Address to Members of the Senate
and the House of Commons Tabled and Printed as Appendix
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I ask that the address of His Excellency Václav
Havel, President of the Czech Republic, delivered to members of both Houses of
Parliament earlier this day, together with the introductory speech by the
Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada and the speeches delivered by the
Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons, be printed as an
appendix to the Debates of the Senate of this day.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Condolences on Shooting Tragedy
at W.R. Myers High School in Taber
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, an atmosphere of
shock, bewilderment and deep sorrow hangs over my area in southern Alberta
today as families, students and friends try to cope with the tragic shooting
which took place yesterday at W.R. Myers High School in the community of Taber.
A young man with a rifle shattered the calm of this small prairie town when he
entered the school, consumed with anger and his own demons, and shot two
students before being disarmed and taken into custody. We do not know his name
because he is only 14 years old, which places him within the purview of the
Young Offenders Act.
We do know that Jason Lang, 17, is dead. Today, his father, who is minister of
the Anglican Church in Taber, told a press conference of the loving home in
which Jason had grown up and how no one will ever know the effects of his death
on the lives of his family forever.
We also know that Shane Christmas, also 17 years old, is severely injured and
is described as being in serious condition in the intensive care unit of the
Lethbridge Regional Hospital.
To all these families, the prayers and sympathy of those of us who sit in this
place are taken for granted.
Taber is just 30 miles down the highway from my hometown of Lethbridge. It is a
warm, attractive, family-oriented place. It has a population of some 7,200
people. There is a strong sense of community strength and friendship in Taber,
as there is in the other wonderful small communities in our rural area.
Many of you may recall how often in the past I have referred to the sugar beet
industry in southwestern Alberta. Taber is where the beets are processed. Taber
is where the farmers grow the best sweet corn in the world, where the cowboys
put on a great summer rodeo, where literacy is important, and where young
people receive a good education in the schools to start their lives. Taber is a
safe community. That peaceful image was blown away by the events of yesterday.
Comparisons are already being made to the horrible events last week at
Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Debates are heating up about the
issue of gun control. There is much speculation about the boy who used the gun,
and what drove him to do it. He was a loner; he was not popular; he was teased;
he left school to study at home. Perhaps we shall never know the whole story
of what was not supposed to happen in a place like Taber.
Honourable senators, think of your own communities. In Canada, it is "not
supposed to happen" in any one of them. While we are always overwhelmed by
these events and we look outward for someone to suggest a solution and a
reason, I suggest that all senators in this chamber must look inward and
realize that there is vulnerability in every community in our land, be they
urban centres or small prairie towns. We, as individual citizens and senators,
must learn how to read the signs from our young people.
We must also realize that the young people of our country are facing a process
of growing up that we did not face. They have influences in their lives that
may be difficult for us to understand. However, only through soul-searching in
order to understand and identify what makes a "loner" and a child
desperate will we be able to offer true sympathy and support. That is what is
happening today in Taber.
Last night, the media said that Taber was different from Littleton because the
citizens were not out in the streets; they were not at the school; they were
not rushing to the school with flowers. Honourable senators, Taber is
different. Taber is small; it is strong; it is nourishing; it is at the heart
of what makes this country so special. This has happened to Taber, and our
heart goes out to every student, every citizen, and particularly those
families who have experienced a loss and injury, and who are in anguish today.
I would hope, honourable senators, that as others conclude their remarks today,
we would be able to put them together in a special form ofHansard, as
we do on other occasions, so that the school, those families and that small
town in southwestern Alberta will know that we are thinking about them, that we
care, and that we are sharing their anguish.
Hon. Ron Ghitter: Honourable senators, I rise to echo the
eloquent remarks of Senator Fairbairn with respect to this tragedy that has
occurred in her community.
I have visited the Taber area on many occasions, and it is exactly as Senator
Fairbairn describes. It is really the essence of small-town Alberta and rural
Canada. The people there are God-fearing, loving individuals who raise their
families in the best traditions of our country. I can just imagine the grief
that exists in that community today after suffering through such a horrendous
Now is really not the time to enter into debate and discussion as to the whys
and wherefores of the actions of an individual whose mind could lead him to the
sort of situation that we experienced in the school at Taber yesterday, nor is
it the time to deal with the complexities of what caused trench-coated,
gun-bearing, bomb-laden young people to perpetrate the tragedy in Colorado last
week. Now is the time to understand the frailties that exist in our school
systems and amongst our youth. Now is the time to understand, as Senator
Fairbairn has stated, the difficulty of growing up, the difficulty of being
rejected and the difficulty of trying to keep pace with and be part of a
community when, all too often, they find themselves rejected and responding in
ways that were hitherto unimaginable.
Now is the time to come forward, as senators, to share in the grief of the
community of Taber so that the families and the community at large will know
that we sympathize with them, in the hope that tragedies like this will never
happen again in this wonderful country.
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Honourable senators, I, too, wish to
add a word or two about this tragedy.
I was born just 30 miles from Taber. Taber has always had a God-fearing
background. The name itself supposedly comes from the first syllable of the
word "tabernacle," relating to the Mormon missionaries who came from
the south. Others thought the name of the town came from a CPR employee who
misspelled Mount Tabor, which is contained in the Old Testament. Nevertheless,
it is a good town, and a good place to raise a family.
I have nothing to add to what my two colleagues from Alberta have already
stated about the quality of life and the quality of people in Taber. However,
it is interesting that about one week after I commented on the violence in
Colorado, where the President of the United States said that our youth must
learn to solve their differences without violence, we hear news about how we
are using violence to solve our differences in Kosovo and in Europe. It will be
difficult to teach our children not to use violence if we, ourselves, feel that
violence can often be used as a solution and a cure. Perhaps violence can be
used to teach lessons, as some of our international organizations encourage.
How we separate the message that we are giving to the world from the message we
want to give to our children will be a great challenge.
I called other legislatures today before making this statement. In other
legislatures where I have served, the Speaker was always able to write a note
on behalf of the legislative body in a case like this. I would appeal to our
Speaker to find some way of extending the sympathy and condolences of this
legislative body to the parents and people of Taber. It would be greatly
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, in response to the
comment by the Honourable Senator Taylor and the request from the Honourable
Senator Fairbairn, a transcript will be made of today's statements on this
Time-Limits on Speeches and
Senators' Statements-Adherence to Rules
Senator Lois M. Wilson: Honourable senators, I wish to
address an issue within the Senate that has intrigued me ever since I was
appointed last June. It concerns the matter of the time-limit on speeches. I
have spoken to senators on both sides of the chamber, and I have support from a
number of individuals who are yet reluctant to address the issue for various
reasons, perhaps because of their relationship to others across the chamber.
However, I have no such qualms.
Rules are meant to guarantee a level playing field, and the
Rules of the Senate are clear. The Speaker cannot be faulted for
enforcing them expertly, but there are two rules in particular to which I wish
to refer. The first is rule 22(6) under "Senators' Statements," which
says that interventions shall be limited to no more than three minutes.
However, a senator may then seek leave to extend his or her remarks, and leave
of the Senate means leave granted without a dissenting vote. In practice, that
is very often cast so that one can continue. However, if another senator says
"no" it leaves some resentment. More important, it creates an uneven
The other rule is 37(4), which says:
...no Senator shall speak for more than fifteen minutes -
- and I underline this next part -
- inclusive of any question or comments from other Senators which the Senator
may permit in the course of his or her remarks.
That really means 10 minutes plus comments and questions. Some people actually
time their speeches; they are somewhat at a disadvantage because they have much
more to say. Others go on for 30 or 45 minutes, and they do not realize that
their speeches are counter-productive because your attention does drift and you
think about other things.
Generally speaking, I have found the Senate to be a relaxed place. However, I
sometimes wonder whether we have among us some frustrated preachers who simply
cannot bear to stop. There are no limits set by the clock.
I urge honourable senators to exercise some discipline in their observation of
the rules, mainly because if one goes on too long, that excludes others from
speaking. That robs them of a timely opportunity, perhaps, when they might have
something significant to say. It also makes for extra long days. Having said
that, I hope a word to the wise is sufficient.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, today
I should like to speak on homelessness.
On Tuesday, April 22, 1999, I visited the Anglican Social Services Centre at
454 King Edward Avenue here in Ottawa, where I met with approximately 200
homeless people. They invited me there in order to honour my hockey career, as
well as my appointment to the Senate.
During our discussion, they asked me if there was some way in which I could
help them, and I asked the following question:
Is homelessness a federal problem?
It is everyone's problem, Frank.
Honourable senators, the problems of the homeless are increasingly apparent.
The Prime Minister agrees that it is the responsibility of everyone, including
the municipal, provincial, territorial and federal governments, as well as
communities, to seek solutions to this major concern in order to reduce
homelessness. To this end, he recently appointed the Honourable Claudette
Bradshaw to coordinate the government's activities in relation to Canada's
Centre 454 is in the basement of St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church, and has
been in operation for 22 years at the same location. They have just been
advised that they must leave the premises in a few months. The director of this
centre is Mrs. Mary-Martha Hale. She feels that they should stay in the same
area, as most homeless people roam the streets surrounding the centre. Mrs.
Hale has worked hard and has proven to be dedicated and relentless in her
efforts to help the homeless. My wife, Marie, and I are both very proud of her
and her accomplishments. Approximately 30 years ago, Mrs. Hale helped baby-sit
Mrs. Hale and her group of homeless need our help and support to continue the
operation of the centre's various programs. Since my meeting with the homeless
people at the centre, I spoke to the Honourable Claudette Bradshaw and she
told me that she would meet with Mrs. Hale, for which I was thankful. I know
there are problems throughout Canada, and in particular in Toronto. I know that
the mayor of Toronto has approached the government and asked them, "Where
is the money?" He will be approaching us shortly and embarrassing the
federal government into providing moneys for the homeless of Toronto.
Back in 1967, when we won the championship at Maple Leaf Gardens with the
Toronto Maple Leafs, we used to parade down the streets. This year we closed
Maple Leaf Gardens. On our way down to the new arena, I saw approximately 20 or
30 of these homeless people bedding down for the night on top of sewers and
Honourable senators, I can assure you that homelessness is on the increase. I
ask honourable senators to speak out, and help in any way possible, so that we
can support and continue to operate these centres and various other programs.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I join all my
colleagues who have spoken in expressing my dismay at the tragedy that
occurred in Taber, Alberta.
I am saddened by the tragedy, but we must also look to the future. We should
look to the success of Canada's youth. Our pages are fine examples.
Yesterday evening, the Speaker of the House of Commons marked in a special way
the National Youth Achievement Awards, which are distributed to young Canadians
of all ages. I saw a young man of eight who was honoured for his bravery in
this event. These 30 Canadians make me look to the future with optimism and
I would have hoped some of my colleagues might attend this event. These young
Canadians made considerable efforts into a variety of fields, including sports
- our colleague Senator Mahovlich is a shining example in this field - and
science. For instance, two 17-year-old Canadians developed computer software
to enable people in remote communities to send their electrocardiogram to their
Just as the Taber, Alberta, tragedy saddens us and obliges us legislators to
come up with solutions, however small, for such tragic situations, so we must
look to the future with optimism and encourage young Canadians who do succeed,
as these 30 Canadians did so brilliantly.
Meeting of Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe and Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assemblies in Paris, France- Report of Canadian Delegation Tabled
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the
honour to table in both official languages the report of the Canadian
delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association to the meeting of the
Bureau of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary
Assembly and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly held in Paris,
France on March 5, 1999.
Conflict in Yugoslavia-Alleged
Use of Chemical Weapons against Kosovo Liberation Army-Supply of Protective
Clothing and Training for Canadian Troops
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, yesterday
there were reports in the British press that Yugoslav forces were using
chemical weapons against the KLA. Does the minister have any information which
might confirm or reject this?
Will the Canadian Forces personnel to be deployed to Macedonia receive the
latest in chemical warfare protective clothing and, as well, the additional
training necessary to make that equipment fully functional?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I am not aware of the use of chemical warfare weapons. I have been
assured by the Department of National Defence that our Armed Forces personnel
to be deployed to that area will be equipped for any eventuality.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, by way of a
supplementary question, I heard on the BBC a report that Yugoslav forces had
been accused of firing frog missiles at KLA camps in Macedonia and Albania.
Can the minister confirm these reports? In particular, if they are true, could
he indicate whether they were chemical or explosive-type missiles?
Senator Graham: I regret, honourable senators, that I do not
have that information.
Yugoslavia-Responsibility of Ground Troops in Peacekeeping Initiative
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I return
to my question of yesterday about the deployed 800 peacekeepers who may be
utilized in Kosovo, should there be an end to the difficulties there.
Canada has made statements that we will follow the action of NATO and, of
course, we are part of NATO. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate
advise whether Canadian peacekeepers will have more discretion and be better
armed than they were when they entered the Bosnian situation?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, it is my understanding that our Armed Forces personnel would have the
most up-to-date equipment available.
Senator Forrestall: Stonewalling now, eh?
Senator Andreychuk: My question is not on up-to-date equipment.
It is a question about the discretion that they will be given within that
situation. If we are not supporting a separation of Kosovo, we are talking
about either an autonomous region or an integration into the whole country. If
the refugees move back, they will be living shoulder to shoulder with other
people who are there now. That will not be an easy situation, as Bosnia was
not an easy situation. In my opinion, our peacekeepers there had a limited
mandate and could not fulfil their roles adequately.
Will the Leader of the Government ensure that this will not be repeated in the
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, our Armed Forces will have
the mandate to defend themselves as well as the refugees.
Conflict in Yugoslavia-Deployment
of Ground Troops-Statement by Chief of British Defence Staff-Vote in
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, my question is
addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, General Sir
Charles Guthrie, Chief of British Defence Staff, confirmed that Canada will be
providing combat engineers to NATO's combat ground troop deployment. However, a
previous press release from the Prime Minister's office stated that if there
is a NATO request to deploy Canadian troops in combat, the House will be
consulted before any final decision is made.
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm or deny the statement
of the British Chief of Defence Staff?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I stand by the statement of Prime Minister Chrétien. Namely,
if our Armed Forces were to be deployed for any other reason than peacekeeping,
Parliament would be consulted.
Senator Stratton: Honourable senators, what about that quote of
General Sir Charles Guthrie, the Chief of British Defence Staff? Was he
misquoted when he stated that our troops would be used in combat? How do we
Senator Graham: Sir Charles Guthrie has made his statement in
his capacity as the Chief of British Defence Staff but he is not speaking for
Canada, nor is he speaking for NATO. A decision in that respect has not been
taken by our NATO allies.
Conflict in Yugoslavia-
Deployment of Ground Troops in Active Service-Benefits of Veterans Status
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, if these ground
troops, who you say are there to handle non-combat issues, are exposed to
bodily harm or death for whatever reason, are they covered by the War Veterans
Allowance Act? Are they protected by that?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, they are covered by all of the measures that would be ordinarily
available for anyone on active duty.
Closure of Mines-Meeting Between
Prime Minister and United Families of Cape Breton-Request for Update
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, yesterday the
delegation representing the United Families of Cape Breton met with Prime
Minister Chrétien. That meeting, we are told, had been organized by the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Would the Leader of the Government tell us what undertaking, if any, the Prime
Minister gave to these women concerning government consideration of their
proposal regarding the pensions and related matters that were announced by the
government for the Devco miners in January?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would not want to speak for the Prime Minister, except to say that
the Prime Minister indicated that he had already received most of their
material. He, appropriately, accepted and gave an undertaking to consider the
presentations that they had given to others yesterday.
Fisheries Committee-Status of
Budget to Travel-Request for Information
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, my question is
addressed to the Chairman of the Internal Economy Committee.
Back in March, I submitted a budget on behalf of the Fisheries Committee to
hold some hearings on the West Coast, after a number of invitations from
various groups on the West Coast, including the Coastal Communities Network.
The chairman of the Internal Economy Committee responded in writing that they
were not prepared to consider any budgets until all budgets could be examined
and acted upon at the same time.
I subsequently learned, in the past few days, that while the Internal Economy
Committee did look at a certain number of budgets, the Fisheries Committee
budget was not even considered during the process. Is this what we are to
expect now? Given what we have had from the government over the past few
years, can we now expect similar treatment from the Internal Economy Committee?
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, high priority is still
being given to the Fisheries Committee. Far be it from me, bearing in mind
where I come from, to give anything but a high priority to fisheries.
Having said that, there is a budgetary process. We have re-established three
subcommittees within the Internal Economy Committee. One of those subcommittees
is on budgets. These subcommittees existed previously when the honourable
senator's party formed the government, but they have not been used for some
years. We have reinstituted them now because we think this is an effective and
efficient way to proceed.
Having said that, the subcommittee on budgets has reviewed all of the budgets
and it is true that some budgets have been approved. The reason for that is
timing. Some of those committees have to report by June.
Senator Bryden, who chairs the subcommittee on budgets, called together all the
chairs of all the committees. He outlined two imperatives: first, all
committees must be able to do the job that they do as best they can; second,
bear in mind our responsibility to keep our own Senate budget within some
reasonable control and parameters.
Given those two imperatives, Senator Bryden discussed the issue with all of the
chairs, and they subsequently reported their budgets. He and his committee
decided that it was important for some of those budgets to go ahead immediately
because some of them had to report by June. That is not to say that other
committees will not be considered, far from it.
My understanding is that the Fisheries Committee had graciously decided that it
could, perhaps, put its hearings off to the fall. If that is the case, and I
hope it is, then it would give us more time to re-examine our funds and perhaps
to respond in a more positive way. In any case, all committee budgets are being
considered and all of them will be treated fairly.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I suggest that reality
reflects quite the contrary. What choice did the Fisheries Committee have when
we were told that our committee budget was not to be reviewed? It is in
writing, and I have the letter if you want to see it.
What choice did we have but to cancel the hearings on the West Coast? As
Honourable Senator Rompkey knows well, you cannot plan a trip based on
fisheries at any old time of the year. There are fishing seasons and there are
times that are not appropriate for travelling to certain fisheries areas. As he
is from Newfoundland of long duration, I know that the Honourable Senator
Rompkey is aware of that.
The honourable senator referred to the chairman of the subcommittee having met
with various chairmen. I was advised the day before that, that there would be a
meeting the next morning, not to discuss the budgets, but to discuss the new
process by which the budgets would be looked at. However, that was not the
Apparently what happened was that the subcommittee decided to look at a certain
number of budgets. Among them was the budget of the powerful Banking Committee
that is always mentioned in the newspapers. I would ask the chairman of the
Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration to return to
his roots and attach the kind of importance to fisheries that it should have in
Hon. Raymond J. Perrault: Honourable senators, as someone from
the West Coast, I join in the statement made by the chairman of the Fisheries
Committee, who is from another party. We are facing, honourable senators, a
crisis situation in the fisheries on the East Coast and on the West Coast and
we must demonstrate that we are concerned with this problem.
Conflict in Yugoslavia-Refugees
from Kosovo-Criteria for Policy on Admittance to Canada-Government Position
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government
in the Senate regarding the plight of the Kosovar-Albanians, who have been
expelled and removed from their homes and are located currently in Macedonia,
Montenegro, Albania and elsewhere. About 10 days ago there was a discussion
that Canada would receive 5,000 of these persons. There was then an
intervention by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Could the honourable minister outline in a general way the policy of the
Government of Canada on the issue of these displaced persons?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the situation in the refugee camps is at a critical stage. The United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has described the camps as being at a
breaking point. The honourable senator mentioned Macedonia, Montenegro and
Albania. It is particularly critical, as I understand it, at the camps in
Having said that, the United Nations High Commissioner has not asked
non-European countries such as Canada, the United States or Australia to
activate their plans to provide temporary safe havens for large numbers of
refugees. Canada continues to process refugees on a family-reunification,
special-needs basis. The first of these families arrived in Canada on Monday.
I understand that 45 more people are arriving today. Canada's Minister of
Immigration will be in touch with the United Nations High Commissioner on
Refugees later this day.
Canada stands ready to accept 5,000 refugees. I indicated earlier that we were
ready to receive refugees at various bases in Canada on 72-hours' notice. I
understand that military bases such as Winnipeg, Trenton, Valcartier,
Greenwood, and a camp in New Brunswick have been considered and would be ready
to accept up to 5,000 refugees.
There was an article in one of the newspapers today indicating that this
program to receive refugees was now back on. That was not accurate. The
Minister of Immigration will be in touch, if she has not already done so, with
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees indicating that Canada is
still ready to accept 5,000 refugees, and she will probably have more
up-to-date news later today or certainly tomorrow.
While I am on my feet, several questions were asked in relation to the Coyotes
and other equipment being used in Kosovo by our Canadian Forces. I questioned
whether or not it would be possible for honourable senators to see the kind of
equipment that would be used. Interest was expressed in the other place on this
particular point as well.
I was informed just before coming to the Senate at two o'clock that for those
interested in seeing the kind of equipment that will be used by the Canadian
Forces, a bus will be leaving from the west door for the drill hall, which is
close by Parliament Hill, at approximately three o'clock. For those who are
interested, it is an excellent opportunity to see the kind of equipment that
will be used by our Armed Forces.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, on the latter point, I
wish to express the appreciation of those on this side for that kind of
initiative to keep members of this house informed and as up-to-date as we can
be on the technical side of things. It is appreciated.
Honourable senators, I wish to return to the humanitarian question, and the
matter of the 5,000 refugees that Canada had indicated it would receive from
among those Kosovar Albanians who have been displaced.
I am curious to learn what criteria were used when the government developed
that policy. How was the number of 5,000 arrived at? It seems to me that when
that number was announced, the number of Kosovar Albanians known to have been
removed from their homes was much less than the number who are displaced
What criteria did the government use a few weeks ago to come up with the number
of 5,000? If those same criteria were applied today, would 5,000 still a
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, I do not think that 5,000
was a limit. I believe that the number of 5,000 was agreed upon after the first
assessment was made with respect to the availability of accommodations in
Canada. It was obviously arrived at after discussions between the Minister of
National Defence, the Minister of Immigration, and the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees on what a fair number would be for Canada to take.
I would not want to suggest that that is a maximum number. I am sure that if
the High Commissioner for Refugees were to ask that that number be increased
because of the tragic circumstances that surround the situation, Canada would
be open to further discussions.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I have a final
supplementary question on this point. Is the Government of Canada being
proactive and establishing for itself the number of displaced Kosovar Albanians
we would take, or are we simply, once again, being reactive and responding to
requests of other organizations, this time the United Nations High Commissioner
Do we have a policy objective or do we simply respond to requests made by
others based upon their policies?
Senator Graham: Very much to the contrary, honourable senators.
My understanding is that the call of Canada's Minister of Immigration and the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was initiated by the Canadian
Minister of Immigration. She is very active on this file.
Impact Assessments and Safety
Transportation Precautions on Cross-Border Shipments of Plutonium and MOX
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, the Americans are
conducting an environmental assessment and notifying communities along the
proposed transport routes that MOX fuel, supposedly coming from Russia and the
United States, will be shipped. Canada has not conducted any environmental
impact assessments of the proposed tests or of the plans to ship the plutonium
by truck through regions of Canada, including the City of Winnipeg.
As reported by the Canadian Press on April 23, a secret meeting on
transporting plutonium through Nova Scotia was scrapped after it became public
knowledge. Apparently the meeting was organized to train fire chiefs and
emergency measures personnel in how to handle MOX fuel in an emergency.
What assurances can the Leader of the Government in the Senate give us that the
government will follow environmental assessment and safety transportation
precautions as rigorous as those the Americans are applying? By the way, the
Americans have said that this is Canada's responsibility. They are not taking
any responsibility for it.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have asked that same question myself and have been assured by those
responsible that every precaution will be taken.
Senator Spivak: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Trade has already given serious thought to the issue of the
effort to dispose of plutonium from surplus weapons. In addition to calling the
idea of burning MOX fuel in Canada totally unfeasible, the committee
effectively recommended that Canada withdraw from even the proposed test burn
later this year at AECL's Chalk River facility. In addition, both the United
States and Russia will be left with huge stockpiles of plutonium. It has been
suggested in the press that we might be getting fuel from domestic use, not
fuel used for any military purpose.
I understand that all witnesses who appeared before that foreign affairs
committee were in agreement. How does the government reconcile going ahead with
the tests in Chalk River and the recommendation of the House Foreign Affairs
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, a similar question was
asked by Senator Wilson the other day. I understand that the Deputy Leader of
the Government will be tabling an answer to that question as soon as Question
Period is finished. I would not want to pre-empt the Deputy Leader nor the
answer to Senator Wilson's question. A copy of that answer will be sent to
Senator Spivak as soon as it is tabled.
NATO Forces in
Yugoslavia-Deployment of Combat Engineers-Government Position
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I should like
to return to the question my colleague Senator Stratton raised about combat
engineers. I want to ensure that I understand the answer given by the Leader of
the Government in the Senate.
Did he say that no combat engineers will be sent to join the British contingent
in the Balkans?
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, no, I did not say "combat engineers." The Armed Forces that
are being sent to the Balkans are being deployed specifically for peacekeeping
Senator Nolin: There will be many combat engineers in that
Canadian contingent, will there not?
Senator Graham: There will be many engineers. I do not know
that they are being deployed as combat engineers. They are being deployed as
peacekeeping engineers at the present time.
Senator Nolin: However, the leader would not be surprised if
the Minister of National Defence used the expression "combat engineers"?
Senator Graham: Honourable senators, a soldier is a soldier,
and the role of a soldier is defined by his or her responsibilities; whether in
a peacekeeping role or a peacemaking role. I have made it clear on many
occasions, and I repeat again today, that the only mandate the Armed Forces
have at the present time is to deploy up to 800 of our Armed Forces personnel
for peacekeeping purposes.
Fund-Impasse in Negotiations with Quebec-Request for Facilitator-Government
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, Minister
Pettigrew is refusing to speak to Quebec's Minister of Education about the
millennium scholarships. This is a matter of very great interest to the
students of Quebec. With this impasse in Quebec, negotiations with the other
provinces are suffering.
Yesterday, in the National Assembly, the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party,
Jean Charest, with the agreement of the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Bouchard, took
the initiative of asking the Government of Canada to appoint a special
Could the Leader of the Government ask the Minister of Human Resources
Development whether he has received this joint proposal from the Premier of
Quebec and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly to appoint a
mediator so that negotiations can begin as soon as possible?
The Administrative Secretary of the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Mr.
Riddell, has already indicated that the absence of an agreement with the
government at the outset of 1999 could compromise students' eligibility for
It is in the interests of all students in Quebec that this measure be adopted,
even if its legitimacy is still being contested. Could the leader check with
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham (Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the answer is yes. I wish to assure the honourable senator that we
agree that Quebec students should not be penalized under any circumstances.
They should have the same opportunity as students in any other part of the
I brought this matter directly to the attention of Minister Pettigrew after
Senator Rivest's interventions. Minister Pettigrew assured me that he was
prepared to provide a facilitator to resolve this issue between the Government
of Quebec and the foundation. As honourable senators know, the Millennium
Scholarship Foundation operates at arm's length from the federal government,
but the minister is prepared to provide a facilitator to find a resolution
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have a response to a question raised in the Senate on April 21,
1999, by the Honourable Senator Lois M. Wilson, regarding the recommendation
by the House of Commons standing committee against the burning of MOX fuel.
Recommendation by House of
Commons Standing Committee Against Burning of MOX Fuel-Government Position
(Response to question raised by Hon. Lois M. Wilson on April 21, 1999)
In responding to the Committee report, the Government has underlined its
commitment to nuclear non-proliferation initiatives. The commitment to consider
allowing the use of MOX fuel in Canadian nuclear power reactors, if requested,
has been made in that context.
The Standing Committee recommendation asserted that the use of MOX fuel in
Canadian reactors is not feasible. In fact, MOX fuel is used in nuclear power
reactors in several countries in Europe. The testing planned at the Chalk River
research facility is a follow-up to initial tests which established that MOX
may be used in CANDU-type reactors.
If it is possible to help reduce the nuclear threat and destroy weapons grade
plutonium by using MOX fuel to generate energy for peaceful use, the Government
considers Canada has a responsibility not to dismiss that possibility out of
Certified General Accountants'
Association of Canada-Message from Commons
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had
been received from the House of Commons returning Bill S-25, respecting the
Certified General Accountants' Association of Canada, and acquainting the
Senate that they have passed this bill without amendment.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Beaudoin, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Bolduc, for 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 outside
Canada.-(Honourable Senator Carstairs)
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, on the day that this bill was put forward by Senator
Beaudoin, I took the adjournment. However, Senator Grafstein has graciously
indicated that he wishes to address this particular piece of legislation. I
understand that he may have had some discussions with Senator Beaudoin or, if
not, they will take place shortly, and that Senator Beaudoin understands that
Senator Grafstein will be speaking on this bill as soon as he can put his
thoughts together on paper. We hope that is sooner rather than later.
With that understanding, I will adjourn this matter in the name of Senator
On motion of Senator Carstairs, for Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.
Retention and Compensation
Issues in the Public Service-Report of National Finance Committee Adopted
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Stratton, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Cohen, for the adoption of the ninth report of the
Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, entitled "Retention and
Compensation Issues in the Public Service," tabled in the Senate on
February 18, 1999.-(Honourable Senator Cools)
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, this item was adjourned in the name of Senator Cools. I
can indicate to honourable senators that there is support for this report on
our side, and I think we are ready for the vote on this particular motion.
Consideration of Interim Report
of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee on Study-Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the seventeenth report (interim) of the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce entitled: "A
Blueprint for Change" (Volumes I, II and III), tabled in the Senate on
December 2, 1998.-(Honourable Senator Tkachuk)
Hon. John. B. Stewart: Honourable senators, may I ask Senator
Kinsella when Senator Tkachuk intends to speak to this motion? It has been with
us for a long time, and we should dispose of it in one way or another.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, this item, standing for adjournment in the name of Senator
Tkachuk, is at its fifteenth day. The Honourable Senator Tkachuk is not here,
and I have not received any advice from him regarding this item. Therefore,
either we make a decision on it or it will follow the fate of those items that
go beyond 15 days.
Senator Stewart: Honourable senators, the committee was not
unanimous on this report. Three Liberals disagreed. I am told that Senator
Tkachuk changed his mind on this matter, although that was before the final
report of the committee was made, not after. I was interested to hear what he
would say here because I should like to have an opportunity to speak if he were
to say certain things. However, the motion is in danger of dying on the Order
Paper before some of us have had an opportunity to speak.
This report was made before Christmas, although its adoption was not moved at
that time. Because one of the matters with which it deals is the leasing of
automobiles by banks, the report is highly controversial in some parts of the
country. I realize that in urban areas it may not be controversial, but those
of us who come from rural Canada have strong opposition to that part of the
report. I was hoping that Senator Tkachuk would join us on that.
Honourable senators, I hope that this report will not be accepted by the Senate
simply by default.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, this is a rather
irregular procedure. Since the matter was stood, there should be no debate.
Perhaps the solution would be for some other honourable senator to move the
adjournment, and then it would be back into the cycle at day number 1.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I will say a few words
about it, then. I should like to begin with reference to the fate that befell
the Greek god Sisyphus who, whilst in Hades, was condemned for eternity to
pushing that stone up to the top of the hill, and then, having managed to get
it there, watching it roll down again.
I do not want to be seen restarting the clock merely for purposes of restarting
the clock. However, because of the interesting intervention that has been made
by the Honourable Senator Stewart, I am prepared now to move the adjournment of
Statement of Minister of
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton calling
the attention of the Senate to the Budget presented by the Minister of Finance
in the House of Commons on February 16, 1999.-(Honourable Senator Stratton
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I rise to participate
in the debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton, calling
our attention to the budget presented by the Minister of Finance on February
I have heard many compelling presentations from my colleagues. In presenting
this inquiry, for example, Senator Lynch-Staunton has pointed out how the
Liberal government has thrived on the success 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.
Senator Cohen, for her part, as she has done so many times in this chamber,
drew our attention to the plight of the poor and homeless and lamented the fact
that this budget does little for them.
Senator Atkins contested the government's claim that a falling dollar and low
export prices were really good for the economy, and underlined the serious
decline in the amount of foreign investment in our economy. He also pointed out
that the government had only restored enough money into health care to bring
health and education transfer payments back to 1996 funding levels by the year
2004. He also called our attention to the shameful neglect with which our
military is being treated by this government.
Senator Lavoie-Roux also demonstrated how the government has effectively gutted
transfer payments to the provinces since 1993, and persists in maintaining a
huge surplus in the EI fund while restricting access to Employment Insurance.
Senator Bolduc reminded us of the recent decrease in Canadian productivity in
relation to our neighbours to the south and the decline of personal income in
our country. Senator Bolduc said:
The Minister of Finance has, and the government along with him, opted to
continue the anaemic economic growth of the past 30 years by declining the
opportunity to use the budget surplus as a solution.
He pointed out that this has caused a slower rise in productivity in Canada
compared to other G-7 countries, a far heavier tax burden than our American
competitors, an overall debt that is one of the highest in the G-7, and a brain
drain involving high numbers of specialists in a variety of disciplines.
Senator Tkachuk demonstrated the dire effects of government fiscal policy on
Senator Simard, with the help of Senator Kinsella, highlighted how damaging
government policy was to his home province of New Brunswick and all the
Honourable senators, our colleague Senator LeBreton also reminded us that the
policies that have generated recent economic growth have their origins in the
Mulroney government. She said:
Free trade, Investment Canada, repeal of the punitive National Energy Program,
restraint, privatization, sales tax reform, deregulation - these are all
policies of the previous government that this government has chosen to keep,
and these are the policies that are driving the economy.
Senator Spivak talked about tax bracket creep. The youngsters of this world who
are just starting out get regular salary increases, which jumps them into
another tax bracket, and there is no relief for them at all. As a result, the
Canadian government picks up in the neighbourhood of $185 million dollars a
year extra. She also talked about climate change, about which the government
is doing nothing, and child care, about which the government is doing nothing.
I believe that the speeches from which I just quoted throw a particularly
illuminating light both on the government's overall performance and on the last
budget. However, with all due respect to my colleagues, I find it even more
revealing to hear and read what is now going on within the Liberal caucus.
Obviously, the members of our caucus are not alone in thinking that the
government's last budget was a missed opportunity.
For the first time in a generation, the government, thanks largely to visionary
measures adopted by the Mulroney government and the many sacrifices of the
Canadian population, disposed of a budgetary surplus that it could have used to
alleviate the burden of Canadian taxpayers and enhance their quality of life,
notably by helping to boost Canadian productivity. Instead, the minister has
decided to tinker at the margins, while maintaining high taxes and punitive tax
grabs such as the EI surplus and hiking CPP premiums, and to indulge in
short-term expenditures. This is especially worrisome when one thinks that this
government, over the coming years, will have ever-growing surpluses to
Clearly embarrassed by this year's surplus, the Finance Minister simply tried
to make it disappear, mostly through one-time spending initiatives in the weeks
leading up to the budget.
As William Watson noted in the National Post a few days after the
budget, having studied a table contained in the documents described by the
Ten weeks ago, the surplus for the fiscal year that had just five weeks to run
was going to be fully $11.7 billion, the number at the top of the table. At the
bottom is $0.0, this year's forecast."
After having listed the government's burst of spending initiatives, he adds:
...presto! $1-billion a week for 10 weeks and the problem is solved. This
year's balance is down to zero.
It is impossible to discern any coherent, long-term planning in the
government's strategy. A budget should be a plan. It should express resolve,
address current problems, and prepare for the future. This budget does not do
Even some members of the Liberal caucus are clearly worried. The Minister of
Finance had barely finished reading his Budget Speech when members of his party
were already expressing the hope that the next budget would contain significant
tax cuts. There can be no better demonstration of the fact that this budget
was indeed a lost opportunity when we see members of the government so anxious
to turn the page on the exercise and trying to convince the Minister of Finance
to do a better job next time.
In his budget speech, the Minister of Finance alluded to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's
prediction that the 20th century will belong to Canada. Indeed, honourable
senators, Canada has been one of the greatest success stories of this century.
With a relatively small population dispersed along the second largest territory
in the world, and despite a forbidding geography and a difficult climate, we
have built a country that is respected and admired around the world for its
spirit of tolerance and its equality of opportunity. We have also won our place
at such prestigious and influential international fora as the G-7, APEC, the
OAS, the Commonwealth, and la Francophonie.
However, it is not written in the sky that Canada will automatically thrive in
a new year of intense economic and technological competition. One of the keys
to our past success was personal initiative, risk-taking, and just plain hard
work and perseverance. If we are to succeed in the coming century, we must put
in place right now the framework that will allow Canadians to compete and to
win. Only the national government can formulate the vision that will help us
thrive in a global economy, and carry us to a new century of achievement and
Sadly, there is no vision emanating from the government at this time. Perhaps,
upon reflection, it is too much to expect this government to demonstrate
leadership. Maybe even they will be satisfied with being considered the
government that closed the 20th century with a whimper instead of the one that
led us boldly into a new era.
Surely we can hope, at the very least, that the government will not stifle the
personal ambitions and opportunities of Canadian citizens, which is what they
are effectively doing by maintaining high taxes which penalize initiative,
erect barriers to investment that creates jobs, and drive highly skilled
Canadians to seek their future elsewhere.
While the Minister of Finance and most of his cabinet colleagues beam with
self-satisfaction, the Canadian population is more and more worried about its
prospects. Even the jovial Minister of Finance, for example, has been brought
to admit that we have serious productivity problems in this country - by the
Minister of Industry, no less.
Earlier, the Minister of Finance was chastising anyone who dared suggest that
Canadian productivity was declining. A few days later, confronted with
statistical evidence showing that productivity growth in the Canadian
manufacturing sector had fallen increasingly behind that of the United States,
the minister was forced to admit that "there is a problem."
Canadians know there is a problem; they see it every day. Productivity is not
only a problem for Canadian businesses and exporters. Lower productivity means
lower income for Canadians, which is one of the reasons, along with
ever-increasing taxes, why the disposable income of Canadians is declining and
the disposable income of Americans is rising.
It is shocking to see the government gloat about the state of its finances
while average Canadians have more and more difficulty in making ends meets. The
government was finally able to eliminate the deficit and to collect a surplus,
in large part because of the sacrifices that this generation of Canadians has
made. They are the ones who should be rewarded. They are the ones who should
take credit. Instead, the government turns a blind eye to the anxiety and
hardship of a growing number of Canadians.
Surely the minister knows, if only for having read a summary of a Commons
research report published in TheOttawa Citizen on March 2,
that "modest-income single-earner families were paying up to two-thirds of
every additional dollar they earned in income taxes..." Does he not know
that income taxes are the single largest expenditure for Canadian households,
more than food and shelter combined, and that real disposable income per
person has dropped by almost $1,000 since 1990, according to the Royal Bank of
Far from reaping the benefits of years of job cuts and service cut-backs,
Canadians are being penalized further. Here, for example, is what the Canadian
Bond Rating Service, quoted in
The Ottawa Citizen on March 2, said about the recent budget:
...there has been no tax relief. Federal taxes, including income taxes, EI
premiums, GST and so on, amounted to 14 per cent of GDP in 1994, rising
steadily to17.1 per cent last year.
It is hitting home more and more now. As reported in yesterday's paper, the CEO
of Nortel, John Roth, said that if we do not do something about taxes, he may
be forced to move Nortel to the United States. Nortel employs 7,500 people in
this country, and he is threatening relocation. This company has been Canadian
for almost as long as Canada has existed.
The government gives us the disturbing impression of having attained a very
dubious objective: the creation of a richer government in a poorer country.
Even amongst the government's own employees there now exists a pervasive sense
of drift. I recently had the honour of tabling a report of the Standing Senate
Committee on National Finance dealing with retention and compensation issues in
the public service. The report, tabled here on February 23, showed clearly that
the program review exercise conducted by the government, which was little less
than an effort to dismantle whole sections of the public service, had a
devastating effect on the self-esteem of government employees.
Gilles Paquet, Director of the Centre of Governance at the University of
Ottawa, was quoted recently as saying that the committee's report underscores
that the Liberal government has no agenda for its public service, other than
one driven by the Finance Department to cut costs. The professor stated:
The government doesn't give me the feeling that it respects the public service.
They ended the notion of a career public servant and then turn around and ask
them for more and more loyalty; give them less and less money and more and
more work. It just doesn't add up.
Jocelyne Bourgon, in her fourth report as Clerk of the Privy Council, stated:
There is a "quiet crisis" underway in the public service today. It is
quiet because few people are aware of the crisis, and even fewer people have
started to do something about it."
On January 25 of this year, a study conducted by the Centre for Research and
Education on Women and Work at Carleton University revealed that about
three-quarters of the best and brightest in the federal public service are
thinking of quitting their jobs, and 21 per cent said that they will be leaving
within a year. This is a very sad state of affairs resulting from the
government's callous indifference to the working conditions within the public
service and their haste to reduce government services.
Honourable senators, the last budget was a missed opportunity for the Minister
of Finance, a lost opportunity for the Liberal government to show leadership as
we prepare to enter a new century. The most tragic result of the government's
lack of vision, however, is that it means countless lost opportunities and a
dimmer future for tens of thousands of Canadians. Canadians deserve better.
On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate adjourned.
Motion to Maintain Current
Regulation of Caffeine as Food Additive-Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Spivak, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Cochrane:
That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to maintain Canada's current
regulation of caffeine as 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 people.-(
Honourable Senator Carstairs)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I do not wish
no make a lengthy speech, as I am reminded of Senator Wilson's comments.
I should like to commend Senator Spivak for bringing this matter to our
attention. The use of caffeine should not be taken lightly. I believe it is an
issue that should receive the serious attention of the Government of Canada and
the people of Canada. Senator Spivak covered most of the points of concern,
and I therefore support her motion very strongly.
No clear process or research has been undertaken by Health Canada, andtherefore
I do not believe that the government should accept the adding of caffeine to
drinks that are citrus-based or, in specific terms, Mountain Dew. Until such
adequate research, investigation and deliberation takes place, it would be
folly to embark on any further use of caffeine when it is really not
The applicant, Pepsi, said it wished harmonization, and it used the free trade
agreement and NAFTA as a basis for their submission that there is sound and
good reason to coordinate standards between the United States and Canada.
However, I believe that the free trade agreement never intended - nor should
it be used - to override Canada's need to protect and secure Canadians and
their health. This type of harmonization was never contemplated, and should not
It has also been said that caffeine is a taste enhancer, and that is it only
there so that consumers can have more choice and exercise their options. I do
not believe that is the real reason. If caffeine is contained in these drinks
because of consumer choice, then one must ask why people are not drinking
Mountain Dewnow if they feel it is such a good drink. If there is something wrong with
the drink, it should be scrapped and a new drink invented, or a taste enhancer
other than caffeine should be found.
To indicate that there are no negative effects is to go against what we know
when we talk about caffeine in coffee and caffeine in some prescribed drugs. We
have some research, and Health Canada has commented on the use of caffeine by
women who are ageing, and who have a reduced calcium intake. We know that
caffeine is a problem for pregnant women. We have also said in a wellness
model, for which it would seem the Government of Canada is pressuring, and
quite rightly so, that preventative medicine is as important as curative
medicine. Consequently, the additive of caffeine cannot be justified.
Surely the protection of children is more important than consumer choice, if
these are competing demands, and I believe that they must be proven. I do not
believe that either Pepsi or Health Canada have offered such proof. It would be
inconsistent with the minister's stated policy to protect children and promote
good health practices by allowing caffeine to be added at this time. Alternates
can be found and alternate products can be found. Therefore, I believe the
debate must continue. I believe that this motion squarely authorizes the
government to do the right thing, the necessary thing, and the safe thing for
I also believe that if we do not, we are entering into the type of debate that
we have with cigarettes, where in fact the industry says that smoking is safe,
and it took decades before they admitted that there was anything harmful in
their product. I do not believe we need to embark on such a debate with respect
to soft drinks, which are generally consumed more by children than adults.
I cannot see that anyone in this chamber would be against Senator Spivak's
proposal and motion, and I would urge all senators to expeditiously send this
motion to the attention of the Government of Canada.
International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-Recent Responses to Questions from
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Kinsella calling the
attention of the Senate to the Responses to the Supplementary Questions emitted
by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on
Canada's Third Report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights.-(Honourable Senator Forrestall)
Hon. Lois M. Wilson: Honourable senators, the link between
human rights and the right to development has been widely recognized globally.
Last fall, Jubilee 2000 was launched on Parliament Hill and addresses this
issue. Sponsored by churches worldwide, it represents somewhat of a convergence
of international opinion between civil society and government. I heard this
subject expertly addressed recently in Geneva, at the UN Human Rights
Commission, by the Special Rapporteur on "The effects of foreign debt on
the Full Enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights."
The serious problem of foreign debt continues to impede development and to
perpetuate inequalities between and among countries, reducing even further the
already inadequate national resources many countries are able to devote to
meeting the essential needs of their people. The tenth anniversary of the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child that we celebrate this year seems an
excellent opportunity to link debt cancellation specifically to child
development targets, as well as to the goal of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development, OECD, to reduce absolute poverty by one-half by
the year 2015.
In a speech given by our Prime Minister on March 25, 1999, and in policy
documents released by the Minister of Finance and the Minister for
International Cooperation, the Government of Canada announced its strategy for
debt relief in preparation for the upcoming Cologne G-8 meeting in June where
debt cancellation will be on the agenda.
Canada's proposal moved the debate significantly forward, and put a serious
challenge to other creditors by raising the bar in the context of other G-7
proposals. The most positive aspect of it is setting the challenge of 100 per
cent bilateral cancellation as the rule rather than the exception - such as in
the German proposal - for a set of countries, and including in this challenge
all of the bilateral debts of these countries. In addition, Canada has
indicated its willingness to act unilaterally should multilateral negotiations
not achieve the level of cancellation Canada itself is seeking.
However, the restriction of this principle to an insufficient number of
countries is problematic. Can this strong Canadian initiative not be taken for
50-plus poor countries? Canada is calling for a write-off for only 29 least
developed countries, of whom only 12 owe bilateral debt to Canada. The
additional cost to our country, should all of Canada's proposals for bilateral
cancellation be accepted, would only be $100 million to $150 million, compared
with $900 million of foreign aid debt Canada has already written off for poor
Moreover, Canada called on other countries to follow its leads and to forgive
official development assistance, or ODA, debt for heavily indebted poor
countries and in providing future development assistance only on a grant basis.
This means that debt cancellation measures would accompany, not replace,
needed aid. Canadian ODA is at an all time low, sitting at 0.27 per cent of the
GNP in 1998. The Prime Minister's actions to stabilize ODA in this year's
budget and to increase aid in future budgets is welcome. Jubilee 2000 calls on
him to demonstrate progress toward 0.7 per cent of the GNP by reaching the
target of 0.35 per cent by the year 2005.
Moreover, the debate needs to move beyond the issues of the "unpayability"
of debts by some countries to address debt within the framework of justice. We
regret that Canada is still largely working within a reformed highly indebted
poor countries' initiative, or HIPC, a program launched by the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1996 to address the debt crisis in poor
countries. While the HIPC and our government's proposals are welcome steps in
the right direction, we could go further. Although that HIPC scheme has gone
beyond any previous debt relief mechanisms, it has more to do with offering
relief for creditors from carrying uncollectable debt on their books than for
the people of indebted countries.
Cologne G-8, this June, must do more than tinker with the HIPC framework and
address the needs of a full range of countries for which debt is a moral burden
on the poor. The UN Human Development Report 1998 notes that whereas the
international community raised $100 billion U.S. for the Asian crisis in just a
few months, it is taking years to find $8 billion to implement the HIPC
initiative. The most objectionable aspect of it is its requirement that debtor
countries implement orthodox structural adjustment programs, or SAP, which
involve unacceptable levels of austerity for the very poor. Poor citizens of
indebted countries must make too many sacrifices to free up resources for debt
Canada proposes that there should be debt cancellation for countries that:
Increase spending on education and health care for their people and reduce
spending on weapons and the military.
the track record of good performance in structural adjustment be reduced from
six years to three years.
A laudable proposal.
However, is it not a fundamental contradiction when debt relief continues to be
linked by Canada to the structural adjustment programs of the IMF and the World
Bank, which are conditioned on debtors adopting economic policies that serve to
perpetuate unjust economic relationships between the north and south, and
further impoverish the poor?
The UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution of 1997:
...notes with regret the negative effects on the enjoyment and realization of
economic, social and cultural rights of the structural adjustment and reform
policies conceived by the international financial institutions and bilateral
creditors and imposed on debtor countries to deal with the effects of foreign
debt, especially among the most vulnerable and the low-income groups.
The problems warrant a broader approach than the essentially biased
creditor-debtor relationship. Social issues should go even-handed with economic
considerations of growth and development, according to the UN Special
Rapporteur on debt relief. "Efficiency and productivity" are not
exclusive economic aspects of development. They should be validated for social
investments and expenditures.
Moreover, it is important to consider human rights issues related to how the
debt was incurred and maintained so there can be assessments of aspects of the
debt as illegitimate. One such example is debt incurred by the South African
apartheid regime, which used its loans against the interests of its people.
The Latin American Jubilee movement has called for the auditing and
cancellation of illegitimate debts. Are the children who had not yet been born
when the burden of debt acquired impossible levels, and who have a limited life
expectancy before them, to pay with their health and their lives and be saddled
with debts so that creditors can recover what is considered their due?
Another question arises as to how to handle future debt crises. The most
creative suggestion is to establish an international arbitration tribunal to
oversee the orderly write-down of sovereign debts. Such a tribunal could serve
as a place to explore the annulment of illegitimate debts and is a place where
middle-income countries could go to achieve orderly rearrangements of the
remaining debts. Latin American countries, for example, need such a tribunal to
approach before they find themselves in a balance-of-payments crisis.
It could pave the way to achieving the right to social and international order
in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the UN Declaration of Human
Rights can be realized. It could also secure a process of transparency which
could serve to curb irresponsible borrowing and lending.
Such a tribunal should be an independent body under the auspices of the UN to
work out the principles of eligibility for debt cancellation. This body would
ensure that the money saved from debt payments is used primarily for social
Finance Minister Martin is to be commended for proposing that countries should
have the ability to invoke an "Emergency Standstill Clause" to freeze
payments to creditors for a period of time during which they would seek a
voluntary rearrangement of their debt. A tribunal would be available should it
be impossible to reach such an agreement.
The Latin American Jubilee 2000 campaign calls for arrangements where:
...creditors and debtors will appoint an equal number of judges to the
arbitration tribunal. Debtor nations will make such appointments on the basis
of broad consultation with all members of society. The representation of civil
society in such an arbitration procession is fundamental to a process that is
Finally, Canada's Jubilee 2000 plans to present one of the largest petitions in
Canadian history to the Prime Minister before the G-8 summit that will
demonstrate wide public support for a radically new beginning for the world's
most impoverished people as together we enter the new millennium. Honourable
senators will receive their copies of the petition in due course. Your
participation will indicate what support senators are able to bring to this
important imperative of our time - debt cancellation.
Hon. John B. Stewart: Honourable senators, assuming that the
honourable senator has not spoken longer than 10 minutes, may I ask her two
The Hon. the Speaker: As a matter of fact, the Honourable
Senator Wilson was well within the 15-minute period.
Senator Stewart: Even though she was, it may not leave time for
My questions are not hostile; rather, they are questions designed to produce
On this whole question of debt cancellation, I have heard it said that debt
should not be cancelled because much of this money was used directly or
indirectly for the benefit of what they used to call "the people above";
Senator Kinsella: The ruling class.
Senator Stewart: Yes. It is said that, in a sense, we are
rewarding them for what was, in many cases, corruption. That is a very serious
argument, serious in the sense that it tends to work strongly against the
position taken by Senator Wilson. I am hoping that she will be able to say
something that will defeat that argument utterly. That is my first question.
Will she undertake to do that?
The second question relates to the so-called moral hazard. We are all familiar
with the term. If we cancel these debts, are we not, in effect, saying to the
countries whose debts have been cancelled: "Now go and run up bigger debts
in the future and, of course, we will follow our precedent; that is, we will
cancel them again."
That is almost a classic case of so-called moral hazard. I wonder if Senator
Wilson will obliterate that argument?
Senator Wilson: I cannot possibly respond to you utterly and
put it all at peace because part of the purpose of the inquiry is to involve
other members of the Senate in this important debate. I do not have all the
You are right that part of the problem is that much of this money has been
siphoned off by the elite. Structurally, the debt rests on the backs of the
poor. Jubilee 2000 objects to the whole process of lending and repaying money
because it is structurally wrong, and must be corrected.
The suggested international tribunal would secure a process of transparency
which, it is hoped, would curb irresponsible borrowing and lending. Right now,
there is no place where nations can go to appeal this state of affairs. They
are at the mercy of the international financial instruments. Perhaps this
measure might help to correct that.
My answer to your first question is not a very good one,but it is as far as I
can go. Because the whole thing is framed within the creditor-debtor framework,
with the structural adjustment program built in, then the elite can make money
on the backs of the poor. In Africa, they called this suffering African people;
in Latin America, they call it sophisticated arrangements for poverty. They
are well aware that the money is being siphoned off.
We are, first, commending the Prime Minister's initiative. We have already
cancelled a number of debts. We are asking him to go a little further and to
give world leadership to what we perceive is a good initiative.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, this matter stands
in the name of the Honourable Senator Forrestall. Honourable Senator Kinsella
advises me that Senator Forrestall would prefer that it stand in the name of
the Honourable Senator Andreychuk. Is that agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
Status of Education and Health
in Young Girls and Women-Inquiry-Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, calling
the attention of the Senate to population, education and health, particularly
for young girls and women in many developing countries.- (Honourable
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, first, I want
to thank Senator Losier-Cool for bringing forward this inquiry. My comments
today will follow those presented by several senators and will echo, I believe,
the concerns that each of them have already so eloquently expressed.
My comments come at a time when countries around the world, including our own,
are focused on events in Yugoslavia and the unfolding human drama there. Canada
is an active participant in the NATO efforts in that country which, beyond
various geo-political and strategic rationale, are basically about human rights
and their protection.
As a nation, we are committed to these principles. We have encoded them in our
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian Human Rights Act, and the
provincial and territorial human rights codes. Equally, Canada has long shown
leadership in defending and promoting the equality of men and women around the
world. We are committed to ensuring that a respect for human rights and human
dignity is central to our development and foreign aid policies.
As a result, organizations such as the Canadian International Development
Agency, CIDA, over the last several years, have funded hundreds of projects
aimed at sustainable, social and economic objectives in developing countries.
These projects build on the individual capabilities of each society.
Essentially, our approach has been one of equipping and empowering the
populations to overcome, in the long term, the various social and economic
problems they face. This situation is particularly true for women, and in many
cases the children of these populations, who are fundamental to the economic
and social development of their countries but have been granted few rights in
return. For example, it is usually the women in these countries who provide the
core production functions. They fetch the water and fuel, prepare the meals,
tend to vegetable gardens for household needs, pick the crops and work in the
In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, women produce up to 80 per cent of the food
crops. However, at the same time, women may not even own a plot of land, nor
can they inherit property, obtain credit, or go into business.
As a result, many of these CIDA and other initiatives have specifically
targeted women in developing countries and the link between their status and
the developmental status of their nation, including the degree of poverty found
there. This is not an abstract linkage. It is borne out by hard data showing
that 70 per cent of people who live in poverty worldwide are women. Equally
revealing are the data on child labour. An estimated 250 million children
between the ages of five and 14 in developing countries must work, most often
for little pay. Today, there are still parts of the world where children are
sold into servitude or, even worse, into outright slavery.
Targeting the health and education supports in these countries, particularly
those available to women, youth and young girls is, therefore, based on the
knowledge that a population that is uneducated and unhealthy does not, and
cannot, effectively contribute to its own development. Honourable senators,
this is as straightforward as respecting human rights in these countries.
Let me start with the right of everyone to education, as stated in Article 13
of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and of
which Canada is a signatory. Add to that statement the fact, as reported by the
United Nations, that two-thirds of the world's illiterates are women. That is
quite a gap between their right to learn and the reality of it actually
CIDA has captured the importance of improving educational opportunities for
women everywhere in a recent article entitled, "Women, Vital Partners in
International Development," from which I shall quote.
The majority of the illiterate people in the world are women and, since poverty
and illiteracy often go hand in hand, the majority of the most impoverished
people in the world are also women. In countries where the status of women has
improved, faster economic growth and higher living standards also occurred,
whereas in regions where women's rights and freedoms are denied, progress has
been slow in coming.
Where education levels for women have risen, infant mortality has declined,
diet has improved and the family size has shrunk. For women, learning to read
and write is often the first step toward obtaining knowledge which will
improve their quality of life and that of their children...
A generally dismal portrait of women in developing countries continues to be
painted. Perhaps this is most aptly put by the United Nations at the time of
the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, in September of 1995
and I quote:
Poor, overworked, and illiterate - this is the profile of most adult, rural
women in the majority of developing countries. Although more girls and women
are entering school, and near university literacy has been achieved for young
people in many regions, huge gaps exist in women's education and literacy,
especially among adults - the caretakers and providers for whom the ability to
read and write can make a world of difference.
Closing these gaps is one of the main roles behind our country's commitment to
developing aid. These goals are reflected in Canada's Women in Development
policy which, since its inception in 1984, has aimed to increase women's
participation as decision-makers in their economic, political and social
spheres. This has also meant eliminating discrimination against women, as well
as improving their economic conditions, basic health and education.
One might reasonably ask why education is seen as such an important tool for
women and young girls. In specific terms, the World Bank estimates that for
each additional year of education for girls, child mortality is cut by 10 per
cent, and wages are boosted by 10 to 20 per cent.
More generally, however, education is so effective in these countries, and
indeed in any country, because it opens the door to choice. It enables women,
in particular, to know what the opportunities are for themselves and for their
families. It lets them see that what for many generations may have been deemed
acceptable practices of behaviour toward them are not the only practices or
behaviour open to them.
Education allows women to be aware of, and to consciously choose, options for
themselves rather than having those choices made for them. Educational
achievement, therefore, engenders not only self-respect but also reciprocal
respect. It strengthens the full participation of women as equal partners in
their societies. It is not only a component of well-being for them, it is also
a factor in the development of well-being for their fellow citizens.
Another concern with poor education is that it often - if not inevitably -
leads to poor health, since the two are very closely linked. Just as education
is a basic human right, so too is the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health a basic human right, - once again as
recognized by Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and
Cultural Rights, of which Canada is a signatory.
We need only look to the following facts to understand the enormity of the
global challenge faced in making that human right for health a reality: Half a
million women die each year from complications due to childbirth. Eight hundred
million people in developing countries are malnourished, and now more than 8
million deaths of children under five years of age each year are associated
An estimated 14 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV,
representing two-thirds of the men, women and children worldwide who are
infected with the virus. Malaria causes 2 million deaths each year, largely in
In most societies, and more so perhaps in the developing world, women
constitute the primary family caregiver. When these women are uneducated and
lack basic nutrition and sanitary skills, it is the entire family that suffers.
On the other hand, in societies where women are better or at least slightly
more educated, it is the family that benefits.
For example, a mother who is illiterate, or who has little education may have
difficulty understanding instructions given to her by a health worker
concerning medication for a sick child. She may not understand the measurement
quantities of medication involved, or she may have difficulty recognizing the
signs of serious disease. Equally, she may not have the appropriate sanitary
conditions, or the health workers, or the proper medication at hand to start
Even in developing societies where care is readily available, women, for some
reason, seem to have less access to that care. Fewer women than men are treated
in hospitals, receive prescriptions for medication or timely treatment from
practitioners, or even survive fairly common diseases.
I am sure that honourable senators will agree that by addressing mutual
reinforcing programs such as female education and health care, we are helping
these developing countries to realize sustainable improvements in terms of
their quality of life and standard of living. We do so because these
initiatives affirm our strong national commitment to basic human rights, both
at home and abroad, and the foundation of individual respect, dignity and
equality on which they must be built. However, I believe that we also recognize
the crucial investment they represent for us as a nation.
As all honourable senators are aware, there is much discussion of globalization
these days and the shrinking of world trade either through electronic channels
or international diversification into a single worldwide market. We see the
reality of this phenomena when far-flung countries in southeast Asia run into
financial difficulties, as they did nearly a year ago, and economies and stocks
on the other side of the global are directly impacted. We see the cause and
effect, and we ignore these economic seismic shocks at our peril.
So too must we take seriously the social realities of many of the developing
countries. As we now know, the strength of their economies in growth terms is
only as strong as the social infrastructure on which those economies are built.
The key to that infrastructure is directly tied to the primacy of health,
education and the status of women.
We would be wise to remember the old Maltese proverb, "The world is a
chain, one link in another." Global prosperity and political security can
only be obtained when equitable social development fits hand and glove with
them. Separating economic aspirations from the reality of social conditions is
Canada stands tall in leading efforts towards such equitable development. We
are proud of our contribution, particularly tied as it is in large part to
supporting the status of education and health in young girls and women.
In this context, I would ask honourable senators to remember debate on this
motion the next time we hear the national polls saying, "Cut international
aid. We have tough issues on which we should be spending our money here in
Canada." Tough issues for us can only be described as Utopia for people
living in developing countries today. Millions of women there will see their
children go to bed hungry tonight and, all too often, die from starvation. They
themselves may be beaten, or worse. They have the right to know that there are
choices for their lives, and for those of their families.
It is not just "aid" that Canada and its agencies give to the
populations of developing countries, honourable senators; it is recognition and
protection of human rights, and respect for their dignity as human beings.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following
communication had been received:
April 29, 1999
I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Peter deC. Cory, Puisne
Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor
General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 29th day of April,
1999, at 4:30 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills.
Judith A. LaRocque Secretary to the Governor General
State of Helicopter
On the Order:
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. Norman K. Atkins: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to
speak to the Honourable Senator Forestall's inquiry on the EH-101. After 20
years of planning, proposals and research by Canada's military on a new
military maritime helicopter, the present Liberal government scrapped the
EH-101 program in 1993, after promising to do so during the 1993 federal
In 1993, the Progressive Conservative government was prepared to replace the
Labrador search and rescue helicopter and the Sea King maritime helicopter with
nearly 50 EH-101s because it knew that our Canadian Forces needed this
equipment. But not the Liberals. They saw an opportunity to make an election
issue out of a defence acquisition that would keep our aircrews safe and our
forces effective. With the stroke of a pen, the hopes and dreams of our navy
and air forces were dashed.
I wish to add that this Liberal government did it all at a cost of at least $1
billion to the Canadian taxpayers. That reminds me of the Pearson airport
contract that was cancelled, which cost the Canadian taxpayers over $1 billion.
The Honourable Senator Stewart will recall that in 1956, during the pipeline
debate, one of the famous Liberal ministers, C.D. Howe, said in one of his
debates in the House, "What is a million?" It seems that this
government's new theme is "What is a billion?"
Do you remember when the leader of the Liberal Party in 1993 said, "I will
take out a pen and write zero helicopters. No one will die from helicopters."
Professor Desmond Morton, one of Canada's noted academics, in his report to the
Prime Minister on the state of the Canadian Forces, stated that "ignorance
and opportunism" were the villains in this story.
In the foreward to Jane's Fighting Ships 1996-97, one of the most
respected defence publications in the world, the editor stated that among
NATO's navies no issue was more tainted with bureaucratic procrastination than
the Sea King replacement. NATO, the Canadian Forces and the Canadian taxpayer
have suffered from this government's negligence and political opportunism.
There are also the comments of Clare Musselman, a grieving father whose son
died in the helicopter crash in Quebec last fall, who said, "I am sure you
will agree that Peter's death was a result of faulty equipment." What does
Mr. Chrétien have to say to that? No one will die because of
Everyone in this chamber knows of the story of the Labrador 305, but for those
of you who may not know, this is the helicopter that crashed over the Gaspé
Peninsula on October 2, 1998, with the loss of the entire crew. Add to that
incident several emergency landings and flight restrictions in the weeks that
followed on the Labrador fleet; the embarrassing incidents in Newfoundland,
where Labrador helicopters, during water bird-type training, landed in Gander
Lake and had to be retrieved; the fact that on April 6, an American Coast Guard
helicopter had to complete a rescue off Nova Scotia's coast; that the Minister
of National Defence has a report in his office that is reported to say that the
Labrador fleet is presently at "high risk" to their crews and are
prone to "catastrophic failures"; and the cost of maintenance and the
hours required to service the existing fleet just to keep the helicopters in
I think all honourable senators now know what our search and rescue capability
is like today, thanks to poorly thought out election promises.
I turn now to our navy. Canada's navy has yet to see a new maritime helicopter
and, after the budget, it is unlikely to see them for at least the next three
years. It takes about three years, once ordered, to get the first helicopter,
and it would be at least three more years before the last of the new
helicopters would arrive.
Right now, the ageing Sea King has an availability rate of only 30 to 40 per
cent and its mission systems fail about 50 per cent of the time. With aircraft
like the Sea King, it is no wonder that the forces are 300 pilots short today.
As a matter of fact, two sets of news stories have appeared about the
effectiveness of the Sea King on its last NATO patrol, when it was
characterized by Canadian Forces personnel as an embarrassment.
Now it appears that this unreliable helicopter will be on its way to the
Adriatic at the head of the Standing NATO Naval Force Atlantic. As you may
know, honourable senators, maritime helicopters are very useful in patrolling
during blockades. Furthermore, let us hope and pray that our ships do not have
to rely on these helicopters against Serbian forces, lest there be a tragedy;
a tragedy for which Liberal promises would be responsible. The chickens have
come home to roost with regard to the cancellation of the EH-101, and we are at
Finally, I find it strange that there has been no one on the Liberal side
willing to speak to this important inquiry. Perhaps it is because they have
difficulty supporting government policy on this issue.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Milne calling the
attention of the Senate to the lack of access to the 1906 and all subsequent
censuses caused by an Act of Parliament adopted in 1906 under the Government
of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.-(Honourable Senator Johnson)
Hon. Thelma J. Chalifoux: Honourable senators, I want to thank
Senator Milne for calling our attention to the lack of access to the 1906 and
all subsequent censuses. I would like to explain to you the importance of this
issue to the Métis people of Canada.
In 1982, the federal government recognized, through the Constitution of Canada,
the Métis nation as a recognized aboriginal nation of Canada. We, as the
Métis people of Western Canada, have always known our lineage and our
history as it relates to the development of our country.
The First Nations and the Inuit have always been counted, from birth to death,
through the Department of Indian Affairs, but the Métis have not been
counted the same way. Now that the Métis have gained the status of a
recognized aboriginal nation, it is imperative that our genealogists have
access to these censuses. This documented proof is vitally important to the Métis
people of Ontario and Quebec so that they, too, can gain access to any
benefits for which aboriginal people can apply.
The Métis of Western Canada can access script documentation in the
Hudson Bay archives. The Métis people of Ontario and Quebec deserve the
opportunity to get the needed information that these censuses could provide. It
will give families the necessary information to assist them in their search for
their identity as true Canadian citizens. By researching your family history,
you learn where you fit in your family tree. In a time when the healing of
aboriginal peoples is receiving focus and support, it is imperative that they
know where they come from so that they can move forward in the sacred circle of
their lives. This is why I support Senator Milne's statements.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, this inquiry will
stand in the name of the Honourable Senator Johnson.
Motion to Establish Special
Committee to Examine Activities of Canadian Airborne Regiment in
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Berntson:
That a Special Committee of the Senate be appointed to examine and report on
the manner in which the chain of command of the Canadian Forces both in-theatre
and at National Defence Headquarters, responded to the operational,
disciplinary, decision-making and administrative problems encountered during
the Somalia deployment to the extent that these matters have not been examined
by the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia;
That the Committee in examining these issues may call witnesses from whom it
believes it may obtain evidence relevant to these matters including but not
1. former Ministers of National Defence;
2. the then Deputy Minister of National Defence;
3. the then Acting Chief of Staff of the Minister of National Defence;
4. the then special advisor to the Minister of National Defence (M. Campbell);
5. the then special advisor to the Minister of National Defence (J. Dixon);
6. the persons occupying the position of Judge Advocate General during the
7. the then Deputy Judge Advocate General (litigation); and
8. the then Chief of Defence Staff and Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.
That seven Senators, nominated by the Committee of Selection act as members of
the Special Committee, and that three members constitute a quorum;
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to
examine witnesses under oath, to report from time to time and to print such
papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee have power to authorize television and radio broadcasting,
as it deems appropriate, of any or all of its proceedings;
That the Committee have the power to engage the services of such counsel and
other professional, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary
for the purposes of its examination;
That the political parties represented on the Special Committee be granted
allocations for expert assistance with the work of the Committee;
That it be empowered to adjourn from place to place within and outside Canada;
That the Committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of
That the Committee submit its report not later than one year from the date of
it being constituted, provided that if the Senate is not sitting, the report
will be deemed submitted on the day such report is deposited with the Clerk of
the Senate; and
That the Special Committee include in its report, its findings and
recommendations regarding the structure, functioning and operational
effectiveness of National Defence Headquarters, the relationship between the
military and civilian components of NDHQ, and the relationship among the
Deputy Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Minister of
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Forrestall, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Beaudoin, that the motion be amended by adding in
paragraph 2 the following:
"9. the present Minister of National Defence.".-(Honourable
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I rise to speak in support of this motion of my colleague
Honourable senators, had the Létourneau commission of inquiry not been
shut down by the government, it would have completed its work and this motion
would not have been necessary. However, as honourable senators know, the
Somalia commission of inquiry was aborted by this government and, therefore and
thereby, numerous questions have gone without response.
Canadians have recognized that the issues in Somalia were very serious,
involving, as they did, torture by Canadians and extra-territorial killing by
The study by the Senate which this motion proposes would have the effect of
demonstrating that responsible government remains a hallmark of our system of
governance. The motion is simply asking that a committee of the Senate look
into and find answers that speak to the issue of responsibility, answers which
would have been forthcoming had the government not aborted the independent
judicial commission that was set up.
Honourable senators will know that the term "responsible government"
can be applied to our system of governance in three main respects. First, it
can be applied in the sense that our government act in a responsible manner;
that is, that it not abuse the wide legal powers it possesses as a result of
our Constitution and statutes, which concentrate considerable power in the
hands of the government of the day. Canadians want to be assured that they
have a government and agencies of government, including the military, that are
Second, "responsible government" can be taken to mean that the
government is responsible for public opinion and acts in accordance with what
it judges to be the wishes of the majority. Canadians have always clearly
expressed the desire to ensure that correct and proper actions are executed and
that there not be a covering up or an evasion of responsibility.
The third point is critically important. "Responsible government"
means that the government and its agencies are accountable to Parliament.
It is clear that the circumstances surrounding the shutting down of the Somalia
judicial commission of inquiry left numerous questions in the minds of
honourable senators and members of the House, if not the Canadian public
generally. These lingering questions and issues must be examined to lay to
rest concerns surrounding this case that I have described. I am not, however,
the only one to describe them. The United States of America State Department
issues an annual report on human rights for countries around the world, and,
the year before last, in its report on Canada, it underscored this human rights
question of extra-territorial killing by agents of Canada.
The Somalia commission sought to uncover how commanders of Canadian Forces
involved in peacekeeping operations in war-torn Somalia performed at the levels
of operational, disciplinary, decision-making and administrative control over
our service people. Furthermore, the commission was charged with determining
whether the military had been acting on its own and without supervision, or
whether the concept of civilian control of the military was still a principle
by which we govern ourselves.
The commission, however, was shut down prematurely by the government, just as
it was prepared to make its case against officers at the very highest levels of
the Canadian Forces. The commission had uncovered evidence of dangerously high
levels of mismanagement by senior officials. In the report, there were
explicit indications of cover-ups; questionable activities; document tampering,
renaming and destruction, and forgery of signatures. Indeed, the former chief
of Defence staff, General Boyle, under scrutiny, proved remarkably uninformed
about the conduct of his own troops. In his own words, when asked about his
knowledge of affairs taking place under his leadership by the commission chair,
Judge Létourneau, the then chief of the Defence staff stated, according
to The Ottawa Citizen
of August 24, 1996:
Sir, I've forgotten a lot of things in the last two years.
The former CDS's forgetfulness or blissful unawareness of events taking place
under his command is disconcerting. The commission inquiry chair stated,
according to The Ottawa Citizen of August 31, 1996:
...in a highly controlled, hierarchical environment such as the army's public
affairs branch, it makes no sense that senior officials such as Boyle would not
know what was going on. Junior officers simply would not act unilaterally
without high-up approval.
All of us in this chamber are aware of problems associated with the Somalia
commission investigations, for an examination of the pages of our Hansard
reveals considerable discussion in this place on that topic. Although not all
of us voice our concerns openly, we all have some degree of doubt as to whether
the commission was allowed to complete its work in a fair and unmolested
In effect, we have two choices, honourable senators. We can assign the issue of
examining Canadian Forces conduct in Somalia to the dustbin of history, content
to accept that senior military officers and officials have information and have
gone unquestioned, with the quality of performance clearly in doubt. The other
choice, of course, is that we can choose to submit this matter, as the motion
of Senator Lynch-Staunton proposes, to a careful analysis in order to uncover
the truth. Together, if we choose that option, perhaps we can write the final
chapter that the commission of inquiry itself was unable to write.
With that, honourable senators, I move the adjournment of the debate in the
name of my colleague Senator Meighen.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Meighen, debate adjourned.
Present State and Future of
Forestry-Budget Report of Committee on Study Adopted
Leave having been given to revert to Reports of Committees Item No. 10:
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the ninth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (supplementary budget-study on
forestry in Canada) presented in the Senate on April 28, 1999.-(Honourable
Hon. Nicholas William Taylor moved the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?
Royal Commission on Aboriginal
Peoples-Budget Report of Committee on Study Adopted
Leave having been given to revert to Reports of Committees, Order No. 9:
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (supplementary budget-study on
Aboriginal governance) presented in the Senate on April 28, 1999.-(Honourable
Hon. Charlie Watt moved the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?
Committee Authorized to Refer
Previous Documentation on Study of Boreal Forest to Subcommittee
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor, pursuant to notice of April 28,
That the papers and evidence received and taken on the subject of the harvest
of the boreal forest during the Second Session of the Thirty-fifth Parliament
be referred to the Subcommittee on the Boreal Forest of the Standing Senate
Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I will now leave the
Chair to await the arrival of His Excellency, the Deputy of the Governor
The Honourable Peter deC. Cory, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of
Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, having come and being
seated at the foot of the Throne, and the House of Commons having been
summoned, and being come with their Deputy Speaker, the Honourable the Deputy
Governor General was pleased to give the Royal Assent to the following bills:
An Act to establish the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and to amend and
repeal other acts as a consequence (Bill C-43, Chapter 17, 1999)
An Act respecting the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (Bill
The House of Commons withdrew.
The Honourable the Deputy Governor General was pleased to retire.
Mr. Václav Havel and Mrs. Havlovà were welcomed by the Right
Honourable Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada, by the Honourable
Gildas L. Molgat, Speaker of the Senate and by the Honourable Gilbert Parent,
Speaker of the House of Commons.
Hon. Gilbert Parent (Speaker of the House of Commons): Mr. President,
Madam Havlovà, Senators, distinguished guests and colleagues, I call
upon the Prime Minister to introduce our guests. The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Speakers of the House
of Commons and Senate, honourable members, ladies and gentlemen.
Once in a great while, members of the two Houses of the Canadian Parliament put
aside partisan differences, silence our debates and come together on our very,
very best behaviour.
For anyone who has ever watched our daily proceedings, such occasions are
nothing short of a miracle. And I must admit, they are right, especially today,
for we have in our presence a leader, a truly remarkable leader, whose
perseverance in the face of tyranny, whose dignity in the face of persecution,
helped to make possible the democratic transformation of his people, his
country and his continent ten years ago; a transformation which, by any
standard, was a miracle.
I speak of course of the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel.
The great Victor Hugo once wrote that not even the strongest army in the world
can defeat an idea whose time has come. But it is also true that, for any idea
to triumph in its time, there must first be a champion, a leader, a symbol.
Mr. President, in your long crusade for freedom and justice, you led a mighty
struggle against some of the strongest enemies known to human progress: fear
Armed only with the courage of your convictions and the rightness of your
cause, you triumphed.
Your childhood was spent, first, under foreign occupation, and then under the
consolidation of a brutal totalitarian regime. A regime that chose to block
your aspirations in life.
In most of us, wounds like these might have created bitterness and a sense of
personal futility. But in you, they fuelled the writing and acts of conscience
which captured the longing of your countrymen and the admiration of the entire
You revealed the hollowness of an imposed political system. And your words and
deeds helped secure its doom.
When the time came, after so many years of privation, you were the only real
choice to lead a country that was new again. To define its new politics, its
economic transformation and its new relationships within Europe and beyond.
Mr. President, I would like to quote from your first New Year's address to your
You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply:
I dream of a republic independent, free and democratic; of a republic
economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic
that serves the individual and that, therefore, holds the hope that the
individual will serve it in turn.
When you visited Canada for the first time in early 1990 that vision was still
to be made real. Today the Czech Republic is one of the leading democracies of
central and eastern Europe.
Your economic transformation, despite certain challenges today, will lead
toward membership in the European Union.
You are a partner of Canada in NATO, the OECD, and you are active in the WTO.
Our soldiers are keeping the peace in Bosnia and we make common cause in the
You have sent some of your finest sons and daughters to Canada over the past
century, who have become some of our most distinguished business leaders,
academics, writers and, of course, hockey players. I have to tell you, Mr.
President, that one of your fellow citizens, Dominik Hasek, is not very popular
in Ottawa these days, but it is very nice of you to come here to compensate
for that humiliation.
In return, over the past decade Canada has done its best to support your
country in re-establishing democracy and recreating a market economy. Together
we are also seeking to build new trade and investment links of mutual benefit.
Mr. President, your personal journey and that of the Czech Republic speak to
how far the cause of freedom and human rights have come in Europe, but the
crisis in Kosovo is a stark reminder of how much further there is to go. And if
I might be so bold, if that journey is to have lasting meaning in the Europe of
the new millennium, then its simple and powerful lessons must be applied
without hesitation in that complex and troubled land.
The people of Kosovo, and everywhere in Europe, must one day feel the same
security and attachment to their homelands that you described in your dream of
a humane republic; ideals that you have done so much to make a reality in the
Czech Republic of today.
I am fortified by the knowledge that someone of your unshakeable faith in the
forces of justice and right has taken up this cause without hesitation.
Together with our NATO allies we are doing the right thing in Kosovo. Together
we will prevail.
We live in an age of overstatement, Mr. President, where the meaning and value
of words are often made cheap by excess rhetoric, but for you there can be no
It is my great pleasure and honour to introduce to this honourable House a
beacon of freedom, a man whose achievements repudiate the idea that poets and
dreamers have no place among statesmen.
Ladies and gentlemen, a poet, a dreamer and a great statesman, Václav
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Václav Havel (President of the Czech Republic): Prime
Minister, Speaker of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Commons, members of
the Senate and the House of Commons, distinguished guests, I certainly do not
need to emphasize how honoured I am to address you. With your permission, I
shall use this opportunity for a few remarks concerning the state and its
probable position in the future.
There is every indication that the glory of the nation state, as a climax of
the history of every national community and the highest earthly value, in fact
the only one in whose name it is permissible to kill or which is worth dying
for, is already past its culminating point.
It seems that the enlightened endeavours of generations of democrats, the
horrible experience of two world wars, which contributed so substantially to
the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the
overall development of our civilization, are gradually bringing the human race
to the realization that a human being is more important than a state.
The idol of state sovereignty must inevitably dissolve in a world that connects
people, regardless of borders, through millions of links of integration ranging
from trade, finance and property, up to information; links that impart a
variety of universal notions and cultural patterns. Furthermore, it is a world
in which danger to some has an immediate bearing on all; in which, for many
reasons, especially because of the massive advancement of science and
technology, our fates are merged together into one single destiny; and in which
we all, whether we like it or not, suffer responsibility for everything that
It is obvious that in such a world, blind love for one's own state, a love that
does not recognize anything above itself, finds excuses for any action of the
own state simply because it is one's own state, and rejects anything else
simply because it is different, inevitably turns into a dangerous anachronism,
a hotbed of conflicts and, eventually, a source of immeasurable human
I believe that in the coming century most states will begin to transform from
cult-like objects, which are charged with emotional contents, into much simpler
and more civil administrative units, which will be less powerful and,
especially, more rational and will constitute merely one of the levels in a
complex and stratified planetary societal self-organization. This change, among
other things, should gradually antiquate the idea of non-intervention, that is,
the concept of saying that what happens in another state, or the measure of
respect for human rights there, is none of our business.
Who will take over the various functions that are now performed by the state?
Let us first speak about the emotional functions. These, I believe, will begin
to be distributed more equally amongst all the various spheres that make up
human identity, or in which human beings exercise their existence. By this I
mean the various layers of that which we perceive as our home or our natural
world; our family, our company, our village or town, our region, our
profession, our church or our association, as well as our continent and,
finally, our earth, the planet which we inhabit. All this constitutes the
various environments of our self-identification; and, if the bond to one's own
state, hypertrophied until now, is to be weakened it must necessarily be to the
benefit of all these other environments.
As for the practical responsibilities and the jurisdictions of the state, these
can go in only two directions: downward or upward.
Downwards applies to the various organs and structures of civil society to
which the state should gradually transfer many of the tasks it now performs
itself. Upwards applies to various regional, transnational or global
communities or organizations. This transfer of functions has already begun. In
some areas, it has progressed quite far; in others, less so. However, it is
obvious that the trend of development must, for many different reasons, go
along this path.
If modern democratic states are usually defined by such characteristics as
respect for human rights and liberties, equality of citizens, the rule of law
and civil society, then the manner of existence toward which humankind will
move from here, or toward which humankind should move in the interest of its
own preservation, will probably be characterized as an existence founded on a
universal or global respect for human rights, a universal equality of citizens,
a universal rule of law and a global civil society.
One of the greatest problems that accompanied the formation of nation-states
was their geographical delimitation, that is, the definition of their
boundaries. Innumerable factors, ethnic, historical and cultural
considerations, geological elements, power interests, as well as the overall
state of civilization, have played a role here.
The creation of larger regional or transnational communities will sometimes be
afflicted with the same problem; to some extent, this burden will possibly be
inherited from the very nation-states that enter into such entities. We should
do everything in our power to ensure that this self-definition process will
not be as painful as was the case when nation-states were formed.
Allow me to give you one example. Canada and the Czech Republic are now allies
as members of the same defence association, the North Atlantic Alliance. This
is a result of a process of historic importance; NATO's enlargement with states
of Central and Eastern Europe. The significance of this process stems from the
fact that this is the first truly serious and historically irreversible step to
break down the Iron Curtain and to abolish, in real terms and not just
verbally, that which was called the Yalta arrangement.
This enlargement, as we all know, was far from easy and has become a reality
only ten years after the bipolar division of the world came to an end. One of
the reasons why progress was so difficult was the opposition on the part of the
Russian Federation; they asked, uncomprehendingly and worriedly, why the West
was enlarging and moving closer to Russia without taking Russia itself in its
embrace. This attitude, if I disregard all other motives for the moment,
reveals one very interesting element: an uncertainty about where the beginning
is, and where the end is, of that which might be called the world of Russia, or
the East. When NATO offers Russia its hand in partnership, it does so on the
assumption that there are two large and equal entities: the Euro-Atlantic world
and a vast Euro-Asian power. These two entities can, and must, extend their
hands to each other and co-operate; this is in the interest of the whole world.
But they can do this only when they are conscious of their own identities; in
other words, when they know where each of them begins and ends. Russia has had
some difficulty with that in its entire history, and it is obviously carrying
this problem with it into the present world in which the question of
delimitation is no longer about nation-states but about regions or spheres of
culture and civilization.
Yes, Russia has a thousand things that link it with the Euro-Atlantic world or
the so-called West; but, it also has a thousand things which differ from the
West, just like Latin America, Africa, the Far East or other regions or
continents of today's world.
The fact that these worlds, or parts of the world, differ from one another does
not mean that some are more worthy than others. They are all equal. They are
only different in certain ways, but being different is not a disgrace. Russia,
on the one hand, deems it very important to be seen as an entity of moment, an
entity which deserves special treatment, that is, as a global power; but at the
same time it is uncomfortable with being perceived as an independent entity
that can hardly be part of another entity.
Russia is becoming accustomed to the enlargement of the Alliance; one day it
will become acclimated to it completely. Let us just hope that this will not be
merely an expression of Engels' ``recognized necessity'' but an expression of a
new, more profound self-understanding. Just as others must learn to redefine
themselves in the new multicultural and multipolar environment, Russia must
learn it also.
This means not only that it cannot forever substitute megalomania or simply
self-love for natural self-confidence but also that it must recognize where it
begins and where it ends. For example, the huge Siberia with its vast natural
resources is Russia but the tiny Estonia is not Russia and never will be. If
Estonia feels that it belongs to the world represented by the North Atlantic
Alliance or the European Union, this must be understood and respected and it
should not be seen as an expression of enmity.
With this example I would to illustrate the following. The world of the 21st
century, provided that humankind withstands all the dangers that it is
preparing for itself, will be a world of an ever closer cooperation on a
footing of equality among larger and mostly transnational bodies that will
sometimes cover whole continents.
In order that the world can be like this, individual entities, cultures or
spheres of civilization must clearly recognize their own identities, understand
what makes them different from others and accept the fact that such otherness
is not a handicap but a singular contribution to the global wealth of the human
race. Of course, the same must be recognized also by those who, on the
contrary, have the inclination to regard their otherness as a reason for
One of the most important organizations, in which all states as well as major
transnational entities meet as equals for debate and make many important
decisions which affect the whole world, is the United Nations. I believe that
if the United Nations is to successfully perform the tasks to be imposed on it
by the next century it must undergo a substantial reform.
The Security Council, the most important organ of the United Nations, can no
longer maintain conditions from the time when the organization first came into
being. Instead it must equitably mirror the multipolar world of today. We must
reflect on whether it is indispensable that one state, even if only
theoretically, could outvote the rest of the world. We must consider the
question of which great, strong and numerous nations do not have permanent
representation in that body. We must think out the pattern of rotation of the
non-permanent members and a number of other things.
We must make the entire vast structure of the United Nations less bureaucratic
and more effective.
We must deliberate on how to achieve real flexibility in the decision making of
UN bodies, particularly of its plenary.
Most important, I believe we should ensure that all the inhabitants of our
earth regard the United Nations as an organization that is truly theirs, not
just as a club of governments.
The crucial point is what the UN can accomplish for the people of this planet,
not what it does for individual states as states. Therefore, changes should
probably be made also in the procedures for the financing of the organization,
for the application of its documents and for the scrutiny of their
This is not a matter of abolishing the powers of states and establishing some
kind of a giant global state instead. The matter is that everything should not
always flow, forever, solely through the hands of states or their governments.
It is in the interest of humanity, of human rights and liberties as well as of
life in general, that there is more than one channel through which the
decisions of planetary leadership flow to the citizens and the citizens' will
reaches the planetary leaders. More channels mean more balance and a wider
I hope it is evident that I am not fighting here against the institution of the
state as such. It would, for that matter, be rather absurd if the head of a
state addressing the representative bodies of another state pleaded that states
should be abolished.
I am talking about something else. I am talking about the fact that there is a
value which ranks higher than the state. This value is humanity. The state, as
is well known, is here to serve the people, not the other way around. If a
person serves his or her state, such service should go only as far as is
necessary for the state to do a good service to all its citizens.
Human rights rank above the rights of states. Human liberties constitute a
higher value than state sovereignty. In terms of international law, the
provisions that protect the unique human being should take precedence over the
provisions that protect the state.
If, in the world of today, our fates are merged into one single destiny, and if
every one of us is responsible for the future of all, nobody, not even the
state, should be allowed to restrict the rights of the people to exercise this
responsibility. I think that the foreign policies of individual states should
gradually sever the category that has until now most often constituted their
axis, that is the category of ``interests'', ``our national interests'' or
``the foreign policy interests of our state''.
The category of ``interests'' tends to divide rather than to bring us together.
It is true that each of us has some specific interests. This is entirely
natural and there is no reason why we should abandon our legitimate concerns;
but there is something that ranks higher than our interests: it is the
principles that we espouse.
Principles unite us rather than divide us. Moreover, they are the yardstick for
measuring the legitimacy or illegitimacy of our interests. I do not think it is
valid when various state doctrines say that it is in the interest of the state
to uphold such and such a principle. Principles must be respected and upheld
for their own sake, so to speak, as a matter of principle, and interests should
be derived from them.
For example, it would not be right if I said that it is in the interest of the
Czech Republic that there is an equitable peace in the world. I have to say
something else. There must be an equitable peace in the world and the interests
of the Czech Republic must be subordinated to that.
The Alliance of which both Canada and the Czech Republic are now members is
waging a struggle against the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milosevic. It is
neither an easy struggle nor a popular one, and there can be different opinions
on its strategy and tactics; but no person of sound judgment can deny one
thing: This is probably the first war ever fought that is not being fought in
the name of interests but in the name of certain principles and values.
If it is possible to say about the war that it is ethical, or that it is fought
for ethical reasons, it is true of this war. Kosovo has no oil fields whose
output might perhaps attract somebody's interest. No member country of the
Alliance has any territorial claims there, and Milosevic is not threatening
either the territorial integrity or any other integrity of any NATO member.
Nevertheless, the Alliance is fighting. It is fighting in the name of human
interest for the fate of other human beings. It is fighting because decent
people cannot sit back and watch systematic, state directed massacres of other
people. Decent people simply cannot tolerate this and cannot fail to come to
the rescue if a rescue action is within their power.
This war gives human rights precedence over the rights of states. The Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia has been attacked without a direct UN mandate for the
Alliance's action. But the Alliance has not acted out of licence,
aggressiveness or disrespect for international law. On the contrary, it has
acted out of respect for the law, for the law that ranks higher than the
protection of the sovereignty of states. It has acted out of respect for the
rights of humanity, as they are articulated by our conscience as well as by
other instruments of international law.
I see this as an important precedent for the future. It has now been clearly
stated that it is not permissible to slaughter people, to evict them from their
homes, to maltreat them and to deprive them of their property. It has been
demonstrated that human rights are indivisible and that if injustice is done to
some, it is done to all.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am well aware that Canadian politics has long and
systematically advanced the principle of security of the human being, which you
deem equally important as that of security of the State, if not even more
important. Let me assure you that this Canadian ethic enjoys a profound respect
in my country. I would wish that we are not merely allies in a formal or
institutional sense as members of the same defence alliance, but also as
partners in promoting this worthy principle.
Dear friends, many times in the past I have pondered on the question of why
humanity has the prerogative to any rights at all. Inevitably, I have always
come to the conclusion that human rights, human liberties and human dignity
have their deepest roots outside of this earthly world. They become what they
are only because, under certain circumstances, they can mean to humanity a
value that people place, without being forced to, higher than even their own
lives. Thus, these notions have meaning only against the background of the
infinite and of eternity. It is my profound conviction that the true worth of
all our actions, whether or not they are in harmony with our conscience, the
ambassador of eternity in our soul, is finally tested somewhere beyond our
sight. If we did not sense this, or subconsciously surmise it, certain things
could never get done.
Let me conclude my remarks on the State and on the role it will probably play
in the future with the following statement: While the state is a human
creation, humanity is a creation of God. L'Etat est l'oeuvre de l'homme, et
l'homme est l'oeuvre de Dieu. Thank you.
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Hon. Gildas Molgat (Speaker of the Senate): Your Excellency, President
Havel, Mrs. Havlovà, Prime Minister and Mrs. Chrétien,
parliamentary colleagues, distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, and
Your Excellency, the applause that you have just heard is the best thanks that
we give to you for the vision for the future which you have given us this
morning, what I might call the Havel Highway for Humanity.
Your Excellency, we are delighted to welcome you here, both as a friend and as
a NATO Head of State.
Your address to our Parliament this morning, together with the new status of
the Czech Republic as an ally, symbolize the growing closeness of the relations
between the Czech Republic and Canada.
On a personal note, Your Excellency, I was pleased indeed that my Alma Mater,
the University of Manitoba, awarded you one of its rarely given Special
Honorary Degrees last night in Winnipeg. The university wanted to recognize
your intelligence, your courage, your devotion to principle and your literary
achievement. I only regret that I could not be there myself last evening.
Just eight months ago, the Parliament of Canada convened to hear President
Nelson Mandela of South Africa. I cannot help but be struck by some of the
parallels in your separate careers. Both of you overcame what seemed to be
insurmountable barriers, some life threatening, to promote your principles of
freedom and the advancement of the human spirit.
You faced discrimination. You faced a totalitarian social structure. You were
harassed and imprisoned for your beliefs and activities. You were denied the
opportunity to complete the formal education of your choice. But never, never
did you weaken.
Through your words and through your courageous leadership you became a key
voice for freedom in Eastern Europe and through the world. The free world
During the decade of the sixties, when the cold war was at its deepest, you
fought with a forceful weapon: words. In your writings, in your dramatic
presentations \The Garden Party\, \The Memorandum\ and \The Increased
Difficulty of Concentration\, you made statements of principle and morality
that struck a firm note for freedom.
It is an historic fact that your literary works helped to inspire the revival
of democratic and national sentiments that led to the Prague Spring of 1968.
And when Warsaw Pact intervention withered the Prague Spring, you played a
leading role in organizing peaceful opposition to the totalitarian regime of
Over the next decade, your continuing refusal to compromise your personal
beliefs and political principles gave you a unique moral authority. And when
passive Czechoslovak resistance turned revolutionary in November 1989, the
Prague Drama Club gave birth to the Civic Forum. This organization spoke out on
behalf of the growing number of groups and individuals demanding fundamental
changes to the political system.
Given your past as a playwright and dissident, it was natural that you should
play a leading role in the Civic Forum. Your strength of leadership seemed to
make it inevitable that, like Nelson Mandela, you should be chosen President of
your country and that in the summer of 1990 you should preside over the first
free elections in more than 40 years.
Your Excellency, over the past six years, as the first President of the Czech
Republic, you have assumed the role of international statesman and educator,
leading to greater focus on the future of Europe. Your training as a dramatist
has given you the philosophical and moral confidence to address the challenges
facing Europe in a most profound way.
For example, your speeches have dwelt on the need for the European Union to
stand for more than just a common currency and a common market; they have dwelt
on the need for Europe to reinvent itself spiritually and to rediscover its
basic classical civilization.
As a broad extension of that, you have often spoken of the common roots of
human spirituality, as you have this morning. You have spoken of the need to
find the universal moral imperatives that should focus on accepted rules of
human co-existence, so badly needed right now.
Your Excellency, your ability and willingness to address the profoundly moral
issues of a spiritual regeneration of western societies makes you unique among
politicians and statesmen. We thank you for your address.
When you leave Canada, you will take with you our affection, our respect and
our universal good wishes.
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Speaker Parent: Mr. President and Mrs. Havlovà, the Prime
Minister and Madam Chrétien, Senators, my colleagues of the House of
Commons, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. President, thank you for honouring the Chamber and us with your presence
and your eloquence.
As the Prime Minister said, it is a rare occasion for our two Houses to convene
here as we have today. It is, Mr. President, a mark of the strong ties between
the Czech Republic and Canada and of the deep friendship between our two
And if there is any person for whom we should, as the Prime Minister said, set
aside our daily skirmishes, it is you, Excellency. Because your life is a truly
inspiring story of courage in the face of oppression. It is one of stubborn
adherence to the highest political principles.
Our country, our dear Canada, is fortunate to have had a democracy since its
beginning. Yet sometimes we may take our democracy for granted.
On the other hand, Mr. President, you had to fight to secure political rights
for your people, and at great personal risk.
You acted on your belief, and you underlined it today, that every individual is
entitled to freedom and dignity. And we, the parliamentarians of Canada, know
how hard you worked in your country to rebuild the parliamentary institutions
that gave expression to those rights.
Your presence in this Chamber is a very strong symbol for us, one that tells us
we should always cherish, cultivate and renew the basic democratic ideas that
are embodied here in this place.
You have given us a broader perspective of the challenges we face as a country
that wants to play a positive role in a turbulent world. We agree, all of us
here, that some values are so fundamental that they are worth defending,
sometimes at great cost.
Ultimately, these values are not just Czech or Canadian, or even western, but
values that belong to the human race as a whole.
You have championed a vision of Europe that strikes a chord among Canadians.
You have called Europe ``a single political entity, though immensely diverse
and multi-faceted'', where diverse peoples can work in common cause. The same
can be said of Canada. We take pride in our diversity and have always sought
to thrive on our differences.
Mr. President, you have shown us how one individual can influence the course of
history in the face of great adversity.
The world is fortunate to have such an eloquent spokesman for its greatest
Some years ago, Mr. President, I and many, if not all, Canadians rejoiced in
the Prague Spring, and then we wept with you because it did not continue.
Now, in the last few years when you, sir, have been president of your great
country, there is a renewal of the Prague Spring.
You spoke about not only individual rights, but you spoke, sir, about humanity.
I said once in this House to a gathering like this that if you would know about
the strength of a nation, you should look to her laws and to her soldiers. But
if you would know about the soul of a nation, you should turn to her poets, to
her writers and to her artists.
Today, sir, you have become for us and all those who have heard you, the poet,
the writer and the spokesman who tells us about the soul of humanity. Thank you
for being with us on this day.