Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 36th Parliament,
Volume 138, Issue 7
Tuesday, November 16, 1999
The Honourable Gildas L. Molgat, Speaker
Table of Contents
Tuesday, November 16, 1999
The Senate met at 2:00 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968
Thirtieth Anniversary of Proclamation
Hon. Lucie Pépin
: Honourable senators, whether Canadians
realize it or not, the passage, on May 14, 1969, of Bill C-150, the
Criminal Law Amendment Act, to legalize contraception and
therapeutic abortion, changed our lives irrevocably.
As a young nurse specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, I
volunteered my services to women who were preparing for a
home birth. Before medicare, almost all the women living in the
regions gave birth at home. Five children was considered to be a
Complications during childbirth were not rare, and only the
most serious cases ended up being transported on the back seat of
the doctor's car to the nearest hospital, and often it was too late
to save the baby or perform a caesarean.
Who should be saved, the baby or the mother? The teaching of
the Church at the time was clear: Save the child. Furthermore,
the Church had clear views on a number of matters: A woman
committed a sin if she refused to have sexual relations with her
husband, or if she employed another means of contraception. The
government was equally adamant that contraception was illegal,
as was abortion. Faced with the government and the Church,
women had no choice.
For many of us who worked in OB/GYN, the status quo had
become untenable and we decided to work for change so that
contraception would be available to women.
Bill C-150, or the "Omnibus Bill," as it is known, passed in
1969. This legislation has done many things for many people. In
deference to former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, it
began the process of removing the state from the bedrooms of the
nation. Sexual preference, reproductive choices and activities
were relegated to the private domain, provided they involved
consenting adults. For women, doors were opened in a radical
way. There were choices. Finally women gained a modicum of
control over their lives, no longer relegated to a life of endless
pregnancy, health risks and children they did not have the
resources to take care of. This new freedom proved to be a
stepping stone for many other freedoms and options that have
altered women's place in our society — self-esteem, education,
jobs, a voice and empowerment.
Honourable senators, I am very proud to have been part of this
process and to have seen real change take place as a result of our
efforts — efforts which seemed so natural and necessary at the
time. It stands out among the most important endeavours of my
This is a wonderful anniversary to celebrate for several
reasons, the first of which is for the freedom that it brought in the
lives of women and men, and for what it helped women
accomplish in Canada. More than that, this anniversary proves
once again that change is possible, that people can make a
difference in the lives of others, and that commitment and
passion can produce wonderful results. Let us celebrate and let us
salute all of those committed citizens who worked to ensure the
freedoms inherent in Bill C-150.
Reverend Father Émile Shoufani
Hon. Pierre De Bané
: Honourable senators, I have the honour
to speak to you of the recent visit to Canada, from October 10
to 25, of the Reverend Father Émile Shoufani, Director of
St. Joseph's Seminary and High School in Nazareth, and parish
priest of Nazareth, Israel.
Father Shoufani, familiarly called Abouna Émile by everyone,
Arabic for Father Émile, is a man and a priest with a deep
commitment to his Church, the Greek Melkite Catholic Church,
his Arab community, and his country of Israel. Father Shoufani
was in Canada at the invitation of the Centre d'action bénévole
Émilie-Gamelin de Joliette, organizers of a heavily attended and
highly successful international forum on the "Stages of Life" and
I would also like to thank the members of the clergy who
spared no effort to make this visit a great success. These include
His Excellency Monsignor Sleiman Hajjar, Bishop of the Greek
Melkite Catholic Church of Canada, the clergy of Saint-Sauveur
Parish in Montreal, and Monsignor Habib Kwaiter, parish priest
of Sts. Peter and Paul here in Ottawa and his assistant, Reverend
Father François Beyrouti.
During his visit to Canada, Father Shoufani had in-depth
meetings with a large number of public figures, too numerous to
mention in their entirety. Among these were the Prime Minister
of Canada, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien; the Speaker of
the Senate, the Honourable Gildas L. Molgat; the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy; senior
officials of the Privy Council, the Prime Minister's Office, and
diplomats responsible for the Middle East in the Department of
As well, Father Shoufani gave a number of lectures on the
situation in the Middle East, one in particular right here in
Parliament to the Middle East Discussion Group and another to
the Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal. His topic
was the new dynamic between Israelis and Palestinians on the
eve of a new era. He also gave a large number of press, radio and
television interviews. In addition, he gave addresses on
specifically religious topics, in particular "the shared future of
Christians, Muslims and Jews" at St. Paul University in Ottawa
and before the community of Madonna House at Combermere,
Ontario, where he met the former archbishop of Galilee,
Monsignor Joseph Raya, an exceptional man whom I admire
greatly. Father Shoufani also met the Archbishop of St. Boniface,
Monsignor Antoine Hacault, and the Bishop of Joliette,
Monsignor Gilles Lussier.
Surely one of the most moving moments was the meeting
between Father Shoufani and the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott
Trudeau, former prime minister of Canada and a dominant figure
on the Canadian political scene for so many years. The meeting
took place on the occasion of Mr. Trudeau's eightieth birthday.
Father Shoufani worked tirelessly to bring together and unite
all people in his country, Israel. In our country, he met with many
Canadians of Arab origin, especially in Montreal and Ottawa. He
also met with a number of leaders of the Canadian Jewish
community, along with the Quebec Jewish Congress, and he
visited the French-language Sephardic school in Montreal, the
What I find most admirable about Father Shoufani is that his
deep respect for life cannot be separated from his conviction that
we should strive to make life better for all men and that no one
has the right to inflict suffering upon others. His positive
approach to solving problems is striking. He is always ready to
take the first step to meet others. He always tries to understand
and to have empathy with other people's dreams, as well as their
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator De Bané, your three minutes
have expired. Are you seeking leave to continue?
Senator De Bané: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator De Bané: Honourable senators, Émile Shoufani was
born in Nazareth in 1947. As an Arab Christian in the State of
Israel, Émile Shoufani spent 52 years as a witness, through his
life and work, to the possibility of reconciling centuries of
opposition and violence. His life is a testament to the peaceful
coexistence of Jews, Arabs, Muslims and Christians in a region
that desperately needs a model of peace and reconciliation.
Émile Shoufani learned, through personal tragedy, the true
meaning of forgiveness and respect for others. He serves as a
model for others to do the same. Both his grandfather and uncle
were killed in the war of 1948, during the deportation of villagers
in Eilabun. His grandmother, who suffered through the death of
her husband and her son, taught her grandson to forgive.
The eldest of Hanna and Marie Shoufani's children, Émile
grew up in Nazareth where his parents were poor but
hard-working. He grew up as a part of the Arab minority that
remained in the new State of Israel. From the hardship he
endured during that period of his life, he learned that humility is
a virtue, but not poverty.
A rebel in his teens at St. Joseph's Seminary, he was
captivated by a deep awareness of the value of life and a restless
urge to make a difference. He decided to become a priest.
While in Paris from 1964 to 1971, following his studies in
philosophy and theology, Émile Shoufani read Treblinka, by
Jean-François Steiner. The work led him to learn more about the
Shoah and to visit Dachau. He returned home having experienced
a spiritual transformation and a completely new perspective.
Ordained a priest in the Greek Melkite Catholic Church in
1971, he declared during his first sermon:
I feel within me a life in Christ that cannot be vanquished
and I want to share this life with all... I want to be
Very early in his ministry, as a pastor in different villages of
Galilee, Abouna Émile became known as a mediator, not only for
the settlement of disputes between religious communities of
Christians, Moslems and Druze, but as a strong advocate for a
true coexistence, not just in the sense of living side by side, but
by truly sharing a common life.
When the bishop entrusted him with the direction of
St. Joseph's Seminary and High School in 1976, Abouna Émile
had already earned the trust of everyone in the area. The fact that
many parents of many religious communities entrust their
children to him is the evidence of the magnitude of the
confidence and respect that he engenders in their
In 1976, St. Joseph's Seminary had 200 pupils and was on the
verge of closing. Father Émile embraced the challenge of
keeping the school open with a will strengthened by his faith. He
worked on achieving two goals. The first was to rebuild
St. Joseph's into a first-class school that strives for excellence.
The second was to instill in new generations of students an
awareness and knowledge of their separate histories and
identities, but also with a full commitment to their integration in
the State of Israel.
His first battle was to attract a vibrant body of qualified staff
who would share his vision that the school should be concerned
not only with instructions but also with developing the whole
person — "the pupil, as a person, comes first."
The second revolutionary achievement was turning the school
into an institution that mixed people of different religions, sexes
and cultures. He said:
St. Joseph's is not a Christian school that accepts Moslems
and Druze, but a school where Christians, Moslems and
Druze live together.
Together with the school community, Émile Shoufani was
constantly striving for high academic standards. According to
We have to produce the 20,000 to 30,000 Arab academics
who are lacking in this country.
Now, 10 years later, the school can compete with the top
schools in Israel. About 95 per cent of the students graduate. Of
these, 90 per cent are accepted into Israeli universities. Today,
the school has 1,200 pupils and graduates 120 to 130 women and
The revolutionary dynamism that motivated Émile Shoufani
24 years ago has not abated. He continues to concern himself
with school appointments to the staff and to the board of
In 1989, having established the school's academic strengths
and reputation, Father Émile decided to pursue his second goal, a
pioneer project of dialogue with "Lyada", a leading Jewish
school attached to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in order
"to give our youth the tools for full integration in the State of
Israel while retaining their identity."
A three-year exchange program between Arab and Jewish
youth was introduced through which the pupils now learn "to
meet the other, erase prejudice, learn to discuss their rights
democratically, and work together for peace." Although this
exercise is always a painful and a liberating one, today both
schools find this program indispensable. Today, the mission for
St. Joseph's Seminary is "Education For Peace."
Father Shoufani has declared often:
I feel I belong to this land, with its long and varied
history, as an Arab, a Christian, and an Israeli. These
differences create no problems for me. My faith gives me a
universal vision that allows me to transcend the bounds of
the particular to be a better listener to my brothers.
In closing, I should like to add that Father Shoufani was
accompanied during his visit to our country by Mrs. Soad
Haddad, whom I have had the honour of knowing for over
10 years. What is remarkable about Mrs. Soad Haddad is that
from her earliest memories she always felt that she belonged
more to the larger human community than to an individual
family. Existence for her has always been connected with being
on a mission. This is what led her to free herself completely in
order to devote herself to the work in which she is involved. She
has been walking side by side with Father Émile for over
20 years in service of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church and the
Arab community of the State of Israel.
After everything is said and done, honourable senators, there
are essentially two options before each of us. One is to maximize
the differences between human beings, which is easy to do. We
can see how many tragic conflicts that principle has caused. The
other option is the opposite — namely, to emphasize what is
common among people of different socio-economic groups,
religions and backgrounds. The second option is a lot more
difficult. However, it is undoubtedly the more generous, the more
modern, and the one for which all well-intentioned people should
strive. This option of bringing people together is the principle
that Father Shoufani learned from his parents and the one that
has guided him throughout his life.
It is not often that one meets a man of vision and courage like
It was a great honour for me, who was born in his country, to
accompany him and his capable assistant, Mrs. Soad Haddad, on
their visit to Canada.
Panel on Access to Historical Census
Hon. Lorna Milne
: Honourable senators, I am very happy to
rise today to emphasize to this chamber a recent announcement
by the Honourable John Manley, Minister of Industry and
Minister responsible for Statistics Canada.
Last Friday, Minister Manley announced the creation of an
expert panel on access to historical census records. The panel
will report to the minister by May 31, 2000, with
recommendations on an approach that will balance the need to
protect personal privacy with the demands of genealogists,
historians and archivists for access to historical census records.
As all honourable senators are aware, I have been lobbying
Parliament on this issue for over a year now. I am delighted to
see the minister taking a proactive approach to this issue
and appointing a panel of five well-respected individuals,
one of whom is a former colleague of ours, the Honourable
Dr. Lorna Marsden.
I hope that this panel will be able to drum up a few fresh ideas
on how to reach an acceptable compromise between the interests
of protecting personal privacy and researching our Canadian
Minister Manley has listened to my lobbying efforts, has taken
note of the correspondence of Canadian genealogists, historians
and archivists, and has now taken the first step in responding to
our concerns through the creation of this panel. This is the
beginning of results for all the effort that genealogical and
historical groups have put into bringing awareness and public
voice to this issue.
I look forward to reading the panel's report early next year.
Thirtieth Anniversary of Proclamation
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier
: Honourable senators, I should
like to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Official Languages
Act, which was proclaimed on July 1, 1969.
This act, supported by the vast majority of Canadians, has
advanced the cause of language of service and equitable
representation within the public service. There remains, we must
admit, however, a long way to go in the area of language of
I must recognize, in explaining the success of the act, the
considerable support of the Commissioner of Official Languages,
the various commissioners and the Standing Joint Committee on
Official Languages of the Senate and the House of Commons.
I would ask all Canadians to continue to respect Canada's
unique linguistic duality. The Official Languages Act gives
English and French equal status, rights and privileges as the
languages of Parliament and of the Government of Canada.
The provinces are encouraged to be generous toward the
language minority. Some do so willingly; others must be
I am well aware of the new efforts that must go into
conserving language equality across the country, in both the spirit
and the letter of the law, and especially respect for the laws that
Pages Exchange Program with House of
The Hon. the Speaker
: Honourable senators, before I call the
next item on the Order Paper, I should like to introduce to you
the pages who are with us on the exchange program from the
House of Commons.
Rachelle Bédard is studying political science in the Faculty of
Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. She comes from
Marie-Claire Raymond is from Penetanguishene, Ontario.
Marie-Claire is studying in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the
University of Ottawa, specializing in political science and in
On behalf of all the senators, I welcome you to the Senate and
hope that your week with us will be a pleasant and interesting
The Estimates, 1999-2000
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
the Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending
March 31, 2000.
Francophone and Acadian Communities
Report Tabled on Deterioration of Services
Hon. Jean-Maurice Simard
: Honourable senators, I should
like to table the report on the structure prevailing at the present
time with respect to the development and cultural development
of the francophone and Acadian communities, the progressive
deterioration of and dwindling access to services in French, and
government withdrawal over the past 10 years.
The title of my report is "De la coupe aux lèvres: un coup de
coeur se fait attendre, Bridging the Gap: From Oblivion to the
Rule of The Law," and it is tabled in both official languages.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I cannot accept
the tabling of a document by a senator unless there is unanimous
consent from the Senate. Do I have it?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and
notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h
), I move:
That, when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand
adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17, 1999,
at 1:30 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Estimates, 1999-2000
Notice of Motion to Authorize National Finance
Committee to Study Supplementary Estimates (A)
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
Honourable senators, I give notice that tomorrow, Wednesday,
November 17, 1999, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance
be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures
set out in the Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal
year ending March 31, 2000, with the exception of
Parliament Vote 10a and Privy Council Vote 25a.
Notice of Motion to Refer Privy Council Vote 25a to
the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and
notwithstanding rule 58(1)(f
), I move:
That the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages
be authorized to examine the expenditures set out in Privy
Council Vote 25a of the Supplementary Estimates (A) for
the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to
acquaint that house accordingly.
Notice of Motion to Refer Vote 10a to the Standing Joint
Committee on the Library of Parliament
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
Honourable senators, I give notice that tomorrow, Wednesday,
November 17, 1999, I will move:
That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of
Parliament be authorized to examine the expenditures set
out in Parliament Vote 10a of the Supplementary Estimates
(A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to
acquaint that house accordingly.
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Extend
Date of Final Report on Study of Changing Mandate of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Hon. John B. Stewart
: Honourable senators, I give notice that
tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17, 1999, I will move:
That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on
Thursday, October 14, 1999, the Standing Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was authorized to
examine and report upon the ramifications to Canada: 1. of
the changed mandate of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and Canada's role in NATO since the
demise of the Warsaw Pact, the end of the Cold War and the
recent addition to membership in NATO of Hungary, Poland
and the Czech Republic; and 2. of peacekeeping, with
particular reference to Canada's ability to participate in it
under the auspices of any international body of which
Canada is a member, be empowered to present its final
report no later than December 15, 1999; and
That the Committee retain all powers necessary to
publicize the findings of the Committee contained in the
final report until December 24, 1999; and
That the Committee be permitted, notwithstanding usual
practices, to deposit its report with the Clerk of the Senate,
if the Senate is not then sitting; and that the report be
deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service—Loss of
Classified Documents—Review by Security Intelligence
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. There have been media reports across
Canada of an unfortunate event involving a CSIS officer who left
a secure document on the back seat of her car while attending a
hockey game in Toronto. Could the minister advise the house as
to the level of security attached to said document?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for that
question. Obviously it has come to the public's attention through
media reports, and subsequently confirmed by the minister in the
House of Commons, that a rather serious breach of normal
security protocol occurred with one of the employees of CSIS.
That matter is presently being reviewed by the CSIS
As to the level of security of the particular document in
question, I will need to determine if I can obtain that information
for the honourable senator.
Senator Kinsella: I thank the honourable minister for that
undertaking. I think it is germane as to whether the document
was top secret, secret or confidential.
Parliament established the Security Intelligence Review
Committee. The statutory mandate given by Parliament to that
civilian review committee is to provide oversight of the activities
of CSIS. Is it true that the head of SIRC only learned about this
breach through the newspaper, whereas the Solicitor General had
knowledge of this matter for quite a period of time — in fact,
prior to it appearing in the newspapers?
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators will appreciate that I
would not normally be aware of how the Inspector General for
CSIS became aware of this matter or, indeed, SIRC. However,
the minister has indicated in the other place that he received
notice of it two or three weeks ago. I think it was somewhat clear
that SIRC became aware of it some time later than that.
In fact, I can indicate to honourable senators that both CSIS
and the Inspector General for CSIS are investigating this matter
as we speak. In addition, SIRC, on its own initiative, is now
doing a review as well. I look forward to that report, along with
honourable senators, and would be happy to make its details
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Could the minister tell us whether
there is a rule on the handling of documents in the secret service?
Can an individual or an agent simply carry documents around? Is
there a procedure that seemingly was not followed in this
The minister has told us the federal government will try to
look into this to discover what exactly happened. Could the
minister be more specific on the nature of the upcoming
investigation into this unfortunate incident?
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, there obviously was
a breach of security involved in this incident. The individual in
question will be part of both the CSIS and the SIRC reviews. As
the honourable senator will know, SIRC is an independent
external review committee that has taken on this task. I am sure
that both institutions will carry out their responsibilities with due
diligence and speed and produce a more detailed review of the
Senator Rivest: Honourable senators, obviously there are
problems internally. Canada and CSIS work with many countries
around the world. Are the minister and the government aware
that this incident could seriously damage the credibility of the
Canadian secret service?
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, fortunately this
particular event seems to be an isolated incident. While it is
regrettable and while one would not deny the seriousness of these
events, I would hope that they would not impact in a significant
way our relationship with other countries, particularly our allies.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, perhaps the minister
can shed some light on why it took two whole weeks for the
Solicitor General to advise the committee, which will now,
according to the minister in this house, review this matter. Why a
period of two whole weeks? Is there not a sense of responsibility
in the minds of members of this government when they
apprehend a matter like this? Parliament established a committee
to review matters such as this, and yet the Solicitor General's
department wastes two whole weeks.
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I cannot comment
directly on the question of timing since I am unaware of exactly
when that information was transferred. However, it is my
understanding that the Inspector General of CSIS has taken the
matter immediately in hand and is addressing it, as is his
SIRC exercises a review role over activities such as the
Inspector General would be conducting on these matters. I am
unaware as to when, precisely, SIRC would come into the
Hon. Roch Bolduc: Honourable senators, a few years ago
there were problems as a result of a leak that concerned the
Minister of Finance's budget. In the end, everyone knew, and the
minister had to quickly deliver the budget speech.
Is there a government procedure ensuring the confidentiality of
documents? If such a procedure exists, are there varying degrees
of quality? For example, we are all aware that the Minister of
Finance's budget and matters of national security are very secret.
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I am sure various
levels of security classification exist for documents which are
handled by CSIS. While I am not specifically aware of the details
of each level of security, I will do my best to get that information
and share it with the honourable senator.
Senator Bolduc: Honourable senators, I want to come back to
this issue because we were recently told, with respect to
transactions with the Americans concerning defence matters, that
we were less than reliable. The Americans no longer wanted to
deal with us and give us certain defence equipment permits
because we are apparently not very reliable. It is upsetting to be
told this by our neighbours, all the more so as our relations with
them are generally good. Could the minister bring this extremely
important issue to the attention of the Minister of National
Defence? Something has to be done, because you can imagine
that an affair such as this does not help relations between our two
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I am certainly
willing to pass along the concerns of senators as to the nature of
this incident. I will indicate the seriousness with which
honourable senators view this very unfortunate series of events.
However, I do not know that I would share the view of the
honourable senator as expressed in the preamble to his question.
The ITAR situation falls under a different category of issues.
It is certainly a matter of concern when any confidential piece
of information or document is mishandled as, evidently, this
document was mishandled. The investigation is underway not
only internally at CSIS but also by SIRC. I am confident that the
appropriate remedial measures will be taken and that the
individual involved will be dealt with appropriately.
Possibility of Further Assistance to Protect People
Hon. Herbert O. Sparrow
: Honourable senators, I have a
question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. There
is concern across the country about the violence being
perpetrated by youth upon other youth. Another area of concern
is highlighted by a recent Vancouver newspaper article stating
that in B.C. another home invasion has claimed the life of an
It seems there is little or no protection for senior citizens in
their homes and residences. This is particularly true in the rural
areas where the residences are out of the range of police
surveillance. It seems nothing is allowable for self-protection
against these crimes. I do not wish to get into the gun control
issue but, at one time, the farm community was protected by the
shotgun. People were afraid to attack the residents of those
homes because they may themselves be injured. Under the
Criminal Code, pepper spray cannot be used by anyone for
self-protection. There is no other means of self-protection for
citizens in the rural communities and, now, in the urban areas
who are subjected to such intrusions, according to the reports of
break-ins and rapes and murders, and it is instilling great fear in
If the minister has no knowledge of this issue at the moment,
perhaps he could discuss it with his colleagues, in particular, the
Minister of Justice. Is anything coming down the pipe that may
be of assistance in providing self-protection for these individuals
of whom great advantage is being taken?
Many people cannot afford a gated property with fences and
security guards. These people are being left out and are subject to
the violence perpetrated by criminals in our society.
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, the type of situation referred to by
Honourable Senator Sparrow is abhorrent to all of us. Under the
Criminal Code the potential exists for harsh treatment of such
criminal activity by the courts. However, I understand the
concern expressed by the honourable senator.
Perhaps the problem stems in part from the way family trends
have developed over recent decades. At one time a rural or
farming family could count on becoming an extended family so
that senior citizens were less often left on their own, living in an
independent fashion away from other family members. I am
speculating but I suspect if we compared the situation today with
30 years ago, we would find that many more senior citizens are
living on their own, rather than as part of extended families. The
protection the honourable senator requests is, perhaps, more
needed these days for that reason alone.
I have seen statistics indicating that the number of violent
crimes in the general population seems to be declining. One must
always view such information with some level of criticism
However, for victims of an attack in their own homes, senior
citizens especially, this is a serious matter. I will certainly
forward the concern and the question of the honourable senator
to my cabinet colleague.
Farm Crisis in Manitoba and Saskatchewan—Possibility of
Program for Farm Credit
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson
: Honourable senators, I have a
question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the
farm crisis, which is seemingly getting more severe every day.
On November 2, 1999, I asked the minister whether this
government would be willing to make some adjustment for farm
credit which would provide relief to some farmers who are not
able to meet their payments. The response by the Leader of the
Government in the Senate was positive, namely, that these
subjects were being discussed but that he would not give away
any cabinet confidentiality.
Is there any indication yet of what the government will do in
the area of farm credit? This is one area where the government
could set a positive example for the banks and credit unions.
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I regret that I cannot give a definitive
answer on this topic at present. Since we last spoke on this issue,
the federal government has added another $170 million to the
AIDA program to allow for more significant help to farmers.
At that time, we were unsure of the response from the
provincial governments. We did not know whether they would
agree to participate in the program on a 60/40 basis, as they did
for the original program. I am advised that, unless there has been
a recent change of heart, that has not taken place. The
Governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba both indicated
publicly that they would not participate by adding more funds.
Perhaps the honourable senator will know whether there has been
any change in that stance.
I find that response difficult to understand. Both premiers
came here to emphasize the crisis situation and the need for
immediate assistance. As a matter of fact, in the last five years or
so there have been dramatic cutbacks in the assistance the two
provincial governments have given to farmers in their provinces.
When they demanded very dramatically that the federal
government do something, the government put $170 million into
the program. Perhaps it was not everything the farmers wanted,
but it was definitely a positive measure. However, the responses
of the Governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan appear to
have been wanting.
Senator Gustafson: Honourable senators, the honourable
minister is not answering my question about farm credit, which is
a federal responsibility. There is no sharing with the provincial
governments. Those monies are advanced by the federal
However, with regard to the AIDA program, in the area in
which I live, the people who are getting AIDA money are
financially well off. They may have oil wells on their land or
very good income from other sources, and they did not have to
diversify. The farmers who need the money are not receiving it. I
should like there to be an inquiry undertaken to find out who is
getting the money. The poor families that need the money are not
getting it. That is what I have been told by farmers right across
Returning to the issue of the Farm Credit Corporation, will the
government provide some relief to farm credit debt? The Farm
Credit Corporation is not shared with the provinces; it is strictly
a federal responsibility.
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I am not trying to
dodge the question of the honourable senator. I simply cannot
answer it today. Obviously, that issue lies with the minister. As
soon as I am in a position to give a definitive answer, I will be
more than happy to do so.
Honourable senators, both provincial governments involved
have expressed, in a very dramatic way, in Ottawa and
elsewhere, great concern for the farmers. It is not an excuse for
them to say that the program is not working perfectly. We know
that. Senators on both sides of the chamber made that clear in the
emergency debate that the Honourable Senator Gustafson
brought to the floor of the Senate. However, the program was
designed by the federal government in cooperation with the two
governments which now, having made their dramatic gestures,
have backed away from a real commitment. If they did not like
the program, they could have suggested that it be revamped. The
Minister of Agriculture is trying to ensure that the program will
work more effectively. However, the fact that the program is not
working perfectly is no excuse for the actions of both of those
Agricultural Income Disaster Assistance-Efficacy of
Hon. Herbert O. Sparrow
: Honourable senators, the
Saskatchewan government has put $200 million into the
program, but it is not being spent because the federal government
is not spending its portion of the money. There is money waiting
to be spent, but the federal government is not organized in order
that the money can be distributed.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate spoke of an
extra $170 million. That is for all of Canada, not for the area
where the problem we are talking about exists. The department
itself stated that it will top up the grants that have already been
issued. Therefore, it is not looking after the majority of farmers
who have received nothing, some of whose applications are still
on the desk after six months.
The Governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba put into the
program the money that they were requested to contribute. The
leader has stated that the governments agreed to that. We are
continually told that the governments and the farm organizations
agreed to that. However, that is not the truth. That which was
proposed was agreed to, but when the program came out it was
different and the provinces said, "No, that is not the program we
bought into." The Canadian Federation of Agriculture and all the
farmers said, "No, that is not the program we bought into." Yes,
they will fight it because the money is not getting to those people
who are in need.
Surely, Mr. Minister, you can go back and say, "We have
discussed this in the Senate chamber, and with a large delegation
that came to speak to us; and it is not working." The Senate
Agriculture Committee and the House of Commons Agriculture
Committee know that this is the case, but we keep saying that it
is not our fault.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate ask the
Minister of Agriculture to damn well tell us if the government
does not intend to do anything, so that we can go down with
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, as was said by colleagues on both sides
during the emergency debate, the program is not working
effectively and must be repaired. There was general agreement
on that and that message has been communicated clearly. I would
not suggest for a moment that that is not the case.
Honourable senators, I am saying that there was an
opportunity for the provinces to contribute in a significant way. It
may be the view of everyone in this chamber that $170 million
was not enough, but it is a concrete contribution and, in my view,
it should have been matched by the two provinces.
Efficacy of Aid Programs—Survival of Young Farmers
Hon. Terry Stratton
: Honourable senators, my question is
addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. What
the farmers are facing is death by a thousand cuts. The older,
wealthy farmers can afford to ride this situation out because they
have been around for a long time. Those being hurt are the young
people who want to maintain the family business. We are slowly
but surely strangling them. It is death by a thousand cuts, year
after year. They slowly sink into bankruptcy.
Rather than having the integrity to be honest and say that there
will be no more assistance, that if they cannot survive on their
own they will be gone, the government hands out money in dribs
and drabs to keep a false hope alive. That is unconscionable.
Does the minister think that is a fair way to treat the young
farmers of Canada?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, we should assist young farmers who find
themselves in that critical situation in any way that we can. The
issue of the Farm Credit Corporation may well be an area that we
wish to pursue with the minister.
This is a major problem which, as honourable senators know,
has to do with commodity prices in the world market and the fact
that our farmers are not operating on a level playing field with
others. This is a huge issue with international implications and
the solution is to be found at many levels.
I am assured by my colleagues that efforts are being made and
discussions are taking place, not only with the Minister of
Agriculture and his department, but also on the international
scene, to address the larger issue, namely, the lack of a level
Farm Crisis in Manitoba and Saskatchewan—Agricultural Income Disaster Assistance—Payouts to
Hon. Mira Spivak
: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Though we have
seen some valued efforts on the part of the honourable minister
to look at the situation , there is still no indication of the urgency
of the situation and the crisis. It is all very well to talk about the
little steps that have been taken with the money or to refer to the
international situation; however, we have here an urgent
situation. Urgent situations require more radical solutions, such
as, perhaps, scrapping the AIDA program and doing something
completely different to really assist those in need.
About a week ago, I was told by people in the farming
community in Manitoba that about 59 per cent of farmers'
applications had been rejected. Does the minister have any
indication, given the apparent restructuring of AIDA, that the
situation is improving? How soon will it improve? As time goes
by, the situation is becoming worse and worse.
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I can assure the honourable senator that
both the larger issue as well as the specific issue that she raises
on rejection percentages are being monitored on a day-to-day
basis. Whether or not there is significant new data available since
the initiatives were taken, I am not certain; however, I will
certainly inquire and relay the inquiry of the honourable senator.
Senator Spivak: What is the probation period for this new
restructuring before the government concludes that the game is
not worth the candle?
Senator Boudreau: As with any program, honourable
senators, the minister responsible will monitor it. In this
particular situation, I am sure he will monitor it on a day-to-day
basis. I hope that the results will make themselves known rather
I cannot say when he might exercise his judgment that further
changes are necessary or that the program is now operating at a
much higher level. It would be difficult for me to say when he
will make that judgment. However, I am sure he will be
monitoring it on a day-to-day basis.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time for
Question Period has expired. However, I saw Senator Gustafson
indicating that he would like to ask a question.
Is that a supplementary question to a previous question?
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Yes, Your Honour.
The Hon. the Speaker: Please proceed.
Farm Crisis in Manitoba and Saskatchewan—Request for
Visit by Prime Minister
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson
: Honourable senators, given the
crisis, would the Leader of the Government in the Senate convey
to the Prime Minister a request that he come out and look at the
situation himself? Western Canada deserves to have the Prime
Minister come out and take a look at the situation first hand.
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I will certainly bring that representation to
the Prime Minister.
Nova Scotia—Responsibility for Cleanup of Toxic Waste
Sites—Request for Answer
Hon. Lowell Murray
: Honourable senators, some weeks ago
I put a question to the Leader of the Government concerning the
stand of the government with regard to liability for abandoned
mine sites in Cape Breton. Bill C-11, the bill to wind up Devco,
is now before the House of Commons, and I should like to see an
answer to that question before the bill arrives here.
I appreciate that the Leader of the Government offered us his
own curbstone legal opinion on the matter, which is probably the
right answer, but the question is: Do the law officers of the
Crown agree with him?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I should be happy to answer the honourable
senator in regard to this question. At one time, people were
happy to pay for that curbstone legal opinion. Those are what I
refer to as the good old days.
I have seen legal opinion on this matter. The legal opinion I
have seen, and I would be happy to share it with the honourable
senator and any one else who is interested, is that the bill will not
impact liabilities existing prior to the passage of the bill.
I can provide the information to the honourable senator in
much more detail than that, and I undertake to do so.
Senator Murray: I wish to know the position of the
government with regard to the liability of those abandoned mine
Senator Boudreau: I can safely tell the honourable senator
that the government would love someone else to assume the
liabilities. However, I do not know whether I could be very
confident of that.
Replacement of Sea King Helicopter Fleet—Possibility of
Leasing—Request for Answer
Hon. Gerry St. Germain
: Honourable senators, I address my
intervention to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as
well. I asked a question on November 4 with regard to leasing
helicopters as a means for possible replacement of the Sea King
helicopters, and the minister was to inquire of the minister on
that particular subject. Will an answer be forthcoming, or should
I pose the question again during tomorrow's Question Period? I
am bending the rules, Your Honour, to get my question in.
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, to deal with the matter quickly, an answer
will be forthcoming.
Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
Honourable senators, I have delayed answers to four questions.
First, a question raised in the Senate on November 2, 1999, by
the Honourable Senator Forrestall, regarding the West Nova
Scotia regiment and the appointment of an honorary colonel.
Second, a response to a question raised in the Senate on
November 3, 1999, by the Honourable Senator Kelleher,
regarding a possible consulting contract with a firm employing a
former ambassador. Third, a response to a question on
November 3, 1999, from the Honourable Senator Roche
regarding nuclear disarmament, the policy of the government on
the New Agenda Coalition resolution. Fourth, a response to a
question raised in the Senate by the Honourable Senator Oliver
regarding efforts to increase employment of visible minorities in
West Nova Scotia Regiment—Appointment of Honorary
(Response to question raised by Hon. J. Michael Forrestall on
November 2, 1999)
The West Nova Scotia Regiment is among the
distinguished Reserve units of Canada. Like all Reserve
units, it is an important part of the Canadian defence team.
With respect to the appointment of a new honourary
colonel, an individual has been recommended for the
position. This recommendation is currently being reviewed.
New Ambassador to World Trade Organization—Possible
Consulting Contract with Firm Employing Former
Ambassador—Request for Tabling
(Response to question raised by Hon. James F. Kelleher on
November 3, 1999)
1. No, Mr. Weekes is on leave without pay from DFAIT
and has no contract with the Department. That would be a
conflict of interest and Mr. Weekes knows well the code
of ethics that pertain to his situation.
2. No, APCO has no contract with the Government of
Nuclear Disarmament—Policy of Government on New
Agenda Coalition Resolution
(Response to question raised by Hon. Douglas Roche on
November 3, 1999)
After careful, very intensive, high-level consultation,
Canada decided to maintain its abstention on this year's
"New Agenda" resolution.
Our decision was not, for the most part, a response to the
text of the resolution. This year's text has evolved
considerably and favourably relative to that we examined
The Government of Canada also shares much of the New
Agenda Coalition's assessment of the serious strains on the
NPT-based nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
In our view, however, concerted action to address the
many challenges facing the nuclear disarmament and
non-proliferation regime will require the broadest possible
base of support.
The nuclear-weapon States and their partners and
alliances need to be engaged if the goals of the New Agenda
resolution are to be achieved.
For our part, we intend to continue to cooperate with all
like-minded states in the relevant fora to build greater
support for advancing the key aims of the nuclear
non-proliferation and disarmament regime.
As a member of NATO, Canada was pleased to note the
increase in the number of NATO non-nuclear-weapon states
sharing a common position in this year's vote.
The issues addressed by the New Agenda resolution will
be before us again in next spring's NPT Review Conference.
The Canadian Government will be working to ensure that
that Conference reinforces the Treaty and restores
momentum to the fulfilment of its goals.
Human Resources Development
Efforts to Increase Employment of Visible Minorities
(Response to question raised Hon. Donald H. Oliver on
November 3, 1999)
Information on Visible Minorities in the federal Public
Service is based on the principle of voluntary
self-identification. The latest available figures indicate that
out of a total of 248 employees at the EX-4 and EX-5 levels
(Assistant Deputy Ministers), five or 2.0 per cent have
self-identified as members of a visible minority group.
Self-identification data is not available for Deputy Ministers
or other Governor-in-Council appointees.
Personal Information Protection and
Electronic Documents Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Kirby, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lewis,
for the second reading of Bill C-6, to support and promote
electronic commerce by protecting personal information
that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances,
by providing for the use of electronic means to
communicate or record information or transactions and by
amending the Canada Evidence Act, the Statutory
Instruments Act and the Statute Revision Act.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Murray, before
you begin, under our rules you are allowed 45 minutes as the first
speaker after the sponsor of the bill. However, you did use up
37 minutes. Therefore, you have eight minutes left.
Hon. Lowell Murray: I shall do my best.
Honourable senators, I was looking upon this as the second
half of a speech which I began to deliver on November 4, when I
opened debate on behalf of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition on
Before proceeding, I wish to correct the record in respect of an
inaccuracy that I placed thereon during my speech on
November 4. I was discussing efforts that had been made in the
past by various political parties to entrench in the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms a right to privacy.
I stated, mistakenly, that Mr. Chrétien had been Minister of
Justice in the Trudeau government prior to the 1979 election. He
was not. Mr. Chrétien became Minister of Justice in the Trudeau
administration that took office in March of 1980.
In the course of my speech on November 4, I also opened a
parenthesis concerning the confidentially of census data. That
matter was raised earlier today during Senators' Statements by
our colleague Senator Milne.
I referred to the campaign presently underway which would
change the law brought in by Sir Wilfrid Laurier that guaranteed
the confidentiality of personal and private information collected
in the course of the census. At that time, I expressed my
opposition to a change in that law as a matter of principle. Since
that time, I have had a number of indignant — indeed, in some
cases irate — letters from various people, notably those
interested in genealogy. These people represented to me that
adequate safeguards could be devised if we would but change the
law. My response to them has been and is: Show me the
safeguards and we will consider them, if and when Parliament is
asked to change that law. However, on the general principle, I am
unmoved. I believe that personal and private information
collected from individuals by the government in the course of a
census on the basis of a law that guarantees confidentiality
should be kept confidential. I believe, as a matter of principle,
that we should not lightly change that law. After all,
census-taking over the years has become more and more
intrusive, and just because people die does not mean that the
government should be relieved of the commitment of
confidentiality it made to those people.
That is my opinion, honourable senators. In places like the
Senate, we should be on guard against the apparent attempts by
some historians, social scientists and journalists to persuade us
that the right to collect and disseminate information should trump
every other right in the book. That is why I have advocated that
we revisit the idea of entrenching a right to privacy in the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I cheerfully acknowledge that what we have here is a conflict
or a clash between two legitimate principles, one having to do
with access to information and the other having to do with
privacy. As in any similar conflict of principles, one must try to
strike a balance. This clash of principles or of values is also
apparent in the bill that is before the house today.
As I undertook to do, I met with or had telephone conference
calls with or read carefully the briefs of a number of parties who
are interested in and have concerns about this bill. I have not
changed my mind about the bill. Generally, I think I can speak on
behalf of my colleagues on this side in saying that we strongly
support the principle and the purpose of this bill, particularly as it
relates to privacy. I, for one, would be very reluctant to grant
exemptions to the bill.
Having said that, I have had these discussions with interested
parties, particularly from the health care sector. I will not take
your time today by trying to anticipate the testimony I trust they
will be invited to give before the committee. However, I should
like to flag some of the main issues the committee will have to
Honourable senators, there is extraordinary confusion, which I
believe extends right into the government and to its advisors, as
to whether and how and where this bill applies to the health care
sector. Senator Kirby, the sponsor of the bill, may well want to
address this question when he closes debate on second reading.
However, he will have to do better than he did with his careful
statement to be found on page 120 of the Debates of the Senate
of November 4, where he is reported as having said:
Honourable senators, Bill C-6 will apply to all industry
sectors, regardless of the size of business. This includes the
health care sector. It will provide protection for personal
health information it has collected, used and disclosed in the
course of commercial activities.
Mr. Manley and the Department of Industry likewise indicate
that the bill does not apply to doctors, patients and hospitals. I
have to say that this view is questioned — indeed, it is explicitly
disputed by many interested parties and their legal advisors. For
example, it is disputed by the Canadian Health Care Association,
which represents the hospitals, the Canadian Medical
Association, the Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario
Ministry of Health. What we have here are different
organizations whose views as to the substance of this bill and
what should be done about it are diametrically opposed. Yet, they
are agreed on one point — the ambiguity and confusion in this
bill regarding its application to the health care sector is
something with which the health care sector cannot live.
The confusion arises, at least in part, because the bill purports
to apply to "commercial activity." What is "commercial
activity"? The definition in the bill is not really helpful.
Commercial is as commercial does. It is stated in the bill that:
"commercial activity" means any particular transaction, act
or conduct or any regular course of conduct that is of a
That is not a very helpful definition. Yet, I am told that the
federal statutes are full of definitions almost identical to that with
respect to "commercial activity." The idea is that they let the
courts decide what qualifies as commercial activity in any given
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (The Hon. the Acting Speaker):
Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator Murray's time has
expired. Is leave granted for the honourable senator to continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Murray: I wish to thank honourable senators for
their kindness. Frankly, I had not focused on the rule that limited
the speech of a senator who responds for 45 minutes. I had not
realized that I had gone as long in my first chapter. However, I
will not take too much more time.
The question is whether the doctor-patient relationship, in
respect of which there is a fee, or the hospital-patient
relationship, in respect of which there is a fee, are commercial in
nature. Whether they are or not, we still have a problem. That
problem is pointed out by the Canadian Medical Association in
the following words, which I should like to share with
honourable senators. They state:
In the CMA's view, there is no clear way of distinguishing
commercial activity from health care activity in a way that
ensures that the health care record is subject to different
rules than those pertaining to other records. Moreover, the
dilemma for government is that even if such distinction
could occur, would it be desirable that health records be
subject to no rules? Put in another way, will those
organizations that currently collect health care information
be entitled to claim that since the information forms part of
the health record they are not subject to the provisions
As you know, C-54 was the number of this bill in the previous
session. They go on to state:
Under such a regime health care records would be subject to
an even lower standard than that provided for information
collected in the commercial context.
That is one view. The same opinion comes from the Canadian
Health Care Association, the people who represent the hospitals.
A legal opinion that they have obtained from the Montreal law
firm of Heenan Blaikie states:
...not only is "commercial activity" in and of itself a highly
ambiguous term, but also its application in the context of
today's health system is, in our view, totally unworkable. In
recent years, the health system has evolved into such a
complex and seamless web of services, that any attempt to
carve out only "commercial activity" within the health
system for the purposes of Bill C-54 could only lead to
illogical, senseless and ludicrous results.
While these two organizations, namely, the Canadian Medical
Association and the Canadian Health Care Association, take
vastly different views as to the substance of the bill, their
analysis of the situation is remarkably similar — that is, in the
health care sector, to separate out commercial and
non-commercial activity is quite simply unworkable.
I do not want to oversimplify but, generally speaking, I think it
is fair to say that those organizations in the health care field
whose activity is clearly and indubitably commercial are opposed
to this bill, and they seek an exemption for the entire health care
sector from the provisions of this bill. When I speak of "those"
organizations, I am speaking, among others, of the pharmacists,
of the laboratories, of the companies that collect and pay for and
sell health care data, whether in the aggregate or otherwise, and
of certain research organizations and universities in respect of
which there is some commercial component to their activity.
They believe that the requirement to obtain the consent of the
individual before health care data is released is too onerous. They
believe that the requirement will seriously constrain the ability to
assemble a unified body of information for the purposes of better
health care policy and management. They go so far as to suggest
that this bill would result in a serious decline in medical research
in the country.
They are joined in seeking an exemption by such organizations
as the Canadian Health Care Association, which I have already
mentioned, the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario
Ministry of Health, and the Canadian Mental Health Association,
or at least its Ontario division.
The Ontario Medical Association says that the bill is
inconsistent with Ontario's Medicine Act and with Ontario's
Health Care Consent Act. In their view, provincial legislation
should prevail. All of these people believe that the way to deal
with the privacy of health care information across the country is
through interprovincial protocols and not through federal
legislation. At this point, I should say that others who are
familiar with existing provincial legislation are not so sanguine
that that would be a constructive step. Indeed, the Ontario law is
sometimes referred to as an "access law" rather than a privacy
I do not mean to imply that organizations such as the Ontario
Medical Association or the Canadian Health Care Association
are indifferent to the privacy of health care information; they are
not. As a matter of fact, the Canadian Health Care Association
has expressed the fear that this bill, because of its distinction
between commercial and non-commercial activity, will lead to a
two-tier system of protection: A higher level of protection would
be afforded to health information obtained during the course of
privately insured health care delivery; and a lower level of
protection would be afforded to health information obtained
during the course of publicly insured health care delivery.
Again, what we have here is a clash of values or, at least, of
priorities. Running through these presentations of the groups that
I have mentioned is what I would call an "institutional concern"
for the ability to manage, plan and improve the health care
system. They see a danger that this bill would impede
collaboration between the public and private sectors with regard
to the delivery or funding of health care. I have even read in one
of the briefs that they believe that this would prevent Blue Cross
and Green Shield from carrying out the responsibilities that they
carry out in Ontario with respect to the health care system. They
think it would make it difficult if not impossible for the federal
government to implement the recommendations of its Advisory
Committee on Health Infostructure which reported in February of
Against these views, we have the very strongly expressed
positions of the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian
Dental Association. The Canadian Medical Association insists
that ensuring the protection of privacy and confidentiality of the
patient record must take precedence over other considerations.
They believe that this bill is weak. They believe that the
Canadian Standards Association code on which the bill is based
is inadequate in respect of the health care sector, and they
believe, as they said, that this bill appears to have access to
information as its dominant value.
The Canadian Dental Association has told us that we must
clarify the bill in a number of important respects. They argue that
Bill C-6 fails to satisfy basic requirements to protect individual
Canadians from misuses of health information by secondary and
tertiary users of this information. Bill C-6 may achieve many
government priorities in the areas of electronic commerce, they
say, but the CDA believes that the Senate must act to clarify and
strengthen the bill as it relates to personal health data.
Both the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian
Dental Association have drafted amendments that they want us to
consider and which would, as I read them, essentially incorporate
their own codes of privacy into this federal legislation.
Honourable senators, the committee faces a difficult and
complex task. It would be tempting to say that, with these
sharply opposing perspectives, even in the health care field, the
truth probably lies somewhere in between and that the
government probably got it right and struck the right balance
with Bill C-6. It would be tempting to come to that conclusion or
to make that argument, but it would be altogether too facile.
First, the committee will need to try to sort out the ambiguity
and the confusion with regard to the applicability of this bill in
the health care sector. Health care is altogether too important.
The privacy of health care information is too important to saddle
the sector with this confusion. It is clear that they cannot live
with it because they have all told us so.
If it is not clarified, the danger is that this law, once passed,
will be more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
None of us want to see that.
Even if we can clarify the ambiguity as to the application of
the bill, how do we respond to the Canadian Medical Association
and the Canadian Dental Association and their insistence that the
bill be considerably strengthened? Should we try to apply the
provisions to the entire health care sector, commercial and
non-commercial? If we try, do we really have the constitutional
authority to do such a thing?
Finally, we must hear from Health Canada on this matter. As
far as I know, they were nowhere to be seen during the Commons
committee hearings. The bill is jointly sponsored by Mr. Manley
and Ms MacLellan, Minister of Justice, each of whom has
responsibility for different parts of it. The committee and the
Senate need the benefit of the views of the Department of Health
on all the issues in this bill as they pertain to the health care
sector. Personally, I would not insist on having the minister, but
most certainly senior officials from the Department of Health
must come to the committee and examine this bill with us as it
affects the health care centre.
Honourable senators, we have a lot of work to do. Let us get
on with it but let us not rush it. On a matter of this importance,
let us not submit to any artificial deadlines. We are not looking
down the barrel of prorogation this time. We can take the time
that is necessary to do it right.
Honourable senators, I thank you for your indulgence.
Hon. Sheila Finestone: Honourable senators, I listened with a
great deal of interest to the constructive observations made by
our honourable colleague. He brings to mind and reinforces the
importance of our right to privacy and, in essence, our right to be
left alone. I think it was Justice Brandeis who said that we all
should have the right to be left alone, and I would agree.
The question is whether this bill fills that two-scale need. One
scale is the scale of economy and the other the scale of social
justice. Many senators facing me today understand the dilemma
of balancing economic justice and social justice in a way that is
fair to you and me, to the people for whom we are privileged to
speak in this house and to all for whom we have a strong sense of
Honourable senators, I am particularly delighted to speak to
Bill C-6 today. I remember it as Bill C-54, the Personal
Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, from my
time in the other place. My delight is all the more pronounced
because one of my proudest duties and responsibilities in the
other place was to serve as Chairman of the Standing Committee
on Human Rights and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. We
conducted hearings into a great range of privacy issues and, in
1997, prepared a report called, "Privacy: Where do we draw the
The committee members spent many months studying this
issue and travelling across Canada meeting with people. We
heard some pretty disturbing stories about the treatment of the
disabled and the areas of human rights where they were not being
accorded proper consideration. We also heard about challenges
of new technology in terms of every citizen's right to keep others
from snooping into their personal stories and then using that
information for whatever nefarious reason. From our research, I
know today that there are many complex parts to this issue.
Much work remains to be done to strengthen our fundamental
I will address my remarks today in particular to Part 1 of the
bill and to the protection of personal information in the private
sector. That in no way diminishes my concern for the second part
of the bill dealing with electronic documents. The provisions in
Part 2 of the bill are essential for smoothing the process to
electronic commerce which is so important for the Canadian
economy today, and that importance will only increase in the
years to come.
I focus today, though, on the definition of "privacy" and the
use of personal information. The privacy provisions in Bill C-6
represent a significant step forward for those who have seen the
urgent need to buttress the protection of this right. By extending
the ambit of internationally accepted data-protection principles to
the Canadian federally regulated private sector, this bill is taking
us one step closer to a comprehensive regime of privacy
Privacy rights and e-commerce privacy laws are already being
developed in Europe, in the European Union, at the OECD, in
New Zealand and in Australia. The Americans are concerned
about not having specific kinds of protection on a commercial
basis. They almost lost a huge contract out of Germany because
they did not have proper protection, and they were sure to push it
forward. They are broadening the scope of that protection so that
they can enhance their commercial activity. We must do the same
with respect to our commercial activity as well, honourable
senators. I am pleased we are moving in that direction with this
I remind honourable senators that privacy is not merely an
afterthought in a democratic society. I suggest to you that privacy
is at the very foundation of many of the fundamental human
rights that are elemental in a democracy.
Since 1983, Canada has had federal data-protection legislation
in the Privacy Act. Privacy Commissioner Bruce Philips
addresses these issues, along with matters under the Access to
Information Act. Those two acts may sometimes collide, but both
have the obligation to protect all citizens.
The Privacy Act governs the collection, use and disclosure of
personal information by government institutions. It is quite
strong and so far has been effective. Commissioner Phillips has
handled that mantel very effectively, in my opinion. That
legislation also provides rights to access the personal information
held by those institutions, but until Bill C-6 is passed, there is no
comprehensive data-protection legislation governing the private
sector in Canada, except in the province of Quebec. We are one
of the few countries, not only in the G-8 or G-9, but also in the
G-22, that is far behind with this kind of legislation.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has argued that the
force that animates decent societies is observance of the principle
of fairness. We are to treat each other with a reasonable degree of
respect. We are not to go around behind each other's backs with
little pieces of information we can use against one another. He
said that this is not the kind of open, transparent and candid
society we want to build, and I think all honourable senators
Bill C-6 is a measure of the observance of that principle of
fairness and decency. I believe the bill has achieved the delicate
balance required between the need for Canadian businesses to
have access to personal information in order to conduct their
business and the need of all individuals to control the collection,
use and disclosure of their personal information.
Many of us have had our mailboxes stuffed with several new
kinds of mailings. I believe that if we looked back and asked
ourselves what magazine subscription did we buy, or where did
we last use our Visa card, we might be able to account for what is
coming through our door, in our mail and over our telephones,
and we would not be so surprised. However, we are surprised
because our names get sold. Each of us is a business, a
commodity. To what extent do we wish to control that
commodity in the interests of personal information? The effort to
strike that balance is evident in the purpose clause of the bill. I
would agree that some amendments are needed for greater
clarification. Whether we will reach that compromise and that
understanding, I do not know; however, I certainly would feel
more comfortable if that issue was broadened and examined.
The privacy provisions in the bill acknowledge that we live in
an era in which technology increasingly facilitates a circulation
and exchange of information. These provisions recognize the
need to establish rules to govern the collection, use and
disclosure of personal information in a manner that recognizes
the right of privacy of individuals with respect to their personal
information, combined with the need of organizations to collect,
use or disclose personal information for purposes that a
reasonable person would consider appropriate in the
circumstances. I underscore this provision because it was an
important amendment that was brought forward. I should like
everyone to please remember that particular phrase.
Bill C-6 is not a panacea for all the threats to privacy that
modern democratic societies face; however, it deals with one
important element of privacy, and that is personal data that may
come into the hands of organizations in Canada. The bill
provides consumers with rights with respect to their personal
information, while respecting legitimate business needs to gather
and use this information. Consumers must feel confident — and
that is very important with the Internet — and we must build a
sense of trust. If our businesses want to profit and grow, they
must develop a sense of trust with the people who are using their
services. Therefore, the sense of confidence of the consumer that
their information will be protected in electronic transactions is
absolutely fundamental. At the same time, efforts to protect
information relating to individuals must not be so heavy handed
as to be unnecessarily costly for business.
The new legislation will require businesses to adhere to a set
of fair information practices which were developed by
representatives from industry. Consumer advocacy groups,
unions and government, and various health sectors were
consulted under this CSA act. I believe it is a very broad
expression of concern and needs to be taken into consideration in
They are fair information practices and they are called the
Canadian Standards Association model. This model has been
tested now since 1996 and it is attached to the bill as a schedule.
The model was developed by civil society, business, industry,
professionals and NGOs. I believe that is where one of the
amendments might well be considered, because it is such a
broad-based description and covers a wide spectrum of business
undertakings in Canada.
This model sets out the obligations of businesses that collect,
use and disclose personal information. Companies must inform
individuals of the purposes for which the data were collected,
obtain their consent before using or disclosing the information,
ensure that the information is accurate for the purposes for which
it was collected — not any old purpose in the world, but for the
purpose for which it was collected — and protect it with
adequate security. The standard also establishes the right of data
subjects to see and correct their records and complain to
someone about problems. Subjects may complain to someone in
the company that is seemingly abusing or misusing or
misdirecting that information, and have someone responsible
answer to the problem and take action.
There will undoubtedly be debate about the refinements that
may be necessary to make the bill more effective. I remind
honourable senators that legislation is rarely perfect in its initial
form; in fact, there is not much in this imperfect world that is
perfect. Experiences with the legislation as it matures will point
the way to amendments that make it operate more effectively and
more efficiently in the protection of privacy, while respecting the
legitimate interests of Canadian businesses to the extent possible.
A question was raised by one of the senators about the health
service agency. I know about the CMA and I understand that
doctors have a Hippocratic oath, a code of conduct and a code of
ethics. Every doctor, dentist and pharmacist should follow those
codes of practice. That does not necessarily mean we must have
a patchwork quilt a mile thick to ensure that individuals in this
society do not have their personal rights to identification and
information abridged in any way, shape or form.
Honourable senators, I wish to say how pleased I was to see
the bill amended after first seeing it in the other place. There
were 16 amendments and a number of those answered many of
my questions and concerns. One in particular was about changing
the definition of "personal information." It was a very significant
change, for "personal information" is now anything that relates
to an identifiable individual. That covers such things as
surveillance cameras, cameras in washrooms, medical health
information, dental information, pharmaceutical information,
pharmacies that deliver drugs, as well as research. However, in
order to ensure that we do not do anything wrong — this is
crucial because our privacy, once lost, can never be regained —
it is vital that the definition section ensure that professionals and,
for that matter, NGOs, are properly covered. When the NGOs go
out and sell their mailing lists that is a good thing, and that
should be considered, too.
I am interested in seeing us move towards an amendment to
that part of the definition section of the bill. I believe you will
find that in Part 1, clause 2, of the bill, which the honourable
senator read into Hansard today. Under that interpretation
definition it talks about "commercial activity." What is a
"commercial activity"? If it is a "commercial activity" then it
should be covered and it should include professionals and
non-profit organizations. That I believe would answer some of
the problems that were addressed by these various organizations.
Honourable senators, may I just finish, with your permission?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Finestone: I believe Mr. Phillips has said it better;
however, I will say it in general. We are talking about
information that relates to identifiable human beings, and quite
frankly, I do not wish to think about them in different groups or
circles or little get-togethers. In essence, it means that if the
information that you have is about me, and you got it because I
went to get my insurance policy from you, or be it for my health
services, my doctor, or my dentist, it is mine and it relates to me.
As my grandchildren would say, "It's mine." It is mine and stop
mining it, and there is no way that you will be able to mine it if
we pass this bill properly.
The whole point about being non-identifiable to those to
whom we do not wish to be known — therefore, the right to be
left alone — must be ensured under this particular bill and under
the definition section. That is something I should hope we will be
able to accomplish. I hope the minister will be open to changing
that particular definition and making sure that it indicates that we
do not care where the information was generated or how it found
its way into the commercial world if it has no business being
there — it did not receive my permission, it did not receive my
review, and I do not want it there.
I believe that we should also look at the issue of the disclosure
of data for research found in clause 7(3)(f) of the bill. We heard
many complaints about the use of data for research. There are
ways to use data without identifying individuals, and that is
through non-nominative data. There is no reason we cannot have
non-nominative data. With such data, research can be done
without revealing identities. The issue raised in this clause is
where all this begins and ends.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, this is a very good bill,
although it must be fleshed out in some areas and debate must be
undertaken in some areas. In the best interests of the people of
Canada, I believe that we can look forward to enlightened
discussion in committee. We can look forward to ensuring that
our privacy will be protected. I believe that Bill C-6, which is
one component of a necessary strategy toward that end, will find
favour with this house and will become law. I believe that we
will be able to do business with the European Union without
headaches. I believe that we will meet the OECD qualifications.
Most important, I believe that we will protect the personal
information of everyone.
On motion of Senator Oliver, debate adjourned.
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Joan Fraser
moved the second reading of Bill S-10, to
amend the National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act
and the Criminal Code.
She said: Honourable senators, it is a particular pleasure to
speak in support of Bill S-10, which amends the National
Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the Criminal Code.
It is in large measure because of the Senate — and more
precisely the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs — that this bill exists.
This bill represents the fulfilment of the commitment made by
the Solicitor General last fall when the committee was examining
the new DNA Identification Act. As you may recall, that act
provides for the establishment of a national DNA data bank that
will preserve the DNA identification profiles of people who are
convicted of serious violent crimes. These profiles are done only
after conviction and should not be confused with the DNA work
that may be done by investigating police forces during
investigation of a crime. This is a post-conviction data bank.
The committee conducted a thorough review of the DNA
Identification Act to ensure that Canada has a DNA data bank
that is not only comprehensive but also protects the privacy
rights of Canadians. During its review, the committee noted that
there was no authority in the bill to collect DNA data bank
samples from offenders who are convicted of serious and violent
offences in the military justice system. The committee raised
concerns about the highly sensitive nature of genetic information,
about the rapid evolution of DNA technology, and about the
potential for infringing the privacy of Canadians in unanticipated
and unforeseen ways.
Because of these concerns, the committee recommended, in its
sixteenth report, that certain amendments be made to the
legislative measures concerning the DNA data bank. The
Solicitor General undertook to follow up on these
recommendations by introducing a separate bill before the
establishment of the DNA data bank. The Senate agreed to this
approach because the RCMP needed more than one year to
establish the data bank. It is now expected that the bank will be
up and running by next June.
Given that Bill S-10 deals with the issues raised in this
chamber, the Solicitor General made a special request that it be
introduced in the Senate before proceeding to the other place. I
am sure we all appreciate this initiative of Mr. MacAulay. It is a
prudent approach that will provide us with an early opportunity
to review the bill and to satisfy ourselves that it fully addresses
Let me now turn to the elements of Bill S-10. It is a highly
technical bill, full of cross-references to other legislation, but its
main elements are, in substance, quite simple.
First, in the field of defence, amendments are being made to
the National Defence Act and the DNA Identification Act to
include in the national DNA data bank profiles of offenders who
are subject to the military's Code of Service Discipline and who
are convicted of serious and violent offences. The code applies to
military personnel, the reserves and some civilians who
accompany military personnel abroad.
The DNA profile system established in Bill S-10 for the
military closely parallels the system that Parliament has
approved for civilians.
Following sentencing for a designated offence, military judges
will thus be authorized to order the collecting of samples of
bodily substances from persons who are subject to the Code of
Service Discipline. The DNA profiles so established will be
forwarded to the RCMP commissioner for inclusion in the
national DNA data bank. To ensure respect for privacy, the
enforcement procedures and the guarantees in the Criminal Code
will also be included in the National Defence Act.
In addition, military judges can issue DNA warrants for the
purposes of military police investigations into designated
offences allegedly committed in Canada or abroad by persons
subject to the Code of Service Discipline. The provisions of the
legislation having to do with the issuing of warrants are adapted
to the particular characteristics of the military context. Military
police may request DNA warrants when investigating military
offences comparable to the secondary offences defined in the
Criminal Code for the purposes of the data bank.
These amendments represent important improvements over the
current law. As matters stand now, military police can apply to a
provincial court judge for a DNA warrant in the course of an
investigation of a designated offence committed in Canada, but
there is no avenue for military police to apply for a DNA warrant
during an investigation of a designated offence that is committed
abroad. The designated offence list in the Criminal Code is also
insufficient to deal with comparable serious offences under the
National Defence Act or with some uniquely military offences —
mutiny with violence, for example. This bill will give military
judges the authority to issue DNA warrants for designated
National Defence Act offences so that military police will be able
to conduct more efficient and effective police investigations both
in Canada and abroad.
A second broad area of change addressed in this bill is in
direct response to the recommendations of the Senate committee.
This bill gives the Senate the same authority as the House of
Commons to review the DNA Identification Act five years after
its proclamation. Given the highly sensitive nature of DNA
information and the potential for technological change to affect
the data bank, Parliament and the public will also be kept
regularly apprised of the data bank's operation. The RCMP
Commissioner will be required to present an annual report on the
operations of the national DNA data bank to the Solicitor
General. This report will then be tabled by the Solicitor General
in both Houses of Parliament.
These amendments are specifically designed to give
Parliament the necessary tools to oversee the effectiveness of the
data bank over time, which was a concern of the Senate
The third major area of change is that the statement of
principles in the DNA Identification Act is being expanded. This
will clarify that bodily samples and the resulting DNA profiles
may only be used for law enforcement purposes. This
amendment is intended to address the concerns of the Senate
committee about the potential misuse of DNA profiles, such as
using them to identify a person's medical, physical or mental
characteristics. Indeed, this goes to some of the issues raised in
the debate about personal information.
The purpose of this data bank is to identify individuals just as
fingerprint records do. It is not designed to compile information
on an individual's private characteristics, nor will it do so.
The amendments to the Criminal Code will mean protection as
well against any improper use of genetic data on people subject
to the Code of Service Discipline. The other amendments to this
act will clarify and strengthen the existing regime on the
collecting of samples of bodily substances.
Under the new principle I have just mentioned, the Criminal
Code will be amended so that the Code of Service Discipline will
also be subject to the prohibition against unauthorized use of
bodily substances collected and the results of forensic DNA
Finally, this bill contains a number of practical changes to the
Criminal Code to ensure effective implementation of the DNA
Identification Act. The Solicitor General established a
federal-provincial-territorial working group last June to plan for
implementation of the data bank. During those consultations,
federal and provincial heads of prosecution expressed concern
that the current law is unclear as to when a court does not have to
make a data bank order. The Criminal Code is therefore being
clarified to specify that such an order shall not be made if the
prosecutor advises the court that the person's DNA profile is
already in the national DNA data bank. This will make the
system more efficient by avoiding the unnecessary expense of
collecting and analyzing duplicate samples of bodily substances
from repeat offenders.
To deal with offenders who may be transferred out of a
province before a data bank order can be executed, provincial
court judges will be able to endorse a data bank order or
authorization that was granted in another province.
Two provisions of the Criminal Code, which were not yet in
effect, will be repealed because of the negative consequences
they would have on the administration of justice. They are the
obligation for an officer of the peace to inform an individual
identified in an order or a warrant respecting forensic DNA
analyses that he or she may express a preference as to the bodily
substance collected — blood, saliva or hair — and the obligation
of the peace officer to act on the preference indicated. These
provisions pose a problem because nothing in criminal law
obliges the police to let an individual who is the subject of an
investigation choose the method of collecting elements of proof.
In addition, as the provincial and territorial representatives
pointed out, judges already set out in the warrants the
investigation procedure to be followed, and letting the individual
choose amounts to allowing their decision to prevail over that of
Another Criminal Code provision is being repealed. It relates
to the consensual entry in the data bank of the results from a
forensic DNA analysis of bodily substances that have been either
voluntarily provided during a criminal investigation or taken
under a DNA warrant during the investigation. Canadian forensic
laboratories have advised that they do not support transferring
bodily substances or related DNA profiles to the data bank in
these instances because the substances and profiles are routinely
retained as case work exhibits in the event of a retrial. In
addition, samples taken under a DNA warrant, unlike samples
that will be collected for the data bank after conviction, have
personal indentifiers attached to them. This will make it difficult
for the RCMP to protect the privacy rights of individuals, as is
required by the DNA Identification Act. To avoid any potential
problems, it is now considered necessary to take new samples of
bodily substances in all cases when a data bank order is imposed;
that is, after conviction.
In conclusion, Bill S-10 proposes amendments to the National
Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the Criminal Code
to permit effective implementation of a comprehensive DNA
data bank. The bill not only addresses the recommendations that
were made by the Senate committee but it also fine-tunes the
data bank legislation for practical implementation purposes.
Together these amendments, to which we in this chamber have
contributed so substantially, will assist in protecting privacy
rights of Canadians, while giving the police a sophisticated
investigative tool that will improve public safety.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Nolin, debate
Income Tax Conventions Implementation
Second Reading—Debate adjourned
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette
moved the second reading of
Bill S-3, to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols
between Canada and Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Algeria, Bulgaria,
Portugal, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Japan and Luxembourg for the
avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion
with respect to taxes on income.
She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to initiate debate
on second reading of Bill S-3. The purpose of this legislative text
is to implement the taxation conventions between Canada and
seven countries — Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Algeria, Bulgaria,
Portugal, Uzbekistan and Jordan — with which Canada has no
taxation conventions at this time.
As well, the bill creates a new convention to replace the
present one with Luxembourg, and implements a protocol
amending certain parts of the convention with Japan. Before I go
into the bill in more detail, I would like to take a moment to
establish its context.
In 1971, when Canada reviewed and revised its taxation
system, one of the key outcomes was an expansion of the system
of taxation conventions between ourselves and other countries.
At the present time, we have them with 65 countries. For close to
30 years remarkable and continuing efforts have been expended
in order to update our taxation convention system, and Bill S-3 is
one of these efforts.
Honourable senators, you may be interested to know that,
since 1976, 24 tax convention bills have been introduced in
Parliament and in the past two years alone conventions or
protocols have been established with 14 countries.
Tax conventions are particularly important for Canada because
they are directly related to international trade in goods and
services and because they therefore have a direct impact on
domestic economic performance.
This impact is a large one. Canadian exports now represent
over 40 per cent of our annual gross domestic product. In
addition, Canada's annual economic health also depends on
direct foreign investment, as well as the influx of information,
capital, technology, royalties, dividends and interest.
It is therefore obvious that the tax conventions provided for in
Bill S-3 will benefit Canadian businesses and individuals
engaged in activities and holding investments in these countries.
Canadian taxpayers will be particularly pleased to learn that a
rate of taxation set in a convention cannot be increased without
In addition, by the mere fact of their existence, tax
conventions will create a climate of certainty and stability for
investors and marketers. This climate can only improve Canada's
economic relations with each of these countries. Furthermore, by
eliminating the need to pay taxes on certain corporate benefits
and by establishing a mechanism for the resolution of problems
experienced by taxpayers, it will be possible to reduce the
complexity and inconvenience of the tax system per se.
Simplifying the tax convention system will stimulate
international activity, which will have a favourable effect on the
Canadian economy. Finally, eliminating or reducing the double
taxation that would otherwise arise in international operations
will be the biggest benefit.
If we take into account the convention that is replacing the one
in effect with Luxembourg, the purpose of the new conventions
provided for in Bill S-3 is twofold: to avoid double taxation and
to prevent fiscal evasion. These problems have already been
taken into consideration in the convention in force with Japan.
I should point out that previous tax conventions are generally
patterned on the model double taxation convention prepared by
the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The possibility of double taxation arises when a taxpayer resides
in a country while earning income in another country.
Without a tax convention, both countries could claim tax on
that income. Double taxation conventions ensure that the same
income cannot be taxed twice. Tax conventions signed by
Canada deal with this issue in two ways: first, by dividing
taxation rights between the taxpayer's country of residence and
the country where the income was generated, and second, if the
income is still taxable in both countries, by demanding that the
country of residence deem the income to be tax exempt or
granting a credit for the tax paid in the country where the income
Double taxation conventions also promote the exchange of
information between tax authorities so as to prevent fraud or
fiscal evasion. This is the second objective of these conventions.
The sharing of information helps tax authorities identify fraud
and tax evasion and deal with such cases.
As for the conventions provided for in Bill S-3, each country
will give the appropriate relief for the tax paid in the other
country that is a party to the tax convention.
Canada and other countries usually impose withholding taxes
on various types of non-resident incomes. Without a tax
convention or a specific exemption in our legislation, the
mandatory tax deduction rate for non-residents on such income is
25 per cent. The Canadian system of tax conventions provides
several rate reductions that all apply reciprocally.
The country in which the income is generated can withhold
taxes, but at a rate that is usually set at 5, 10 or 15 per cent on
branches' dividends and benefits, and at 10 per cent on interest
and royalties. In some cases, royalties paid for copyright,
software, patents and know-how are exempt at the source.
For example, the agreement signed with Kyrgyzstan limits the
withholding tax rate to 15 per cent for branches' dividends,
interest and benefits, and to 10 per cent for royalties. Some
exemptions are provided for interest and royalties on copyright,
software, patents and know-how.
The convention concluded with Lebanon provides for the
withholding of 5 per cent of dividends paid to a company holding
at least 10 per cent of the voting power in the company paying
the dividends and 15 per cent in all other cases. Branch profits
and copyright royalties, software, patents and know-how will be
taxed at the rate of 5 per cent, and interest at the rate of
10 per cent.
In the case of Algeria, a 15 per cent tax will be withheld on all
dividends, interest and royalties, and certain exemptions are
provided for interest and royalties on computer software and
The convention concluded with Bulgaria provides for a
withholding tax of 10 per cent on dividends paid to a company
holding at least 10 per cent of the voting power in the company
paying the dividends and of 15 per cent in all other cases. In the
case of interest and royalties, the rate will be 10 per cent. In
addition, there will be a number of exemptions for interest and
In the case of the convention with Portugal, a company must
withhold at least 25 per cent of the voting power in a company
paying dividends to be entitled to withhold the 10 per cent of tax
on the dividends. In all other cases, a rate of 15 per cent will
apply. A rate of 10 per cent will also apply to interest and
royalties, with a few exceptions for interest.
In connection with Uzbekistan, the applicable income tax rate
applicable to dividends if the beneficial owner is a company
which controls at least 10 per cent of the voting power in the
company will be 5 per cent of the gross amount of the dividends,
and 15 per cent of the gross amount of the dividends in all other
cases. A rate of 10 per cent will apply to interest and royalties,
while a rate of 5 per cent will apply to copyrights and royalties
for computer software and know-how.
The new convention with Jordan sets the income tax rate
applicable to dividends paid to a company which controls at least
10 per cent of the voting power in the company which pays the
dividends at 10 per cent, and 15 per cent in all other cases. The
convention also calls for a rate of 10 per cent on interest and
royalties, with certain exceptions applicable to interest on loans
made and guaranteed by the government.
Bill S-3 replaces the present 1989 convention with
Luxembourg and calls for a rate of 5 per cent on dividends paid
to a company which controls at least 10 per cent of the voting
power in the company which pays the dividends, and 15 per cent
in all other cases. A rate of 10 per cent will apply to interests and
royalties, again with some few exceptions for interests and
royalties on software, patents and know-how.
As well, Bill S-7 modifies the present 1986 convention with
Japan. The protocol with Japan sets at 10 per cent the taxation
rate on dividends between companies and clarifies a number of
Among other things, the protocol specifically addresses the
issue of Japanese enterprise tax by exempting from such tax
Canadian enterprises operating ships or aircraft in international
traffic, a courtesy measure already allowed by Canadian
provinces to Japanese companies carrying out similar activities.
Honourable senators, the conventions making up Bill S-3 also
address other matters relating to taxation conventions. For
example, capital gains derived from the alienation of immovable
property, shares or interest in a partnership or trust may be taxed
in the country of origin.
Discrimination based on a taxpayer's nationality is forbidden.
However, incentive measures such as deductions allowed to
small businesses and dividend tax credits available to Canadians
will not be affected.
Before concluding, I would like to examine the issue of
taxpayer migration. Four of the conventions provided for in this
bill take into account to a certain degree the rules on taxpayer
migration that were proposed by the Minister of Finance, which
will be included in the Budget Implementation Act, 1999.
The purpose of these proposals is to amend the Income Tax
Act so that Canada will retain the right to tax gains realized by
immigrants during their stay in this country.
When the bill was announced last December, the minister said
that Canada would renegotiate its tax conventions with the new
rules in mind in order to avoid double taxation. While waiting for
these rules to come into effect, Canada has negotiated its tax
conventions so as to avoid double taxation at the time when the
gains realized by immigrants, before their departure, are taxed.
With respect to Bill S-3, the conventions with Luxembourg,
Portugal, Lebanon and Jordan take taxpayer migration into
account. The conventions with Usbekistan, Bulgaria, Algeria and
Kyrgyzstan do not, however, because they were negotiated
before the proposals were announced. Japan has requested that
this issue of taxpayer migration be examined in future
negotiations concerning the convention.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that the purpose of the tax
conventions provided for in this bill is to avoid international
double taxation of revenues transferred from one country to
another. These tax conventions will make it possible for
Canadian tax policies to be applied uniformly to operations
concluded with Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Algeria, Bulgaria,
Portugal, Usbekistan, Jordan, Japan and Luxembourg. They will
also create a climate of stability for Canadian investors and
marketers in these countries.
Honourable senators, Bill S-3 is routine legislation aimed at
promoting fair taxation and maintaining good international and
Taxation fairness — which, as we all know, is a priority for the
government — demands that no Canadian be subject to double
taxation. The objective of these taxation conventions is precisely
to avoid double taxation.
In conclusion, I would like to salute the fantastic work of the
team of specialists who helped the government through this long
and painstaking process. These officials served Canada very well
under the skilled direction of their respective ministers, the
Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice. They deserve our
thanks. Since this is not controversial legislation, I urge
honourable senators to support it.
On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate ajourned.
Speech from the Throne
Motion for Address in Reply—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Kroft, seconded by the Honourable Senator Furey,
for an Address to Her Excellency the Governor General in
reply to her Speech from the Throne at the Opening of the
Second Session of the Thirty-sixth Parliament.—(3rd day of
Hon. William M. Kelly: Honourable senators, I am delighted
to see the many senators on this side who stayed to hear me this
afternoon. I am pleased to participate in the debate on the motion
for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Since I
will be retiring from the Senate next year, this will be my last
opportunity to engage in this particular debate. I therefore intend
to make the most of it.
I am pleased to see the commitment in the Speech from the
Throne "to ensure that the Canadian forces have the capacity to
support Canada's role in building a more secure world." We
should not, however, underestimate how much we have to do to
honour that commitment. Since 1988, defence spending has
declined in real terms, year over year, to the point where today's
defence budget has a purchasing power roughly equivalent to
that of the early 1970s. Our ability to acquire necessary
equipment and to maintain the equipment we have has been
particularly hard hit by the budget cuts. Personnel in the military
regular force, which numbered 87,000 in 1989-90, is forecast to
decrease to 60,000 by the end of the current fiscal year. We no
longer have the ability to organize fighting units at the brigade
level, which is the accepted minimum for a sustainable military
action. According to NATO figures, Canada is now at the bottom
end of the scale of NATO countries in terms of its regular
strengths and its primary and secondary reserve strengths.
There are those who claim that the end of the Cold War also
put an end to the need for a large, standing military capability
and created the prospect of a "peace dividend". As I have stated
in this chamber many times, I think they are simply and
emphatically wrong. While the threats to security and their
origins have changed, the world today is potentially far more
unstable, nasty and unpredictable than ever before. We face the
prospect of bloody local and regional disputes spawned by
nationalist secessionist movements anywhere in the world. We
face the threat of terrorism from renegade states and disaffected
groups. We have an important continuing role to play in the
regional defensive alliances of which we are a part. All of these
require a competent, motivated, well-equipped, flexible and
Honourable senators, I persist in the belief that the
international ripple effect caused by the failure of states will
present the most significant security threat to Canada and
Canadians for the foreseeable future. Whether they be in Africa,
the former Soviet Union, Southeast Asia, Central or South
America, states fail, as we have seen, for any number of
economic, environmental or political reasons. The failure of
states creates a power vacuum which is frequently filled by
criminal or terrorist groups that, in turn, cause security problems
for other states. We need look no further than the former Soviet
Union for illustrations of that sort. The breakdown of the civil
power has given rise to a host of nefarious activities.
Honourable senators, last month, for example, Russian
authorities arrested six people in Vladivostok as they were about
to take six kilograms of uranium 238 out of the country for sale.
The uranium came from a plant disassembling parts of the
Soviets' nuclear stockpile and could have been used by terrorists
or criminal groups in the manufacture of small, but very dirty,
nuclear bombs. It is for this kind of threat that we must be
vigilant and for which a competent and standing military and
security intelligence is required. While I commend the
government for its commitment to the military, I look forward to
more details in the next federal budget.
The Speech from the Throne articulates the government's
plans for the advent of the new millennium. It has often been said
that this Prime Minister and this government lack the "vision
thing", as George Bush used to say. There is plenty of rhetoric in
the Speech from the Throne about preparing for the millennium.
I acknowledge the several references to facilitating, for example,
electronic commerce and access to the Internet, but these do not
constitute a comprehensive vision to secure Canada's future. The
globalization of economies means that all economies have
become increasingly interdependent. In fact, the day will soon
come when there is no such thing as a "domestic economy".
There will only be one economy and one market. Economies,
markets and competition will not be limited by national or
regional boundaries. There will be no boundaries. In the
meantime, every domestic economy, including Canada's, is
continually scrutinized by international investors and business
people to a depth of detail never before possible. Advances in
telecommunications technology, particularly advances in
e-commerce, mean that investment and other decisions can be
implemented in milliseconds.
Capital can flow in or out of a country in an instant. Last year,
we witnessed perhaps the first illustration of the impact of these
twin forces of globalization and e-commerce on the economies
and the nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. The
dramatic outward flows of capital represented a vote of
non-confidence by the international investment and business
communities. The impacts reverberate today in individual
countries, including Canada, and throughout the world. As a
direct consequence of the Asian crisis, the Canadian dollar slid in
relation to the U.S. dollar as currency traders bought up the U.S.
dollar as a hedge against the Asian currencies. Our exports to the
Far East suffered as the crisis depressed commodity prices.
Capital and business are no longer bound by geography, time
or national allegiances. An economy or government that does not
perform as the banks, financiers, investment dealers and credit
rating agencies in the financial capitals judge as acceptable can
be harshly and swiftly and, yes, arbitrarily, disciplined. While we
may not like that, it is no less the case that Canada has no
realistic option but to put on what has been referred to as an
"economic straitjacket" that signals to all that Canada is a good
place in which to invest and do business in the new millennium.
The art of government will be to adjust that economic straitjacket
in order to protect the circumstances and requirements of Canada
and Canadians and to protect those things that are special to
Canadians and that are part of "the Canadian way" such as, for
example, our national health care system.
Notwithstanding, as we stand at the portal of the new
millennium, Canada has much to do. Our total debt, federal,
provincial and municipal, is too high and continues to rise. Our
levels of personal taxation are excessively burdensome. Despite
significant improvements over the past two decades, our
economy is still heavily enmeshed in regulation and red tape. We
are still heavily dependent on natural resources. Approximately
40 per cent of Canada's GDP is attributable to trade in our
natural resources. There remain too many barriers to trade,
investment and labour mobility within Canada. Despite
considerable progress over the past several years, our basic
water, sewage and transportation infrastructures, particularly in
our major cities, require substantial renovation and improvement.
We must do more to enhance our productivity. We must do more
in education, research and development in order to become the
type of innovative and adaptable society that will not only
survive but will also be destined to prosper in the new
There is still a considerable gap between what Canada is and
what Canada can become. In that regard, I commend the
government for its commitment in the Speech from the Throne to
reintroduce legislation to protect personal and business
information in a digital world, and to recognize electronic
signatures. Such initiatives are essential if Canada and Canadians
are to be able to participate fully in the opportunities offered by
the Internet and e-commerce. The reference does, however, beg
the question as to what the government intends to do to address
the issues surrounding the encryption of electronic
communications and databases. While encryption is essential to
protect the confidentiality of personal and business
communications, it presents very grave challenges to our
security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies and their
ability to decipher unlawful communications and illegal
transactions such as money laundering.
Honourable senators, the reference to money laundering
reminds me of the commitment in the Speech from the Throne
that the government will focus attention on new and emerging
threats to Canadians such as money laundering. Our Department
of Finance estimates that between $5 billion and $17 billion —
or, as I read in the paper this morning, between $17 billion and
$40 billion — moves illegally into and through Canada each
year. The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering,
which consists of 26 countries, including Canada, the European
Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been
consistently critical of Canada's inaction. The commitment in the
Speech from the Throne is encouraging. However, we have a
long way to go.
Honourable senators, I was frankly very disturbed by the fact
that the Speech from the Throne made scant reference to the
problem of illegal migration into and through Canada. We know
that, in order to prosper in the new millennium, Canada must
continue to attract immigrants from around the world. It is a
cause for concern, therefore, that Canada is failing to meet its
targets for landed immigrants.
Canada attracted 13 per cent fewer landed immigrants in 1998
than in the previous year. We appear to be experiencing
particular difficulties in attracting skilled workers and
professionals. However, this does not mean that we can turn a
blind eye to the growing problem of illegal migration into
Canada from various parts of the world. This is a very pressing
issue, the root causes of which spring from our refugee
Honourable senators, political correctness makes it very
difficult to have an open and rational debate about our refugee
policies and procedures. Anyone initiating such a debate or
questioning the status quo runs the risk of being cast as racist or
anti-immigrant. It does not seem to help to point out that most of
the illegal migrants are not fleeing persecution because of their
religious, political or other beliefs, but are what is known as
Also, it does not appear to help to point out that these illegal
migrants have broken Canadian law, and that is a very poor way
to start a new life in Canada. I take some pride in the fact that the
recent Special Committee on Security and Intelligence that I
chaired identified and documented the growing problem of
organized illegal migration into Canada before it became a
topical issue in the media and before it reached its crescendo of
activity and publication this past summer.
The fact is that illegal migration into Canada undermines the
integrity of our entire immigration policy. Persons who apply to
enter Canada through proper procedures and due process see
illegal migrants jumping into the queue ahead of them. It is also
recognized that much of the illegal migration is conducted by
criminal organizations. Not only are these criminal organizations
of a particularly nasty variety, they also extract a heavy financial
and personal toll from the migrants for the privilege of entering
North America. Many of these migrants are forced into a life of
servitude in order to pay off the debts owed to the criminal
gangs, the so-called "snakeheads", who smuggled them into
I was pleased to see that a judge in London, England, recently
sentenced four people smugglers to jail terms of between 7 and
14 years. Documents tabled in court indicated that the smugglers
had extorted about $1 million from their clients. The judge
characterized their activities as wicked, cruel and ruthless.
Therefore, we are doing no one a favour by winking at illegal
migration. The people who benefit most from lax enforcement
and from our rather naive approach to refugee determination are
the criminal elements who profit from the smuggling.
We must also recognize that illegal migration is not just a
domestic issue. It is an international issue, particularly a bilateral
issue with the United States. Experience clearly shows that many
if not most of the illegal migrants who enter Canada ultimately
end up in the United States or intend to find their way to the U.S.
We have become the soft underbelly for organized, illegal
migration into the United States, which is more dangerous,
frankly, than the U.S.-Mexico situation because of the high level
of organization and infrastructure for the smuggling of people via
If Canada is to work closely with the Government of the
United States to modernize our shared border for the
21st century, as the Speech from the Throne promises, that
modernization must extend to making our other borders less
permeable to the organized smuggling of people.
In my opinion, the problem is not with our laws, the problem
lies with enforcement. Those enforcement problems have been
identified time and time again.
The review conducted by the task force commissioned by the
former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration discovered that
there is no effective system in place to verify compliance with
the terms and conditions imposed by immigration officers on
those who claim refugee status.
Furthermore, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration
does not monitor the whereabouts of most of the refugee
claimants, including the thousands of persons awaiting
immigration hearings or who have been designated for
deportation. Fingerprints of refugee claimants are taken at ports
of entry in order to be able to determine whether the claimants
have a criminal record or pose a security threat. However,
immigration officers told the Senate special committee that the
training and the fingerprinting equipment they are required to use
are so inadequate that the prints are largely useless and they are
usually simply warehoused. What is needed, therefore, are not
new laws or policies, but the political will and resources required
for implementing and enforcing the laws and policies that
The detention of illegal migrants is obviously a sensitive issue.
Unlike the United States and other countries, we do not detain
illegal migrants unless we have reason to believe that they
constitute a criminal or security threat.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has stated her
opposition to detention on the grounds that the illegal migrants
have done nothing wrong. To detain them therefore would, in her
view at least, constitute an infringement of the Charter of Rights
In my view — and I recognize that this is not popular —
illegal migrants have done something wrong. They have
knowingly and wilfully broken Canada's immigration laws and
that should be sufficient grounds on which to detain them
pending their refugee determination hearing. However, those
processes need to be speeded up. The rulings must be timely.
They cannot expect to detain people for months and months
because of insufficient resources to carry out the work promptly.
Honourable senators, finally, I commend the government for
its commitment to strengthen the capacity of the RCMP and
other agencies to address threats to public security in Canada and
to work with enforcement agencies in other countries.
While commendable, once again, we must come to grips with
how far we must go. As reported by the Senate special
committee, since 1993, the operating budgets of the
organizations in the federal security intelligence community have
been reduced, on average, by 40 per cent. This has created a
substantial challenge for our security and intelligence sector to
deal with emerging threats and new types of criminal activities
such as money laundering, the smuggling of everything from
tobacco, alcohol, drugs and credit cards, to people, and with new
trends in terrorism such as information operations or
cyber-terrorism. Again, I look forward with great interest to
seeing the details in the next budget.
Honourable senators, as we wait for the new millennium, we
should reflect on the century that has passed. This has been a
century of tremendous instability, unprecedented in its bloodiness
due primarily to misguided nationalism and ideological
extremism. At the same time, this has been a century of
unprecedented advances. The world today would be
unrecognizable by someone living in 1899.
One hopes that we have learned some lessons in the
20th century, and that the advances we have made will launch us
into a new century that is more just, less susceptible to war, the
excesses of nationalism and ideology, and where economic and
political freedoms are allowed to flourish. If we learn those
lessons, the new century holds for us and for the world
Finally, honourable senators, in the complex world in which
we are moving, I wish the government well, both this
government and whatever governments succeed it. It will take a
significant amount of wisdom to succeed in the future, far more
than has been needed in all the years prior.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, I would
begin by congratulating both Senators Kroft and Furey for the
excellence of their remarks in moving and seconding the Address
in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Their participation
brings credit not only to themselves but to the Senate itself and
speaks very well for the future of this institution.
Indeed, I congratulate all honourable senators who have
participated in one of the most important debates to take place in
the life of any Parliament. I particularly wish to thank both the
Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition for
their generous remarks.
May I say to Senator Lynch-Staunton and, indeed, to all
honourable senators how much I appreciated their patience, good
humour and the quality of their advice during Question Period
and on other occasions when the former leader of the government
was required to participate, at times vigorously, during the
various exchanges which took place in the last two and one-half
years. While there may have been the very rare occasion when it
was necessary to move the puck around a bit before approaching
the net, I hope that all honourable senators will understand that I
endeavoured to provide as accurate and complete information as
was possible under the circumstances on all occasions.
Honourable senators, when Vaclav Havel, the President of the
Czech Republic, spoke to the combined Houses of Parliament on
a recent visit to Canada, he spoke of a world on the cusp of
dramatic change. "The highest value is humanity," he said, and
"the state exists to serve the public good, allowing the fullest
blossoming of human liberties, rights and freedoms." He went on
to praise Canada as a pathfinder nation in the creation of a better
world, adding that the "Canadian ethic" enjoyed profound
respect in his country.
The Canadian ethic is a perception renowned and widely
shared throughout the international community. President Chirac
referred to it at the Francophonie Summit in Moncton when he
spoke of Canada as a "vast country that seeks and invents the
rules of peaceful and tolerant coexistence."
As President Clinton threw away his prepared text at
Mont-Tremblant, speaking from the heart about the historic
importance of the Canadian federation, all of us who watched
and listened thought of the intellectual foundations on which this
country was built, of reform and social justice, of compassion
and commitment to people. The Canadian commitment to the
public good is a concept that lies at the heart of this very special
community. It has made this decent, civil and tolerant society a
place of hope and promise for millions of people the world over.
The deep roots of our commitment to a better place grew from
the soil of an ongoing state and a national passion for balanced
equality, a nation-state driven by the engine of reform, by the
well-being of the citizen, a point which John Ralston Saul makes
so powerfully in his Reflections of A Siamese Twin: Canada at
the End of the 20th Century. As I listened to his wife, Her
Excellency the Governor General, deliver the Speech from the
Throne on October 12, it was clear that that ongoing national
passion, the passion for balance and service to people, the heart
of what we are and where we have come from, remains in spirit
as vital and dynamic as it was at the time of our early origins.
In many ways, honourable senators, the Speech from the
Throne took us back to the future. The speech maps out a course
and a direction for Canadians who long for real identity, real
belonging, and all the values which are the anchor of our national
identity as this difficult, perilous, yet exciting and adventuresome
decade comes to a close.
Now that the government has put our fiscal house in order, and
with the impetus of a strong and growing economy, we can move
forward to a new era of governance which is fiscally responsible
but which wears a human face. With continuing improvements in
the financial health of the country, we will do more to ensure that
Canadian families have more income in their pockets and that
Canadian businesses are better able to compete in the
We began budgeted tax relief even before the budget was
balanced. Our balanced strategy allowed us to cut Canadian taxes
by some $16.5 billion over three years and, in the process,
remove 600,000 Canadians from the federal tax rolls, and still
make key investments in areas such as skills development and
health care and children, areas that really matter to Canadians.
However, we know that tax reduction is only part of the equation.
Canadians want much more from government. They reject the
notion of government as a tax collector and an accountant —
government based on the short term and the bottom line.
Canadians do not want big gaps between rich and poor.
While Canadians have accepted the tough discipline of recent
years as part of the duties and responsibilities that citizenship in
this great country entails, they have consistently told
governments that medicare, for example, is non-negotiable. They
have reaffirmed that medicare is an anchor of the Canadian
identity. Quality, affordable health care is a cornerstone of
Canadian life. It is a hallmark of our society, an expression of the
caring and compassionate spirit that makes Canada so unique.
The Speech from the Throne reiterated the Liberal
government's steadfast commitment to one of the best publicly
funded systems in the world. The centrepiece of our innovation
effort is the creation of the Canadian Institutes of Health, which
will foster state-of-the-art health care research across regions and
disciplines, and receive over $500 million in funding. This
government is committed to working with our provincial and
other partners to test innovative approaches to home care, to
pharmacare and to service delivery in ensuring that Canadians
have the best health care system possible.
Honourable senators, a new century is almost upon us.
Knowledge and innovation are the cornerstones to success in the
"Softworld". The Speech from the Throne gives a vision of a
country that is ready to seize the opportunities offered by a world
where knowledge means power. In this global village, our
researchers compete with the world, not just locally. They
compete in one global economy, in one market. As we all know
only too well, this has major implications for public policy, for
we are in a global race where national vision is absolutely
essential, where partnerships are key, and where government
provides the framework so as to better unleash the extraordinary
energies of Canadians in all walks of life.
In a world where virtual borders are all part of the reality of
change, where once protective walls have disappeared,
government must play a visible role of deep credibility and
relevance in the daily lives of the Canadian people. Over the last
six years of our mandate, this government has developed a
comprehensive and ambitious strategy for putting Canada at the
forefront of the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.
This has meant an active partnership with our universities and
laboratories, with our knowledge-based industries and provinces,
with our communities and our wonderful and excellent volunteer
sectors and cultural organizations.
This government has recognized that all Canadians must have
access to life-long learning and the promise that the digital
revolution represents. We believe that smart communities are not
and cannot be inhabited by the few for whom knowledge is
power. They belong to all Canadians.
Our Connecting Canadians strategy, which aims to make
Canada the most connected nation in the world, is based on our
belief that the future of this country will be closely bound to the
creation of a fair society that is united in the opportunity to
access information. Through initiatives under this strategy, such
as Schoolnet, the Community Access Program, and Computers
for Schools, Canada has become a true knowledge democracy —
a place where all Canadians are free to travel the information
highway first class.
With the full conviction that the classroom is the engine of our
knowledge democracy, we set up the Canadian Opportunities
Strategy, which has helped hundreds of thousands of Canadians
since 1998 and included the Education Savings Grant, Canada
Study Grants, and the Canadian Millennium Scholarships. We
have developed the infrastructure for and nurtured a healthy
That is why we are increasing our support to granting councils
and embarking on a bold new venture, creating the 2000 21st
Century Chairs for Research Excellence in Canadian universities.
University of Toronto President Robert Pritchard pointed out that
this initiative alone is the equivalent of recruiting the faculty of a
major university almost overnight — a net brain gain of
invaluable proportions. As the Prime Minister has said:
We want to make Canada a place where Canadian
students and Canadian graduates want to be. We want to
attract the global research stars of today and the future stars
We want to attract them to a place called home, not a place
they must leave because of a lack of opportunity, but a place
where education and research and the struggle for excellence are
cherished as the most valued resources of our nation's capital. It
is a place where a healthy environment and a high quality of life
go hand in hand, a place where our young people understand that
winning is not just about market share but about value and
service and commitment to our roots. It is a country that speaks
with a moral voice and whose citizens are committed to a
sustainable, global society and a better world rooted in the rich
soil of humanism.
My friend, Hodding Carter, once wrote that there are only two
lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is
roots, the other, wings — roots to walk the earth with
compassion and strength; wings to fly further into the future.
It is our children who will take us there. They will take us
there with their genius and their dreams, with their hopes and
their love, with their talent and their ingenuity, and with their
eyes wide open on a better world. However, the challenges
facing them are great. Their responsibilities are overwhelming.
Honourable senators, it is they, our children, who must win the
This government has made a commitment to our tiny babies
and our little children. Our commitment is to the best possible
start in life. Our commitment is to good shelter and nutrition and
green neighbourhoods. It is to allow parents the maximum
amount of time possible with their newborn children in the
critical early months. It is to help parents who too often must
make difficult choices between a job and benefits for their
children. It is to provide legal regimes which ensure, in cases of
separation or divorce, that the needs of our children come first. It
is to put more money into the budgets of Canadian families
through tax cuts.
Yes, our children have rights. They have a right to hope. They
have a right to dream. They have a right to grow up equal in this
remarkable country that is a symbol of hope and promise to
millions the world over — this place called Canada, this place
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, in rising to participate in the debate on the
Speech from the Throne, I begin by extending my best wishes
and congratulations to Her Excellency as she begins her tenure as
the representative of the Crown in Canada.
Honourable senators, in reflecting upon the role of the Crown
in Canada, we are reminded by our colleague Senator Beaudoin
that section 17 of the British North America Act, our
fundamental constitutional document, points out that the
Governor General, together with now 301 members in the other
place and 105 senators in the Senate of Canada, constitute our
Parliament of Canada. These 407 Canadians have been given a
great privilege and an awesome responsibility. Only 407
individual Canadians serve 30 million Canadians in our
As I reflected on the Speech from the Throne and reflected
also on Parliament, some of the recurring questions that
continued to present themselves were questions such as how well
is the ship of state really doing during the watch of we 407
Canadians? Is the practice of freedom stronger or weaker? Will
we be leaving Canada a better place after our sojourn here in
In reply to these questions, I was drawn to the consideration
that a trinity of fundamental institutions lay at the base of our
freedom in Canada: One, a judicial infrastructure with an
independent judiciary; two, Parliament and the other legislative
bodies across Canada; and, three, the voluntary or the
non-governmental sector of Canadian society.
As I thought about the first institution, the Canadian judicial
infrastructure, and how the Speech from the Throne might bear
on it, I was quite frankly more drawn to the outpouring of critical
attack on our courts in recent days, particularly during debate in
the other place in reply to the Speech from the Throne. As I
heard the criticism being heaped upon our courts, I felt that it
ought to be of great concern to all of us who recognize that an
independent judiciary is a critically important cornerstone in our
system of democracy and liberty in Canada. Our highest court,
the Supreme Court of Canada, has come under vicious attack
from certain quarters. Some of the most boisterous attacks on the
judiciary have come from Reform Party members in the other
In his reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Leader of the
Reform Party in the other place stated:
We have seen the courts increasingly encroach on the
prerogatives of Parliament to the point where one might
argue that one cannot fully interpret the Speech from the
Throne until after hearing the speech from the bench.
Well, honourable senators, some listeners may have been
amused. Some may have found that to be a quaint or cute
proposition. I, personally, was not amused. Neither was I amused
when the Leader of the Reform Party in the other place began to
heap great criticism on the courts at various levels for decisions
rendered in their assessments of government actions — federal,
provincial or territorial — as measured against the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. It was as if somehow the court was to be
held accountable for the existence of our constitutional Charter
of Rights and Freedoms. I would quickly remind all Canadians
that it took a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament and
by nine provincial legislative assemblies to bring about the
Canada Act of 1982.
It is important for us in Parliament to assess a government's
vision and the resulting programs in terms of whether each
program will place our courts in a more difficult or a less
difficult circumstance. As I looked at the Speech from the
Throne, I could see nothing to persuade me that the government
has anything other than a "do nothing" agenda. The government
seems to be avoiding serious political criticism with this strategy.
It is leaving to the courts the difficult tasks of interpreting highly
general or loosely knit legislation. The government has failed to
take sufficient leadership in bringing forth the political and
legislative vision necessary for Parliament to function in the
manner originally envisaged.
Further complicating the independence and function of the
judiciary in recent times seems to be the misunderstanding at
some levels in the government of the relationship which ought to
exist between the executive and the judiciary. Honourable
senators have paid very close attention to the rendering of the
Supreme Court's judgment in the Marshall case. That case
recognized certain treaty rights and caused quite unfortunate
outcomes in the province I represent, New Brunswick.
During this time, the Prime Minister mused about the
possibility of the Supreme Court withholding its judgment on
Marshall for a period of time to allow the government to
introduce regulations necessary to reduce the levels of hostility.
While we were all anxious to avoid that hostility, we still faced
the question of political interference in the work of the highest
court of the land and clearly demonstrated how the executive
powers are beginning to flex their muscles in the domain of the
judiciary and other institutions integral to our parliamentary form
Honourable senators, it is dangerous for any prime minister to
be asking the courts to do their job in a manner beneficial to the
ruling regime. The law is the law. It should not be bent or
customized to suit the preferences of the political party in power
at a given time.
Adding to this clouding of the separation of the executive
branch from the judicial branch is the virtual knee-jerk reaction
of so many members, particularly in the other place. In the years
that I have been in this house, I have seldom, if ever, heard an
immediate appeal to resolve a serious political problem or social
policy problem by resorting to the notwithstanding clause of the
Charter. Yet, so often we hear from the other place that the
notwithstanding clause can be used to get around a problem.
Parliament must be very cautious when that kind of proposition
is brought forward.
Honourable senators, I view Parliament as one of the three
fundamental institutions governing the practise of freedom in
Canada. Many parliamentarians, representing a cross-section of
political parties in both Houses of Parliament, as well as some
members of territorial and provincial legislatures, have begun to
express alarm at the failure of leaders in government to properly
nurture and be guided by established rules of parliamentary
accountability. For example, it seems sometimes that
governments do not want their respective legislative body even
to be meeting.
An examination of the number of sitting days of the various
legislative assemblies and the two Houses of Parliament is quite
revealing. Reference the delay in reopening Parliament this fall.
The House of Commons, the institution meant to embody our
democracy in Canada, has averaged less than 120 sitting days per
year. All through the 1990s, our friends in the other place
enjoyed the dubious distinction of sitting for fewer days per year
than either the House of Commons at Westminster or our
American counterpart. They sat 12 per cent less than the House
of Commons in Westminster and 20 per cent fewer days than the
House of Representatives in the United States.
Some members ask why they should bother coming here, that
it is a waste of time to sit in Parliament because the government
of the day does not bother to listen to its counsel anyway. In
many cases, even the government's own backbenchers are
punished by removal from committee, for example, because they
opposed the might at the centre. Such advocates argue that
government views the rules of Parliament as little more than
obstacles on the course of realizing partisan objectives.
There are also those who maintain that the inner sanctum of
the Langevin Block has collaborated to obscure the actions and
decisions of this present government from the purview of
Why would the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers not have
Parliament sit? The answer is obvious, honourable senators. It is
easier to get on with the important things, like making speeches
or going on foreign trips or collecting donations for two-thirds of
the year, if you need not be accountable or answer questions in
Parliament. When dealing with potentially damaging or
embarrassing issues, one either deals with the issue directly or
extricates oneself from the situation, and in the latter case this
has meant the Langevin technicians shutting off the lights in the
Centre Block so that everyone would be sent home.
Stripping Parliament's capacity to study legislation and
important issues of the day is the technique which has been used
by the current government to usurp the prerogative of this
institution. Within one issue, for example, we find evidence of
the centre's unwillingness to allow Parliament to do its work. If
you look at the circumstance surrounding the Nisga'a Final
Agreement, brokered between the Nisga'a Nation and the
Province of British Columbia, it was signed by both after it was
passed by the B.C. legislature and accepted by the Nisga'a
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: I have to interrupt the
Honourable Senator Kinsella and tell him that his time has
expired. Honourable senators, is leave granted to continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, before Parliament had
the opportunity to review the Nisga'a Treaty, the Indian Affairs
Minister had signed the treaty. Moreover, the agreement specifies
that, as a tripartite agreement, all signing members agree to
revise the treaty, where necessary. Although the Nisga'a and the
Government of British Columbia can only do so after consulting
their constituent bodies, it would appear the federal government
can agree to treaty modifications through Governor in Council,
thus, again, rendering Parliament irrelevant.
Accountability to Parliament has been a particularly onerous
thorn in the side of this Prime Minister and his cabinet, which
has become his private focus group. Within the cabinet, the
Prime Minister has risen above the concept of first among equals.
The hierarchical nature of this government continues through all
ranks as well. Cabinet quashes the political participation and
input of backbenchers, opposition members, committees, and
individual citizens. At its fundamental level, the accountability of
the Langevin Block to Parliament is next to zero. This frontal
assault on parliamentary accountability is alarming and begs
asking whether this Speech from the Throne clarifies whether
government is still accountable to Parliament.
In our Westminister-derived form of government, the
accountability of government is the cornerstone of parliamentary
practice, and in this governance paradigm it is considered
improper for cabinet and the Prime Minister to dominate the
policy function of Parliament without proper and meaningful
consultation with the general body of members in both places.
I should like to point out the inadequacy of this government to
prevent the erosion of our political system by quoting scholar
Philip Norton, who, on the topic of the government's failure to
conduct itself in keeping with the principle of accountability,
writes that, over the years, the instruments of Parliament have
dulled. He states:
Government also became less willing to divulge information
to the House. Increasingly, MPs were expected to defer to
the superior knowledge of government. As government bills
came to dominate the legislative agenda, and as those bills
became more complex, the House failed to generate the
resources to keep up with those developments. Hence, in its
relationship with government, the House...lacked both the
political will and the institutional resources to challenge the
measures formulated by government.
The noted scholar C.E.S. Franks posits the danger of an overly
centralized executive to the parliamentary process. He notes that
...enormous centralized powers are more like those normally
associated with an autocratic dictatorship than with a
Parliament is the central forum for discussion about the use
and abuse of political power.
In that spirit, we ask whether the cabinet and the Prime
Minister's Office have taken measures to ensure their conduct is
properly audited by Parliament, and whether there is evidence of
that willingness to be found in this Speech from the Throne
which is intended, of course, to set the tone of this parliamentary
session. Honourable senators, there has been a shift of power to
the other side of the street and many authors have commented on
Let me just turn, in conclusion, to the third institution that
serves our democracy, that is, the voluntary and the
non-governmental sector. It was disappointing, honourable
senators, to find not a word in the Speech from the Throne
concerning the upcoming world celebration of the role of the
voluntary sector in society. One looks in vain to find innovative
or creative support of the voluntary sector from this government.
Indeed, the opposite is the case. Nearly every promise made in
the Speech from the Throne entailed the central government
undertaking one action or another.
Surely, honourable senators, given that the United Nations has
declared the year 2001 to be the International Year of Volunteers,
the government would have made some effort to indicate our
national preparedness to underscore the importance of the
non-governmental volunteer associations.
In conclusion, honourable senators, I wish to refer back to
Professor Donald Savoie, to whom we have alluded on other
occasions, and his recently published book this year, entitled
Governing from the Centre. Professor Savoie, in a razor-sharp
analysis of the power of the Prime Minister and the change in
politics and power in Canada, stated as follows:
Cabinet has now joined Parliament as an institution being
bypassed. Real political debate and decision making are
increasingly elsewhere — in federal-provincial meetings of
first ministers, on Team Canada flights, where first ministers
can hold informal meetings, in the Prime Minister's Office,
in the Privy Council Office, in the Department of Finance,
and in international organizations and international
summits. There is no indication that the one person who
holds all the cards, the prime minister, and the central
agencies which enable him to bring effective political
authority to the centre, are about to change things. The
Canadian prime minister has little in the way of institutional
check, at least inside government, to inhibit his ability to
have his way.
With this change in the paradigm, one can fully understand the
frustration that members of the other place, and from time to
time members in this house, manifest in having no say in the
development of policy, but are simply given marching orders to
push through a government initiative, sometimes with no
reflection on it whatsoever.
Honourable senators, the Speech from the Throne is the
mechanism by which the government of the day outlines its
vision for the country and sets the tone in which this institution
shall operate. Clearly, the foundations of our system of
parliamentary democracy are threatened and little has been done
to repair the damage.
Hon. Mabel M. DeWare: Honourable senators, I rise today
with pleasure to speak to the recent Speech from the Throne. I
enjoyed being here for the opening of Parliament and the pomp
and ceremony wherein our new Governor General gave her
inaugural speech for the new century.
I wish to talk about two aspects of the Speech from the
Throne. They relate to two parliamentary committees of which I
was privileged to be a member. One was the Special Senate
Committee on Post-Secondary Education, which was chaired by
our former colleague the Honourable Senator Lorne Bonnell and
reported in December of 1997; the other was the Special Joint
Committee on Child Custody and Access, which was co-chaired
by the Honourable Senator Landon Pearson. Its report was tabled
in December of 1998.
Honourable senators, we in this chamber are all well aware of
the importance, both to individual Canadians and to Canada as a
whole, of post-secondary education. The benefits that accrue to
those who attend colleges, universities and other post-secondary
institutions are immeasurable. They include financial benefits
that enable graduates to achieve a better standard of living for
themselves and their families. They also include other less
tangible but just as important benefits in terms of quality of life,
which also enables graduates to play a key role in building their
communities. In turn, those benefits are passed on to Canada's
economy and society, through higher tax revenues, cost savings
on social programs, and greater social cohesion, for example.
Even more important these days is the competitive advantage
that an educated workforce gives Canada in the global economy.
Companies in the growing knowledge and high technology
sectors are more likely to invest in a country where they can hire
well-trained graduates of quality post-secondary institutions.
It is clear that the federal government, too, recognizes the
critical role of post-secondary education in Canada. In the
Speech from the Throne, it acknowledged "Canada's advantage
as a country with the most highly educated workforce in the
world." The government further claimed that in the past three
years it has taken action to build on that advantage. The Speech
from the Throne pointed to measures that make it easier to save
for a child's education and to Canada millennium scholarships,
which the government says aim to make college and university
studies more affordable. It also mentioned improved student debt
relief and better tax assistance to promote lifelong learning. In
fact, I believe it actually referred to these measures collectively
as "the strategy."
The government now says it intends to continue to build on
that so-called strategy through several initiatives. The Speech
from the Throne included the grand pronouncement that Ottawa
...forge partnerships with other governments, public- and
private-sector organizations, and Canadian men and women
to establish a national action plan on skills and learning for
the 21st century. This plan will focus on lifelong learning,
address the challenge of poor literacy among adults, and
provide citizens with the information they need to make
good decisions about developing their skills.
Honourable senators, the Speech from the Throne listed three
components of this action plan, although I sincerely hope others
will be added, and soon. Specifically, the government said it will
work with its partners to:
- enable skills development to keep pace with the evolving
economy. This work will be led by the Sectoral Councils,
which bring together representatives from business,
labour, education and other professional groups to address
human resources issues in important areas of the
- make it easier for Canadians to finance lifelong learning;
- provide a single window to Canada-wide information
about labour markets, skills requirements and training
opportunities — on the Internet, over the telephone or in
person in communities across the country.
Honourable senators, these all have the potential to be very
worthwhile measures. Action in these three general areas, which
were identified almost two years ago by the Special Senate
Committee on Post-Secondary Education, is certainly necessary,
not to mention long overdue.
I should also like to commend the government for committing
itself to improving Canada's knowledge infrastructure through
such things as the creation of the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, increased support to the granting councils, and greater
international research collaboration by Canadian universities and
institutes, although the details are, once again, pretty fuzzy.
Research and development is, after all, another key area that was
identified by the Special Senate Committee on Post-Secondary
Education. I was pleased that, in keeping with several of our
committee's recommendations, the government appears to
recognize the value of attracting top-notch researchers and
encouraging our graduates to pursue careers in Canada rather
than going to other countries. We must make it more attractive
for Canadian post-secondary graduates to stay here at home in
order to safeguard the competitive advantage our educated
workforce gives us.
With the increased attention that Canada's much-publicized
brain drain has received, this is a particularly timely intervention.
A recent study by the Conference Board of Canada warned that
the growing brain drain is threatening to deplete Canada's pool
of skilled workers. Furthermore, Nortel Chief Executive John
Roth has hinted that his company could leave Canada if nothing
is done to stop the outflow of human capital. Noting that only 7
per cent of Nortel's top executives remain in Canada, he was
quoted in the November 12 edition of The Ottawa Citizen as
What does having headquarters in Canada mean if most of
the company's leadership team has left?
Considering that 22,000 Nortel employees work in Canada and
that it hires one-quarter of Canadian-trained graduate engineers
each year, this should not be taken lightly. Even Statistics
Canada, which has been criticized for downplaying the
brain-drain crisis, has admitted that Canadian graduates who
head south of the border tend to be our brightest and our best.
While a number of causes have been identified for this tragic
out-migration, it is clear that Canada's system of post-secondary
education is a factor. I recall to my honourable colleagues
another remark attributed to Mr. Roth in The Ottawa Citizen of
November 12. He said:
The quality of Canadian grads in engineering and computer
science is excellent, but I'm fearful of the quality going
down because the education system is not well financed.
Honourable senators, we must ask ourselves whether the
measures that the Liberals promised in the Speech from the
Throne are sufficient, in the government's own words, "to build
on Canada's advantage as the country with the most highly
educated workforce in the world." In fact, if implemented, will
they be enough to maintain the quality of our educated
workforce? I am concerned that much more needs to be done in
the post-secondary education sector in order to achieve the
results that the government has promised us. I would have felt
more comfortable if the Speech from the Throne had offered a bit
of substance to back up some of its feel-good buzzwords. I would
have felt even better if it had addressed certain areas of
post-secondary education, which the government appears to have
completely ignored, and areas that I believe are critical if we are
to move forward with knowledge into the 21st century and not
slide backwards or, if we are lucky, simply tread water.
Keeping in mind the remarks made by Nortel's John Roth, I
wish to speak in particular of the funding of post-secondary
education in Canada. Federal and provincial support for
post-secondary education was identified as a top priority by the
committee on which I served. The committee also recommended
"that the federal government, while continuing to respect
provincial jurisdiction, renew its strong commitment to
Underfunding of Canadian colleges and universities, in part
caused by cuts to the Canada Health and Social Transfer, has
resulted in, among other things, higher tuition fees, deteriorating
physical infrastructure and equipment, and an inability to attract
the best qualified faculty at post-secondary institutions across the
In particular, high tuition fees risk placing post-secondary
education out of the reach of many Canadian students. The
prospect of graduating with crushing student debt loads that are
not likely to be offset much by millennium scholarships, for
example, can be a big deterrent. While it is important to make
loans and other assistance available to students, there must be a
limit on how much any individual should have to borrow.
I am wary of the government's Throne Speech promise to
make it easier to finance lifelong learning. If it intends to simply
make it easier for students to borrow even more money to add to
their debt load, then I do not think that is the answer. That would
be like putting the cart before the horse. If, however, the
government is planning to provide more grants and bursaries, or
some serious debt remission, then I would view this promise in a
much more positive light. Canadians will be waiting with interest
to see, over the next two years, just what the government has in
In addition, we will be extremely interested to see how the
government and its partners will, as the Speech from the Throne
indicated, enable skills development to keep pace with the
evolving economy. I sincerely hope that it will not simply be a
matter of identifying which professions, trades and occupations
will be in need of more graduates in the coming years, although
that is an important undertaking. Rather, this initiative should be
backed up with concrete measures to assist students to obtain the
education and training that is required to meet those identified
Again, Canadians will be following the federal government
closely on these issues over the next two years. However, I do
not think Canadians should have to wait up to two years for the
government to implement the post-secondary education-related
promises that it made in the Speech from the Throne.
I remind the government that action in this critical area is
needed now. I might also remind honourable senators that this
committee report is now two years old, and it was urgent when it
Senator Graham was most eloquent in his promises about the
future of education in Canada. He has a wonderful way with
words. Two years ago, we listened to words of despair from
students, educators and researchers about the state of education
in Canada. It was not a pleasant overview.
It is timely, therefore, that this government give education a
priority place on its agenda for the new century. I really must
commend Senator Graham for his remarks today.
Honourable senators, I could speak at much greater length
about post-secondary education issues and lifelong learning as
these are close to my heart. Indeed, I hope to do so in the near
However, I shall now move to the other aspect of the Speech
from the Throne that I wish to address, and that is, the reference
to child custody and access issues. First, some background is in
I had the honour of serving on the Special Joint Committee on
Child Custody and Access which was struck in October of 1997.
The government created the joint committee to fulfil a promise it
made in order to ensure approval by the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which I
chaired at the time, of the new federal child support guidelines.
As a result, 23 members, representing five parties, spent the
next year hearing from hundreds of witnesses and studying very
serious issues for families affected by separation and divorce.
In December 1998, the committee tabled its report entitled
"For the Sake of the Children". It included a wide-ranging series
of recommendations aimed at making the current adversarial
system of child custody and access arrangements more
child-centered. The most important recommendation involved
changes which recognized both mothers and fathers must
continue to have an important role in their children's lives. These
recommendations focus on the concept of shared parenting,
which involves joint decision-making, with time-sharing and
residential arrangements to be worked out between the parents.
With shared parenting, both father and mother continue to be
active in the care and nurturing of their children.
In May 1999, the federal Justice Minister released the
government's detailed response to the committee's report. I was
pleased to learn that the government is preparing to support the
committee's key recommendations, calling for a child-centered
approach to family law in cases of separation and divorce.
We were excited, even elated, on the day we learned that the
minister was going to act on our recommendations. However, I,
along with thousands of Canadian parents and their children, was
disappointed to learn that these families will have to wait another
three years for any positive action to be taken on their behalf.
That is because the government stated in its response that it
intends to integrate legislative changes to the custody and access
provisions of the Divorce Act into its comprehensive review of
the child support guidelines. That is not due until May 1, 2002.
I was heartened, as I am sure you were, honourable senators,
that there was reference to this issue contained in the Speech
from the Throne. In it, the government stated:
...with its provincial and territorial partners, it will work to
reform family law and strengthen supports provided to
families to ensure that, in cases of separation and divorce,
the needs and best interests of children come first.
Clearly, this reference shows that the government recognizes
that child custody and access arrangements are a matter of
critical importance for many Canadians and that concerns about
the current system will not go away.
I am hopeful that the government is planning to speed up its
planned implementation of the shared parenting
recommendations included in "For the Sake of the Children".
After all, the Speech from the Throne traditionally sets out the
government's plan of priorities for the session of Parliament
whose opening it marks. Recent reports that a federal general
election is expected to be called within 18 months, well before
2002, may give some Canadians reason to hope for faster
progress. I trust that their hope is not a false one, although given
the Liberal government's poor track record so far on custody and
access matters, they likely are not holding their breath. Still, we
can always keep our fingers crossed. Meanwhile, hundreds of
children will not be heard and will feel the heartache of broken
Honourable senators, I appreciate being given the opportunity
to speak about these two aspects of the recent Speech from the
Throne, which contains much more. Other members of this
chamber have been doing a fine job speaking to different aspects
of it and no doubt others will contribute to this debate.
I would conclude by expressing the hope that the government
will listen to and take into account the very real concerns and the
reasoned suggestions raised by my colleagues on this side of the
On motion of Senator Roche, debate adjourned.
Royal Assent Bill
Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition)
moved the second reading of Bill S-7, respecting the declaration
of Royal Assent by the Governor General in the Queen's name to
bills passed by the Houses of Parliament.
He said: Honourable senators, I first must explain what this
bill is not. Contrary to a number of recent newspaper reports and
comments, it does not call for the abolition of the Royal Assent
ceremony as we know it, and which has been followed here since
1867. The bill provides, in addition to confirming the traditional
ceremony, an alternative, known as a written declaration, similar
to what is practised in the United Kingdom and other
Commonwealth countries. The traditional ceremony would be
obligatory for the first appropriation bill in a session, and at least
once a calendar year.
Honourable senators who were here at the time will recall that
a bill nearly identical to Bill S-7, which was then known as
Bill S-19, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Murray, the
then leader of the government, in July 1988. Senator Doody
opened second reading debate a few days later. The debate
resumed in September but was short-lived, as the Senate's
majority priorities were elsewhere then and not foreign to the
dissolution of Parliament on October 1. The arguments put
forward by Senator Doody 11 years ago are still valid today, and
many of mine derive from his. The latest effort along these lines
was before the Senate in the last session and it, too, became a
victim of prorogation. My remarks, therefore, will be similar to
the ones made at that time.
To repeat, the purpose of Bill S-7 is not to do away with a
formal Royal Assent ceremony as we know it. Indeed, it is
retained in the bill, which requires that the current procedure
apply to the first supply bill in a session, and at least once in each
Keeping the Royal Assent ceremony as we know it and
allowing a written declaration as an alternative is a subject that
has been before the Senate many times. In 1983, Senator Frith
presented an inquiry regarding the advisability of establishing
alternative procedures for the declaration of Royal Assent to
bills. Following a recommendation in March 1985 by the Special
Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons — the
McGrath committee — that a new Royal Assent procedure be
adopted, the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules
and Orders, chaired by Senator Molgat, recommended changes
along the same lines. A careful reading of the debate on the
report presented by Senator Molgat indicates general support for
the idea but disagreement on how to implement it. A solution
was found through the introduction of Bill S-19 referred to
earlier, a bill that died as a result of prorogation less than three
months later. Bill S-7, as did Bill S-19, incorporates the
principles found in that report.
The Royal Assent ceremony as we know it is not required by
the Constitution Act of 1867. The relevant provisions are in
sections 55, 56 and 57, which deal only with the granting,
withholding and receiving of Royal Assent, which is necessary
for a bill to be given the force of law. Section 5 of the
Interpretation Act provides that the date of Royal Assent is the
date of the commencement of an act if no other date is stipulated.
While no law outlines the Royal Assent ceremony itself, a
description of it can be found in Beauchesne. The actual
arrangements are the responsibility of the Clerk Assistant of the
Senate. Canada is the only country to retain the formal Royal
Assent ceremony requiring the presence of the sovereign or the
Governor General or his or her deputy. The McGrath report
noted that "Canada is still using a practice which was abandoned
by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1967. In fact, no other
Commonwealth Parliament has maintained the procedure still
used in Canada."
Royal Assent in Great Britain required the presence of the
monarch until 1541, when Lord Commissioners were designated
to act on behalf of the sovereign. In 1967, the United Kingdom
Parliament passed the Royal Assent Act, which retains the
traditional ceremony while allowing a written declaration, as is
proposed in Bill S-7. As with Bill S-7, the Royal Assent Act does
not specify details respecting the alternative procedure, it simply
Parliament, as we all know, is made up of the three entities —
the Crown, the Senate and the House of Commons — each of
which is essential to a bill being enacted. Our Royal Assent
ceremony brings them together for the final step in the
sometimes lengthy process before a bill becomes law. While the
Crown does not refuse assent, it must still be sought. One
commentator has written that Royal Assent is still a necessary
formality and is at the same time nothing more than a formality.
I fear, as do others, that what should be an event equal to its
significance has become a routine one stimulating little but
passive curiosity from those who happen to witness it by
accident. Too often, the Governor General is unavailable, and
finding a deputy governor general on short notice is difficult and
embarrassing. Too often, the deputy may be kept waiting beyond
the appointed hour because of unexpected Senate proceedings.
Attending members of the House of Commons are usually
outnumbered by their officials, particularly if assent is scheduled
after the House has adjourned. A late Thursday afternoon Royal
Assent means a small turnout of Senators. The atmosphere is one
of indifference rather than of respect for an event which, while
largely a formality, is nonetheless an essential one and reminds
us of the evolution of the parliamentary system over the
There are those who will argue that Royal Assent is archaic
and should simply be done away with altogether. I will not
engage in that debate today except to say that as long as Royal
Assent is a requirement, let it be given the standing it deserves by
treating the ceremony surrounding it with respect for its
significance rather than just a bothersome interruption of
parliamentary business. What better way of doing this than by
having fewer traditional ceremonies during a session? By
allowing alternatives, Parliament would, in effect, sanction the
importance of the traditional Royal Assent ceremony by making
it a special occasion, properly planned and well-attended, rather
than an obligation whose repetition dilutes its significance.
Objections to this bill will come from those who fear that it is
but the thin edge of the wedge which in time will lead to the end
of the ceremony as we know it today. Bill S-7, however, takes
these apprehensions into account. The alternative suggested is to
allow a non-traditional Royal Assent at times when it is difficult
to get the parties involved, to agree on a time suitable to all, and
to have more than a corporal's guard from both Houses of
Parliament in attendance. This problem will become more acute
once the House, as part of the Parliamentary precinct
renovations, moves to the West Block, to be followed by the
Senate after the House returns to the Centre Block. This alone, I
feel, is reason enough to give serious consideration to this bill.
Honourable senators, I have deliberately not gone into a
lengthy, detailed argument in favour of Bill S-7, feeling that this
general outline is sufficient to stimulate interest in it. I am
indebted to colleagues who have spoken on the topic over the
past few years, to the Library of Parliament, and to the thorough
research of Senate legal counsel, which together contributed
significantly to these remarks, and I look forward to further
debate both here and in committee.
On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
Francophone and Acadian communities
Deterioration of Services—Inquiry—Debate adjourned
Hon. Jean-Maurice Simard
rose pursuant to notice of
November 3, 1999:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the
situation vis-à-vis the development and vitality of
francophone and Acadian communities, its gradual
deterioration, the growing indifference of governments in
Canada over the past ten years, and the lack of access to
services in French.
He said: Honourable senators, as agreed between both leaders
in the Senate, and I hope all senators will be in agreement, I now
give the floor to my colleague Senator Jean-Claude Rivest, who
will read my speech. It could exceed the allotted time of ten
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest, (Speaking on behalf of
Hon. Senator Simard): Honourable senators, let me first say
that I am really pleased to take part, in a rather unusual fashion,
in the proceedings of this house. As Senator Simard just
indicated, he asked me to read the address that he wanted to
deliver in the Senate on the tabling of an extremely substantial
report. Incidentally, I urge all honourable senators to read the
report. It is truly an in-depth and very well-documented study by
Senator Simard on the situation of Canada's francophone and
Since I share the concerns he is raising, it is all the more easy
for me to read Senator Simard's speech. I would simply ask that,
in the Debates of the Senate, Senator Simard's speech be under
his name, even though I will read it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Rivest (Speaking on behalf of Hon. Senator
Simard): Honourable senators, I rise to speak to you about an
issue of enormous importance, not only to myself but also to the
I want to speak to you about an issue that has long been close
to my heart, an absolutely vital issue in which I have invested
much of my political activity: the vitality and development of
Canada's francophone and Acadian communities.
After months of personal thought and research and serious,
in-depth consultations, my concerns about these communities'
future outlook have become so grave that I dare to term that
outlook a national emergency.
When I use the term emergency, and when I say this
emergency is national, I not only base that claim on the results of
research, but I also draw on the knowledge and experience I have
accumulated in over 30 years of public life: I trust the instinct
that we all develop in practising our trade to the best of our
Everything in me tells me that, unless we act immediately and
with all the conviction and energy of which this Parliament and
this country are capable, it will soon be too late. By refusing to
act, out of indifference, and out of the comfortable paradigms of
our ivory towers, we shall betray the promise of a country that
could have been great, if only it had had the courage to do so.
I say we must act because, if these francophone and Acadian
communities that have helped forge a Canadian identity that is
recognized and respected worldwide disappear one day, it will be
largely because their country's leaders abandoned them. It will be
because we preferred to take refuge in the safety of inaction and
half measures, while our people asked for no more than a helping
hand. It will be because we gave in to threats from a handful of
extremists who frightened us with their intolerance and dictated
to us our own death warrant.
It will be because we were afraid of being afraid. Deep down
inside, each one of us knows perfectly well why we do not speak
up about the French fact. It is not that this issue is not important;
it is not that it is not urgent. It is because we are afraid: afraid of
provoking those elements in Canadian society — which are in
fact dwindling — that might be tempted to fan the fires of
intolerance; afraid of spending our political capital in
English-speaking Canada to defend the French-speaking
minorities in those regions; afraid of publicly standing up for
Canada's marvellous social vision of linguistic duality that,
elsewhere, we still display as a unique example of success.
Is this fear not the ultimate paradox? We are afraid to speak
out at home about something that produces admiration, respect
and indeed envy in all parts of the world. We are afraid to remind
Canadians that our country's founding federation is characterized
by unprecedented tolerance between two peoples dedicated to the
principle of mutual equality.
On the threshold of the year 2000, we prefer to mollify
ideological dinosaurs nostalgic for a less noble era, when a
Canada of nine provinces plus one was determinedly anglicizing
its society and all its citizens, French-speaking, aboriginal, and
newcomers. That policy led us straight to what André
Laurendeau of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Bilingualism
and Biculturalism, over three decades ago, called the worst crisis
in Canada's history.
In short, we feel that, if we do not talk about the crisis, it does
not exist. If we do not admit that the situation of Canada's
francophone and Acadian communities has become critical, we
do not need to do anything about it. If we do nothing, we cannot
be criticized for having done anything. And, in the finest country
in the world, everyone will live happily ever after.
We shall witness the glory of inaction and the triumph of
However, honourable senators, that is not all. We feel that, if
we keep quiet, everyone must keep quiet. In other words, when
these communities' leaders dare to speak up and denounce the
abuses of which they are the victims, we tell them to keep quiet.
I beg your pardon. First we pretend to be unaware that they
exist. Then, when their cries get too loud or too public, we give
them lip service because we have no choice: after all, Quebec is
watching what we do, and what an unflattering impression of
Canada Quebec would have if we refused to support endangered
francophones! Once the critical moment of timid support has
passed and the media interest has died down, however, we
quickly bring those troublesome francophones back into line,
emphasizing that it will be much smoother sailing if they don't
rock the boat. We take minority francophones hostages to power.
This federal government, which should be these minorities'
ultimate defender, this government that is constitutionally, legally
and morally responsible for ensuring that their rights are
respected, attacks the victims, not the guilty parties.
This government not only refuses to act but also hits these
minorities where they are most vulnerable. Their funding is cut,
as one would refuse food to an animal that does not obey. The
leaders of these French-speaking communities, still proud but
ever hungrier, quickly realize what they have to do if they want
more funding. They fall into line. These community leaders are
told that, if things were managed "behind the scenes," they
would get much better results and progress much faster.
The most troublesome are isolated, using the principle of
"Divide and conquer."
I realize that there are those among you — and in the other
place — who will take offence at these statements. You will
hasten to list government programs supporting the official
languages, and the millions of dollars allocated to those
programs. You will note the success of Canada's
French-speaking communities, the Year of the Francophonie
proclaimed by the government, the Sommet de l'Acadie in
Moncton, and the Jeux de la Francophonie planned for the year
2001 right here in the National Capital Region. You will be
proud to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Official
Languages Act amendment giving the federal government
broader responsibilities toward these minorities.
I shall applaud; I shall congratulate you. Of course these
initiatives are worth the time and worthy of praise.
Unfortunately, I cannot go home with a sense of duty done, as
others in this Parliament are tempted to do. I cannot do that,
because our real duty remains to be done. There will always be
enough bread and circuses to keep people quiet, but no
government can ever take pride in that kind of show when, in the
trenches, doggedly brave francophones still battle the forces that
seek to annihilate them.
You can throw us the world's finest parties, but those
celebrations can never mask the truth about a government that
refuses to support these francophones, in the face of its
constitutional responsibility to do so.
I shall not applaud when I see that even section 23 of the
Charter guaranteeing French-language education for Canada's
French-speaking minorities is still ignored in the face of repeated
rulings by the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada,
confirming these rights; or when nearly half of the 260,000
Canadian children with a constitutional right to French-language
education are deprived of that right and must study in
English-language schools or French immersion courses. Not even
in education is the battle over.
You will not hear me congratulate you when I see provincial
governments taking their cue from federal disengagement from
these minorities, downloading responsibilities, and thus wiping
out or threatening the gains francophones have made.
You can never alter the sad fact that, more than 30 years after
the adoption of the Official Languages Act, equal opportunities,
equality of people, real or perceived, is far from being achieved.
You can never make us forget that, more than 30 years after
the Dunton-Laurendeau commission recommended that the New
Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba governments introduce official
bilingualism, only one of those provinces has agreed to do so.
The biggest and most powerful province, which half of Canadian
francophones outside Quebec call home, still refuses to recognize
the Franco-Ontarian minority's constitutional rights.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt Senator Rivest,
but it is 6:00 p.m. Is it the wish of the Senate that I do not see
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Rivest: It took the Supreme Court to convince
Manitoba that it had governed practically illegally for nearly a
century, not to mention the disgraceful 1984 incidents, in which
certain provincial politicians spite erupted against
We should be ashamed to think that, right this minute, a
Franco-Ontarian woman named Gisèle Lalonde and a small team
are travelling by car to all parts of that vast province to garner
support for a project to enshrine Franco-Ontarians' rights in the
Charter. You will tell me that Heritage Canada gave her funding
for that trip. Is that so? I defy anyone in this Parliament to do
what Gisèle Lalonde is doing with $35,000. You want people to
be properly appreciative of that gesture. You would like
Franco-Ontarians to be eternally grateful, when we are giving
them crusts of bread to do our work for us!
Is this not our responsibility, especially since we in this
chamber are constitutionally bound to defend the interests of the
least powerful, the most vulnerable, those who have no voice? Is
it not our responsibility to carry the message of the French fact to
all parts of the country?
The Heritage Canada grant to the Opération Constitution
movement is so laughably small that one is tempted to believe it
was given in the hope that this movement would fail. That
assumption failed to take into account the calibre of the persons
who have decided to carry the torch, come what may.
Is that grant, instead, not a sad symbol of cuts to federal
funding for official language communities? What has happened
to the principle of equivalence, upheld by the Supreme Court in
the Mahé case? How can we hope that these communities will
develop when they do not have the same access as does the
majority to federal government programs?
Canada's francophones continue to rise up like kites, into and
against all winds of adversity. These people, hundreds of whom
are still found in Acadie, Ontario, Manitoba and, indeed, all parts
of the country, care about a single cause: Canada.
Canada's francophones believed this government when it said
they were full and equal citizens, that Canada was a country for
francophones, that in Canada they had their place in the sun.
They believed this government so much that this profound
conviction continues to lead them to fight for their rights today,
in the hope that eventually this government will join them as a
genuine ally, not a deceitful mercenary, in completing this
The time has come for us, in this Parliament, to lend all of our
efforts, all of our resources, and all of our voices to those who are
successfully resisting and have always defied history. They are a
people who refuse to die.
Honourable senators, I humbly ask you to read the report I
tabled earlier today. It is a sincere and responsible piece of work,
with neither claims to glory nor partisan bias. When you read it,
I ask you to keep an open mind, open eyes, and an open heart.
Some sections of the report, like some of my statements today,
will not please you. I very much wish things could be otherwise,
but we cannot congratulate ourselves on the present situation. We
can act, however. We must act.
I ask you to think about the following passage, on page 38 of
It is also surprising to note that, despite media coverage
often designed more to trigger and fuel controversy than to
report the news, Canadian public opinion, according to the
analysis of Professor Stacy Churchill, has remained strongly
in favour of official languages policies over the past 25 to
30 years. Professor Churchill's analysis has also led him to
the conclusion that government administrations have failed
lamentably in their attempts to inform Canadians of this
This support is the best-kept secret in the country. Over
75 per cent of English-speaking Canadians believe in the equality
of the two founding peoples; 62 per cent believe that having
official language communities in all parts of Canada is a great
advantage for the country.
What do these figures tell us? In my opinion, they tell us not
only that English-speaking Canadians agree that francophones —
and institutions and public services for francophones — have a
place among them, but also that the simple existence of
French-speaking minority communities in Canadian society is
part of English-speaking Canadians' own identity. In their view,
being Canadian means that it is normal to accept that, around
them, other Canadians choose to live in the other official
These figures also mean that Canadians understand the
difference between linguistic duality and individual bilingualism.
No one is asking that everybody learn and speak both official
languages — even though, in a perfect world, that situation
would presumably be the ideal. Linguistic duality means that all
Canadians, both English- and French-speaking, can feel at home
in this country. They can be born, live, and die in their language.
They have institutions and services that speak their language.
They are Canadians who also consider it normal for Canadians to
live within or outside their language majority and share the
whole of the Canadian experience with all of their fellow
Honourable senators, these figures also mean that, as is often
the case, Canada's politicians have become detached from the
Canadian grassroots, where people await only a word, an action,
an ounce of courage, to begin celebrating the end of our language
I ask you, honourable senators, to take up this challenge to
Canada as a whole.
I ask you to take up the torch from past heroes of Canada's
French-speaking communities like former secretary of state
Gérard Pelletier and former New Brunswick premier Richard
Hatfield; and from one present hero, our colleague in this
chamber, the Honourable Jean-Robert Gauthier, the senator for
The time is ripe for dynamic, determined, definite recognition
of Canada's francophone and Acadian communities. The time
has come to act, to affirm and to activate the national will to
ensure equality between English- and French-speaking
Far be it from me, as a former finance minister in my province,
to suggest that we go back to the spending sprees that left us with
still-too-recent deficits. However, governments are now in an
ideal financial position to invest again in building a network of
institutions that will give these communities an equal opportunity
to succeed. We must complete this forgotten vision.
Personally, I feel that this investment in the potential of our
French-speaking communities should never have been cut out or
Increasingly, Canadians recognize that bilingualism is
cost-effective. Recently in Moncton, they saw with their own
eyes how a reputation for openness and linguistic skills has
opened formerly closed doors onto the world and specifically
onto the emerging European economic superpower. Canadians
heard a President of France paying tribute to a tolerant Canada,
not inciting Quebec francophones to separate, as had been many
people's only memory of a visit by a former french president.
Increasingly as well, majority Canadians are concerned about
the erosion of the culture and language of their fellow Canadians
in minority situations. They understand that a Canada without
these minority official language communities would no longer be
the country of which they are so proud. In the fight for the
Montfort Hospital, for example, we saw unprecedented and
unhoped-for alliances between the Franco-Ontarian community
and members of the English-speaking community of that
province and of other provinces.
What are we waiting for, to realize that the public has left us
behind? What are the governments of this country and the
provinces waiting for, to realize that the new generations have no
interest in destructive language wars, that it is time to move on
and build confidently on the foundations we laid three decades
Why, in the turbulent 1960s, did the Dunton-Laurendeau
commission speak of the worst crisis in Canada's history? It did
so because it realized that Canada was on the brink of breaking
up, that radical — and prompt — action was called for if we
wanted Canada to survive the rifts that threatened it. At that time,
Quebec was being swept by the Quiet Revolution and Premier
Jean Lesage was calling on Quebec residents to affirm that they
would become "maîtres chez nous". Increasing numbers of
people in Quebec, who had always thought of themselves as
French-Canadian, came to say they were Quebec citizens first,
and perhaps exclusively.
Quebec residents, no longer accepting of minority status in
Canada, would become a majority in Quebec. They realized they
would never have full status in a Canada where their fellow
francophones had endured so many affronts, where
French-language education was still illegal.
Have we forgotten what got us into the present situation? Do
the premiers realize that their own governments' historic
intolerance was one of the sources of Quebec separatism? Does
the federal government realize that, beyond any clever strategies
for plans A, B, and C against "those darned separatists", perhaps
they should think things through? How many sovereigntists
dream of their own country simply because no one has ever
wanted to give them what is theirs by right, because their most
vital dream has been killed off by assimilationist policies?
Honourable senators, I do not ask you to turn back the pages
of time. I do ask you to remember, to become wiser, and to
lengthen your historical perspective. The report I submit to you
contains 42 recommendations, the most important 10 of which
form the backbone of our proposed recovery plan for Canada's
francophone and Acadian communities. The task seems
daunting, the challenge insurmountable; but the people of this
country are equal to the task. You are equal to it. We are equal to
it. Our recovery plan is an exciting, positive, and generous social
The first step on this long journey is also the hardest, it is the
step of courage: the courage to dare to go where no one wants to
go, the courage to say things no one wants to talk about, the
courage to take action that others will denounce. It is our duty to
set an example; we have the power to change things. However,
without the courage to do so, all that we stand for — including
this fine place — is meaningless. When the walls of Parliament
have become walls of silence, silence about the fate of the least
powerful citizens, our existence is no longer justified.
I am confident, however, that you will hear me. I am confident
that you will act. I am confident that, together, we can complete
Canada, this magnificent work in progress.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, November 17, 1999,
at 1:30 p.m.