Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 70
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I want to pay tribute to
Lieutenant Justin Garrett Boyes, a young man killed in Afghanistan on October 28
of this year. He was 26 years old — a life barely lived. He left behind a mom
and dad who raised him; a brother and a sister who looked up to him; a young
family that depended on him; and a calling from which he never flinched.
Bravery is a much-diminished term these days. Actors are considered brave if
they take on a risky role; a writer is brave if he bares his soul in print. We
need to find another term to describe these things, for brave is when a young
man willingly risks his life in combat when he knows full well he has so much to
lose and so little to gain.
I attended Lieutenant Boyes' funeral and the courage he displayed was
perfectly reflected in the courage his family showed at his loss. This cannot be
minimized. When a man or woman goes to war, their family goes to war. When he or
she dies in battle, their family is left to bear the loss. We ask much of them.
They pay the price long after the war has ended.
The inconsolable grief of the Boyes family was heart-wrenching, but tempered
by the enormous pride in which they held Justin and their continued commitment
to the fight.
His wife said:
Justin and I believe in the mission in Afghanistan. One of the things that
frustrated him was the lack of support from the Canadian citizens he lived to
protect. . . .
He said recently, "We're not losing this war, but if we do, it's because we
lost it at home first."
She concluded by saying:
Please support our boys. They are making progress.
I believe she was heard, if I can judge by Saskatoon. On Remembrance Day,
over 9,000 people showed up at the ceremonies there to remember the fallen and
to show support for men and women who are still fighting.
Justin died during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had a
university degree and could have done anything he wanted, but he chose the
military. He went to Afghanistan prepared to do what was asked of him. We all
know what that meant for him.
However, none of us feels the effects more than the family that is left
behind. To Justin's wife Alanna and his son James, to his parents Brian and
Angela, to his brother Curtis and his sister Lindsay, to all the members of his
extended family, on behalf of all senators and all Canadians, I want to offer my
deepest and most sincere sympathy. Their loss is immeasurable, as is the loss of
families who have lost loved ones before them.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, November 20 is
National Child Day. It also marks the twentieth anniversary of the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted on November 20, 1989.
This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize and celebrate children in Canada
and across the world. It is also a time to take stock of what we have achieved
over the last 20 years and to look ahead at where we can improve on efforts to
protect and promote the rights of every single child.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has changed the way we think and
talk about children. It has made us more aware of the challenges facing children
and young people in this complex world. It has made us much more aware of our
obligations toward them.
The four core principles of the convention are: non-discrimination, respect,
not tolerance; the best interests of the child; maximum survival and
development, not use as instruments of war; and respect for the views of the
child, hearing the child and child participation. These principles have helped
guide us for the last 20 years and the Convention has played a central role in
the ongoing transition toward a rights-based approach to dealing with children
and young people.
For example, in 2006, the report of the Secretary-General of the United
Nations on violence against children became the first real attempt to document
the reality of violence against children around the world and to map out what is
being done to stop it. The report concludes that while some children may be
particularly vulnerable, violence against children can stretch across
geographic, cultural and socio-economic boundaries and even home life.
The Secretary-General's report also concluded that:
No violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children
Identifying our shortcomings around child rights is the first step. It is
encouraging that in the last 20 years we have become more willing to speak
honestly about our treatment of children and more willing to tackle the problems
head-on instead of turning a blind eye. Certainly the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says that no child under the age of
18 should be used or trained in any instrument of war, signed in 2000, is a
perfect example of the positive evolution of protecting children and their
rights from abuse by adults.
As legislators and parliamentarians, we must keep this in mind. We have a
special responsibility to listen to children and to take their views and
concerns into account when we are making decisions, policies and legislation
that affect their lives. We must foster their desire to get involved in public
life, to become activists, and to show their presence and capability. We must
help equip them with the skills and confidence to tackle the serious problems
facing the world today.
Honourable senators, the future of the children of today is not 20 years down
the road, but five or six years down the road. They, in this incredible
revolution of communications, are the globalized generation that can take on
human rights, environment, and nuclear disarmament.
Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, the Conservatives believe in
working hard and in providing assistance to the families of workers during this
Strengthening our ties with international trade partners and facilitating the
free movement of goods and services across the border are some of the most
important things we can do to help put Canada back on the road to prosperity.
Last weekend, Prime Minister Harper participated in the APEC leaders' summit
Right after the summit, he flew to India, where Canada has opened new trade
offices in Hyderabad, Calcutta and Ahmedabad this year.
Honourable senators, India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the
world. It is estimated that one million Canadians of Indian origin and 7,300
Indian students currently live in Canada, which shows that these two countries
have a strong bond.
Next, Prime Minister Harper will go to China from December 2 to 6, and to the
Republic of Korea from December 6 to 7.
Honourable senators, China is Canada's third most important export partner,
and leading up to the Prime Minister's visit, there have been 18 ministerial
visits to China since 2006.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Canadian
Trade Commissioner Service office in Shanghai.
Last year, Canada announced plans to open six new trade offices in that
country. Two are already open, and the other four should be open by the end of
the year. South Korea is Canada's seventh-largest trading partner, with
bilateral merchandise trade close to $10 billion.
By maintaining and strengthening our relationships with India, China and
South Korea, our government is working hard internationally to end the global
recession and put Canadians back to work as soon as possible.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I wish to draw your attention to National Philanthropy Day, which was
celebrated on November 15. I commend our honourable colleagues, Senators
Grafstein and Mercer, as well as Mike Savage, MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, for
their initiative and persistence in introducing, reintroducing and supporting —
in five different sessions — a bill to recognize throughout Canada, in each and
every year, the fifteenth day of November as National Philanthropy Day. Such
strong work was obviously the inspiration behind the statement made on October
21, 2009, by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, declaring November 15 as
National Philanthropy Day, while this bill continues to languish in committee in
the other place.
According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, "Canada is the
first country to officially recognize National Philanthropy Day since its
creation in 1986." National Philanthropy Day "is celebrated around the world as
a day to recognize the work of charities and remember the extraordinary
achievements that philanthropy — giving, volunteering and social engagement —
has made in all aspects of life."
Honourable senators, the word "philanthropy" is Greek in origin and means "love for mankind." I would like to honour Canadians' generosity by
recognizing the importance of National Philanthropy Day. According to Imagine
Canada, 84 per cent of Canadians donate to charitable organizations and 12.5
million Canadians do volunteer work.
Philanthropy has become even more important during this time of economic
crisis. More than half of those responding to a Barclays Wealth survey were
demonstrating social responsibility during this difficult economic period. I
have no doubt that Canadians appreciate volunteer work, and I would like to
thank all volunteers and donors for their contributions that make Canada a
The worldwide importance of giving, volunteering, social engagement and
compassion has recently been emphasized by the Charter for Compassion, unveiled
on November 12 of this year. The Charter for Compassion is a cooperative effort
to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more important, compassionate
action to the centre of religious, moral and political life. The charter,
crafted by people all over the world and drafted by a multi-faith, multinational
council of thinkers and leaders, seeks to change the conversation so that
compassion becomes a key word in public and private discourse.
I encourage all Canadians to continue their volunteer work and philanthropic
endeavours, and to continue to recognize National Philanthropy Day by
contributing some time or resources to positive change.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, Canadians know
that our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Harper, favours
reducing taxes and has given Canadians tax breaks totalling more than $200
billion. But today, I would like to talk about a Canadian initiative that we
have introduced for persons with disabilities.
In Budget 2007, our government proposed to establish a registered disability
savings plan or RDSP to help persons with disabilities and their families save
for the future. There is no annual contribution limit, but the lifetime
contribution limit is $200,000. The government will provide a matching grant of
up to $3,500 a year, depending on the amount contributed and the beneficiary's
family income, with a lifetime limit of $70,000.
The government will also deposit a bond of up to $1,000 a year into the RDSPs
of low-income and modest-income Canadians. It is not necessary to contribute to
an RDSP to receive a bond, and the lifetime limit is $20,000.
Since this plan came into effect late last year, more than 15,000 RDSPs have
been opened. The Government of Canada has paid more than $50 million in grants
and bonds to persons with disabilities and their families. In addition, we are
investing $1 billion over two years in renovations and energy-efficiency
upgrades to social housing, including modifications that will benefit persons
with disabilities, as well as an additional $75 million over two years to build
new social housing units for the disabled and $20 million in each of two years
to make federally-owned buildings more accessible.
I spoke earlier about the tax relief we have given Canadians. Our government
is putting more money into taxpayers' pockets by doubling the assistance
provided through the working income tax benefit.
Honourable senators, I am proud to be able to say that our government is
providing Canadians with real assistance.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, there are occasions when the
work of those who previously served among us in this place, and before some of
us arrived, remind us of the importance of the history we share.
I speak, of course, of the efforts of Senator John Lynch-Staunton in
ensuring that each November 20 is known as Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day.
Senator Lynch-Staunton led the efforts that saw both members of the Senate
and the other place declare Laurier's birthday a day of national commemoration,
along with that of January 11, which is, as every Kingstonian knows, Sir John A.
While it was Macdonald who is rightly known as Canada's founding father, it
was Laurier who hardened — to use a phrase of Sir John A.'s — Confederation's
gristle into bone as the 20th century dawned.
Laurier's accomplishments, including his founding of the Royal Canadian Navy
in 1910, with the support of Opposition Leader Borden, are too numerous to cite
completely in the time available. However, in considering the current leadership
of the party to which senators opposite belong, I would be remiss if I did not
at least mention the decades Sir Wilfrid sat in opposition.
Laurier became leader of the Liberal Party in 1887, and he spent nearly a
decade in the wilderness before reaching the top of what Disraeli called the
"greasy pole." When he was defeated by the great Nova Scotian, Robert Borden,
Sir Wilfrid spent another eight years in opposition. He persevered; he served;
he built — from the government and the opposition benches. His efforts in
opposition were principled and very effective.
This is but one part of the stellar Laurier legacy the great man left
Canada's Liberals, and all Canadians benefited from his patience and
Laurier did one more important thing. He separated the Liberal Party from the
Lord Durham/George Brown antipathy to the standing of French Canada and the
Roman Catholic Church. Laurier embraced the Confederation-building partnership
between Macdonald and Cartier, and brought the party into the political
My own city's Sir John A. Macdonald recognized that his opponent had a great
future. Only a month before Macdonald died, as recorded by Sir Joseph Pope, his
private secretary, Laurier dropped in on Sir John A. to discuss a parliamentary
When Laurier had left, Sir John A. turned to Pope and said, "Nice chap, that.
If I were 20 years younger, he'd be my colleague."
"Perhaps he may be yet," said Pope.
"Too old," said Sir John, "too old."
I hope all senators, regardless of political affiliation, will join me in
honouring Sir Wilfrid Laurier this week.
Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, on November 11, I had the
honour of representing Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson at Remembrance
Day ceremonies at both the Toronto Stock Exchange and at Queen's Park.
I realized, looking at the assembled crowd at the Queen's Park cenotaph, that
my generation is the lucky one. We did not have to survive the Great Depression
or either great wars; nevertheless, stories at family mealtimes gave me and so
many others of my age a direct and real connection to these historical events.
Whether it was from my grandfather who flew in the Royal Flying Corps in 1915
telling us about the important roles First Nations snipers played in the
trenches, or my father's tales as a young naval lieutenant on a Corvette hunting
German submarines in the North Atlantic, these stories at family meals
reinforced the concepts of heroism, selflessness, love of country and the
importance of fighting for one's freedom.
What of future generations when there is no longer a living connection to
events in the 20th century? Honourable senators, only 4 out of 10 Canadian
provinces teach Canadian history in high schools.
If you have not read about Champlain's first settlement in Canada in Port
Royal in 1605; if you have no idea who dismissed us as "quelques arpents de
neige" at the end of the Seven Years' War and why the names of James Wolfe and
the Marquis de Montcalm became forever linked on September 13, 1759; if you do
not understand the hard-won compromise that our first Prime Minister, John A.
Macdonald, wrought with the Fathers of Confederation in 1867, or the grit and
endurance it took to open up the West, or that in 1881 the last spike of the
Canadian Pacific Railway in B.C. linked us from Atlantic to Pacific forever, how
can you possibly value and cherish this democracy of ours?
If young Canadians today are not taught the history of this great country,
will they be prepared to defend us; to keep us "true north strong and free";
to protect our way of life, our shared values of freedom, democracy, human
rights and the rule of law? How will we keep the torch of remembrance burning
bright if our history, our proud and valiant Canadian history, is not taught in
schools in every province and territory? Lest we forget.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Bogdan Aurescu, State
Secretary for Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, who is
accompanied by Her Excellency Elena Stefoi, Ambassador of Romania; Mr. Daniel
Ionita, Director of Security Policy; Mr. Cosmin Onisii, Head of the U.S. Canada
Division; and Mr. Adrian Grigoras, Third Secretary.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the
government's response to the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Nunavut Marine Fisheries: Quotas and Harbours.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) introduced
Bill S-8, An Act to implement conventions and protocols concluded between Canada
and Colombia, Greece and Turkey for the avoidance of double taxation and the
prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.)
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of
the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the Fourth Part of the 2009
Ordinary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held in
Strasbourg, France, from September 28 to October 2, 2009.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 56, I give
notice that, two days hence:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the seriousness of the problem
posed by contraband tobacco in Canada, including the grave ramifications of
the illegal sale of these products to young people, the detrimental effects on
legitimate small businesses and the threat on the livelihoods of hardworking
convenience store owners, and the ability of law enforcement agencies to
combat those who are responsible for this illegal trade throughout Canada.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would like to return to the
question I asked yesterday with respect to the recruitment of Armed Forces
personnel. Although results seem to be positive, which is not the case for all
trades, an increasing number of academic institutions in our country do not
allow military recruiters on their campuses to recruit the best students to
serve our nation and to participate, if required, in operations abroad in the
name of democracy.
Does the government intend to take direct action to have these institutions
change their policies in that regard?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. Honourable
senators, as I indicated yesterday, Chief of the Defence Staff Natynczyk has
produced some encouraging statistics about recruitment in the Armed Forces.
Certainly, it is to be hoped that our Canadian Armed Forces have access to
all of the institutions in Canada in order to promote the values and the
benefits from serving in our Armed Forces. I cannot specifically respond to the
various policies and decisions made by individual universities and
post-secondary schools. However, I will raise Senator Dallaire's concerns. They
are concerns, and perhaps one of the reasons for those concerns, as indicated by
my colleague Senator Eaton, is, unfortunately, there has been a lack of proper
teaching in high schools of Canadian history. Therefore, there is not the same
desire to pursue a military career because of this lack of knowledge and
understanding of our history.
However, I will ask the Minister of National Defence about any specific
endeavours to address this serious problem with some of our colleges and
Senator Dallaire: Could the minister verify whether the attitude is
the same for recruiting RCMP members, the armed soldiers who secure the borders,
or game wardens? This situation may have something to do with the weapons.
However, in the context you just referred to, the response is nonetheless
positive. As far as recruitment is concerned, it is true that National Defence,
like all the other departments, is subject to strategic review and budget cuts.
Some people say that operational budgets are back down to what they were three
years ago, when the current government came into office.
Some are also saying that, even if a lot of people were recruited, there
would not be enough financial resources to train them to be operational. Is it
possible that the National Defence budget has been reduced in order to decrease
the operational capability to support operations?
Senator LeBreton: I do not know. With the amount of money that the
government has invested in National Defence, I find it hard to believe that when
we are trying to encourage people to join our military forces, we would take
actions to impede them from joining.
With regard to the RCMP and border security officers, I will attempt to find
out what recruitment processes are in place by those agencies and how they enter
our post-secondary educational institutions. Canadian citizens and younger
Canadians, when they consider their future career path, should have as an
attractive option all the various ways to serve Canada, including the military,
border services, police, health care or whatever. Hopefully these careers are
equally attractive to our young people entering the workforce, but I will
specifically seek information on the various practices used by Department of
National Defence, border services and the RCMP in terms of recruitment.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, it seems
incomprehensible, when the forces are stretched and in operations in the field,
that budget cuts are being considered in the Department of National Defence to
the extent where quality of life and care for the troops, particularly for those
who are injured, may be affected by the availability of operational funds due to
the requirement of the department to meet the strategic review imposed by the
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I am mystified by Senator Dallaire's
blanket statement that there have been budget cuts at the Department of National
Defence. This government has massively increased the budgets of the Department
of National Defence after a "decade of darkness," to quote a former Chief of
the Defence Staff. Senator Dallaire makes a statement that is not borne out by
fact. As I said in my earlier response, I will ascertain the recruitment and
follow-up procedures of the Department of National Defence, Public Security
Canada and the RCMP.
Senator Dallaire: I am not talking about the Capital Acquisition
Support Program; I am not even debating the personnel envelope. I am speaking of
the operations and maintenance envelope. It is going through a strategic review,
like every other department, and rumours are it will be cut to the 2006 level. I
request that you review that envelope and come back to us as to whether budget
cuts will take place in the Department of National Defence to meet a strategic
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Dallaire can properly
understand that I cannot answer questions in response to rumours. Having
participated in strategic review, in many cases the department is reviewing its
own programs and reallocating funds to programs within that the department deems
important. I am certain that, as we go through the strategic review process,
rumours will run rampant. We have known that for years, but I cannot and will
not respond or answer a question based on a rumour.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, we learned from the Privacy
Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, that the Financial Transactions and Reports
Analysis Centre of Canada, which is mercifully better known as FINTRAC, has in
its database a considerable amount of information that should not be there —
some information it does not have the statutory authority to have and some
information it may have the statutory authority to have but is not necessary for
FINTRAC to do its job, which is tracking money that might be used for terrorist
financing and money laundering.
One recommendation Ms. Stoddart made in her audit report was that FINTRAC
"should permanently delete from its holdings all information which it did not
have the statutory authority to receive."
Sounds simple and indeed FINTRAC said, yes, we agree, but then went on to
say, but of course, those are complicated technical questions that will take a
long time and will cost a lot of money; in the meantime, we will continue to
explore and develop new ways to achieve this goal.
Anyone who has been watching bureaucracy for any length of time knows this
response is not a commitment for immediate action.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what steps the
government will take to ensure that that information, which should never have
been in the database to begin with, is deleted rapidly?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, as Senator Fraser well knows, every two
years the Privacy Commissioner audits FINTRAC to ensure that FINTRAC protects
information it receives and collects. The audit reviews FINTRAC's programs and
information management processes where privacy concerns may exist. FINTRAC has
accepted the Privacy Commissioner's recommendations from this most recent audit.
FINTRAC has assured the government that it recognizes the importance of ensuring
its database contains only information it is authorized to hold. I understand
that FINTRAC is now taking steps to limit information it receives from reporting
entities, and is developing a framework to destroy quickly all extraneous
information reporting entities may have sent to them.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, I hope that is the way it works
out. What Ms. Stoddart said about FINTRAC is a reminder of a more generalized
concern, difficulty, problem, that exists, particularly in this era of concern
about terrorism. The Government of Canada or its bodies have many lists. The
government has lists not only under FINTRAC. It has no-fly lists; it has lists
of terrorist individuals or organizations, not to mention the various lists and
databases that exist within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the
RCMP, et cetera. We all know, because these lists are compiled by human beings,
that sometimes inaccurate information appears there; sometimes people appear on
a list who have no business being there. Maybe they had a reason to be on the
list in year 1, but in year 1 plus 10 or 20 years, they no longer deserve to be
on those lists. However, nowhere does there seem to be any clear policy to get
people's names off these lists. Periodically, in committee, I have asked the
heads of various agencies how one gets off their lists or out of their data
bases once one is in them or on them, and the response has tended to be a rather
pitying smile, followed by evasion of the issue.
Can this government assure us that it will adopt a policy to ensure that
while necessary information is compiled and retained, those accumulations of
unnecessary, irrelevant and often erroneous information will regularly be purged
from all of these databases?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question.
Obviously, this subject is of great concern. We have a Privacy Commissioner who
made a report, FINTRAC has accepted the report, and they have made assurances to
the government. We must have faith in our institutions, in our bureaucracy, and
in people like the Privacy Commissioner in that the recommendation has been made
and assurance has been given to the government. It is not something that the
government takes lightly, but on the other hand, we have to have faith and trust
in the individuals that we put in positions of responsibility to pay heed to the
recommendations of the Privacy Commissioner and live up to the commitments they
have made to the government to quickly dispose of information that has been sent
to them that they have no requirement for.
Therefore, I will not prejudge the system. We have every reason to have great
faith in our system. We have the Privacy Commissioner, an officer of Parliament,
who takes her position seriously and has looked at this matter and made
recommendations. FINTRAC, in this case, has made some commitments to the
government, and we are beholden to give them a chance to live up to those
With regard to the no-fly list, Transport Canada has worked with the Privacy
Commissioner, and hopefully that situation will also improve.
However I, quite rightly, will not comment on editorializing about the body
language of the public servants who appear before committees.
Senator Fraser: I was not asking the minister to do so; I was just
giving her the closest faithful report that I could of experience I have had
while a senator.
However, what I was urging the leader and her colleagues to take into serious
consideration is that we are dealing with a systemic tendency. It is not a
partisan difficulty. These lists were being compiled under predecessor
governments and will continue to be compiled under successor governments. I am
asking the minister to take back to her colleagues a request that the Government
of Canada put in place a policy and mechanisms to eradicate erroneous or
unnecessary information in order to combat the systemic tendency, which exists
always and everywhere, but particularly now, to compile more information than is
necessary and to keep it on file even when it is erroneous. It is quite simple,
but it is a very important problem.
Senator LeBreton: Of course, it is a serious issue, and there are
always allegations of systemic problems. I go back to my original answer, and
that is that FINTRAC, in particular, has committed to developing a framework to
quickly destroy all extraneous information that reporting entities may send to
them. I do believe, as a result of the Privacy Commissioner's report and
FINTRAC's response, that we should allow them to do their work. I know they take
it seriously Let us have a little faith in the people responsible for these
On the other hand, I will make my colleagues aware of the honourable
senator's concern about the systemic tendency of collecting and holding on to
information that is no longer necessary.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, there is an Aboriginal
community in my province that is still waiting to hear whether their application
for infrastructure funding under the stimulus program will be approved. The
Lennox Island First Nation is attempting to improve woefully inadequate
infrastructure in its community, particularly, by upgrading the roads.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate why there has been no
federal contribution to this project despite the fact that the provincial
government has already approved $500,000 for it?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I am not aware of that particular
application, but I am happy to take the question as notice and find out.
Senator Hubley: Honourable senators, it has been suggested that Prince
Edward Island is the only province in Canada whose Aboriginal population has not
received a single penny in stimulus funding. Can the minister confirm that that
is the case?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, likewise, I cannot confirm that
that is the case since I have absolutely no knowledge of it. I will simply take
the question as notice.
Senator Hubley: Can the minister indicate whether it included
Aboriginal communities in its plans when it negotiated agreements with the
provinces for infrastructure projects within the stimulus program? Were there no
assurances sought that Aboriginal communities would be guaranteed at least some
portion of the overall funding?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, in terms of the infrastructure
program, as the honourable senator knows, the federal government has worked with
municipal and provincial governments. In terms of the Aboriginal stimulus, there
has been considerable work done in Aboriginal communities and many important
projects are under way. With regard specifically to Prince Edward Island and the
honourable senator's targeted question, I will, unfortunately, have to take the
question as notice because I do not know.
Senator Hubley: I certainly appreciate that. Given the nature of this
infrastructure program having to do with roads, it is critical that we have an
answer as soon as possible.
Senator LeBreton: As I committed yesterday to Senator Callbeck to get
an answer with regard to diabetes funding, I will be happy to try to get an
answer as soon as possible.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I want to return to the subject I
have been raising in the Senate since our return in September, namely, the
disconnect between the financial market recovery — the real economy's recovery —
and the jobless recovery. There is growing evidence that the thesis is correct,
that there is a disconnect between the two economies, and Toronto is in the lead
of suffering from this disconnect. In the November 13 National Post, on
page A15, there is an article, entitled, "Joblessness dragging down city:
In the article, it indicates that joblessness in every category save for one,
is dragging down the city. The only categories that are different are autos and
housing, and housing is artificially inflated, according to experts, because of
low mortgage interest rates. I am not quibbling with that; it is at least one
good thing that may be happening.
Having said that, it appears to me and other economic experts that the
stimulus package, which we all hoped would work, is not working. The Economic
Action Plan is not cutting it when it comes to creating jobs. If there are jobs,
they are temporary or part-time jobs and not full-time jobs. The evidence is now
overwhelming that this is the case.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate, assuming for the
moment that she takes the thesis that the stimulus package is not working, what
plan B is in case it does not work? We are running out of money.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, the senator just said that the stimulus
package was not working and then said "in case it is not working." Which is
it, honourable senators?
I am not an economist. I can only rely on what I also read in the newspapers.
This situation is occurring not only in Canada but also around the world because
of the global economic downturn. The stimulus packages of the various
governments, as agreed to on November 15 in Washington this time last year, has
had a major impact on the economy. Of course, it is a fragile situation. There
are some hopeful signs that some parts of the economy are recovering. In this
country, there are places where they have not felt the economic downturn like
they have in other parts of the country, for example, in southern Ontario with
its manufacturing industry. However, there are also some encouraging signs with
regard to the auto industry.
Senator Grafstein talked about the housing industry and the fact that we have
had low interest rates, but another influencing factor has been the stimulus
package on home renovations. A massive stimulus has been injected into the
economy as people participate in those programs. One need only talk to people
who work at Home Depot, Rona or one of the lumber supply companies to know that.
Honourable senators, this government and the Minister of Finance has always
said — and this is also the case not only in the Canadian context but also in
the American context — that job recovery will lag behind any recovery that may
take place in the economy. Parts of the country have been much harder hit. The
honourable senator specifically mentioned the city of Toronto. That is why the
government, twice now, has extended Employment Insurance benefits. That is why
we brought in programs like job sharing, older worker retraining, job
retraining, and support through the Employment Insurance fund, so that people
could go back to school and to learn new trades. The government has done a host
of things to address this downturn with, I would argue, some great success.
Having said that and while the actions of the government have helped, I do
believe that we have some way to go in terms of the employment numbers. Although
unemployment numbers have been going up, there has been a decline month over
month in the number of people who are joining the unemployment rolls.
Honourable senators, there is no easy answer. The government, by its programs
and various incentives, including the stimulus package — which has worked — has
helped immensely in providing employment for Canadians. However, we are still
part of the global economic condition. Canada is thankfully still best
positioned to be one of the first countries to come out of this global economic
downturn and many economists bear this out.
Senator Grafstein: Honourable senators, I want to bring to the
attention of the Senate some facts because the minister raised the question of
sales in some categories. Attached to this article on Friday, November 13 is a
category of all the retail sales in Toronto. Every category is down in terms of
gross numbers of sales from August 2008 to August 2009. The numbers in September
do not look good, either. The categories are: furniture stores, home
furnishings, computer sales, home electronics, supermarkets, convenience stores,
pharmacies, gasoline stations, clothing stores — shoes, clothing and accessories
— sporting goods, and general merchandise. All of these numbers are down.
As a result, again based on this article, the number of people on welfare
jumped in September. The numbers from last year to this year went from 92,000
cases and 155,000 last August to 94,000 cases and 158,000 people — a huge jump.
The experts here, who were quite neutral, said that "unemployment has always
been a significant lag factor," which confirms the leader's thesis when it
comes to economic trends. However, none of the other data indicates Toronto has
turned a corner to any significant degree.
Honourable senators, there is a valid, factually-based position that the
stimulus package as currently crafted is not working as it applies to jobless
figures for the largest city in Canada. These are the facts.
Will the government take a fresh look at its facts that the leader is
presenting here? The leader is given facts in a briefing notebook, but the facts
appear to be in conflict with independent observers.
An Hon. Senator: Who wrote that?
Senator Grafstein: His name is professor —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. Regrettably, honourable senators, the
time for Question Period is over. This might be an apt opportunity to underscore
that it is Question Period and not time for debate.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Pépin, for the second reading of Bill
S-235, An Act to provide the means to rationalize the governance of Canadian
businesses during the period of national emergency resulting from the global
financial crisis that is undermining Canada's economic stability.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I see that this bill is on the Order Paper at day 14. I have not
concluded my research on the subject, and I move adjournment for the remainder
of my time.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Banks:
That the Senate endorse the following Resolution, adopted by the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly at its 17th Annual Session, held at Astana, Kazakhstan,
from June 29 to July 3, 2008:
RESOLUTION ON WATER MANAGEMENT IN THE OSCE AREA
1. Reiterating the fundamental importance of the environmental
aspects of the OSCE concept of security,
2. Recognizing the link between natural resource problems and
disputes or conflicts within and between states,
3. Noting the opportunities presented by resource management
initiatives that address common environmental problems, including local
ownership and sub-regional programmes and co-operation amongst governments,
and which promote peace-building processes,
4. Recalling the OSCE's role in encouraging sustainable
environmental policies that promote peace and stability, specifically the
1975 Helsinki Final Act, the 1990 Concluding Document of the CSCE Conference
on Economic Co-operation in Europe (Bonn Document), the 1999 Charter
for European Security adopted at the Istanbul Summit, the 2003 OSCE
Strategy Document for the Economic and Environmental Dimension
(Maastricht Strategy), other OSCE relevant documents and decisions regarding
environmental issues, and the outcome of all previous Economic and
Environmental Fora, which have established a basis for the OSCE's work in
the area of environment and security,
5. Recognizing that water is of vital importance to human life and
that it is an element of the human right to life and dignity,
6. Noting the severity of water management issues and the scarcity
of water resources faced by many states in the OSCE region, affected in
particular by unregulated social and economic activities, including urban
development, industry, and agriculture,
7. Concerned by the impact of poor water management systems on
human health, the environment, the sustainability of biodiversity and
aquatic and land-based eco-systems, affecting political and socio-economic
8. Concerned by the more than 100 million people in the
pan-European region who continue to lack access to safe drinking water and
9. Concerned by those areas and people in the North American
region of the OSCE space without access to safe drinking water and
10. Concerned by the potential for water management issues to
escalate if options to address and reverse the problem are not duly
considered and implemented,
11. Recognizing the importance of good environmental governance
and responsible water management for the governments of participating
12. Applauding the work of the Preparatory Seminar for the Tenth
OSCE Economic Forum which took place in 2001 in Belgrade and which focused
on water resource management and the promotion of regional environmental
co-operation in South-Eastern Europe,
13. Applauding the work of the 15th OSCE Economic and
Environmental Forum and its preparatory meetings, "Key challenges to ensure
environmental security and sustainable development in the OSCE area: Water
Management," held in Zaragoza, Spain,
14. Applauding the OSCE's Madrid Declaration on Environment and
Security adopted at the 2007 Ministerial Council which draws attention
to water management as an environmental risk which may have a substantial
impact on security in the OSCE region and which might be more effectively
addressed within the framework of multilateral co-operation,
15. Expressing support for the efforts made to date by several
participating States of the OSCE to deal with the problem, including the
workshop on water management organized by the OSCE Centre in Almaty in May
2007 for experts from Central Asia and the Caucasus,
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
16. Calls on the OSCE participating States to undertake sound
water management to support sustainable environmental policies;
17. Recommends that the OSCE participating States pursue and apply
the measures necessary to implement the 2007 Madrid Declaration on
Environment and Security;
18. Recommends that such water management and oversight activities
include national, regional and local co-operative initiatives that share
best practices and provide support and assistance amongst each other;
19. Recommends that the OSCE participating States adopt the
multiple barrier approach to drinking water protection, with particular
attention to water tables, in their national, regional and local regulations
to ensure that people living throughout the OSCE space have access to safe
20. Recommends that the OSCE participating States consider
developing more effective national, sub-national and local results-based,
action-oriented and differentiated approaches to sound water management
21. Encourages the OSCE participating States to continue their
work with other regional and international institutions and organizations
with respect to water management solutions, providing for the establishment
of supranational arbitral commissions with decision-making powers delegated
by the States;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Prud'homme, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, that the words "That the Senate
endorse" at the beginning of the motion be replaced by the words "That the
Senate take note of".
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I really do not want
to speak to Item No. 8 per se. I would rather speak to the motion in amendment
moved by my honourable colleague Senator Prud'homme and seconded by the Deputy
Leader of the Government, Senator Comeau, which is that the Senate, rather than
endorse, replace the words "That the Senate take note of." The motion now
stands in the name of Senator Cools, but I would like to spend a few minutes
addressing that particular motion and the inappropriateness of that motion for
this resolution, if I might, with the honourable senator's consent.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Gladly. I yield the floor to Senator Grafstein. It
is my intention that, of course, the adjournment will revert back to me at the
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: On this issue, I would like to bring a matter
to the attention of honourable senators in order to eliminate in the future many
useless and sad debates. A decision was rendered by the Speaker pro tempore,
the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, on February 2, 2007, talking about who has
the right to speak and who can hold up debate, about which we had a debate — not
an acrimonious one — two weeks ago.
The Speaker pro tempore said:
This does not mean that the senator in whose name an item is adjourned has
a monopoly on speaking to it next and can therefore hold up debate. This
matter was addressed in a ruling by Speaker Molgat on December 10, 1996, which
appears on page 744 and 745 of the Journals. This ruling noted that,
although an item of other business may be adjourned in a particular senator's
name, this ". . . does not give that senator alone the right to decide if
that item will be proceeded with, though it has sometimes appeared that way
because of the courtesy usually extended by the Senate towards the senator who
adjourned the item. The ruling goes on to note that "Should the Senate decide
to debate the item, the senator who had adjourned it will usually be accorded
the opportunity to speak first; otherwise any other senator will be recognized
to speak." Therefore, a senator in whose name an item is adjourned has the
right to speak first when it is next debated. If, however, another senator is
ready to speak and the senator in whose name the item stands is not, the
senator who is ready to speak has every right to do so.
I would like to bring to our attention that this was a good ruling, and I
stand by that ruling. Therefore, Senator Cools, of course, will keep her place
as having adjourned the motion, but any senator can stand up, as Senator
Grafstein is doing, to say a few words on debate.
Senator Grafstein: I am very familiar with that ruling. That is why I
sought to address the Senate on this particular amendment. However, it is common
practice, not necessarily the rules, that one gives the senator who took the
adjournment the courtesy of asking whether or not he or she would consent to my
speaking in advance, which I have just done and which Senator Cools
affirmatively nodded to. I followed the procedure and I followed the custom and
the practices of the Senate.
I always appreciate any help the Honourable Senator Prud'homme can give me. I
need all the help from him that I can get.
Having said that, it is important that we deal with the substance of the
procedural motion as it relates to the major motion. The procedural motion is,
rather than to approve or to let the Senate opine on the substance of the
recommendations, that it would be better to just take note of it. I want to
speak to that narrow point as it applies to the subject matter of this bill.
What is the subject matter of this bill? It is the question of water as it
applies to our resources and as it applies to drinking water. In both
categories, with independent evidence before two, three or four committees of
the Senate, it has been demonstrated that the drinking water in this country is
continuing to deteriorate for lack of proper regulation and that the sources of
clean water continue to evaporate.
Let me mention three points on the substance, and I will try to be mercifully
In 2005, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in
a report to the other place, Chapter 4, entitled Safety of Drinking Water:
Federal Responsibilities, makes it clear that this area of supervision of
both drinking water and the sources of drinking water have been woefully
neglected by governments: the federal government in its pure jurisdiction, and
The report goes on to say at the end, which is the telling point, that the
voluntary guidelines in place for drinking water, in effect, are not clear and
not enforced, too little and too weak. That is all in the report of the
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in 2005.
As senators know, the question of debating the issue of drinking water and
the source of drinking water has been in the Senate now for almost a decade, all
because of our good friend Senator Watt. He brought that issue to my attention
because of the woeful situation as it applied and continues to apply to at least
two thirds of all the Aboriginal communities in this country, where they are at
medium or high risk in terms of the clean drinking water. Other senators have
been listening to some of this evidence, but I will return to it.
An article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on October 16, 2007 entitled
"Air gets dirtier, water even worse." That is referring to a Statistics Canada
report about the deterioration of our water.
Then there was an article in the Toronto Star, April 3, 2008 entitled
"Protect Canada's water, Ottawa urged." The Sierra Club environmental group
and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a progressive think-tank, also
participated. The article reads:
The study, which outlines the water shortage crisis in the United States,
says Canada's renewable freshwater supplies are roughly only 40 per cent of
what they had previously been thought to be — 2.6 per cent of the world's
supply rather than 6.5 per cent.
Therefore, there has been a two-thirds deterioration in our water sources.
The situation continues to deteriorate for our drinking water and its sources.
Practically every expert agrees with the thesis, but the question really is,
what to do about it.
In order to bring some best practices to Canada, this issue was debated and
has been debated at the OSCE for the better part of a decade. I must say they
have made tremendous progress.
I point out to Senator Prud'homme that one of the purposes of going to an
international meeting is to learn best practices of other countries and to see
whether or not we can learn from them. It is not a question of supporting or not
supporting; it is a question of bringing back those best practices to Canada.
The resolution that is the subject matter of this amendment was endorsed
unanimously. I participated in those debates, in committee, with 56 countries. I
only want to draw attention, not to the long preamble to which Senator
Prud'homme referred, but to the action plan. It is usually a few small
paragraphs saying what to do next.
I refer honourable senators only to what to do next. I refer only to the last
three points of six in the action plan. The points are not long; they are not
difficult to read. They appear on page 21 of the Order Paper.
19. Recommends that the OSCE participating States —
— of which Canada and the United States are equal members —
adopt the multiple barrier approach to drinking water protection, with
particular attention to water tables, in their national, regional and local
regulations to ensure that people living throughout the OSCE space —
— this includes Canada —
— have access to safe drinking water;
We do not.
20. Recommends that the OSCE participating States consider
developing more effective national, sub-national and local results-based,
action-oriented and differentiated approaches to sound water management.
We do not.
21. Encourages the OSCE participating States to continue their work
with other regional and international institutions and organizations with
respect to water management solutions, providing for the establishment of
supranational arbitral commissions with decision-making powers delegated by
Europe does this. We do not.
The reason we do not is clear. We have a belief in this country, which is
hard to overturn. That is why it is important, honourable senators, to have the
Senate speak with one voice. We need to say that we want action on these fronts.
We do not need only "to take note." We have taken note for a decade. We have
taken note at Walkerton; we have taken note at Battleford; we have taken note in
Aboriginal communities since the beginning of Confederation. Still, there is no
This is an action plan. It is not my action plan, it is an action plan
supported unanimously by 56 countries. I urge honourable senators not to adopt
this amendment, but rather to support the resolution fulsomely.
Senator Prud'homme: May I ask Senator Grafstein a question?
Senator Grafstein: Yes.
Senator Prud'homme: When one arrives with a motion asking us to say we
agree, then we agree. That is the end of the debate. Putting forward an
amendment has prompted the honourable senator to rise and explain something that
is extremely important. I know that Senator Cools will also participate and
bring more food to the table on an important matter.
Does the honourable senator accept that there was some good in having an
amendment by allowing him, therefore, to speak longer on this important issue to
which he has attached so much importance internationally and here in the Senate?
Senator Grafstein: I did not have an opportunity to respond yesterday
to Senator Prud'homme's comments about the difference between "condemnation"
and "taking note," which I intend to do.
However, I agree with him. One reason I disagreed with the honourable senator
yesterday is because he said that he read resolution after resolution that I put
on the Order Paper, as if the resolution came from me. This resolution does not
come from me. It comes from international organizations.
Why put the same resolution, or a variation of the resolution, on the Order
Paper year after year? The reason is exactly the reason he gave. It is to bring
to the attention of the Senate and, through the Senate, to the Canadian public
over and over again this matter of paramount importance, which has been growing.
Honourable senators, I agree with the first part of Senator Prud'homme's
comments. Hopefully he will agree with the second part to put multiple
resolutions on the Order Paper to convince him and other senators who are not up
to speed on some of these issues that this issue might perhaps commend itself to
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the question before the
house is the motion in amendment. Is it agreed that it continues to stand in the
name of the Honourable Senator Cools?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, November 19, 2009, at 1:30 p.m.)