The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform
the Senate that the Clerk has received a certificate from the Registrar General
of Canada showing that Nicholas William Taylor has been summoned to the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there was a senator
without, waiting to be introduced:
The following honourable senator was introduced; presented Her Majesty's writ
of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the
Clerk; and was seated:
Hon. Nicholas William Taylor, of Bon Accord, Alberta, introduced
between Hon. Joyce Fairbairn and Hon. Dan Hays.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the honourable senator
named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by
the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the
Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I am particularly proud today to introduce the newest member of our chamber, a
close friend of mine and a fellow Albertan, Senator Nick Taylor.
For those of you who do not know about our colleague, I promise you a unique
and special addition to the cast of personalities and characters who make up
this chamber. Born and raised during the depression in Bow Island, a rural town
tucked away in southern Alberta, Nick Taylor has been, and I know will continue
to be, a larger-than-life figure in our province.
He also has a deep knowledge and concern about issues which concern us in the
Senate: about agriculture, about the future needs of aboriginal Canadians. Early
on he mastered the energy industry as an almost legendary maverick, and his
dedication to that important sector of Alberta's economic life continues.
However, honourable senators, even the vigour he demonstrated in that pursuit
pales beside the perseverance with which he has pursued liberalism in Alberta.
He has a passionate belief in the liberal values of compassion and sharing, and
has never been shy or silent when an occasion presented itself to articulate his
views to fellow Albertans.
No chinooks were blowing for Alberta Liberals when Nick Taylor let his name
stand for his party throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and it is not overstating it
to say that recent successes we may have had in that province owe a great deal
to his unwavering determination.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Fairbairn: As an Alberta Liberal leader from 1974 through
1988, and as a member in the legislative assembly for the past 10 years, he
brought both expertise and energy into public life, and he brought something
more: an engaging combination of humour and wit, which, I promise, will enliven
our caucus and focus the attention of our colleagues opposite. As his long-time
opponent, Alberta Conservative Ken Kowalski, conceded only a few days ago in the
legislature, there are few individuals who can match him line for line on any
Senator Taylor, my colleagues and I welcome you to this chamber. We look
forward to working with you as you make your contribution in tackling the
important issues which face our country today and, indeed, our province of
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I do not know if there is the equivalent to a chinook in Quebec, but
as a Conservative from there I can certainly sympathize with the lack of warm
I am very pleased to join with the Leader of the Government in welcoming
Senator Nick Taylor and to wish him well as he takes his seat in this place. I
must say that I found his remarks following his appointment most refreshing, as
he made no effort to hide the fact that his many years of work in the Liberal
Party are what led to his appointment or, to use a word more in keeping with the
political vocabulary of Alberta, with his "election" by the Prime
Minister of Canada.
Despite the fact that he is sitting in the seat once occupied by Stan Waters,
he will no doubt agree, in time, that an election with only one voter has
certain attractions that may lead him to revise his views on a Triple-E Senate
which he has been advocating, at least until recently. He will soon find that
being non-elected in no way affects the fact that all here are equal, and that
this place is an efficient house of Parliament. His contributions will no doubt
contribute to making these characteristics even more evident.
Congratulations and all best wishes.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I would second the fine
words of my colleague Senator Fairbairn.
I have known Senator Taylor for many years, and I share one thing in common
with him: patience. I campaigned for the honourable senator in my other life
during the 1968 and 1972 campaigns and, later on, provincially. I have come to
learn about Alberta from people like him. That is why I never hesitate to go to
Alberta and Western Canada.
I am delighted that Senator Taylor is joining us today. He will be a
remarkable addition to our chamber. I wish to join with all of you in wishing
the best of times to his very large family - his many nice children and his very
charming wife - while in Ottawa. I look forward to working with Senator Taylor
on behalf of Canada. As I constantly say, Canada is under attack, and it is with
people like Senator Taylor and others that we can help build a better Canada.
Hon. Ron Ghitter: Honourable senators, I, too, wish to join in the
tributes welcoming my old friend Senator Taylor to the red chamber. A newspaper
headline on his appointment to the Senate which reads "Some well-deserved
patronage" is indicative that the media agrees with this appointment, and
says much about the acceptability of this honourable gentleman to our chamber.
Throughout Alberta, wherever I have heard comments about the appointment of
Senator Taylor, the remarks have been of the fondest admiration and respect for
the work this gentleman has done within my province.
I have known Senator Taylor, his wife Margaret and many of their children for
many years. I obtained my first experience in political life because of Senator
Taylor. In 1968, the year of Trudeaumania - one of the many times that Senator
Taylor ran for political office and, I might add, was unsuccessful - I fought my
first political battle working for one Douglas Harkness. I am sure Senator
Taylor will recall. I learned all the secrets of good campaigning: how to tear
down signs at two in the morning and all the other things one learns in
political campaigns, which I would never acknowledge before my appointment here,
of course. That is one confession one can make here.
Senator Taylor was a formidable candidate. I remember working against him
again some four years later when he ran against one Harvie Andre, whom in those
days we called "Harvie Who." That was another occasion when it was
very difficult to be a Liberal in the Province of Alberta, let alone run for
office. Being a Liberal in those days, and in subsequent years, was not an easy
The man's perseverance prevailed. I cannot imagine what it must have been
like to be in the wilderness for 14 years, leading the Liberal Party in Alberta,
looking down from the legislature gallery, wanting to be down there but not
having a seat. He carried on through the National Energy Program days when,
again, Liberals in Alberta were not too popular. However, he persevered. He was
always a man of honour, of integrity and, above all, of humour and goodwill.
Two years after finally being elected to the Alberta legislature in 1986, he
found that the leadership of the party which he had worked so hard to maintain
was no longer his. Again with grace, good humour, a lot of self respect and
esteem, he stepped down. However, he stayed on in the Legislature of Alberta and
continued to serve Albertans well.
May I say to you, senator, and to your good wife and your family, how welcome
you are here in Ottawa. I look forward to participating in the deliberations of
the Senate with you, and I share with all Albertans our congratulations in
having you join us. You are indeed welcome.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I have known Nick Taylor
for 31 years, and I first met him through his daughter Patrice, who is with us
today. I was teaching at St. Mary's Girls' High School, and Patrice Taylor was
in my class. At some point I must have admitted to the fact that I was a
Liberal, because at parent-teacher night, Nick Taylor arrived at the school in
order to find out who had had the courage to admit in Alberta that she was a
Liberal. We had our first exchange at that point.
We both became very active in the Liberal Party. He had already earned his
stripes. In 1976, as president of the Liberal Party in Alberta, I became Nick
Taylor's first president. He persuaded me in a weak moment to run in Calgary
Elbow, and he was running in Calgary Glenmore. It was the constituency in which
both Nick and I lived, so at least I knew that I had Nick's and Peg's votes, and
perhaps Patrice's vote because I think she was old enough. I thought I had my
husband John's vote.
We continued our relationship over the years, even after I moved to Manitoba
and became the leader of the party in that province, and while he was the leader
of the party in Alberta.
It is good to have such a wonderful friend of so many years here in this
chamber, and I am sure that Nick will make an extraordinary contribution to this
chamber, as he and his family have, quite frankly, to the lives of so many.
Hon. Dan Hays: Honourable senators, I should like to join with those
who have welcomed Senator Taylor. I do not know how long I have known Nick. I
first came to know him well when the two of us ran for nomination in 1968. He
won; I did not.
Nick, it is good to see you in the Parliament of Canada. You did not win the
election either, probably because of the campaign tactics of Senator Ghitter and
Nick, you are particularly welcome as another senator who has strong ties to
rural Canada. Someone who comes from the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and had
offices in Morinville, Bon Accord, Smokey Lake, Redwater and Gibbons will bring
a much needed perspective on rural issues to this house and to Parliament.
It is also impressive to see members from that other place whom you have
attracted to our chamber today, as they do not come here often. Members Deborah
Grey, Ray Speaker and Judy Bethel have come here to welcome you.
Nick, I welcome you as well, and look forward to working with you. Welcome to
Ottawa, and may you enjoy the four-hour trips back and forth to Alberta.
Tributes on Appointment as
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Alberta
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it
is with mixed emotions that I rise today to say goodbye to a remarkable
colleague and a dear friend, Bud Olson. As you are all aware, he has left this
chamber to serve our country in a new role as Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta,
and he is here with Lucille to say farewell to us all.
With his departure, we are saying goodbye to a distinguished and committed
parliamentarian who has represented Canada and, most particularly, his beloved
Alberta for over four decades. I am saying goodbye to a trusted and respected
neighbour whom I have had the very good fortune to know and to work with over a
period of some 34 years.
The Prime Minister, in my view, could not have made a better choice than Bud
Olson. His Alberta roots are rural and run deep, and in all the years he has
spent on the federal scene, he has never neglected to maintain and nurture those
roots. In the words of a mutual Lethbridge friend and writer, Ron Watmough, Bud
... knows every itch of barley beards down the back on a sweating day of
harvest, the hard ride of the roundup, the weight of hay bales at the end of a
long day and skinned shins barked against the end of the cultivator. He knows
the anxiety of slow sales of crops against fast-building bills and the headaches
at income tax time. But he also understands the fresh feeling of independence,
the free life - being your own boss, and the satisfaction of making two blades
of grass grow where once there was one. And he has known these things all his
The values instilled by these experiences brought him to the House of Commons
as an eager young member of Parliament in 1957 to represent the Medicine Hat
riding for the Social Credit Party. As a young reporter, I covered Bud's early
years in the 1960s when minority governments provided some of the most
impassioned and boisterous politics this country has ever seen. It is fair to
say that Bud, who was then house leader for the Social Credit Party, mastered
those turbulent years as one of the most skilled debaters and procedural experts
of the day.
In 1967, he joined the Liberal Party and has served our past governments with
dedication and distinction as Minister of Agriculture and Economic and Regional
Development, and, indeed, Leader of the Government in this chamber.
During his Senate years, he never hesitated to deliver what can only be
described as some of the most pointed lessons on farming and trade this chamber
has ever heard, and I am sure Senator Murray in particular will recall with some
emotion the aggressive and thunderous tones with which those lectures were
However, perhaps the most important lesson we learned from Bud Olson was the
example he set through his representation of his region. The voices of Albertans
were always articulated with purpose, passion and pride.
Bud will continue to serve the people of Alberta. He has always been an
activist, and I know that as Lieutenant-Governor he will want to get out to all
corners of Alberta to participate with enthusiasm in the special events of those
Honourable senators, no farewell to Bud would be complete without recognizing
the tremendous support that he has received from his family during these Ottawa
years. Lucille, his wife of almost 50 years, has been both his companion and his
colleague, and it is with great affection and admiration that I wish her well. I
know she will add a special dimension to the role of Lieutenant-Governor.
We send Bud home with our best wishes and our gratitude for his contribution
in this place. His presence and his friendship will be missed by all of us on
this side of the chamber and, I suspect, by all those in the Senate who have
come to know and appreciate him.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, there is no question that all of us will miss Senator Olson and the
style which he brought to Parliament, a style which is less in fashion than it
used to be. He could be blunt, partisan, unusually demonstrative, a defender of
the indefensible, and often annoying during a sitting either in the chamber or
in committee. However, behind this colourful behaviour lies a most knowledgeable
and well-informed individual. I, for one, always listened with care whenever he
spoke on matters relating to agriculture, a field which few in Canada know as
well as he.
I must add, however, that for the last two years I have been watching him
with great sympathy as he sat across from us, marvelling at his stoicism and
silence in the face of the gradual dismantling of a number of agricultural
policies which he helped to create as a member of a Liberal government which was
then faithful to its principles. What a relief it must be for him not to have to
witness firsthand further renunciations of Liberal Party values in an area in
which he laboured so hard.
No one who was present at the time can forget Senator Olson's most incredible
harangue, one which is not on the record since it took place as the Senate was
waiting to give Royal Assent to the GST bill; a Royal Assent which, as it turned
out, did not take place that day, although not because of our colleague's plea.
Senator Olson, for what appeared to be an eternity, pleaded with the
representative of the Governor General not to give the nod to that bill since,
according to him and to others on their side of the chamber, that bill had been
passed under circumstances which brought dishonour to the whole parliamentary
system. It was an unprecedented performance, given unchallenged, since nothing
could stop his words which dripped with passion and conviction. Now, some five
years hence, he has been called upon to be the Queen's representative in
Alberta, proving, if nothing else, that Her Majesty is, indeed, a most forgiving
I wish to express to Senator Olson all of our best wishes as he assumes his
new responsibilities, and God save the Queen!
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Dan Hays: Honourable senators, it seems strange to be in this
chamber without Senator Olson on the floor, or without seeing a desk bearing his
name. However, on this day, when he is still with us in the gallery at least, it
is great to have an opportunity to say to all honourable senators how much I
will miss Senator Olson.
While listening to Senator Lynch-Staunton, I was almost surprised that
Senator Olson did not break the rule and heckle the honourable senator from the
gallery. I suspect that were he not about to be the Lieutenant-Governor of
Alberta, he probably would have broken the rule.
Senator Olson's biographical data has been quite well covered. However, I
should like to share with honourable senators a couple of anecdotes starting
first with one in which Senator Olson served as co-chair of the Canada-U.S.
Inter-Parliamentary Group. For his not too well-known views on greenhouse gas
emissions and their effect on global warming, he acquired the nickname "Dr.
Ozone." The contributions that he made for which he acquired the nickname
and those that he made in this chamber demonstrate a man of enormous will, one
who is extremely well informed and one who is fiercely loyal and dedicated to
his province and his country. It is most fitting that he will be serving as the
Queen's representative in Alberta.
Not many will remember that Senator Olson was well known as a pilot of
ultralight planes. I am not sure whether he has returned to that endeavour. I
remember at one of his famous birthday parties he was talking about ultralight
piloting in the context of being interested in what he called
"gee-whiz" things. I assume he will always be interested in such
things. He described his experiences as wonderful, and said that flying in such
a plane was like soaring with the eagles, which prompted this comment from a
close relative in the audience - and I will not say who it was: "How do you
fly like an eagle when you're a turkey?"
Senator Olson flew like an eagle in this chamber. I know that he will serve
all Albertans and all Canadians well in his new posting. I join with other
honourable senators in wishing him the best.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, since the Leader of the
Government has brought my name into this, I will say a word - which is something
that I intended to do in any case.
A few days ago, when on the CBC radio news at noon I heard the announcement
of Senator Olson's appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta, I immediately
sent a fax to him, telling him how utterly bereft his departure from this
chamber will leave me - as indeed, it will.
From 1980 to 1984, when Senator Olson was a minister of the Crown and I sat
on the opposition side, I seldom let a day go by without calling him to account
for the policies of the Trudeau government - and some policies over which the
Trudeau government had very little control at all, including those of the Bank
Between 1984 and 1993, when our roles were reversed and Senator Olson was on
this side of the chamber, he returned the compliment with great gusto. I think
we both understand - I think we all understand - that all of us on whatever side
have a constitutional role to play in this institution. We try to exercise our
responsibilities as well and as conscientiously as we can.
Senator Olson, whether in opposition or as a minister of the Crown, was
exemplary in the discharge of his duties as a legislator. Further, the exercise
of his responsibilities took some toll on his health some years ago. I think he
has fully recovered now, and I am glad to know that that is the case.
He has given a lot to his province, to his country and to this institution.
He will make an excellent Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta as he was an excellent
senator. I join with his other friends and colleagues here in wishing him much
good health and every satisfaction in the exercise of the high responsibilities
to which he has now been called.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Len Marchand: Honourable senators, I wish to concur in the many
great speeches that have been given here today concerning Senator Bud Olson.
Much of the information about Bud has already been put on the record by Senators
Fairbairn, Lynch-Staunton and others.
I first met Bud in about 1965 when I was an assistant to the Honourable
Arthur Laing. I used to sit in the galleries in the other place and watch Bud as
he waxed eloquent as Socred house leader. I observed then what great knowledge
he had of the rules in the other place, as he had in this place.
In 1968, I was elected to the House of Commons. At that time, Bud was the
Minister of Agriculture. He was of great help to me. I have an agricultural
background, something that not many people know. There are many ranchers in my
constituency, and Senator Olson was immensely helpful to me in looking after
those ranchers, although they did not vote for us often. At any rate, we served
I remember distinctly the Kamloops Exhibition Association. Senator Olson so
generously found some money to help us put it together, and it is still
functioning well as a multi-purpose agricultural exhibition facility in
Senator Olson has always been known as "Bud," but his initials are
H.A. I do not know how many people know that those initials stand for Horace
Andrew. Many years ago I asked him, "What is your real name, Bud?" He
said, "Well, you better look it up," and I did.
Senator Olson has been a good friend over the years. He is a knowledgeable
and decent parliamentarian. He is a man of great integrity and great honesty,
and I wish him and Lucille well in their new life. Senator Bud Olson has served
the Senate, the House of Commons and the country extremely well. I know that he
will serve extremely well in his new duties as the Queen's representative in
Good luck, Bud and Lucille. We will be out to visit.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to join in this
tribute to our dear Senator Bud Olson, who leaves the Senate to take the new
call to the office of Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. I congratulate him from
the bottom of my heart. I also join in congratulating his wife, Lucille, whom I
have come to know quite well. She is a delightful and splendid woman.
Honourable senators, Senator Olson and I are neighbours. We share a corridor
downstairs. Our offices are next door to each other. Senator Olson has been a
Senator Olson, I must confess to all that I have learned well about your
penchant for cake and pink ice cream and your temptations therein. I must also
confess that I have shared that temptation with you on several occasions.
Honourable senators, I joined the Senate in 1984, when Senator Olson was the
Leader of the Government. However, in my first few days in this chamber he was
away due to illness. On his return, he telephoned me and called me to his office
to offer his welcome. It was a meeting that I remember well and one that I
Senator Olson is a lofty man who has served this country ably and willingly
in many capacities. I have known him only as a friend, and I thank God for that.
I am pleased that he has been called to the task of Her Majesty's representative
in Alberta. He is most deserving, and I know he will enhance the position.
As honourable senators know, I am a monarchist who believes that the highest
office of the land is that of the sovereign's representative. I join honourable
senators on both sides of this chamber in extending our finest wishes to Senator
Olson and his wife Lucille as they embark on their new duties in Alberta, that
most beautiful province of Canada.
As a token of my appreciation, I offer Senator Olson and his wife this old
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields and,
until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Shalom. I shall miss my neighbour
Hon. William M. Kelly: Honourable senators, I wish to join with the
others who have spoken about Senator Bud Olson. Everything that has been said in
his favour is certainly well deserved.
Senator Olson was the Leader of the Government in this chamber when I joined
the Senate in 1982. I watched him closely, since I knew so little about
parliamentary procedure and I thought I would learn from Senator Olson. I did
learn a fair number of things, most particularly how to use the Question Period.
Senator Olson and I differed often on the rule that suggests that a question
can be preceded by a brief preamble. Senator Olson's brief preambles were seldom
shorter than 45 minutes. Regularly I would rise on a point of order to challenge
him on this rule, only to find that he would take the opportunity to stand up
and politely set out to explain to me why he needed a little time to state what
he had already stated. He would state it all over again, and we would be
subjected to 45 minutes more. I will miss that part of his personality very
much. Senator Marchand mentioned Senator Olson's knowledge of the rules. That
was one rule Senator Olson never learned, it seems to me.
Personally, I will miss Senator Olson a great deal. I think his appointment
is wonderful. I must say, though, that when he was Leader of the Government, I
was impressed with the dignity he displayed. He has a grand manner about him.
Can you imagine, honourable senators, how that will translate as
Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta? My God, he will be terribly impressive.
Senator Olson, we will miss you a great deal. I wish you the best of health
for as long as you possibly can have it. I hope you will visit us from time to
time. I wish that there were some process by which you could, every now and
again, invade this chamber and once again lecture us on all the matters you feel
you should lecture us on.
The one point made again and again today is the devotion with which Senator
Olson has represented his region. That was evident every time he stood up. In so
doing, he has set an example for many of us to follow.
Best wishes, Bud.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I wish to join with other
senators in paying tribute today to Senator Bud Olson. Good luck, Senator Olson.
We will miss you. You are a great guy.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, today I would like to
bring to your attention National Francophonie Week, held this year from March 20
to March 26.
Canada's great francophone community is a reflection of the diversity which
constitutes this country's originality and strength. Eight and one half million
of our fellow Canadians, in all of this country's regions, are French-speaking:
9 per cent in the Yukon, 6 per cent in British Columbia, 7 per cent in Alberta,
5 per cent in Saskatchewan, 9 per cent in Manitoba, 12 per cent in Ontario, 94
per cent in Quebec, 3 per cent in Newfoundland, 10 per cent in Prince Edward
Island, 9 per cent in Nova Scotia, and 42 per cent in New Brunswick.
Let us salute the excellence of Canada's francophone artists, researchers,
athletes and business people.
Let us salute as well all of those men and women who, through their daily
lives, contribute to our collective cultural wealth. This week affords us an
opportunity to examine what Canada's francophone culture represents to our
country. For some Canadians, this is an opportunity to renew our pride of
belonging, and for others, an opportunity to discover another culture in all of
its multiple facets.
We can be proud of the Francophonie community's artists, researchers,
athletes, business people, and the many others whose endeavours have contributed
to the excellence of life in Canada.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, in the budget plan tabled in
the other place on March 6, 1996, the Minister of Finance announced changes to
the child support guidelines in Canada. I am sure all senators would agree that
changes made regarding more enforcement and standardization of child support
payments are an improvement, and are being done in the best interests of all
children. All of us here are concerned about the welfare of children, and I have
spoken frequently in the past regarding this topic. While I commend the
government for moving in this direction, I still feel that the government could,
and should, do more to protect children.
There is, however, one change to the child support rules which is of concern;
that is, the new tax treatment of child support payments. After May 1, 1997, a
custodial parent will not have to pay tax on child support payments, and the
non-custodial parent, the payer of the child support, will no longer be able to
get the tax deduction.
Speaking about these proposed changes, the Minister of Justice says that
child support payments are for children and are not income for parents. He also
said that in making these changes he was not preoccupied so much with the
winners or losers as with the best interests of children.
I should like to ask the Minister of Justice how it is in the best interests
of children if one parent, and in many cases both parents, will have less
disposable income as a result of these proposed changes? Under the proposed
changes, non-custodial parents will have less disposable income than before. As
well, many lower-income custodial parents, mostly women, will receive less
income because they are in a lower tax bracket than the providers of support,
who are mostly men. According to the government's own figures, this is true in
approximately 60 per cent of cases in Canada. The Minister of Justice readily
admits that in some cases both parents will lose as a result of these changes,
but he is unable to tell us how many and how much money will be lost.
As well, can the minister explain to Canadians how this is fair to children
of single parent families not as a result of divorce, who are not eligible to
receive the same supposed tax benefits? Thus far, the government has only deemed
divorced parents as eligible.
The best thing Canadians can say about their tax system is that it is fair to
all Canadians. That is to say, all who receive income pay tax on that income.
The tax system is and should continue to be the means by which governments
obtain revenue, and not a tool for correcting social inadequacies. In providing
a special exemption in the taxation system for only certain segments of the
population, the government is creating a dangerous precedent that could
needlessly cause many Canadians to go to court.
I would like to know why the Minister of Justice thinks it is advantageous to
penalize those Canadians who make their child support payments. Is he not
fearful that these proposed changes may be a deterrent to non-custodial parents
to pay support in the future? Reason would dictate that the higher the level of
payment, the more difficult it will be to get at it.
In finding fault with this element of the proposed changes to the child
support rules in the recent budget, I am not saying that children of
single-parent families do not require more assistance. All I am saying is that
this specific element of the child support package is the wrong approach, and
the government should re-examine its policy in this regard. Even the Supreme
Court of Canada realized that the tax system is not the proper place to deal
with this issue when it ruled on the Suzanne Thibodeau case.
However, there is also another underlying concern that has come about as a
result of this issue; that is, no one seems to be speaking for the thousands of
Canadians who each month fulfil their responsibility by paying their child
support. The media only report on those who do not, the so-called "deadbeat
dads." We never hear about those who do pay, and who will be hurt under
these proposed changes.
It would seem that the government is saying to those Canadians who are in the
position of being non-custodial parents that they have no voice, no rights, only
Tributes on Performance of Duties
as High Commissioner to London
Hon. William M. Kelly: Honourable senators, I will be brief. On February
25 and 26, I participated in a delegation that travelled to London to meet with
officials of the EBRD, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Canada
is one of the countries that assists in the capitalization of that bank. I will
report in more detail on the delegation, but I should like to relate something
that I think is important for honourable senators to know regarding our
colleague Royce Frith, who is currently High Commissioner.
We met Sunday evening at the residence of the High Commissioner, and Royce
had arranged to have present John Coleman, who is the director of that bank
representing Canada. We had a thorough briefing. We met with the officials the
following day, and that evening we came back to meet with officials at the High
Commission. Royce was absent as he was on other duties, and a very interesting
thing occurred. The officials with whom we met were senior officials of the
commission, and they were very vocal in their admiration for our High
One of the big problems the High Commission has is getting Canada's position
stated clearly. In the highly competitive international trade environment over
there, a lot of misinformation comes out from time to time, whether it is on
forest management in B.C. or the current issue regarding the seals or, indeed,
the fish situation. Taking nothing away from Minister Tobin, the view of the
officials at the High Commission was that this High Commissioner has
demonstrated a greater capacity in public advocacy than any they remember in the
past. He has developed a capacity to represent Canada quickly when
misinformation comes out.
On the fish situation, they credit our High Commissioner, more even than the
minister, with the acceptance in the U.K., and indeed in the European Union, of
Canada's position in that circumstance. It made me very proud to hear this kind
of thing spoken.
I know Roy MacLaren will do an excellent job taking over from ex-Senator
Frith, but I must say one thing for sure: Royce Frith will be a very hard act to
follow. I thought all of us as ex-colleagues should know the opinion of the
people who are working with him these days.
Appendix to Third Report of
Tabled and Printed
Hon. Finlay MacDonald: Honourable senators, just before prorogation, on
February 1 to be exact, I was speaking on the consideration of the final report
of the Special Senate Committee on the Pearson Airport Agreement. At that time,
I gave notice of my intention to file an appendix to my remarks as soon as they
could be submitted in both official languages. That has now been done. In
accordance with rule 28(4), I ask leave that this supplementary information be
tabled and printed as an appendix to today's Debates of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee on
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:
Tuesday, March 19, 1996
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has
the honour to present its
Your Committee recommends that Senators be reimbursed for taxi expenses incurred
on public business while in Ottawa to a maximum of $25 per trip.
Your Committee also recommends that these expenses be charged to the
Statutory Vote and that taxi expenses be reimbursed on a monthly basis upon the
submission of receipts to the Senate Finance Directorate indicating the amount
CONSIGLIO DI NINO Deputy Chair
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Di Nino, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104 of the
Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. This report deals with the
expenses incurred by the committee during the First Session of the Thirty-fifth
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received
from the House of Commons with Bill C-8, respecting the control of certain
drugs, their precursors and other substances and to amend certain other Acts and
repeal the Narcotic Control Act in consequence thereof.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Poulin, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading on Thursday, March 21, 1996.
Notice of Motion to Authorize
National Finance Committee to Study Main Estimates, 1996-97, and Supplementary
Estimates (B), 1995-96
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, I give notice that
tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, 1996, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to
examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Estimates for the fiscal
year ending the 31st March, 1997, with the exception of Parliament Vote 10 and
Privy Council Vote 25; and the expenditures set out in the Supplementary
Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending the 31st March, 1996.
Appointment of Special Joint
Committee-Notice of Motion
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, I give notice that on
Thursday next, March 21, 1996, I will move:
That the Senate do unite with the House of Commons in the appointment of a
Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons to develop a Code
of Conduct to guide Senators and Members of the House of Commons in reconciling
their official responsibilities with their personal interests, including their
dealings with lobbyists;
That seven Members of the Senate and fourteen Members of the House of Commons
be members of the Committee;
That the Committee be directed to consult broadly and review the approaches
taken with respect to these issues in Canada and in other jurisdictions with
comparable systems of government;
That the papers and evidence received and taken on the subject during the
First Session of the Thirty-fifth Parliament be referred to the Committee;
That the Committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of
That the Committee have the power to report from time to time, to send for
persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence as may be
ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee have the power to retain the services of expert,
professional, technical and clerical staff;
That the quorum of the Committee be eleven members, whenever a vote,
resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented,
and that the Joint Chairpersons be authorized to hold meetings, to receive
evidence and authorize the printing thereof, whenever six members are present,
so long as both Houses are represented;
That the Committee be empowered to appoint, from among its members, such
sub-committees as may be deemed advisable, and to delegate to such
sub-committees all or any of its power, except the power to report to the Senate
and House of Commons;
That the Committee be empowered to authorize television and radio
broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings;
That the Committee present its final report no later than June 21, 1996;
That, notwithstanding usual practices, if the Senate is not sitting when the
final report of the Committee is completed, the report may be deposited with the
Clerk of the Senate and it shall thereupon be deemed to have been tabled in the
That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Fourth Annual Asia Pacific
Parliamentary Forum, Cha-am, Thailand-Report Tabled
Hon. Dan Hays: Honourable senators, I am pleased to table in both
official languages the report of the delegation of the Canada-Japan
Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Fourth Annual
Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in Cha-am, Thailand, from
January 15 to 19, 1996.
Notice of Motion to Authorize
Committee to Study State Of Canadian Financial System
Hon. Senator Kirby: Honourable senators, I give notice that on Wednesday
next, March 20, 1996, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be
authorized to examine and report upon the present state of the financial system
That the papers and evidence received and taken on the subject during the
First Session of the Thirty-fifth Parliament and any other relevant
parliamentary papers and evidence on the said subject be referred to the
That the Committee be empowered to permit coverage by electronic media of its
public proceedings with the least possible disruption of its hearings; and
That the Committee submit its final report no later than December 12, 1996.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 57(2), I
give notice that on Thursday next, March 21, 1996, I will call the attention of
the Senate to the state of palliative care services in Canada.
Incident Involving Attack on Prime
Minister-Notice of Inquiry
Hon. William M. Kelly: Honourable senators, I give notice that on
Thursday, March 21, 1996, I will call the attention of the Senate to the
altercation between the Prime Minister and a demonstrator in Jacques Cartier
Park on January 15, 1996.
Disparity in Statements of Federal
and Provincial Ministers-Government Position
Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, my question relates to
statements made by the federal Minister of Human Resources Development that the
provinces have rejected the proposal for a national child care plan because they
found it to be unacceptable. However, according to reports, New Brunswick's
Minister for Human Resources says that New Brunswick did not reject the idea;
they are simply interested in hearing more of the details.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate determine whether a
discrepancy exists in these statements, and whether the minister is prepared to
meet with provinces such as New Brunswick to work out any differences in order
to arrive at a suitable plan?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I know that the Minister of Human Resources Development has been holding
discussions with a variety of provinces in the short time that he has held that
portfolio. I do not know whether he has completed all of his discussions or
whether he will be entertaining further conversations with his provincial
colleagues. He has certainly been very interested in pursuing the child care
initiative that was placed before ministers prior to the end of last year by his
predecessor. I will need to check with my colleague to find out exactly what the
continuing nature of his discussions may be.
Child Support-Changes to
Guidelines-Financial Impact on Parents-Government Position
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is for the
government leader in the Senate and deals with the proposed changes to the child
support guidelines announced in the recent budget, of which I previously spoke.
After May 1, 1997, the custodial parent will not be required to pay tax on
child support payments and the non-custodial parent, the payer of the child
support, will no longer be allowed to make that tax deduction.
In all cases, under the proposed changes, non-custodial parents will have
less disposable income than before. As well, under these same changes many
lower-income custodial parents, mostly women, as I pointed out earlier, will
receive less income because they are in a lower tax bracket than the payers of
the support, who are mostly men.
The Minister of Justice readily admits that in some cases both parents will
lose as a result of these changes. According to the government's own figures,
this is true in approximately 60 per cent of cases in Canada.
My question for the Leader of the Government is this: Is the government
prepared to tell us how many women will be affected negatively by these changes
and how much less income they will receive in child support each month?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I am prepared to pursue my honourable friend's question. As he will know, there
is more than one element in the new package of child support proposals. The tax
proposals are but one element. I will have to ascertain whether there is any
precise indication of numbers and amounts that can be provided at this point in
As my honourable friend may know, the public was canvassed widely about this
proposal. As well, there was also a federal, provincial and territorial review
of the issue. There is a new set of guidelines to be used in the process which
is intended to provide the parents, the lawyers and, ultimately, the children
who are the recipients and the reason for these changes, with a fairer and more
equitable set of principles on which to make judgments concerning awards.
Another aspect which is important to the new policy is the money that will be
saved as a result of this process. I believe my honourable friend mentioned that
he had difficulty with the fact that, perhaps, certain advantages will be given
to people who have suffered the difficulties which broken families bring.
However, there are families who are struggling together who also need
assistance. One of the fundamental changes in this proposal will see funds
redirected through a doubling of the maximum of the working income supplement
under the child benefits. Not only will this provide support to those who are
single parents but it will also be directed to families who are in the lower
income brackets. It is believed that some 700,000 people will be affected by
this measure. Of those, it is estimated that one-third are single-parent
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I hope the statement which
says that lawyers will be the winners and children will be the losers is wrong.
What concerns me and other Canadians who have spoken to me about this issue
is the uncertainty with which the Minister of Justice approached this subject
after the budget speech. He was totally uncertain about it. He could not give
figures. He did not know how it would impact people. He did not know how many
people would lose as a result of this measure, especially women in lower income
If the government has done the extensive studies which the Leader of the
Government in the Senate has indicated, why would they not have this pertinent
information before bringing forward such a package? The minister talks of
helping regular couples. We are dealing with two different things and the
minister is mixing them together. We are dealing with people who are separated.
We are dealing with the payers of support, whether they be men or women. They
are non-custodial parents. It is they who will be penalized. We do not know the
Why would the government go into a program like this when, as we saw on
television, the Minister of Justice was not able to answer these questions which
are so pertinent to all Canadians?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I should like to tell my
honourable friend that the whole reason for moving ahead with this policy is
that the children of these unfortunate situations should come first - certainly
not the lawyers. My honourable friend can take that as fundamental in the
discussion on this issue.
I will pass on my friend's comments to the Minister of Justice. I will
attempt to obtain from the department the kind of information he seeks. However,
he must realize that in these issues a great deal depends on the guidelines and
how they operate in terms of settlements in individual cases. It may be
difficult to obtain precise numerical answers for my honourable friend. The
whole purpose of the policy is to benefit children.
In the balance between custodial and non-custodial parents, my honourable
friend must remember that in the last couple of years the custodial parent has
certainly been seeking to have some kind of resolution following the Supreme
Court decision in the Thibodeau case. Such a resolution would put them in
the position of not having to pay taxes and work out the tax system for
themselves. In this case, their interests have been heard. They will not be
forced to pay taxes on the awards that they receive through the system.
The whole policy must be seen as a package. I would not simply take the
working income supplement and toss it aside; it is very much a part of this
package. It is targeted to the people who are suffering the most at the lower
levels of working families, the single-parent families. I do not believe that
matter can be pushed aside. It is very much part of the whole package that the
government has put forward in the best interests of the child. That has been the
motivation which has guided the policy.
Child Support-Changes to
Guidelines-Timing for Dissemination of Particulars-Government Position
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I wish to ask a
supplementary question on this subject. If the best interest of children is the
issue in this new proposal, can the Leader of the Government in the Senate
explain why there is so much uncertainty with respect to it? There is
uncertainty about the guidelines and who will be covered by them. The Minister
of Justice has not been able to answer these questions.
We have spent years trying to put in place a unified family court system
where the people in the courtrooms have, in most cases, attempted to facilitate
some resolution so that the parents are not constantly at odds and using the
children as ploys. While the intent of the government may be laudable in terms
of helping women in certain situations, it has thrown many families into
disarray and their financial situation into question. As a result, I am afraid
that children will suffer.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise us when we will know
what these so-called guidelines are? Will there be statements to let the people
know just what this means to them? What we do not need in this country is more
uncertainty, particularly around the subject of children. When will all the
answers be forthcoming? Can we begin very shortly to talk with certainty about
the guidelines and what their intent will be?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I agree with my honourable friend that we do not need a situation in which
uncertainty or misunderstanding causes any further stress than is already in the
situations about which we are speaking.
I will do my best to speak with my colleague and try to get further
information, as well as information of greater certainty on the timing of
disseminating that information to those across the country who need it.
Senator Andreychuk: Perhaps excluding myself but including all other
judges and lawyers who work day-to-day on family matters particularly in the
provincial courts, I hope that the signal from the minister will include the
fact that the problem is not a lack of confidence in the judges. There seems to
be an erosion of the confidence of the role of judges. I, for one, would want it
stated on the record that there have been countless cases where judges have paid
more attention to attempting to find a resolution between the parties than to
strictly imposing the law in its rawest form.
Will there be a signal from the Minister of Justice that he has confidence in
the judiciary who have handled, and continue to handle, these very emotional and
Senator Fairbairn: I do not believe in any way, shape, or form that
there should even be a question of the Minister of Justice not having confidence
in the judges. The issue that the government has been grappling with, and it is
not a new question, was to try to bring about a better, fairer, and, in terms of
the guidelines, a more flexible system within which the judiciary can work. I do
not believe there is any suggestion on the part of my colleague or anyone else
in the government of a lack of confidence in the judicial system at any level in
this country which deals with these problems.
Hon. Erminie J. Cohen: Honourable senators, my question has to do with
this government's dismal record of job creation. When elected in 1993, the
Liberals had the answer for Canada's unemployed, and it was the infrastructure
program. This $6 million plan would kick-start the economy and create countless
thousands of jobs for the country's unemployed. We are well aware of the results
of this $6 million boondoggle: canoe museums, monkey cages, and increased public
debt for all three levels of government. Unfortunately, there have been very few
jobs. In fact, if one were to take into account the tens of thousands of
positions eliminated by the federal government in comparison with those created
by the infrastructure program, I am afraid the net results are close to nil.
The government, aware of its failings, now has a new plan, albeit a somewhat
less ambitious one, and that is to create summer jobs for Canada's youth. This
is an admirable goal, but what about long-term jobs for those less youthful? Is
the absence of a plan for these people simply an indication that the federal
government has given up on these people? What happened to the dignity of a job?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): The simple answer to
my friend's question is that the concern for jobs, the creation of jobs, the
finding of full-time jobs and the training for jobs remain at the centre of this
I can perhaps obtain some further information for my friend on the cumulative
effect of the infrastructure program. All too often we are enticed by headlines
and news reports which pick out of the long list of accomplishments of this
program; the accomplishments that may, here in Ottawa, within the confines of
these illustrious walls, seem to be insignificant. I think of one example that
happened last week in the Province of Alberta. A small community was ridiculed
because it had as an infrastructure program the purchase of a community lawn
mower. This was considered to be, perhaps, a waste of money.
I can tell my honourable friend that in communities large and small across
this country, things of need to those communities have been made possible by
combining the resources of three levels of government. In my province, the
infrastructure program has worked through a laudable meeting of minds from these
three levels of government so that, on a per capita basis, every community in
Alberta, large and small, has benefitted from this program. The majority of the
projects have been solid, traditional infrastructure programs. A week ago in my
own home town, the most innovative infrastructure program in the country was
launched at the university. It is an amazing high-tech operation requested by
the federal government. There should be more such programs across the country.
Far from the infrastructure program being a dismal failure, I would say it
has been a resounding success. Communities have admitted that it has helped them
achieve not just jobs but assistance at a faster pace, and many have projects
that they would not have had at all if it were not for this program.
On the larger issue, as the opposition well knows, in the course of the
government trying to deal with the deficit and the debt, there have been
difficult cutbacks in this country involving the loss of jobs. However, there
has also been the creation of more than half a million jobs in the past three
years. In the past three months alone, there has been a succession of job
increases, which has created an impetus. Granted, the rate had been falling over
the year to that point because of uncertainties in Canada and the volatility of
the international markets. However, the growth of job creation is now picking
up, as evidenced in the figures of the last three months. Because of this
growth, a greater number of Canadians are out actively looking for work than has
been the case in recent months.
Senator Cohen: I appreciate the leader's optimistic tone when
describing her government's efforts.
Senator Berntson: That is her job.
Senator Cohen: Perhaps I am influenced by the dismal picture in New
Brunswick with the seasonal workers and the problems we are seeing every day.
However, I feel it is necessary to take the optimistic tone with a grain of salt
given that the finance minister did not even have the courage to put any
employment forecasts in his budget.
It was not that long ago that the then Leader of the Opposition, when
campaigning for the job of Prime Minister, stood on Parliament Hill and called
for the return of the good old days with jobs, jobs, jobs. The Prime Minister
now blames business, in spite of his government's failure to create a positive
business environment, and the Minister of Human Resources labels the unemployed
as bored and lazy, and has no time for them.
Is this leadership? Is this hope?
Senator Fairbairn: The new Minister of Human Resources Development is
taking a very aggressive attitude in terms of job creation.
Senator Berntson: He will do for jobs what he did for Pearson.
Senator Fairbairn: The minister is listening. He is listening to what
is being said in New Brunswick and throughout Atlantic Canada, as well as in the
larger centres of our country which also have seasonal worker difficulties. The
minister has come to this job with an open mind. He has encouraged the committee
in the House of Commons now studying the bill to bring forward ideas. He has
said with regard to this legislation that he will not fixate on the status quo.
He is open to amendments, including amendments on the issue of seasonal workers.
Unemployment Insurance Reform-
Request for Establishment of Special Committee to Study unemployment insurance
Hon. Jean-Maurice Simard: Honourable senators, as a preamble to a
question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in December in this
house, I read part of an editorial in L'Acadie nouvelle in which the
writer regretted that the federal Liberal members and ministers from New
Brunswick seemed happy to leave it to certain officials to defend the
unemployment insurance bill.
The author added that, in his opinion, the two New Brunswick ministers were
already hibernating in Ottawa rather than appearing in New Brunswick to explain
the bill and to justify the measures cruelly affecting seasonal workers.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): I apologize to my
honourable friend for interrupting him. I wish to understand the purport of his
comments. However, I regret to say that the translation system does not appear
to be working. Can it be restored so that I can hear the question that my
honourable friend is asking?
Senator Simard: Honourable senators, I have decided to speak French.
Are the translation and interpretation services working properly? I will start
my question over again.
As a preamble to a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in
December in this house, I read part of an editorial in L'Acadie nouvelle
in which the writer regretted that Liberal members, and especially Liberal
ministers from New Brunswick, seemed happy to leave it to certain officials to
defend the unemployment insurance bill.
The author added that, in his opinion, the Liberal ministers, Robichaud and
Young, among others, were already hibernating in Ottawa rather than appearing in
New Brunswick to explain the bill and to justify the measures cruelly affecting
We know from watching television that the two Liberal ministers have been to
New Brunswick since December. There was a change in tactics. The Minister of
Human Resources Development could listen carefully and with respect, and try to
understand the concerns of the people of New Brunswick. We know him well in the
Senate, because he lumped all the senators in with the profiteers. He has been
around in New Brunswick since 1982. He has changed his style.
Last week, he called a Bloc member a "baveux." He has described
workers in New Brunswick as taking advantage of the unemployment insurance pot.
He has accused certain workers of being troublemakers, mercenaries at the head
of unions, instead of listening to what New Brunswickers have to say.
A few days ago, Minister Young tabled what was previously called Bill C-111.
In the past three or four months, he has had to listen. He did not change a word
or a comma of the bill. I would like to know whether the political party
represented by the government leader in the Senate is prepared to tell us
whether the government would agree to a Senate committee or a special committee
being set up to study Bill C-111?
The people of New Brunswick, and for the most part the people of Canada, have
said - as the surveys indicate - that they support a real reform where the
rights of seasonal workers would be respected. There is not total opposition to
unemployment insurance reform. The people of New Brunswick are smarter than
that. They prefer to be treated like worthy citizens.
Is the government, through the government leader in the Senate, prepared to
set up this committee so that workers may be heard?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, we can have conversations in
this house about the work of the committees which are already in place, and the
possibilities of setting up new ones. However, as I said before, the bill, which
the honourable senator maintains has not been changed since it was brought
forward, is now in the hands of a committee on the other side. The minister
responsible for the bill has indicated clearly that he is seeking advice and
looking for amendments, and that he is concerned about seasonal workers. He has
said that changes to the legislation might be brought about which could be of
assistance. The parliamentary process that is currently in place very much
reflects the concerns that are being expressed by the honourable senator in this
I will not get into the honourable senator's earlier remarks other than to
say that, in my view, the ministers representing New Brunswick have been very
much engaged in this issue in their communities. As well, they have been working
very hard here in Ottawa to come up with alternatives. They are listening, and
asking parliamentarians in the other place who are dealing with this bill also
to listen, and to come up with suggestions.
As far as this house is concerned, honourable senators can discuss the work
of committees to see how this issue can be developed. When we receive this
legislation in the Senate, I suspect that it will be in a different form from
that which exists at the present time.
Senator Simard: If I understand the Leader of the Government
correctly, her response indicates that she is opposed to this, that her mind is
made up. The House of Commons, in keeping with the Liberal government's plans,
will have to continue its short-sighted ways. It refuses to give its support to
a preliminary study, to inter-party consultations, and so on, so that there
could be a committee, jointly with the House of Commons committee, one really
responsible for studying Bill C-111 in the Senate. She tells us that the members
of the House of Commons, Mr. Young included, are very open to amendments.
Why not have two committees? On this side, Conservative senators from New
Brunswick and elsewhere would like to hear from workers affected by the reform,
as would some of the Liberal senators. Could the Leader of the Government give
us a glimmer of hope about the possibility of this committee being struck as
soon as possible?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I think the honourable senator
misinterprets my comments as being a refusal. I said no such thing. It has been
the practice in this house for at least as long as I have been involved that
every effort is made to consult and to discuss between the two sides of this
chamber as to how we will go about our business. That is precisely what I was
referring to in my comments.
However, I would reiterate that my honourable friend seems to be giving the
impression that he believes that the door was closed on the other side; that it
was signed, sealed and delivered and that the bill was a foregone conclusion.
What I want to underline for him is that that is absolutely not the case. It is
very much a situation of seeking guidance and advice. The minister has made it
clear that he is looking forward to suggestions as to possible amendments in
some of the areas which, clearly, are of great concern to senators on both sides
of this house.
My honourable friend seems to be indicating that he believes that the process
on the other side is a foregone conclusion. It is not.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I regret that we have gone
several minutes over the time allotted for questions already. There were several
addresses, and I must follow the rule.
Library of Parliament
Scrutiny of Regulations
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following message had
been received from the House of Commons:
Ordered,-That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of
Commons be appointed to develop a Code of Conduct to guide Senators and Members
of the House of Commons in reconciling their official responsibilities with
their personal interests, including their dealings with lobbyists;
That seven Members of the Senate and fourteen Members of the House of Commons
be the Members of the Committee, and the Members of the Standing Committee on
Procedure and House Affairs be appointed to act on behalf of the House as
Members of the said Committee;
That changes in the membership of the Committee on the part of the House of
Commons be effective immediately after a notification signed by the member
acting as the chief Whip of any recognized party has been filed with the clerk
of the Committee;
That the Committee be directed to consult broadly and to review the
approaches taken with respect to these issues in Canada and in other
jurisdictions with comparable systems of government;
That evidence adduced in the First Session of the Thirty Fifth Parliament by
the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct be deemed to have been laid
upon the Table and referred to the Committee;
That the Committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of
That the Committee have the power to report from time to time to send for
persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence as may be
ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee have the power to retain the services of expert,
professional, technical and clerical staff;
That a quorum of the Committee be 11 Members whenever a vote, resolution or
decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that the Joint
Chairpersons be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize
the printing thereof, whenever six Members are present, so long as both Houses
That the Committee be empowered to appoint, from among its Members, such
sub-committees as may be deemed advisable, and to delegate to such
sub-committees, all or any of its power except the power to report to the Senate
and House of Commons;
That the Committee be empowered to authorize television and radio
broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings;
That the Committee make its final report no later than June 21, 1996;
That, notwithstanding usual practices, if the Senate is not sitting when the
final report of the Committee is completed, the report may be deposited with the
Clerk of the Senate and it shall thereupon be deemed to have been presented to
that House; and
That a Message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this
House for the above purpose, and to select, if the Senate deem advisable,
Members to act on the proposed Special Joint Committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before I call the Orders of the Day, I wish to draw
to the attention of honourable senators the new Rules of the Senate that
have been delivered to you today. I point out that there are very minor changes.
Only one rule has been deleted, which has made it necessary to renumber the
remaining rules. However, there has been a complete revision of the index by the
Library of Parliament, something which was requested by honourable senators.
Resuming the debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bacon, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Rompkey, for an address to His Excellency the Governor
General's Speech at the opening of the session.-(Honourable Senator
Lynch-Staunton). (1st day of resuming debate)
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my first words are for Senators Bacon and Rompkey for having proposed
and seconded with much eloquence the motion for an Address in Reply to the
Speech From the Throne. They are to be commended, in particular, for having been
able to say so much about so little, for, in fact, while the speech contains
many words, it has little content. No sooner was it delivered than it created
much confusion which persists today.
Here is but one example: The speech states that the government will announce
measures to double the number of student jobs this summer. The following day,
however, the Prime Minister said, "That is why in the Throne Speech
yesterday we announced that the federal government will be doubling its
contribution to summer job creation." The government will claim, no doubt,
that that was just an oversight, although in reality it is but one of many
examples of a sloppy effort which, in addition, makes Canadians even more
unaware of the government's plans to resolve the national unity issue than they
have ever been.
I will resist the temptation to go over in detail the government's sorry
record during the First Session of this Parliament. In summary, its most
positive legislation was inspired by the Mulroney record, which meant a
rejection of numerous key promises in the Red Book. Its own contributions are
bleak: two back-to-work bills; legislation allowing intervention in
international waters, notwithstanding any World Court decision which might
eventually declare it in violation of international law; a bill that would have
allowed the next election to be based on existing electoral boundaries, solely
to satisfy a few malcontents in the Liberal caucus; a so-called gun control bill
which is causing as many divisions today after its passage as it did before; a
so-called veto bill which no one wanted and which has already been dismissed as
meaningless; and, of course, the infamous Bill C-22 which branded innocent
Canadians as unfit to seek the protection of the rule of law as guaranteed to
all citizens by the Constitution.
Not satisfied with trying to take away certain basic rights, the government
even went so far as to strip away the presumption of innocence from a former
Prime Minister by advising a foreign government that he was guilty of a criminal
offence: this even before any accusation had been made in Canada.
This is not only a sorry record, but a disturbing one, as it reveals that
nine years in opposition have done nothing to lessen the arrogance which is the
principal trait of the Liberal Party of Canada. Indeed, it reaches new peaks on
a regular basis. Honourable senators across the way, of course, will dismiss
this remark as nothing short of blind partisanship. Let me remind them that it
is shared by many associated with their own party, not the least by our
colleague Senator Pitfield who, while speaking on Bill C-68, said:
Perhaps Ottawa is as arrogant as many people seem to think it is. Maybe we
should examine our consciences....
To my mind, this bill shows that the Liberal Party still has to learn the
lesson of the reversal it suffered in the 1980s.
What is even more disturbing than Canadians being subjected to a "big
brother knows best" attitude is the government's incredibly erratic and
contradictory policy, if it can even be called that, on the relations between
the provinces and the national government. Until less then two weeks before the
October 30 Quebec referendum, the Prime Minister was making his way through
fund-raising dinners in Western Canada, reassuring his audiences that the No
side would win in a landslide. He said, "Do not worry. Stay out of it, as
all is well in hand." Suddenly, a few days before the referendum, he was on
television talking of a crisis and pleading with all Canadians to get involved.
In desperation, he made vague commitments to Quebec which were met by the recent
distinct society resolution and the so-called veto bill, neither of which
elicited more than boredom and disinterest from the vast majority of Quebecers.
Since the referendum, the disarray in the government has only increased, and the
Speech from the Throne has only served to underline it.
The appointment of two non-elected ministers from Quebec remind many of a
similar event in the 1960s when Mr. Pearson went outside the Liberal Party to
enlist three candidates from that province, one of whom was to become his
successor and preside over the fiscal and constitutional messes which continue
to plague this country. The comparison may be at least partly appropriate if the
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs continues much longer in serving confusion
and concern, which he has since the day he was named, as have a number of his
colleagues led by the Prime Minister.
Plan A. Plan B. If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec. Maybe a national
referendum, maybe not. What about a general election this year? The Supreme
Court will rule on the right of secession. No, it will not - and so it goes,
ever more disturbingly, as one common thread links all these confused and
confusing utterances. The Government of Canada, whose principal role is to be
the guardian of the federation, has actually entered the debate on the
possibility of a province seceding from it, rather than engaging in its
traditional and essential role of reconciling differences with, and between, the
provinces to not only keep the federation together but to contribute to its
evolution in light of constantly changing events.
The Speech from the Throne reconfirms how confused and inept the government
is on the national unity issue. It grandly claims that it will not use its
spending power to create shared cost programs in areas of provincial
jurisdiction without the consent of a majority of the provinces. This is largely
meaningless as the federal government's spending power is as negligible as that
of the provinces. One only has to look at the demise of the child care program
of the former Minister of Human Resources Development for the latest
manifestation of what is obvious to everyone but the government.
There follows a whole list of what the government is prepared to do, as the
speech pretentiously states, "to ensure that the Canadian federation is
modernized to meet the needs of the twenty-first century," which is only a
few years away. Not one is original, even less inspiring, much less a serious
attempt to tackle the fundamental challenges of today because the government is
traumatized, indeed is still in the same state of shock it has been in since
October 30. What other conclusion can one draw after reading the following in
But as long as the prospect of another Quebec referendum exists, the
Government will exercise its responsibility to ensure that the debate is
conducted with all the facts on the table, that the rules of the process are
fair, that the consequences are clear, and that Canadians, no matter where they
live, will have their say in the future of their country.
What does all this mean? The government has yet to explain, at least with one
constant voice, so we can only draw our own conclusions, each one as puzzling as
the other. The government implies with little subtlety that the October 30
referendum campaign was not conducted with all the facts on the table and that
the rules of the process were unfair. On what are these allegations based? The
answer to the first is simple: If the facts were not all put on the table, it is
because the federal government, until the last moment, detached itself from the
campaign and even instructed its own supporters from outside of Quebec to stay
out of the campaign. Non-Liberals are even less welcome, including Quebec
members on this side who more than once offered to work with colleagues across
the chamber. We never received a positive reply, but this did not stop Quebec
Conservative senators from involving themselves actively in all facets of the
campaign - fundraising, organizing, speech-making and much more - and each and
every one of them deserves special commendation for his or her efforts.
As for the rules of the process being unfair, this was not heard after the
1980 referendum when they were exactly the same as they were last October.
Blaming the process is simply an attempt to distract from the government's
pathetic detachment from reality when it comes to reinforcing the federation. As
recently as two weeks ago, the Prime Minister had the effrontery to say that
"...we won with a crooked question." When asked what plans the
government had on the question of national unity, he replied "...we have a
plan. It is to keep Canada together..." When pressed, he added: "Tell
me what will be the question, tell me when there will be a Quebec referendum,
and I'll give you all my plans."
Honourable senators, this is the Prime Minister of Canada talking, indicating
that his plans hinge on the timing of the referendum and its question. Such a
comment would be dismissed as ludicrous coming from anyone else, but when spoken
by the leader of Canada's national government it bares for all to see that not
only has he no plans, but the absence of them is the result of not even knowing
what he should be planning for.
I cannot agree more that all Canadians should be involved in determining the
future of their country, but must this participation only be limited to times of
momentous decisions? Is the government so ignorant of Quebec and so bereft of
initiative that it can only react to events, rather than initiate them?
Outside of Quebec, the government may find advantage in identifying as
separatists those who voted "yes" in the October 30 referendum, but
only at the expense of reality. Quebecers by an overwhelming majority want to
remain part of Canada. In 1976, they voted in René Lévesque, not for his
separatist convictions at the time but because they had had enough of the
outgoing government, and Mr. Lévesque never forgot this, much to the dismay of
the hardliners in his party, many of whom, led by Jacques Parizeau, abandoned
In 1980, many who voted "no" in the referendum did so because they
had faith in the then Prime Minister's commitment. In 1993, many voted for the
Bloc Québécois because of disenchantment with both the Progressive
Conservative and Liberal Parties. In 1994, many voted for the Parti Québécois
for the same reason as they did in 1976. Last year, much of the "oui"
vote was to reconfirm a desire for a redefinition of Quebec's place and
responsibilities within the federation, a sentiment which has been expressing
itself in various forms for over 100 years, and which is shared in other
provinces, albeit in different ways.
Since 1960, the dissatisfaction with the federal system has manifested itself
with particular intensity, no matter what the political priorities of the
government in place. Objections, as I have mentioned, go back much further, but
only in the last 35 years or so have they been expressed with such passion and
conviction, and none more so than by those who want to remain in Canada.
This government, however, largely ignores these voices of moderation,
traumatized as it is by the voices of separation. What is so frustrating to
Quebec federalists is that as Mr. Trudeau dismissed Mr. Bourassa in the most
crude terms, Mr. Chrétien neglects the apprehensions of Mr. Johnson, whose
commitment to a renewed federal system could not be more pronounced.
There is one sentence in the speech which suggests that the Liberal Party's
blinkered approach to the federation may be softening. When referring to Quebec
as a distinct society and to regional vetoes, the speech claims that "the
government supports the entrenchment of these provisions in the
Constitution." This is as categorical as one can get in expressing a goal.
What is missing is how it will be met. April 1997 will be upon us before we know
it, particularly if preparations and intentions for the constitutional
conference which must be held at that time are not soon made public. The Senate
can play a major role in developing a federal position, and I urge the
government to react enthusiastically and quickly to Senator Beaudoin's earlier
attempts to set up a committee to establish guidelines and propositions intended
to lead to a positive and fruitful meeting in 1997.
Whatever the nature of the government in Quebec, whatever its political
orientations, the fact remains that being part of the federation is what the
vast majority of Quebecers want, and it anxiously awaits the federal
government's recommendations in light of long-standing demands by Quebec
federalists, as opposed to separatists, and other provinces.
The speech speaks of a first ministers meeting "in the months...ahead to
put into place a common agenda for change to renew Canada." This, at last,
appears to be a recognition that change in the terms of the federation is in the
making. Better late than never, I suppose, but it is getting late, and only the
shock of the October 30 results has finally stirred the government to move out
of its lethargy.
The ruminations of an academic-become-neophyte politician have only confused,
not clarified, while those of the Prime Minister and others raise concerns about
the vacillation of a divided government at a time when strong and firm
leadership on the unity issue at the federal level is so longingly sought. Let
the government, at least for once, swallow its pride and recognize that
opposition to the Meech Lake agreement, which is what the Speech from the Throne
was not too subtly referring to, was a terrible mistake. In one of his few
unambiguous statements, Minister Dion is to be commended for having recently
said in British Columbia that a distinct society clause is an interpretive one;
it does not confer any special powers and does not modify federal-provincial
sharing of powers. That is why entrenching it will not solve much except give
legal recognition to an obvious fact. What is required is agreement on the
division of jurisdictions, and it is on this that the federal government must
concentrate in order that its proposals be known and discussed as widely as
possible, and well in advance of the meeting a year from now.
There is one paragraph in the Throne Speech which is unequalled in its
pretentiousness, to use a mild word. "Ministers," it says, "have
insisted upon the highest standards of integrity and honesty in fulfilling their
mandate." This statement is contradicted, in fact, by many occurrences,
some of which I have already mentioned, and I want to expand for a few minutes
on a glaring one, that is, the Senate inquiry on the Pearson contracts and the
government's constant hampering of the committee's attempts to get all the
facts. I do this with the knowledge that Liberals would prefer to put this
behind them, having heard enough of how Robert Nixon came to his wrong
conclusions, which were picked up blindly and with equal disregard for the facts
by government members on the committee. I do not intend to go into the committee
report and the minority opinion today, as I still intend to introduce an
inquiry, which is the more appropriate process for discussing the matter. Today,
for anyone who still has illusions about the fairness of this government in
treating with its opponents, I would point out how the committee was constantly
hindered in its search for the truth, and how supporters on that committee were
given preferential treatment. Let me just give four examples.
First, in early September, the committee was advised that while there were
still many documents to be released, they were incidental to any evidence to be
given by remaining witnesses. The government nonetheless promised to release
In fact, they were only delivered to the Clerk's office some two months
later, on Friday, November 3, at four o'clock in the afternoon. No advance
notice of this was given, and, contrary to earlier assurances, many of the
documents were highly relevant. The following Monday, Liberal members of the
committee were more than familiar with some of them, and their interpretation of
them indicates that they had been thoroughly briefed over the weekend.
Conservative members, on the other hand, had little or no time to review the
documents and so were at an obvious disadvantage on the last day of the
Second, many documents were edited by the government using the most generous
interpretation of the Access to Information Act. For instance, one document
suffered a number of deletions under section 23 of the act, that relating to
solicitor-client privilege. When the unedited copy was received, it turned out
that what had been whited out were not legal opinions but the lawyer's names.
More troubling, however, is that on at least two occasions, government members
of the committee had unedited copies of documents while opposition members and
committee staff were issued edited copies. "Inadvertence" was the lame
explanation, one about as fanciful as "honest mistake" used by the
former Heritage Minister in explaining why he wrote to the CRTC on behalf of a
On more than one occasion, it was suggested that committee counsel, upon
taking an oath of confidentiality, be given the opportunity to review uncensored
documents to ensure that such inadvertence, oversight, honest mistake, call it
whatever you want, not reoccur. The government refused, preferring to entrust
the task to an outside legal firm and a group of forensic accountants totally
agreeable to doing the government's bidding, and which cost the taxpayers over
$1 million in return.
Third, this government, which was then in waiting, having yet to be sworn in,
and without permission from the out-going government, did not hesitate to give
access to Treasury Board documents to Robert Nixon and his immediate associates
after they had signed a confidentiality agreement; documents which, according to
their own testimony, contributed in no small measure to the Nixon report
conclusions and recommendations. To better appreciate these, opposition
committee members asked to see the Treasury Board submissions and were refused
as the government invoked the principle of cabinet confidentiality, although, by
the admission of those who had access to them, the documents contained factual
analysis, a long way from politically sensitive cabinet records.
The same documents, which were refused a parliamentary committee holding
hearings in public with witnesses' testimony under oath and on the record, were
made available to a person hired to justify the campaign promise to cancel the
Pearson agreements by interviewing selected witnesses, for the most part
unsympathetic to privatization, whose testimony, if it can be called that, was
heard behind closed doors with no record taken of their remarks.
The last example, and there are many more, including the government's refusal
to cooperate in a parliamentary inquiry, was the committee being forced to issue
summons in order to have Justice Department lawyers testify, when twice they had
refused to appear voluntarily.
What can we conclude from this? Simply this: Having taken the decision in
haste to cancel the Pearson contracts, without even bothering to have them
examined by professional unbiased experts, having introduced legislation to
confirm the cancellation and deny the rule of law to those affected by it, the
government expected that, by a mudslinging campaign, it would quell any attempt
to challenge two highly questionable decisions. We now know the result: a
completely discredited Nixon report - even its author has wisely refrained from
commenting further on his embarrassing document - and a universally condemned
bill. The government's reaction to the establishment of a Senate inquiry,
despite the government leader's assurance of full cooperation, was to make every
effort to deny key witnesses and documents to the committee while privileging
its supporters on it. It could not have done this had a judicial inquiry been
set up, as we urged over and over again, and now explains why an independent
inquiry was refused in the first place.
Despite all of this, the committee report is a result of factual evidence
given by parties on all sides who at no time, except when Mr. Nixon and two
associates made unfounded allegations and insinuations based on unnamed sources,
concurred with repeated charges of favouritism and such outlandish charges as
"the fix was in," but I do not intend today to discuss the findings
themselves. My purpose is to draw attention to the crude manner in which the
government tried to stonewall the committee, an event which is deserving of an
inquiry by itself, as what happened last summer could well repeat itself
whenever the Liberal government has a vested interest in seeing that certain
facts are not revealed in order to mask its true intentions and their impact.
Finally, I have a few words on the role of the opposition now that the
so-called Tory-dominated Senate is no more, much to the relief of the Liberal
Party, which had never learned to adjust itself to being denied a majority in
one of the two houses much less in both. Only time will tell whether Canadians
will be better off with a Liberal-dominated Parliament at a time when the
opposition in the House of Commons has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned
the traditional role it is required to play in our parliamentary system.
I commend all colleagues on this side for the responsible way in which they
conducted themselves over the last two years at a time when voting down certain
government legislation could have been accomplished with ease, and also
undoubtedly with widespread public support.
Contrast this, honourable senators, with the approach taken by the Liberals
when they were in the same situation, particularly from 1988 onwards. Every
major piece of Conservative legislation was systematically objected to, a few
even returned to the house more than once with numerous amendments. The GST
debate was but the climax to a persistent campaign of deliberate obstruction
which completely ignored decisions of elected representatives. Even worse,
however, is that once they had formed the government, the Liberals never
proceeded to amend legislation to meet objections they so vehemently stated when
in opposition. Pharmaceutical companies have not had their patent protection
period reduced, the NAFTA enabling legislation was passed without any change
whatsoever, and of course the GST remains. What has happened to those heartfelt
amendments the Liberals introduced here in the fall of 1990? I think in
particular of the one proposed by the now government leader which would have
exempted reading material from the GST.
The latest spin is that it is really all the provinces' fault. Listen to what
the Finance Minister was quoted as saying on March 12 when he complained that
they refused to sit down with him to discuss harmonization:
The fact is, I can't negotiate alone. I really do believe it's incumbent upon
provincial governments to recognize that Canadians want to have a single tax.
How arrogant can this government get? The inability to meet an attractive but
highly irresponsible campaign promise - to eliminate the GST - is now being
blamed on the provinces who refuse harmonization, regardless of the fact that
their own studies, which have not been contradicted by the Finance Minister,
indicate that harmonization would largely benefit the federal government. That,
I suppose, is exactly what Mr. Martin expects the provinces to accept, he being
too obviously not attuned to the fact that the good old days of "big
Liberal brother knows best" have been gone for some time.
As an opposition majority, we at no time attempted to kill government
legislation, quite a contrast with the strategy adopted by our predecessors when
they were in the same position. We did, however, deliberately delay the adoption
of two bills, Bill C-22 and Bill C-69, hoping that the government would take
occasion to amend them in line with objections which could not be challenged
seriously. The reasons behind these objections need not be repeated here. They
are well known by now and as valid today as when first enunciated. I just hope
they have registered with the bill's sponsors and that they will not be tempted
to reinstate the bills simply because the numbers in this chamber appear more
favourable to them.
When on the other side as government members - I digress a bit here, but I
think it is appropriate to raise it - we supported the concept of pre-study.
Each time a motion was made to approve one, the Liberal opposition voted against
it, maintaining that participation in the elaboration of legislation before it
was sent over by the House would undermine the independence of the Senate.
While respecting this argument, I do not support it, since one of the
Senate's main functions, if not its main function, is to contribute to better
legislation. Surely any government would be the poorer for not accepting this
input at the earliest stage possible, especially when a bill is complex and
controversial. The current one which comes to mind, of course, is Bill C-12,
commonly known as the U.I. bill, and which the government wants to see in force
on July 1, according to the Speech from the Throne. Senators who have concerns
about Bill C-12 as presently drafted are not all on this side - far from it -
and recognizing that continuing reform of social security legislation as
initiated by the Mulroney government is essential, pre-study by the Senate can
only lead to recommendations aimed at reconciling differences between numerous,
directly affected parties, something which Bill C-12 fails to do.
Honourable senators, debate on the two bills I mentioned, and on other bills,
should have been initiated in the House of Commons. There, sadly, the recognized
opposition parties agree on only one thing - each wants to be the official
opposition. Thorough examination of government legislation is usually secondary
to this, and gone are the days when the official opposition was described as a
government in waiting. We now have one which does not even aspire to govern,
being satisfied with finding ways to undermine the federation, while the other
opposition party seems quite ready to prepare for a Canada without Quebec, which
happens to be the only circumstance under which it would have the remotest
chance of electing a majority in the house.
Honourable senators, I will not be so pretentious as to suggest that the
Progressive Conservative opposition in the Senate can fill the vacuum created by
the Bloc Québécois and the Reform Party in the House of Commons. I can argue,
however, that had it not substituted itself on occasion for its elected
counterpart, Canadians would today be saddled with odious legislation which
would have created dangerous precedents. Whatever our numbers, we shall not
flinch from playing that role again whenever the occasion requires.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable
colleagues, I have listened with great interest to my honourable friend, the
Leader of the Opposition. Whereas on many occasions we agree, I suspect today
that our two speeches will suggest that we have been operating definitely out of
two different rooms.
I wish to say, honourable colleagues, that when the Governor General read the
Speech from the Throne, I am sure he did so with a certain amount of pride at
returning to his roots in the Senate. I believe that is a pride shared by all of
us who still think of him as a colleague. First of all, I want to congratulate
him and Madam Fowler-LeBlanc for the feeling of openness and warmth which they
bring to their duties. It is reflected in all of their public appearances,
whether it is officiating at an awards ceremony or a sporting event, visiting a
school or a hospital, or speaking in a small community or on a state occasion
such as the one on the day of the Speech from the Throne.
I also wish to congratulate both Senator Bacon and Senator Rompkey, the mover
and the seconder of the motion for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the
Throne, for their eloquent and moving remarks about this country and the
challenges we face.
Senator Bacon reminded us that, while we can be proud of our accomplishments
as a country, and I quote:
We would be wrong to rest on our laurels, because nothing is ever won for
good. We cannot allow ourselves to neglect our country.
Senator Bacon also reflected the message in the speech from the throne by
saying that change must take place in the context of Canadian values. She linked
the present to the past in very convincing terms.
Canada was born of a very difficult economic period and even thrived on this
difficulty, through the will of its citizens. The time has come for Canadians
and their leaders to rediscover their history and to return to the sources of
our grandeur, strength, values and our country's origins.
Honourable senators, I also wish to say that our friend Senator Rompkey, who
is not with us today, has challenged us in his comments with a maritime allusion
to setting a new course despite the difficult waters we must deal with in
realizing the challenges that this country faces, and the strength with which we
can meet those challenges.
He reminded us as well that the world is watching Canada. It is watching,
sometimes mystified, as we look within ourselves at our problems. People around
the world are seeking our leadership. They are confused at why we are having
difficulties when we are so competent and have such a record of helping warring
parties elsewhere in the world.
We will, of course, accept the challenges and meet them as we have always
done in the past. In that sense, perhaps, we may all wish to reflect on the
words of one of our great prime ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who, in 1904, at
62 years of age, told the first annual meeting of the Canadian Club of Ottawa:
I cannot hope that I shall see much of the development which the future has
in store for my country, but whenever my eyes shall close to the light, it is my
wish - nay it is my hope - that they close upon a Canada united in all its
elements, united in every particular, every element cherishing the tradition of
its past, and all uniting in cherishing still more hope for the future.
Honourable senators, if there is a uniquely Canadian set of values it is our
tolerance for different cultures, religious beliefs and ways of life. It is our
respect for each other, our generosity and our sharing which have set this
country apart and which will continue to guide our progress as a nation.
Nevertheless, there is no question that the referendum result in Quebec has
challenged this country as never before. It has forced us not just to talk about
who we are as a nation but to become activists in setting out creative plans to
build for the future together a strong, united and independent Canada. It is not
only Quebecers who are looking for a change; it is Canadians right across this
country. We must devote the time remaining in the current mandate to
establishing sustainable economic and social security within a renewed
federation. There is an enormous strength in the diversity of our people, and
our history together has been our success in that that diversity has worked as a
positive rather than a negative force for Canadians.
Honourable senators, the basics in our country do not change. Citizens in
every part of Canada want their governments to work together to modernize our
economy and our social safety net, particularly to make sure it is sustainable
for the future. They also want to make sure that it continues to reflect the
values of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and that includes a strong
central government to respect the interests of all its citizens.
As the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons during debate on the
Speech from the Throne:
The Fathers of Confederation also provided for a single national government,
elected directly by all Canadians, that speaks and acts directly for all
Canadians on the great issues of the day. In the 21st century that national
government will be as important as it has ever been.
It is clear, however, that the federal government does not have to be
involved in everything to ensure that Canadians are receiving the services they
need in the best possible way. With this in mind, we are proposing to make
changes in the way governments work, including transferring responsibilities
such as transportation to local, regional or private sector organizations;
withdrawing from certain important fields of activity in labour market training,
in mining and in forestry; and setting up new federal-provincial partnerships on
joint management arrangements that can be applied to food inspection, social
housing and even tourism.
A first ministers conference is planned to consider creating better ways for
both levels of government to work together to create jobs, to secure the social
safety net and to discuss a common agenda for renewal. My honourable friend
opposite may say it is almost too late, but I would say to him that this is a
strong commitment to move ahead together in this country.
Honourable senators, all of these issues are part of the larger effort to
maintain the unity of this nation. We intend to move forward on establishing a
better and more rational delineation of how our respective governments should
Honourable senators know as well that in this Parliament we have already
acted in other ways, particularly when we moved to meet the commitments made
during the referendum. The Senate and the House of Commons joined together in a
parallel resolution to acknowledge, on behalf of the government and Parliament,
the reality that Quebec is a distinct society within Canada, and those
resolutions are now guiding principles for the legislative and executive
branches of government.
Parliament also passed legislation guaranteeing that no constitutional
amendment would be brought forward by the government without the consent of
every region of Canada. This was done by the Government of Canada placing its
veto power, which it exercises through its position in Parliament, at the
disposal of the five regions. Last December, this initiative was described as a
bridge to carry us through at least until April 1997 when there will be a first
ministers conference reviewing the amending formula for our Constitution.
In the Throne Speech, the government announced as well that any new national
cost shared programs in areas of exclusive provincial responsibility will
require the agreement of a majority of provinces to go forward, and those
provinces choosing to opt out will be compensated if they have equivalent
Making structural changes to government is only a partial solution to
renewing the Canadian federation. We must also be willing to invest time and
energy in renewing the spirit of unity. In Montreal last October 27, tens of
thousands of Canadians from inside and outside Quebec raised their voices and
opened their hearts on behalf of communities across this land. The message was
unmistakable: We love this country, Quebec is part of this country, and we want
it to endure and to prosper.
Honourable senators, we can do that by celebrating all that we have in common
and better appreciating the differences which make us unique, and we must do it
with conviction, determination and unquenchable optimism.
Today I must say that the Leader of the Opposition has presented, to put it
mildly, a somewhat pessimistic view of the government's proposals for change and
the government's record to date. He used words like "bleak,"
"sorry" and "disturbing". He said that we are in a state of
shock, that we are traumatized. Well, he was just as pessimistic two years ago
when he responded to the Speech from the Throne. What he consistently refuses to
recognize is that we have made very real progress since then. Members opposite
have devoted much of their time in the past two years to questioning the
validity of the commitments that we made in our election program. However, the
fact remains that more than three-quarters of those commitments have been kept.
We have moved steadily forward on a number of critical fronts.
Our first task was to establish a sense of trust by restoring the integrity
of our political institutions. Central to that was our commitment to pursue a
balanced strategy to produce jobs and growth and, at the same time,
systematically reduce the deficit. We have stuck to that plan. Job creation, as
I said earlier in Question Period, will remain at the forefront of this mandate
and most certainly carry forward into the next election and beyond, because we
have to get those unemployment figures down.
We are not pretending that there is not a tremendously difficult state in
this country with the number of Canadians who are without work. However, we must
concede as well that those unemployment figures have decreased two points in the
past two years. Great progress has been made in that time, thanks to the
economic surge of 1994 with the creation of more than half a million jobs in
this country, most of them good, full-time work. It is true that volatility in
international markets and political uncertainty at home have combined to slow
that pace in the past year. However, now there are hopeful signs of economic
growth ahead. Indeed, there have been strong advances in jobs created over the
last three months.
Honourable senators, we are not simply talking statistics here, percentage
points; we are talking about people's lives. Therefore, we cannot ignore the
reality that rapid technological change sends a signal to all governments that
reliable, old economic tools may no longer be enough to produce the best
results.A different mix of initiatives may be required to crack what has
been called a jobless recovery, and all governments must be prepared to shake
off the dust and explore such change.
One thing is certain: No one government, no one political party, no one
sector, no one leader can make the system work for Canada and Canadians. This is
an era of partnerships, be they public, private, political, economic, social or
individual, and the message of the government and the Minister of Finance has
been, and continues to be, that in order to be able to get Canadians back to
work, create jobs and ensure economic confidence and stability in our social
programs, we must restore the fundamentals of our economy to a position of
strength and predictability.
Since 1993, much has been done to achieve that goal: Inflation is down to 1.3
per cent on an annual basis, lower than it has been in decades and lower than it
is in most other countries; interest rates, as reflected in the 5.5 per cent
Canada bank rate, are once again down, following their rise during the Quebec
Honourable senators, like it or not, the deficit has been steadily reduced.
It was $42 billion in 1993-94. This upcoming fiscal year, we will have achieved
our goal of a deficit equal to 3 per cent of GDP. Mr. Martin has pledged that,
by 1997-98, it will be down to $17 billion, or to 2 per cent of GDP.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That will cheer up the unemployed in New
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Opposition
wants me to explain that to the unemployed in New Brunswick.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That will cheer them up.
Senator Fairbairn: Well, my honourable friend should know, from the
rhetoric that has been used by his own party, that unless we get the deficit
down, there will be no satisfaction or hope for the people who are unemployed in
New Brunswick and elsewhere in this country.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Do it on the backs of those who can least
afford it. Forget the banks. Do not tax the banks. Let the banks make $2 billion
and the unemployed lose $2 billion.
Senator Fairbairn: Perhaps, honourable senators, it is getting a
little bit under the skin of our friends opposite that, for the first time in
years, forecasts are being met, forecasts are being realistic.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear! Hear!
Senator Lynch-Staunton: The GST has not been replaced; that was the
Senator Fairbairn: There is a heck of a difference between $42 billion
in 1993 and $17 billion a couple of years from now. That will put our deficit at
the lowest level relative to GDP since the mid-1970s; it will move irrevocably
towards our goal of a balanced budget, and that is what we are trying to
Honourable senators, we went into the 1993 election with a plan for the
deficit. We have followed that plan. Our forecasts are not only being reached,
they are being exceeded. This was a pivotal commitment to Canadians and we have
kept our word.
We will soon be in a position to cut back on the funds we must borrow to
finance government spending. This will reduce our vulnerability to world money
markets and make progress towards restoring our economic sovereignty, which has
been relentlessly chipped away over the last decade. In very short order, Canada
will rank as the lowest borrower among the G-7 central governments.
Honourable senators, deficit reduction and debt reduction are not merely ends
in themselves. They lay the groundwork to pursue the priorities which have been
set out in the Speech from the Throne and followed up in the budget. Three areas
have been highlighted in particular for their significant potential in terms of
economic and social dividends down the road. These are international trade,
technology, and youth.
I think Canadians have been generally impressed with the Team Canada trade
efforts led by the Prime Minister, in partnership with the majority of premiers
in this country. In nation after nation, in the Pacific Rim and China, in India,
in Latin America, politicians and business people came together to open doors
and opportunities for Canadians abroad. This has resulted in the signing of
trade agreements worth billions of dollars, which will not only enhance our
export position in the world but will translate into thousands of jobs for
Canadians here at home.
The government intends to do a great deal more to help our businesses pursue
market opportunities abroad. The Export Development Corporation will receive $50
million in equity to support innovative approaches to export financing. It is
believed that annually as much as $500 million of additional loans could be
supported to assist Canadian exporters. The Business Development Bank is also
receiving a $50 million injection of new equity which will allow it to lend up
to an additional $350 million to knowledge-based, exporting and growth
businesses that find it difficult to obtain loans from commercial sources.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is the role of government.
Senator Fairbairn: Another priority effort will be to focus on new
technologies as we position ourselves for the new world of the 21st century.
Honourable senators, it will be a world unlike the one in which many of us,
perhaps most of us, have grown up and pursued our goals. We had a certain sense
of security because the changes in our lives followed a measured pace, allowing
us the time to adjust to them. However, we are now in the short end of the
nineties, a decade in which the speed and complexity of change is, for some,
overwhelming, bewildering, even frightening, and for others bold, challenging,
and incredibly exciting.
No one person can escape the new demands on individuals, no one government
can avoid the urgency of new solutions, and no country can withstand the
necessity of a new kind of competitive edge to protect and advance the
well-being of all levels of its society.
Honourable senators, there is no time to argue about whether or not we should
join the dance. The real question is whether or not we can keep up with the
We truly are at the heart of a new revolution. Canada has a world-class
high-technology sector. We are the leaders in telecommunications and aerospace
and we have huge investments in high-tech in other sectors, such as
transportation, medicine, software development, agriculture, mining, and
forestry. The information-technology and telecommunications industries in this
country employ 340,000 people nationwide, and in 1993 they generated upwards of
$50 billion in revenue. We are able to compete with the best in the world.
The $250-million Technology Partners Canada Program, outlined by Industry
Minister John Manley, is designed to help Canadian firms become more innovative
and more competitive internationally and to encourage research and development
in high-tech projects in Canada. A key objective is to level the playing field
with foreign competitors who are backed by their country's technology programs.
This program is designed to leverage private-sector investments that are two to
three times the $250 million per year of government funding.
Honourable senators, this is not new spending. It is fully funded by
reallocations from within our current fiscal framework. These technologies will
play an enormous role in giving young people a head start. We have a
computers-for-schools program now which has moved 12,000 used computers and
20,000 software packages into our public schools and libraries across this
country. Another $30 million over three years is being added to expand the
Schoolnet program which will link Canada's 16,000 schools and 3,400 libraries to
the information highway. For those who come from rural areas, the Schoolnet
program also includes a community access component, which is aimed at helping
some 1,000 rural communities prepare for and participate in that information
highway. This initiative is also being expanded.
The government, in partnership with the private sector, is also hiring over
2,000 newly graduated students who know all about computers, and they will help
small businesses to learn how to use the Internet to develop, refine and sell
their own products and services.
This focus, honourable senators, ties into that third area, namely, a new
emphasis on helping young Canadians to become active participants in our
economy. Our commitment to young people in this country is absolutely critical.
They need training, they need connections, and they need jobs. Youth
unemployment is not unique to Canada; it is a worldwide problem. It is clearly
troubling, not just to the individual young people but in terms of the imprint
that they must have the opportunity to place on the future development of this
In the past two years the Government of Canada has helped more than 1.2
million young Canadians to find jobs, to gain practical work experience, to
choose careers, to open their own businesses and to further their education, and
we must do much more. Over the next three years, $350 million in reallocated
funds will be committed to youth employment programs. We will double the
contribution to summer jobs for students from $60 million to $120 million
annually. The remaining funds will be used to enhance the opportunities for
young Canadians in emerging growth areas of the economy such as information and
In addition to increased student loans, the government will also provide an
additional $80 million for an increased education credit, enhanced registered
education savings plans, a broadened child care expense deduction for students,
as well as increasing the limit on the transfer of tuition and educational
expenses. The government is already offering direct support to those who need
practical work experience in getting a job with an internship program, with the
hope that that will lead to full-time employment. We also have Youth Services
Canada, a program to create work opportunities for young people in their own
Some of these projects are especially geared to meet the needs of young
people who are at high risk, or those who face added barriers such as drug abuse
or violence in the home by getting them involved in community projects. Included
among them are young people who lack the literacy skills necessary to deal with
day-to-day life, let alone the demands of the technological revolution that we
are asking them to join.
If I may stress an issue which is so very important to me, the question of
literacy, it was very interesting to note that, last December, the OECD, for the
first time ever, completed a comparative study among all of our friends and
competitive partners in that organization, led, I might say, by Statistics
Canada. That study showed the clearest picture ever of the linkage between
literacy and the opportunities of individuals to find a job, to keep a job, and
to build on greater opportunities. Honourable senators, we will learn a great
deal more about that study in Canadian terms as the Canadian portion of it is
released in the months ahead.
Honourable senators, with all of this, we have other commitments equally as
compelling. In the words of the Speech from the Throne, economic growth is not
an end in itself. Government has the obligation, in accordance with basic
Canadian values, to ensure security for Canadians in a rapidly changing world.
Our legacy to future generations must include assurance for all Canadians,
wherever they live, that there will be a modern and accessible health care
system, that a helping hand will be available when a helping hand is needed,
that a public pension system will be there to support people in their old age,
that our environment will be protected, and that Canadians will be safe in their
homes and in their communities.
These words of intent were quickly followed by action in Mr. Martin's latest
budget, and it begins with children. We had a discussion during Question Period
today about child support, and this matter goes to the heart of the priorities
that the government is placing on children in this country. When families
separate, parents struggle emotionally and financially as they go their separate
ways to re-establish individual lives, but it is the children of that failed
union who inevitably suffer the most.
The new child support package is designed to give priority to the needs of
those children. New guidelines will be introduced to help parents, lawyers, and
judges set fair and consistent child support awards in divorce cases. More
emphasis and resources will be devoted to enforcement agencies to ensure that
support is paid in full and on time. Finally, following on the recommendations
of the federal, province and territorial family law committee, child support
payments will no longer be taxable to the recipient parent or deductible to the
Every dollar of increased revenues that the government receives from this tax
change will be reinvested directly back into the system for the benefit of
children. This includes doubling the maximum working income supplement from $500
to $1,000, and approximately 700,000 low-income working families, a third of
them single parent households, will receive additional benefits as a result of
The second critical element of this government's commitment to the social
safety net is the Canada Health and Social Transfer. It is within the CHST that
medicare lives. Our health care system is one of the fundamental advantages of
this country. It is the program which, above all others, has helped define the
very nature of the society in which we wish to live. To all of us, it has become
a basic right of Canadian citizenship, and one of which we on this side are
As the Prime Minister has said many times, we will not surrender to those who
insist that making economies in health care includes different treatments for
those who cannot afford to pay. Last month, Prime Minister Chrétien said the
government will ensure that the health system will be there for all Canadians,
rich and poor alike. We will maintain substantial cash transfers through the
Canadian Health and Social Transfer to ensure that the federal government always
has a strong say in medicare, and is able to preserve free, universal access to
health care anywhere in Canada for every Canadian. For this government, both
maintaining and enforcing the five principles of medicare are absolutely
fundamental. We will work with all Canadians to preserve and enhance it.
In addition, the government will legislate a five-year funding arrangement
for the CHST which will see the first growth in these transfers for health,
post-secondary education and social services since the mid-1980s. Based on a
formula tied to economic growth, overall CHST entitlement will increase from
$25.1 billion in 1997-98 to $27.4 billion in the 2002-03 fiscal year, and the
federal government will provide an iron-clad guarantee that the cash component
will never fall below $11 billion during that five-year arrangement.
Another critical element of our social safety net obviously is our public
pension system. We have pledged our assurances that our pension plans will be
safeguarded for our children and for future generations. That is why we have
begun discussions with the provinces, and ultimately with Canadians, to ensure
that the Canada Pension Plan will be sustained.
We also intend to ensure that the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income
Supplement programs are protected for the future, and we will do this by
replacing those two programs with a combined seniors' benefit beginning in the
Last September in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister made a commitment
that we do not intend to cut the Old Age Pensions of people who are currently
retired. His words are reflected in the new benefit. Everyone 60 years or over
on December 31, 1995, will have the choice of moving to the new system or of
receiving the OAS and the GIS payments as they are currently structured. They
can choose whichever they believe to be more advantageous to them. For those
applying in the future, the vast majority will be as well or better off,
including three-quarters of all seniors and nine out of ten single senior women.
Furthermore, both the benefit levels and the threshold will be tax free and
fully indexed to inflation.
The agenda outlined in the Speech from the Throne and followed quickly by the
budget is ambitious, and it is necessary in terms both of a direct impact on the
lives of individual Canadians and the unity of this country. Parliament has a
challenging task ahead and as a legislative chamber the Senate will play a
critical role in dealing with this program.
My friend opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, fell prey for a moment to
the media hype that this is now a Liberal-dominated Senate. Everyone in this
house knows that is not the case.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I said a Liberal-dominated Parliament.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I think my honourable friend
was also saying that perhaps now, with changing numbers, the opposition might
have greater freedom to continue with what they rightly believe is their
responsibility to oppose and to make new proposals for the legislative program
of this house. We must remember that the house is almost evenly divided, which
places a particular responsibility on every individual senator.
During the past two years, there has been a great deal of discussion on both
sides about how our committee system could be strengthened and made more
flexible in order to respond effectively to concerns of Canadians. Indeed,
senators have made a very special contribution over the last two years in a
variety of areas, including the special study on euthanasia, the treatment of
aboriginal veterans, the future of Canadian agriculture, changes to Canada's
financial institutions, a number of energy and environmental issues and our
continuing challenges in the areas of international trade and, yes, even an
in-depth study of the Pearson airport issue.
There have been strong representations in this house about devising
opportunities for independent senators to have a more defined role in our
committee structure. Clearly, there is a mood for change in this chamber, and I
have asked our Deputy Leader to place a special priority on carrying this
forward through our Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders. I would
certainly be supportive of proposals which would enhance the ability of all
senators to apply their experience, their wisdom and their innovative ideas to
the difficult tasks which face not only Parliament but Canadians in all regions
of this country.
Regardless of some of the comments made earlier, I would like to thank all of
our colleagues in this house for the general spirit of cooperation and courtesy
which has prevailed in the work that we do together. Obviously we have our
moments of disagreement and frustration, and I am as prone to those tendencies
as anyone else in this chamber; just as prone to them as the Leader of the
Opposition. However, I hope we can fulfil our responsibilities in the session
ahead with the greatest possible degree of cooperation and compromise while
doing the job of carefully reviewing and improving, when necessary, the
legislation before us.
I can assure you, honourable senators, that I will do my part to encourage a
positive and a productive working atmosphere because, in spite of the constant
references that we hear all the time to cynicism and apathy - sentiments with
which I personally do not agree - I believe that Canadians still look to those
in public life to give them leadership and to provide reassurance on the
important issues which have a direct impact on their lives. Whatever our
political differences, we are indeed colleagues in this place and we cannot
leave any doubt to those whom we serve that our priority is to work together to
advance their interests and the interests of the country which is their home.
That is our challenge, and I believe that all of us in this chamber share a
commitment to pursue it with vigour and goodwill.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
On motion of Senator Berntson, debate adjourned.
Address in Reply-Motion for
Termination of Debate on Eighth Sitting Day Adopted
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of Wednesday, February 28, 1996, moved:
That the proceedings on the Order of the Day for resuming the debate on the
motion for an Address in reply to His Excellency the Governor General's Speech
from the Throne addressed to both Houses of Parliament be concluded on the
eighth sitting day on which the order is debated.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Nöël A. Kinsella moved second reading of Bill S-2, to amend the
Canadian Human Rights Act.
He said: Honourable senators, this morning the Canadian Human Rights
Commission issued its 1995 annual report. There are a couple of important
passages in that report which provide me with a starting point for my
explication of Bill S-2.
On page 15 of the French version of its report, the Canadian Human Rights
Commission states that respect for human rights has lost ground, and I quote:
It is somewhat disconcerting for the Commission to have to criticize the
government once again for not making a number of important amendments to the
Canadian Human Rights Act. What is particularly disturbing is that the proposed
amendments are considered to be most sensitive for a reason that is essentially
inappropriate. We understand that there may be limits to what can be achieved at
one time to further the cause of human rights in Canada. We are nonetheless
totally convinced that, by giving the impression of avoiding some changes for
fear of arousing controversy, the government is sending a message that is
totally out of line with its objectives.
Honourable senators, on page 15 of its report, the Human Rights Commission
goes on to say that:
To the contrary, we believe that it is now more crucial than ever that the
Federal Government be clear how it intends to reconcile the pursuit of
equality with its other responsibilities. Above all, we suggest that the
projection of a unifying vision of Canada, where diversity and equality are two
sides of a single coin, depends on an equal readiness to go to bat for all
minorities. If the Federal Government shows signs of hedging on the
anti-discrimination rights of homosexuals or disabled people, for instance, or
any of our ethno-cultural communities, then the equality rights of other groups
can also come into question. Consistency may well be the hobgoblin of little
minds, but human rights by their nature are not divisible; a willingness to buy
peace at the expense of the least powerful or vocal is a slippery slope for all
The commission continues:
It is an open secret that a large part of the Government's reticence to
proceed with amendments to the Act stems from a perception among some critics
that the inclusion of sexual orientation as a prohibited type of discrimination
would amount to special treatment for homosexuals. Nothing could be further from
the truth; it is here and now that they are victims of special treatment by
being excluded from the lawful protections that are extended to other
Canadians. This not only undermines Canada's much vaunted claim to be a leader
in human rights, it is a failure in moral logic and a near-public repudiation of
the rights of many law-abiding and tax-paying Canadians.
Honourable senators, I commend for your reading the report of the Human
Rights Commission issued today. It is pregnant with excellent observations which
I am sure honourable senators share.
The Canadian Human Rights Act is an anti-discrimination statute which
proscribes and forbids discrimination against persons in such areas as
employment and public accommodation, and on a number of specific, forbidden
grounds of discrimination. Thus, it is forbidden to discriminate against a
person in the area of employment which falls under federal jurisdiction only
because of that person's race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age,
sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, or
conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.
Each of the aforementioned proscribed grounds of discrimination is explicitly
stated in the Canadian Human Rights Act with the exception of the ground of
sexual orientation. This latter ground has been read into the Canadian Human
Rights Act by the order of the Ontario Court of Appeal in the case of Haig v.
Honourable senators, the purpose of this bill is to insert into the Canadian
Human Rights Act that which the courts have already declared to be the law of
Canada. By passing this bill, Parliament will discharge its responsibility to
ensure that the statutes reflect the law, and to make the law accessible to all.
This bill, honourable senators, is identical, comma for comma and word for
word, to Bill S-15, which was passed by the Senate in 1993. That bill was sent
to the House of Commons but died on the Order Paper after second reading in the
House of Commons because of prorogation of Parliament.
Let me focus for a moment on the principle of this bill. In doing so, I will
draw on the supporting testimony given by the Deputy Minister of Justice, the
Chair of the Human Rights Commission, and the Director of the Human Rights
Centre here at the University of Ottawa, as they all appeared before the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs which examined
Bill S-15 during the spring of 1993.
The first question to be raised is this: Is this a good amendment to the
Canadian Human Rights Act? In response to questioning by our colleague Senator
Stanbury, Ms Mary Dawson, the Associate Deputy Minister of Justice, stated:
We think the time is right and that these are good amendments. In fact, they
are largely reflective, we think, of the existing state of the law given the
Charter, because sexual orientation is considered to be one of the unwritten
parts of section 15. Therefore, we feel the amendments to 2 and 3 -
- of the Human Rights Act -
- are good amendments.
Honourable senators, that quote can be found at page 42 of proceedings 27.5
of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, 1993.
That this bill makes a good amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act was
also the clear view of the Human Rights Commission, and also the clear view of
the Canadian Bar Association.
A second question to be answered is this: Is this legislation necessary,
given that the courts in the case of Haig v. Canada have determined to
"read into" the Human Rights Act sexual orientation as a prohibited
ground of discrimination? In her answer to this question, the Associate Deputy
Minister of Justice stated:
By putting sexual orientation into the act, it makes it clear. I mean, it is
everyone's intention that there not be discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation. When you have a list of eight or ten items in the Human Rights Act
already, and sexual orientation is an important one, why not list it? I think
that the case law is clear that it is covered in any event, but it adds a
comfort level, and makes the issue visible in such a way.
On this point, Professor William Black, who was then Director of the Human
Rights Centre at the University of Ottawa, in a letter to the committee dated
May 28, 1993, stated:
If the act is not amended, I believe there is a risk that Courts will
narrowly interpret the Canadian Human Rights Act when they consider complaints
based on sexual orientation. For example, statutory defences and related grounds
such as family status may be interpreted in a way that provides less protection
to a complainant without an amendment. In addition, if the statute does not
explicitly cover discrimination based on sexual orientation, public awareness
and education is undermined.
Honourable senators, a third matter is one that flows from the previous
question but speaks to the responsibility of the Parliament of Canada in making
as clear as possible what the law is. If I may again learn from the wisdom of
our colleague Senator Stanbury, he stated:
It seems to me that one of the duties of the legislature is to make as clear
as possible and as obvious as possible what the law is. A person should not have
to read that act and then go back and read a bunch of court judgments to find
out what the law is. Once the judgments have been made, particularly in a case
like this where there have been actual directions, or at least suggestions by
the various tribunals as to what should be done, then surely it is the
responsibility of the legislature to make it perfectly clear within the
legislation and make it easy for people to understand what the law is.
Senator Beaudoin rightly indicated, when speaking at the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the May 27, 1993,
The Supreme Court of Canada has said in at least three cases that it is not
only the courts that are concerned with human rights, it is also the Parliament
of Canada. Therefore, why don't we say very expressly and clearly what is
already interpreted by the courts?
Honourable senators, that the Senate should be the house of Parliament where
this bill is initiated and, given the difficulty that some members of the other
place have in responding to this issue, perhaps we can see in this special
circumstance the Senate responding to the need for the protection of a minority
of Canadians, which is perhaps more difficult, and perhaps we can understand the
difficulty faced by members of the other place if they were to be advocating and
promoting this amendment.
It is worthy and important to note that the basic principle underlying this
bill has been accepted and enacted upon by most of the provincial and
territorial human rights acts across Canada. The majority of jurisdictions have
had sexual orientation on the list of prohibited or proscribed grounds of
discrimination for years. It was way back in the mid-1970s when the Province of
Quebec made the first amendment to their Human Rights Act to provide for this
prohibited ground. Surely, it is high time that the federal anti-discrimination
statute catch up with the provinces and the territories.
I might point out that the inclusion of sexual orientation in the list of
prohibited grounds has not been a matter of misunderstanding or lack of clarity
for definition. The justice department officials stated that "sexual
orientation" is the more common term and that they had no problem at all
with the phrase. All the provincial and territorial human rights acts that have
had "sexual orientation" in their statutes have had no difficulty with
We are dealing strictly with the proscription of discrimination, prohibiting
a burden. We are not granting any special privilege. This bill deals in a
technical and straightforward way with discrimination, and all amendments in
this bill are internal to the Canadian Human Rights Act. It has no amending
effect on the question of spouse or marital status covered by other statutes or
I, along with other honourable senators, am somewhat surprised when I hear
those who object to this amendment to the federal Human Rights Act, claiming
that this is a terrible thing to do because it will affect marriage. We all know
marriage is something that falls under provincial jurisdiction, and the
Parliament of Canada has no jurisdiction there.
Successive reports, including the report issued this morning by the Canadian
Human Rights Commission, have recommended that this amendment be enacted.
Parliamentary committees, those of all parties, including the Equality for All
Report and a series of ministers of justice, including the current Minister of
Justice, have supported the principle of this amendment. There have been a
variety of reasons to explain why successive governments have not been able to
see this amendment through to enactment. The Senate, I believe, is well placed
now to break the logjam in the early days of this session of Parliament, to once
again give unanimous approval to this measure and send it to the House of
Commons at an early date. It may well be that, as a result of Senate leadership,
the members of the other place would want to exercise a free vote on the
measure, notwithstanding that it is a policy supported by the Minister of
Justice and many of our colleagues opposite.
Hon. Ron Ghitter: Would my honourable colleague respond to a question?
Senator Kinsella: Certainly.
Senator Ghitter: Have the honourable senator's views with respect to
the legislation changed in light of the judgment of the Alberta Court of Appeal
some three weeks ago, in which it was suggested that the courts should not
interfere with the will of the legislatures, and, considering the fact that the
legislatures had not passed that legislation, that they should not read sexual
orientation into the Charter? In bringing this legislation forward, would it
not, in fact, result in a higher degree of urgency now that the Alberta Court of
Appeal has made that judgment?
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator Ghitter
is correct in his analysis, notwithstanding that the decision in Alberta was
directed at the Alberta Individual Rights Protection Act, a provincial statute,
whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal was addressing the Canadian Human Rights
We have the decision of a higher court which indicated that reading in is one
of the remedies available, whether it be this act or some other act. However,
perhaps the case in Alberta has added some confusion to the situation, thereby
creating some urgency that Parliament make clear what the federal Human Rights
Hon. Anne C. Cools moved second reading of Bill S-3, to amend the
Criminal Code (plea bargaining).
She said: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to my motion for second
reading of Bill S-3, to amend the plea bargaining provisions of the Criminal
Code and thereby asking the Senate to take conclusive action to excise a legal
and political malignancy which has grown in our midst. My Bill S-3 is necessary
because Canadians are shocked at the depravity and brutality of the sexual
slayings of three teen-age girls by Karla Homolka and her husband Paul Bernardo,
and because Homolka's prison sentence is inadequate to her crimes, and finally
because her sentence and her secret trial and her secret plea bargain deals with
the Crown prosecutors have created moral and political doubts in the public's
mind. Most important, these doubts and uncertainties have resulted in a crisis
of confidence in the administration of criminal justice in Canada. This Senate
action will restore stability and public confidence.
The object of Bill S-3 is the dismantling of the Homolka plea bargain deal
and the imposition of a more representative sentence that fits her crimes. In
forming the Homolka plea bargain agreement, prosecutorial discretion was
exercised by Crown prosecutors in a flawed manner and founded on unsound ground.
Simply put, the prosecutors chose to favour Homolka over Bernardo, for reasons
which I shall show.
This plea bargain agreement, and any plea bargain agreement, is not a
contract in the ordinary sense. It is not a contract in law, the breach of which
could result in a civil suit for damages. It is unclear whether this or any plea
bargain agreement is a contract at all. The force behind this agreement is not
the law of contract but the honour of the Crown. No judge is bound by such
agreements. The question before Parliament is whether such an agreement, its
protection and its benefits to Homolka is a valid agreement in law, and whether
such agreement should continue to receive the force of law and the support and
honour of the sovereign.
The plea bargaining process is new to the administration of criminal justice
in Canada. Such agreements are at the discretion of the Crown prosecutor, and
their development largely follows no formal procedure. This informal process
needs some light shed on it. Parliament should investigate.
Plea bargain negotiations contain the potential for collision between
judicial independence and prosecutorial discretion, and an enormous collision
between Parliament and the courts. Consideration of Bill S-3 will inform
Parliament on the state of this process, its workings and results, and even the
proportion of these agreements that miscarry or misfire.
The Homolka deal is a terrible mischief. This deal and its consequences are
unconscionable and intolerable, and must be amended by statute. I propose,
honourable senators, that we the Senate correct this terrible public mischief
that has been visited upon the people of Canada; that we correct this very
public and obvious miscarriage of justice. We must pass this law redressing this
menace and insult offered to the families of these girls, to the people and to
the Crown of Canada.
Honourable senators, there were two Homolka deals: The first deal was fixed
in May of 1993, the second in May of 1995, two years apart. The first Homolka
deal was negotiated and consented to by Murray Segal, Director of the Crown's
criminal law office, on behalf of then Ontario Attorney General, the Honourable
Marion Boyd. It received judicial action and approval by Mr. Justice Francis
Kovacs of the Ontario Court General Division on July 6, 1993, in the short,
speedy trial of Homolka. The trial lasted mere minutes. The deal was weighted
heavily in Homolka's favour and was strictly adhered to by Mr. Justice Kovacs.
The joint submission of both the Crown and defence counsel, and Mr. Justice
Kovacs' reasons on sentencing, laid bare the horror of this case and the Ontario
Attorney General's handling of it.
Mr. Justice Kovacs' adjudication and ruling complied with the intent of the
prosecution's deal and its forgiveness of Homolka. As an experienced justice of
the Ontario court, Mr. Justice Kovacs' judgments and judicial action are
enigmatic. His adjudication had the effect of largely exonerating Homolka,
exempting her from punishment. Judicial action shielded her and insulated her
from the penalty suited to her crimes.
Mr. Justice Kovacs deferred to prosecutorial discretion, which deployed the
concept of the battered woman's syndrome to diminish Homolka's culpability.
Honourable senators should understand that this is unusual, because the battered
woman's syndrome is frequently offered as a defence, never by the prosecution;
Parliament must uphold two fundamental principles of sentencing: The first
principle is the specific deterrence of the accused, namely that the length of a
sentence must prevent the individual from committing another crime. The second
is the protection of society in that the sentence must be sufficiently long to
protect society from danger from the accused. Moreover, sentence length reflects
society's abhorrence of the crime.
In sentencing Homolka, Mr. Justice Kovacs acknowledged this principle. He
I keenly appreciate the community must be satisfied the sentence reflects the
necessity for the protection and safety of the community. ... I understand the
righteous outrage which the community feels, and properly so.
Remember that this is 1993.
Having declared these principles, Mr. Justice Kovacs immediately abandoned
them, in deference to certain other considerations, saying:
It is the Court's responsibility to be objective and to consider the very
special circumstances of this case and this accused. There are serious unsolved
crimes, here... There can be no room for error in the successful prosecution of
Clearly, Homolka is not the offender. The prosecution of Paul Bernardo, the
offender, was a mitigating factor for Mr. Justice Kovacs.
Honourable senators, a judge's role is the adjudication of the person charged
and the application of the principles of sentencing to the charges in the case.
His primary concern is the case at bar and not other "circumstances."
In addition, the independence of the judiciary was questioned as Mr. Justice
Kovacs allowed his judicial discretion to be fettered by prosecutorial deference
and prosecutorial discretion. He deferred. This encumbrance on his judicial
obligation is made clear in the submissions of Mr. Murray Segal, the Crown
prosecutor during the Homolka trial, who said that:
... the Crown is satisfied that Karla Bernardo had the necessary intent and
involvement to found murder charges,... but as a matter of prosecutorial
discretion, you have before you manslaughter charges...
Honourable senators, there was not one Homolka deal but two. At the time Mr.
Justice Kovacs adjudicated the trial of Homolka, there was one. During the trial
of Paul Bernardo, Homolka's true involvement and culpability were revealed, and
her true role in these terrible offences was made manifest to all Canadians.
Canadians must know the extent of the Honourable Marion Boyd's personal role
and interventions in this affair. Ms. Homolka was exceptionally well treated by
the Attorney General's office, which treatment is curious and troubling. The
first deal, made in 1993, granted Homolka immunity from certain prosecutions,
fixed a lenient sentence, and forgave certain offences, including culpability in
the death of her own sister, Tammy. Though she was never charged with this
killing, an extremely unusual procedure happened that day in court. Her court
hearing documents her culpability, thereby precluding charges from ever being
laid. All the circumstances of her culpability in her sister's death were read
into the record.
The second deal, two years later in May of 1995, granted additional immunity
for other crimes, and forgave other offences undisclosed in the first plea
A disturbing fact is that Bernardo's lawyer, Ken Murray, acquired and
secretly kept certain videotapes, critical evidence in the prosecution's case,
and failed to give them over to the police. Consideration of this bill will
allow us to cross-examine Mr. Murray. His activities are no internal matter
reserved exclusively to the preserve of the legal profession and the law
society. This is a matter for Parliament. Parliament should decide a fitting
penalty for such activity by an officer of the court.
In TheToronto Sun newspaper on October 10, 1995, Christie
Blatchford, regarding Crown attorney Jim Treleaven's memo dated May 26, 1995,
"Had Murray turned the tapes over to police as he, as a lawyer, was
obliged to do," Treleaven wrote, ongoing plea bargain talks with Walker
likely "would have ceased"...
Prosecutor Treleaven's statements are belied by the fact that the Crown
prosecutor made the second deal in May, 1995, four days before Bernardo's trial
and Homolka's testimony for the Crown in that trial. Coincidentally, that took
place minutes before a provincial election as well. Everyone has forgotten that.
The Crown made this second deal to shield her from prosecution for other
undisclosed criminal acts perpetrated against Jane Doe, another teenager. This
second deal is even more suspicious. Christie Blatchford in TheToronto
Sun tells us why on October 10, 1995, saying:
Four of Ontario's highest-ranking law officials unanimously agreed that there
was "a proper basis in law" for charging Karla Homolka with aggravated
sexual assault in the "extremely grievous" attack on a young woman who
can be identified only as Jane Doe...
... despite the fact there was evidence to charge the 25-year-old, now
serving the 12-year sentence that is the result of her original plea bargain,
the senior officials advised the police not to bother. ... when one of them,
Niagara Regional Police Chief Grant Waddell, indicated he was prepared to lay a
charge regardless of the high-powered advice, ... he was told the government
would "stay" the charge - in effect refuse to prosecute it.
Blatchford also reported that, in Treleaven's memo addressed to Inspector
Vince Bevan and Detective-Sergeant Tony Warr, Treleaven made it clear that:
... he was writing on behalf of Assistant Deputy Attorney General Michael
Code and his two fellow regional Crowns, Leo McGuigan and Jerry Wiley, and that
he had assistance from Murray Segal, ... and George Walker, Homolka's lawyer.
The secret document shines some light on the way government officials were
thinking of Homolka, shows that she and her lawyer were still playing hardball
last May, and provides the first solid evidence that the Jane Doe decision came
out of myriad concerns - some political, some practical, and most having little
to do either with the law or the strength of the case against Homolka.
Blatchford suggests that the second agreement was a second miscarriage of
justice, executed to sanitize and justify the first, therein to protect their
Homolka's trial before Mr. Justice Kovacs was riddled with extraordinary
circumstances and statements that reveal the special treatment accorded Karla
Homolka. Crown prosecutor Murray Segal, in his submissions on sentencing,
articulated the Crown's position:
The Crown's assessment, based on a review of such psychiatric evidence, is
that absent the influence and association of someone whose behaviour bears the
characteristics of what truly may be one of this province's and the country's
most feared individuals, she is unlikely to re-offend.
In his submission, Karla Homolka's lawyer, Mr. George Walker, mirrored Segal
Now, she's going to be placed in a penitentiary setting. She is going to have
some difficulties, that's obvious. Twelve years is not an insignificant period
of time, given the fact that she's 23. She's certainly not street wise nor is
she institution wise.
A characteristic of this case has been the intelligence and brain power that
these people employed to escape detection. Yet, here we are in a court of
justice, with people telling us she is not street wise.
Mr. Justice Kovacs, in his reasons on sentencing, reveals his thinking. He
was very careful in what he said. If you read the judgment, you will see that
every single word that came out of the judge's mouth was very careful. He said:
I have read carefully the reports of:
(a) Dr. A.I. Malcolm, a psychiatrist, dated May 28, 1993.
(b) Dr. H.J. Arndt, a psychiatrist, dated May 30, 1993.
(c) Dr. J.A. Long, a clinical psychologist, dated June 3, 1993, in respect to
Mr. Justice Kovacs read from these reports into the record:
Dr. Malcolm's opinion is...at page 7: "Now my opinion is that Karla is
not a dangerous person." ...and at page 4, he said, "I had no doubt
that Karla was a passive, non-violent person..."
Dr. Arndt, in saying that she is not a danger to society, said in his report
as well: ... "I do not see her as being a danger now or ever again to
Dr. Long, after administering numerous psychological tests on the accused,
said at page 10 in his report: "... she is not a danger to herself nor to
You should read this transcript. It is exceptional.
Mr. Justice Kovacs relied on the unanimity of these three doctors' opinions
that Karla Homolka was not a dangerous person. Yet, in his comments on the
aggravating factors, he admitted to the conduct of the accused, saying:
It was not isolated conduct. The acts leading to the abduction of Kristen
French were coldly and calculatingly planned, with full participation of the
accused. ... The facts leading to the death of her own sister indicated planning
on her part. The accused obtained the anaesthetic which was used to keep the
He also stated:
The careful attempt to cover up the circumstances of the death of Tammy
Homolka and the meticulous and planned attempts by the accused to eliminate
evidence of the deaths of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.... It goes to the
consciousness of evil thought processes of the accused.
Of course, we must wonder why three girls are dead if Homolka was not
Despite the horrendous crimes requiring his judicial scrutiny, Mr. Justice
Kovacs deferred to prosecutorial discretion. Simply put, the Crown prosecutors
favoured Homolka over Bernardo because she was a woman, and such seemed
politically appropriate in the political atmosphere of May 1993.
Mr. Justice Kovacs declined to use his powers to delay Homolka's parole,
I make no order under s. 741.2 of the Code for an increase in the time of a
parole ineligibility. I make no such order because the length of sentence is the
most important factor in the Crown's submission, and I agree. ... I do not wish
to hamper the treatment of the accused by imposing a period of ineligibility for
The prosecutors' position in shielding Homolka from responsibility and
punishment for these heinous crimes because of gender and the prosecution's
advancement of the claim of Homolka's "battered woman's syndrome" was
diabolical. During the Bernardo trial in 1995, Mr. Justice Patrick LeSage,
unlike Mr. Justice Kovacs in 1993, resisted this characterization.
Honourable senators, the Senate should know why the Crown made these
assertions of battered woman's syndrome in this nefarious case of this notorious
and obvious multiple murderer. It is perplexing that the Ontario Attorney
General's office and its experienced Crown prosecutors have been participants in
this deceit. Homolka's deceit is a stark example of a peculiar female criminal
aggression conjoint with deadly craftiness and deception.
Honourable senators, experienced Crown prosecutors and criminal justice
officials are informed that the deceit and the manipulation by certain
particular female aggressors upon the judicial system is quite common and very
well known to those of us who have worked in the system. I shall cite two cases
The first case is the Charles Manson case. Linda Kasabian, a former
girlfriend of Charles Manson, whose idea it was to commit the Sharon Tate
murders, escaped trial because she agreed to testify against Manson and the
other defendants. Consequently, she enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
The second case is the infamous and horrible Moors murder case in England.
Myra Hindley and her boyfriend raped and killed five children. Before they
murdered a 10-year old girl, they took pornographic photographs of this poor
child and made tape recordings of her screams for mercy. One writer, a brilliant
writer whom I recommend, Alix Kirsta, in her book, Deadlier Than the Male,
described Myra Hindley as an "archdemon" saying that:
...she remains... a salutary reminder of corrupt femininity...
Writers Christie Blatchford of the TorontoSun and Patricia
Pearson of TheGlobe and Mail have exposed Homolka's successful
deceits. They have probed the peculiar aggression and deception of the Homolka
type of offender. In August 1993, Pearson wrote in an article entitled,
"How Women Can Get Away With Murder":
According to studies done in both England and the United States, women who
commit violent crimes receive lighter sentences than their male counterparts.
Females who kill in league with male partners are often seen as "nice
girls" who were forced into it. That's why their sentences are lighter.
She quoted Candice Skrapec, a scholar in the field of serial homicide, who
I believe...that many homicide cases remain unsolved... because the offender
was falsely assumed to be male.
Patricia Pearson was prophetic about Homolka when she said in August 1993:
The issue has come to the fore again with the manslaughter conviction of
Karla Homolka in the killings of Ontario teen-agers ... Whether Ms Homolka is
one of these "nice girls" remains an open question.
Honourable senators, our committee must hear from both Blatchford and
Honourable senators, the two Homolka deals, the Attorney General's alleged
interference with police, the activities of the Crown prosecutors and the
judicial compliance of Mr. Justice Kovacs, the fact of the coalescence of these
errors, oversights, deceits, in combination with the public's sense of
abandonment are sufficient and compelling reasons for parliamentary action.
Clearly, the Crown, counsel and the judiciary have failed. I ask honourable
senators to support this initiative and to pass Bill S-3.
On motion of Senator Graham, for Senator Wood, debate adjourned.
That notwithstanding any Standing Rule or Order of this House, the following
Bill, introduced as Bill S-14 in the First Session of the Thirty-fifth
Parliament, be reinstated forthwith in this Session in the following manner:
An act to restrict the manufacture, sale, importation and labelling of
tobacco products (The Tobacco Product Restrictions Act), be deemed to have been
introduced and read a first time, read a second time, and referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology:
Hon. Stanley Haidasz: Honourable senators, I seek leave to withdraw
this motion standing in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
The Hon. the Speaker: I should like to remind honourable senators that
the official photograph of the Senate will be taken tomorrow at two o'clock. I
believe that advice has been sent to all caucuses. I would ask you to be in your
seats on time. As well, I should like to advise the staff and the employees to
be in the north gallery at 1:50 p.m.