owe their descendants our unwavering support.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay
tribute to a great Canadian: The Honourable Thomas Anthony Dohm. Tom was a man
who truly made a difference in many people's lives. He took on so many vital
roles and meant so much to me in my life. He was a boss, a mentor, a law partner
and a father figure. I knew his modus operandi well and learned so much from him
over the past 34 years. His passing on April 1 has left a huge void in my life.
As we grieve our loss, we must also remember that we are celebrating and
focusing on his life.
The life lessons that Tom imparted to me were important. He believed that all
people were created equal and devoted much of his time to volunteer service.
This was recognized when he was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2006.
He took an active and varied leadership in the community, as a member of the
Salvation Army Advisory Board, director of the Vancouver Civic Non-Partisan
Association, Co-chair of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, and
Honorary President of the Confratallenza Italo-Canadese Association. He served
as President of the Vancouver Stock Exchange and spent 13 years as chair and
member of the St. Vincent's Hospital Board of Directors, and eight years as
chair and member of the Board of Governors of the University of British
Tom worked hard to help people achieve their dreams. He believed that one is
richer for what one gives away. He was a generous benefactor to many
associations internationally and in British Columbia, and he established several
scholarships in Israel, Palestine, India, Capilano College, the University of
B.C. and the University of Victoria, including a substantial scholarship for
Aboriginal students and a bursary for disabled students.
Tom had an unwavering power of faith. Mr. Dohm was a practising Roman
Catholic who worked hard for his church and, more importantly, followed the
teaching of his faith.
Tom Dohm made a difference to many in his lifetime. The province of British
Columbia was better served because he was there. The lives of so many people
within B.C. were enriched because of his contributions. The most important life
lesson he leaves with us is that one person can make a difference in this world.
He changed people's destinies, including my own. Today, I pay tribute to a boss,
a mentor and a friend who helped me reach for the stars and realize my dreams.
I believe Dr. Seuss summed it up best: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile
because it happened."
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, the Government of New
Brunswick's decision to eliminate the early French immersion program is a
New Brunswick is the only province in Canada where bilingualism is guaranteed
by the Constitution, and now the province has decided to eliminate the French
immersion program in English schools.
Bilingualism was established by the Robichaud government and solidified and
strengthened by the Hatfield government. Our esteemed colleague, Senator Murray,
was a hard-working deputy minister in the Hatfield government. The immersion
program in New Brunswick schools introduced anglophone students in grades one
through five to the French language.
Constantly changing theories about education aside, Canada is an officially
bilingual country and French is one of our country's two official languages.
The future of our country depends on children everywhere having the
opportunity to learn French. People protesting the decision believe that
children need to learn languages early on, even if Canada should one day adopt
the European approach requiring children to learn several languages. However, in
the Canadian context, people need to know both official languages. Thousands of
Canadian families have chosen immersion, with excellent results.
I remember that when the program started in Calgary in the early 1970s,
parents lined up all night to register their children at school the next
morning. One of those parents was Peter Lougheed, the provincial premier at the
We must express our shared, non-partisan hope that New Brunswick will reverse
the decision to cancel its immersion programs. These programs must not fade into
the past. They must be an integral part of the future for us all.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, last week Canadian
public art galleries and museums across the country lost a very valuable service
when the Exhibit Transportation Service, or ETS, was cancelled. This was a
federal government program which provided cost-effective shipping services so
that galleries and museums could bring in important pieces of art and whole
exhibits. First established in 1976, ETS had climate-controlled trucks and
specially trained drivers to ensure that art and cultural objects arrived at
their destination in perfect condition.
This is a serious loss to art galleries and museums in Canada. ETS
transported more than 54 per cent of all the art in this country. In fact, in
Atlantic Canada where private sector art transportation services are not as
plentiful, over 65 per cent of all exhibitions were delivered by ETS.
This change will seriously affect museums across the country, including in my
home province of Prince Edward Island. Jon Tupper, director of the Confederation
Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, has said shipping may cost up to four times
more, and their ability to bring fine exhibits to P.E.I. will be severely
limited. In fact, they have already had to cancel two upcoming exhibits because
they cannot afford to have the pieces delivered. P.E.I. provincial museums
feature travelling exhibits from time to time and will see significantly higher
costs in bringing exhibits to the Island. This could also hinder museums in
bringing high-quality exhibits to Prince Edward Island.
I have read similar comments for art galleries and museums across the
country. A demonstration of arts administrators, artists and gallery goers was
held last week in St. John's to protest the cancellation of ETS. Art galleries
and museums away from urban areas will be most affected, where the option of
private carriers is limited and the costs are high.
I urge the Conservative government to reconsider this decision and to find a
way to keep our art and cultural artifacts travelling across the country, for
the benefit of all Canadians. These exhibits, shared between institutions, give
us all the opportunity to witness our common heritage and help to bring us
closer together as a nation.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, it was 91 years ago to
this day, on a gloomy Easter Monday, that all four divisions of the Canadian
Corps, 100,000 men in all, moved on Vimy Ridge. Indeed, the first 10,000
benefited from a creeping barrage so powerful it was allegedly heard by British
Prime Minister David Lloyd George on Downing Street.
These men did what no others could do in two years of trying; they conquered
Vimy Ridge. The victory at Vimy came at a terrible cost, with 10,602 Canadian
casualties, including 3,598 dead. Their sacrifice marked a crossroads in our
country's history, and a legacy that continues today.
According to Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, the victory at
Vimy Ridge remains the standard for our soldiers to this very day. The so-called
"Vimy effect" is a source of inspiration in everything they do.
When the war ended, Canada's position in the world had changed. We were no
longer just a colony; we had our own representative at the Versailles peace
talks in 1919 and our own seat at the League of Nations. In 1931, we gained full
control over our foreign affairs, marking our final independence from the United
A reminder of that war is in the paintings on the walls of this very chamber,
among those commissioned by Lord Beaverbrook to recognize the sacrifice of
Canadian troops. A reminder of the battle itself is the magnificent memorial
that towers over 91 hectares of French countryside that many of our colleagues
in this chamber have visited, and which was ceded in perpetuity to Canada as a
powerful symbol of Canadian achievement.
Honourable senators, having just returned from Afghanistan, I have seen
first-hand how our soldiers continually strive to achieve the "Vimy effect" in
everything they do. The legacy of Vimy lives on, and will forever be a source of
pride and inspiration for not only our soldiers in uniform but for all
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise to join with my
colleagues in remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. For those of you who have
had the opportunity to visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, my words will
do it little justice. Simply put, the monument, originally completed in 1936 by
Toronto sculptor Walter Allward, is one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring
war memorials ever constructed anywhere in the world. I had the honour of
travelling to France last year with a number of my colleagues here in the Senate
for the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It was a beautiful
ceremony, and an important reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom.
With its two distinctive towers rising 70 metres above the farmland, the Vimy
memorial is a site that brings to Canadians a sense of patriotism like few
others. It is an important symbol by which we are able to remember the 619,000
Canadians who fought during World War I to ensure our freedom and security. The
statues that surround the memorial are definitions of what our men and women in
uniform strive for: justice, peace, truth, knowledge, gallantry and sympathy.
Not only does the memorial help us to remember those killed in the Battle of
Vimy Ridge but those who lost their lives throughout the ongoing endeavours to
secure international freedom and peace.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge marked a profound turning point in the First World
War. For the first time, the four Canadian divisions, which had traditionally
fought alongside their counterparts from Britain or France, fought together as a
single unit, as a Canadian force towards the main objective: to capture Vimy
Ridge from the grips of the Germans. It must be noted, honourable senators, that
military control of the ridge was not only important strategically, but it was
important symbolically. For 18 months the Allied forces had attempted
unsuccessfully to take the ridge, and Canada was just recovering from the
devastating losses suffered by Canadians at the Battle of the Somme.
In order to capture the important position, Canadian success depended, among
other things, upon inventiveness and creativity. The use of tunnels to transport
men and equipment, the ability to store ammunition in proximity to where it was
required and the capacity to bring electricity and telecommunications to forward
positions were essential to the success at the battlefield at Vimy Ridge.
Digging trenches and tunnels and building miles of underground railway were not
glamorous duties, but they proved to be vital components of the Canadian victory
at Vimy Ridge.
Honourable senators have heard that over 10,000 Canadian casualties occurred
at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and 3,598 never came home. Overwhelmingly,
honourable senators, it is to those young men and women that we must pay tribute
on this, the ninety-first anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is truly a holy place that must continue
to be restored generation after generation. We have an obligation to remember.
We will remember.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding, I would
call your attention to the presence in the gallery of John MacPherson,
Representative of the Council of Government and Sovereign Council of the
Sovereign Military and Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes
and of Malta.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
present the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the
Rights of Parliament.
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 764.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Keon, report placed on Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and
pursuant to rule 28(4), I would like to table a document entitled "Report of
the Canadian parliamentary Delegation of the Canada-France Interparliamentary
Association on the Second Round of the Presidential Elections, held in Paris,
France, from May 2 to 7, 2007.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 28(4), with
leave of the Senate, I would like to table a document entitled "Report of the
Canadian Parliamentary Delegation of the Canada-France Interparliamentary
Association on the Second Round of the Legislative Elections, held in Paris,
France, from June 13 to 18, 2007.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Wednesday,
November 21, 2007, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans,
authorized to examine and report on issues relating to the federal
government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's
fisheries and oceans, be empowered to extend the date of presenting its
final report from June 27, 2008 to December 19, 2008: and
That the Committee retain until February 12, 2009 all powers necessary to
publicize its findings.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next
sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the papers and evidence received and taken on the subject of Bill
S-205, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water), during
the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament, Bill S-42, An Act to amend
the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water), during the First Session of
the Thirty-eighth Parliament and Bill S-18, An Act to Amend the Food and
Drugs Act (clean drinking water), during the First Session of the
Thirty-seventh Parliament be referred to the Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources for the purpose of its consideration of
Bill-206, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water).
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the
leader knows, the provisions of Bill C-10, which gives the government the power
to censor the arts, are currently before the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce and not the Standing Senate Committee on Transport
and Communications, which would normally study such measures. This is because
the government chose to hide these measures within a 560-page bill with the
description "An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in
relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide
for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act."
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who preaches transparency and
accountability, please tell us why the minister in the other place made no
reference to this very important clause while making the case for his bill at
second reading? Why was it hidden in this massive tax bill in clause 124?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. As I have
stated on previous occasions, the measures in this bill had their origins with
the previous Liberal government. This bill passed the House of Commons with
all-party support. As the honourable senator mentioned, it is now before the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.
Minister Verner appeared before the committee early last week and stated that
the measures contained in Bill C-10 address only the most extreme and gratuitous
In order to refresh the memories of honourable senators, with regard to the
origins of this bill, on March 5 in The Globe and Mail Sheila Copps
stated that the Chrétien government had instigated this proposal specifically to
prevent accreditation of a film about the kidnapping, torture and killing of two
Ontario schoolgirls. Quoting her directly:
I think that was the genesis of that clause . . . to catch something like
the Paul Bernardo story specifically. . . . But it certainly wasn't intended
to be an overall vehicle for censorship.
That was the intent of the provision when Minister Copps introduced it at the
time, and that is the exact intent of the provision as it is now.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I understand that the
Leader of the Government wants to backpedal on a bill whose measures were never
applied and whose directives were never even written. From then on, it has been
the same old story every single time; you already passed a bill that was never
implemented. If I believe what the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Josée Verner,
said in committee, she will conduct one year of consultations to get these
Could the minister tell us when and how the consultations were conducted with
the industry, to prevent any directives from being established when they never
Senator LeBreton: It was announced by the previous government on
With regard to Minister Verner's testimony, she has been open and transparent
about the intentions of the government and her own intentions.
However, it is important to remember that this bill is before the Senate
because it passed unanimously in the House of Commons. It was a provision that
had been brought in by the previous government, and it was repeated in this
legislation. People in the other place obviously looked at this bill. To make
the accusation that it was hidden is an odd testament to the honourable
senator's colleagues in the other place and indicates that she feels they were
not doing their work. I do not believe that was the case. I believe they
understood what was in the bill before they passed it.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: The Leader of the Government in the Senate
did not answer my question.
Did the minister consult other people in the industry before introducing this
measure, or did she consult only people like Mr. McVety, who had lobbied Mr.
Day, Mr. Harper's office and the Minister of Justice? What other industry
stakeholders were consulted regarding these major changes?
Senator LeBreton: There was no change in policy; I would not give too
much sway to a story that caused a headline in The Globe and Mail. People
continually make claims about how they may or may not influence government. I
certainly have never met the gentleman who the honourable senator mentioned.
Some of his colleagues even suggested that he may have made those claims, and he
may very well have made representations, but they were not the driving factor
behind this bill. How could they be?
The fact remains that this policy was not a new policy; rather it was simply
putting into the bill something that was announced at least two or three times
before under the previous government.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: My question is also for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate, with respect to Bill C-10.
As a parliamentarian from the Atlantic coast, I have a keen interest in this
bill. No other bill has brought so much uproar to my office over the content of
legislation. A film is being made now in the Village of Chester, where I live.
Therefore, this is important, not just for the actors but for everyone involved,
whether they are the bit players or the people supplying everything from
sandwiches to props. It is very important. The subjectivity of the new power
that the law would grant to the minister in this bill is worrisome.
The bill gives the minister power to pick and choose which films get the tax
credit according to her mood of the day. It would also modify the foundation of
the process by which a tax credit is awarded. It is not enough to refer to the
history of the bill and how it got here. This is the first time that this bill
has been before this Senate in this form. It is not just the power that is in
the bill that is of concern but also the removal of the proposed guidelines as a
statutory instrument and thereby not subject to review by Parliament.
How can the minister say that the proposed legislation is not censorship when
a group of unknown bureaucrats would decide how to interpret her subjective will
as to which films should get a tax credit?
Senator LeBreton: Bill C-10 is not censorship at all, honourable
senators, because filmmakers in this country are free to make whatever films
they like. This proposed legislation will ensure that taxpayers' money is not
used to finance material that is pornographic, excessively violent or
denigrating to identifiable groups. A film such as the one being filmed in the
beautiful town of Chester obviously would not fall into one of those categories.
The intent of this proposed legislation is exactly what I stated and it is
exactly what it was in the past, when it was brought in two or three times in
bills by the previous government. There is no change. There is no censorship.
Filmmakers in this country are perfectly entitled to make whatever films they
Senator Moore: That is not much of an answer.
The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit is a good tax credit if it
is applied according to objective criteria. However, the tax credit will be
subjected to the will of only one person, the Heritage Minister. The committee
recommends to this minister and the minister will make the decision. I urge
honourable senators to read the bill.
That is not how the cultural industry of Canada will thrive and grow. In
order to succeed our cultural industries cannot be subjected to the will of a
minister. That is especially true when it is known that the party to which the
minister belongs is largely influenced by right-wing ideologues. Why is the
minister refusing to admit that what she is proposing is censorship and such a
change would see our cultural and artistic community regress?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I followed the televised
testimony of the minister before the committee. I ought to get a life; I watch
this stuff on television.
The minister was completely reasonable and explained herself very well. If
the honourable senator had any sense of the minister, I am sure he would have
appreciated her honesty and concern that there may be some misunderstanding. She
has been meeting with various stakeholders in the industry throughout this
entire period of time.
I know it is a great disappointment to the honourable senator, but the
policies of this government are not driven by right-wing ideologues as he says.
This government, of which I am very happy to be a part, is representative of a
broad base of Canadians.
The issue here is not censorship and the honourable senator knows that. The
issue is exactly what it was when Minister Copps and two ministers of finance
introduced their bills.
The interest is not to censor films. The interest is to ensure that
hard-earned taxpayers' dollars will not pay for films that denigrate people,
promote pornography or promote excessively violent acts against our fellow human
beings. I am sure as a taxpayer, the honourable senator should certainly
appreciate this; I certainly appreciate that and I am not a right-wing
As much as I regret the misrepresentations of this bill, the facts are the
facts. There is no censorship.
Even when our party was in opposition, I always felt that when ministers of
the Crown appeared before committee, they appeared to try to inform the
committee of the government's policies in a given area. I felt quite badly for
Minister Verner for the treatment she received at the hands of some senators.
Hon. Francis Fox: The Leader of the Government in the Senate must be
aware that never has there been such a widespread outcry across Canada, from the
Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Toronto and the Western provinces.
In that regard, the Leader of the Government can consult her colleague on her
left, Senator Fortier, who attended the Jutra Awards gala and learned about the
problems facing the film production community in Quebec under current
In addition to the outcry from the cultural community, the financial sector
is saying that the introduction of subjective factors in the approval of tax
credits will only create further uncertainty, which could lead to the withdrawal
of some funding.
There is not only the possibility of censorship, but also of meddling in the
funding of films. Furthermore, the legal community is also expressing its
concerns. The Leader of the Government can say they are wrong, but I would ask
her to consider what Pierre Trudel, a prominent legal scholar with the law
faculty at the Université de Montréal, said in an article published in Le
Devoir on April 7. He called Bill C-10 an unwarranted violation of freedom
He is not a Liberal, a Conservative, a Bloc member or a New Democrat; he is a
university professor, an expert in the field. He said and I quote:
The text of the bill does not contain a definition of "public policy."
Freedom of expression is protected by a constitutional text: section 2(b)
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees this freedom. It
can only be limited by a rule of law (and not the discretionary decisions of
a minister). . .
As for the possibility of obtaining additional funding, it would seem that he
knew what your reply would be. In his opinion, saying that the funding can come
from somewhere else is somewhat like saying that refusing to serve a visible
minority at a restaurant is not a violation of the right to equality because the
minority could always eat elsewhere.
The Leader of the Government and her minister, Ms. Verner, have both given
answers along those lines.
A little later in his article, Mr. Trudel wrote:
This freedom is threatened by adding to our laws the obligation to
"guess," based on the inclination of the minister of the day, what may be
deemed contrary to "public policy."
Will the minister take into consideration the serious concerns expressed by
the legal and financial communities throughout the country by reviewing this
Minister Verner is recommending that guidelines not be issued for one year.
Perhaps the Leader of the Government in the Senate could simply suggest to
cabinet that the bill be withdrawn and guidelines not be issued, given that Ms.
Verner does not know what she wants to include in them.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, many people can express concern
about a piece of legislation, even if their opinions are based on
misinformation. A certain community is concerned about this legislation in
regard to censorship. This legislation will not create censorship. It is odd
that these concerns were not directed at the previous incarnations of this bill.
This legislation is before committee. There will be no censorship; this is a
matter of protecting taxpayers' dollars. The minister made her presentation to
the committee. This bill passed unanimously in the House of Commons and is now
before the committee in the Senate.
I would suggest that, if the honourable senator feels so strongly about the
matter, he ought to deal with the matter in the Senate committee, where it is
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to
the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who spoke a few moments ago about
some Canadians whose opinions are based on misinformation.
Is the leader aware that there is a Facebook page where over 40,000 Canadians
have expressed their disapproval of this provision? Is the minister suggesting
to this chamber and to Canada at large that 40,000 Canadians are misinformed?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I have been asked about
Facebook before. I never look at Facebook because I do not understand the
technology. I think the concept is dangerous.
Some of the information that has surfaced with regard to this bill has left
the impression that this is censorship. It is not censorship. I think I am quite
within my right to say that opinion is misinformed.
I am also quite within my right to say that the vast majority of Canadians
would like to see their tax dollars well-protected. I am sure that most
Canadians would not want to see their tax dollars funding a film that is
pornographic, that shows abuse of women or men or that is violent or denigrating
to any particular group.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, the proposed private
development within the boundaries of Gatineau Park will see 18 new homes, a
theatre and a farm on the northeast side of the park. This would violate all
sorts of things, not the least of which are successive National Capital
Commission master plans for the park. The NCC described property development in
the park as contrary to its mandate.
According to news reports, the minister has suggested that the local or
regional municipalities could deal with the proposed construction by imposing a
halt to development on private land in the park. The minister has also been
quoted as backing a development freeze in the park.
As the NCC is the guardian of the park for all Canadians, and Parliament
through legislation has given the NCC the tools to halt such development —
specifically, its bylaw-making authority in section 19 of the NCC Act and its
powers of expropriation — would it not be wise for the NCC board to exercise its
authority to prevent large-scale private development?
I am fully aware of the arm's-length nature of the board. However, surely the
government has an opinion other than to fob off the park's guardianship on
small, struggling municipal governments that could then be sued by landowners.
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate whether the
government is interested in urging the NCC to use its powers, since its mandate
is to prevent further development in the park?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. She is quite
correct that there have been media stories in the past few weeks about certain
private lands within the boundaries of Gatineau Park.
As I have said on previous occasions, protecting and preserving our parks,
our environment and our ecologically sensitive areas is of prime importance to
the government. Gatineau Park, especially for those of us who live in the
Ottawa-Outaouais region, is an outstanding feature of this area. The government
has indicated that it is supportive of and committed to the protection of the
As I said in response to a similar question from Senator Banks in December,
both the Minister of the Environment, John Baird, and the minister with
responsibility for the National Capital Commission, the Minister of Transport,
Lawrence Cannon, have publicly committed to ensuring the long-term protection of
I understand that this matter is before the board of the National Capital
Commission, and that they soon will be forthcoming with the boundaries for
With respect to the municipalities, I will need to check the news stories,
because that is not how I interpreted Minister Cannon's comments. I will take
that portion of the honourable senator's question as notice.
Senator Spivak: I thank the honourable senator for her answer, but I
must point out to her that this chamber has the technical description of
Gatineau Park in the form of an attachment to Bill S-227. I would be happy to
pass a copy to the leader.
I am happy to hear that the NCC is looking at this matter, and I hope the
outcome is what the minister's answer indicated. However, Chelsea Mayor Jean
Perras said that the development problem could be resolved if landowners had to
offer their properties first to the NCC. I point out that Bill S-227 contains
such a provision. I hope that it will not be too long before that bill is before
the Senate at third reading.
Senator LeBreton: I am aware of the views of the Mayor of Chelsea and
that there is a boundary map for Gatineau Park. In particular, because there has
been some movement in this area, I understand that the issue is before the NCC
Board of Directors, and I feel assured that it will be dealt with sensitively.
As the honourable senator pointed out, the National Capital Commission operates
at arm's length from the government.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: My question is for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate in respect of Bill C-10. No parliamentary leader can
deny that the public impression of this proposed legislation to amend the Income
Tax Act is affecting Canadians and jobs in a concrete way, and that it will
continue to affect film financing in the future. Jobs in Halifax, Montreal,
Toronto, Vancouver and almost every region of the country are being affected as
these projects are shelved due to the uncertainty.
The proposed change in Bill C-10 is shaking the foundation of Canada's
freedom of artistic expression. Groups across Canada are outraged and feel
betrayed. Worse, it will crater financing for Canadian television that relies on
Honourable senators, allow me to address the leader's earlier response. It is
true that some Canadians will believe that films are too violent or too
salacious, but these films simply reflect the current ills of our society. It is
better for us to address those ills than to avoid them.
I will quote the comments of Sarah Polley, a Canadian Oscar-nominated
This legislation threatens freedom of expression as well as the very
financial foundation upon which this industry was built. Take that away, and
many of us would be hard-pressed to understand the motivation to stay here.
The main reason I choose to make films in Canada, and act in Canada, is
because public funding allows a level of creative freedom that is simply not
possible with private money.
Will the government consider immediately withdrawing this egregious amending
bill that is having a devastating impact on Canada's cinematographic industry:
actors, producers, directors, film crews and support businesses that have made
this a major Canadian industry and job producer, and start once again with the
proper process of pre-legislation and guideline consultation with the industry
and others affected?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. However, there
is no basis for the comments of the honourable senator in lengthy preamble. I
have seen no evidence of the film industry in this country being affected in any
way. The industry is thriving; films are being made; there is no censorship. I
have seen no evidence that the industry is losing jobs or money.
As I said to Senator Fox, the proposed legislation is before a Senate
committee. It has been through the House of Commons twice. Some senators
obviously feel very strongly about the subject. This provision existed in the
past for a reason, and it is currently being put forward for a reason. The
matter is still before the Senate committee, and I invite senators to address it
Senator Grafstein: If we on this side can demonstrate that film
productions are being shelved, would the leader respond to my request to
withdraw the proposed legislation until we have a proper consultation?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Grafstein often tries
to put words in one's mouth. I simply said that the matter is still before the
Senate and that senators should deal with it as they see fit in the committee.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table a delayed answer to an oral question raised
by Senator Milne on February 5, 2008, concerning transport, Bill C-14.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Lorna Milne on February 5, 2008)
Almost thirty years ago, all parties in Parliament agreed that important
changes were necessary to the postal service received by Canadians. This led
to the establishment of Canada Post as a commercial Crown Corporation with a
mandate to be self-sustaining.
At that time, Parliament also provided Canada Post with an exclusive
privilege over domestic and outbound international letters weighing less
than 500 grams. The exclusive privilege that Canada Post received was lesser
in scope than the one previously granted to the Post Office Department and
was right for its time.
A lot has changed since 1981. From a government department operating in
the red and plagued by a reputation for poor service, it has evolved into a
successful company that connects Canadians from coast to coast. Every
business day, Canada Post delivers some 40 million pieces of mail and
parcels. Canada Post now generates $7.4 billion in income each year. It has
earned a profit in each of the past 12 years and paid more than $900 million
in dividends, capital returns and income tax over that same period to the
Today in Canada, we also have businesses involved in what is called
"remailing." Remailing is a relatively new business from when Canada
Post's exclusive privilege was granted.
Remailers collect mail in bulk and ship it to another country at rates
lower than those available to Canada Post. Remailers have increasingly
entered the Canadian market over the past several years.
At this juncture, the Government of Canada proposes to amend the
Canada Post Corporation Act to provide more choice and opportunity to
Canadian businesses by opening up competition within the outgoing
international mailing marketplace. Bill C-14 would remove all outbound
international mail from Canada Post's exclusive privilege. This would enable
remailers to operate in Canada without infringing on Canada Post's exclusive
The proposed legislation is not intended to allow the mail to come back
into Canada. The addressee of the letter must reside in a foreign country.
The government is not touching domestic mail services. Remailers that
attempt to send mail back into Canada will still be in contravention of the
exclusive privilege after the passage of Bill C-14.
Canada Post is no stranger to competition. Even in its area of exclusive
privilege, namely letters, it has faced strong competition from technologies
including the Internet and electronic substitutes for some time now. Almost
half of Canada Post's revenues come from markets in which Canada Post has no
statutory protection from private sector competition.
Bill C-14 specifically addresses enhancing competition in the outbound
international mail business. Canada Post successfully competes for revenues
today and the Government expects that success to continue.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the
answer to Question No. 25 on the Order Paper—by Senator Spivak.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the
answer to Question No. 21 on the Order Paper—by Senator Carstairs.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C., for
the Honourable Senator Carney, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Day,
for the second reading of Bill S-217, An Act to amend the International
Boundary Waters Treaty Act (bulk water removal).—(Honourable Senator
Hon. David Tkachuk: I am sorry, honourable senators, I have risen on
the wrong order.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, when the honourable Senator
Tkachuk rose on Order No. 4, Bill S-217, An Act to Amend the International
Boundary Waters Treaty Act, he excited me prematurely. I thought he was at long
last rising to pursue this debate. Perhaps my friend can indicate when we might
be hearing from him on this matter.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, it is my understanding that Senator Tkachuk will not be our lead
critic on that item; it will be Senator Nolin. We will get back to the
honourable senator as soon as we can, and certainly within the next nine days.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, perhaps His Honour can
clarify something for us. The Honourable Senator Tkachuk's name appears on that
bill. He did rise inadvertently, but then the Honourable Senator Murray spoke on
the matter and now the Honourable Senator Comeau has also spoken on it. Is the
bill open for debate? Is it necessary for someone to adjourn the debate?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I think the exchange that
just occurred was for information, and the Honourable Deputy Leader of the
Government in the Senate has provided that information. Therefore, if you would
like to make a formal motion, what is the disposition of the house? Is there a
motion to adjourn the debate?
Senator Comeau: Yes; I move that it stand.
The Hon. the Speaker: This item, then, would stand in the name of
An Hon. Senator: Senator Mercer.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was the understanding of the chair, listening
to the Deputy Leader of the Government, that this item would stand in the name
of the Honourable Senator Nolin instead of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk. Is
Senator Comeau: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: So ordered.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Stratton, for the second reading of Bill S-225, An
Act to amend the State Immunity Act and the Criminal Code (deterring
terrorism by providing a civil right of action against perpetrators and
sponsors of terrorism). —(Honourable Senator Tardif)
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, after discussions with
Senator Tardif, I wish to move third reading of this bill.
The Hon. the Speaker: It is pretty hard to move third reading at this
time; the motion before the house is on the question of second reading. Is the
question being called?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk,
seconded by Senator Stratton, that Bill S-225 be read the second time.
Senator Cowan: He said third.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for that question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Tkachuk, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Stollery, for the second reading of Bill
S-212, An Act to amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations
Act.—(Honourable Senator Cools)
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I have observed that this is
day 15 on this particular order. I am planning to speak and I am working on my
speech. I wish to ask permission of the house to be able to adjourn the debate
and to be able to speak next week.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Would the honourable member entertain a question in
relation to that?
Senator Cools: I would love to answer questions, but the clock is
ticking on my 15 minutes, and I would prefer to use my time more prolifically
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Cools,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Spivak, that this item be adjourned until the
next sitting of the house in the name of Senator Cools for the remainder of her
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Spivak, seconded
by the Honourable Senator McCoy, for the second reading of Bill S-227, An
Act to amend the National Capital Act (establishment and protection of
Gatineau Park).—(Honourable Senator Tkachuk)
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I obtained the permission and
agreement of Honourable Senator Tkachuk to speak today briefly on this bill and
on a matter that I think will be of interest to senators, on the understanding
that this order will be adjourned today again in his name.
The reason I want to talk about this matter is that Gatineau Park is in the
news these days and here we have before us a bill which deals with this very
subject. There seems to be confusion here, on both sides and elsewhere, as to
the authority necessary to proceed with the full measures of protection that are
deserved on behalf of all Canadians.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, on a point of order, generally speaking, the second speaker on a bill
has a reserved 45 minutes. We would agree that Senator Banks may continue.
However, we wish to reserve that 45 minutes for our side.
Senator Banks: The important point, honourable senators, is that the
provincial transfer that is needed for the creation of a federal park in
Gatineau Park, or anywhere else, has already taken place. It is done. According
to a 1973 agreement on Gatineau Park and an exchange of Orders-in-Council, the
Quebec government transferred the control and management of provincial lands
located inside the park to the federal government in perpetuity in 1973. The
province also transferred the control and management of the lake bottoms located
in the park. The Province of Quebec committed itself to not issue mining
exploration permits, stipulated that the land it was transferring was to form
the park of Gatineau Park, and guaranteed that the rights it was transferring
were free of all defects in title.
In those types of agreements, just as in the agreements that precede the
creation of national parks in provinces, it is not ownership that is being
transferred when we are talking about Crown lands. It is, rather, the control
and management of those Crown lands. In setting the principle of the
indivisibility of the Crown, the Supreme Court has ruled that Her Majesty is the
owner of the property, whether in right of Canada or in right of the provinces.
Her Majesty cannot grant onto herself. Only the administrative control of the
property passes from a province to the federal government. The transfer is
therefore made by reciprocal Orders-in-Council, and is confirmed by statute
wherever third party rights are involved.
A transfer of land from the provincial to the federal government is not a
conveyance of ownership. It is the administration and control of the land and
the resources that are being transferred from the province to the federal
government. By virtue of that 1973 agreement, the province, essentially, has
done all that was needed to be done. The lands in question are the property of
Her Majesty in right of the Province of Quebec. The Province of Quebec has, by
those instruments, handed over the control and management of those lands to the
federal government, and has agreed to do so specifically for the purposes of a
park, and subject to certain conditions set out in the agreement and in the
An examination of clause C2 of the Quebec Order-in-Council that makes the
transfer reveals that the nature of the conditions include that the lands be
transferred to the National Capital Commission by the Government of Canada, and
the lands described in the Annex A of that agreement are to form part of
Gatineau Park. In the event that any part of the lands are not required for the
purposes of Gatineau Park, the control and payment of such lands shall be
returned by the commission to the Government of Canada.
If those lands are being used for the purposes of residential construction,
as may now be the case, and if that is happening on lands that are Quebec lands,
that may call into question whether those lands might need to be returned to the
Province of Quebec and might not form part of the park.
Quebec says in this agreement, however, "Here is the management and control
of the lands for park purposes. If you do not use them for those purposes, you
must give them back." The federal government and the National Capital
Commission, therefore, have the effective control and management of those lands
in perpetuity, and it is evidenced in the Orders-in-Council. If they cease to be
used for that purpose and are used for any other purpose, they will be
transferred back to the province.
On October 5, 2006, I tabled in the chamber the federal Order-in-Council,
the Quebec Order-in-Council, and the agreement of the Government of Canada
respecting those lands, the control and transfer into the Government of Canada's
hands and then into the hands of the National Capital Commission for the
purposes of a park. The first, I want to say for the record, is an
Order-in-Council of the Province of Quebec, No. 3736-72, signed on December 13,
1972. The second is an agreement entered into on August 1, 1973, between the
Government of Quebec and the National Capital Commission. This sets out the
transfer of the management and effective operation of those lands with the
conditions to which I referred; that is, setting out the purposes for which they
are to be used. The third document is an Order-in-Council of the Government of
Canada, number TB716459, signed by His Excellency on February 20, 1973.
Honourable senators, I am from Alberta. In Alberta and in its sister province
of British Columbia, there are three national parks. These parks are in the
provinces and are Crown lands of those provinces. However, the provinces have
handed over the management and control of those lands to the federal government,
as they have been handed over in all national parks that exist in provincial
territory. Those parks are all world famous and we are proud of them, but there
is a certain national and distinctly Canadian cache to Gatineau Park. Although
we know it will not be a national park, Gatineau Park should be a park for all
Canadians. It should be the crown jewel of the National Capital Region.
The park should not be sold off in bits and pieces, and further development
of it should not be permitted. I urge all honourable senators to remember these
facts and to refer to the documents when these matters come before us, as they
On motion of Senator Banks, for Senator Tkachuk, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Spivak, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C., for the second reading of Bill
S-221, An Act concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters. —(Honourable
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the intent of Senator Spivak's bill is to allow lakeside residents to
regulate or take control over the use of personal watercraft, such as jet skis
and so on.
Even those of us who do not have a lake cottage can probably understand the
frustrations of cottage owners having to put up with the noise and annoyance of
such watercraft. In my area, we call them "Terry Mercer" crafts. They sound
like bumble bees amplified to ear-splitting volume.
Honourable senators, it is easy to sympathize with cottage residents who have
invested in quiet lakeside getaways in order to escape to a peaceful lake
setting to spend their leisure summer holidays away from the noise and air
pollution of urban life.
However, we should ask whether this bill is the appropriate response to do
away with this pastoral annoyance.
A few questions come to mind: Has Senator Spivak convinced this chamber that
this new legislation is necessary to respond to the annoyance of watercraft? Is,
in fact, new legislation required? Is a private member's bill the proper means
to achieve the objective of reducing noise pollution? Has Senator Spivak
sufficiently convinced this chamber that we should proceed to adopt this
particular bill in principle? The onus should be on Senator Spivak to convince
us that this bill is needed in principle.
There are other existing statutes to regulate such machines. Therefore, why
is the existing legislation avenue not being used? Do we in fact need new
legislation? Is the existing legislation not adequate or strong enough? If not,
should we not amend the existing legislation?
Senator Spivak should convince us that, in principle, this bill is needed.
She has not, so far, convincingly made this case. Senator Spivak's argument is
that she has been seeking for many years to introduce legislation aimed
specifically at personal watercraft to address the concerns related to the
operation of these watercraft. Previously proposed bills include Bill S-26, Bill
S-10. Bill S-8, Bill S-12 and Bill S-209.
Over the years, however, various solutions have been developed to address
Senator Spivak's concerns. Some of these solutions include the introduction of
the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations. In addition, a
provision has been added to the Small Vessel Regulations making the careless and
inconsiderate operation of a small vessel an offence. A similar but more severe
provision can be found in paragraph 249(1)(b) of the Criminal Code, which
addresses the dangerous operation of a vessel.
Transport Canada established a policy to proceed on a yearly basis with
amendments to the regulations to permit the addition of restricted areas on a
The Boating Restrictions Regulations, which will be renamed the vessel
operation restrictions regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which
will apply to all vessels, were amended to prohibit the operation of a personal
watercraft by a person who is under 16 years of age.
Bill S-221 proposes that applications for restrictions on the use of personal
watercraft be made directly to the Minister of Transport by local authorities
without requiring municipal and provincial government involvement. This
bypassing of provincial governments could adversely impact federal and
provincial relations, particularly in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta,
which actively participate in the administration of the application process
related to the Boating Restriction Regulations.
The bill would require a minister designated by the Governor-in-Council to
demonstrate why the addition of restriction would not be in the public interest
rather than requiring the local authority to demonstrate the necessity of the
restriction, as is normally done for all of the regulations under the
requirements of the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation.
Local authorities, as defined in the proposed bill, could send applications
directly to the minister. This may include non-elected and non-representative
groups, such as cottage associations, with no definition of their roles or their
responsibilities. This would effectively permit small, non-representative groups
to regulate waterways under federal jurisdiction and circumvent principles of
fairness and good governance embodied in the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining
Regulation that apply to all other regulation-making initiatives.
Furthermore, a mechanism needs to be in place to ensure that the
administrative requirements of the restrictions, such as proper signing, are
maintained once a restriction is approved. This can only be accomplished by
making a level of government, such as a municipal government, responsible for
Bill S-221 requires only a short consultative process, which may exclude such
interested groups, such as Aboriginal organizations. This bill discourages
exploring non-regulatory alternatives to resolving waterway conflicts and other
fundamental principles of good governance.
This bill would put the onus on the minister to demonstrate that a
restriction is not required as opposed to requiring an applicant to demonstrate
the need for a restriction.
The bill provides for local authorities, after consultation with affected
communities, to make proposals to the designated minister in regard to waterways
where the operation of a personal watercraft should be subject to restrictions.
The waterways in which the operation is restricted should be listed in a
schedule to new regulations to be made pursuant to the new act.
This would effectively create a parallel legislation to deal with only one
type of craft with all the associated administrative and logistical requirements
that this entails.
Personal watercraft restrictions should include imposing limits on access to
specific areas, speed limits and limits on approaching shorelines. These
waterways and applicable restrictions should also be listed in the schedule to
the new regulations.
Bill S-221 would give the minister little choice but to accept the
application and make regulations to implement the new Schedules 1 and 2, and as
such specify the types of restrictions that may be made relating to the
operation of a personal watercraft.
This would also require the minister to table an annual report to the House —
and I would have to look back; it says "House," but I am not sure if it is
both Houses or not — outlining changes made to each schedule within the first 15
days on which the House is sitting.
The minister would also be required to pre-publish any proposed changes,
additions or deletions to Schedules 1 and 2 of Part I in the Canada Gazette
within 60 days of receiving a local authority's application. This is a very
short time period for this process. The bill also provides for a 90-day comment
period. Final approval and publication of Part II of the Canada Gazette
would not occur if the minister determines that the regulatory proposal may
Under Bill S-221, the minister would be required to keep a record of all
applications received and a detailed account of how they were disposed of,
including the applications that the minister refused to accept along with the
reasons for refusal.
Provisions for offences and punishments are contained in the bill. Any person
operating a personal watercraft in an area where such crafts are forbidden, or
of contravening a personal watercraft restriction, would be subject to a fine
not exceeding $500. Senator Spivak has proposed many iterations of this bill
over the years. The intent and spirit to increase safety is praiseworthy;
however, the implications of this bill should be carefully considered.
For example, the issue of giving a federally mandated legal mechanism to
local authorities to propose restrictions on the use of personal watercraft
should be considered very carefully. Local authorities could make applications
directly to a minister without requiring input or involvement by municipal or
provincial governments. Bypassing provincial governments could adversely impact
federal-provincial relations, as certain provinces actively participate in the
administration of the boating restrictions regulations application process.
The cabinet directives on streamlining regulations state that non-regulatory
alternatives must be explored and that a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed
regulatory intervention be conducted to demonstrate the necessity for new
regulatory requirements. It also describes the level and extent of public
consultations that a federal government department must conduct, and provides
guidance as to when there is insufficient justification to support a regulatory
The new bill would create a heavy workload for Transport Canada and the
Department of Justice with respect to processing and administering duplicate
legislation, which would have to be done shortly. The new vessel operations
restrictions regulations, previously known as the boating restrictions
regulations, already provide for establishment of restrictions to boating
activities and navigation in Canadian waters. They apply to vessels of all sizes
and can be made specific to areas, the mode of propulsion used, engine power or
speed, recreational towing activities or specified areas in which a permit is
required in order to hold a sporting or recreational event.
In addition, Transport Canada officials, in collaboration with the Department
of Justice, carried out an in-depth review of the tools provided under the
Canada Shipping Act, 2001. This review demonstrated that the existing
regulations already provide the flexibility to target a specific type of vessel
when applying the principles of the Canada directives on streamlining
regulations. It has demonstrated that doing so is the best solution to an
This means that the objectives of Senator Spivak's proposed bill can be
achieved using existing legislation and regulations. Her bill, therefore, is
Under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, certain regulations may be used to
restrict the use of different types of vessels, including personal watercraft,
where the need is justified for safety or other reasons, including environmental
considerations or in the public interest.
Honourable senators, the existing provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
and its regulations, complemented by the application of the process and
fundamental principles set out in the cabinet directives on streamlining
regulations, meet all aspects of this bill. Furthermore, following the
principles of good governance places the responsibility where it belongs, which
is on the applicant, to submit a request together with the report that specifies
the location of the waters, the nature of the proposed restriction, information
regarding the public consultations held, particulars regarding the
implementation of the proposed restriction, and any other information that is
necessary to justify regulatory intervention.
Honourable senators, we should not support a bill that specifically targets
one type of craft when legislation exists that can regulate all types of vessels
that may operate in the same area. We should not support a bill that would
circumvent principles of good governance to which all other federal regulatory
initiatives are subjected. It has been demonstrated that the best solution
Senator Spivak, I believe, has good intentions behind the introduction of the
bill to limit annoying watercraft. It has raised awareness of the issue and led
me to determine that these regulatory tools, as I have already noted, already
exist to deal with such annoying vehicles. I bring this fact to the attention of
the chamber so that we may decide on how to deal with this bill. Since there is
existing legislation empowering various government departments to regulate such
machines, why should we proceed with this bill?
In conclusion, Senator Spivak's current rationale for re-introducing the
bill is that it has been introduced in the past. I have outlined to honourable
senators that, in fact, there was legislation on the books to deal with such
annoying machines, and regulations have been implemented to do just that. Her
bill, therefore, is not necessary to accomplish her goals. By accepting the bill
in principle, we would be accepting the current legislation and current
regulations as being not good enough. That case has not been made in this
chamber. We are not serving the taxpayers of Canada well if we spend our time
passing legislation to solve problems when there is legislation that already
accomplishes that objective, and certainly not by introducing legislation that
will cause implementation difficulties.
Should the chamber decide to proceed, however, and it is up to this chamber
to decide should it reject my arguments on this matter, then of course this bill
should be looked at further. I suggest that this be done at the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications if the chamber wishes to look at it
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Continuing debate?
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I did not anticipate that
Senator Comeau would propose that this bill be sent to the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications. Its predecessors have been dealt
with, I think, on four previous occasions by the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over these
kinds of things. If the bill were to be referred to that committee again, it
would be referred to a committee which has a certain body of knowledge and
corporate memory, as the phrase goes, with respect to the questions that
surround this bill.
It may well be the case that, since the last time it was considered and
passed by the Senate, there have been new regulations put in place, in which
case the committee would want to hear about those regulations. It would be a
good idea for witnesses in that respect to be heard by senators who have
previously visited this issue over many years and on four separate occasions.
In the previous iterations of the bill, and its consideration by that
committee, we heard those arguments, and the committee determined and
recommended to the Senate that the existing means, which we acknowledged existed
in law and in regulation to meet the objects of this bill, were not being
followed. They did not need to be modified; they just were not being used, and
we heard from the community involved as well as the manufacturers and the
government of the day.
I hope that the chamber will consider sending the bill to the Energy
Committee because that committee has considered its predecessors. In any case,
wherever it is sent, the committee should take into account all of the previous
testimony that has been given by people who came here, often at their own
expense, from all sides of the question. We had testimony from the government,
the industry, the regulatory organizations and the users.
Senator Comeau: That is all fine and good, but if you had listened to
the comments in my speech, I did relate the fact, that subsequent to when this
bill was last looked at, there have been a number of changes to regulations by
Transport Canada. Historically, the committee with the mandate to look at
Transport Canada issues in this chamber has been the Transport Committee. They
are accustomed to having the transport minister appear before them, and to hear
from Transport Canada officials to determine if the existing legislation is not
adequate. The existing legislation is, in fact, adequate to change or propose
Over the years, the committee that has dealt with Transport Canada issues,
and with general transport issues, has been the Transport Committee. If there
have been interventions made by the public at large, based on their desire to
control these vehicles, I am quite sure that Transport Canada would like to look
at the previous testimony given and the urgency with which these individuals
presented their cases to the Energy Committee, which looked at this bill from an
environmental angle. The general mandate in this chamber has been jealously
guarded, and transport issues are generally referred to the Transport Committee,
just as fisheries issues are referred to the Fisheries Committee and energy and
environment issues are referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources.
I am not sure why the last time around this bill was referred to the Energy
Committee. I would have to go back over the arguments made at that time, which I
may do. I am making the case that this matter should be referred to the proper
committee, which is the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications, which has the general mandate to look at such bills.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do you wish to ask a
question, Senator Spivak?
Hon. Mira Spivak: Yes, I do, unless there is someone else who wishes
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I must inform
honourable senators that if Senator Spivak were to speak today, that would have
the effect of closing the debate at second reading. Do other honourable senators
wish to speak in this debate at second reading?
Senator Spivak: Honourable senators, from the time this bill was
introduced, I have always maintained that if the regulations could be changed
and the minister would change the regulations, I would be happy to withdraw my
The arguments that Senator Comeau has made have been answered in great detail
before. I point out that, even at this moment, there is a group in Quebec that
has attempted to use the regulations and they cannot use them.
Senator Comeau indicated that he wanted to send the bill to the Standing
Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Since this matter has been so
long in the gestation stage, I said: "Sure, send it wherever you want."
However, my preference would be to send the bill to the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, not only because of
the corporate history but because there are very good environmental reasons for
prohibiting these particular vehicles.
While I am of two minds, I should like to adjourn the debate because I wish
to rebut the overwhelming case that Senator Comeau thinks he has made, written,
of course, by the Department of Transport.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the honourable
senator asking to adjourn the debate for the remainder of her time?
Senator Comeau: On a point of order. Your Honour may wish to refer to
the rules as to whether this is appropriate at this point. My understanding is
that the last speaker makes closing comments and there is no opportunity to
adjourn the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The honourable senator
Senator Spivak, you cannot adjourn the debate. You can say that you would
like to continue for the remainder of your time as the last speaker, but you
will be the last speaker.
Do honourable senators agree that Senator Spivak will have the rest of her
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do you wish to speak
Senator Spivak: I want to adjourn the debate because I would like to
read in Hansard what Senator Comeau said so that I can systematically go through
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Spivak wants
to adjourn the debate for the rest of her time. It is understood that she will
be the last speaker.
On motion of Senator Spivak, debate adjourned.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the tenth report (interim) of the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled:
Population Health Policy: Issues & Options, tabled in the Senate on April
2, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Keon)
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to
the tenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
As honourable senators know, the Subcommittee on Population Health has been
mandated to examine and report on the impact of multiple factors and conditions
that contribute to the health of Canadians, known collectively as the
determinants of health. A central element of our study is to identify the
actions that must be taken by the federal government to improve overall health
and reduce health disparities. This is the final of four interim reports being
tabled by the subcommittee. These reports conclude the first phase of our study.
Thus far, we have looked at population health policies in the provinces and
territories, as well as at the federal level and internationally. We have seen
what can be done when governments take coordinated and strategic approaches to
reducing health disparities by addressing the determinants of health. We are
also painfully aware of the shortcomings of our current systems, which focus too
much on health care and not enough on the conditions that create health. The
result of this is that Canada is faced with unacceptable health disparities
within our country, and our productivity and competitiveness are losing ground
by international comparison.
Fortunately, honourable senators, our reports have also identified a number
of options for the federal government to consider. Initiatives in the provinces
and territories, as well as internationally, offer promising examples of how the
federal government could turn this situation around.
The tenth report of the committee is entitled Population Health Policies:
Issues and Options. It summarizes what the subcommittee has learned about
the determinants of health, considers how they impact on the health of
Canadians, illustrates how serious a problem health disparities are in this
country, and presents the options that we feel offer the best chance for moving
to action on these issues and reducing health disparities.
Honourable senators, I will not repeat here what is already known about the
impact of socio-economic status, early childhood development, education,
employment and other social determinants of health. However, permit me to repeat
the finding from the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology study on the health of Canadians, which estimated that 15 per cent of
the population's health is attributable to biology and genetic factors; 10 per
cent to the physical environment; 25 per cent to the reparative work of the
health care system; and fully 50 per cent to the social and economic
We are forced to ask if we are really spending our money wisely when we look
at the proportion of budgets that relate to health care spending.
I will take a moment to highlight some of the shameful disparities in health
with which we are living in this country.
Life expectancy ranges from 81.2 years in British Columbia to 70.4 years in
Nunavut. That is almost 11 years of life less for Northern residents. First
Nations' and Inuit people's life expectancy is five to ten years less than
Canadians as a whole. Infant mortality rates among First Nations on reserve and
Inuit are two to three times the Canadian rate.
Prolonged and intensive stress in childhood can compromise functioning of the
nervous and immune systems. Children brought up in adverse environments are
predisposed to coronary heart disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, substance
abuse and conditions affecting their mental health.
Recent immigrants from non-European countries are twice as likely as those
born in Canada to report deterioration in their health, despite the fact that
they are generally in better health when they arrive in Canada.
The wealthy live longer than the poor and experience less chronic illness,
obesity and mental distress.
These disparities are not inevitable. They result, in large measure, from
social environments and economic and social policies that can be changed.
However, they will only be reduced through a whole-of-government approach in
which health and health disparities are targeted in all policy fields:
education, social and cultural services, economic policy, environmental policy,
taxation, et cetera. Doing so will require profound structural change, both in
public policy and in government's approach to the development and implementation
of public policy.
There are sound economic and social reasons to improve the health of the
population. The benefits of a population health approach extend beyond improved
health status and reduced health disparities to affect economic and social
conditions. Simply put, population health policies and programs foster economic
growth, productivity and prosperity. Good health enables children to perform
well in school. Good health enables people to be more productive, and higher
productivity, in turn, reinforces economic growth. Healthy citizens who are
better engaged in their communities contribute to social cohesion.
In addition to sound economic reasons, we believe that governments have a
moral obligation to foster the social and cultural conditions that empower
individuals, communities and societies to create and maintain the conditions
necessary for all citizens to live their lives in good health. The reasons for
action are obvious. The question is no longer whether we should act, but what
should be the next steps.
Our tenth report outlines four underlying issues that are instrumental to
making the structural change in public policy happen, as well as a number of
options for each one. The first issue is that of data and research. Canada has a
good deal of data on population health status by determinant and on health
disparities at the national level. There are several useful provincial sources
as well. However, there remain substantial deficiencies with the data, including
particularly that on the health status and disparities among Aboriginal
Canadians. More complete data and information are needed to better understand
the interacting factors that affect population health. We need to consider
expanding and enriching the population health database, as well as investing
more in population health research and the translation to knowledge.
The second issue is re-orienting government policy itself. There is no
national plan in Canada to improve overall health status and reduce health
disparities. Our governments have not articulated the vision of a healthy
society, much less the strategies or action plans necessary to achieve it. At
the federal level, the government has not succeeded in implementing a
comprehensive approach to population health. A number of mechanisms are
available to assist in revising policies and programs. One is an
interdepartmental spending review, such as that carried out by the Treasury in
the U.K. Or, alternately, the existing federal health goals could be further
developed into benchmarks and monitoring tools with measurable actions. Another
option is using health impact assessments, which have been embedded as an
integral government process through public health legislation in Sweden, New
Zealand and Quebec. Ultimately, an overarching federal population health
strategy with leadership at the highest levels would be most effective in
rallying pan-governmental cooperation. However, we will seek input into what it
would look like in practice.
Finally, we need to think about how the federal government works with its
provincial and non-governmental partners who are essential allies in
multi-sectoral efforts to reduce health disparities.
The third issue is Aboriginal populations. I have already mentioned the
shameful health status with which too many Aboriginal peoples are living. Given
the federal government's special responsibility for Aboriginal peoples and its
central role in the provision of programs and services, it has a particular
opportunity to engage Aboriginal leaders to find out how the application of a
population health approach, together with Aboriginal concepts of health, could
improve the focus, organization and delivery of those governmental services and
lead to diminution of disparities of health between those populations and other
Canadians. This could take the form of a comprehensive Aboriginal population
health strategy, a step-by-step approach to building a strategy, or by
supporting peer learning and Aboriginal development.
Finally, the fourth issue deals with how we can foster the political will
necessary to implement and sustain this new policy direction. Public awareness,
support and engagement of the non-health sector and consensus of key priorities
are important to foster political will, generate the conditions necessary for
action and ensure that those actions are maintained over the longer term.
In conclusion, honourable senators, the urgency of taking a population health
approach to reducing health disparities is a topic that needs to move from the
margins to the centre of the political landscape in Canada. In combination with
the forthcoming first report of Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, the final
report of the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants
of Health, due this fall, and numerous other efforts, there is a growing
momentum to make that happen. Our intention is to contribute to that process,
and point the federal government to a path forward. I hope that that strategy
will be described in our final report.
This tenth report will be the basis for the remainder of the subcommittee's
study as we consult with Canadians on how best to proceed. To start phase 2 of
our study, I should mention that we are fortunate to have a remarkable round
table meeting coming up with an extraordinary group of people to advise us on
where we should be focusing our attention. Once we have completed our
consultations, I will be back to you with our final report and recommendations.
I hope that this will be in honourable senators' hands in December.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Your Honour, before putting my question to the
honourable senator, may I be allowed to say that I will forever be grateful to
Senator Keon. That I am alive today is because of him. I was under his care. My
wife told me that, before the surgery, he told her the chances were very slim
that I would live. It is because of Senator Keon that I am alive today, and I
will be forever grateful to the honourable senator.
Besides my personal gratitude, I want to say how much I admire that Senator
Keon, at the end of his studies at Harvard where he was the top student and was
offered positions as a surgeon in the United States, said: "No, I have to go
back to my country; I have to do my work in my country."
Senator Keon turned away from the opportunity to earn a much greater income
in order to work in this country. As honourable senators know, he has created,
in the capital of this country, a world-renowned hospital. Senator Keon created
that institute from scratch and the entire country is grateful to him.
Does the honourable senator think that this committee that he chairs will be
able to have some influence on departments of health, both of Canada and the
provinces, so that they can reallocate funds — which are scarce by definition —
along the priorities that his first-class team has identified?
Senator Keon: I thank the honourable senator very much for his
There is no escaping the approach of looking at factors that determine health
conditions. Other progressive countries are moving in that direction. We have to
look at the ratio of spending on health care in Canada to spending in other
areas. We are sacrificing education and other areas because our health care
spending is growing out of proportion to everything else.
Having said that, we must continue to care for the sick and comfort the
dying, as we have in the past. We have a wonderful foundation for our health
care delivery system and excellent health care professionals in the system.
However, we have not addressed the terrible epidemic of disease that confronts
the system on a daily basis, much of which is almost totally preventable.
Therefore, we must plan for the long term and overcome health disparities and
improve our health status.
In my early remarks on the other reports, I pointed out that we no longer
compare favourably to the international scene. We have to climb back and be
competitive with other developed countries in the world. We must find a way to
encourage governments to work together and to eliminate factors that are
producing the disease that the health care system must treat.
On motion of Senator Prud'homme, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Hubley, calling
the attention of the Senate to questions concerning post-secondary education
in Canada.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join in this
inquiry into post-secondary education and I commend Senator Hubley for launching
it. She has very ably set out how post-secondary education has changed in the 10
years since the Special Senate Committee on Postsecondary Education delivered
Last fall, I met with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the
Canadian Federation of Students. I was shocked to learn that the average student
debt now ranges from $21,000 to $28,000, depending on the province. I made a
statement at that time about the cost of post-secondary education.
Late last year, the Canadian Council on Learning, an independent,
not-for-profit corporation, released its second annual report on post-secondary
education. In 2006, the council produced its first national overview of
post-secondary education in Canada. These reports pulled together what we know
today about the state of post-secondary education in Canada and, just as
important, they point out what we do not know and why.
As Jim Knight, President of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges,
noted in December, Canada, among all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development countries, has the weakest data on education and has developed
neither a pan-Canadian skills agenda nor goals and measures for post-secondary
Our country has fundamental data gaps. We do not know, for example, how the
capacity of our post-secondary institutions measures up to the needs of the
labour market. We do not know the state of our community colleges with respect
to faculty, enrolment or capacity; the extent to which part-time faculty teach
at our universities; whether private colleges are growing or declining and what
they do and what happens to their graduates.
Unlike our major trading partners, Canada lacks such basic data-collection
mechanisms as unique student identifiers or standardized specifications that
would allow us to know when students move between provinces and when data
reported in British Columbia matches data reported in Ontario.
Statistics Canada does administer 11 surveys that provide valuable
information about post-secondary education and such related matters as
immigration and adult learning. However, the agency needs stable and appropriate
funding for this work to provide regular, timely and relevant data that measures
the strengths and weaknesses of post-secondary education.
Some may question why the federal parliamentarians, rather than provincial
legislators, should be concerned with post-secondary education. Canadians
invested $36 billion in post-secondary education in 2006-07 through their
federal, provincial and territorial governments. Despite this significant
expenditure, we have no way to assess how well this money is being spent. There
are no pan-Canadian goals or objectives.
The federal government already works with the provinces and territories to
provide financial assistance to students. The government contributes
considerable amounts to university-based research and development, transfers
significant amounts to the provinces and territories through the Canada Social
Transfer and supports students and their families through tax measures that help
them meet educational costs.
It is not a great leap to conclude that there is room for a federal
initiative that could enhance accountability for federal spending. Progress
might also be tracked towards something that many other developed nations have
already adopted: A national post-secondary education strategy.
The Canadian Council on Learning, with the support of such organizations as
the Council of Ontario Universities, is calling for a national data strategy and
a national framework that will set goals and measure progress. Without it, the
Council on Learning warns that Canada's prosperity will be at risk and its
competitive edge compromised.
There are some encouraging signs in the statistics that we do have. Since
1990, the percentage of the Canadian population holding a bachelor's degree has
almost doubled. The same is true for the percentage holding a master's or a
doctorate degree. In 2006, some 6 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and over held a
We cannot, however, afford to be complacent. Other countries are educating
their populations at a much faster pace. Just three decades ago, North Americans
accounted for more than one third of post-secondary students worldwide. Now,
students from Canada and the U.S. make up one sixth of global enrollments.
Between 1990 and 2005, the percentage of young people enrolled in any type of
schooling increased to 41 per cent from 28 per cent. Last year, there was a
decline to just shy of 40 per cent — the drop, many believe, attributable to a
decline in the number of students attending community colleges or CEGEPS.
University enrollments for men and women are at all-time highs but there is a
new gender gap on campuses. Female students now account for about 58 per cent of
bachelor degree enrollments. In 2004, 61 per cent of all undergraduate degrees
were earned by women.
Not long ago, women were in the minority on Canadian campuses. Now it is the
men who are under-represented. We have exchanged one problem for another. We
need to know why this gender gap is widening.
All these issues are critical, if projections prove correct. In the decade
ahead, nearly 70 per cent of the projected 1.7 million new jobs in Canada will
be in management or occupations that require university, college or
apprenticeship training. We must either educate young Canadians or we must
encourage those who are educated elsewhere to make a life in Canada.
Much has been said about the labour shortage in the skilled trades.
Registration and apprenticeship programs did increase substantially, but the
completion rate for those programs did not increase at the same pace. With just
13 per cent of skilled trade certificates in Canada recognized outside the
province in which they were granted, there are enormous barriers to the movement
of tradespeople to areas where they are needed.
What about cost, that huge elephant in the room for many students and their
families? The good news is that Canada's investments in post-secondary education
are above the OECD average. Public expenditures on post-secondary education in
2006 accounted for 6.5 per cent of overall social spending — roughly 1 per cent
higher than a decade earlier.
The bad news is that tuition fees, since 1990, have increased at nearly four
times the rate of inflation. The percentage of students who require financial
assistance rose significantly, from 45 per cent in 1995 to 59 per cent in 2006.
Between 2003 and 2006, the percentage of students whose debt load was more than
$15,000 rose from 17 per cent to 29 per cent.
The Canadian Federation of Students included this little reminder in its
documentation last fall. More than 30 years ago, Canada acceded to the United
Nations covenant that reads, in part:
Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of
capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive
introduction of free education.
In fact, this country has gone in the opposite direction. Post-secondary
education has become more and more costly, and the level of students' debt grows
higher and higher.
The students' federation urged the government to replace the Millennium
Scholarship Foundation with a $2.1 billion grants program. It called for
expanded eligibility criteria for the Debt Reduction Repayment Program,
increased federal transfers to the provinces and a new federal department of
post-secondary education and research. I am not sure I agree with the last item,
but I do agree with the other two.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations also called for an increase in
federal transfer for post-secondary education to a minimum level of $4 billion
annually, a holistic review of student financial assistance programs and goals
for post-secondary education against which transfers can be benchmarked.
It is very apparent that a consensus is emerging on things that the federal
government, and only the federal government, can do to ensure that
post-secondary education thrives in our country. Data collection, a national
strategy and increased federal funding are needed to ensure that our young
people of today gain the education to help build the Canada of tomorrow.
I sincerely hope that the government is listening to those who recommend
action now, and will listen to the wise words that have flowed in the course of
The Hon. the Speaker: Does any other senator wish to participate in
the debate on this inquiry?
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): If this
debate is not to be adjourned in Senator Andreychuk's name, I will take the
adjournment of the debate.
On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Harb, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Goldstein:
That the Senate take note of the proposed sale of the Canadarm, RADARSAT
satellite business to American arms-maker Alliant Techsystems for $1.325
That the Senate note that this nationally significant technology was
funded by Canadian taxpayers through grants and other technology subsidies
for civilian and commercial purposes;
That the Senate note that this sale threatens to put Canada in breach of
the 1997 international landmines treaty it was instrumental in writing;
That the Senate acknowledge that although Industry Canada will do a
mandatory review of the trade issues relating to the sale, there are many
vital social, political, moral and technological issues that need to be
That the Senate of Canada urge the Government of Canada to block the
proposed sale of the nationally significant Canadarm, RADARSAT satellite
business to American arms-maker Alliant Techsystems; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
with the above.—(Honourable Senator Di Nino)
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, Senator Harb brought to
our attention this very topical and important issue, which has attracted a great
deal of attention in the last month or so. I am not sure that it was because of
Senator Harb's comments, but certainly the country is now engaged in debate,
particularly in governments and industry.
This whole issue is very fluid, and is under consideration by the Government
of Canada. I am continuing to gather information on this matter, and will speak
on it as soon as I have completed my collection of pertinent data.
Therefore, I would ask that we adjourn the debate for the remainder of my
On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Oliver, calling
the attention of the Senate to the progress that has been made on the
implementation of the Federal Accountability Act, highlighting the
status of key measures of the Act and underscoring the importance of this
Act to improving responsibility and accountability in our government.—(Honourable
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise today to join in
Senator Oliver's inquiry into the implementation of the Federal Accountability
Act, Bill C-2. You may not be surprised to hear that my views are rather
different from those of Senator Oliver.
I was the opposition critic during the study of Bill C-2 and, along with
others I know of in this chamber, I have followed closely the process since the
bill was passed and received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006.
To give honourable senators some reflection on what was included in Bill C-2,
there was conflict of interest legislation; there was access to information;
there was the creation of the Director of Public Prosecutions; there was a
Public Appointments Commission; there was lobbying legislation; and there was a
Parliamentary Budget Officer, an Ethics Commissioner, the Procurement Ombudsman
and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner with respect to whistle-blowing
Honourable senators, in the time available to me today, I cannot deal with
all of those items. However, I will speak briefly to conflict of interest, the
public appointments commissioner and lobbying, primarily because Senator Oliver
touched on those areas during his presentation.
Honourable senators, it is clear that this government allowed politics to
trump good government. It rushed too quickly to draft this extensive and
far-reaching piece of legislation. In committee, we heard the government
representative boast that the government knew exactly what it wanted to do with
respect to this legislation and, within six weeks of being elected, it had the
proposed legislation ready. Honourable senators will recall that during those
six weeks, cabinet ministers were being appointed, so there was no consultation
with cabinet ministers; and Parliament had not been recalled, so there was no
consultation with Parliament. Honourable senators would be correct in wondering
who, during those six weeks, prepared that proposed legislation.
Again for political reasons, the government exerted extraordinary pressure on
both Houses of Parliament to speed up the study of the bill and to not pass any
significant amendments to the bill. When the bill came to the Senate, it was
said that the proposed legislation had been gone over with a fine-toothed comb
and that there was no need for honourable senators to even look at the bill.
However, when Bill C-2 came to the Senate it was deeply flawed. The government
was eventually forced to acknowledge this as it put forward, in committee and at
third reading in the Senate, 50 amendments to the bill.
Honourable senators, your committee passed a total of 250 amendments to Bill
C-2. Unfortunately, the government was not convinced of the righteousness of
those amendments and, therefore, was determined to ignore the views of the
Senate and rejected all but 90 of those amendments. Thus, the Senate achieved 90
amendments to a bill that, according to Mr. Baird, was perfect when it came to
I believe the government missed an opportunity to improve this bill. We have
seen how unprepared the government was to actually implement many of the
provisions set out in the bill. Even Senator Oliver, determined as he was to
give a positive spin on it, could not fail to notice that some institutions to
be established under the Federal Accountability Act remain unimplemented on the
books. Others were established many months after the bill passed into law. Some
sections of the FAA are being implemented only now, more than 15 months after
the bill received Royal Assent and came into force. Some sections are still at
the discussion and consultation phase.
Honourable senators may call me old-fashioned, but I would have thought that
the proper way to develop good public policy is to have consultation before the
proposed legislation is drafted. We are told by government officials that they
are still in consultation with respect to certain aspects and that is why they
have not implemented certain sections of the act. Sadly, this kind of behaviour
seems to be the hallmark of this government. We have seen several examples of
the government's my-way-or-the-highway attitude; or perhaps it is a
legislate-first-and-think-later way of doing things. The bottom line is that
this process does not produce good public policy and Canadians are not being
well served by this kind of action.
One of Senator Oliver's first examples of the "powerful impact" of the
Federal Accountability Act is a new Conflict of Interest Act that appeared as
part of Bill C-2. He quickly glossed over the fact that this portion of the
Federal Accountability Act was brought into force only on July 9, 2007, almost
seven months after the bill was passed. Why did it take so long, honourable
senators? This was not a case of needing regulations that required broad public
consultation because the proposed legislation would only affect members of the
government: ministers, senior government officials and other public
office-holders. Why the delay? If this government was not ready to move
immediately to proclaim those sections in force and implement provisions that
affect the Prime Minister and cabinet members, then what was it ready to do when
it first introduced the bill 16 months earlier?
I was very surprised to hear Senator Oliver say: "Further, these provisions
ensure that no prime minister can overrule the commissioner on whether he, she,
or a minister, or some other public office-holder has violated the act."
Senator Oliver made that comment in this chamber a few weeks ago when he spoke
to the bill. Honourable senators, Senator Oliver's description is simply not
supported by this legislation. Certainly, it is what Prime Minister Harper and
his government said the bill would do but, when one reads the legislation, it
becomes clear that the act does exactly the opposite. I will explain.
The commissioner can investigate alleged breaches of the act in any of three
circumstances: at the request of a prime minister; in response to a request from
a senator or a member of the House of Commons; or on his or her own initiative.
Section 47 of the act prohibits alteration of the commissioner's report,
including where the commissioner has found that there was a breach of the act.
Honourable senators, section 47 only prohibits alteration of the reports and
inquiries initiated by a parliamentarian or by the commissioner, not by a prime
minister. The section is strikingly silent about inquiries launched by a prime
The committee tried to amend that section and honourable senators will no
doubt recall that we passed an amendment that would have made such a prohibition
apply to all three situations. However, the government rejected the amendment.
This was not an oversight or error made in this government's haste to introduce
this important bill. This was a deliberate omission.
Contrary to Senator Oliver's assertion, the much-touted Conflict of Interest
Act would permit a prime minister to alter a conclusion of the commissioner,
including one indicating that a minister or other public office-holder had
violated the act. Honourable senators, under the act, a prime minister is not
required to make the commissioner's report public and it can remain secret. We
can have a prime minister order the commissioner to investigate a minister or
senior official for a possible violation of the Conflict of Interest Act; we can
have the commissioner investigate and report back that, yes, there was a breach
of the CIA; and, no matter how serious the breach is, a prime minister can alter
the conclusion and then either make it public or keep it secret, at his
discretion. Do honourable senators think that Canadians intended the Federal
Accountability Act to permit this? I doubt it very much. Perhaps Senator Oliver
forgot about the amendment that the government rejected. I am sure that he will
be the first one to re-introduce it to ensure that the section provides what
this chamber has been told it does not provide.
I will limit myself to one more example from this portion of the FAA. The
Conflict of Interest Act prohibits ministers and other public office-holders
from accepting gifts "that might reasonably be seen to have been given to
influence the public office holder in the exercise of an official power, duty or
function." That appears fine.
However, when you look at section 2, it says, "Despite section 1 . . ." In
other words, honourable senators, even where the gift might reasonably be seen
to have been given to influence the minister or a senior officer in the exercise
of an official power, duty or function, a public office-holder may accept a gift
that is given by a relative or a friend, and then he does not even have to
disclose it. Honourable senators, this disturbed us when we saw this
legislation. Many of my colleagues tried to bring about amendments.
When you turn to the disclosure provisions, you discover that the act
excludes these gifts from all disclosure requirements. In other words, a
minister of the Harper government may accept a gift, no matter the size or
value, even if the person could reasonably think that the gift was given to
influence the minister in his or her official duties, and no one even has to be
told about it — not the commissioner, and not the Canadian public. Again, we
tried to change this particular section. Among other things, we tried to bring
about transparency to the gift and amended the act to require disclosure, both
to the commissioner and then to the public, if the gift from a friend were
valued at more than $200. To our astonishment, the Harper government rejected
this amendment and said it was unnecessary. Again, this was no drafting
oversight; this was a deliberate loophole created in the legislation.
We were all shocked to know that the former prime minister, Brian Mulroney,
accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Karlheinz Schreiber. Mr. Mulroney
has claimed that this only happened after he left the prime minister's office.
Honourable senators, under Prime Minister Harper's Conflict of Interest Act, it
would be perfectly acceptable for a minister, including a sitting prime
minister, to accept this kind of gift in a paper bag from a friend. I am sure
that Mr. Schreiber considered himself a friend of the prime minister at that
time. According to Prime Minister Harper, such acts are not at all unethical,
and no one ever need know about them. No wonder, then, that this government has
been reluctant to probe too closely into Mr. Mulroney's dealing with Mr.
Schreiber. Mr. Mulroney's actions were no more than what would be perfectly
acceptable under Prime Minister Harper's centrepiece Accountability Act.
This is the much-touted Conflict of Interest Act, and these are just two
examples that I have had the opportunity to go into with you today, honourable
senators. I will try to find other opportunities to bring about other aspects of
this particular part of Bill C-2 that will be of interest to you, I am sure.
We all recall the great pronouncement by Prime Minister Harper that public
appointments would be very different under his government. You will remember
that pronouncement during the election. The Accountability Act authorized the
establishment of a new public appointments commission, and yet, here we are, 15
months later, with no public appointments commission. We asked about this in the
meetings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance hearings, and we
were told —
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator's 15 minutes has expired.
Is he asking for more time?
Senator Day: Could I have five more minutes, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Day: Honourable senators, I have told you that there are nine
sections, and I have dealt with only two aspects of one section.
I would like to talk more about the public appointments commissioner. I have
told honourable senators that no public appointments commissioner has been
appointed, although such a post is included in the legislation. The word is that
the Prime Minister is not happy. Before the legislation was even presented, he
tried to implement a non-statutory, similar type of situation, and he put in a
provision at that time that the House of Commons would have an opportunity to
review his appointment. The House of Commons rejected his appointment, so he is
not happy and will not implement that portion of the legislation.
Notwithstanding that fact, over $2 million has been spent thus far on that
secretariat that was created to support the non-existing commission — over $2
million. Senator Oliver's comment was that the secretariat is doing a good job
advising. Advising whom? There is no commission. It is a secretariat for a
commission that does not exist.
Honourable senators, I believe that we should also consider the fact that a
number of very highly qualified people have been dismissed from their positions.
Perhaps we should create a public dismissal commission to consider some of these
various people, such as Adrian Measner, fired from his position as president and
CEO of the Wheat Board, and Johanne Gélinas, former Environment Commissioner.
Ask Linda Keen about independence, transparency and accountability with respect
to her position as a commissioner with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Honourable senators, there are many aspects to this particular bill that I
would like to bring to your attention. You should be aware that the lobbying
legislation has not been implemented, and that just recently a former employee
of one of the ministers, Mr. Van Soelen, was quoted as saying that he has found
ways of joining the public sector after leaving the ministry recently. According
to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Mr. Van Soelen sent a letter to a
potential client in which he proudly described his connection to Mr. Baird and
promised to help clients score big. The arrogance of this government knows no
bounds, honourable senators. Honourable senators will be interested to know that
Public Works Minister Fortier's former director of parliamentary affairs has
recently joined Hill and Nolton. What about the five-year cooling-off period?
What happened to that?
Honourable senators, in conclusion, more than a year after this bill was
passed by Parliament, we have no new restrictions for lobbying; a revolving door
between Conservative ministers and lobbying firms; no public appointments
commissioner in spite of over $2 million having been spent; a Parliamentary
Budget Officer only recently appointed after three budgets and two economic
updates have already been brought forward, with a fraction of the staff and
budgetary resources that any committee would need in order to do the job;
respected public servants reduced to public servant Dilberts, focusing only on
process; and conflict of interest rules that allow a prime minister to
supposedly change the supposedly independent commissioner's conclusions that a
minister violated the act and allowed him and members of the government to
accept gifts from anyone with impunity, as long as they were gifts from friends,
and that they need not tell anyone about it.
This, honourable senators, is accountability and transparency. Honourable
senators, it is smoke and mirrors, and we all know it. I thank Senator Oliver
for initiating this much-needed inquiry into this government's shameless
flouting of the principles of accountability and transparency. This was a brave
step by Senator Oliver, and I congratulate him.
On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, April 10, 2008, at 1:30 p.m.