Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, on March 31, 1949 - 50 years ago this month - the
wonderful Island of Newfoundland became the tenth province in the Canadian
federation. In the hard-fought campaign to bring Newfoundland into
Confederation, thus completing our one great nationality from sea to sea to
sea, a young man of 26 years of age drove a pickup truck which was the rough
campaign platform for Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and then premier Joey
Smallwood. A photograph of this proud young man - a photograph which hung in
Bill Petten's office over the duration of his 30 years of service to this
chamber - was Bill's special treasure.
The recent very sad and unexpected passing of Senator Petten leaves all of us
with memories of a kind and gentle spirit. We think of famous words that tell
us that an honest man is the noblest work of God, and "the Whipper,"
as I always knew him, was all of that.
In his 17 years as a whip in this chamber, Bill Petten served two terms as the
government whip and another two terms as the opposition whip. He understood and
practised some of the finest human notions of what real leadership means. He
knew that to get others to come to one's way of thinking, you often had to go
over to theirs. He knew that it was often necessary to follow in order to lead.
With those fundamental truths about leadership solidly espoused, Senator Petten
marshalled the forces of the party for division and maintained discipline
amongst the rank and file.
Bill always used jokes and gentle persuasion, relying on his inevitable good
sense and enormous patience to get the job done. He always tried to get along
with "the folks," as he so often put it. In doing so, Senator Petten
contributed immeasurably to the efficiency with which the Senate did its work.
Bill Petten served well, whether as acting Deputy Leader of the Government in
the Senate or as a member of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration, on the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution
of Canada, or on the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries, for which he
worked so long on behalf of Newfoundland fishers and their communities. Bill
brought all his dedication and humanity and warmth to the Senate of Canada.
As a committed member of the Canadian Parliamentary Association for over 25
years, Senator Petten led Canadian delegations around the world, bringing his
special sense of justice and tolerance to the international community at large.
Fifty years ago, Bill Petten became a Canadian by choice. At the time, he was,
like many proud Newfoundlanders who said yes to Canada, a citizen of a small
but significant nation in its own right whose people were descendants of
Europe's boldest seamen. Yes, in 1949, they became citizens of a country whose
intellectual underpinnings were based on service to the public good. They
became part of an ongoing national process of balanced equality, a special
Canadian ideal of equality which was all about freedom, a freedom tempered by a
deep desire for justice. They joined this humanist, decent society which
generations of fine public servants have served with honour and with principle,
with integrity and with honesty.
Bill Petten, who became a Canadian by choice, was that kind of a public
servant. Bill Petten was that kind of a man. Bill Petten was that kind of a
friend. While he spent his public life in the service of his chosen country, he
remained always a true Newfoundlander, dedicated to the people of that land of
special magic, a magic about survival and strength and magnificent beauty, a
land of countrymen who shared a courageous past.
The beautiful Ode to Newfoundland captures the magic of:
This place of pine-clad hills, this smiling land, As loved our fathers, so we
love... Their prayer we raise to heav'n above, God guard thee, Newfoundland...
May God guard thee, Bill Petten. May God guard the spirit of one of the noblest
and most gentle spirits ever to grace this chamber and a dear old friend and
colleague whom we will certainly miss.
To his wonderful wife and constant companion, Bernice, and their children,
Sherry, Robin, Billy and Raylene, we extend an expression of the deepest and
most profound sympathy.
Hon. C. William Doody: Honourable senators, it is with a
feeling of deep personal sadness and loss that I rise today to offer tribute to
our friend Senator Bill Petten. Like all of you, I was immensely shocked when I
heard the news of his passing on Saturday past. It seems like only a few weeks
ago that I joined all of you in wishing Bill many happy and fulfilling years of
retirement, and now he has been taken from us all too soon.
I have been privileged to call Bill Petten my friend for many years, far longer
than the 30 years that he has spent here in the Senate or indeed the 20 years
that I have spent here. He was a kind and a courteous man back then, as he was
up to the time of his passing. Anyone who has ever known him has memories of a
kind, compassionate, generous, gracious man.
There are those in this chamber - I think specifically of Senator Lewis - whose
friendship with Bill Petten goes back even further than mine. Perhaps Senator
Rompkey is also a graduate of that same school where they learned so many
values and passed on so many of the good parts of Newfoundland culture and
lifestyle to those less fortunate people in Canada who have not had that
I first met Bill Petten when I went to work on the waterfront in St. John's. I
was about 16 then, a customs clerk for a small fish export firm. Bill was a
customs broker, as it was called in those days. He and his father, the late Ray
Petten, were one of a group of business people in St. John's who represented
various fish-trading people in the rural communities of Newfoundland. The
firms that Bill represented were mainly in the Bonavista, Trinity, Catalina
areas, firms that go back into the depths of antiquity in terms of traders and
fishers and business people. The Swyers and Mifflins, Tilleys and Ryans; he
became intimately acquainted with the people who lived in that part of the
province. He learned to love them and to grow with them and to represent them
so well here in this chamber.
That part of Newfoundland's lifestyle has passed, as has so much else, but when
Bill Petten came to the Senate, he threw himself into the life of this chamber
with the same kind of enthusiasm and dedication that he showed during his
On Saturday past, one of the local reporters phoned me, asking some questions
about Senator Petten. He asked if I could add anything to the story he was
writing. He asked me what Senator Petten's hobbies were and what his interests
were. It occurred to me that Senator Petten had three hobbies, three interests.
These were his family, the Liberal Party and the Senate. These were his life.
He dedicated himself to these things and served them with enthusiasm and honour
Bill Petten was called to the Senate in 1968. To some that may seem like a long
time ago, but it does not seem long to me; I guess there is a message there,
too. For 17 years he served as Liberal Party whip in this place. All of us here
know what a thankless and difficult job that is. He handled it with the same
grace and good humour that he handled everything else in his life. The job was
made somewhat easier for him during that period because many of the
responsibilities for the "whipping" on the Conservative side of the
chamber were looked after by our friend Orville Phillips, who worked closely
with Bill Petten. I guess Orville's warmth and graciousness and kind and gentle
manner helped Bill immeasurably in the tasks he had to do. There is no doubt
in my mind at all when Bill laughed and smiled and joked his way through that,
that he could laugh and joke and smile his way through anything.
Senator Graham has mentioned his wonderful, tremendous wife, Bernice. It is
pretty difficult to imagine Bill Petten without Bernice. They were quite a
team. She shared all of his joys and disappointments, his frustrations and
triumphs, as well as his hobbies that I just mentioned. I know how much she
will miss him. I know that we will all miss him. I certainly shall.
On my own behalf, that of my colleagues on this side, the entire chamber and
the thousands of friends that he made in Newfoundland over the years, I wish to
extend to Bernice and to their children, Sharon, Rob, Raylene and Bill Junior,
our deepest sympathies and sincerest condolences. We will miss him.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it was with
tremendous sadness that I heard of the death on the weekend of my friend and
former colleague Bill Petten. I share the shock of other colleagues and I find
it hard to realize that he is gone.
Bill was a mentor to me in the Senate. I had the privilege, and the fun, of
being his seatmate during some of this chamber's historic and hair-raising
debates in the early 1990s.
Even before that, we had worked together quietly when I was legislative advisor
to former prime minister Trudeau, and Bill, as our whip in the Senate for 17
amazing years, was designated to keep the channels of communications open with
the other place. This he did with me almost daily, as well as with the
Government House Leader of the time, the Honourable Mitchell Sharp.
Bill was a great educator, and most certainly made a difference in my
understanding of the role of senators and the contribution to Parliament made
by the Senate. One could not have had a better ambassador for this institution.
He remained one of its greatest assets and friends right until the end.
On the weekend, Prime Minister Chrétien described Bill as a man of great
kindness, warmth and good humour. In his words, "People just naturally
liked him." That is a true and perfect description of Bill Petten. Others
have noted that he put dedication and honour into his role as a representative
of Newfoundland and as a representative of the Liberal Party there.
Thirty years ago this week, Bill gave his first speech in this chamber. I found
it interesting to note that at that time he repeated the words his father had
used years before to express his feeling in his own maiden speech in the
Senate. He said:
...I realize that the privilege granted me of speaking on the floor of this
house today is an honour to the province I represent rather than a tribute to
any merits which I myself may possess.
Clearly, Bill vigorously wore his heart on his sleeve for his home province.
All of us understood Newfoundland's issues, its concerns and its unique
character vividly through him. That, honourable senators, is one of the roles
of members of this house, which is just as important as any piece of
I said earlier that Bill helped me learn how to be a senator. I could not have
had a better role model, although I will never be able to match, or even come
close to the example he set. When I had the privilege to spend a period of time
as Leader of the Government here, he was a source of constant wisdom, support,
and loyalty. When asked, he always cheerfully stepped in to help as Deputy
Leader. As a good friend, he never hesitated to tell me when he thought I could
do better or take a different approach, and I always listened carefully.
The thing that I will savour always is his sense of humour and his utter joy of
living. I will never stop hearing the echo of his laughter, and neither will
the family whom he treasured with such pride.
In extending my sympathy to his beloved Bernice and all the children - Bill
Junior, Rob, Sharon and Raylene - their grandchildren and their extended
family, I know that Bill will be with them always in great and loving memories.
In his new home, he will continue to keep colleagues and friends in line with
kindness and with laughter.
Hon. Orville H. Phillips: Honourable senators, I should like to
join in the tributes to a very special friend, Bill Petten. I served with both
Bill and his father in this chamber. We became very special friends in a rather
humorous way. I had been hospitalized and when I returned to the Senate, Bill
spoke to me in the anti-chamber and welcomed me back. We spoke about various
things and then he said, "I think the government is doing a very good job,
don't you?" He seemed a bit surprised when I disagreed with him. He looked
at me and said, "Oops, I forgot that you are a Conservative." For a
long time thereafter when we would meet, I would remind him on which side of
the house I sat. When the government changed, he used to reverse the situation
and say it was his turn to complain about the government.
I always appreciated that Bill understood that the opposition and minorities
were small in number. Whether in the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration or in the Senate, he always tried to be fair to the
As whips, we often had discussions. He would phone me in the morning and say, "Put
the tea on. I am coming up shortly." According to Dr. Keon's instructions,
we were both drinking decaffeinated tea. We quite often agreed that the tea was
not very good, but the price was right. We had many friendly discussions about
He used to talk to me about his retirement and all the travel he had planned.
Yesterday, when I visited the funeral home, I found myself wondering just how
much of that travelling he and Bernice were able to do because, unfortunately,
he did not have the lengthy retirement that his efforts deserved.
He loved "The Rock," as he used to call it. He loved his people and
he understood them. He enjoyed telling about his experiences while working with
Joey Smallwood and travelling throughout the province. I have laughed at many
of those stories.
I join with those who have expressed their sympathy to Bernice and their
family. I know the next few days will be very difficult for them, particularly
for Bernice, as she is just recovering from surgery. However, as time goes on,
I am sure they will begin to appreciate and recall the memories that we all
Hon. P. Derek Lewis: Honourable senators, it is with great
sadness and a heavy heart that I rise today to pay tribute to the late
Honourable William J. Petten, who was a member of this chamber for 30 years and
only retired from here in January of last year. It is not only as a former
colleague in this chamber that I speak, but as a great personal friend of Bill,
as we all knew him.
Bill and I had been friends for about 70 years. We both started and finished
school together and grew up in our community of St. John's. We have, ever
since, shared our mutual life experiences - both the ups and the downs. I can
assure you that he was the greatest person to have as a friend.
I was able to rejoice when he was called to the Senate in 1968. Whilst here, he
applied himself diligently to the work of the Senate, where he rose to be the
whip of his party for 17 years. It is only regrettable that his father, the
late Senator Ray Petten, was not around to also rejoice in his appointment.
When I came to the Senate in 1978, Bill was the whip for my party. I received
from him much valuable assistance and advice as to the workings of the Senate.
We shared many happy hours here and, over the years, I was a beneficiary of his
hospitality and that of his family here in Ottawa.
Bill always had a great interest in politics and over the years was a great
supporter of and worked hard for the Liberal Party. He applied himself
vigorously in furthering the interests of his party both here and in his
province of Newfoundland.
I well recall how, as whip, he kept those of us on our side of the chamber in
line and on deck, when needed. In this, he applied himself seriously and
successfully. He usually achieved this by force of his personality, astuteness
and hard work. In this regard, I should like to mention that Bill had an
ability to get to know people, understand people, and become their dependable
friend. His friends were legion.
Bill was always ready to assist people and offer help whenever he perceived it
was needed or would be appreciated. I am sure there are many in this chamber
who have experienced this attribute that he possessed. He was vibrant and
enthusiastic and always ready to jump in and take part in any activity that was
about to happen.
Senator Doody has made mention of his friendship with his opposite member when
he was whip, Senator Phillips. Over the years, I recall his remarking to me
sometimes about the difficulties he was experiencing in negotiating with the
opposite whip. After speaking like that for awhile, he would suddenly turn to
me and say, "But he is an all right fellow anyway."
Bill was a great traveller and always game to visit and experience new
communities and societies. In this way, he got to visit and appreciate many
parts of Canada and other countries of the world. In so doing, he made many
friends around the globe. He was a proud Canadian and represented his country
well on his visits to other countries.
In his work in the Senate, Bill was always conscious of his call to represent
the interests of his province, within the context of the national well-being.
At this, he always worked strongly.
We have all lost a good and dependable friend and former colleague. I will miss
Bill was a good family man, and I join with all others in extending the deepest
sympathy to his wife, Bernice, and to his family.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I was both saddened
and shocked to hear that Bill Petten died suddenly in Ottawa on Saturday. It
seems just like yesterday that we were wishing him and his wife, Bernice, a
long and enjoyable retirement.
During his long career in politics, Bill Petten gave admirable service to his
province, to his country, and to this institution. He was well respected here
for his warmth and his friendship to everyone. He went out of his way to be
welcoming and his doors were always open to everyone - both at his office and
in his home. His hospitality was always freely given no matter where people
Bill Petten was a true gentleman, with much kindness in his soul. He will be
well remembered and sadly mourned by other legislators in other countries
around the world, who knew him through his active involvement in the CPA and
other inter-parliamentary organizations and who enjoyed, as we did, his
friendliness, his openness and his hospitality.
I hope that his wife, Bernice, and the rest of his family take some solace in
knowing that so many others share their grief.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I want to take the
opportunity to leave on the Hansard of this chamber, which he loved and
respected so much, a few memories of Bill Petten.
Before being elected, I remember coming to Ottawa as a delegate for a
convention. It was Bill Petten who picked us up at the airport, drove us to the
hotel and made sure that we were looked after while we were here because he was
the host for our province in Ottawa. That was how he saw his role. That was how
he played the role, and he played it well.
I then remember coming here as a new MP in 1972, with my family - my wife and
two small children. We stayed at the Petten home. They looked after us for a
few days. They also found a real estate agent for us until we could rent a
house in Ottawa. When Bill visited my house, if he saw something that needed
to be done, he would return in his overalls, with his hammer and saw, to help
fix it, usually things that I could not do for myself because I am not handy.
One of the things people need to remember about Bill Petten is that he was a
handyman. He was a carpenter, a jack of all trades. He could turn his hands to
such things, and he loved to do so. He did it for people willingly.
I can remember the Petten home on other occasions because those of us who come
from Newfoundland party once in awhile - although not often enough. We are
known to have a party from time to time. We are even known to break into song.
As a matter of fact, we have become so disaffected with songs from other parts
of Canada that we compose some of our own. We would start the evening with
those and with some Irish songs. As the evening progressed, we would eventually
get to old hymns that Al Graham can remember singing, I am sure. In that house,
there was hospitality, there was warmth, and there was friendship. Bill loved
that. He and Bernice did it so well together, the host and hostess for our
province in this city. That is how I will remember him. I will also remember
the stories. He had an infinite supply of stories and anecdotes.
That, for me, is his legacy, namely, that of a friend, a host, a companion, an
advisor. I will dearly miss him. I wish to extend my sympathy to Bernice and to
Rob, Sharon, Raylene and Billy.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I thought I
should bring a central Canadian perspective to this otherwise fascinating
tribute to our friend the late Bill Petten.
When I think of the words "distinctive Canadian," I can think of no
better example than Bill Petten. He was a distinctive man in many ways, but
mostly in his words and his wit. His language and his Newfoundland mode of
expression was so different that whenever I heard him, it brought a smile to my
lips. When I say "whenever I heard him" or overheard him, I must say
that Bill sat behind me after he stepped down as whip. I always heard two
speeches in the chamber. One would be the Speaker on this side, or on the
opposite side, and the other would be a low-level commentary in Newfoundland
wit by Bill. During a very serious speech, I would sometimes break out in
laughter involuntarily because of the crack or the comment or the anecdote that
Bill would whisper in my ear as the Speaker was going through his routine.
I thought Bill was a very distinctive character in the language until I met
Bernice. Her wit is probably faster and sharper than Bill's wit. I always
imagined what their pillow talk would be like. I imagined Bill and Bernice
together saying, "Well, have you heard this one?" That is what
Bernice and Bill would always say to me.
I say this to Bernice: Bill left his mark through his wit, language and
generosity of spirit. He left his mark as a great Liberal and a great Canadian,
and he will always be remembered by myself and by my family.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to call
your attention to the presence in our gallery of a distinguished group from la
Fédération des policiers et policières du Québec.
The federation president, Yves Prud'homme, is accompanied by Christine
Beaulieu, Sylvain Grenier, and Sylvain Dugas. They are the guests of Senator
Prud'homme. Allow me to welcome you to the Senate.
Hon. Erminie J. Cohen: Honourable senators, yesterday we
observed International Women's Day. Millions of women around the world marked
this day with rallies, marches, panel discussions and receptions to celebrate
and reflect upon women's progress in all fields of endeavour. Originally, this
special day began as an event to draw attention to the plight of working
women, and to commemorate the first massive strike by women against intolerable
International Women's Day has its roots in the labour movements of the late
19th century and early 20th century when workers protested poor working
conditions and low wages in the textile industry, which employed many women.
International Women's Day was first celebrated on March 8, 1911, and had "Universal
Female Suffrage" as its theme. In the 88 years since, women have gained
the vote and much more - equality under the law, and a more prominent place in
all aspects of society. The day also gives us an opportunity to raise public
awareness of the oppressive and serious conditions confronting many women
Honourable senators, I would be remiss if I did not recall that in 1929 five
Alberta women were successful in having women recognized as "persons"
under the law. They made it possible for many of us here today to be eligible
to sit in the Senate. Before and since, women have made significant
contributions every day in the home, workplace and community, all for the
betterment of society. I invite my colleagues to join me in applauding the
courage and determination of these five special women in celebration of
International Women's Day.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, as my colleague
Senator Cohen has already said, yesterday, March 8, was International Women's
Day, an opportunity for the men and women of Canada to celebrate the progress
that has been made toward equality and to reflect upon the obstacles still to
It is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments of women from a
variety of regions and a variety of backgrounds who have contributed to the
economic and social success of this country.
Honourable senators, I would like to draw the attention of my colleagues to a
sculpture that is located in the Hall of Honour. We may pass by it nearly every
day, but I am very sure that few of us take the time to appreciate this tribute
to Canadian women.
The work I refer to is the bas-relief in tribute to the contribution of
Canadian nurses, from 1639 to 1918.
In many ways, the history of Canada's nurses parallels that of the country
itself: the Red River colony, the Klondike gold rush, the Boer War, the First
and Second World Wars - dates in our history where nurses were present. From
the early days of New France to modern day peacekeeping, Canadian nurses have
been an integral part of the growth of our country. So many tales of courage
and self-denial to inspire us!
One of them takes us back to the early days of New France, when a group of nuns
cared for the members of the Huron nation. It took place during the terrible
smallpox epidemic of 1639. Their respect for humanity and their desire to care
for the sick of another culture are portrayed in the bas-relief I have just
Another is the saga of the Grey Nuns who, in the 1840s, canoed through the
wilderness to care for the sick in Western Canada.
A third is the story of the first member of the Victoria Order of Nurses -
formed in 1897 - who played a vital role in bringing public health services to
remote communities across the country.
Honourable senators, I would be remiss if I did not also mention the bravery
and sacrifice of Canadian nurses during wartime. These women, too - women who
risked their lives to serve the world in its hour of greatest need - are
respected in the memorial sculpture. That generosity of spirit carries on to
this day. That same wellspring of care and compassion can be found among
nurses working in today's modern hospitals and community health units across
Nursing care in the 1990s is highly complex. To provide the best possible care,
today's nurses must work with budget restrictions that often cause them to burn
out without having the satisfaction of giving their patients the best care
Nurses would like the time to give a word of encouragement, to find out the
needs of their patients, to provide comfort that would speed up the healing
process. This is why I am happy the public is increasingly recognizing the
crucial role played by the nursing staff in our health care system.
I am especially pleased that in its latest budget, the federal government
decided to create a special research fund in nursing care in the amount of $25
million. This was a very positive decision.
Honourable senators, for more than three centuries, Canadian nurses, with their
dedication and compassion for others, have exemplified some of the very finest
values we cherish as Canadians.
In recognition of International Women's Day, I encourage my colleagues to
support the often very thankless task of nurses and to give them the respect
Hon. Thérèse Lavoie-Roux: Honourable senators,
like my two colleagues before me, I, too, want to call the attention of the
Senate to International Women's Day and the beginning of International Women's
The theme this year is "Going Strong - Celebrating Older Women." It
recognizes the International Year of Older Persons as declared by the United
Nations for 1999.
Honourable senators, this is an occasion to reflect upon the challenges facing
women, particularly older women in our society.
Women make up more than half of our seniors, and 70 per cent of those aged 85
and older are women.
Senior women are among the poorest of Canadians. More than 45 per cent of
unattached women over the age of 65 live in poverty. Without the resources and
support they need, senior women are at risk when it comes to independence and
Another challenge facing older women is elder abuse. Women are almost twice as
likely as men to be victims of elder abuse.
In Canada, it is estimated that 4 per cent of seniors, or 100,000 people, are
the victims of abuse. However, studies have shown that approximately 10 per
cent of seniors are subject to elder abuse.
Estimates are difficult to make, given the tendency to under-report the
problem. Consider the fact that older women are most victimized by a spouse,
and often by an adult child. Understandably, there is a great deal of stigma
and shame associated with elder abuse, and they will not report it.
Financial exploitation is probably the most prevalent form of abuse, followed
by psychological abuse such as humiliation or intimidation. Although less
frequent, physical abuse is also a serious problem affecting approximately
12,000 of Canada's seniors.
The United Nations' principle for older persons states that older persons
should be able to live in dignity, security, and be free of exploitation and
physical or mental abuse, and that older persons should be treated fairly and
be valued independent of their economic contributions.
Honourable senators, thousands of older women in Canada do not enjoy these
rights. Older women are likely to suffer abuse and to live in poverty. In this
house, we have often drawn honourable senators' attention to child poverty and
child abuse. I would like us, in the not too distant future, to find an
opportunity to examine this problem. As the number of seniors increases, this
becomes a priority.
Until then, we must content ourselves with the observation that Canada is not
the only country with an elder abuse problem. It is a social problem of some
proportion in other countries as well, and is often inhumane and extremely
degrading for those who have built their community and their country. Today, in
thinking of all these people, we can consider how we can improve their lot,
particularly that of older women.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, this week marks the last
International Women's Day of this century. Yesterday, women and men everywhere
reflected on the movement towards equality, celebrated the gains which society
has made in recognizing the human rights of women and paused on the work yet
In Canada, many reflected on the recent Supreme Court decision which found that
there is no such thing as implied consent to sexual assault in Canadian law.
They also expressed dismay at the aftermath of that ruling. I think that it is
appropriate that we here add our voice to the defence of Madam Justice Claire
L'Heureux-Dubé who, in her judgment on the
Ewanchuk case, defended a young woman and all women against
stereotypical and mythical attitudes still held today.
Justice L'Heureux-Dubé has been unjustly attacked both by Judge McClung
and, more surprisingly, by the celebrated criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan, for
what many have called a decent and necessary judgment. Judge McClung's finding
that the complainant in the Ewanchuk case had implicitly consented to
sexual advances, despite the finding of facts, not disputed, that such advances
had been explicitly refused three times, justified Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé's
calm and detailed disagreement with the Alberta Appeal Court judge. His "bonnet
and crinolines" comment, the characterization of Ewanchuk's behaviour as
more hormonal than criminal, his contention that the young woman ought to have
defended herself, all these quaint and unjust notions were demolished with
steely logic by the Supreme Court justice.
Judge McClung's attack on this eminently rational ruling was further proof of
his anachronistic and wrong-headed views about women. However, Mr. Greenspan's
remarks were even more disturbing. They revealed a startling bias against what
he called, "mindless, feminist ideology." Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé's
judgment was neither mindless nor particularly ideological. It reflected a
rather common sense approach. Has the word "feminist" become a
pejorative? What is feminism, if not the belief that men and women should be
treated equally and are equally entitled to justice in our legal system? This
is a deadly serious idea, if one casts a glance at countries around the world.
Pakistan, for example, comes to mind.
To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the price of justice is eternal vigilance. It
is not the disagreement about this case that is troubling, as that often
happens; it is the underlying attitudes it reveals about women: that by their
dress they invite assault; that they do not mean no when they say no; that a
woman is at fault for not defending herself when she is assaulted. These
attitudes, reduced to their absurdity, would excuse most sexual assaults.
Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé has shone a clear light on these attitudes,
revealing them in all their disconnectedness from reality. We owe her our
respect and gratitude. She is following in the tradition of the late Justice
Brian Dickson, who, in 1989 in a sexual harassment case, dressed down the
members of the Manitoba Court of Appeal for their wrong judgment. No stream of
invective was directed at him.
I commend Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé for her wisdom and her judgment
that harkens back to one of Manitoba's best known advocates of women's rights,
the suffragette Nellie McClung, the grandmother of the judge who sparked this
latest controversy. It is through women such as these that Canadian society
has made progress toward equality. However, attitudes change slowly and
obviously more work remains for the 21st century.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I wish to inform
the Senate of an important conference, Poverty Amidst Plenty, held last weekend
in Edmonton. Some 300 persons examined the reasons why, in a country as rich as
Canada, there is such devastating poverty. Senator Cohen made a distinguished
Three points stood out: The gap between the rich and the poor in Canada is
growing at an alarming rate, and this is especially true in Alberta. The second
is that the credibility of governments in addressing this problem is low. In
fact, there is anger at governments because, despite their rhetoric that
governments would repair the poverty problem, the poor are worse off than
ever. The third is that the people at the top of the economic scale have
captured the political system, which now pays more attention to satisfying the
never-ending demands of the rich than meeting the needs of the poor. This is a
formula guaranteed to promote radical reaction.
The time has come for governments to stop talking and begin acting to enable
the poor to access the health, education, and social services they need to
climb out of poverty. Under the mistaken impression that speakers of the
conference were attacking Albertans because there is poverty in Alberta,
Premier Ralph Klein protested that the Parkland Institute, sponsors of the
conference, was slanting the facts. Actually, the Parkland Institute, a
well-respected research organization located on the campus of the University of
Alberta, presented the poverty picture, which is not a pretty sight, as it is.
The Parkland Institute deserves credit for bringing these facts forward in an
effort to strengthen the fabric of our whole society. The genesis of the
conference lies in the continuing work of the Quality of Life Commission in
Edmonton which, three years ago, brought out its report "Listen to Me,"
in which the cries of the poor were documented. All governments would benefit
from a rereading of that report.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, Joe
DiMaggio has reached home plate. He was one of the legends of America and of
baseball. I had the opportunity to meet him a few years ago. My wife and I were
attending a Hall of Fame dinner in Palm Springs.
I was told that he was a very quiet and reserved man, so I did not know how the
conversation would go. I recalled years earlier that I had been browsing
through a bookstore and picked up a book about Moe Berg, an American spy. I
found it interesting and started to read it. Moe Berg was an American who
played with the New York Yankees. The Yankees in the late 1930s were playing
exhibition games in Tokyo, Japan. As they were playing, Moe Berg, who was a
third-rate catcher, was on top of buildings taking photos of different cities
and different industrial sites. I guess the military wanted information on
those cities. That was Moe Berg.
In order to get a conversation started with Joe DiMaggio, I said, "Hey,
Joe, do you remember a fellow by the name of Moe Berg?" His eyes lit up,
and he told me a story about Moe Berg coming to the Yankees, and at that time
making maybe $4,000 a year. Moe asked Joe if he could stay the weekend with him
while he got settled. Joe said, "Fine." He stayed the whole summer.
Whenever Joe would have guests over for dinner or a social, he would go into
his living room, and there would be Moe Berg's laundry hanging across the
living room, with his socks and shorts all over the place. I found it a very
A few years later, Joe was holding a golf tournament in Atlantic City and
invited my wife and I to attend. We were quite excited about it. My wife had
taken out her ball glove. It was one of those 1930 baseball gloves that did not
have a pocket in it. She went outside and had a game of catch in the backyard
with the children. Because there was no pockets in the glove, the ball had
gone through her hand and hit her in the eye. Of course, she had a black eye.
When we went down to Atlantic City, she was wearing sunglasses. At the social
prior to the dinner, I took off her glasses and showed Joe DiMaggio the black
eye. I said, "Joe, she was catching a ball with one of your mitts, and
this is what happened." He knew exactly what I was talking about, because
if you go down to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, you will see there an old
glove of Joe DiMaggio's that does not have a pocket. That is one of the reasons
why, when Joe DiMaggio caught a ball, he always used two hands.
I just thought I should mention the relationship I had with Joe DiMaggio, one
of the great ball players of our era. The legend is gone, but the memories stay
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, on Tuesday
last, the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders
deliberated, chaired by Senator Maheu. There was a discussion on the
committee's report - I do not want to go back over the discussions - and it was
agreed that the report was to be tabled in the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Prud'homme, I am sorry to
interrupt, but senators' statements must not relate to events outside the
Senate. If you will indicate that is what you want to do I will hear you.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I am sorry, I knew now
was the time to bring this up, but I forgot to tell you this has to do with the
question of privilege I raised last week.
I will not mention what happened last week, as everybody was here. A committee
sat on Tuesday, March 2, with order to table its eighth report in the Senate.
The report could have been tabled on Wednesday, March 3; it was tabled on
Thursday, March 4. To my surprise, however, only part of the report was tabled.
As I considered myself directly targeted under rule 59(10), page 62, I
immediately raised the question of privilege, which did not require notice. I
nevertheless gave notice on behalf of the independents if they so wished, even
if it was not necessary.
I therefore had to raise the question today, to report exactly the events of
Tuesday, March 2, and Thursday, March 4, but I understand the committee will
sit this afternoon. I also believe there is movement in the air. Accordingly,
with the permission of the Senate, I would ask to have this question of
privilege suspended until later in the week.
Believing firmly in the tenor of the question of privilege I am raising, not
only in my own name, but in the name of the new independent senators, I think
it would be wise to be patient a few days longer and to suspend the question of
privilege I raised on Thursday. Accordingly, I do not withdraw it, but I leave
it pending, since there is a meeting this afternoon. We will see how we will
pursue this question of privilege.
Should you decide I must deal with it today, I will raise another question of
privilege under rules 22(3), page 21, and 43(5), page 47. I spoke today to
remain true to what I said I would do last Thursday, but I will say no more.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, do you agree to
suspend the question of privilege raised by Senator Prud'homme?
Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there is no
Senator Prud'homme: If there is no unanimous consent for me to
suspend it, I have two choices: either I proceed or I drop the matter and
present another under another rule.
Just to show that there is still some good faith among the independent
senators, and that I refuse to play games and go ping-pong between the two
major parties, I will kindly let my question of privilege lapse. I am choosing
my words carefully in order to conceal my anger. I will let this question of
privilege lapse, but I will not let the next one go.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government)
tabled the Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31,
Notice of Motion to Refer Vote
25c of Supplementary Estimates (C) to Joint Committee on Official Languages
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I give notice that tomorrow, Wednesday, March 10, 1999, I
That the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages be authorized to
examine the expenditures set out in Privy Council Vote 25c of the Supplementary
Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999, and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Notice of Motion to Refer
Supplementary Estimates (C) to National Finance Committee
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I give notice that tomorrow, Wednesday March 10, 1999, I
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine
and report upon the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (C)
for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999, with the exception of Privy Council
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had
been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-49, providing for the
ratification and the bringing into effect of the Framework Agreement on First
Nation Land Management.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill
be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Carstairs, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading on Thursday next, March 11, 1999.
Meeting of Subcommittee on
Defence and Security Cooperation Between Europe and North America, Washington,
New York, U.S.A.- Report of Canadian Delegation Tabled
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I have the honour
to table the seventh report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association
which represented Canada at the meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Subcommittee on Defence and Security Cooperation between Europe and North
America held in Washington and New York, U.S.A., January 31 to February 6,
Notice of Motion to Maintain
Current Regulation of Caffeine as Food Additive
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I give notice that on
Tuesday next, March 16, 1999, I will move:
That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to maintain Canada's current
regulation of caffeine as a food additive in soft drink beverages until such
time as there is evidence that any proposed change will not result in a
detriment to the health of Canadians and in particular to children and young
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give
notice that on Thursday next, March 11, 1999, I will draw the attention of the
Senate to the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association (OSCE) Delegation to the
standing committee meeting of the parliamentary assembly of the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Vienna, Austria, from January
14 to 15, 1999, and to the situation in Kosovo.
Instructions to Staff to Boost
Releases of Inmates-Effect on Public Safety-Government Position
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, before putting
my question, I would like to state that you, Your Honour, said earlier today
that you saw three more people standing who intended to speak on Senators'
Statements. There were four senators, as I stood on four different occasions to
be noticed. I just wanted you to know that I was standing, and therefore there
were not just three senators waiting to speak, but four.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Canadians are
shocked to learn that federal wardens in Ontario prisons have been instructed
to boost inmate release by 69 per cent by the end of the year. Commissioner Ole
Ingstrup has instructed parole officers to ignore technical parole breaches,
such as alcohol use and association with criminals, in determining release.
In a memo, Mr. Ingstrup called for a 50-50 quota split between convicts in
prison and those on parole by the year 2000. This is now like a virus in the
My question is this: Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm
that the Liberal government is promoting a quota system for release of Canadian
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the answer is absolutely not. My response is completely in the
Senator Oliver: The CSC is bullying the National Parole Board
and individual wardens into meeting this quota and implementing a 12-step
reintegration program. The government has a fiduciary duty to protect
Canadians, first and foremost. By releasing more prisoners and ignoring the
safeguards currently in place, this responsibility is being ignored. The
Solicitor General must take responsibility for this cost-cutting measure.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain this outrageous decision
to those Canadians who have fallen victim to the crimes of repeat offenders?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, my response to Honourable
Senator Oliver's first question was in the negative. There have never been
quotas for the release of offenders. Safety is Correctional Service Canada's
first priority. It remains paramount in all decisions affecting offenders.
Senator Oliver: Would the honourable leader undertake to
investigate the questions that I have put to him, and return to the house at
the appropriate time and reconfirm that the statements that I have made are
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, if my answers are
incorrect, I should be happy to bring forward any corrections to my statements.
In passing, I will say that Correctional Service Canada is doing a better job
of preparing offenders for a safe return to society. A gradual return of those
offenders who are ready to be integrated into the community is the best method
of protecting the public, in my opinion.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I call on
other honourable senators, I wish to comment on the statement by the Honourable
Senator Oliver regarding my statement that there were three honourable senators
waiting to speak and not four.
I had indeed seen the Honourable Senator Oliver standing. However, I had been
advised that you had indicated earlier that although you wished to make a
statement, if there was a long list you were prepared to put it over to the
next sitting. It was on that basis that I did not add your name to the list at
Senator Oliver: With respect, there were still four. You could
have said, "There are four and I will hear three." That is my point.
The Hon. the Speaker: I try my very best to be fair to all
honourable senators. I acted on your statement that there was no rush for you
to make your statement today.
Removal of Postal Subsidy for
Catholic Publications-Government Position
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, my question is
directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. A bureaucratic decision
in the Department of Canadian Heritage has taken away the postal subsidy under
the publications assistance program for a number of Catholic publications. The
reason given for this ruling is that the publications concerned are pooling
their coverage of Canada, rather than originating each story in their own
This ruling is both bizarre and absurd. It threatens to put the Canadian
Catholic press and religious press of other denominations out of business at
the very time that, through Bill C-55, the government is trying to protect
Knowing that the government leader will be as horrified as I was at this
unfathomable and cruel blow to religious journalism, will the leader assure the
Senate today that the government's political sense will come to the fore,
overturn this ruling and permit Catholic publications to continue making a
contribution to the well-being of our society?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would be pleased to bring Senator Roche's representations to the
attention of the government, and in particular those most responsible. I see
Senator Murray in his place, and I know that Senator Stewart is normally in his
place in the chamber. Both senators would be very familiar with
TheCasket, which is the newspaper for the Diocese of
Antigonish in my home area. It is an excellent paper. It also serves as the
local community paper in Antigonish and the surrounding communities.
Senator Roche is referring presumably to the wider community of not only the
Catholic press but other religious newspapers. I believe he is referring to a
story in the newspaper which indicated that they have been notified that they
did not meet the original-content criteria but continued to receive funding.
However, they have not yet been de-registered from the postal subsidy.
Although it would appear that the Catholic Register and other
newspapers that fall into that category do not meet all of the criteria of the
programs, it is my understanding that they have been informed that they may
provide additional information to help in the assessment of their eligibility.
I most certainly will bring the representations made by Senator Roche to the
attention of those responsible for this matter.
Senator Roche: Honourable senators, I notice that the Leader of
the Government did not attempt to defend this bizarre ruling that was made at
the bureaucratic level. It is not a question of the papers not meeting the
criteria. Rather the criteria, which were arbitrarily set at a bureaucratic
level, are absolutely absurd and go against the very intention of the
government in sponsoring and fostering Canadian publications with Canadian
To indicate the importance of this, here is the current edition of the Western
Catholic Reporter which states:
Catholic press under attack - Gov't ruling could spell end of Canadian news
I draw that respectfully to the attention of the Leader of the Government in
the Senate so he will bring the representations forward with some urgency.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators I will carry those
representations forward with urgency. I want to point out that publishers have
been notified that they have, I believe, 30 working days from the date of the
notice of de-registration in which to request a review of the decision.
As I said earlier, I shall bring Senator Roche's representations and, I am
sure, the concerns of all honourable senators to those responsible for matters
of this kind.
Effects of Arrival of Year 2000
on Working of Government-Presence of Governor General and Parliament in
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I wish to ask
several questions of the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerning the
Y2K millennium bug.
We have all received a good deal of information from the government about the
steps that are being taken to ensure that health and security systems are
operational in the event of any problem arising. We have also received
information advising householders in the country how to prepare for and deal
with any problems. We are aware that there is a good deal of cooperation
between the government and business on this matter.
My interest is in the exercise of political authority, political responsibility
and political accountability on this matter. Specifically, is the government
satisfied that it has sufficient legislative authority at present to deal with
any possible eventuality? Is consideration being given to seeking additional
legislative authority? What arrangements are being taken or are in place at the
political level, first ministers' level or ministerial level, between the
federal government and the provinces on these matters?
Finally, in view of the fact that a great many public servants in key positions
are being told to remain at their posts over the Christmas and New Year period
some months from now, are the Governor General and federal cabinet ministers
being asked to stay at their posts in the National Capital Region over the
Christmas and New Year period? Is any consideration being given to making the
same request of parliamentarians, members of the Senate and the House of
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, that is a very serious matter. I hope that I will have an opportunity
to stay at the Honourable Senator Murray's residence in the National Capital
Region at that particular time. I know that he would be an excellent host under
rather severe circumstances.
Having said that, the lead minister on this matter is the President of the
Treasury Board. He has kept his colleagues advised of the progress that is
being made for any eventuality. There are ongoing consultations with his
I am not aware of any present plans with respect to additional legislative
authority, nor am I aware that plans are being made with respect to the
Governor General, the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers or members of the
Senate and the House of Commons.
I should say that the matter is being monitored on a continuing basis. I
remember at one point last year saying that progress had been made, I believe,
from a 43 per cent preparedness to something in the order of 73 per cent. I
understand that, as of last December - that is the last report I remember
seeing - 82 per cent of the Year 2000 work on key federal services had been
Overall, essential federal services are expected to be ready for the year 2000.
The government has a very comprehensive and aggressive plan in place. Efforts
to repair key systems are on schedule. The federal government is also working
with provinces, territories and municipalities, as well as the entire private
sector, to share information and solutions.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, will the leader undertake
to obtain an answer to my question concerning the presence of the Governor
General and cabinet ministers in the National Capital Region over that period?
Is it intended to ask them to remain at their posts here, and is consideration
being given to asking Parliament to stand by over that period?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, that is a matter on which
I shall have to consult. I am pleased to do so.
I said that the President of the Treasury Board is the lead minister, and I
should also say that Industry Canada is fostering private sector preparedness
through key initiatives, such as the Task Force 2000 and CAN2K, rural seminars
and all kinds of tool kits in this regard. All departments of government are
involved, including, and probably very critically, the Department of National
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, with respect to Y2K,
I had asked a related question earlier. In the private sector when we were
doing projects, it was always the last 10 per cent of the project that took
about 90 per cent of the time. That is the worrisome part about trying to
complete projects to 100 per cent, particularly in this instance.
Normal Sitting Hours of
Committee-Request for Details from Chairman
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Chair of the
Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders. Can the honourable
senator remind us as to the regular meeting hours of that committee?
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, that committee meets
when the Senate rises on Tuesdays.
Refusal of Canadian Bond Rating
Agencies to Restore Triple A Rating-Impact of Increasing Numbers of Seniors on
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, my question is
related to AAA, not the American Automobile Association, but rather the
Canadian bond rating agency which last week refused to restore the government's
triple-A credit rating in spite of a balanced budget.
It warned that the federal government is exposing Canada to a potential credit
crunch because the government is not cutting the debt and because it is relying
on taxes to pay for new spending. It said that the government could be hit hard
if interest rates go up and that, with taxes already at high levels, it would
be hard to raise more money to meet these higher rates.
Has the government any figures on how much would be saved in interest if the
Canadian bond rating agency were to reinstate Canada's AAA credit rating?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): That is an
interesting question, honourable senators, and I shall attempt to bring forward
As my honourable friend has observed firsthand, the government has been working
assiduously not only to reduce the deficit but to reduce the debt. The
government is determined to ensure that interest rates come down. However, with
respect to his question in relation to bond rating, I will attempt to bring
forward a more complete answer as early as possible.
Senator Stratton: On a supplementary question, honourable
senators, the same bond rating agency also warned that our ageing population
and the resulting health and social security costs pose a significant risk and
do not bode well for tax relief.
Why has the government failed to set a target for an acceptable level of
debt-to-GDP, taking into consideration the consequences of an ageing
population, so that Canadians can be certain that their government will be able
to meet the costs of an ageing population with reasonable levels of taxation?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I believe that, were
Senator Stratton to look at the documentation attached to the budget very
carefully, he would recognize that the level of debt to GDP is being reduced on
a consistent basis.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: But the debt itself is not going down.
Senator Stratton: My question is really directed to the fact of
our ageing population and the consequences of it on our social welfare costs.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I appreciate that, and if
there is more information that I can bring forward, I will be happy to do so.
Storage of Nuclear Fuel Waste on
Remote Northern Sites-Discussions with Assembly of First Nations-Government
Hon. Janis Johnson: Honourable senators, my question is
directed to the Leader of the Government. Government officials met with Indian
leaders in November to negotiate burying nuclear wastes in the Canadian Shield.
However, both parties lay responsibility with the other for initiating these
Was the land of the native people targeted as a potential nuclear waste dump
site because of the lucrative monetary gains they stand to make? Were all
implications of accepting such an agreement laid out?
Also, will the Minister of Natural Resources make publicly known to Canadians
what other options are being considered to dispose of this nuclear waste?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, officials have sought to meet with First Nations representatives to
discuss how aboriginal people should be consulted in the nuclear fuel waste
issue. They are not pushing any other agenda. The government is leading on the
issue of nuclear waste storage. In 1996, we made it clear that the owners of
nuclear fuel waste are directly and financially liable for managing and
disposing of it.
As I understand it, the Minister of Natural Resources has said that he will
propose, before the end of this year, the preferred option for a federal
oversight mechanism. The proposal will be over and above existing regulatory
measures, to ensure that nuclear fuel waste is managed in the most
environmentally sound, healthy and safety conscious manner.
I wish to assure my honourable friend that consultations will be undertaken
with those who are involved.
Senator Johnson: Honourable senators, in the hearings of the
Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on aboriginal self-governance
these matters are sometimes raised. They are becoming more and more critical in
light of the legislation before us dealing with land claims.
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, as I mentioned, NRCAN
officials sought, I believe in November and December of last year, to meet with
representatives of the Assembly of First Nations to begin discussions on how
First Nations should be consulted on the nuclear fuel waste issue. No meetings
have yet taken place, due only to scheduling difficulties on both sides.
NRCAN officials have been consulting with other stakeholders on what is known
as an appropriate oversight mechanism. As I indicated, the Minister of Natural
Resources has stated publicly that he intends to return to cabinet with the
preferred option before the end of 1999. However, there will most certainly be
discussions with all the stakeholders in the meantime.
Senator Johnson: Honourable senators, I am woefully ignorant of
what is happening with this material now. Does the honourable leader have any
idea? Where are the waste products currently buried?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, there have been
suggestions, for instance, that the government is planning to fast-track the
disposal of nuclear wastes. As the honourable senator would know, the Seaborn
panel made clear in December of 1998 that the government's role in this issue
is to ensure that nuclear fuel waste management and disposal is carried out
responsibly and in the most environmentally sound, healthy, safety conscious
As I indicated, the government is consulting with all the stakeholders with
respect to the present methods of disposal. I would have to look further and
bring forward an answer, as appropriate, in the very near future.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I have a response to a question raised in the Senate on
February 4, 1999 by the Honourable Senator John Buchanan regarding the
announcement of mine closings in Cape Breton, consequences of memo on closure
of the Phalen mine; a response to a question raised in the Senate on February
11, 1999 by the Honourable Senator Gerald J. Comeau regarding the report on
West Coast fishing communities, veracity of released version; a response to a
question raised in the Senate on February 18, 1999 by the Honourable Senator
Terry Stratton regarding the Prime Minister, request for details on recent
vacation at Whistler, British Columbia; and a response to a question raised in
the Senate on March 3, 1999 by the Honourable Senator J. Michael Forrestall
regarding the crash of a Labrador helicopter in Gaspé, inadequacy of
compensation paid to estate of pilot.
Announcement of Mine Closings in
Cape Breton-Consequences of Memo on Closure of Phalen Mine-Request for
(Response to question raised by Hon. John Buchanan on February 4, 1999)
Here follows a document issued by Devco describing the government's decision
with respect to the future direction of the corporation. This document was
provided to Devco employees on January 28, 1999, and was made public and
widely distributed the day of the announcement.
F.Y.I.CAPE BRETON DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONCORPORATE
Today, Minister Goodale and his colleagues, Senators Graham and Butts, along
with Board Chairman Joe Shannon and President/CEO George White are meeting
with Corporation management, union representatives and the media. During these
meetings, announcements are being made of decisions regarding the future for
the Corporation and its employees, as well as on economic measures for the
Concurrent with these meetings, site management are meeting as many employees
as possible to communicate the same information.
In recent months, the Board of Directors assessed a range of options for the
Corporation and made recommendations to the Government. Input was also
provided to the Government from various other stakeholders. The decisions being
announced today reflect consideration of all the input. The consequence of
these decisions is that the Corporation finds it necessary to take the
1. At Prince colliery, the development of the North/South mine layout will
continue with the first wall in this area, 1 North, being ready for production
early in the 1999/2000 fiscal year. The mine plan shows that future years'
production at Prince can be maintained at an annual level of approximately 1.3
million tonnes, supporting a Corporation workforce of about 500 people.
2. In the case of Phalen colliery, the Board of Directors, having assessed the
mine in terms of safety risk, geological risk and financial risk, have decided
not to proceed with further development of the main slopes nor the levels
previously anticipated as a result of the most recent mine plan. Operating
activity will be curtailed to only that required to produce the coal from 8
East, which came into production last fall. The production from 8 East is
expected to take approximately eighteen months to complete. When production on
8 East ceases, the mine will be closed.
It is important to understand that circumstances could develop which would mean
an immediate closure of the Phalen colliery before the planned time frame is
achieved. These circumstances would include any increased safety concerns;
major geological occurrences, or, any deterioration of employee commitment
leading to productivity levels lower than forecast.
In order to mitigate the impact of these actions on the employees of the
Corporation, the communities and the economy of Cape Breton, the Government of
Canada has committed further funding of approximately $111 million to
implement the following programs:
The introduction of an additional Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERI) that
is forecast to provide benefits for up to 340 more employees at an annual
benefit of up to $22,900 consistent with the 1996 program. These employees, who
by the end of December 1998, were 48 years of age and will have a total of 75
points by the time they turn 50 will have an opportunity to draw ERI benefits.
This program will include ERI benefits to 223 employees by December 1999 and
117 more employees by December 2000.
Approxmately 650 additional employees, who are not eligible for ERI, will be
provided with a severance package which for most employees will yield an
enhanced benefit level to that previously available. The severance package will
be specific to each employee's years of service. The enhancements to the
severance will be specific to this workforce adjustment and will be in effect
over the remaining life of Phalen colliery. Application of this package will
be reviewed in detail with each of the bargaining units relative to their
respective collective agreements.
A retraining program will be developed in partnership with the management and
unions of the Corporation as well as the University College of Cape Breton,
the Nova Scotia Community College, CB Business College and the Human Resource
departments of the federal and provincial governments. Up to $5 million has
been set aside for this program which will allow employees who take a
severance package to be reimbursed for training expenses up to a maximum $8000.
Other components of today's announcements include:
A decision that the $69.0 million which CBDC borrowed from the Federal
Government since 1996 is no longer a repayable obligation of the Corporation.
A decision that the Federal Government will initiate a process to sell CBDC's
operations. It is important to note that should a buyer be found, any final
sales agreement will require approval by the CBDC Board, the Federal
Government and Parliament. There will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to
provide input during this process.
The government is also recognizing that the impact of the decisions relating to
the operations of Cape Breton Development Corporation will be felt throughout
the economy of Cape Breton. To help mitigate this impact, $68.0 million in new
funding has been approved by the Federal Government for an economic adjustment
strategy. The details of this strategy will be developed in consultation with
the community over the coming months.
During today's announcements, Mr. Shannon acknowledged the personal commitments
of Minister Goodale and Senator Graham noting that without their efforts and
support the workforce adjustment package and economic development measures
would not have been possible. He also commended the employees of the
Corporation for their patience and dedicated efforts throughout a difficult and
The "FYI" document simply identifies certain hypothetical events that
could have negative repercussions on the best of employment expectations. The
government hopes that no significant safety risks arise. The government hopes
that no major geological disruptions will occur. The government hopes that
acceptable productivity levels will be maintained. This is in everyone's best
Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that hypothetical events cannot be
entirely ruled out and are largely beyond management's prevention or control.
Devco's candid and up-front approach with its employees was a sound and
reasonable business practice.
Miners in receipt of severance payments will not be able to receive employment
insurance benefits immediately.
Severance pay constitutes earnings and will be considered when a claim is
filed. It will be allocated at normal weekly earnings from the date of the
The allocation is such that the total earnings are, in each consecutive week
except the last, equal to the claimant's normal weekly earnings from that
However, under the current legislation, the window of time that a claimant can
receive benefit is extended by reason of the allocation of severance payments.
The length of the benefit period including any extension cannot exceed 104
Report on West Coast Fishing
Communities-Veracity of Released Version-Government Position
(Response to question raised by Hon. Gerald J. Comeau on February 11,
Mr. Gislason's most recent work was conducted throughout the summer and into
the early fall of 1998. By September, when the report was complete, much of its
information and recommendations were already being implemented, as the
delivery of the new Canadian Fisheries Adjustment and Restructuring (CFAR)
measures was well under way.
As such, a report that summarized the Gislason work and also reflected the
progress being made by the department was prepared. Initially, it was planned
that this summary, along with the original report, would be released in concert
with expected announcements on recreational fishing and early retirement, and
an announcement from WD on community economic adjustment. Unexpected delays in
these program announcements resulted in unplanned delay in release of these
reports. The summary report was made available to the public in January, as was
the full report.
Mr. Gislason has been part of several studies for the federal and provincial
governments to provide greater understanding of fisheries issues on the West
Mr. Gislason's reports include:
The Economic Value of Salmon: Chinook and Coho in British Columbia February
Fishing for Answers:
Coastal Communities and the B.C. Salmon Fishery September 1996
Fishing For Money:
Challenges and Opportunities in the B.C. Salmon Fishery June 1998.
All of these reports informed the development of the Government of Canada's
announcement of a $400 million restructuring package (Canadian Fisheries
Adjustment and Restructuring) announced in June 1998.
The government believes Mr. Gislason's numbers reflect what might more
accurately be called work shrinkage, rather than jobs lost. Lost jobs indicate
that people were actually laid off. It is the government's understanding that
the numbers Mr. Gislason is using consist of a roll-up of the lost work weeks
of employment that have resulted from less time spent employed in either fish
processing, fishing or in the recreational sector. As a result the actual job
losses are much smaller. The government has a major $400M response in place,
involving DFO, HRDC, and Western Economic Diversification providing assistance
to individuals and communities to address the impacts of the recent changes in
the salmon fishery.
The mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is restricted to fishermen.
Plant workers and other allied workers are the responsibility of the Province,
and as a result, it is difficult for the federal government to challenge
numbers in those sectors. As part of the process to implement a cost-shared
early retirement program, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the
Province are currently working with Mr. Gislason to determine if common
understanding can be reached on real job loss in the fishery. The federal
government has committed $20 million to an early retirement program for fishers
on the West Coast. Other programs are available through regular and
supplemental initiatives through Human Resources Development Canada.
Prime Minister-Request for
Details on Recent Vacation at Whistler, British Columbia
(Response to question raised by Hon. Terry Stratton on February 18,
The Department of National Defence provided a Challenger aircraft for the trip.
For security reasons, this is the usual method of travel for the Prime Minister
when an aircraft is warranted. The Department of National Defence makes
Challenger logs, including passenger lists, available to the public on a
Crash of Labrador Helicopter in
Gaspé- Inadequacy of Compensation Paid to Estate of Pilot- Government
(Response to question raised by Hon. J. Michael Forrestall on March 3,
This is a tragic case and it is no doubt a difficult time for Captain
Musselman's family. The Department is well aware of this case and we have
received several letters from Captain Musselman's family. We are actively
looking into this complex issue and we hope to have it resolved in the
All Committees Authorized to
Meet During Sitting of the Senate
Leave having been given to revert to Notice of Motions:
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator Callbeck:
That, with leave the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), all
committees have power to sit at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, March 10, 1999,
even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended
in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin moved the second reading of
Bill S-24, to provide for judicial preauthorization of requests to be made to a
foreign or international authority or organization for a search or seizure
He said: Honourable senators, Bill S-24 is entitled, an Act to provide for
judicial preauthorization of requests to be made to a foreign or international
authority or organization for a search or seizure outside Canada.
Clause 3 of Bill S-24 provides that:
Before making a request to a foreign or international authority or organization
for a search or seizure outside Canada for the purpose of an investigation of
an offence, a competent authority shall apply to a judge or justice for an
order authorizing the request.
The purpose of this provision is to protect individuals in Canada against
search or seizure outside Canada. When a citizen is being investigated with
respect to an alleged federal offence, the attorney general concerned will have
to obtain a judge's authorization, as is now the case for an investigation in
Canada. Canadians are protected in Canada by the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. Outside Canada, they may be protected by the Charter under
certain circumstances, as set out in Cook, 1998.
This enactment requires Canadian standards to be respected when Canadian
authorities ask a foreign or international authority to carry out a search or
seizure in respect of a person or property outside Canada, no more, no less.
This bill concerns the future only. It has no retroactive effect.
Clause 4 provides that a competent judge, who may hear the application ex
parte, must be satisfied that it meets the standards established under the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, if it does, may make an order
authorizing the request, as required by clause 5 of the bill.
The case law on search and seizure can be summed up as follows.
Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for general
protection against unreasonable search and seizure. This guarantee applies to
both physical and moral persons. Section 8 therefore protects the right to
privacy, regardless of the method used. But this protection is not absolute.
The courts have defined the notion of "unreasonable" as used in
section 8. In fact, for a search or seizure to be "reasonable," as
opposed to "unreasonable," it must, according to the Supreme Court of
Canada in the 1984 Hunter case:
(i) have been pre-authorized
(ii) by a neutral and impartial party, who must act judicially,
(iii) on reasonable and probable grounds, mere suspicion not sufficing, and
(iv) be carried out in a reasonable manner.
An illegal search or seizure will, prima facie, be unreasonable. A
legal search or seizure can be ruled unreasonable if it is conducted in an
unreasonable manner. In addition, it would be very difficult to justify as "reasonable"
under section 1 of the charter a search or seizure that is ruled unreasonable.
Let us be clear that violating the physical integrity of an individual is the
most serious offence possible. This is followed by violation of the home and
Thus far, the courts have made a distinction between seizures in criminal
matters and seizures in administrative matters. The criteria of the Hunter
case outlined above apply rigorously to seizure in criminal matters.
Also, in McKinley Transport, in 1990, the Supreme Court stated that the
greater the intrusion on the right to privacy, the more the guarantees in the
Hunter decision must be respected.
Let me now say a few words about the Schreiber case of 1998.
"The fact that the Minister of Justice for Canada requested seizure of the
banking documents by the Swiss authorities does not convert the request into
the sort of government action that is limited by s. 8," according to the
majority of the Supreme Court in Schreiber.
The facts are as follows: As part of a Canadian criminal investigation, the
Canadian Department of Justice sent a letter to the Swiss authorities
requesting assistance in gaining supporting evidence. No authorization was
obtained before this letter was sent. The Government of Switzerland complied
with the request by the Government of Canada, and the documents relating to
Mr. Schreiber were seized. Mr. Schreiber does not contest the actions of the
Government of Switzerland. He does, however, feel that the Government of Canada
ought to have obtained a search warrant or a prior judicial authorization
before sending the letter to the Government of Switzerland. The majority of the
Supreme Court judges rejected this argument. As a lawyer myself, I am, of
course, the first to bow completely to the Supreme Court judgment. As I will be
saying in a few minutes, Parliament can legislate in order to improve our
Madam Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, who is writing for the majority, is
of the opinion that the Canadian Charter does not apply to a foreign government
and that the Charter, our charter, has not been violated.
Chief Justice Lamer came to the conclusion that section 8 of the Charter does
apply because the Canadian authorities are at the origin of this search and
seizure but that Schreiber had no expectation of privacy. The Chief Justice
then wrote, at page 857, that:
In other words, a person who has property or records in a foreign state runs a
risk that a search will be carried out in accordance with the law of that
state. He can not "reasonably expect" that this will not happen, if
the laws of the state clearly permit it. Of course, in Canada, the prevailing
domestic law must itself be measured against the Charter to determine whether
it violates the constitutional privacy right which s. 8 guarantees... However,
this court is much more reluctant to measure the laws of foreign states
against guarantees contained in the Canadian Constitution. At the same time, if
use of the evidence obtained on the strength of foreign laws affected the
fairness of a trial held in Canada, it could be excluded under a combination of
ss. 7 and 24(1) of the Charter -
Mr. Justice Gonthier and Mr. Justice Iacobucci dissent. They are of the opinion
that the seizure of bank accounts outside Canada without a judicial
preauthorization violates the right of privacy.
In reaching this conclusion, Mr. Justice Iacobucci bases his decision on a
broad and liberal interpretation of section 8 of the Charter, which addresses
the individual and assigns no importance to where the seizure takes place. The
strength of section 8 lies in its protection of the individual prior to - and
this is the heart of the problem - the search or seizure. In this connection,
Mr. Justice Iacobucci states on page 866:
Section 8 would have very little value as a guarantee to the right to privacy
if it operated only to exclude, ex post facto, information obtained in
an unreasonable manner; by that time, the individual's privacy has already been
violated and the personal and intimate information is in the hands of the
While agreeing that the Government of Switzerland was not subject to the
provisions of the Charter, Mr. Justice Iacobucci of the Supreme Court still
felt that Schreiber had reasonable expectations of privacy, and the Canadian
authorities should have had to obtain a warrant before sending the formal
request to the Swiss authorities.
I agree that they are dissenting judges. They are not judges in the majority.
He explained on pages 872-873:
The search and seizure was initiated by the Government of Canada by formal
request to the Government of Switzerland in the absence of a treaty. The
request was in furtherance of a Canadian investigation presumably leading to
prosecution of a Canadian in Canada for an alleged violation of the Canadian
Criminal Code. The right to privacy, as it has been interpreted under the
Charter, protects people and not places. The impact on the individual of a
search and seizure of bank records is the same whether the search and seizure
took place in Canada or in Switzerland. The respondent has a reasonable
expectation of privacy with respect to banking information no matter where the
accounts are held. It is entirely reasonable, in my view, that the respondent
should expect that Canadian authorities will not be able to request the
assistance of Swiss authorities in obtaining his Swiss bank records without
first obtaining some form of judicial preauthorization in Canada.
To get back to Bill S-24, we consider, in the light of requests in previous
years, that this process of judicial preauthorization may be properly managed
and will not mean exorbitant costs. According to the figures provided by the
Department of Justice in the affidavit accompanying the brief of the Attorney
General of Canada in Schreiber, Canada made 79 requests in 1992; 80, in
1993; 137, in 1994; 109, in 1995 and 87 in 1996. We do not have the figures
for 1997 and 1998, but I expect that the officials of the Department of Justice
could provide us with them at an appropriate time.
I note as well that Bill S-24 does not infringe on the mutual assistance
treaties binding Canada and a number of foreign governments. I think there are
In conclusion, the purpose of Bill S-24 is to improve the protection of the
right to privacy in Canada.
I should say a few words about the definition found in clause 2 of Bill S-24.
A foreign public official is a person who holds a legislative, administrative
or judicial position of a foreign state, or who performs public duties or
functions for a foreign state. This is not my definition. It is based on the
definition in section two of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act,
which was given Royal Assent on December 10, 1998.
As defined in this act, the competent authority is the Attorney General of
Canada, the attorney general of a province or any person or authority with
responsibility in Canada for the investigation or prosecution of federal
A foreign state means a country other than Canada. More specifically, it
includes any political subdivision of the foreign state, including its
government, and any department or branch, as well as any agency of that country
or of a political subdivision of that country. This definition is taken from
the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act mentioned earlier.
The offences covered under this bill are federal in nature. This bill is
therefore limited to federal acts and regulations.
The designation of competent judge varies according to province. "Justice"
has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Criminal Code.
Clause 6 of the bill provides for the replacement of the definition of "judge"
in the event that Bill C-57 comes into force before this bill, so as to reflect
Nunavut's legal system.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am sorry to inform
the honourable senator that his time is up. Is leave granted for him to
Senator Beaudoin: May I have leave to finish my remarks?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Beaudoin: It does not state in Bill S-24 that the
Canadian Charter of Rights should apply to a foreign state which, of course, is
impossible. What we are asking for is that a competent Canadian authority, such
as the Attorney General of Canada or the attorney general of a province, comply
with the Charter when an inquiry in Canada is launched and that, before a
request is made to a foreign country, a judicial preauthorization take place.
Canadian authorities should respect the Charter before they make a request to a
foreign country for search and seizure.
Bill S-24 is within the legislative sphere of the Parliament of Canada. Of
course, there is a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada, and I agree with it
entirely. However, the Supreme Court has often invited the Parliament of Canada
and the legislatures of the provinces to occupy their field in matters of
rights and freedoms.
I do not want, at this stage, to start a debate on the separation of powers
between the judicial, the executive and the legislative branches of the state.
This basic separation of powers remains completely intact. Our courts are
strong and independent. We cannot, however, pretend that we have government by
judges. We have reached a good equilibrium between the three main powers of
the state in our country.
With Bill S-24, Parliament is only invited to occupy its legislative field. We
may always improve our system of law in the domain of rights and freedoms, and
we should be more liberal in the field of rights and freedoms.
The Senate, needless to say, is a legislative house. That is its first duty and
its "raison d'être." Bill S-24 is of general application. It
concerns the offences to federal legislation. It is not concerned only with
bank accounts outside Canada. Its application is much broader. It concerns
search and seizure and, consequently, deals with the right to privacy
The Hon. the Speaker: Before other senators take the floor, I
must tell the you that I have made an error. Because you were the sponsor of
the bill, you were entitled to 45 minutes. I should therefore not have
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
: Honourable senators, perhaps Senator Beaudoin could explain whether this
bill speaks to the issue of the seizing or the securing extraterritorially of
bodily substances to be used for DNA analysis. As the honourable senator knows,
the warrant system in place for the domestic seizure of bodily substances for
DNA purposes is covered by legislation that this house examined a couple of
years ago. Would clause 3 apply in that instance?
Senator Beaudoin: Since the purpose of this bill is to put on
the same level searches or seizures inside Canada and outside Canada, we should
apply the same principle.
Honourable senators, my impression is that the debate on the DNA issue is not
over yet. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has
studied something in this regard. However, if a warrant is necessary in Canada,
this bill may have the effect of extending that obligation when a Canadian
authority makes a request of a foreign authority. The bill relates only to one
I favour the dissenting opinions of the two judges. I know that I am bound by
the judgment of the majority. However, if we follow the dissenting opinions, we
improve our law system in our country, which is always a good goal. If DNA
tests are subject to warrant inside Canada, they would therefore be mandatory
when made by a Canadian authority outside Canada.
Senator Kinsella: My understanding is that the warrant is
Senator Beaudoin: In Canada.
Senator Kinsella: Perhaps the committee studying the bill could
examine this matter in the fullness of detail it requires.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of Standing
Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders (joint committees),
presented in the Senate on March 4, 1999.-(Honourable Senator Maheu).
Hon. Shirley Maheu moved the adoption of the report.
Progressive Deterioration of
French Services Available to Francophones Outside of Quebec-Inquiry-Order
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the Inquiry by the Honourable Senator Simard, calling 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.-(Honourable
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I note that the
days allocated for this inquiry by Senator Simard are coming up to day fifteen.
I am taking the floor today in order to keep this inquiry on the Order Paper.
By speaking, I will move it back to the top of the list. My apologies to my
colleagues for not raising the matter earlier.
As some of you are already aware, I had the honour of accompanying His
Excellency, the Governor General, to Africa, where we spent two weeks, and
hence was absent from here. I had proposed to raise this matter the day before
I left, but we were asked to have our luggage packed and brought over to
Rideau Hall a day earlier than planned.
I can tell you that, when I do address this matter in the very near future, I
shall be speaking on the teaching of French as a second language. This issue is
rarely raised, perhaps never, in this place, and yet, in my opinion, it is
vital in a context of national unity, in my opinion. I move the debate be
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Forrestall calling the
attention of the Senate to the Liberal cancellation of EH-101, and the state of
Canada's Labrador and Sea King helicopter fleets.-(Honourable Senator
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
: Honourable senators, I should like to continue the debate on the inquiry
of the Honourable Senator Forrestall, who has called our attention to the
cancellation by the government of the EH-101 helicopter purchase and the state
of Canada's Labrador and Sea King helicopter fleets.
The honourable senator initiated this debate on December 2. Since that time, as
we have been holding our breath with regard to the Labrador fleet, there have
been a number of serious incidents with that same Labrador fleet, one as recent
as last week. Those who keep account of these things, as I am sure the members
of the family of the crews of that ancient equipment do, will know that there
have been some nine incidents within a month. Some suggest there may be many
more that we do not know about. Furthermore, the government has delivered a
budget, which we will soon be examining in debate in this chamber. However, I
note that there were no additional funds for capital expenditure to replace the
unreliable Sea King fleet.
Some suggest, honourable senators, that the present government is demonstrating
a fair level of disregard for the Sea King and Labrador crews and their
families. Some even suggest that evidence of this lack of regard is a story of
how the government treated the late Captain Musselman's family, as was alluded
to earlier in today's proceedings. Captain Musselman's family sought to secure
themselves of the pilot's terminable allowance but they were not successful.
Rather, the government was successful in saving itself $50,000 from his pilot
terminable allowance, commonly referred to as a flight bonus.
We have all had various experiences in public administration and there are
rules and regulations. However, the incidents of this pilot and the tragedy
that his family has suffered suggests that this failure on the part of the
government should be placed under a certain spotlight. The government felt that
they had the right to keep the $50,000 on the technical basis that the good
captain died in active service, flying an aircraft which we have been
suggesting is unreliable, the Labrador, because it is too old. This is the
technical position the government has taken in order to say that the family
could not have that $50,000, that because the captain was flying in a category
of service called "active service" he could not finish out his last
four years of flight service. That is how much time he was short of receiving
the full benefit.
Additionally, we have not found too many members on the government side in this
chamber standing to participate in this debate. The record certainly shows that
Senator Forrestall has been providing a great deal of opportunity, in his
questioning, observations, statements and speeches, but the government side
remains silent. Certainly, it has not been participating in this debate. That
leads to one of two conclusions: Either they do not care, and I do not believe
that, or they find that the government's lack of initiative in dealing with the
state of affairs affecting the Sea King fleet is one they cannot and do not
support. Therefore, they remain silent.
Honourable senators, you may recall we had the opportunity to question the
Chief of Defence staff before one of our standing committees about the
consequences to the careers of the pilots should they choose not to fly that
equipment. We were told by the government that after that crash the crews were
not required to fly them if they felt insecure in flying that equipment. The
Chief of Defence Staff told us a different story. He told us that if they
refused to accept that assignment they would be transferred out, knowing full
well that that would hardly go under the "commendable" column in
There are serious problems here. None of it, I believe, is based on ill will on
anyone's part; however, it does speak to a material problem. We have a fleet of
aircraft proven to be unreliable. The government has been failed to secure the
right equipment to enable our armed forces to do the necessary coastal
assignments, Coast Guard assignments, search and rescue assignments and the
other duties which are assigned to them.
Honourable senators, I would therefore like to invite our colleagues on the
other side to join in this debate and show Canadians, particularly the Labrador
and Sea King communities, that they do care about the two fleets and the people
who must fly them, and that the government has a plan of action which we would
love to hear.
Statement of Minister of
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition) rose
pursuant to notice of February 18, 1999:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the Budget presented by the
Minister of Finance in the House of Commons on February 16, 1999.
He said: Honourable senators, a number of my colleagues, who are much more
knowledgeable in such matters than I, will, during debate on this inquiry,
analyze a number of aspects of the budget presented in the House of Commons on
February 16. My comments are more general in nature and are limited to the
budget process itself, to the dismissal of some disturbing observations by the
Auditor General and to the distortions and fabrications constantly repeated on
the supposed fiscal irresponsibility of the Mulroney government.
There was a time when tradition willed that a budget be veiled in absolute
secrecy until the moment a Minister of Finance stood in his place and began
reading the budget. There are instances of ministers resigning because of
budget information, no matter how trivial, being revealed before it became
public. In recent years, however, in Canada anyway, this strict confidentiality
rule has been relaxed, and I believe for the better.
Public pre-budget consultations begin months before its presentation. The
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance give not too subtle hints of its
contents as the budget date approaches. Ministers most benefiting from the
budget can hardly hide their delight while not so fortunate colleagues sulk
with envy. It has come to the point where any formal budget announcement has
usually been public knowledge for days, if not weeks, before it is confirmed,
while budget day itself is being transformed more and more into a public
relations exercise of self-congratulation as sustained applause follows the
slightest ministerial boast by an eager caucus of admirers.
While allowing broad input during the pre-budget period is to be applauded, its
significance is severely limited by the fact that, once a budget ispresented,
that is, for all practical intents and purposes, the end of the process.
Here is how the House of Commons précis of procedure explains it:
It is well known that the tax changes proposed in the Budget are put into
effect immediately. However, these changes have not, at this point, actually
been enacted into law, since the Minister tables only the notices of Ways and
Means motions with the Budget - the legislation flowing from these motions has
not yet reached even first reading stage. Until such legislation is passed (and
this can take many months or even years), with a provision for retroactive
application, the collection of these taxes is actually voluntary, and legally
cannot be enforced.
Surely, if it is found advantageous to consult before a budget is prepared,
additional consultations prior to its actual implementation would at least be
equally valuable. There are those who will object as endless delays might
occur, but these can be easily offset by defining appropriate schedules and
deadlines. No doubt the Leader of the Government will agree that had
post-budget consultations of the sort suggested been in force at the time, the
1982 budget presented by his mentor and our former colleague Allan J. MacEachen
would have been altered as part of a parliamentary process and not as a result
of an unprecedented and humbling public outcry which forced a most
embarrassing retreat, even more than that suffered by Walter Gordon in 1963.
Right now, Parliament's contribution to the budget is minimal, largely limited
to recommendations from its Finance Committee. Discussions in caucus and
high-level meetings between government officials and various interested parties
may be valuable but are held behind closed doors. Surely, a budget debate
would take on more significance if it were held before and after tabling and
before implementation. As it is, once presented, it is a fait accompli, even
before the first comment is uttered, so that no matter how eloquent, impressive
or presuasive one's argument, it has no direct impact on the budget itself, as
the Minister of Finance and the government are notorious for holding to their
original position, whatever the Parliamentary outcry.
In the case of the 1963 and 1982 budgets, the government of the day backed off
only in the face of strong objections across the country, while Parliament was
no more than a spectator. The same parliamentary impotence is found when the
Estimates are tabled.
In a speech delivered only last week in Regina, the leader of the Progressive
Conservative Party touched on this by deploring Parliament's declining
influence. He said:
Modern government is complex, structured, overworked, expected simultaneously
to deal with new problems and new constraints. How would modern government be
improved by a more active Parliament?
The answer is clear. Governments, in a democracy, work better if they are
accountable. In our system, that accountability should be to Parliament. Yet
there is virtually no real accountability now, and there has not been for a
long time. One result is that having eluded the control of Parliament,
government is losing its connection with the people Parliament exists to
represent. Neither the Canadian government, nor the Canadian parliament, enjoy
today the legitimacy they require to be effective.
Mr. Clark goes on.
One way to begin to solve that problem is to vest in Parliament enough real
control to hold the government accountable to the people's representatives.
Specifically, Parliament's control of spending must be restored. Today
Parliament has no control of the spending of the government. The annual
spending estimates are "deemed" to have been approved by committees
on a fixed date, whether or not MPs have ever examined them. There are reasons
that was done, but the result is wrong. The basic power of Parliament is that
it controls spending. That is what King John conceded, all those centuries ago.
Mr. Clark continues:
I would restore control over spending, by requiring a selected number of
departments to defend their spending estimates before the House of Commons,
without any time limit. The Opposition would select the departments, and would
announce their choices late enough that every minister, every department, would
operate on the assumption that they would be called.
I urge the government to open up the budget process so that parliamentarians
can be part of it as contributors and not continue as passive observers. The
power of the purse has for too long been reserved to the executive, and by
returning it to the legislators it would not only re-establish some lost
supremacy to Parliament but re-establish some of the public's lost confidence
As for the Auditor General, his role includes providing audit opinions on the
financial statements of the government. He is not a government employee but an
officer of the House of Commons, appointed and answerable to it. The Auditor
General Act was enacted in 1977, and it was only in 1990, when the Mulroney
government was in power, that he was able to state in his annual report to the
House, and I quote from the Auditor General's report, 1989-90:
I am delighted to report that for the first time since the enactment of the
Auditor General Act, the financial statements present fairly, in accordance
with the government's accounting policies, the government's financial
position, results of operations, changes in financial position, and financial
requirements. My audit opinion on the government's statements is now without
There is no shame in having the Auditor General question budgetary reporting
procedures or even having strong reservations which do not allow him to give a
clean opinion on the government's financial statements. He is there to help,
not to embarrass, and a responsible minister will heed his advice and act
accordingly. Such was the case with the Mulroney government, which made all
necessary corrections following the Auditor General's advice except in one
case, that of over what period of time the government's investment in
Petro-Canada should be written down.
This government has not only rejected outright the Auditor General's comments
on the treatment of the GST harmonization payments, the Canada Foundation for
Innovation and the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Fund, it had the audacity to
hire two outside accounting firms to contradict the Auditor General, at great
expense to the taxpayers, no doubt. In May of last year, the accounting firms'
opinions were tabled before the Commons Finance Committee. The Auditor General
was clearly not impressed. This is what we can read, written by him in the
public accounts, Volume I of the Public Accounts of Canada, 1998:
I have carefully examined these letters together with other evidence related to
this transaction -
- meaning the Millennium Scholarship Fund.
- I believe that the evidence does not support the accounting treatment chosen
by the government.
Why this disregard for a neutral observer whose obligation is to ensure that
the financial statements of the government are presented fairly, openly, and
consistent with generally accepted accounting principles which other
governments have no difficulty in adopting? This is but another sad example of
a growing disregard by the executive branch for any outside critique, no
matter how well founded or how well intentioned. That an officer of the House
of Commons is treated in such a manner is not only an affront to him but to the
House that appoints him.
Finally, on the so-called fiscal irresponsibility of the Mulroney government,
any time the slightest criticism is raised here about the government's fiscal
policy, the Leader of the Government and his colleagues in the other place take
great glee in comparing current achievements to those of the Mulroney
government, as only they see them. It makes for colourful rhetoric but not for
factual presentation. In an attempt to set the record straight, I want to
compare the legacy which was left to the Mulroney government and how it
struggled with it with the legacy left the Chrétien government and how
it has built on it. The figures that I will quote are from current government
and Bank of Canada publications and the financial press.
On September 17, 1984, the day the Progressive Conservatives were sworn into
office, the dollar was at 0.7589 U.S., the bank rate at 12.38 per cent, and the
prime rate at 13 per cent. On November 4, 1993 the day the Liberals were sworn
into office, the dollar was at 0.7672 U.S., or up 0.0083 cents, the bank rate
was at 4.51 per cent, or down 7.87 per cent, and the prime rate was at 5.75 per
cent, or down 7.25 per cent.
Yesterday, the dollar closed at 0.6616 U.S., down 0.1056 from November 4, 1993.
The bank rate is at 5.25, or up nearly 0.75 of 1 per cent. The prime rate is at
6.75, or up 1 per cent. Interest rates and the value of a country's currency
are key determinants of the future of its economy. The present trend that is
the opposite to that inherited at the end of 1993 is disturbing to say the
Let us now look at the budgetary results. When the Mulroney government took
office in 1984, it inherited a 1984-85 Liberal budget that produced a deficit
of $38.4 billion. Not only was this a record in its day, but it was achieved in
a record way and time, as the Liberals took a budgetary surplus of $139 million
in 1969-70 and squandered it into a $38.4-billion deficit in only 15 years.
How was this achieved? How was this accomplished? By increasing program
spending from no less than 8 per cent, to as much as 28 per cent per year. In
fiscal 1979-80, by the way, the increase was only 5.9 per cent. Coincidentally
this was during the Clark government. These figures were also achieved by
transforming an operating surplus into a deficit of $14.8 billion and by
increasing net public debt 11-fold from $19.3 billion to $208 billion.
In other words, budgets were out of control. The sorry state of the nation's
fiscal condition was attracting concern from major creditors around the world
as well as international institutions not the least being the International
One dubious achievement that drew their attention was the item of public debt
charges that were 12 per cent of budgetary revenue in 1969-70 and rose to 31.5
per cent in 1984-85. Such are the major highlights of the fiscal mess left to
the Mulroney government when it took over in September 1984, compounded all
the more by high interest rates.
I am the first to admit that efforts to halt these dangerous trends were not
all successful. Nonetheless, it is remarkable how many of the achievements in
this direction there were. This is all the more remarkable when it is recalled
that they involved measures which many Canadians had difficulty in accepting,
conditioned and lulled as they were, by the irresponsibility of the Liberal
government's cavalier approach to fiscal policy, which can be summed up in the
slogan "Don't worry, be happy."
Program spending during the time of the Mulroney government ranged between
minus 2.1 per cent to plus 10.3 per cent, the latter in the first year with
future years witnessing an increase of no more than 7.2 per cent. An operating
surplus was achieved during five of the nine Mulroney budgets. The deficit
remained uncomfortably high, but efforts to at least bring it under control
were being recognized and implemented. The debt did increase, but 3-fold, not
11-fold. Public debt charges ranged between 30 and 35 per cent of budgetary
revenue. where they remained during the first three years of the Liberal
government, and are now in the mid 20s.
The opposition constantly attacked the Mulroney government for endorsing the
Bank of Canada's anti-inflationary policy whose main feature was a tighter
money supply. This policy was also followed during years of a recession, which
are considered the most severe since the depression of the 1930s. The bank held
to an inflation target of less than 2 per cent.
When the Liberals took office, they took smug satisfaction in bringing in a new
governor of the Bank of Canada, allowing them to blame his predecessor along
with the Mulroney government for every economic malaise affecting the country.
Ironically, the present governor was a close associate of his predecessor. No
sooner was he appointed than he reconfirmed the inflation target with the full
support of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance who were condemning
it only a few months previously.
What conclusions can one draw from all this? It is simple: The Mulroney
government took on a near impossible task, having been left a fiscal mess by
its predecessor, took hard and unpopular decisions to clean up the mess, and
left its successor a situation which it dared not alter but rather has built
Even the present Prime Minister has acknowledged finally that policies that he
denounced as Leader of the Opposition were the right ones. According to the
National Post of January 30, 1999, he is quoted as saying:
The difficulty we had in the last recession is that the government was obliged
to raise taxes in the middle of the recession and they had no choice and I do
not blame them.
So spoke Mr. Chrétien in Switzerland. I wish he would speak as frankly
in his own country.
The Liberal government has thrived on the successes of its predecessors.
Successes once condemned as failures it has now adopted as its own: reduced
government spending, the GST, free trade, reductions in the public service,
stricter conditions for various entitlements and eligibility; these are but a
few of the Mulroney initiatives that the present government has not only
embraced but elaborated on.
Every Liberal budget is to a large extent the continuation of efforts begun by
the Mulroney government after 15 years of Liberal dissipation. Efforts which
were condemned at the time are now largely responsible for the fiscal condition
of the government being as encouraging as it is.
While it is not the present government's practice to give credit where credit
is due, but to arrogate it to itself, surely it is not too much to ask to at
least stop distorting the past that serves Canada well today. Without the
policies of the Mulroney government, particularly in its management of public
finances, the present Minister of Finance would be struggling with an
impossible situation with the IMF looking over his shoulder. I take nothing
away from his accomplishments. I only wish that he and his cabinet colleagues,
who still cannot admit publicly what they recognize privately, would at least
have the intellectual honesty to say nothing.
The Mulroney government took giant steps, which were extremely difficult and
unpopular, to bring some sanity back into the nation's public finances. The
Liberal achievements of the last few years result in large measure from these,
and to suggest otherwise is to engage in an exercise of malicious dishonesty
which has no place in our society.
Hon. John B. Stewart: Honourable senators, I should like to ask
Senator Lynch-Staunton three questions, if I may.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Certainly.
Senator Stewart: I do not wish to do this in an argumentative
way, but it is a matter of ensuring that certain information is put on the
The honourable senator referred to the fact that when the Minister of Finance
introduces his budget, it may provide for new taxes. The problem to which the
honourable senator referred is the fact that these taxes have no legislative
basis in Canada until such time as they have been enacted into law. In the
meantime, months may have passed and all sorts of transactions may have taken
place, perfectly legally, anticipating the change in tax law in the months to
In the United Kingdom, they have a provision in their laws, enacted in 1913,
for the provisional collection of taxes. This means that when the minister
announces the tax, it goes into effect provisionally and the House of Commons
has a certain period in which to enact the legislation which then becomes
retroactive to the day that the budget was introduced.
The difficulty of following the British practice is the power of the Senate
with regard to taxation law. We cannot follow the British example which is
based on the law that the House of Lords is able to defeat a tax bill. The
problem here is the Senate's power in relation to tax bills.
Has the honourable senator a solution to that problem? If he has, I know that
there are many people who would be wonderfully happy to know about that
solution. That is my first question.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I do not see the problem, because the
Senate has always respected the House's right to have control over the purse.
We are more or less rubber-stamping their decisions. I know we can block and
amend. We saw that during the GST debate but that was the exception, I hope,
and not a precedent.
Perhaps that could be formalized through a constitutional amendment. As long as
they are the elected body, I would see the power of public spending, to a
certain extent, as the privilege of the House of Commons. They have to answer
for it; we do not.
Senator Stewart: Honourable senators, that is one of the
problems that was anticipated when the Senate was created. The smaller
provinces did not want to give Ontario, which was the province with the growing
population at that time, full control over either expenditure or taxation. So
they gave powers in these matters to the House which assures the representation
of other regions of the country.
I realize that the honourable senator comes from what I call "Tom Land"
- Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Notwithstanding that, does he think that the
extremities of the country would be prepared to give full control over taxation
and expenditure to "Tom Land," to use that brief designation? Is this
not a major concern for people in the east and the west, particularly Alberta
in the west?
Senator Lynch-Staunton: The problem now is not "Tom Land,"
as you call it.
By the way, I have moved and now live in the Eastern Townships which is why I
have that refreshingly objective approach which I may not have had before. I
have a rural outlook. I am a dirt-scratch farmer now.
The problem is not so much that Central Canada control is concentrated in the
more populated areas; it is the fact that the executive has abrogated the
powers of the House of Commons. The first step one can take, if they do not
give it up, is to grab it back. Our role in examining the Estimates is much
more productive than the House of Commons which, in effect, is rubber-stamping
the Estimates. It really does not go through them.
On the budget, though, the approval of revenues and expenditures and taxation
policy, Parliament really has no say over it whatsoever. The House of Commons
can get a little more authority over it by changing the budget process; you are
quite right. If it were not confirmed once presented, it could be presented
and debated for another week or two before it is implemented to allow some
input by parliamentarians, for whatever it is worth. Right now, any
contribution they make is for the record.
Senator Stewart: My second question relates to the Estimates.
Does the honourable senator not realize that the present rules, the present
Standing Orders of the House of Commons, make ample provision for the members
of the House of Commons to deal with the Estimates?
According to the Standing Orders, the Main Estimates are to be referred to the
standing committees on or beforeMarch 1 of the fiscal year, and the committees
are to report back by the end of May. If they have not done so, in other words
if they try to defeat the Estimates simply by doing nothing, then the
Estimates are assumed to have been reported back.
The problem, it seems to me - and I ask the senator's opinion on this - is not
the procedures of the House of Commons but the fact that the House of Commons
committees are not doing their work.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Exactly.
Senator Stewart: Consequently, the intensive study of the
Estimates is not taking place there. At the same time, there is an opportunity
for the opposition parties to put down debatable motions, some of which are
votable. If the opposition were to use those to attack particular Estimates,
they could do so quite effectively. Why is this not happening in the other
place? That is not a rhetorical question.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I do not have an answer. I can only
speculate that no matter how carefully a department's Estimates may be examined
and analyzed by a particular committee, they know from the beginning that the
majority - no matter what party is in power - has control of that committee and
will not allow anything but an examination, and that the end result is the
same as what they started with.
Senator Stewart: I will explain why I am asking this third
question. It has an immediate purpose. The honourable senator talked about the
growth of the Canadian debt. I believe he has taken into account the impact of
the gradual decline in the value of the Canadian dollar on our interest
payments outside the country.
That decline in the value of the Canadian dollar means that more Canadian
dollars have to be paid to buy the currency in which we pay debt held by people
outside Canada. That decline is, to a very great extent, the function of
factors well beyond the control of the Canadian government. The crisis in the
Far East drove down the Canadian dollar by reason of the increased popularity
of the U.S. dollar.
Has the honourable senator taken that into account? He seemed to be blaming the
Liberal government for the increase in the debt, whereas, to some extent - and
certainly it is true in the province of Nova Scotia in the case of the
provincial debt - it is a result of foreign considerations over which we have
no control. The reason that this question is important right now relates to the
work of the Banking Committee which is looking at a proposal made by some
people to escape this kind of unintended consequence for the Canadian dollar
and for Canadian borrowing. The proposal is that Canada adopt the U.S. dollar
and thus not be side-swiped by the unintended implications of changes in the
international financial market.
Has the honourable senator taken this into account and has he advised his
colleagues of the importance of the forthcoming meeting of the Banking
Committee on this topic?
Senator Lynch-Staunton: As to your last question and without
revealing any secrets, Senator Tkachuk, in our caucus, told us about the
meeting you will be having in the Banking Committee regarding the dollar and
the question of a common currency.
On the general question, I cannot answer the honourable senator directly
because I do not have the answer. I can say one thing, though. Foreign
borrowings are always dangerous because they are subject to currency
fluctuations. When I was involved with the city administration in Montreal, we
were very conscious of that, and I assume it is no different elsewhere. We
tried to offset the possible devaluation of the currency going the wrong way
with the savings we would make on the interest rate. At that time, interest
rates abroad were much lower than in Canada. One would have to examine the
mathematics of it, but to answer the question: No, I have not looked into that
aspect of it. However, the honourable senator has stimulated my curiosity, and
I will look into it.
On motion of Senator Carstairs, for Senator Graham, debate adjourned.
Normal Sitting Hours of
Committee-Request for Details from Chairman-Point of Order
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Acting Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, on a point of order, I was hoping to
obtain a copy of the blues from today's Question Period. However, I have not
yet been successful in obtaining them.
However, it is my recollection that I rose with a question that I put to the
Chairman of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders. My
question was: At what time does that committee sit? The answer that was given,
which I think will be reflected in the blues or in the Hansard of tomorrow, is
that the committee sits when the Senate rises on Tuesdays -
Honourable senators, I now have the blues. The question is from the blues at
page 1520-7 and is as follows:
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Chair of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders. Can
the honourable senator remind us as to the regular meeting hours of that
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, that committee meets
when the Senate rises on Tuesdays.
Then, over the name of Gary O'Brien, Clerk of the Committee, there has been
circulating, as of 3:43 this afternoon, the document that I have in my hands
which states, "Revised. Senate Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and
Orders, Notice of Meeting. Tuesday, March 9, when the Senate rises but not
before 6:00 p.m."
We need clarification as to when that committee is meeting. Is it "When
the Senate rises" or will it be at 6:00 p.m.? I suppose, since the
honourable senator is now in the Chair, she will have to return to her regular
place if we are to have an answer from the chair of that committee.
Hon. Shirley Maheu (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Honourable
senators, according to rule 55(2), it is not permitted for the Speaker in the
Chair to speak on either a point of order or a question of privilege.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, the solution is quite
simple. I thought I had delicately suggested it a few moments ago. The solution
is for the honourable senator who is presently in the Chair to take her regular
seat in the chamber in order to provide members of that committee with some
clarification as to when they will meet. Senator Phillips would be happy to
take the Chair, I believe.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, I am
presiding and I will not participate in the debate.
I call on Senator Carstairs for the adjournment.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, on a point of order, this is unprecedented. The person sitting in the
chair is not even Speaker pro tempore. She is here as a senator, and as
chairman of the Rules Committee and sitting there only because, at the moment,
we do not have a Speaker pro tempore.
It is an affront to this place to be told that the honourable senator will not
participate in the debate. All she needs do is take her seat and explain to
Senator Kinsella and others why we were told that the committee met when the
Senate rises on Tuesdays, and then have a notice circulating a few minutes
later saying "but no earlier than six o'clock." This is disrupting
schedules. It is a question of the proper functioning of committees.
The chairman is the only one who can answer that question, and I think she
should be graceful enough to agree to reply from her place. If she does not, we
will not go to the committee. This is not the way you handle committees, and it
is certainly not the way to handle the Senate.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, perhaps we might resolve this issue by having Senator
Corbin take the Chair for just a few minutes.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Honourable
senators, I presume a certain question has been understood and received. In
that case, I recognize the Honourable Senator Maheu.
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, in the first place, I
understood the question to be: When does the committee normally sit? I said, "When
the Senate rises on Tuesdays." Unfortunately, there was an urgent caucus
called for five o'clock and I had to ask the clerk to delay our committee until
6:00 p.m. Senator Lynch-Staunton said that if I refused to get out of the
Chair, the committee would be boycotted. All I can say, senator, is that it
would not be the first time that that particular committee has been boycotted.
If you have any other questions, I will be pleased to answer them.
Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, I should like to
ask the chairman of the committee when the committee was boycotted. Please give
me the dates, and by whom the committee was boycotted.
Senator Maheu: Honourable senators, I will answer that question
tomorrow. I do not have the dates in front of me at this particular time.
However, I believe the clerk can get that information for me.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: You had better retract that statement,
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, this brings us back to
the situation that the chairman of the committee, at some point this afternoon,
decided that the committee would not meet when she told this house it was
supposed to meet because some caucus meeting was taking place. How are we to
know there may not be some other, intervening event that, in the judgment of
the chairman of the committee, will cause the committee to meet at a different
time? Either we will follow the rules of this place or we will end up in
anarchy and chaos, which seems to be the direction in which we are heading.
Honourable senators, I would appeal to the chairman of the committee to be in
close communication with the members of the steering committee of that
committee. My goodness, if the Rules Committee is not following the rules, what
committee will follow the rules? It is my understanding that the Rules
Committee is deliberating on the rules of this place.
Senator Meighen: Would you like a ruling?
Senator Kinsella: Perhaps my colleague the Deputy Leader of the
Government could bring some clarity and light to the situation.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I do not know if I can
bring clarity and light to the situation, but there is nothing in the rules
that says when a committee can or will sit. That is done by custom, and "the
call of the Chair" is the normal procedure.
In this particular case, the chairman of the committee decided that the
committee, which often begins its sittings at six o'clock anyway, since that is
when the Senate usually has risen, will sit at six o'clock. It is not
particularly unusual to have the committee sit at six o'clock and often it sits
till seven o'clock or 7:30. That has been much the custom of this place.
As the chairman indicated, a special meeting of the Liberal caucus has been
called for five o'clock this afternoon. We were told that that meeting would
last no more than an hour, so the senator called her meeting for that time,
namely, at six o'clock. A number of criticisms have also been made because
committees do not sit often enough, and the committee chairman in this case
did not want to cancel the meeting. Therefore, she called it for six o'clock.
In the future, I would hope that she would speak with her deputy chairman
before the notice went out indicating a change other than the customary
Senator Robertson: Honourable senators, on that point, it would
be courteous and helpful if one had more than an hour's notice. The notice was
sent at about 3:45 p.m.. That does not allow very much time.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, with the greatest of
respect to Senator Robertson, none of us knows when the Senate will rise.
Perhaps it might rise at six o'clock, only to return at eight o'clock.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, it is a custom in this
chamber to show courtesy when one side or another has a caucus meeting. The
custom and the tradition is to allow for that decision when the caucus meets.
In this case, there is -
Senator Andreychuk: Cancel the meeting!
Senator Kenny: Honourable senators, I heard the Honourable
Senator Andreychuk say "cancel the meeting." We would not ask you to
cancel a caucus meeting if you had one planned. There have been occasions when
both sides have had caucuses and had reasons why they wanted to talk amongst
themselves. It is normal when that happens that other business does not go on.
It is a courtesy that one side has customarily extended to the other. It is
not a requirement, but it is a courtesy that is customarily extended.
Hon. Norman K. Atkins: Honourable senators, it was not too long
ago when the chairman of that committee called a meeting while we were
caucusing on a Wednesday morning. The clerk knows about that because a formal
complaint has been lodged.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, I do not
believe the Chair has been called on to solve anything. Therefore, I will ask
Senator Carstairs for the adjournment motion.