Hon. Marisa Feretti Barth: Honourable senators, it is with
pleasure that I rise to speak about my participation in Team
Canada's trade mission to Italy. As you are probably aware, the
objective of this mission was to increase trade between our two
nations. In order to develop this as yet untapped potential, Prime
Minister Jean Chrétien and Italy's Prime Minister, Romano
Prodi, signed a declaration of renewed partnership. This
declaration commits the two countries to more visible and
systematic bilateral relations, and identifies priority sectors for
more effective and more vigorous cooperation: political and
economic relations, research and technology, cultural relations,
youth programs and legal affairs.
One of the trip's objectives was to eliminate the trade gap
between the two countries, which now favours Italy two to one.
We must use every available means at our disposal to develop
new trade opportunities. Family connections and friendships
between our multicultural communities and their country of
origin are one such means. With a million and a half members,
the dynamic Italian-Canadian community is one of our most
Although this mission was primarily economic in nature, I also
used the trip to learn more about an area of great interest to me,
that being the seniors sector. I was able to meet with Rita
Camilli, the person responsible for social policy in the City of
Rome, to discuss seniors' programs. I also visited a seniors'
residence run by the St. Egidio community.
This trip resulted in many economic and commercial
dividends, although a journalist tried to play down its importance
by focussing on tortellini and tagliatelli, very special dishes in
Italy that I even thought of buying for him and for which he
might thank us. This was a truly productive trip and I met many
Canadian businessmen on the flight who were delighted with it
and with the opportunity to meet their Italian counterparts.
Congratulations to Speaker on Award of Doctorate by
St. Boniface College, University of Manitoba
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, on Tuesday, June 2, Speaker Molgat
received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University
of Manitoba. As a matter of fact, it was presented last night
during convocation ceremonies at Collège universitaire de
St. Boniface in the Cathédrale St. Boniface.
I do not need to enunciate the many reasons why Speaker
Molgat would receive such an honour; they are well known to all
I merely wish to note the distinction which you have brought
to this chamber, Your Honour. How proud your colleagues are of
all your endeavours.
Our most heartfelt congratulations, Your Honour.
The Hon. the Speaker: Thank you very much, Senator
Graham and colleagues.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, may I be the
second senator to congratulate His Honour. I think now he shall
be known as His Honour Senator Speaker Doctor Molgat!
Special Joint Committee on Child Custody
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, yesterday I spoke
about the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access.
This committee, as we know, is a progeny of the Senate's
peculiar constitutional function and is the result of the enormous
public support expressed for the Senate during debate on
Bill C-41 in 1997.
I described the excellent work of senators in participating in
the work of this committee, and I indicated my pride and joy in
the Senate. I underscored the fact that the Senate and Commons
have a duty to honour the high expectations which have been
placed on this committee by the public. I had expressed
concerns, as we know, about the continuing lack of quorum at the
meetings of this committee, which lack is disabling the
committee's work. I even asked honourable senators to intervene
with members of the other place to ensure that the committee's
work is carried out.
In addition, I have already articulated my anxiety that there
might not have been a quorum for that particular vote on May 4,
1998. Last night, I promised honourable senators here that I
would re-examine the matter closely. I did so, and I am pleased
to confirm that, yes indeed, there was a quorum at the exact
moment of that vote. That particular concern of mine has been
I emphasize again that the Senate has an entitlement to the full
support of the other place for this committee. The Senate has a
duty to the public and to the millions of concerned people in this
country to see that these matters are given the care, attention and
the study that they properly deserve.
Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, the week
of May 31 to June 6 marks National Access Awareness Week.
This week provides the opportunity to celebrate the
accomplishments of individuals, community groups, government
departments and private businesses who have improved access
and services for people with disabilities and, at the same time,
have generated public awareness concerning the obstacles that
still prevent full integration for people with disabilities into all
aspects of life.
This year, National Access Awareness Week is focusing on the
theme "Awareness Plus Action Equals Opportunity." As I said in
the Senate on February 18, we as a society acknowledge the right
of disabled persons to live in a Canada that promotes and
protects equality, that encourages self-reliance and independence
and provides the opportunities for full participation in civic and
Honourable senators, the Senate should be no less committed
to the value of equality than Canadian society in general, and that
is why it is most fitting that tomorrow the Standing Senate
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
will be considering the matter of barriers to full access to the
Senate for disabled Canadians. I am confident that all senators
join with me, and with Senator Carstairs, who has spoken so
passionately about disability issues in this chamber, in
congratulating members and staff of the committee for
identifying accessibility as a priority and to express the hope that
in the not too distant future the Senate will be viewed by all
Canadians as a model of equality and as one of the most
accessible institutions in the country.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I have the honour
to present the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology on Bill S-10.
Wednesday, June 3, 1998
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-10, An Act
to amend the Excise Tax Act, has, in obedience to the Order
of Reference of Thursday, March 19, 1998, examined the
said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
LOWELL MURRAY, P.C. Chairman
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Murray, for Senator Di Nino, bill placed
on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, I have the honour
to present the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders.
Wednesday, June 3, 1998
The Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules
and Orders has the honour to present its
On December 16, 1997, the Senate authorized your
committee "to examine and report upon any and all matters
relating to attendance in the Senate."
The issue of attendance is complex and multi-faceted -
there are statutory and constitutional provisions, past
decisions and policies of the Senate, as well as public policy
considerations. The work of Senators comprises much more
than simply attending sittings in the chamber. Your
Committee believes that the question of attendance should
be addressed in a comprehensive way, rather than merely
looking at one or two individual components.
It is also important to appreciate from the outset that the
Senate publishes far more detailed attendance records than
any other legislature in Canada, except the Northwest
Territories. Since Confederation, the Senate - like its
predecessor, the Legislative Council of Canada - has listed
the names of those members in attendance in each day's
Journals. This can be contrasted with the House of
Commons and all provincial legislative assemblies, which
do not list the names of those in attendance.
The number of sitting days is not an accurate reflection of
the workload of the Senate. It is, however, relevant that the
Senate sits for more days than many provincial legislatures.
For instance in 1997, the New Brunswick Legislative
Assembly sat for 32 days, while the Alberta Legislative
Assembly sat for 38 days. In the same year - despite a
federal general election and the consequent dissolution of
Parliament - the Senate had 56 sittings and the House of
Commons 93. On average the Senate sits for approximately
70 days a year.
The remuneration of Members of Parliament is set out in
the Parliament of Canada Act. Provision is made for a
deduction from the sessional allowance and expense
allowance of Parliamentarians for every sitting beyond 21
that they do not attend a sitting of the Senate or House of
In 1990, the Standing Committee on Standing Rules and
Orders recommended the introduction of a Senators'
Attendance Register which would be available to the public
and contain information respecting Senators' attendance in
the Senate and at committees, participation on
parliamentary delegations, public business and illness.
Your committee now recommends that the policy
establishing the Senators' Attendance Register
recommended by the Committee to the Senate in its Fourth
Report dated May 10, 1990, and adopted by the Senate on
May 24, 1990, be amended as shown in Schedule I to this
Report. Your Committee recommends that the amended
policy come into force on July 1, 1998.
Your committee further recommends that the Senate
make a regulation under the authority of section 59 of the
Parliament of Canada Act increasing the amount of the
deduction to be made for non-attendance to a total
of $250 per sitting day, composed of a deduction of $190 to
be made from the sessional allowance payable after all
statutory deductions and a deduction of $60 to be made
from the expense allowance.
Your Ccmmittee therefore recommends:
(a) that the Senate, pursuant to section 59 of the
Parliament of Canada Act, make the Senate Sessional
Allowance (Deductions for Non-attendance) Regulations
in the form attached as Schedule 2;
(b) that section 1 of the Senate Sessional Allowance
(Deductions for Non-attendance)Regulations be
adopted as Rule 138 of the Rules of the Senate; and
(c) that the Clerk be instructed to transmit copies in both
official languages of the Senate Sessional Allowance
(Deduction for Non-attendance) Regulations to the
Clerk of the Privy Council for registration and
publication under the Statutory Instruments Act.
Your Committee intends to continue its examination of
issues relating to the attendance of senators.
SHIRLEY MAHEU Chairman
(For text of schedules see today's Journals of the Senate,
Appendix, p. 754.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Maheu, report placed on the Orders of
the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce
Committee-Notice of Motion to Elicit Response of
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I give notice that
tomorrow, Thursday, June 4, 1998, I will move:
That within 90 days of the adoption of this motion, the
Leader of the Government shall provide the Senate with the
response of the Government to the Eleventh Report of the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce, entitled: "The Canada Pension Plan Investment
Board: Getting it Right," tabled in the Senate on March 31,
Progressive Deterioration of French Services Available
to Francophones Outside Quebec-Notice of Inquiry
Hon. Jean-Maurice Simard: Honourable senators, I give
notice that on Thursday, June 11, 1998, I will call the attention of
the Senate to the current situation with regard to the application
of the Official Languages Act, its progressive deterioration, the
abdication of responsibility by a succession of governments over
the past 10 years and the loss of access to services in French for
francophones outside Quebec.
Action Taken for Inappropriate Behaviour by Members of
Armed Forces in Former Yugoslavia-Government
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, in the fall of
1994, ten soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces were
photographed posing with Nazi flags during a peace-keeping
mission in the former Yugoslavia. Eight of these soldiers,
according to the Land Force Western Area, are currently serving in
the armed forces. The investigation that followed the incident
deemed the actions to be inappropriate but did not find that racism
or neo-Nazism was apparent.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate
and it is: What disciplinary action was taken against these soldiers,
and is the investigation complete at this time? Also would Senator
Graham advise us as to whether any of these people who posed
have been promoted to the rank of officer?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): I
thank the honourable senator for his question. Obviously I do not
have the detailed information that would be required at the present
time. I will take his question as notice.
Senator Oliver: As further supplementary questions for the
honourable leader, could he also determine who conducted the
investigation, whether it was the Judge Advocate General's office,
the military police or some other investigative body? Also, what,
if any, recommendations did the investigative body have regarding
punishment for the misconduct of the soldiers involved?
Further, the "Nazi Flags Fact Sheet" released by the Land Force
Western Area cited that, and I quote: "...it is clear that posing with
the flags was inappropriate." Would this government, particularly
the Ministry of National Defence, retract this "soft" description of
soldiers posing in front of Nazi flags and condemn the action in
stronger language befitting the type of society in which we live?
Senator Graham: I shall answer for the minister. I find the
action of posing in front of a Nazi flag not only inappropriate but
repugnant. I shall be happy to pursue the matter further, and to
seek out the information that my honourable friend has requested.
Changes to Canada Pension Plan-Failure to Make
Appointments to Investment Board-Endorsement of
Candidates Named by Nominating Committee-Government
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, my question is to
the Leader of the Government in regard to the appointment
process for the Investment Board of the Canada Pension Plan. The
government has not yet appointed anyone to chair this board.
Could the minister advise the Senate as to the reasons for this
Last December, we were told that the bill to set up this board
was a matter of urgent concern, in order that the changes to the
Canada Pension Plan could be in place by this fall. It is already
June, and nothing has been done. Is it possible that qualified
candidates are not able to be found? Is the government waiting
until Parliament rises so that they will not have to answer
questions from the opposition?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, certainly no one is ducking questions from
the opposition. There is no shortage of questions from the
opposition on any item.
Senator Tkachuk does raise a valid point. I shall enquire as to
why that particular position has not been filled. I shall also urge
my colleagues responsible to act with great dispatch to ensure
that the position is not only filled, but filled with the most
qualified person available.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I would ask that
Senator Graham expand upon his answer to that question. The
minister had an urgent need to have this bill passed last June in
order to have the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board,
together with its office and management, up and running and
prepared to make investment and policy decisions by this fall. As
the summer approaches, only two months are left in which this
can be accomplished.
Any appointment decisions to this board would benefit from
an examination by the members of the House of Commons and
the Senate when those appointments are made, so that the people
of Canada will have confidence that the right decision has been
Could the Leader of the Government ask those responsible to
release the name of the successful appointee prior to the summer
break? If this question is not answerable, then I would ask
further: If the decision has not yet been made, why not?
Senator Graham: Again, I will seek further information. I
recall the very excellent spirit of cooperation that we had when
the Canada Pension Plan legislation was passed. The Minister of
Finance not only came to the chamber for the examination of the
bill in Committee of the Whole, but he met with the leadership of
the opposition. In fact, he met with the entire opposition caucus.
I know that he appreciates the cooperation of all members in this
chamber for the passage of that legislation, which was considered
urgent at the time.
On the basis of that, I shall consult with my colleague and
determine what has caused the delay in the appointment. I shall
not only urge upon him the necessity of making the appointment
as soon as possible, but I shall endeavour to bring the name of
that person to the chamber at the earliest possible date.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have a
supplementary question to the question posed by my colleague
When the Senate Banking Committee was in Halifax, it was
told by one of the witnesses that the government had already
received the report of the nominating committee for the CPP
Investment Board. That was two and a half months ago.
Could the Honourable Leader of the Government advise the
Senate, first, when the membership of the board will be
announced, and second, will the minister assure the Senate that,
following the recommendations of the Banking Committee's
March report, only those names on the list prepared by the
nominating committee will be approved?
Senator Graham: I shall attempt to bring in an affirmative
response to both of those questions.
Senator Oliver: As a further supplementary, the Banking
Committee recommended that all directors be chosen from the
list selected by the nominating committee, and not only the ones
chosen during the first round. Could the government leader
advise the Senate as to whether or not any decision has been
made concerning how future vacancies will be filled?
Senator Graham: It is to be hoped with the most qualified
persons available. However, I shall bring that information
Changes to Canada Pension Plan-Failure to Make
Appointments to Investment Board-Request for Status
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, my question is to
the Leader of the Government in the Senate, again in regard to
the Canada Pension Plan.
In view of the spirit of cooperation that was extant in this
chamber when the minister appeared here for examination of the
CPP bill in Committee of the Whole, would it not be appropriate
to provide to us a status report or an update as to the present
situation of the Investment Board?
We are concerned about the minister's representation of the
urgency of having the Investment Board operational by the fall of
this year. If this board is to be operational by the fall, certain
milestones and measuring points must be in place as to what
would need to be accomplished between now and then.
Therefore, it would be appropriate to ask to receive in this
chamber a status report before we rise for the summer. Would
that be possible?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, that is a fair question. I shall attempt to
provide such a status report.
As honourable senators will recall, one of the urgencies in
passing the legislation before December 31, 1997, was to enable
the government to start collecting premiums as of January 1,
Awarding of Contract without Tender-Possible
Violation of North American Free Trade and NATO
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, my first
question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We
are all aware of the discussion in recent days about the
untendered award to Bombardier of a contract worth close
to $3 billion.
My question is a follow-up to questions raised here in the
chamber yesterday by Senator Kelleher and others. Under
Chapter 10 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or
NAFTA, the governments of Canada, the United States and
Mexico agreed to respect certain government procurement
obligations. Given that the Department of National Defence is
covered by NAFTA's procurement provisions, would the
government leader consult with the Prime Minister and advise
the Senate whether the untendered $2.85-billion Bombardier
contract violates any of the government's NAFTA treaty
Further, Article 1010 of the NAFTA stipulates that except
under clearly defined, limited circumstances, the Department of
National Defence and other covered entities must publish an
invitation to participate for all procurements. Would the Leader
of the Government indicate why that part of the agreement was
not adhered to?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, to my personal knowledge, Article 1010
has not been violated. However, I shall attempt to elicit further
assurances from the Prime Minister and from the minister
responsible for my honourable friend.
Senator Forrestall: I am sure the minister knows that we have
similar agreements under NATO arrangements. We have also
side-stepped those as if the treaty was of no particular value to
This question requires an answer. I realize it is a difficult call.
I spent two and a half hours this morning on the Internet, and I
could not pull up the necessary title. I leave it in the honourable
senator's good hands to determine which sections of the NAFTA
and the NATO agreements we may have violated. If there has
been no violation, could we have an assurance to that effect?
Report of Israeli Aircraft in Pakistani Air Space-Possible
Link to Recently Demonstrated Nuclear
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have
another question, on a slightly different matter. A news report
today is indicating that aircraft, believed to be Israeli F-16s, have
been spotted in Pakistan's air space. Does the minister have any
details in his briefing notes today as to whether or not this report
is true, particularly as to whether or not these aircraft might be
flying out of Indian airfields? All of this has to do with the
speculation about pre-emptive action with respect to the nuclear
arsenals in that part of the world and the capacity to build them.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, on Senator Forrestall's first point, if he
took two and a half hours and did not come up with the answer,
I can say it would take the Leader of the Government in the
Senate at least two and a half days to get to the point where he is,
with the same equipment.
With respect to the report of Israeli F-16s flying into Pakistani
air space, I have also been apprised of such rumours. I have
nothing official to report. The world is watching these events
with fear, but also with anticipation - and I might say even hope
- that things in that part of the world will settle down, that
cooler heads will prevail and that the negotiating skills and the
influence of the free world will come to bear, and that there will
not be an outbreak of hostilities in that very important part of the
Agreement on Internal Trade-Measures Taken to
Reduce Outstanding Interprovincial
Hon. James F. Kelleher: Honourable senators, my question is
for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I know he will
be happy to hear from me again today. During the federal
election campaign last year, the Department of Industry admitted
in a memorandum which came to light that its agreement on
internal trade addressed only 13 per cent of the interprovincial
trade barriers identified in a conference board study. The
Department of Industry memorandum dated January 20, 1997,
also stated that the agreement could potentially address another
56 per cent, if current negotiations were successful.
Will the leader consult with the Prime Minister and provide a
detailed update to the Senate regarding exactly what has been
done since January 1997 to address all of these outstanding
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I certainly shall. I want to commend
Senator Kelleher for bringing these matters to the attention of the
chamber. Obviously Canadians in every province would like to
see closer cooperation so that these internal trade barriers are
removed. As the honourable senator indicated today, we have
freer trade with many of our neighbours, and with countries
around the world, and it would be most helpful, not only to
individual Canadians, but to the economy of each and every
province, if we had better cooperation on this front.
I know it is the direct responsibility of the Minister of Industry.
I have discussed this matter with him on a number of occasions.
The points the honourable senator raises are valid. As I indicated
yesterday, the premiers will be meeting in August. It is hoped
that preparatory meetings will be held prior to that occasion. I
anticipate that these matters will be on the agenda at that
particular time, but, again, I will bring the honourable senator's
Senator Kelleher: I thank the honourable leader for his very
kind answer. Notwithstanding that, I still have a supplementary.
The Department of Industry memorandum also admitted that
even if all of the current negotiations were successful, the
agreement could not address the remaining 31 per cent of these
costly interprovincial trade barriers. Most of these barriers that
lie outside the scope of the agreement that the Prime Minister
signed relate to specifications and standards, licensing and
In their 1993 Red Book, the Liberal Party of Canada
recognized that interprovincial trade barriers were costing
Canadians about $6 billion every year, and the Prime Minister
promised that his government would be committed to the
elimination of interprovincial trade barriers and that it would
address the issue urgently. Will the leader therefore consult with
the Prime Minister and report back to the Senate on precisely
what has been done to address these outstanding barriers that are
so harmful to Canadian job creation and international
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I shall certainly
undertake to do that at the earliest possible time.
Special Joint Committee-Request for Progress Report
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is to the co-chair
of the Special Joint Committee of the House of Commons and
the Senate on Child Custody and Access. Yesterday, honourable
senators will recall, there was debate on the work of that special
joint committee. A number of matters were raised. One of the
questions I had asked, which is more appropriately asked of the
co-chair from this chamber, was on the work progress of the
committee, among some other issues that were raised.
Could the honourable senator give this house a progress
Hon. Landon Pearson: Honourable senators, I thank the
honourable senator for his question. The committee is charged to
report by November 30, and I see no reason why we cannot do
that. We have now come near to completing our hearings, both in
Ottawa and throughout the country. We have heard from well
over 500 witnesses so far, and the number will probably reach
600 by the time we have finished.
Honourable senators, this gives me an opportunity to say that,
while I share my colleague's pride in the efforts of the members
of the Senate and their attendance and attention during the
committee, when we were travelling the country, there was only
enough money for 14 members to travel, so the attendance
records of some members may not reflect that fact. I think that,
as a whole, the Senate has done extraordinarily well in paying
attention to this extremely important issue.
I should like to take a moment to clarify something that my
colleague Senator Cools mentioned regarding the question of the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. It is true that
Beauchesne's 768 reads:
A "Note" adopted by the House as part of Standing
Order 104(2) indicates that a Parliamentary Secretary shall
not be a member of a standing committee which has
responsibility for reviewing the department of the Minister
to whom the Member is Parliamentary Secretary.
However, the Committee on Child Custody and Access is not a
standing committee. It is a special joint committee, which ceases
to exist at the moment its final report is presented to the house.
Moreover, this committee is not reviewing the Department of
Justice. On the contrary, we are examining a set of issues that fall
partly under the responsibility of the Minister of Justice and
partly under other federal and provincial departments. Therefore,
I do not believe that there is any reason why Eleni Bakopanos
should not be a member of this committee.
Special Joint Committee-Possibility of Interim
Report-Position of Co-Chair
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I have a question
for the Senate's co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on
Custody and Access. I wonder if she or the committee as a whole
has contemplated the possibility of an interim report in order to
bring colleagues in this chamber, and in the other chamber,
abreast of the issues that are being placed before the committee?
Hon. Landon Pearson: In answer to my honourable
colleague, on June 15, we will be meeting to discuss what issues
we would like to put together in a preliminary draft. At that time,
it may be appropriate to discuss whether we want some of that
material released publicly prior to the time of our eventual report.
Senator Cools: I would like to ascertain from the co-chair
how it is possible to raise issues at the committee if there is a
persistent and chronic lack of quorum.
Senator Pearson: I am hopeful that we will have the
opportunity on this particular day, June 15, to raise all kinds of
Senator Cools: Am I to understand from the co-chair that I
must wait until June 15 to be able to enjoy a quorum of members
at the committee?
Senator Pearson: No. I merely said that there would be an
opportunity at that time. I did not say there would not be an
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, there is a meeting this
afternoon at 3:30 p.m. I should have thought that immediately
this afternoon some of the concerns being raised here would go
forward to the committee. My central point, which I was hoping
would be addressed today, is the persistent, consistent, insistent
and stubborn lack of a quorum of members at these committee
Senator Pearson: In answer to that question, honourable
senators, the meeting this afternoon has been set for the hearing
of witnesses. I have spoken, as I think have many of us, to
colleagues in the House with the hope that a quorum will be
present. It is not within our power to guarantee that. There will
always be a quorum for hearing evidence, but the quorum for
decision-making, which is 12, may or may not be there.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I come back to my
original question: What will the Senate do about the persistent
lack of a proper quorum of 12 at these meetings? It is not enough
to say or to believe that the substitute number of six members is
sufficient. All that the committee does is hear witnesses. That
number of six members frequently diminishes to less. Let us be
quite clear: That number of six members for the hearing of
witnesses is a bottom line number. It is supposedly a guarantee
that attendance at a meeting to hear witnesses never drops below
that number. However, this committee consistently drops below
that number of six members and is never 12, a quorum.
I am still interested in knowing what we, as a Senate chamber,
will do to ensure that the work of this committee receives the
attention and the care it deserves from the other place.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I have a response to a
question raised in the Senate on May 6, 1998, by the Honourable
Senator Michael Forrestall regarding the solicitation by Canadian
Forces Personnel Support Agency; and a response to a question
raised in the Senate on May 12, 1998, by the Honourable Senator
Marcel Prud'homme regarding the issuance of building permits
for the new Saudi Arabian embassy in Ottawa.
Solicitation by Canadian Forces Personnel Support
(Response to question raised by Hon. J. Michael Forrestall on
May 6, 1998)
Corporate cash and products are only solicited and
accepted for activities that have not traditionally been
financed through public funding. These include, but are not
limited to certain social activities related to the military
Sports Program, special concerts organized for troops
overseas, and the production costs for the family calendar
issued by the Military Family Support Program.
Corporate sponsorship is a very small part of the overall
personnel support program funding package. The total
revenue raised from corporate sponsorship - including all
cash and products - was approximately $215,000 last year.
All corporate donors must sign a "legal letter of
understanding" in which it is made clear that the Canadian
Forces is not and will not be endorsing their products.
The United States and most Western European Armed
Forces accept corporate sponsorship for similar types of
There is no shame in supplementing the quality of life of
our military personnel through corporate sponsorship in
areas where taxpayers should not be expected to foot the
Issuance of Building Permits for New Saudi Arabian
Embassy in Ottawa-Government Position
(Response to question raised by Hon. Marcel Prud'homme on
May 12, 1998)
The department has fully supported the proposal by the
kingdom of Saudi Arabia to build an embassy on Sussex
Drive in close proximity to the Pearson Building. The
hearings that are taking place now are part of the municipal
approval process to which building proposals are subject.
The department is monitoring the process and, while it
cannot intervene in the process it will provide any
information or advice required.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, perhaps we can get some
clarification as to our work plan over the next few days so that all
honourable senators will know the agenda for next week.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, with cooperation from both
sides and with the concurrence of Senator Prud'homme - and I
am sorry that I was not able to get in touch with Senator Lawson
- there is agreement that we will complete second reading
stages of Bill C-19 and Bill C-36 no later than Monday, June 8.
That means that both the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology, to which Bill C-19 will be
referred, and the Standing Senate Committee on National
Finance, to which Bill C-36 will be referred, will be able to begin
hearings on Tuesday of next week. That is why earlier this
afternoon I moved second reading of Bill C-29 and Bill C-39 for
Monday night rather than Friday. As a consequence, we will not
be sitting this Friday.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Bryden, seconded by the Honourable Senator
Pearson, for the second reading of Bill C-36, an Act to
implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in
Parliament on February 24, 1998.
Hon. Roch Bolduc: Honourable senators, I am delighted to be
able to speak on behalf of the Official Opposition in the Senate
concerning Bill C-36, or the Budget Implementation Act, 1998.
On March 18, I voiced some reservations concerning the
February 1998 budget, particularly with respect to taxes and the
debt. Today I will just make a few comments on some of the
dozen or so components of this omnibus bill. We know that this
bill addresses the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation,
the Canada Development Investment Corporation, the Work
Force Adjustment Directive, which requires a legislative
amendment, Indian bands, Canada Education Savings Grants, the
Tobacco Tax, the Air Transportation Tax, the Child Tax Benefit,
student loans, employment insurance, the Guaranteed Income
Supplement, and international financial institutions. We therefore
have a bill here that addresses a dozen or so different areas.
I must stress that this is a bad way to pass legislation. It is
legislative laziness to make a catch-all bill like this. It is even a
problem for lawyers, so imagine what it is like for the general
public! It makes it look as if the government were trying to
conceal its sins.
Let us start with the Canadian Millennium Scholarship
Foundation Act. Honourable senators, the most controversial
provisions of Bill C-36 are those that address the creation of the
Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation.
There are two reasons for this. Many Quebecers, myself
included, feel that Ottawa must not interfere in education, as it
plans to with the millennium scholarships. Education is a
provincial jurisdiction, if anyone needs reminding. In 1964,
34 years ago, under Premier Lesage we in Quebec built our own
system of loans and bursaries with an opting-out formula. This
settled a dispute, one which the government is now reopening. I
am sure that Senator Bacon is not in favour of this measure.
Let us not forget that this is a government which is reducing its
financial contribution to provincial programs, such as health,
education and welfare, by some $6 billion annually.
The amounts injected into the provinces via direct
expenditures are far from equaling the reductions made to the
The second controversy concerns how the $2.5 billion will be
booked. For the third time in three years, the Auditor General has
stated that the government is fudging the books. In 1996, it was
$1 billion in GST harmonization payments. Last year, it was
$800 million for the Innovation Foundation. This year, it is the
$2.5 billion for the scholarship fund. Next year, will it be a home
care foundation? In each case, an expenditure is booked to the
wrong year, allowing the government to juggle its reported
deficit. If I were to sign a pledge today promising to donate
$1,000 to the foundation next year, could I claim it on this year's
tax return? Could an engineering company put a new computer
in next year's capital budget and then deduct it on this year's tax
No, you cannot claim a tax deduction on the basis of intent,
but the government has a different set of rules.
In the report he tabled in April, the Auditor General wrote, and
Business firms cannot depart from objective accounting
standards...to hide losses or to hide profits. Parliamentarians
should expect no less from the government...
If individual governments of the day are free to choose
whatever accounting policies and practices they wish,
readers will have no confidence that the financial statements
are consistent or comparable over time. And without such
confidence, the credibility of all financial statements is
Honourable senators, opposition members in the other place
were also concerned about the governance structure of the new
foundation. Indeed, some parts of this bill make the CPP
Investment Board look like a shining example of transparency
and accountability. If the government intends to create this
foundation, it ought to at least do it right. The laws governing
boards and agencies must set out a proper framework for
accountability and transparency. In order for boards and agencies
to be accountable, they must report fully to the public and to
Parliament. Transparency means that the stakeholder - that is to
say, ordinary Canadians and their representives in Parliament -
must have free access to enough information that would allow
them to judge the make-up of the board, and the board's conduct
of its business. Transparency requires, among others things, that
the top salaries be made public, that conflict of interest rules be
clearly stated, and that the auditor be independent.
It is as if the government said to us: "Don't worry. The
foundation will operate at arm's length from the government.
That is why it will not be accountable like the other agencies or
have to meet the most stringent transparency criteria."
In reality, however, the government is saying to the
foundation: "Here is $2.5 billion. Not to worry, you can spend it
as you like and conduct business as you wish, because no one
can fault you should you ever end up in a mess. Forget about the
parliamentary reviews, the Access to Information Act and the
We have to look, honourable senators, at the autonomy of the
foundation, since the government appoints the chairman and a
third of the directors.
Doubtless, the other two thirds will be appointed by the
directors, who were themselves appointed by the minister, and
most of the money will come from the federal treasury. Although
the annual report and the results of the five-year review will be
tabled in Parliament, no review mechanism has been provided.
The Auditor General even noted in his April report, and I quote:
A second concern relates to what we would call the
essential nature or substance of these types of entities....
Questions that we will address in this study will include
whether, in substance or in fact, such entities operate at
arm's length from the government.
Honourable senators, how would the foundation manage the
enormous bank of personal information that it will collect, given
that the Privacy Act does not apply to it? Each year, hundreds of
thousands of students will file information that includes not only
their name, address and postal code, but such personal data as
their marks and their family income. Some applicants may have
legitimate fears for their safety, and may not want information
that would reveal where they are living or where they are headed
to be released to anyone. Someone in the foundation may be
tempted to pass on its list to others, with data sorted by family
income. That would be an invasion of privacy. Those who apply
for a scholarship should be able to do so with confidence that the
information they provide on their forms will not be released
without their consent. Perhaps the officials can address this issue
Honourable senators, allow me to highlight just a few of the
governance problems that opposition members in the other place
attempted to address with their amendments. First, there is the
matter of what is to be included in the foundation's annual report.
If you want to monitor an organization to ensure that it is doing
its job and not abusing the trust placed in it, the more information
you have, the better. The foundation will be required, by law, to
keep its costs down, so that this can be monitored should the
annual report not deal with such matters as how much the board
pays its senior employees and who is receiving consulting
Opposition members in the other place also suggested that the
five-year review be conducted by someone independent of the
foundation. Another opposition amendment would have referred
the annual report and the five-year report to the appropriate
committee of the House of Commons and Senate for review.
Should we, as parliamentarians, not have the opportunity to
judge these reports?
The government envisions that this foundation will continue
for several years into the future. However, Bill C-36 only
provides for a single five-year review. There is no requirement
for any review ever to be done after that. If the foundation
continues indefinitely, should there not be a review every five
years and not just after the first five years?
Honourable senators, the foundation will not only grant
scholarships, it will also be responsible for investing $2.5 billion.
Another government agency making investments. Efforts must
be made to ensure these funds are not used to buy shares in
something like Bre-X.
Should there not be criteria for the board members, including
some knowledge of the investment industry, in addition to the
requirements already provided for in Bill C-36, such as
knowledge of the education sector and of how the economy
Bill C-36 gives the foundation the power to pick its own
auditor. The rule almost everywhere is that the stakeholders or
their representative choose the auditor. In the case of a private
corporation, the stakeholders are the shareholders. In the case of
Crown corporations, cabinet acting on behalf of Canadians, as
the stakeholder, chooses the auditor. In the case of the
foundation, the government has created the legal fiction that the
foundation's members are the stakeholders and thus may pick the
auditor. If this were a foundation or institution created from the
bottom up, this would be a legitimate argument. If the members
were picked directly by the provinces or other stakeholders,
rather than following consultation, it would be a legitimate
argument. In the case of this foundation, the government's logic
is hard to swallow. The stakeholders are the Canadian public
because it is $2.5 billion of their money that is at stake. Should
the minister, acting on behalf of Canadians, not choose the
auditor, and should the Auditor General not be listed as an
Bill C-36 being an omnibus budget implementation bill, other
elements deserve our attention, but I will reserve the right to
come back to the millennium scholarships later.
Honourable senators, Bill C-36 authorizes the government to
provide financial assistance not to exceed $2.5 billion US in
respect of any particular foreign state and $5 billion US in
respect of all foreign states.
Two questions come to mind in this respect. First, is this not
the kind of decision that would better be made on a case-by-case
basis by Parliament? There is no way of knowing what country
may be benefiting from Canada's money months or years down
For example, if the government were to decide that a country
known to violate human rights like Nigeria should receive
Canadian assistance, would it not be better that Parliament have
a say in this, through the supply process for instance? I am not
convinced that Senator Grafstein will agree with me on this.
Second, before approving funding for this kind of assistance
program, would it not be better that the minister be required to
make sure that our money goes to countries with similar values,
especially since the policy formulated by the government after
the joint committee report was tabled in 1996 does require that
Canadian values be reflected in our foreign policy? But there are
no such guarantees in here.
Opposition members in the other place asked that the approval
of such an expenditure be conditional on two requirements being
met. First, we should insist that receiving countries be respectful
of human rights or at least show substantial improvement in this
Second, we should demand that receiving countries sign the
landmine treaty, since this is one of Canada's initiatives.
Government officials will perhaps be able to explain to us in
committee why the government would not be required by law to
examine a country's human rights track record before issuing a
In addition, before signing tax conventions with other
countries - a bill was passed about this yesterday, and then
people realized the government was signing an agreement with
Vietnam, a known police state - I take this opportunity to point
out that we should also obtain an assurance from the Department
of Foreign Affairs that taxpayers' personal information will not
be floating around in other countries.
Honourable senators, for some time now, I have taken an
interest in the funding mechanisms of Canada's assistance
programs and in what guides its relations with international
organizations. Decision-makers, whether elected or not, have
great leeway, far too great in my view. I know that Senator
Stewart agrees with me. It is perhaps time to establish a set of
guidelines for them, which could include respect for fundamental
Canadian values. I think that the members of our Foreign Affairs
Committee who studied this issue will agree with me, not just the
deputy chair, Senator Andreychuck, but also the committee
chairman, Senator Stewart.
Honourable senators, despite a cumulative surplus of
almost $20 billion in the Employment Insurance account, the
government refuses to lower premiums to the level actually
needed to run the program. Some are now even suggesting that
the government may be breaking the law by keeping premiums at
their current level; premiums that are, by the way, money of
employers and employees and not money belonging to the
Canadian government. Four years ago, the Minister of Finance
said in his first budget that "payroll taxes are a barrier to jobs."
Honourable senators, it is true that EI premiums have gone
down slightly since 1993. They are admittedly not such a heavy
burden when one thinks of the increase in CPP and QPP
The combined EI and pension premiums paid by Canadian
employers rose from $6.70 to $7.02 per $100 in earnings. These
combined premiums will rise to $7.54 in the year 2000, if the
government does not lower EI premiums. It has not declared its
intention to do so. Does the government really believe that all
this will have no impact on employment?
The national unemployment rate for young people in Canada
is just under 16 per cent. In Quebec, it stands at 18 per cent. In an
attempt to improve the situation, Bill C-36 proposes that
employers who hire young people be exempted from paying
The intent is good, but the road to hell is paved with good
Most employers do have a sense of loyalty to their employees,
and place a high value on retaining skilled and experienced
workers. However, the government cannot promise us that
everyone feels that way. Honourable senators, giving employers
an incentive to fire middle-aged breadwinners and replace them
with their offspring is certainly a creative approach, but it is not
the kind of approach we should be taking. Changing the faces of
the unemployed is not the answer. If a premium break is the way
to create jobs, then give a premium break to all Canadians.
Honourable senators, a couple of months ago, Senator
Tkachuk raised the matter of some changes to the income test for
the Guaranteed Income Supplement that would have the effect of
"nickeling and diming" Canada's poorest seniors. This point was
pursued as well by Progressive Conservatives members in the
There is a very steep income test for the supplement, which is
paid on top of the basic Old Age Security to very low-income
seniors. Benefits are cut at the rate of 50 cents of benefits for
every $1 of income. Any change in the clawback rules can have
a big impact.
The income test has always given a bit of a break to
low-income seniors who earn a few extra dollars to make ends
meet. For example, if a senior earns $2,500, Ottawa only counts
$2,000 for the GIS income test. Instead of having $1,250
chopped off the supplement through the 50 per cent rule, only
$1,000 is lost. Bill C-36 removes that break from those who
make extra money to help pay the bills. The government says
that the new rules could save the government about $14 million
per year. Some very low-income couples could lose as much as
$500 per year.
A second change concerns the way in which Ottawa calculates
the GIS clawback. Today, the amount taken off the monthly GIS
cheque is rounded down to the nearest dollar. For example, if the
income test would cause a senior's monthly GIS to be cut
by $150.90, only $150 is taken off. Under Bill C-36, the full
$150.90 will be lost. This will save $9 million, or about $6 per
low-income senior. While this is a relatively small amount, it is a
The government is now backing down, saying, in the words of
its press release, that its changes will have "unintended
consequences." This will be corrected, not through an
amendment to this bill but through some future bill. Honourable
senators, if consequences are unintended, you do not prepare
briefing notes in advance outlining how much money you will
Bill C-36 does include one other change which is less
controversial. It will push back the benefit year to a July-to-June
period from an April-to-March period. This will allow seniors to
apply for their supplements through the tax system, thus reducing
red tape. To the extent that it makes life easier for seniors, this
third change is welcome. However, it should be noted that one
downside is that low-income seniors whose incomes have fallen
will need to wait three extra months before their benefits are
adjusted to reflect this change.
Honourable senators, I realize that my time is running out, but
allow me to reflect on a few other aspects of Bill C-36. This bill
allows Ottawa to sell its interests in Hibernia. As many here will
remember, the former government picked up this interest or share
when it stepped in to save the Hibernia project. The intent was
never to hold on to this interest. If a buyer can be found, then it is
appropriate for the federal government to let go.
Bill C-36 fixes a loophole in the separation benefits paid to
departing public servants, something with which we have no
problem. Perhaps officials will have an explanation as to why
this loophole crept into the system in the first place.
Another measure concerns the improvement of the child tax
benefit. In this regard, honourable senators, two things must be
borne in mind. First, the number of children living in poverty is
the highest it has been in 17 years. Clearly, something is not
In addition, as I mentioned earlier, the government has
cut $6 billion from transfer payments for social programs
provided by the provinces. I have already pointed out,
honourable colleagues, that the amounts the government is trying
to re-inject into the system do not compensate for the budget cuts
faced by the authorities which the Constitution empowers to deal
with such matters.
We could also talk of the provisions to reduce the student debt
load, which we support. Nevertheless, there is room to ask to
what extent the government is responsible for the very problem it
is now trying to resolve.
I would like to return, honourable senators, to the matter of the
scholarships, because much of the budget speech focused on it.
Opinions on the subject are strongly divided in Canada. Some
want a national body or a national system, as if bigger meant
better. The Canada Council is mentioned as an example, but here
we are in a very sensitive provincial jurisdiction. I say that
because I have experienced it, and I know it is very sensitive.
Basically, the government, while not acting illegally, is abusing
its spending power, claiming that the groups want money.
After cutting support to higher education, the government is
offering scholarships to students. I do not think it is up to the
federal government to define the priorities of higher education
Were I to have permission to continue, I would show that it is
a false priority. The main problem does not lie here. Second, it
also has a negligible impact on access to higher education. There
are 900,000 undergraduates in our universities, and the
government is going to give out 100,000 scholarships. That is
one in ten.
Third, the general disapproval in Quebec and elsewhere is the
result of misconstrued federalism.
I would like to mention what theMontreal Gazette had to say
about this on June 3. The people there are not considered to be
PQ supporters. I think everyone recognizes that. I quote:
In Quebec, the verdict on the proposed fund is nearly
unanimous. The Bouchard government, the opposition
parties, the business community, student federations,
professors, CÉGEP and universities all agree that
the $2.5-billion scholarship fund announced in February's
federal budget doesn't make sense for Quebec. Rarely has
there been such consensus on a single issue in this province.
How do we deal with this? Is this just another squabble with
the Government of Quebec? That is just what Quebec wants.
Now is not the time to give ammunition to the Quebec
government, with a provincial election expected in the fall.
Strategically, it makes no sense for the federal government to be
inflexible on this. Something should be done about this. What
can we do? I tried to come up with three or four possible
solutions, including the following:
Many in Quebec want the province to be able to opt out of the
millennium scholarship fund, with the province able to use the
money to address its own educational concerns.
That is what was done in 1964. It worked, and we have been
hassle-free for 35 years. I cannot understand why the government
is changing its policy in this respect now. Especially since this
would be in keeping with a 34-year tradition. This is a sensitive
issue, which should be dealt with carefully. You will no doubt
recall all the fuss I made in this place when the military college
in Saint-Jean was closed down. I felt it was unfair. It made me
angry and I said so. Now, I am telling you this is a similar
situation. I do not raise this kind of issue very often. I try not to
be too much of a nationalist, but let me tell you that this is not
acceptable to us. This is the first option. It is not likely to
succeed, because the government made its bed when Prime
Minister Chrétien decided he wanted to make a grand gesture to
mark the year 2000, and that was that.
There may be other options. Perhaps there could be some kind
of administrative withdrawal right.
The federal government, in turn, says that it is willing to
collaborate with the province and let them choose the scholarship
recipients in Quebec.
Clause 29(1) of the bill, which I read very carefully as an old
civil servant, states:
If the Foundation is satisfied that it is consistent with its
objects and purposes to do so, the Foundation may enter
into an agreement with a provincial minister respecting
(a) the criteria for the determination of financial need and
(b) the provision to the Foundation of names of residents
of the province who are determined under those criteria to
be qualified to receive a scholarship from the
That being so, I figure:
Perhaps we could have an administrative arrangement.
However, the operative words in the bill are "may enter into an
agreement" not "shall enter into an agreement." To date, the
government has insisted that the foundation will operate at
arm's-length, which means that it cannot tell the foundation what
to do. Whether or not there is an agreement with Quebec is up to
the foundation, not the government.
Why permit an administrative body with such a wide area of
discretion in such a sensitive issue? The government should
accept a reasonable compromise and not engage in a political
battle when Quebec is going into an election, probably this fall.
The National Assembly in Quebec has passed, at the request of
the Liberal Party in Quebec, a unanimous motion stressing a
principle for administrative agreement. That principle includes,
first, an equitable sharing of fellowships among students of
various parts of Canada - based probably on demographic
parameters - second, selection of students by the province;
third, transmission of the list to the foundation; and, fourth,
issuing of cheques by the foundation, with visibility for the
Can you ask for anything better than that?
It is up to the federal government to show that it is ready for a
peaceful solution to the difficulty that has been created.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I wish to ask a
question, if I may.
Other than that, Senator Bolduc, do you have any difficulty
with the bill?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Mercier, seconded by the Honourable Senator
Milne, for the second reading of Bill C-15, to amend the
Canada Shipping Act and to make consequential
amendments to other Acts.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other
honourable senator wishes to speak, then I will proceed to call
the second reading motion.
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Mercier, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Milne, that this bill be read the second
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Maheu, seconded by the Honourable Senator
Fitzpatrick, for the second reading of Bill C-19, to amend
the Canada Labour Code (Part I) and the Corporations and
Labour Unions Returns Act and to make consequential
amendments to other Acts.
Hon. Mabel M. DeWare: Honourable senators, I welcome the
opportunity to participate in the second reading debate on
Bill C-19. I follow the lead of Senator Maheu, who has already
spoken to it on behalf of the government. I listened with interest
to what she had to say, and I hope all honourable senators will
now listen to me.
First, I wish, again, to underline the scope of the Canadian
Labour Code because I think it is important, as is the legislation
that proposes to amend it.
Honourable senators will recall that the code applies to some
three-quarters of a million workers and their employers in the
federal private sector. This figure may not seem terribly
significant until you consider that the federal private sector
includes broadcasting, banking, telecommunications,
international and interprovincial transportation and grain
handling, among others. I should not have to point out that these
are key industries. Labour problems in any one of them could
have a negative impact on other industries and on our national
economic outlook. Therefore, we must examine with great care
any changes that could affect their viability.
Part I of the Canadian Labour Code, which Bill C-19 seeks to
amend, provides a framework for collective bargaining in these
and other sectors, as well as for private sector employers and
employees in the territories. Part I has not been overhauled since
the early 1970s. With the dramatic social, technological and
economic changes that have taken place since then, I doubt many
people would argue against the need to update it now. However,
I do not believe that Bill C-19 in its present form is equal to this
very important challenge.
I should also like to say a few words about the process that
brought Bill C-19 before us. It started in June 1995, as some of
you will recall, when the Minister of Labour appointed a task
force of labour relations experts chaired by Andrew Sims to
independently review and recommend changes to Part I of the
Canadian Labour Code. Its report, called "Seeking a Balance,"
was released in February 1996, and contained
70 recommendations. After consulting employer, union and
business representatives, the government then introduced
Bill C-66, which was examined by this chamber in the last
After the 1997 election, the government made some minor
changes to the bill before introducing it as Bill C-19 in the
Thirty-sixth Parliament. This was done after a last-minute round
of further consultations which appeared to have been rushed, not
to mention limited in scope. Those changes were made in
response to many of the key concerns raised about Bill C-66.
While I still have serious reservations, their introduction has
made me hopeful that the government will be willing, once more,
to listen to the voice of reason. I remind honourable senators that
we are now that voice.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of this chamber to give
Bill C-19 the time and attention it requires in order to ensure
fairness in federally regulated labour relations today and in the
Senator Maheu spoke about Bill C-19 as though it were the
best thing since sliced bread. However, go outside the federal
bureaucracy and away from the government benches both here
and in the other place and you will not find many people who
agree with her. Labour is not exactly thrilled about Bill C-19, but
will take it because that is what it can get.
Employers have major difficulties with this bill. Strong
concerns were raised that Bill C-19's predecessor, Bill C-66,
would tilt the balance of the federal labour law in favour of
labour. Those concerns have not been addressed in the current
bill. While employers say that Bill C-19 represents a slight
improvement, they are far from happy with a number of its
provisions. For example, officials of the Port of Saint John, in my
own province of New Brunswick, are deeply concerned that parts
of Bill C-19, such as its guarantee of successor rights to
non-unionized employees, will weaken the port's ability to
compete to the point where its future may be threatened. This is
very serious, given that port operations are one of the economic
linchpins of New Brunswick and other provinces.
What is more, the government seems unable in this case to
even please itself. The Globe and Mail reported on April 23,
1998, that federal cabinet ministers from British Columbia are up
in arms because of Bill C-19's potential to prolong strikes or
lockouts at the West Coast ports and have unsuccessfully lobbied
the Minister of Labour to take action.
Frankly, I cannot understand why the government seems intent
on going ahead with Bill C-19 in it is present form, given the
devastating impact it could have on labour relations in federally
regulated industries for years to come and, consequently, on
Canada's economy overall.
I should like to discuss briefly several provisions of the bill
which I believe are in serious and immediate need of attention by
this chamber. It is not my intention to go through Bill C-19
clause by clause at this point or to propose specific amendments.
That will be the task of the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology and of us all thereafter. Rather,
I simply want to outline some of Bill C-19's key, correctable
weaknesses so that honourable senators may begin to consider
the bill in the critical light of reason.
To begin, Bill C-19's provision regarding the use of
replacement workers remains extremely contentious and
potentially harmful. The original provision in Bill C-66 was
widely interpreted as a de facto ban on the use of replacement
workers. That was subsequently clarified in the bill before us to
94 (2.1) No employer or person acting on behalf of an
employer shall use, for the demonstrated purpose of
undermining a trade union's representational capacity rather
than the pursuit of legitimate bargaining objectives...
a replacement worker.
As honourable senators will recall, the Sims report
recommended that there should be no general prohibition on the
use of replacement workers. Yet this key part of a task force
recommendation regarding replacement workers is not reflected
in Bill C-19, for nowhere in the bill is it stated that employers
can use replacement workers. Indeed, as Senator Maheu admitted
in this chamber last week, clause 42 represents "a compromise
Honourable senators, the wording of the new partial ban on
replacement workers leaves a number of questions unanswered.
It gives the Canadian Industrial Relations Board the authority to
impose such a ban, but it is not at all clear how the board is to
decide whether replacement workers undermine a union's ability
to represent employees. According to organized labour, for
example, any use of replacement workers undermines a union's
representational capacity. Neither is it clear whether the
provision would prevent an employer from transferring workers
from other parts of its operations during a strike. As a result,
Bill C-19 could dangerously interfere with a company's right to
operate during a strike.
Another provision from Bill C-66 that was modified in
Bill C-19 and further amended in the other place also remains a
serious concern, and that is the provision which allows unions to
have access to personal information about off-site workers, of
which there is a growing number. In response to reservations
expressed by the Privacy Commissioner, Bruce Phillips, the
government clarified the original provision to give the Canadian
Industrial Relations Board the direction to instruct employers to
forward union material to off-site workers rather than to let the
unions do so. However, the board would still have been able to
order employers to give the names and addresses of its off-site
workers to union organizers, something which employers are not
required to do for employees who work at their place of business.
Not only was privacy still in issue, but there were concerns about
discrimination as well.
Privacy Commissioner Bruce Phillips said that the provision
overrode the federal Privacy Act by stripping individuals of their
right to withhold consent. As a result, the government was finally
forced to amend Bill C-19 in the other place and, as it now
stands, employees would have the opportunity to refuse to have
their names and addresses released to trade union representatives.
However, honourable senators, there is a world of difference
between giving people the option of simply withholding their
consent and requiring that their express consent be obtained. The
onus should not be on off-site workers to refuse to consent to
have their names and addresses released, but rather on the
Canadian Industrial Relations Board to obtain their consent.
Another serious shortcoming of Bill C-19 is the discretion it
gives to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board to allow union
certification even if the majority of employees is opposed.
Authority to do so would be exercised if the board felt that, in the
absence of unfair labour practice, the union would have had such
support. I, and my colleagues on this side of the chamber,
recognize that clause 46 infringes on the democratic power of
workers. It potentially allows a minority of workers to impose its
will on the majority, and that is not what Canada is all about.
Our colleague Senator Maheu even acknowledged these
concerns during her speech last week. She went so far as to note
The minister is aware of the senator's concern, and has
agreed to monitor carefully the application of this provision.
Honourable senators, this indicates a surprising and
well-founded reservation on the part of someone who is speaking
on behalf of the government which produced the bill in question.
I remind all present that such reservations can only now be
allayed through the vigilance of this chamber.
A further area of concern lies in Bill C-19's introduction. For
the first time, there is a provisional treatment for grain during
work stoppages at ports. I wish to make it clear that we support
ensuring the continued movement of grain during strikes and
walkouts because this does represent a national interest.
However, we feel that this chamber should take the opportunity,
presented by this study of Bill C-19, to consider the possibility of
extending this protection to other sectors. We are not convinced
that the government carefully considered all the relevant factors
because of the fact that we had so many witnesses come before
the committee on Bill C-66 requesting us to so do.
Bill C-19's guarantee of successor rights to non-unionized
employees is another provision of great concern. In particular, it
could have unintended negative consequences, especially on
small businesses. This provision stipulates that if a company
contracts out to non-unionized workers some work that was
previously done by unionized employees, they are then
automatically covered by union contracts providing for the same
wages and benefits. This could have a serious impact on
competitiveness in key sectors of the Canadian economy.
Finally, I wish to point out our dissatisfaction with the
provisions of Bill C-19 which repeals Part II of the Corporations
and Labour Unions Returns Act. Part II of that act requires all
labour unions in Canada to file financial information with
Statistics Canada. The government says its repeal will allow
Statistics Canada to collect information and make it publicly
available through more cost-effective methods. However, we are
concerned about lack of accountability. Canadians will be
deprived of knowing just how big unions are, or what they do
with their money. Honourable senators might be surprised to
learn that unions in Canada are a $5-billion-plus industry.
Before closing, I would like to make two things clear: First,
my discussion of Bill C-19's shortcomings is by no means
exhaustive. Second, we believe that Bill C-19 does have some
merit. I would not propose for a moment that we tear it up and
start over again from scratch; far from it. For example, we
welcome the changes that cut red tape and give the Canadian
Industrial Relations Board some flexibility to deal quickly with
urgent matters. Rather, we believe that positive changes can and
must be made within the legislative framework provided by
Bill C-19. Indeed, honourable senators, we have no wish to
throw the baby out with the bath water; we simply wish to drain
I would also make it clear that our concerns are not grounded
in partisanship or affected by an internal bias. We simply wish to
ensure the best possible prospects for hard-working Canadians in
the federally regulated sector and their hard-working employers,
because it is the Canadian economy as a whole that will benefit
as we enter the 21st century.
I urge my colleagues in this chamber to help the government
achieve in legislation the balance in Bill C-19 that the Sims task
force was seeking with its report.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I listened
attentively to my colleague's remarks. There is one area which
she overlooked, probably due to the shortness of the time allotted
to her, and that is seniority and rights. I have always understood
that one of the most sacred parts of negotiating relates to the
process for recognizing seniority, but very clearly the bill places
that in some jeopardy.
With respect to airline pilots, for example, seniority rights
govern what routes they fly, where their home base is, whether
they are in the left-hand seat or the right-hand seat, their levels of
pay; all of the perks and penalties. That is a negotiation tool, it is
not a tool of arbitration. Since I know this concerns a large
number of people, would the honourable senator share some
thoughts with respect to Bill C-19 on this question of the board's
capacity to direct seniority?
Senator DeWare: Honourable senators, I thank Senator
Forrestall for his question. I have some information on seniority
rights which I did not incorporate into my speech. However, I
would be pleased to present that data now.
The potentially dangerous effects of this legislation on
seniority rights were brought to the attention of Parliament in the
context of Bill C-66. We heard many witnesses on that bill.
Concerns were also raised in committee during the study of
Bill C-19 in the other place. Unfortunately, the government
ignored these concerns then and ignored them again during the
extra consultations last summer. The government appears to be
ignoring them in this bill. I hope that the Senate will not ignore
these concerns, as they are important to many sectors of society.
Clause 7 of this bill will imbue the Canadian Labour Relations
Board with the power to change the collective agreement. I do
not need to point out that seniority rights are a key element of the
terms of employment between workers and management.
Therefore, allowing any change to those rights would seriously
undermine the collective bargaining process.
The airline pilots are a prime example. Their association told
Parliament on several occasions, both during consideration of
Bill C-66 and Bill C-19, that they were very concerned. They
explained that an airline seniority list determines all aspects of a
pilot's career. Seniority determines what aircraft pilots will fly,
where planes are flown, when promotions occur, what shifts are
worked and when pilots may take holidays.
In the international airline industry, it has been an established
practice that pilots joining an airline are added to the bottom of
the seniority list. They often take significant pay cuts, but it is an
opportunity for them to fly for a major airline. Regardless of the
number of years of experience, any pilot joining a major airline
will still go to the bottom of the list. I am told this is the way it
should be. The system works fine. Those in the know, know what
to expect. Everybody seems to play by the same rules. One can
see why they have such a concern with the seniority rights
aspects of this bill.
It has been suggested to the association representing Air
Canada pilots that they could merge their seniority lists with
those of connector airlines. This would result in the pilots of
connector airlines reaping the benefits without having started at
the bottom of the heap, which is where the Air Canada pilots had
to start. This could also block the career advancement of
hundreds of Air Canada pilots.
A change of this magnitude would fundamentally alter the
terms of employment between pilots and their employer.
Therefore, it should be determined by free, collective bargaining,
not by a body such as the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
I cannot understand, with all the information that has been
given to the government and all of the witnesses who have
testified about seniority rights, why the government has not taken
this into consideration. These concerns are definitely not
contained in this bill.
Hon. Erminie J. Cohen: Honourable senators, I was surprised
to learn, when Senator Kinsella questioned Senator Maheu about
Bill C-19, that the government failed to correct any instances of
gender-specific language, contained in Part I of the Canada
I realize the waterfront could not be covered today in the
honourable senator's address on this issue, however perhaps
Senator DeWare might wish to comment on this aspect at this
Senator DeWare: After Senator Kinsella's remarks the other
day, we did research this issue to determine what happened.
There was a press release on November 6. The labour minister
promised Bill C-19 would be modernized. The suggestion was
that Part I of the Canada Labour Code would be brought into the
1990s. Numerous gender-specific references fly in the face of
As Senator Kinsella mentioned last week in questioning
Senator Maheu, clauses 105, 106 and 107 refer to the minister as
"he" or "him," and other examples are "fishermen" or
"businessmen." The achievement of gender-neutral language in
federal statutes is neither new nor revolutionary. This is a task
that began over a decade ago.
In December 1987, under the leadership of the former
Progressive Conservative Party, a bill to bring into force the
Revised Statutes of Canada became law. That legislation
provided the authority to go through all the statutes of Canada
and to revise the language in line with the Charter of Rights and
When the Revised Statutes of Canada of 1995 were published,
it was found that the problem of gender-specific language had
not been corrected in many of the statutes and it was obvious that
extra vigilance was required.
Honourable senators, I do not understand how the government
could overlook 10 years of progress in achieving gender-neutral
language in federal statutes. We are completely baffled that this
piece of legislation would come to this place, to open up the act
and make all these amendments, and not correct the language to
make it gender-neutral.
For example, representatives from the Canadian Autoworkers
Union and the Canadian Labour Congress made known their
concerns when they appeared as witnesses before the committee
on Bill C-19.
Honourable senators, that the government should allow the
continued existence in federal statutes of exclusionary language
is nothing short of disgraceful. Therefore, I call upon the
government to take immediate action to correct these glaring
deficiencies in Bill C-19, before this legislation becomes law.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have a
question for the honourable senator in relation to off-site
The honourable senator has acknowledged that there has been
controversy surrounding Bill C-19's provisions regarding off-site
workers and possible infringements to their rights to privacy and
security. The honourable senator also spoke about the less than
desirable way in which the provisions as amended would operate.
I would appreciate it if the honourable senator would expand on
some of the comments she made in her speech.
Senator DeWare: Last year, the Privacy Commissioner
appeared before the committee. He was very concerned about
consent and felt that the off-site worker provision was not
correct. The government has addressed some of these concerns in
this bill, however, only after the Privacy Commissioner, Bruce
Phillips, rapped them on the wrist about it.
It is abundantly clear that this proposed legislation was poorly
thought out in the first place, or the government would not have
needed to backtrack. However, there is still a concern that under
Bill C-19 workers would be required to expressly refuse to allow
their names and addresses to be released to union organizers if
they did not wish them to be. They would not be given an
opportunity to expressly consent to their release.
In case anyone feels I am splitting hairs here, I have a case I
should like to mention. A similar situation arose a few years ago
regarding what came to be known as "negative option billing" by
cable television companies. As honourable senators will recall,
cable companies began, gratuitously at first, providing new
packages of services to their customers. If the customer did not
make the effort to inform the company that they did not want the
service, then they automatically began to receive the service and
they were automatically billed for it.
In response to a great hue and cry from customers, a member
of the other place introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-216,
to outlaw this offending practice. Bill C-216 was given extensive
consideration in the other place. The same government which
drafted the legislation now before us, clearly stated that it
opposed negative option billing.
Honourable senators, the mechanics that affected consumers'
pocketbooks with negative option billing are the same as
Bill C-19's off-site worker provisions which affect workers'
privacy and security.
I find it strange that the government should prove to be so
inconsistent on such issues, especially when what is being
proposed by Bill C-19 has such important implications. Perhaps
the government could explain, either to this chamber or to the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology, its rationale for developing the off-site worker
provision and why it did not choose to amend that provision in a
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I congratulate
my colleague from New Brunswick for her magnificent,
extemporaneous answers to obviously unexpected questions. It is
an interesting technique. Believe me, we would have extended
the honourable senator's time without her being rudely
interrupted by her fellow colleagues.
I should like to ask a question. As Senator DeWare is aware, I
have been involved in the labour management field for a very
Senator Kinsella: You should have been the sponsor of
Senator Bryden: Do not ask why not.
Is it likely, in the honourable senator's opinion, that there will
be additional evidence brought before the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology that will
add to the debate as against what we already have on record from
the previous hearings?
Senator DeWare: Honourable senators, I hope so. We
certainly have witnesses who have requested to come before us
on this bill. We must seriously consider the sexist language and
determine if it can be corrected by the government. They should
bring in a proposal. That does not take a lot of work. The
seniority rights are still very important. People are concerned
about the replacement workers, and we will hear more about that.
I am sure we will see the honourable senator at the committee
On motion of Senator Kinsella, debate adjourned.
A Bill to Change the Names of Certain
Hon. Philippe Deane Gigantès moved the second reading of
Bill C-410, to change the name of certain electoral districts.
He said: Honourable senators, this is the sort of bill we get
occasionally changing names of various constituencies for
geographical reasons because ridings have changed. This bill
would change the name of 18 ridings. The changes are proposed
to reflect more accurately the geographical factors of the
electoral districts. The bill passed all stages in the House by a
unanimous motion adopted on Thursday, May 28, and was
introduced in the Senate on the same day.
Montreal area MPs are particularly concerned with the speedy
passage of this bill, since suburban areas will be undergoing
changes in telephone area codes and those MPs wish to avoid the
costs of reprinting stationery twice, once when the area code
changes and once when the riding name changes.
Considering the great concern of senators opposite with saving
money, I am sure they will give it fair consideration in the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
when I move that it be sent to that committee.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud moved the second reading of
Bill C-411, to amend the Canada Elections Act.
He said: Honourable senators, the bill in question contains
some elements that will clarify certain important points
concerning candidates' reporting of campaign expenses incurred
during a federal election.
This bill would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize
the late filing of a candidate's election returns and particularly
corrections of the returns if filed within the prescribed time.
It would also allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the
presentation and payment of a claim after the prescribed time.
Honourable senators, as you know, all candidates must comply
with the Canada Elections Act and file a declaration reporting
their election expenses to the returning officer for forwarding to
Elections Canada. After auditing this report, the Chief Electoral
Officer recommends to the Receiver General that the candidate
be reimbursed for allowed expenses. Please note that a court
order is required if the report submitted within the time specified
contains one or more errors or omissions. This would remedy the
lack of flexibility in the current act. If a candidate or his official
agent does not succeed in obtaining leave from a judge, Elections
Canada has the power to declare the report false, which would
constitute an offence liable to severe sanction. Needless to say, if
the candidate's infraction were a minor one, this would appear to
be too heavy a penalty.
Honourable senators, in his report to Parliament, the Chief
Electoral Officer pointed out that the judge's order that
candidates must obtain an order to have late-filed expenses
allowed is costly and complicated, and he recommended that he
instead be given administrative authority for use in the case of
amended expense claims and unpaid claims filed after the
This bill provides that any candidate or official agent must
submit a written explanation for the late filing, the error or the
omission to the Chief Electoral Officer, who would have the
authority to examine the return and take corrective action as he
The Chief Electoral Officer indicated that, unless this bill is
passed in the near future, several candidates will have to obtain a
judge's order. Passage of this bill would save candidates time and
Although the Canada Elections Act generally requires a
six-month delay after Royal Assent, the Chief Electoral Officer
may waive this requirement by publishing a notice in TheCanada Gazette.
Honourable senators, I am certain that you realize the benefits
of this bill and I urge you to support it.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I understand that there is
agreement on both sides of the chamber that we allow all other
items to stand so that committees can sit as scheduled.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it agreed that
all other items stand?
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, we agree that all other items
on the Order Paper stand where they are and not lose a day. I
refer to the items that are limited by the 15 days, for example.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, that is agreed.