Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 35th Parliament,
Volume 135, Issue 73
Tuesday, February 18, 1997
The Honourable Gildas L. Molgat, Speaker
Tuesday, February 18, 1997
The Senate met at 2:00 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Deputy Leader of the Government) with leave of the
Senate and not withstanding rule 58(1)(h
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until tomorrow,
February 19, 1997, at 1:30 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Committee Authorized to Meet
During Sitting of the Senate
Hon. Sharon Carstairs
, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal
and Constitutional Affairs, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs have
power to sit at 4 p.m., tomorrow February 19, 1997, even though the Senate may
then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
Changes to Section 93 of
Constitution Requested by Province of Quebec-Guarantees of Linguistic and
Educational Rights for Anglophone Minority-Government Position
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition)
: Honourable senators,
in a long interview in The Gazette
dated February 18, 1997, the Minister
of Intergovernmental Affairs appears to have answered - in part, anyway - a
question which I asked the Leader of Government in the Senate some short while
He said anglophones need guarantees that their right to run their own school
boards will be protected. But those guarantees need not be written in the
constitution, he said. "I never talked about constitutional
The only interpretation that I believe can be given to this statement - which
I assume is government policy - is that the Liberal government is ready to
substitute linguistic schools for confessional schools without a constitutional
amendment which would provide the same guarantees to the proposed system that
are afforded to the current one.
My question is a simple one, requiring a "yes" or "no"
answer, I would think: Is this an accurate interpretation of Mr. Dion's remarks
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I have been attempting to obtain a full answer to my honourable friend's
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Read The Gazette.
Senator Fairbairn: It has been made clear consistently by the
government that it is up to the Government of Quebec to build a consensus on any
proposal they are putting forward within the Province of Quebec. That consensus,
of course, includes anglophones within Quebec. Until that situation resolves
itself, the federal government is watching the process, but will not be engaged
in it until -
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I am talking about 800,000 anglophones. That
is all. It is extraordinary. You said that you were watching the situation.
Senator Fairbairn: I said the federal government has indicated that,
before any change can take place, there must be a substantial and broad
consensus within the Province of Quebec, including within the anglophone
community of Quebec, or the plan is not acceptable.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is not my question. My question is: Will
the Government of Canada, whatever consensus may or may not be brought to the
table, insist that it will not move on removing confessional schools and
substituting non-confessional schools so long as the guarantees given
confessional schools are not extended to the new system? That is the question.
As a basic condition before approving any change, will the Government of Canada
attach the extension of current guarantees to the new system, whatever consensus
may be reached?
Senator Doody: Like they did in Newfoundland.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, in response to my honourable
friend, I must confess that I have not had the opportunity to read the Montreal Gazette
today. I will undertake to speak to my colleague and read the article. Then I
will endeavour to obtain an answer for my honourable friend.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I hope the Leader of the Government in the
Senate will appreciate that this should not be the decision of one minister, but
that this should be government policy.
In any event, Daniel Johnson, the leader of the Liberal Party in Quebec,
calls the Quebec government's plan "a recipe for disaster." Mr.
Johnson, in referring to the Quebec government, says this about the proposal:
They want to destroy Canada. They want to show the process with the other
Canadians doesn't work, so they picked the road that is likely to fail. I will
not vote for failure. I will not vote for a process that is doomed from the
The Liberal Party of Quebec is the only province-wide federalist party in
that province and one which Mr. Dion, in today's Gazette, publicly urges
all eligible residents of Quebec to vote for.
Is it not in the interests of all Canadians for this Liberal government to
pay heed to Mr. Johnson and his colleagues and to tell Mr. Dion to stop his
academic musings which confuse more than clarify, and to instruct him that, only
after guarantees equivalent to those presently in place are pledged by the
Quebec government, will any amendment to section 93 be considered.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, in response to Senator
Lynch-Staunton's request, I shall seek clarification from Mr. Dion.
Senator Simard: From the government.
Senator Fairbairn: On the question of Mr. Johnson's comments, clearly,
the position of the official opposition in the National Assembly of Quebec
indicates that no consensus has been reached on the Quebec government's
amendment process. That is precisely what the government, through Mr. Dion, have
been indicating - that they will be expecting any further activity to take place
only through the kind of consensus which is not evident at the moment and which,
according to Mr. Johnson, does not exist.
Changes to Section 93 of Constitution
Requested by Province of Quebec-Application of Precedent Established in Newfoundland-Government
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme
: Honourable senators, we cannot have a double
standard. When we debated in the House the constitutional amendments in
Newfoundland, members who voted in favour of the proposal repeatedly pointed to
the huge consensus: How can you oppose the views of a province where a
referendum has been held and where the government passed the motion unanimously?
Two debates were held in the House. First, a vote was held, and second, it was
Does Mr. Dion intend to proceed differently because the Province of Quebec is
involved this time? Does he intend, on an issue as important as this, to apply
the same logic applied by the Liberal majority in the debate on constitutional
change respecting the guarantees that part of the population of Newfoundland
thought it had, and realized too late it no longer did?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
as I indicated to Senator Lynch-Staunton, the government has consistently said
in reference to section 93 that it is up to the Government of Quebec to
demonstrate a clear consensus, and that includes a clear consensus within the
anglophone population as well. As of today, reading Mr. Johnson's statements and
the statements of others, that consensus does not exist.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, in the same vein, my classic
education, in philosophy, was in Sept-Îles. I was not a great student in some
subjects. They said I was fairly good in logic, though. You say, there has to be
a consensus. This is where I will distance myself somewhat from Senator
Lynch-Staunton's remarks. There has to be a consensus in the anglophone
community as well. I see a double standard in this case. In Newfoundland, no
consensus was reached among the Catholics and the Pentecostalists. However, we
decided to take away the rights we thought these people could have in
I am sorry that the Government of Quebec, after embarrassing itself
linguistically, wants to drag us all into the issue of religion. If there are
things that should not be touched, it is language and religion. And here is
Quebec trying to draw us into both debates. That is their problem. We will talk
about this later.
I do hope, however, that Mr. Dion will be clear and consistent and apply the
same ideology he wanted us to apply in the constitutional amendments in
Newfoundland. Otherwise, I think we are ready to consider these questions. Some
people in Quebec seem to have more power than others and seem to be able to
rattle Mr. Dion. He has no need to kowtow to either side in Quebec. His job is
to ensure consistency in this country.
I hope you will tell him to apply the same consistency to his public
statements. You saw what happened in Newfoundland. Let us follow the same
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I agree entirely that Mr. Dion
is seeking a national coherence every day that he serves in the position in
which he serves.
I would point out to Senator Prud'homme that we are in a situation on this
particular issue where even the National Assembly of Quebec has not had an
opportunity to consider this issue, much less has there been any indication of
consensus on the issue within the province.
The federal government has been clear that it is not engaged in that issue
within Quebec. It is the Government of Quebec that is putting forward a
proposal. Clearly, there is a great deal of emotion and contrary opinions being
expressed in the early days of this discussion. It will be some time before the
consensus will be reached, if at all. However, the National Assembly of Quebec
has not yet been seized of this issue.
Alleged Misuse of funds by
Minister-Description of Services Provided-Government Position
Hon. Orville H. Phillips
: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. I should like to read a description of
the services provided to the Minister of Justice by Earnscliffe communications
for $160,000 as I believe they took place. The description is as follows:
The preparation of materials for formal news conference...detailed
preparation for media activities... such as interviews on national television
programming, et cetera...
Would the honourable minister say that this is an accurate description of the
services provided to the Minister of Justice?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): The Minister of
Justice, as he indicated in the House of Commons, explained the services that
were provided for him.
I should tell Senator Phillips that the company charged with providing these
services over a vast number of legislative matters in which the Minister of
Justice has been involved was hired through a competitive bid process, and then
its contract was extended. The minister himself has set out what the firm did
Honourable senators, this was a proper contract. Guidelines that would apply
to any minister of the Crown were observed. There is nothing untoward about the
contract, and the use to which it was put by the minister.
My honourable friend obviously disagrees with the necessity for such a
contract, or the necessity for the expenditure. That is a question of
disagreement; it is not a question of fault.
Senator Phillips: Honourable senators, I notice that the minister very
carefully avoided my description of the services provided. I take it, therefore,
that she has no complaint about my description of the services provided.
I should like to point out to the Honourable Leader of the Government in the
Senate that I read to her an excerpt from the testimony given at the Special
Senate Committee on the Pearson Airport Agreements. As honourable senators know,
the government described the activities of the same consultants performing the
same services as "immoral and unethical." They even called them
"a big rip-off."
Senator Gigantès: They were hired by the government.
Senator Phillips: I should like to ask the honourable minister why the
Minister of Justice requires all of these services, which were considered a
rip-off for everyone else? Is the Minister of Justice that much less able than
the ordinary person that he must have such services? Has he considered supplying
a "rip-off" for anyone else?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I will carefully read the
quotation that my honourable friend gave earlier and consider it. I simply
repeat that the Minister of Justice has taken responsibility for the hiring of
Senator Doody: He needs all the help he can get.
Senator Fairbairn: My honourable friend is using words to describe it.
I will read my honourable friend's list of qualifications for this activity, and
perhaps we can have another exchange.
Senator Phillips: On the same subject of the minister receiving
preferential treatment, in the settlement of the Airbus affair, if the
honourable minister will recall, yesterday's Hansard indicates that some
of the $160,000 went to the Airbus affair. Why, then, was the Minister of
Justice entitled to these communications experts when they were denied to the
former Prime Minister? Here again, I think it shows the weakness of the present
Minister of Justice in comparison to the former Prime Minister.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I will not comment on the
settlement in that case, which is being arbitrated by Mr. Gold. I simply
indicate to my honourable friend that the Minister of Justice received advice
under the terms of a contract that covered a wide range of activities in which
he was engaged, and responsibilities that he had. I do not believe that a
minister needs to apologize for seeking advice.
Senator Doody: Or for spending the taxpayers' money.
Senator Phillips: Does the honourable minister employ the same
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I have a terrific,
multi-talented group of people working with me in my office, whom I appreciate a
great deal. They provide for me all the help I require.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, by way of a supplementary
question, does the minister recall Mr. Rock, or possibly Mr. Young, speaking of
the rip-off, and unethical and immoral expenditures related to the Pearson
airport agreements, as was pointed out so adeptly by the Honourable Senator
Phillips? Does she not agree that, in a time of higher taxes, lost benefits and
cutbacks of transfer payments to provinces, taxpayers are fed up with these
horrendous bills that are coming through for spin doctors? Does she not agree
that, in light of clawbacks on the pensions of elderly Canadians, among others,
perhaps we should reassess this type of practice? If the Leader of the
Government in the Senate can get along without spin doctors, why can the rest of
the ministers not get along without spin doctors?
Senator Fairbairn: In answer to my honourable friend's question,
perhaps I should hire someone to enable me to give a spin on the variety of
subjects he propels in my direction.
Honourable senators, I am doing my best with what I have. I do not use - and
would not use - the kinds of adjectives that my honourable friend or Senator
Phillips is using to describe a minister of the Crown, in pursuit of his or her
legislative responsibilities, being able to explain those activities to the
satisfaction and for the benefit of the Canadian people. I do not subscribe to
the language used by my honourable friend.
Minister's Remarks on Contents of
Tobacco Products-Use of Public Relations Consultants-Government Position
Hon. David Tkachuk
: Honourable senators, I noted with interest the
previous question asked about the contract with Earnscliffe Communications. I
note that Minister Dingwall is trying, quite unsuccessfully, to extricate
himself from the consequences of speaking when he should not. It seems that the
minister is attempting to avoid a lawsuit being levelled at the government for
some remarks that he made, inaccurately describing a tobacco product as
containing glass. He is now in the midst of drafting an apology to the company
This is more a suggestion than a question, but perhaps some of the other
immoral rip-off firms that the government could use would be the Capital Hill
Group, or GPC, which were both criticized in the Nixon report as being firms
that had done something wrong by working in a communication vein for the Pearson
Development Corporation. I should like to also ask whether Capital Hill Group
and GPC are presently being employed by other departments in the government?
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn (Leader of the Government): Obviously, senator, I
cannot answer that question. However, I will pass the question along. I simply
do not know. A vast variety of groups in Ottawa provide assistance. I am not
aware of which ones are being employed by my colleagues, if any.
Answer to Order Paper Question
Proportion of Alternative Fuel
vehicles operated by Department of the Environment
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Deputy Leader of the Government)
answer to Question No. 50 on the Order Paper-by Senator Kenny.
Bell Canada Act
Bill to Amend-Third Reading
Hon. Peter Bosa
moved third reading of Bill C-57, to amend the Bell
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
Excise Tax Act
Income Tax Act
Debt Servicing and Reduction Account Act
Bill to Amend-Second
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kirby, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Moore, for the second reading of Bill C-70, to amend the
Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Income Tax
Act, the Debt Servicing and Reduction Account Act and related Acts.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, it was not my intention to participate in this debate. However, I was
provoked by some remarks made by Senator Kirby last evening. I will take only a
few minutes to put the facts on the record.
In an effort to rally support for Bill C-70, which he introduced last
evening, Senator Kirby, to my great astonishment, interpreted remarks which I
made in this chamber on May 9, 1996, as an endorsement of the Liberal
government's proposed harmonized sales tax. The words he quoted are the
Honourable senators, once again the Liberal government has not only adopted a
While the words are accurate, the interpretation given to them is, I am
afraid, deliberately misleading and absolutely false. I know that I am not the
only one who cannot accept that such blatant distortions should be allowed to
I shall read the full quotation from Question Period as reported on page 301
of Debates of the Senate of May 9, 1996.
Honourable senators, once again the Liberal government has not only adopted a
Conservative policy which, like so many others, its supporters maligned during
the election campaign of 1993 - I speak, of course, of the goods and services
tax - but it has augmented it by more than doubling the GST...
My remark was a preamble to a question to the Leader of Government. It could
not be clearer that I was pointing out that the Conservative policy to which I
was alluding was the GST itself. Nowhere in my remarks does the word
"harmonization" appear. To suggest otherwise is to get the debate on
Bill C-70 off to a very poor start, to say the least.
I was tempted to raise a question of privilege over this because the
deliberate, gross distortion of the meaning of anyone's remarks cannot be taken
lightly. However, in the interest of saving time, I make this correction during
this debate. I trust that adding the correction to the debate will eliminate any
confusion over the meaning of my remarks, and I look forward to Senator Kirby's
recognition of my clarification when he closes debate at the end of the second
reading debate on Bill C-70.
Hon. John Buchanan: Honourable senators, I have been asked to allow
Senator Kirby to answer some questions put to him yesterday evening. After he
does so, I will have some remarks in response to his answers.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted for the Honourable Senator
Kirby to proceed to answer questions now? This is not the normal procedure.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella: It should be clearly understood that Senator
Kirby's remarks will not conclude the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave given to allow
Senator Kirby to answer questions put to him yesterday evening?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, Senator St. Germain asked a
question of me last night and I agreed to get back to him with the specific
numerical value. He asked what the total amount of the transition assistance
package to the provinces under the HST would be if all provinces participated.
He raised that question in the context of the fact that the assistance going to
the three Atlantic provinces which are now participating in the HST is
approximately $700 million.
If all the remaining provinces of Canada participated in the HST, the total
amount of assistance would be between $1.5 billion and $1.6 billion. Since $700
million of that amount is being paid to three provinces, 45 to 46 per cent of
the total assistance is being paid to the three participating provinces.
Therefore, 54 to 55 per cent would be paid out if all other provinces decided to
participate in the program.
In my speech last night I quoted from a public opinion poll. Senator
MacDonald asked me for the exact reference to the poll. I am prepared to go
further than that; I am prepared to table the document on which I based the
facts in my speech. The document is entitled "A Public Opinion Survey of
Atlantic Consumer Response to Harmonized Sales Tax Proposals." As I
indicated last night, the survey was done in the last week of January. I am
happy to table this with the clerk.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted for Honourable Senator Kirby to
table this material?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Buchanan: Honourable senators, I have followed the debate and
negotiations leading to the HST - or the BST - for many years. In fact, eight
years ago, when the provinces were first asked to blend or harmonize provincial
sales taxes with the GST, and I was premier of Nova Scotia at the time, their
answer to the former federal Conservative government was "no." The
reasons for not agreeing to a blended tax at that time are as valid today as
they were then.
Last fall when the initial agreement was signed, it appeared, at first blush,
that this may not be a bad arrangement for our three Atlantic provinces. After
all, when you have a reduction from approximately 18.7 per cent in Nova Scotia
and New Brunswick, and from over 19 per cent in Newfoundland, to 15 per cent,
simple arithmetic indicates that it is not a bad arrangement.
The problem, of course, was that, when we first heard about the deal made by
the three premiers, very few of the details were made known. I suppose it is
understandable that the people in our three provinces would say immediately, as
they did at that time, "This does not sound like a bad deal." In fact,
I commented to myself, "This may not be so bad." Of course, no details
were known at the time. It was not known how it was to be implemented or what
the parameters would be. Therefore, total judgment on the deal had to be set
aside until we learned more about it.
Prince Edward Island was wise enough not to enter into the deal. In fact, I
have a document in my hand which indicates why Prince Edward Island refused to
do so. It must be remembered that at that time the government of Prince Edward
Island was Liberal. The committee, established in Prince Edward Island to engage
in a detailed inspection of what this new BST or HST was all about, determined
that it was not good for Prince Edward Island. After considering the matter, the
committee came to the conclusion that the Province of Prince Edward Island
should not harmonize its sales tax with the federal GST. The committee believed
that the sales tax harmonization proposal would not be beneficial to the
province and its people. As well, the committee concluded that harmonization
would result in diminished provincial control over a major revenue raising
The committee also recognized that non-harmonization could have, potentially,
a negative impact on some sectors of the island economy. Down the road, the
government may need to make adjustments. Therefore, the committee recommended
that the Government of Prince Edward Island not enter into the sales tax
harmonization agreement as proposed by the Government of Canada.
After the election, the new government, led by Premier Pat Binns, concurred
in that recommendation. In fact, as I recall, the Legislative Assembly of Prince
Edward Island concurred unanimously with the recommendation. The new government
concluded that Prince Edward Island would not join with the other provinces in
the Atlantic area to harmonize its sales tax with the GST, a profound and wise
We must look now at why this happened. Why did these three provinces, without
knowing all the details, enter into this arrangement? If we look at the debates
in the Nova Scotia legislature at the time, we will see that, back in November
and December, the Government of Nova Scotia did not have all the details
concerning the arrangement. In answer to questions from members of the
opposition, ministers replied, "We do not have those details yet. However,
we are working with Ottawa to obtain them. When we get them, we will be able to
discuss them." It is ridiculous for a government to sign an agreement when
it has not received all the details. How can the people at home understand such
an agreement when members of the government do not understand it? What happened?
When representatives of the three governments were here in Ottawa, they were
given approximately $1 billion to compensate them for projected losses as a
result of entering into this deal. The interesting thing about that is that the
money was given to the three provinces in advance. Each of the provinces
received a proportionate share of the $1 billion for the year 1997-98. Why is
that? That money is to be taken out of the 1996-97 budget. However, it was paid
to the provinces in advance for their projected losses.
First, no one was sure how much those projected losses would be. The losses
were to begin accumulating on April 1, 1997, but the money was paid in advance.
The Auditor General called it an accounting trick, which is exactly what it was.
While I would not use the word "bribe" to describe it, some honourable
senators may think that that is just what it was. The provinces were told,
"Sign this document and we will give you $200 million immediately. We will
follow that up in a year's time with another few hundred million dollars. At the
end of the fourth year, we will make the final payment." That is a
compelling argument for governments who do not know the details of a deal to
which they are agreeing. I believe that is what happened.
The good thing is that the provinces have been able to put that money in the
bank or invest it. They will get interest on that money, until they spend it.
However, I do not believe that Premier Savage and the other premiers were aware
of what would happen when the details were released.
I believe there is no question but that they knew the base would be widened.
The provincial sales tax in Nova Scotia has a narrow base compared with that of
the GST. In October of last year, without knowing the full details, they
probably thought they would be able to exempt certain commodities and services
from the base of the GST. They found out that that certainly was not to be the
Premier Savage came back to Nova Scotia saying, "This deal will be good
for Nova Scotia because we will be able to reduce our overall taxes on sales by
about 4 per cent. In addition, we will be able to create some 3,000 to 4,000 new
jobs in Nova Scotia." The reason he gave for that projection was that a
reduction in prices as a result of savings to the wholesalers, retailers and
manufacturers in Nova Scotia would be passed on to consumers. Therefore, more
consumers would buy goods and, as a result, create 3,000 to 4,000 more jobs.
That was easy to say. However, as we all know, it does not happen that way.
Nor will it happen that way. Since then, Premier Savage has reduced his figure
from 3,000 to 4,000 jobs to 3,000 jobs. We are all smart enough to understand
that that will not happen in any of the provinces. In fact, with regard to the
great savings mentioned back in October and November of 1996, savings that would
be passed on to consumers, we now know that there will be no reductions in cost
to retailers. In fact, the cost to implement the HST for all businesses in the
three Atlantic provinces will be in excess of $100 million.
Therefore, when you consider it all in all, what at first blush seemed not to
be a bad deal certainly has turned out to be no blush at all. It is a deal that
is bad for Nova Scotia; it is a deal that is bad for New Brunswick and for
Newfoundland. I will speak mostly about Nova Scotia because other speakers will
be talking about the other two provinces.
It is very difficult to know where to start in a situation such as this. The
bill itself is so convoluted; it is so misunderstood; it is so difficult to
follow. I will pass on to you something interesting about the bill itself. One
of the members of the Nova Scotia legislature gave me this information to
indicate how badly misunderstood is this bill. Ministers of the Crown in Nova
Scotia cannot even understand it themselves.
Senator Kinsella: Sounds like Ottawa.
Senator Buchanan: It is like Ottawa - the same political party in
government. Listen to how convoluted and silly this bill really is. Lawyers will
be making a great deal of money out of giving interpretations of this bill if it
is passed in this chamber.
Finance Minister Bill Gillis is a nice man, a really good fellow. He was
elected to the legislature of Nova Scotia in 1970. I had been there for four
years at that point. I got to know Bill very well. Bill Gillis, a former geology
professor, speculated that Brent Taylor had run out of decent arguments after he
- Brent Taylor - had been questioning him.
In another gem, Kings North Tory George Archibald challenged Gillis to
explain subsection 252.1(7) of the 354-page federal BST bill. It reads:
For the purpose of determining, in accordance with the formula set out in
Paragraph 5(a), the amount of a rebate payable under Section 2 to a consumer of
a tour package that includes short-term accommodation where a registrant makes a
supply to the consumer of a particular tour package that includes short-term
accommodation that is made available to the consumer for any night, any other
short-term accommodation that is included in another tour package supplied by
the registrant to the consumer and made available to the consumer for the same
night is deemed to be included in the particular package and is not any other
Minister Gillis decided not to try to decipher the rambling subclause and
simply said he would need to have details of it, and would then obtain an
interpretation. No wonder! Who would understand that kind of rambling clause in
the act itself?
Senator Stewart: Written by a lawyer?
Senator Buchanan: No doubt it was written by a lawyer, but that is the
kind of situation we have with this bill which is now before the Senate.
It is very difficult to know exactly where to start with a bill like this,
but let us try. There is no doubt in my mind nor, I think, in the minds of every
reasonable person in this Senate, that the HST was put together in a very weak
attempt to gloss over the Liberal promise of scrapping the GST. We could get
into a debate about that, but I think we have enough quotable quotes from many
senators who were in opposition at the time that the GST would be scrapped as
soon as the Liberals formed the government. This, then, is their attempt to do
just that: to harmonize the taxes throughout this country, and then say that the
GST is gone.
Most of the provinces in Canada decided against participating in that
movement. They decided that they would have nothing to do with this Liberal
nonsense to get rid of the GST - but we did. In our three provinces, we agreed
that we would do it. No other provinces in Canada agreed to do this but our
three Atlantic provinces. The three provinces, without even checking anything,
decided to go along with this federal charade.
What is hatching with this BST or HST tax? The base has been widened in Nova
Scotia from the original PST base. I know something about that. We always
attempted - as did previous Liberal governments of Nova Scotia - to ensure that
our base would not attack the low-income and low-middle-income people. Here I am
talking about one of the necessities of life - electricity. Some in this house,
including my honourable friend Senator Kirby, knows that electricity has always
been a problem in Nova Scotia. What happens with electricity? My goodness. Just
a few months ago electricity rates on Nova Scotia power bills went up by 3 per
cent. Now there will be a total 8-per-cent increase on power bills. In Nova
Scotia, in order for power bills to be increased by the power corporation, the
matter has to go before the Public Utilities Board. I will tell you right now
that the Public Utilities Board in Nova Scotia would not grant another increase
in electricity rates.
The substance of this bill causes an increase in such rates, but the increase
does not need to be sanctioned by the Public Utilities Board; just by the
Liberal majority in the House of Commons and in the legislature. They passed
this measure without reference to the Public Utilities Board. Therefore, as of
April 1, every Nova Scotian will be paying 8 per cent more on their electricity
bills; on a necessity of life.
Some homes in Nova Scotia are heated by electricity, and some are heated by
fuel oil. One might say that it is good that only the homes heated by
electricity will have an increase in their power bills, because most of the
homes are heated by fuel oil. Fuel oil is not included in the provincial tax
base - but it is included in the GST base. Therefore, as of April 1, the price
of another necessity of life will be increased by 8 per cent. Senior citizens,
low- and middle-income earners, everyone, will pay an additional 8 per cent for
Most people today have a car. It is almost a necessity of life today to have
a car. After April 1, everyone in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland,
when they drive up to the pump to fill their tank, will pay an increase in the
cost of every litre of gas at the pump. Why? Because of the "Hated Sales
Tax" - I mean the harmonized sales tax. It is hated, there is no question
This tax grab will even hit postage stamps. Someone told me the other day
that he intends to have a friend in Prince Edward Island buy him a whole year's
supply of stamps, because the postage stamps in Nova Scotia will increase in
price, but not in Prince Edward Island. Pat Binns, and Catherine Callbeck before
him, were not too stupid when they decided, "No way."
I want to tell you that there are many people in New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia who will hop-scotch right over to Prince Edward Island. They will be
buying over there. They do not have to pay the HST over there.
As for getting a hair cut - and I still have enough on the sides which grows
pretty fast - I will have to pay more for that or revert to being a
"long-hair" as I was back in the 1970s when Senator Kirby was in the
premier's office. I remember campaigning in the Annapolis Valley for a Tory
candidate in the 1971 by-election. Fred Chisolm, our candidate and I went from
door to door. Back then I had sideburns of some length and hair that came to the
back of the collar. A gentleman came to the door and Fred said, "Hello, I
am here with the leader of our party, John Buchanan, campaigning for the
by-election." He looked at me and asked, "What is your name?" I
said, "Buchanan, sir, I am the Leader of the Opposition." He said,
"I am not going to vote for any long-hair who comes to my door." The
side burns went up the next day.
Senator Bosa: Did you go back?
Senator Buchanan: I told him I would get it cut, and he voted for
The cost of children's clothing will increase in Nova Scotia, as will the
price of other clothing. In fact, the cost of necessities of life will be
increased in our provinces because of the HST.
It is interesting to note that while the Premier of Nova Scotia was talking
about all the cost savings which will result from the HST, his own finance
department came out with a document, which they probably wished they had been
able to hide, that indicated the cost to consumers as a result of the HST would
be $84 million.
Honourable senators, you and I know that when government departments state
that there will be an additional cost of $84 million to the consumer, you can
bet your britches it will be over $100 million. The cost to the ordinary
consumers of Nova Scotia has gone up by approximately $100 million.
The premier, of course, has said that the overall cost will be reduced
substantially because of the reduction in the cost of other goods. The other
goods he is talking about are big-ticket items such as cars, stereos, even
sports cars, and other items that ordinary people may buy every four or five
years. Some of those big-ticket items, say, a refrigerator-freezer combination,
may be purchased every 20 years. Even then, many people cannot afford them. The
premier has said that sales of these big-ticket items will reduce the
$100-million loss. As reasonable people, we know that that will just not happen.
The $100-million figure that departmental officials say will be the loss to Nova
Scotia consumers is the correct figure.
On the subject of jobs, Premier Savage and the federal government say that as
a result of the tax credits and the rebates, many new jobs will be created in
our provinces. The jobs they are talking about are jobs in the service and
retail sectors. Let us look at what the retail sector has to say about this. An
editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reads as follows:
Requiring inclusion of the BST in prices has been a bomb with both big and
small retailers. The small guys are appalled by the cost of re-stickering all
sorts of items manufactured with pre-tax prices affixed. The big chains say a
country divided into tax-in and tax-out price regions is two countries for them:
they would have to spend $100 million to set up separate channels for
accounting, advertising, inventory and distribution because the basic reference
point for every item in today's computerized retail systems is price.
For a small market like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland (just
eight per cent of Canadian retail), spending all this loot just to display
prices differently than elsewhere makes no sense (and only in Canada would we
call this harmonizing).
Three out of ten provinces have agreed and we call it harmonizing. The
editorial further reads:
The four governments which hatched BST say a final price on stickers is what
consumers want and are ready to pay a bit more to get.
Who told them that? It goes on to state:
Retailers say $100 million is not exactly a hit, and is really the cost of a
fig leaf to cover the Chrétien government's broken promise to replace the GST.
Honourable senators, those are not my words; they are the words of an
editorial writer with the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the largest newspaper
in Atlantic Canada.
The following paragraph reads:
With a posse of angry retailers bearing down on his hearings, finance
committee chairman Jim Peterson hinted Thursday that more flexibility on tax-in
pricing was possible.
Well, we know what they did. They insisted on stickers being put on items. A
fellow from Home Hardware told me the other day that he was informed that he
must put the sticker price on everything in his store, whether tax-in or
tax-out. He told me that he has, in one bin area, about 2,000 items all
requiring a sticker. He was then informed that the government had decided that
perhaps they were asking too much of retailers, so they had requested that
stickers be put on each bin so that consumers would know what the tax-in, and
tax-out was, and, on questionable items, the suggestion was to make available a
conversion chart to consumers. I am sure you can envision people going into
stores, and asking what "tax-in" and "tax-out" means. In
response, the clerk will hand them a conversion chart. I am sure that honourable
senators will agree that conversion charts are not the simplest documents in the
world to understand.
That is what the federal government said would provide more flexibility. What
it has done, of course, is cause more confusion than if they had left the damn
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald editorial further states:
Nova Scotia's folksy finance minister, Bill Gillis, got more to the heart of
the whole problem in announcing the concessions to retailers Friday: "We
didn`t want to make things stupid."
That is an actual quote from the statement of the finance minister of Nova
The editorial goes on:
Unfortunately, the BST-gang hasn't passed The Stupid Test yet. As Peter
Woolford, vice-president of still-unhappy Retail Council of Canada, said Friday,
the proposed changes could leave consumers more confused than ever because of
all the conflicting ways stores will have to show prices.
Honourable senators may be interested to know that a substantial fine can be
levied against anyone who does not adhere to this mandatory tax-in pricing.
For example, the mandatory tax-in price will be affixed to some items; in
other cases, there will be a tax-out price on the item, but a tax-in price on
the shelf or bin where the customer finds it. Cards, magazines and seed packages
will have the usual printed-at-the-factory tax-out price. The item may come from
a factory somewhere here in central Canada or elsewhere. It must be near a sign
containing a conversion chart showing the tax-in price and tax-out price.
A consumer in a store may walk by an area where there are tax-out pricing
stickers. In so doing, he could knock it to the floor. Somebody else may come
by, not see it and accidentally push it under a table or a showcase. When the
snoop from the federal government comes in to do the check, he will say to the
retailer, "You do not have the sticker price up there or on the bin here,
so we are taking you to court, and you will be fined $5,000." I am not
making this up. That is how silly these situations can get. If you buy a party
invitation that looks like a card, you may have to bring along a Halifax lawyer
to determine whether the tax is in, out, or beyond human understanding.
Here is something else akin to the Quebec sign law: Tax-in prices must be
equal to or greater than tax-out prices. No one will know the details. If you
make up a card 8 inches by 6 inches saying "tax-in, this bin," and
another one 10 inches by 10 inches saying "tax-out, prices," QED, the
fellow from the federal Department of Finance, will say: "Ha, I just
measured. This one is smaller than this one. Therefore, you will be charged, and
you will have to pay $5,000."
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald further states that we face "raising
the spectre of the Revenooers policing the malls of the region with measuring
The editorial goes on to state:
As Mr. Woolford says, "These are rules no store has ever used because no
customer has ever asked for them." Even the grace period has its problems;
it discourages stores to be the first on their block to comply. Mr. Woolford
says stores which voluntarily tried tax-in pricing with GST - because people
said they liked it - lost market share because people also thought their prices
So the BST-Four -
Referring to the federal government and the three provinces.
- deserve some marks for trying to make a dumb idea work better. Unhappily,
though, it still looks like the result will be the Bedlam Sales Tax.
One could say what the first interpretive words of the BST were. I think you
all know what those are.
Here we have this silly situation where in three provinces we have the
tax-in, tax-out. We have rebate situations that are not available in the rest of
Canada. We have companies advertising throughout Canada that have to change
their advertising systems to comply with the BST or HST laws in our three
provinces, in all costing about $100 million.
Some senators may say that the Retail Council of Canada only represents the
big national chains. Wrong. They do represent the national chains, but keep in
mind that they also represent many retailers that are not totally national. Keep
in mind that thousands of people in our provinces are employed with Sears, the
Bay, Eaton's and Winners. If you look at the shopping centres in Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick and Newfoundland, about 60 per cent of all the retail stores in
our malls are franchises or chain stores of a national group. What does the
Retail Council of Canada say? It will cost $100 million to change
computerization to ensure that they do not get in trouble with the law and the
tax-in, tax-out pricing. Well, they have to keep it in the other provinces as it
is today. They do not need all the stickers that are asked for.
Honourable senators, one of two things will happen. Either that $100 million
will be absorbed by consumers, or they will systematically begin to close stores
down. They have estimated, and this is public knowledge, that up to 6,000 jobs
could be lost as a result of this ridiculous and stupid HST, as The
Chronicle-Herald calls it - 6,000 jobs in provinces where at the present
time we have high unemployment. Premier Savage talks about 3,000 jobs, but he
cannot even prove where the jobs will be. He just says, "Well, they will be
here and we will get them." I will tell you, honourable senators, in our
provinces there will be job losses as a result of the HST.
What else will occur as a result of the HST? We have talked about jobs. We
have talked about the essentials of life. Let us look at some other areas.
I have an interesting document from the Maritime Life Assurance Company. You
may ask what Maritime Life has to do with this. Their president, Bill Black, has
already said that he agrees with harmonization. However, he does not agree with
the way harmonization is being put together in our three provinces. In fact, the
Retail Council of Canada, to be fair to them, agrees with harmonization, but
they do not agree with, as Elsie Wayne called it, the "patchwork
quilt" kind of harmonization that we are seeing.
Maritime Life and Assumption Life in New Brunswick will be hurt badly by this
measure. A significant percentage of Assumption Life's mutual fund management
occurs in New Brunswick. In fact, Maritime Life has said, in a document
published by its law department, the following:
Maritime Life currently manages 22 segregated funds which are deemed to be
residents of Nova Scotia. Under the proposed Bill C-70, only segregated fund
trusts held in a harmonized province will pay the additional 8 per cent tax on
the investment administration fee charged by the issuer. This would occur even
if all of the segregated fund investors are residents of non-harmonized
provinces. Therefore, investors will be less likely to purchase segregated fund
products from Maritime Life or Assumption Life. This will place us at a distinct
competitive disadvantage relative to other companies operating in Canada.
Maritime Life starts off by saying that the company is in favour of proposed
tax integration country-wide. However, their concerns are as follows:
On full harmonization, Maritime Life and Assumption Life will be consumers of
the 15 per cent harmonized sales tax (HST) in most business operations. We will
therefore pay the tax on purchases, but because life insurance and annuity
premiums are considered to be financial instruments, we will not charge the tax
on most of our sales. A significant exception to this exists with respect to our
segregated fund business.
Harmonization will significantly increase our tax burden with the full impact
arising when a national harmonized tax is implemented. We accept this increase
in tax because we believe the benefits of one integrated tax system to other
sectors exceed the cost to ours. However, we do not agree with the treatment of
the segregated fund business under a partially integrated sales tax system.
Keep in mind, to be fair to them, they agree to harmonization country-wide
but disagree with it being a partially integrated sales tax system.
Maritime Life and Assumption Life, as national companies with headquarters in
the Atlantic Provinces, feel it is important that we are not placed at a
competitive disadvantage after harmonization simply because of our location. We,
and many other companies based in Atlantic Canada, operate in every province and
must be able to compete equally with companies situated in other provinces. We
will not be able to do this in the segregated fund business after harmonization.
The document goes on. I will table it.
Senator Bosa: Do they give an example?
Senator Buchanan: Lots of examples. If I am doing business with
Maritime Life in Halifax and investing in one of their segregated funds, I would
pay the tax, the additional 8 per cent, in Nova Scotia. Why should Maritime Life
subject its customers in Halifax to the 8 per cent tax when they can do the
business in Ontario and not have to pay the 8 per cent tax? Assumption Life will
lose business in New Brunswick because their customers will conduct their
business in Ontario or Alberta. In fact, I am told by the people at Maritime
Life that, already, they have had people say to them, "We will do our
business in Alberta."
What will happen as a result? There will be lost revenues to Nova Scotia and
New Brunswick, and the possible loss of jobs to Ontario and other provinces in
the west. Why did our premiers not think of this when they agreed to this deal?
They were caught by the dollar bills that were given to them last October. They
did not know the details then.
One of the other problems with the HST involves senior citizens. This is a
group which, for the most part at the present time, is struggling. People say
that the BST will be of great help to seniors, that they will save 4 per cent on
their goods and services. That is nonsense. How many of our senior citizens
living in Nova Scotia will buy a new car every year or every two years? Very
few. How many of our senior citizens who live in apartments will be buying
refrigerators, freezers, washers or dryers? Very few. How many of our senior
citizens will be buying any of these big-ticket items? Very few.
Owen Carrigan, a noted Nova Scotian who is president of a homeowners group,
said that the only people who spoke in favour of the blended sales tax at an
all-party committee meeting held on the matter were Liberal MLAs. That is
interesting - a one-day hearing on a tax matter that will probably be the
biggest tax matter to come before our provinces in years. The committee did not
go to Cape Breton, Antigonish or down into the Annapolis Valley. They went
nowhere but the red room in Province House, where the hearings were held.
However, there were 40 presenters who attended, including seniors, artisans,
veterans, labour leaders and doctors. Are honourable senators interested as to
why doctors were there? I will tell you why. It is because the doctors will be
charged the 8 per cent, which they cannot pass on because it will be in
violation of the Canada Health Act. It will not be paid by any rebate system
because doctors are not eligible under a rebate system. They will have to eat
the 8 per cent. They have said that, as far as they are concerned, there will be
more doctors leaving Nova Scotia as a result of this HST. Some members of this
place might say, "Well, they are high paid anyway." Why not tell them
that when you have a stomach ache, or when you have to go to the doctor for a
more serious problem for yourself, your children or your spouse? Doctors will be
affected by this measure.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to interrupt the honourable senator,
but his allotted time of 45 minutes has expired.
Senator Buchanan: Your Honour, I seek leave of the house to continue
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Buchanan: Retailers, postal workers, home builders and
municipal politicians were also in attendance at the committee meeting to which
I referred earlier.
At present in Nova Scotia, the 11-per-cent provincial sales tax is not
applied to goods and services purchased by our municipalities. However, the GST
base includes purchases made by municipalities, with a small rebate. With the
8-per-cent provincial sales tax blended or harmonized with the GST, our
municipalities will be paying 15 per cent on all their purchases. However, they
will receive a small GST rebate. This measure will cost municipalities in Nova
Scotia approximately $15 million a year. Who will pick up the tab? Senators
Moore, Graham, Kirby, myself and anyone else who pays municipal taxes in Nova
Walter Fitzgerald, the mayor of one of the largest municipalities in Canada,
has said that municipalities will have to do one of three things: First, they
can get the provinces to rebate this money, something which the provinces have
said they will not do; second, they can increase municipal taxation, which they
do not want to do; third, they can cut services to homeowners, which they do not
want to do.
Why do they have to do anything? Because of the HST. I doubt very much if the
provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick thought about that one when they
decided to implement the HST. They probably said, "That involves the
municipalities. When they increase taxes, they will get blamed for it, not
us." The citizens of Nova Scotia will not be fooled by that one. They
already know that the HST is causing the increase in municipal taxes and the
cutbacks in services.
About 25 senior citizens packed the legislative hearing and applauded loudly
when Owen Carrigan told the committee that the new tax is "neither good
policy nor good politics." He asked the committee to recommend that the BST
not be applied to "big-ticket, bread-and-butter items." He is talking
about big-ticket items which make up the necessities of life, including heating
fuel and electricity. He said that many seniors cannot afford such price hikes.
He said, "Seniors have already been hit with higher costs for drugs because
of changes to Pharmacare..." He pointed out that last year electricity went
up by 8.9 per cent. He told the committee that homeowners also face an increase
in property taxes because the municipalities will pass on the extra taxes they
will have to pay under the new law.
It is not revenue neutral. It is not a real decrease. It amounts to a
significant increase in the cost of living, and that will hurt the economy.
A law student, a father of four, reminded the committee of the anniversary of
the Boston Tea Party, a tax revolt which helped spark the American Revolution.
The Americans were not taxed nearly to the extent we are today. As a result of
the HST, our tax burden will be even greater. What concerned him most was the
unhealthy shift towards consumer-based taxes away from income taxes because it
hurts the most needy at a time when we should not be doing that.
This Senate, as I understand it, was included in the Constitution of Canada
in approximately 1868 because it would represent an institution in the
constitutional life of this country to protect the regions of Canada,
particularly the small regions of Canada. Honourable senators, that is why I am
here: to protect the small regions of Canada. How much smaller can you get than
three provinces with a total population of 2 million people, when all of Canada
has a population of 30 million people? We must protect these small provinces
from what is happening with this HST.
In all good conscience, I hope we will agree to travel to New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia and Newfoundland so that the people affected will be able to have their
say. They could not afford to come here to Ottawa unless they were paid
travelling expenses. Even then, retailers told me they could not come to Ottawa
because they would lose so much time in their retail stores and so much
business. They fully expected that their political leaders in this country would
come to the three provinces affected. Ontario is not affected by this, but
hearings were held here. I see Senator Kirby nodding his head in agreement. I am
glad to see that. He is a true Nova Scotian.
As well, I hope that, in all conscience, when honourable senators are asked
to vote on this bill they will remember the reason they are here: to protect the
weaker and smaller regions of Canada. That is what this bill is all about.
I urge honourable senators to vote against this piece of legislation which
will hurt the low-income and middle-income people of Nova Scotia. We will lose
thousands of jobs in our provinces.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, debate adjourned.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Taylor, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Anderson, for the second reading of Bill C-60, to
establish the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and to repeal and amend other Acts
as a consequence.
Hon. Eileen Rossiter: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on
second reading of Bill C-60, to establish the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
and to repeal and amend other acts as a consequence.
The principle of this bill is to consolidate various food inspection agencies
in the interests of cost rationalization and service improvement. At the present
time, food inspection and animal and plant health services carried out under the
Departments of Agriculture and Agri-food and Fisheries and Oceans cover meat and
fish inspection, plant and animal health, food labelling, and plant breeders'
The process of eliminating wasteful duplication has been underway in
government for some time, and it is surprising that it has taken so long for the
federal government to provide Parliament with a bill to enact this intention.
While the bill was first introduced in September of 1996, it has taken what some
might consider an inordinate amount of time to get to this stage. I am under the
impression that the new Canada Food Inspection Agency is nearing operational
status without the benefit of legislation to give such an endeavour its legal
effect. I am told that the transfer of staff is already underway in the
expectation that the bill in its current format is a fait accompli.
The federal government claims it will save $44 million a year by eliminating
overlap and consolidating staff, laboratory facilities, and other costs
associated with providing Canadian consumers and foreign markets with the
highest quality product. Mind you, there remains a great deal of duplication
with the provinces, and Ottawa should work closely with interested provincial
agencies to improve the system further.
I am under the impression that Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture has
undertaken a similar process and is doing a fine job in this regard. Ontario is
home to nearly 80 per cent of Canada's food industry, so it is important that
they be consulted extensively. Prince Edward Island is home to a smaller
proportion of Canada's food market but has, as all senators will know, the
finest produce available anywhere. We should be consulted as well.
The CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will have a vast array of new
powers, including a budget of approximately $330 million and a staff of
The minister shall appoint an advisory board of up to 12 members and shall
fix the fees each member is to be paid for his or her services. It is important
that these individuals be knowledgeable and/or experienced in matters pertaining
to the agri-food industry. There should also be representation from consumer
groups among the 12 members of the advisory board.
This is the first piece of legislation using the principle of alternative
service delivery, or ASD. The Professional Institute of the Public Service of
Canada has expressed its concerns about the labour relations impact of Bill C-60
at hearings in the other place in November of 1996, and I trust that, when this
bill goes to committee, we will hear those concerns expressed at that the time
Honourable senators, I trust that we will hear further comments on this bill
when it goes to committee.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker
: When shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Taylor, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Agriculture and Forestry.
First Nations Government Bill
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Twinn, for the second reading of Bill S-12, providing for
self-government by the first nations of Canada.- (Honourable Senator Hébert).
Hon. Landon Pearson: Honourable senators, I rise today to participate
in the second reading of Bill S-12, to provide for self-government by the First
Nations of Canada.
However, before I begin, I take this opportunity to offer the congratulations
of this chamber to our colleague Senator Charlie Watt who has recently been
honoured by a 1997 Aboriginal Achievement Award for Community Development.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Pearson: With this award, the aboriginal community recognizes
the success of Senator Watt's leadership in the Inuit struggle against the James
Bay project that resulted in a comprehensive land claims agreement that,
according to the citation, changed forever the dynamics between aboriginal and
non-aboriginal governments in Canada.
This is only one of Senator Watt's achievements on behalf of his people. He
was also a leading advocate in promoting the recognition and protection of
aboriginal rights in the patriation of the Canadian Constitution. Those of us
who work with him in the Senate know how well he continues to advocate on behalf
of his people.
Congratulations, Senator Watt.
I would now like to return to Bill S-12. Let me start by also commending my
colleagues opposite for their efforts in promoting the implementation of
aboriginal self-government in Canada.
Bill S-12 clearly reflects a desire to advance the interests, authority and
autonomy of the First Nations as a whole, including Métis and Inuit. I am sure
I speak on behalf of other members of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples in saying that we welcome the opportunity presented by Bill
S-12 to discuss these issues, especially in the new context created by the
release of the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
However, it is no longer the subject-matter of the bill we will be discussing
in committee but the bill itself. I perceive certain difficulties with this bill
as it stands with respect to jurisdictional and constitutional issues. These
must be dealt with before the legislation can move to the other place. Let me
As you are aware, the federal government is already working to create a new
partnership with aboriginal peoples in Canada, a partnership based on trust,
mutual respect and participation in the decision-making process. A year and a
half ago, in August, 1995, the government launched a policy approach to
negotiating self-government arrangements, the fundamental premise of which is
that the inherent right to self-government is an existing aboriginal right under
section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
As I read the public mood - and this is supported by polls - most Canadians
mindful of historical wrongs and current difficulties are in favour of
increasing the autonomy of aboriginal peoples. At the same time, they want that
autonomy to be achieved in a reasonable manner that respects all citizens,
aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.
Once they are reached, agreements on self-government must have sufficient
legal protection. For this reason, under the inherent right policy, the federal
government is prepared, where all parties agree, to protect the rights
negotiated in self-government agreements as section 35 rights. This will provide
constitutional protection to self-government rights when negotiated in a
credible and legitimate process.
In parentheses, I should like to think that the negotiation process itself
would be able to add to the promotion of creative and effective long-term
Turning now to my specific questions about the jurisdictional and
constitutional issues raised by Bill S-12, first, I fear that many Canadians
would find neither acceptable nor reasonable the proposal in Bill S-12 that
First Nations law-making powers be paramount over those of the federal and
provincial governments in certain strategic areas. It is clear aboriginal
governments must have significant law-making powers. Otherwise, self-government
would have no meaning at all. However, an act that appears to give First Nation
laws blanket paramountcy over federal legislation in areas of national
importance, such as peace, order, and good government - which in the
Constitution is a residual federal power - or the environment, health or
transportation, and to do so without negotiation, makes me uneasy.
As I understand it, this does not mean that the Government of Canada is
unwilling to negotiate the paramountcy of aboriginal laws on certain matters
internal to the community and integral to its distinct culture or essential to
its operation as a government, but it would be a failure of federal
responsibility for all Canadians if a federal statute led to the automatic
displacement of federal and provincial laws in certain fields.
For those of us who share this great land with the peoples of the First
Nations, there is a natural expectation that certain federal laws will continue
to apply to aboriginal peoples or will coexist alongside valid aboriginal laws
as self-government agreements are reached. Conflict and protracted litigation
will only be avoided by ensuring that all citizens, aboriginal and
non-aboriginal, know what laws apply to them.
I also see a risk that Bill S-12, as it currently stands, could damage
federal-provincial relations. Many of the law-making powers proposed in the bill
are powers held by the provinces under section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
Clearly, these powers cannot be addressed in a federal statute without any
discussion with the provinces. We do not want to end up with new jurisdictional
conflicts or challenges. This is not in anyone's interest.
Honourable senators, the deeper I look into matters concerning aboriginal
peoples in Canada, the clearer it is to me that every effort must be made to
consult with as many aboriginal peoples as possible before implementing policies
and programs that affect them. So far, I have not seen much to suggest that the
First Nations as a whole has been widely consulted on what is proposed in Bill
S-12 or that the proposed legislation has the support of national aboriginal
groups across the country.
Bill S-12 is presented as enabling legislation that can serve as a basis for
self-government by all First Nations in Canada. The application of this
legislation is unclear for it does not limit itself to bands as defined under
the Indian Act. It also includes any recognized community of indigenous people
with a treaty or an agreement with the Crown. What exactly does this mean? As
parliamentarians, we must ensure that there is reasonably broad-based support
for this legislation at the national level and at the community level before
proceeding any further. The federal government has made a commitment to
recognize the inherent right to self-government of all aboriginal peoples. Does
this bill address each one of them?
The nature of self-government may well differ among groups. Negotiated
agreements should reflect the different realities that exist across the country.
Of course, I am far from expert in these matters, and perhaps there will be
satisfactory answers to these questions in committee. However, I have another
As I see it, this legislation leaves no room for negotiation. It is sweeping,
comprehensive and all-encompassing. Bill S-12 would enable any recognized First
Nation community in Canada to declare itself as self-governing without any
further dialogue, consultation, or negotiation with other orders of government.
I think this goes beyond the bounds of what most Canadians would consider
reasonable or responsible, and is inconsistent with the government's approach to
recognize the inherent right as is set out in the federal policy.
Honourable senators, the government's inherent right policy came into being
less than a year and a half ago and already there are about 80 different sets of
negotiations representing about half the First Nations and Inuit across the
country. These discussions have confirmed the federal view that negotiation is
the most effective way to reach agreement on how to implement aboriginal
Furthermore, there appears to be a growing consensus that in order to be
truly effective, self-government processes must be flexible and regionally- or
provincially-based. This suggests that negotiations should involve the
provincial and territorial governments, at least where their jurisdiction may be
In my view, negotiation, though often tiresome and lengthy, is better than
litigation or protracted conflict which might be the unfortunate, unintended
result of Bill S-12. I have always believed that negotiation is the only way to
ensure partnerships and clear relationships. It seems to me that only through
negotiation can we tailor self-government arrangements to meet the unique
historical, social, cultural, economic and political circumstances of diverse
First Nation, Inuit and Métis groups.
In implementing the inherent right, the government would like to use - and
has been using, I might add - existing tripartite processes to the greatest
extent possible. This could involve negotiating self-government arrangements as
part of a comprehensive claim as in the case of the Nisga'a in British Columbia,
or building on the special relationship established by existing treaties.
At the same time, the government is pursuing certain negotiations at the
local level and, on a sectoral basis, concerning education, for example, or
child and family services.
Honourable senators, as you are aware, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal
Peoples tabled its final report in November 1996. The commission's report makes
numerous recommendations regarding self-government which have far-reaching
implications not only for the Government of Canada but also for provinces,
aboriginal peoples, and all Canadians. The federal government has promised that
this important document will not be shelved but will be given serious
consideration, for it shares the commission's concern to promote aboriginal
self-reliance and respect. For this reason, I believe Bill S-12 will have to be
examined in the light of the commission's report so that, through discussion,
negotiation and understanding, we will achieve self-government agreements that
satisfy the aspirations of aboriginal peoples and achieve harmony with the
jurisdiction of the federal and other governments.
In conclusion, I look forward to studying Bill S-12 in committee. I know that
I have a great deal to learn about the complex and vital issue of aboriginal
self-government before I can understand what is the most reasonable and
practical way to make it a reality in this country.
Hon. Walter P. Twinn: Honourable senators, I rise to add my
contribution to the eloquent and insightful speech delivered by my colleague the
Honourable Senator Tkachuk on Tuesday last, February 4, 1997. One might indeed
appreciate that there is so much detail, given the number of years spent working
on this bill.
I should like very much to comment on some of the things that the Honourable
Senator Pearson spoke of this afternoon. I suggest that perhaps she could have
consulted the Department of Indian Affairs; that would probably have been very
helpful. The same could be said for the minister, the Honourable Ron Irwin, that
he might or might not have assisted. I do not know what happened. However, I
should like to add some points, if I may.
First, on promises, this government has promised the aboriginal peoples of
Canada self-government. The Red Book states that:
The role of a Liberal government will be to provide aboriginal people with
the necessary tools to become self-sufficient and self-governing.
It goes on to state that:
A Liberal government will act on the premise that the inherent right of
self-government is an existing aboriginal and treaty right.
At a meeting of the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Committee on
March 16, 1994, The Minister of Indian and Northern Development stated that:
First, on inherent rights, we are proceeding on the premise that the inherent
right of self-government is an existing aboriginal treaty right within section
35 of the Constitution. We are committed to moving expeditiously in partnership,
to make aboriginal self-government a practical reality.
On Januarty 26, 1994, in the other place, the Honourable Prime Minister Jean
Chrétien stated that:
I think that it would be very prudent to have a system of Indian
self-government, after several years, at which point we would know exactly how
it operates, and that it is working well. If we had to entrench it in the
Constitution at that time, we could do so.
On March 14, 1994, he stated that:
What are the goals of the government? They are not very complicated.
I was minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for more than six
years. I know that we need a different regime where we can delegate to
aboriginal peoples the authority to make their own decisions. I have said time
and again that we have made many mistakes. Perhaps the time has come to let them
make some mistakes themselves by giving them the authority to decide issues
locally regarding education, welfare, housing, economic development and not have
them wait for instructions from bureaucrats in Ottawa.
The foregoing are only a few of the many times that this government has
promised action on self-government. Yet this government has not done anything to
advance aboriginal self-government outside of land claim settlements, other than
to scrap the old self-government program and start a new one. Their
"inherent rights" program is destined to spend millions and take years
of study. It is likely that this process, like the one before, will do nothing
but stall self-government.
The government will not look at Bill S-12. This bill was presented to the
minister, Ron Irwin. He would not discuss it; he just ignored it. I will not
even try to tell you what happened at that meeting today. Is it this
government's true policy to make self-government a practical reality? Or is
their real policy to continue studying the issue forever, in the hope that they
will never have to deal with it?
Bill S-12 is a practical solution. Bill S-12 makes self-government a
practical reality. It did not, and will not, cost millions of dollars to create
or study, and it ends the delay. It may even prevent some of the tension,
hostility and stand-offs that we have recently experienced.
Bill S-12 is based on an agreement with the department. That bill was
developed by the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council with the help of
Senate drafting staff. Bill S-12 was based on an agreement for self-government
which was made with the Department of Indian Affairs by Sawridge, one of the
member bands of the regional council. We had signed off agreements for
self-government with the Department of Indian Affairs after negotiations with
Revenue Canada, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of
the Environment, Indian Oil and Gas and the Province of Alberta. They have been
negotiated and signed off. Government drafters were working on this bill when
the Liberal government was elected. This government terminated that program.
Bill S-12 is also based on existing laws. This bill is also based in part on
the Indian Act, the Sechelt Self-Government Act, the Cree-Naskapi Act and the
Yukon Self-Government Act, and other acts of municipal governments. Unlike those
acts, which apply only to one band or a small group of bands, this bill could be
universal. Any band that wants to opt into this form of self-government may do
so. That being said, this bill does not preclude the government from recognizing
other forms of self-government, either as universal options or as a
band-specific act. This bill creates an option which was initiated by Indians
Bill S-12 is democratic. This form of self-government is democratically
based. The people in the community must vote in favour of self-government or it
does not happen. Bill S-12 is land-based, which is very important. This form of
self-government is based on existing territory, reserve lands, and only applies
to territory which has already been recognized as Indian lands. We are not
creating new territory and we are not encroaching on provincial territory.
Bill S-12 can save the government millions of dollars. For each band that
opts into Bill S-12, the government is spared both the internal and external
costs of negotiating, drafting and passing a self-government bill. As bands opt
into self-government, the need to have a Department of Indian Affairs is
reduced. The government can cut back on its bureaucracy. This can also save the
government millions of dollars.
Honourable senators, Bill S-12 meets the objective of self-government. It
promotes self-sufficiency and allows bands to control their own land, resources
and destiny without the expensive and needless intervention of bureaucrats and
without amending the Constitution.
Bill S-12 protects rights, and fits within Canada's existing legal structure.
This bill protects existing third party rights and is consistent with the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution of Canada and the treaties. The
bill also provides for political and financial accountability. It ensures that
there are checks and balances. The bill also respects parliamentary sovereignty
on matters of national concern.
Honourable senators, Bill S-12 is neutral on status, membership and revenue.
Contrary to what the minister and others have said, this bill does not affect
Indian status or membership. These issues are far too controversial, and we
recognize that these issues would mire this bill if they were mentioned. We left
the status quo untouched. The bill is also revenue neutral, as all Senate bills
must be. This will calm any fears that self-government will cost money. Quite
the contrary; I believe it will save money.
Bill S-12 does not give anything to reservation communities which in law they
do not already possess. It is trite law that Indian bands hold Indian title in
their reservation lands. It is trite law that Indian land held under federal
protection is for the exclusive use, benefit, enjoyment and occupation of those
particular Indian bands to whom it belongs. It is trite law that the Indian Acts
have always recognized Indian groups and their native title. Despite certain
flaws, including flawed administration - or I could use a stronger word for the
administration - the Indian Act gave effect to the rights of indigenous peoples
and the treaties between them and the Crown.
Let me talk about a flaw. Back when the Honourable Jean Chrétien was
Minister of Indian Affairs, he interpreted an act that allowed my band and
myself to advance economically, which we would not have been able to do if he
had ruled the other way. Despite doing so, two ministries or bureaucracies now
interpret the act whichever way they please. Who is it for? Sometimes it is a
referendum. Sometimes it is a straight band council resolution. However, who is
their friend? This must be cleared up, honourable senators.
Why not pass Bill S-12? With all of the benefits of Bill S-12, I cannot
understand why the government has not shown the initiative and introduced it
themselves. Indian legislation cannot legally be changed unilaterally against
the interests of reservation communities. According to the Supreme Court of
Canada, native title flows from one fact and one fact alone: When the Europeans
arrived in North America, aboriginal peoples were already here, living in
communities on the land and participating in distinctive cultures as they had
done for centuries.
Honourable senators, perhaps partisan politics is behind this failure. If
this is the case, it is shameful that the government would throw away this
opportunity to fulfil its promises in an effective and efficient manner. By
introducing this bill in the Red Chamber, we are encouraging the government to
rise above politics and realize how practical and complete Bill S-12 really is.
In conclusion, honourable senators, I wish to add that Bill S-12 also fulfils
the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples that the
federal government introduce legislation in Parliament which recognizes and
affirms the lands, rights and jurisdiction of the treaty First Nations.
Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I ask that six pages of Volume
2 of the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples be presented as an
appendix to the Debates of the Senate of this day. Page 150, section
2.2.8, is especially relevant as Bill S-12 would, in fact, implement this
Honourable senators, our people have waited a long time. We hope and pray
that you consider this bill and pass it. Study it carefully. It has not been
studied by the minister or by many people. It had been signed off. The
Department of Indian Affairs had signed off all of these agreements. There were
extensive negotiations. Nothing was hidden; there was no hidden agenda. This
bill, honourable senators, is very legal.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there is a request from the
Honourable Senator Twinn that certain documents be appended to the debates of
this day. Is there leave that that be done?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(For text of document see Appendix, p. 1589.)
The Hon. the Speaker: I would therefore ask the Honourable Senator
Twinn to please table the documents.
Is leave granted for the tabling of documents?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to
participate in the second reading debate on Bill S-12, the proposed First
Nations Government Act.
The Honourable Senator Twinn pointed out that self-government is very
important to the aboriginal people. Indeed, it is.
Honourable senators, in 1990, I introduced Bill S-18, an act to Further the
Aspirations of the Aboriginal People of Canada. That bill was ruled out of order
by the Speaker on the basis that two of its clauses imposed new statutory duties
on a minister of the Crown and hence on a government department. As such, the
bill infringed upon the financial initiative of the Crown. Bill S-18 was
determined by the Speaker to be a money bill and lacked Royal Recommendation.
Similar points of order were raised with respect to Bill S-12 in this chamber
on November 27, 1996. The Speaker delivered an extensive and well-researched
ruling on Tuesday, February 4, 1997, in which he reviewed the argument presented
by senators and the authorities on the subject of money bills in the Senate. The
Speaker concluded that the bill was properly tabled before the Senate, as he was
unable to find any provision in Bill S-12 that clearly appropriates money from
the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
In the course of his ruling, His Honour the Speaker made reference to the
1991 ruling in which Bill S-18 was ruled out of order. He noted that in the
earlier ruling reliance was placed on statutes and practices of the British
House of Commons, which have been adopted by the Canadian House of Commons to a
certain extent. He noted, however, that the Senate and the House of Commons have
not always agreed when it comes to money bills. He also noted that a 1918 Senate
committee report had rejected the idea that the British practice with respect to
money bills was any part of the Constitution of Canada, and had stated that
claims by the House of Commons to the broader powers and privileges of the
British House of Commons were unwarranted.
I do not want to be taken in any way to be questioning or challenging the
ruling of the Speaker regarding Bill S-12. Indeed, I support the ruling and I
think that it was an important contribution to an extremely difficult issue.
The question of the Senate's rights and powers with respect to financial
legislation has long been a concern of this chamber. Various committee reports
and Speakers' rulings over the years have attempted to clarify exactly what the
Senate can and cannot do in respect of money bills, and when a Royal
Recommendation is required. The Ross report of 1918 and the work of the Standing
Senate Committee on National Finance in 1989-90 highlighted some of the
difficulties in this area. The whole issue remains murky, however, and full of
pitfalls for senators who wish to introduce legislation.
Obviously, Bill S-12 was drafted carefully. The drafters had the benefit of
the 1991 ruling on Bill S-18 and other Speakers' rulings, and managed to avoid
procedural problems. There are obvious differences between Bill S-12 and Bill
S-18. Nevertheless, there is a need for greater clarity and for more consistency
in how the Senate applies and asserts its rights and powers. The use of
inappropriate British precedents and Canadian rules must be avoided in the
future, and a clearer idea developed of how to approach important legislation
that is presented for examination by the Senate of Canada. There needs to be
greater guidance for senators so that they can anticipate the ruling of the
Senate in matters of so-called money bills. This is an extremely important
issue, going as it does to the very role and power of the Senate. Therefore, I
encourage the committee which will study Bill S-12 to look into the matter.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to lend my support to
Bill S-12. I remind senators that second reading is the stage in the proceedings
when we adjudicate the principles of a bill.
I laud Senators Tkachuk and Twinn for bringing this initiative forward, and I
congratulate them for their efforts.
I note that Senator Twinn himself is an Indian and a chief at that. Senator
Twinn's father and grandfather before him were also Indian chiefs. Therefore,
the honourable senator has much credibility in speaking for Indian and native
people in this country. Senator Twinn had told a committee of this place that
his grandfather had signed a treaty in or about 1890.
This particular discussion we are having today on native self-government in
Canada is historic. It is the first such debate in this chamber and, I believe,
in Parliament. To that extent, I welcome and laud it.
As one who was born and raised in a colony and whose family was deeply
involved in bringing self-government to the land of my birth, I understand very
deeply the aspirations of all peoples to self-determination. Many senators may
not know this, but my family was deeply involved in bringing universal suffrage
to Barbados, where I was born.
I have listened attentively to Senators Pearson, Watt and Twinn. Senator
Twinn's speeches are always notable. I encourage him to speak more often.
In support of those senators who are concerned about committee consultations,
I recommend, and I hope that the committee will take my recommendation, that our
committee travel the width of this country and consult with all concerned,
native and non-native alike, government officials and non-government people
alike. To that extent, I add my support to this initiative and wish it well in
the rough and tumble that it will have to endure in the next little while.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators -
The Hon. the Speaker: I wish to inform the Senate that if the
Honourable Senator Tkachuk speaks now, his speech will have the effect of
closing debate on second reading of this bill.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, first, I should like to thank
Senators Pearson, Twinn, Watt and Cools for their words on Bill S-12. I know
that in committee much interesting, technical and important discussion will take
place. When I introduced Bill S-12, I said that the Senate is where it should be
I should like to respond to some of the issues raised by Senator Pearson with
regard to provincial jurisdiction and federal powers contained within Bill S-12.
I will not go on at any great length. However, I should like to explain that
federal laws which apply within Bill S-12 are laws that are already in the
Indian Act or have already been negotiated between the Government of Canada and
certain bands. With regard to provincial areas of jurisdiction, such as wills,
estates, education and health, they are already in the Indian Act. Therefore,
the federal powers apply to and within that area of jurisdiction.
The intent of the bill covers general application of provincial powers and
provincial legislation. In addition to all the technical areas where there are
some problems, the application of provincial laws is also explicitly provided
for by the bill in circumstances where a province has a territorial link with
the band or First Nation. The relevant measure in that regard is subclause
14(1). Laws under general application of the provinces having a territorial link
with the First Nation apply to citizens of the First Nation as well. There are
certain specific areas, such as the environment, which are not in the Indian Act
but where minimum standards - that is, the provincial laws - will apply to the
Indian band. These will involve jurisdictional and constitutional issues, which
I look forward to discussing.
If the committee agrees, I hope that we will travel to some of the First
Nations which have already made self-government agreements with the Government
of Canada to determine how they are progressing and how their governments work.
Much of the work done on Bill S-12 was lifted from self-government agreements
that presently exist between those First Nations and the Government of Canada.
Honourable senators, this is an enabling bill. It only applies to an Indian
band which wishes to take certain measures to fall under this bill. They would
be required to pass a constitution, and they would be required to undertake
negotiations. There is a list of items in the front of the bill with which the
Indian band would be required to comply. For example, they would have to consult
with their people and hold a vote before anything can happen. The bill applies
only when the Indian band wishes it to apply, much like a municipality would
undertake certain provisions under the Municipal Act to become a city, town,
village, or hamlet.
I thank senators for participating in the debate. I thank especially Senator
Twinn. It has been interesting working with him over the last several years. I
never thought we would get this far but we have, and I am glad.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker
: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read
the third time?
On motion of Senator Tkachuk, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Aboriginal Affairs.
An Act to Incorporate the Bishop
of the Arctic of the Church of England in Canada-Bill to Amend-Second Reading
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Meighen, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Keon, for the second reading of Bill S-15, to amend an
Act to incorporate the Bishop of the Arctic of the Church of England in
Canada.-(Honourable Senator Adams).
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I have been asked to speak
on this matter in place of Senator Adams.
In reply to the introductory remarks of Senator Meighen, I can confirm that
the Anglican Diocese of the Arctic has served in both the Northwest Territories
and Nunavik Arctic Quebec for many decades. The current Bishop of the Arctic,
Christopher Williams, began his Arctic missionary work in Salluit in 1961. He
was one of the pioneers of the church and has served throughout the Arctic. He
speaks Inuktituut fluently and has been prominent in the ongoing translation of
The Diocese of the Arctic serves not only the Inuit people of Nunavik but
also the Cree people of Arctic Quebec. Bishop Caleb Lawrence of the Diocese of
Moosonee was for many years the Anglican Rector in Great Whale River, now
Wapamagousti or Kuujjuarapik. The Anglican Diocese of the Arctic has served the
Cree people of Arctic Quebec in their own language as it has served the Inuit in
The Anglican Church in Nunavik is particularly strong. Its mission continues
to be evangelical. All but one of the parishes are lead by aboriginal clergy,
catechists and lay readers.
This summer, during the election for Bishop Suffragan, there were three
candidates. All were Inuit. Two, the Reverend Benjamin Arreak and the Reverend
Aipilee Napartuk, are rectors of parishes in Nunavik.
The Anglican Diocese of the Arctic is one of the oldest and most respected
institutions serving the people of Arctic Canada. By making the amendment which
they have requested to their act of incorporation, I hope we can assist them to
continue to do the good work that the early missionaries have begun, and Arctic
peoples are continuing to do.
Honourable senators, this side of the house supports the private bill
sponsored by my honourable friend Senator Meighen.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker
: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read
the third time?
On motion of Senator Kinsella, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Banking, Trade and Commerce
Harmonized Sales Tax
Legislation-Committee Authorized to Travel, and to Permit Electronic Coverage of
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition)
, pursuant to notice
of February 13, 1997, moved:
That, when seized with Bill C-70, to amend the Excise Tax Act, the
Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Income Tax Act, the Debt
Servicing and Reduction Account Act and related Acts, the Standing Senate
Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be instructed to hold hearings in Nova
Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland; and
That the Committee authorize television and radio broadcasting of all of its
He said: Honourable senators, I am quite prepared to argue the merits of this
motion. However, since I put it on the Order Paper on Thursday, I have had the
opportunity to talk to some members of the committee and to the leadership
across the aisle. I understand that its merits have been considered and have
found some support.
Before I say any more, perhaps the Deputy Leader of the Government would
bring us up to date on his position, and the position of those he represents on
that side with regard to this motion.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with respect to the motion of the Leader of the Opposition in relation
to Bill C-70, there have been discussions with the leadership on both sides. It
has been agreed that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce will hold hearings here in Ottawa as well as in the provinces of Nova
Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It has also been agreed that the
committee will have all of its proceedings available for broadcast, both on
radio and television. The steering committee is holding discussions and meetings
are being held with officials who arrange for committee meetings and the
appearance of appropriate witnesses. It is hoped that Senator Kirby will be able
to give us a report as to those arrangements when the Senate resumes tomorrow
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, that is excellent. I
thank the Deputy Leader for his support.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 19, 1997, at 1:30 p.m.