Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 36th Parliament,
Volume 138, Issue 24
Tuesday, February 8, 2000
The Honourable Gildas L. Molgat, Speaker
Table of Contents
Tuesday, February 8, 2000
The Senate met at 2:00 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
The Hon. the Speaker
: Honourable senators, before I call
Senators' Statements, I should like to draw your attention to
some distinguished visitors in our gallery. We are honoured to
have the presence of His Excellency Boris Trajkovski, President
of the Republic of Macedonia, accompanied by His Excellency
Jordan Vesilenov, the Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia
On behalf of all honourable senators, I wish you welcome to
the Senate of Canada.
Honourable senators will know that there are many young
Canadians presently stationed in Macedonia. That country has
been extremely helpful in the efforts of Canada to bring peace to
As well, I should like, honourable senators, to draw
your attention to the presence in the gallery of the
Honourable Gary Carr, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
of Ontario, accompanied by Mr. Claude DesRosiers, Clerk of the
Welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Black History Month 2000
Hon. Donald H. Oliver
: Honourable senators, the first Black
History Month of the 21st century officially began at midnight on
January 31, 2000. I marked it by attending the Annual Black
History Month Kick-Off Brunch in Toronto with Professor
George Elliott Clarke, the Honourable Lincoln Alexander and
Judge Stanley G. Grizzle.
The celebration of black history has come a long way since
1926. It was then that Carter G. Woodson, a black American
historian, educator and publisher, founded Negro History Week
in response to the prevailing rationale that Africans and people of
African descent were without history. Woodson, who is known as
the father of black history, wanted to honour the contributions,
experiences and stories of black people in America. He chose the
second week of February, which marks Abraham Lincoln's
approval of the thirteenth amendment to the American
Constitution abolishing slavery, and also the birthday of a
prominent black advocate, Frederick Douglass.
Carter Woodson's goal was not only to educate his own
community about its rich heritage but also to make American
society aware of the contributions made by their fellow black
citizens. It was only in 1976, during the U.S. bicentennial, that
the commemoration week was expanded into National Black
Here in Canada, the now-defunct Canadian Negro Women's
Association was the first to mark the month in Toronto in 1950.
It was only formally recognized by that city as Black History
Month in 1978. In 1993, the month was officially proclaimed in
Ontario to mark the two-hundredth anniversary of legislation
introduced by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to
prohibit the importation of slaves into Upper Canada.
February was officially decreed as Black History Month across
Canada in 1995. Over the past six years, it has evolved into a
nationwide celebration and tribute to the contributions made by
black Canadians. In Nova Scotia, there are more than 160 events
planned in honour of black history. The theme of our celebration
is "Passing the Torch, Lighting our Future," in recognition of the
new millennium and the need to pass on a sense of culture to
I always consider Black History Month a time when great
friendships and understanding among communities of every race
and ethnicity can be fostered. The events of this month
encourage a harmony between cultures which I hope will inspire
us to reach year-round. I am happy that Black History Month
serves as a reminder.
For my part, I will be participating directly in speaking
engagements in more than 14 events this month, including a gala
hosted by the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers in honour
of black judges in Canada; a reception hosted by the High
Commission for South Africa in recognition of the tenth
anniversary of Mr. Nelson Mandela's walk from prison on
February 11, 1990; and a reception with poet-author and
playwright George Elliott Clarke, whose critically acclaimed
play Whylah Falls will be performed at the National Arts Centre
at the end of the month.
Events such as these support the importance and value of
diversity among Canadians. I hope that all honourable senators
will get a chance to enjoy a little of Black History Month.
Fort Liard Meeting—Motion on Oil and Gas
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston:
Honourable senators, this is my
first statement in the Senate. I am honoured to rise on behalf of
the people of the Northwest Territories. On January 25 and 26 of
this year, chiefs and other aboriginal leaders met in Fort Liard in
the Northwest Territories to discuss oil and gas development
issues and, particularly, the prospects of a Mackenzie Valley
pipeline from the Arctic to southern Canada and the United
States. Members may recall that in the mid-1970s a huge gas
pipeline was proposed to be built by multinational corporations
down the Mackenzie Valley to bring Arctic-Alaskan natural gas
to southern markets.
That issue prompted the federal government to establish the
Berger inquiry, which dealt with numerous issues surrounding
the construction of a Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Mr. Thomas
Berger, at the conclusion of the inquiry, stated:
...that if a pipeline were built now in the Mackenzie, its
economic benefits would be limited, its social impact
devastating and it would frustrate the goals of native claims.
Mr. Berger concluded that there ought to be a 10-year
moratorium on the construction of a gas pipeline. The
government of the day abided by the recommendations and no
pipeline was built.
It has been approximately 23 years since Mr. Berger made his
recommendations, and many positive changes have occurred for
the peoples of the North.
Aboriginal peoples of the North are much more able to deal
with developments such as mines and pipelines. Education level,
experience in technological work and confidence of people to
take part in development has grown. Land claims have been or
are being settled with most of the aboriginal peoples of the
North. Government of the Northwest Territories has evolved into
responsible government. People have experience with oil and gas
development and small pipelines.
People generally are better able to deal with developments
such as large pipelines that are being proposed, once again, in the
Mackenzie Valley. Therefore, at the Liard meeting, the chiefs
passed the following motion:
We, the Aboriginal Peoples of the Northwest Territories,
agree in principle to build a business partnership to
maximize ownership and benefits of a Mackenzie Valley
The message that the chiefs and the aboriginal leaders wish to
make is that, yes, times have changed. Aboriginal peoples are no
longer opposing projects, such as huge gas pipelines traversing
their lands. However, they intend to be involved in all aspects of
the project — the planning, the route selection, construction and,
most important, ownership of the pipeline.
Honourable senators, the stance of this motion is significant
for all peoples of the North. Those of us who have been involved
in government and the politics of the North know the difficult
times that aboriginal peoples of the North have gone through the
past few decades. It has been a struggle for their rights and to
gain their rightful place in northern society. This motion marks
the start of a new era of hope and a willingness to participate as
partners, not to be bystanders in economic projects such as
massive gas pipelines. If governments and the oil and gas
producers can heed this new approach and be willing partners,
the future of the North bodes well for all people living in the
The Late Halinka Dyer
Hon. Gerry St. Germain
: Honourable senators, I rise today to
pay tribute to someone whom I consider to be one of the unsung
heroes of the Senate. I recently suffered the untimely loss of my
office assistant and friend Halinka Dyer. On December 21, 1999,
the world lost the loving wife of David, the devoted mother of
Jay, Jordan, Spencer and Matthew, the daughter and sister of the
Tubin family and, as well, a good friend to many of us. This was
a loss that I will never be able to properly transform into written
words that would properly justify the impact Halinka had on so
many different individuals.
Halinka was first a devoted, loving wife and mother, as I
mentioned earlier. To me, she was a rare find as a work partner
and a friend. Her brilliant mind and exemplary organizational
skills provided my office and the office of others who sought her
advice and assistance with a resource possibly not replaceable in
one's short lifetime. Her zest for life and positive outlook shone
throughout the Victoria Building as she went around being the
outstretched hand to all.
I have chosen to pay tribute to this young person we lost at
46 years young for two reasons: to thank her family for sharing
Halinka and to thank her friends who recommended her to my
office and to me. She epitomized the vibrant life from her
jogging regimen, which I foolishly tried to share with her on
occasion, to the way she made everyone feel at home when they
visited my office.
However, the real reason I have risen today is to bring to the
forefront what I feel must be a priority for all of us and requires
our immediate attention. We lost Halinka to the dreaded disease
of breast cancer — a disease that takes from us our
grandmothers, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and nieces in
huge numbers much too early in life. No, they are not a vocal
special interest group that seeks publicity and attention in a
disproportionate manner; they are too busy as mothers,
grandmothers and wives giving of themselves and never asking
in return for anything more than unconditional love.
Our Halinka was one of these, and it is in that spirit that she
always projected herself. That is why today I ask each and every
senator in this place to take up the cause, if you have not already
done so. One just never knows — if we all do a little bit, we can
and will make a difference in the fight against this dreaded
Honourable senators, I have had the privilege of being part of
this place and having served in the other place. I find it hard to
believe that we as Canadians have not committed more funding
to fight breast cancer. I should have recognized this urgency
sooner myself. However, I do now commit to do more from this
day forward on this most crucial matter.
Halinka, your memory will live on forever and you will
Toponomy Commission of Quebec
Hon. Lise Bacon
: Honourable senators, on November 18 of
last year, in response to a request by Mr. Guiseppe Sciortino and
Mr. Enrico Riggi, the Commission de toponymie du Québec
agreed to change the name of the Papineau-Leblanc bridge to
honour the memory of our old friend and colleague, Pietro
Rizzuto. These two gentlemen were supported in their
application to the commission by a number of public figures
from various backgrounds.
In supporting this initiative, those men and women wished to
celebrate the memory of this son of Italy who came to Montreal
in the early 1950s with no resources other than his intelligence,
courage and native wit, speaking neither English nor French, and
who went on to become a respected and prosperous Canadian
By naming such an important structure in his honour, the
supporters of Pietro Rizzuto also wanted to mark his devotion to
the Quebec and Canadian communities. Mr. Rizzuto
demonstrated that commitment through a wholehearted desire to
fully integrate within the society that had taken him in. He also
proved it through his political activity. For Pietro Rizzuto, it was
perfectly normal to devote a large part of his energies to the
well-being of a country which had made his business
accomplishments possible, and where he and his wife, Pina,
raised their family.
Unfortunately, the plan to give recognition to the career of an
admirable man led to controversy. Increasing numbers of protests
forced Mr. Sciortino and Mr. Riggi to defend the commission's
As a matter of principle, some opposed the very idea of
changing the name of a structure. I am not prepared to debate
here the merits and lack thereof of such a practice. It is, however,
important to remember that it has already been used to honour
the memory of famous Quebecers, and occurs regularly in France
and elsewhere. We can only hope, in the name of intellectual
rigour, that the determined and zealous defenders of Quebec's
toponymic tradition would have been just as determined if the
Commission de toponymie had rechristened the
Papineau-Leblanc bridge in honour of Camille Laurin or Gérald
Had the opponents of the project been content to discuss the
pros and cons of toponymic changes, the debate raised by the
decision of the Commission de toponymie could have been
defended for those close to Pietro Rizzuto.
Unfortunately, doubt was cast on the reputation of Pietro
Rizzuto by some who wanted to judge the merits of the man.
Untruths were written, and unfounded rumours circulated. Pietro
Rizzuto and his family did not deserve such treatment.
While certain remarks unfairly cast doubt on the reputation of
Pietro Rizzuto, certain politicians for their part did not act
honourably. There are the MPs and ministers who failed to seize
the opportunity to establish ties between the communities. There
is, as well, the mayor, incapable of keeping his word, who
suddenly changed his mind in the face of a petition. Finally, there
is the minister, who, ever ready to put on the mantle of virtue,
declared that Pietro Rizzuto deserved better than this debate but
found nothing better to do than hide behind his officials, refusing
to honour his responsibilities.
In immortalizing the name of our former colleague, the
supporters of the Pietro Rizzuto bridge hoped to celebrate the
significant contribution made by the various cultural
communities to Quebec society. For over 100 years, immigrants
from the four corners of the planet have settled alongside the
descendants of the French and English colonists and members of
the First Nations. Like Pietro Rizzuto, they helped develop and
The important contribution made by these new citizens to
Quebec society must be recognized for what it is worth. Without
neglecting our past, toponymy must also reflect the reality of
Quebec society. This was the aim of the initiative taken by
Mr. Sciortino and Mr. Riggi.
Hon. Norman K. Atkins
: Honourable senators, I should like
to again draw the attention of the members of the Senate to Vimy
House. During Question Period in December, Senator Boudreau
indicated that he wanted to familiarize himself with this facility.
I wish to report that he fulfilled that commitment and that both of
us visited the facility on January 11, 2000.
For those members who do not know about Vimy House, it is
a facility that stores a large number of national war treasures that
are not able to be displayed at the Canadian War Museum. In
fact, it was the personnel at Vimy House who supervised the
restoration of the eight paintings that hang in this chamber.
As some honourable senators are aware, I keenly support the
initiative to build a new Canadian war museum adjacent to the
National Aviation Museum in Rockcliffe, a facility which would
allow considerably more of our national collection to be put
Each time I tour Vimy House, I am amazed at the number of
war-related paintings and drawings by Canadian and
international artists that Canadians are not being given the
opportunity to view and enjoy, not to mention the artifacts,
artillery and vehicles that are stored, packaged or crated which
represent the memories of various wars, conflicts and
peacekeeping missions in which our Canadian military
The more exposure that Canadians have to these artifacts, the
more they would understand the incredible sacrifice and
involvement of Canadians who served in the different theatres of
war. It would enable Canadians to understand more thoroughly
why veterans and members of our Legion are so proud and feel
so strongly that Canadians never forget their contribution for
peace and freedom, nor take for granted the freedom that all of
Honourable senators, I hope you will find time to visit Vimy
House so that you will understand how important it is to support
the campaign to build the new Canadian War Museum.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck
: Honourable senators, I rise
today to highlight the fact that January was Alzheimer's
Awareness Month. Alzheimer's Awareness Month is sponsored
by the Alzheimer's Society, which consists of a national office,
10 provincial organizations and a number of local groups across
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of
the brain that gradually destroys vital brain cells. There is no
known cause or cure. However, this disease is age related.
Therefore, as the senior population rises so will the number of
Today, in Canada, approximately 300,000 people are said to
suffer from this disease. However, 30 years from now it is said
that the number of Alzheimer's patients will more than double to
over 750,000 individuals nationwide. Without planning or a
strategy to deal with such a rise, there will likely be tremendous
implications. The most obvious are the effects on our health care
system and budgets. However, if there are not enough resources
or support systems available to deal with the rising numbers,
there could also be a negative impact on the quality of life of
Alzheimer's patients and their primary caregivers.
Stephen Rudin, of the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, spoke
about the impending crisis in a recent article on this issue, an
issue that he feels will grow slowly but steadily over the next
The largely volunteer-driven Alzheimer's organizations
continue to work tirelessly in delivering their many services to
patients and their families. Moreover, some have also begun to
work with provincial governments, recognizing the need for an
overall strategy to combat the disease. For example, the society
in Prince Edward Island is working to develop a strategy for
caring for people affected by Alzheimer's disease and related
dementia, which they will present to the Government of Prince
Edward Island later this month. The goal of this strategy is to
develop a coordinated system of care based on the unique needs
of those with the disease. The steps taken thus far by provincial
organizations and government are positive and should be
congratulated. However, they are only the beginning. More study
and awareness of this disease, as well as the coordination of
services, is needed.
That said, I look forward to studying some of the health care
implications surrounding this disease when the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology begins its
study into health care in Canada this month.
Decision on Right to Francophone School in Summerside,
Prince Edward Island
Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin
: Honourable senators, I wish to
draw attention to an important decision regarding educational
rights recently handed down by the Supreme Court.
In Arsenault-Cameron, the Supreme Court ruled that parents
of French-speaking children in Summerside were entitled, under
the Constitution, to have a French-language school. The criterion
that there had to be a sufficient number of students — between
49 and 155 — had been met. This criterion is based both on
known demand and on the total number of students that might
eventually take advantage of the service offered.
In this case, the refusal of the Government of Prince Edward
Island to follow the advice of the Commission scolaire de langue
française and to establish a school for French-speaking children
living in Summerside had the effect of depriving these children
of a school near their place of residence and negating the
corrective character of section 23 of the Charter.
The Supreme Court also held that, while provincial
governments must "do whatever is practically possible" to ensure
compliance with section 23 of the Charter, this provision was
also intended to "give effect to the equal partnership of the two
official-language groups in the context of education". The court
thus recognized that the official-language minority was entitled
to the right provided for in section 23 of the Charter. In so ruling,
it expressly conferred a collective right.
The Supreme Court also admitted that the concept of real
equality required that the minority in question be treated
differently from the majority in order for the level of education
provided to be equivalent. Each case, of course, must be judged
on its merits.
The Late Anne Hébert
Hon. Lucie Pépin
: Honourable senators, on Saturday,
January 22, a beacon of French Canadian and Quebec literature
left us. Anne Hébert, the author of Kamouraska
and the recipient
of the Prix Femina in 1982 for her book In the Shadow of the
, died in Montreal at the age of 83, following a battle with
Anne Hébert was born on August 1, 1916,
in Fossambault-sur-le-Lac, which is now called
Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, a small village located
40 kilometres northeast of Quebec City. She grew up in a family
environment that was conducive to the blossoming of her talent.
Her father, who was of Acadian descent, was a respected poet
and literary critic, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.
Of noble descent through her mother, Anne Hébert spent her
summers as a child and a teenager either in Sainte-Catherine or
in Kamouraska, in a setting that included marine vistas, sweeping
countryside and forests. Anne Hébert never stopped recreating in
her books the days of her youth spent in nature, always
displaying great sensitivity.
In 1939, Anne Hébert published her first poems in periodicals.
Her talent as a poet was quickly recognized. In 1943, her first
collection of poems, Les songes en équilibre, won her third prize
for the Prix Athanase-David. That first recognition marked the
beginning of a series of about 20 highly coveted national and
international awards for Anne Hébert, between 1943 and 1999.
Anne Hébert also had to overcome a number of obstacles, as is
unfortunately the case for too many of our artists. Even after she
won third prize for the Prix Athanase-David, in 1943, publishers
refused to publish her second book, The Torrent. She had to get it
published at her own expense by the Éditions du Bien public, in
Trois-Rivières. Her masterpiece, Tomb of the Kings, suffered the
Anne Hébert was the first francophone woman scriptwriter at
the National Film Board, and she was undaunted by the
limitations placed on the women of her day. Not all intellectual
and literary circles were inclined to open their inner sanctums to
women. Madame Hébert refused to accept the imposition of
silence that weighed on the women of her day, and took up her
pen to write of her revolt against the fetters imposed on her
gender. Her works and her character were extremely stimulating
sources of inspiration for women. Anne Hébert created some
very powerful characters, determined and independent women,
free in their own way. She left her mark on a whole generation of
women, by challenging the restricted roles society assigned to
them and male-female relationships. In 1982, she was to become
a role model for girls and women with a passion for literature,
such as Gabrielle Roy, Marie-Claire Blais and Antonine Maillet,
in receiving the highly prestigious Prix Femina literary award for
her book In the Shadow of the Wind. Her contribution to
improving the living conditions of Canadian women is a huge
Anne Hébert's literary legacy is one of truth, sensitivity,
strength and passion. She succeeded in reconciling conflicting
values and shared her dreams with us.
When Pierre Nepveu spoke at the Bibliothèque nationale du
Québec, in January 1995, when presenting the Prix
Gilles-Corbeil awarded by the Fondation Émile-Nelligan, he
described the works of Anne Hébert as follows:
The literary works of Anne Hébert show us what is
essential and noblest about romanticism: Reality lives and
has meaning only through the passion that springs from it,
through that inner core made of light and darkness, of
angels and demons.
Anne Hébert, you will remain forever present in our hearts, in
our culture, in our history, in our spirit.
Nisga'a Final Agreement and Appendices
Nisga'a Nation Taxation Agreement
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government)
Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the Nisga'a Final
Agreement with appendices, and the Nisga'a Nation Taxation
Report of Committee Requesting Authorization to
Engage Services and Travel Presented
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau
: Honourable senators, I have the
honour to present the second report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Fisheries, which requests that the committee be
granted powers related to its examination of matters relating to
the fishing industry:
The Hon. the Speaker
Tuesday, February 8, 2000
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries has the
honour to present its
Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on
December 7, 1999, to examine and report upon the matters
relating to the fishing industry and to present its report no
later than December 12, 2000 respectfully requests that it be
empowered to engage the services of such counsel and
technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary,
and to adjourn from place to place within Canada for the
purpose of its examination.
The budget was considered by the Standing Senate
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and
Administration on Thursday, December 9, 1999. In its
Second Report, the Committee noted that it is undertaking a
review of the budgetary situation pertaining to Senate
Committees, and recommended that no more than 6/12 of
the funds be released until February 10, 2000. The report
was adopted by the Senate on Tuesday, December 14, 1999.
GERALD J. COMEAU
: Honourable senators, when shall this
report be taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Comeau, report placed on the Orders of
the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
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, February 9, 2000, at
That at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, if the business of the Senate
has not been completed, the Speaker shall interrupt the
proceedings to adjourn the Senate;
That should a division be deferred until 5:30 p.m.
tomorrow, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings at
3:30 p.m. to suspend the sitting until 5:30 p.m. for the
taking of the deferred division; and
That all matters on the Orders of the Day and on the
Notice Paper, which have not been reached, shall retain their
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
Bill to Amend—First Reading
The Hon. the Speaker
informed the Senate that a message
had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-202,
to amend the Criminal Code (flight).
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
bill be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Hays, bill placed on the Orders of the
Day for second reading on Thursday next, February 10, 2000.
Financing of Post-Secondary Education
Hon. Norman K. Atkins
: Honourable senators, I give notice
that on Tuesday, February 15, 2000 I shall call the attention of
the Senate to the financing of post-secondary education in
Canada and particularly that portion of the financing that is borne
by students, with a view to developing policies that will address
and alleviate the debt load with which post-secondary students
are being burdened in Canada.
Austria—Possible Recall of Ambassador in Response to
Appointment of Joerg Haider in New Government
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Could the minister advise whether the
government has any intention of recalling the Canadian
ambassador to Austria in order to assess the appropriate unique
Canadian response to the participation of Joerg Haider and his
Freedom Party in the new Austrian coalition government?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I have no information at this time that such
an action is contemplated. However, I can certainly relay the
question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Trade and in due course reply to the honourable senator.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, yesterday our
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Axworthy, following meetings
with Jaime Gama, the Foreign Minister for Portugal, and
Christopher Patten, the Commissioner for External Affairs of the
European Union, said that Canada will follow the European
Union's lead on Austria.
When will the government take the lead on matters that are so
clearly issues in which Canada, with its interest in and record on
human rights, should be a leader rather than following the lead?
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I have no doubt that
the minister is in touch with the ambassador and the officials of
the Canadian government in Austria. I am not aware of any
specific actions that are planned or any specific comments that
will be made publicly by the minister at this time.
Human Resources Development
Job Creation Programs—Possible Mismanagement of
Funds—Request for Tabling of Reference Documents
Used by Prime Minister in Response to Questions
Hon. Marjory LeBreton
: Honourable senators, it is a sad
state of affairs when the government uses its resources and the
resources of the bureaucracy to turn legitimate work of members
of Parliament, whatever their political stripe, on behalf of their
constituents into a dirty propaganda tool — "cheat sheets" as
they were described in today's National Post
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate undertake
to obtain the documents and letters provided to the Prime
Minister by the government leader in the other place and which
the Prime Minister was using yesterday to avoid answering direct
questions about the boondoggle at HRDC?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I am not specifically aware of what
documents may have been used in the other place with respect to
answers given during Question Period.
It is important that this matter be put into context, and the
reference to a boondoggle places on me the responsibility to, at
least, attempt to do that. I do so without demeaning in any way
either the importance of an internal audit — and I stress the word
"internal" — or the necessity of acting on the results of that
However, I must point out to the honourable senator that
Human Resources Development Canada operates programs in
the range of $3 billion. Seven of those programs, constituting
$1 billion, were subject to audit. The balance of $2 billion
Within that $1-billion envelope some 459 files were selected at
random by the auditors. Those 459 files represented expenditures
of approximately $200 million. We have now come down from
$3 billion to a range of about $200 million. Of those 459 files,
some 37 were flagged for further action. The value of the
37 flagged for further action was approximately $33 million. Of
the $33 million that was flagged in the audit, approximately
$11 million to $12 million has been dealt with to the satisfaction
of the auditors. In fact, the balance is now being actively
One must have this context in mind when discussing this
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the minister has
done a good job of reading the talking points issued by the Prime
Minister's Office. In fact, they appeared in the newspaper the
However, the minister did not answer my question. If he had
watched Question Period yesterday, he would have seen that
every time a member of the opposition asked a question on this
subject they did not receive an answer. Instead, members of the
opposition had read to them letters they had legitimately placed
on file. In effect, the government is creating a situation whereby
members of Parliament are not able to do their work on behalf of
I ask the minister again: Will he table those documents? In
particular, will he obtain for senators the documents to which the
Prime Minister referred, as well as all letters and documents in
support of projects in Saint-Maurice written by or on behalf of
Jean Chrétien, the MP for that riding?
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, the context in which
I have attempted to set this matter is important. The real question
is whether or not the facts that I have placed before the Senate
are correct, regardless of where they originated.
I did not watch Question Period yesterday. Unfortunately,
I was committed to other duties. However, I suspect that what the
Prime Minister may have been attempting to do is similar to the
effort that I should like to make here today; that is, to say that the
seven programs that were subject to audit are good programs.
They have provided jobs for Canadians.
It is speculation on my part, but perhaps the Prime Minister
was attempting to make a point with which opposition members
also agree, that these are good programs and that they have
improved the lives of their constituents.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the Leader of the
Government in the other place had a file folder full of all the
correspondence written by members of Parliament in support of
projects in their ridings. It is obvious that the government was
able to produce these documents rapidly. At the same time,
however, it is unable to account for millions and millions of
dollars and the supporting papers.
Again, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to
table in this place those documents and, in particular, copies of
all letters written in support of projects in the riding of
Saint-Maurice by Member of Parliament Jean Chrétien. Surely,
there must be a big tab of letters in that book under his name.
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, there probably is
not one member of Parliament who has not written a letter in
support of a project under one of these seven programs. I do not
know if it is reasonable to ask for copies of all those letters.
We must come back to the context, which is that we are now
dealing with audit objections and deficiencies. We are dealing
with audit deficiencies which can range anywhere from failure to
have a supporting receipt for an expense to anything else in the
spectrum. The total under discussion has now been reduced to
about $20 million.
What may be interesting to the honourable senator is that when
she looks at the 37 projects that were selected for audit
discrepancies or deficiencies, she will see that 29 of the 37 — in
fact, the vast majority of them — were in the Youth Employment
Program, the Social Development Program or the Learning and
Literacy Program. Experience has shown that these organizations
are not always as sophisticated as large companies might be. In
many of these cases, they were not able to complete all the
requirements as necessary. If the honourable senator were to take
a balanced look at the situation and put it into context, she would
see that 29 of those 37 cases were in those three programs, all of
which are very good.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I should like to
know in which of those categories Wiarton Willie falls.
Senator Boudreau: In HRDC, there are approximately
30,000 individual files or cases. There are some that all of us,
I am sure, would wish had been dealt with in a more effective
and efficient way. As a matter of fact, the auditors found 37 such
files which have to be addressed. The minister has indicated that
she has been addressing them and will continue to do so.
Let us not put these programs at risk. In my area of the
country, as is the case for many senators on both sides of this
place, these programs are extremely important and have done
great work. We cannot put these programs at risk because of this
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the government has
put them at risk by singling out members of Parliament who
wrote legitimate letters to the department on behalf of their
constituents. As a result, members of Parliament will never again
want to support government programs in their ridings for fear
that what they say will be used as part of the propaganda.
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, that may be true of
some members of Parliament. However, I doubt it will be true of
many. Honourable members have written in support of these
programs, which is important and should continue if they believe
that the program is a good one and that their constituents can
benefit from it. I believe they will continue to write as they have
in the past because they value these programs.
Request for Programs to Eliminate Conditions
Hon. Douglas Roche
: Honourable senators, my question is
directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Over the
Christmas recess, two important reports dealing with social
conditions in Canada were released. The first report was from the
Progressive Conservative National Caucus Task Force on
Poverty, and it contains many valuable recommendations which
are premised on the following remarkable sentence:
Above all, we were humbled by the depth and magnitude of
poverty in Canada...
The second report to which I refer is the Liberal task force on
Western Canadian issues which also addresses poverty and in
which it is stated:
The face of poverty is getting younger. Children living in
poverty are more likely to end up in the sex and drug trade,
drop out of school or become involved in crime.
In light of these two reports which cross party lines, I should
like to ask this question of the minister: If we cannot end massive
poverty in Canada with the present robust economy, with
unemployment dropping, with the stock market roaring and
government surpluses building, then when will we be able to
Since there is strong support across party lines for action, will
the government now make poverty eradication an all-out national
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for that
question. It is an important, indeed pivotal, issue for government
today. The response of government with respect to the program
involving the homeless is one element of a renewed commitment
to deal with our social problems in a way that will be positive
I had heard, as an aside, that perhaps some of the homeless
might benefit from some of the HRDC programs now under
discussion.That may be true. If you look at the statistics with
respect to poverty among our unemployed youth and their levels
of education and their corresponding opportunities for jobs, then
you realize just how important programs of learning and literacy,
and other social development programs, can be. It is a
Senator Di Nino: Remember the GST!
Senator Boudreau: I will certainly take the honourable
senator's views to my colleagues in cabinet.
Senator Roche: I thank the honourable minister. The minister
mentioned the homeless in his answer. I ask him if he has noted
in the Liberal task force on Western Canada the statement that, in
Edmonton, an estimated 42 per cent of the city's homeless are
aboriginal. The task force says that urban aboriginal youth are
particularly at risk, and so I ask the minister if, in the
forthcoming budget, there will be some special attention to this
Senator Boudreau: The honourable senator will, of course,
know that I am not in a position to indicate specific measures
that will be contained in the budget. However, he highlights a
significant problem with urban aboriginal youth that exists across
the country but is particularly evident in the western provinces,
and in cities such as Winnipeg. While some of the programs that
are available nationally — including the new program for the
homeless — will be of assistance, there is a need to look to what
more can be done. I am certainly supportive of the senator's
views, and whenever the opportunity arises, I make that
Nova Scotia—Loss of Jobs at Royal Bank Offices in
Hon. Donald H. Oliver
: Honourable senators, my question is
for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Halifax is losing 310 Royal Bank customer service and
administrative support positions as part of that bank's national
restructuring of service delivery. Those jobs are to be relocated in
Toronto and Montreal this July, and will affect 340 staff members
in two downtown Halifax locations. The bank claims that this
shift is one of several initiatives to reduce costs by as much
as $500 million by the year 2001, reductions that are needed to
ensure that the bank is positioned to resist expected foreign
competition. The Royal Bank had originally planned to cut these
costs in a merger with the Bank of Montreal in 1998, but that
plan was quashed when the federal regulators refused to allow
My question is: If the merger of the Royal Bank and the Bank
of Montreal was stopped by the federal government to, among
other things, protect Canadian consumers, how do they propose
to protect hundreds of consumers, who are also Royal Bank
employees and who, as a direct result of government action, are
now facing layoffs?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, that question presumes a connection that,
had the merger gone ahead, there would be no closures and no
job losses in Halifax.
Senator Oliver: That was not the premise.
Senator Boudreau: I have difficulty making that connection,
to believe that that would be the case.
Senator Kinsella: Why?
Senator Boudreau: In fact, jobs are being lost, and it is a
serious matter. I must say, however, that at the moment the
economy in Halifax is very healthy. The unemployment rate is, I
believe, at an all-time low. One would hope that any displaced
employees who did not have an opportunity to seek employment
with the bank elsewhere would have an opportunity to find new
employment in Halifax in a similar field or in one that would be
satisfactory for them.
Senator Oliver: For 340 people?
Purchase of Canada Trust by Toronto-Dominion
Bank—Request for Figures on Resultant Loss of Jobs
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino
: Honourable senators, the Minister of
Finance recently approved the amalgamation of the
Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canada Trust. That gives rise to a
question related to the question asked by my colleague, Senator
Oliver. There is no question that there will be major disruption,
not only in jobs but also probably in services.
Could the Leader of the Government tell us, or at least find out
for us, how many jobs the Finance Minister or the Finance
Department estimated would be lost in the country as a result of
this amalgamation? Did they address the issue of services to
communities, in particular smaller communities that may not
have adequate banking services after the amalgamation?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I can certainly make the inquiries requested
by the honourable senator with respect to those particular items.
As I indicated in my previous answer, the best protection for
any displaced employees as a result of such an amalgamation is a
healthy economy that produces jobs that will offer them
alternative employment. In fact, some companies had indicated
that they would be interested in the Halifax area, but feared that
the employment availability would not be such as to support the
type of operation they had in mind.
What we are trying to do is create a healthy and vibrant
economy and allow people choices, so that if a particular job
disappears because of commercial activity, then they will have an
opportunity to seek other employment.
However, with respect to the specific question the honourable
senator asked, I will attempt to get that information.
Human Resources Development
Job Creation Programs—Possible Mismanagement of
Funds—Responsibility of Minister
Hon. Michael A. Meighen
: Honourable senators, my question
is also to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It relates
to the Prime Minister's seeming abandonment of the hallowed
parliamentary principle of ministerial responsibility. Before so
doing, however, I wish to ask the leader about some of the
comments he made in response to the question put to him by
Senator LeBreton. With the greatest respect, I do not think he
answered her question.
Senator LeBreton: No, he did not.
Senator Meighen: The leader seems to take the view that this
is a good program, and I will not argue that point,
notwithstanding that it would appear that some recipients
received more than they asked for, while others were not even
asked for an accounting. Assuming these were all wonderful
programs, does the Leader of the Government not agree that at
least basic accounting and accountability standards should be
respected? Whether the matter amounts to 37 programs or
357 programs, it is still public money that is at issue; if it is
public money that is at issue, then we must adopt the strictest
possible standards. That seems to have been forgotten in this
debate, and it is up to us as parliamentarians, surely, to insist that
the very strictest standards be adhered to. Clearly, that has not
been the case.
There is one important thing I do not understand, and perhaps
the leader can shed some light on it for me. This Prime Minister,
who has endorsed in many statements over his parliamentary
career the principle of ministerial accountability, appears now to
be abandoning it and saying that the minister is not responsible.
I should like to know, if it is not the minister's responsibility,
who is responsible? Perhaps the Leader of the Government could
also assure me that that responsibility will not be foisted off on to
the backs of some junior bureaucrats.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I am glad to hear that the senator supports
those seven programs. At least, I think he supports them.
Senator Meighen: I did not say that. I said. "...even if they are
Senator Boudreau: Most people in the country would also
support those programs.
I have said previously, in setting the context, that it is
important for a responsible department to generate internal audits
from time to time. This department has generated a number of
internal audits over the years. There was an internal audit a
couple of years ago and there was one in 1991, when another
government was in office.
Senator Kinsella: What is your point?
Senator Boudreau: There has been, on a regular basis, a
generation of internal audits. Action must be taken when the
results of those internal audits come to the minister, who is
Senator Kinsella: Is the minister responsible or not?
Senator Boudreau: That responsibility is being discharged by
this minister. After the internal audit came to her attention, which
is now a public record, a program was put in place to deal with it.
I am not confident that in 1991 there was such a program in
Senator Meighen: Honourable minister, if we are to take your
view that this is a little accounting problem, what would you
think of an outside independent private-sector auditor coming in
to get to the bottom of this to reassure the Canadian public?
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I would say that
already one-third of the audited files have been remedied. The
others will be dealt with quickly. The Prime Minister has made
the commitment that if any monies were inappropriately granted,
those funds will be repaid.
The issue goes beyond the present discussion. The goal is to
improve the delivery of ongoing programs and to ensure that
these problems are prevented in the future. Our response goes far
beyond an audit.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, the shocking
mismanagement of funds at HRDC clearly demonstrates that this
Liberal government has failed to be accountable to the people of
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Angus: Although the Transitional Jobs Fund was set
up specifically to give ministerial discretion to encourage job
creation in high unemployment regions, it has been used,
apparently, as a political tool to pork-barrel certain ridings.
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, the internal audits to
date have only been samples, with a very low level of materiality,
and have revealed that millions of dollars have been spent with,
to say the least, improper processes in regard to record keeping,
project tracking, using funds or completing application forms.
We are told that, in some cases, there are no application forms
at all on record. That is totally unacceptable to the people of
Canada, Mr. Minister.
My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is
—and I do not envy him having to put his finger in this
particular crumbling dike — in light of the serious nature of this
issue, will the government provide full, unexpurgated,
uninterrupted and complete audit rights to the Auditor General,
and will it hand over all the files pertaining to the granting of all
the funds to an independent external examiner?
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, again, it is
important for all of us to reaffirm the value of these projects and
the individual recipients. I have already gone through the list of
37 projects. When I look at the Canadian Paraplegic Association,
I note that that is the type of program that is at risk as a result of
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator Boudreau: The honourable senator has asked for an
audit of all the files, all 30,000, by an independent auditor. I
think they would be able to retire quite a few of their partners on
that one, honourable senators, and I do not think that is likely to
Senator Angus: As a final supplementary —
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry, Senator
Angus. You can come back to this tomorrow.
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I would suggest that leave is in order,
certainly, for Senator Angus to complete his series of questions
and have responses from the leader.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry, but I heard
"no" from some honourable senators. We must stick to the rules;
that is something I wish to do.
I will now call Delayed Answers.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
No, no. Point of order.
Senator Angus: Cover-up!
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition):
The unanimous decision of the Senate cannot be overturned by
Senator Kinsella: It is the practice of this house that senators
run the Senate. The Deputy Leader of the Government has
consented to hearing a supplementary question from Senator
Angus. That is the consent of the house. That is the order of the
Senator Lynch-Staunton: It was unanimous.
Senator Taylor: Was it unanimous? I do not remember it
Senator Kinsella: Stand up, Senator Angus; ask your
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there unanimous
consent to hear Senator Angus?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, in simple terms, I urge
the Leader of the Government to please assure all honourable
senators that senior officials or others who are under the direction
of this government have not and will not destroy, doctor, alter,
fudge, lose or otherwise forget about any documents whatsoever
pertaining to the distribution of monies under the Transitional
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I can give no more
assurance of that than I can give for what the honourable senator
Senator Stratton: What about the citizens?
Nisga'a Final Agreement Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Austin, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator
Fairbairn, P.C., for the second reading of Bill C-9, to give
effect to the Nisga'a Final Agreement.
Hon. Aurélien Gill: Honourable senators, I would like to pick
up the thread of my first speech. I know that my general remarks
of last November moved a number of you and that was my
intent. The final agreement with the Nisga'a gives me an
opportunity to go further and to clarify my thoughts on the new
partnerships we must envisage for our future.
For over half a century now in Canada we have been full of
good intentions and fine words. Even in the early 1960s, the
federal government spoke through the Hawthorne-Tremblay
commission report of its desire to encourage the economic
independence of the First Nations quickly.
This was followed by the creation of many forums for
consultation and thought. In the process, we inherited more or
less suitable political structures. The provincial associations of
the 1960s are a fine example. In order to have us meet its
expectations in matters of discussions, the government wanted an
interlocutor of its own stature; it created a mirror image of itself.
Intentions were clear, the yoke of economic dependence had to
be broken, and we had to fly on our own within a prosperous
The idea was good, but perhaps it was too simplistic, because
economics and politics are linked — is that surprising? If, in
political terms the proposals did not meet expectations —
remember, we were talking about taking responsibility — what
was the issue? For us it was to administer our dependence.
We looked after our affairs by taking on the responsibilities
designed and defined by the Department of Indian Affairs. How
ironic! We put on moccasins that did not fit and a shirt that did
not suit. Today, we know very well that the idea was not
promising. It maintained the system of band councils and gave
the problem itself a second wind. Indian band meant Indian
reserve and that always boils down to promoting marginality.
That is obviously the crux of the matter. No economic or
political advances can be made if our rights are not truly
respected, if we are not in a position to exercise those rights. Our
past secures our place in the future. It was not until the 1970s,
after the tribulations of the 1969 white paper, that the concepts of
territories and resources were raised. Since they were buried in
our historic amnesia, we unearthed them.
The Nisga'a Nation, like so many other First Nations, played a
major role in these efforts to turn back the tide, to show that we
could not hope to survive and certainly not to develop if we were
denied access to our ancestral lands and resources. The Nisga'a
used the legal system to breathe new life into their age-old
To speak of our rights is to speak of treaties, treaties that have
been forgotten, ignored, set aside, and never signed, as was the
case for a great part of what is now British Columbia, as was the
case for the greater part of the province of Quebec, before the
agreements signed with the Cree, the Inuit and the Naskapi. To
speak of our ancestral rights, whose existence is now recognized
in the Canadian Constitution, is to speak of our future.
The great injustices we suffered have been addressed in the
courts. Since Calder in 1973, the Supreme Court of Canada has
continued to promote the cause of the First Nations.
We all agree that the issue is complex and difficult to resolve
in law. I would like to mention in passing the contribution made
by Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer who in effect paved the way in the
Canadian justice system with respect to the First Nations.
We are not there yet, but we are on the right track. Our
aboriginal rights have been recognized in principle. I say in
principle because they must still be given a modern form to carry
them into the future. Once again, and this bears repeating, too
many Canadians are reacting badly to what is in fact an historic
Finally, the Nisga'a agreement includes all the minimum
requirements to allow a nation to be responsible for its future.
This agreement should serve as a model. I insist on that point.
The agreement must be presented to all Canadians, not only in its
best light, but also as an example, because the opponents to the
agreement are actually opposed to its strongest qualities. Some
say the agreement is unconstitutional because it creates a new
level of government in the political structure, something which
requires a constitutional change. Does our Constitution not
recognize the inherent rights of aboriginal people? Do our
collective rights not imply that we enjoy self-government? What
is the point of having rights if we cannot exert them?
In other words, the Nisga'a agreement is the ultimate test of
our good intentions. Generally speaking, the country would want
First Nations to be themselves and to fly on their own. But when
the time comes for them to take flight, they are prevented from
spreading their wings. People complain about turbulence, about
the space being taken. The Nisga'a Nation will indeed have
authority over a territory that it has not stolen. A community
cannot govern itself on the basis of abstract notions of law.
Resources, institutions, space and an identity are all required.
This is where the critical notion of sharing takes on its full
meaning. Canadians must realize that a sharing of powers is
looming on the horizon.
The Nisga'a Nation is finally coming back home, to a land that
it had been stripped of, a land where its people had become
strangers, like so many other First Nations in Canada. It will now
have control in the form of a just and normal presence which will
give it back its sense of identity. This is restitution, no less. The
options are so well defined that it is now possible to think that
the Nisga'a will be able to take stock of their own resources and
proceed to tax the wealth that will be generated. Who could
oppose this true enfranchisement? A yoke has been broken. This
is the way to break a vicious circle.
Some oppose the Nisga'a agreement on the ground that it
settles only one of the 40 or so claims in British Columbia alone.
This can be scary for Canadians. Yet, there are reasons for them
to be reassured. Creating a form of self-government whose
structure takes into account existing traditions, concretely
recognizing ancestral territories, developing new skills, taking
stock of the natural resources that will help generate wealth,
promoting "identity-based" conservation measures through the
normal and minimum institutions that allow a community to
control its destiny, maintaining bridges based on cooperation and
sharing, these are all reasons for us to be reassured.
In the Innu language, we would call the Nisga'a "kanikantet",
or scouts. Their path is well marked. If we make good use of it,
their accomplishments will open up better horizons for us.
However, do we know how to make good use of them? That
seems difficult. The real opposition to the Nisga'a agreement is
the outcome of a great historic insensitivity, as I said in my first
speech. Many Canadians react badly and with prejudice, without
giving thought to the treaties and to rights, without taking into
account the centuries of injustices.
The Nisga'a agreement seems disturbing, surprising, a thorn in
the side of our national tranquillity. As long as this
misunderstanding persists, no degree of maturity can be attained
in this fundamental debate. The clinching argument makes a
pretext of raising the problem of ethnic governments, claiming
that Canada must not create political structures that are based on
the cultural distinction of a given community. I agree that the
issue does arise, and that the principle involved is a touchy one.
However, can it be raised with some care? To deny us the right to
exist politically based on our distinct cultural qualities puts an
end to the debate on our aspirations. To the best of my
knowledge, to the best of anyone's knowledge, the Nisga'a are
Nisga'a, and their claims have always reflected their identity.
If there is no place in tomorrow's Canada for the First Nations
as a specific culture, let it be clearly stated. It needs to be said,
and then the destruction of what we are and what we have been
can continue. Let there be no more trumpeting of cultural
diversity of the founding nations if no one has the desire to
acknowledge that diversity with political fact.
Our future governments will not be "ethnic"; they will be the
reflection of what we are entitled to be. This involves sharing,
partnership. The more we are what we are, the more openness
there will be between us. A distinct identity does not require the
cultures to be separated; in fact, the opposite would be the case.
A culture that is comfortable with itself can be open with others.
It attracts interest. Its "ethnicity" is a positive reality.
I have already stressed urgency. Now I shall focus on
creativity, novelty, imagination. We have all been in error in
acting as if Canada were a completed country. It is a work in
progress, it is a challenge.
In order to be successful, we must innovate, imagine new ways
of belonging to it. Being a Canadian should not be an abstract
concept. It will be something that is lived out, experienced and
given expression to. We have much to give this country, but will
we ever attain our rightful place?
Law alone is not enough. A fair resolution to the First Nations'
claims seems to be the last chance to drive away all our old
demons. I say this out loud, knowing that it makes us
uncomfortable. The Canadian identity is a work in progress —
even today. History has shown that people have always wanted to
reduce this identity to a sort of homogeneity that does not exist.
When it comes to cultural diversity, Canada must leave behind
its apathy. Imagination is called for. We must get rid of old
Loyalist colonial tendencies and fleur-de-lys nationalism.
No, Canada is neither English nor French. Biculturalism is an
irrelevant concept which only serves to inflame old grudges that
unfortunately still exist. If an original Canadian culture finally
surfaces one day, it will be a synthesis of the best features of the
various identities and cultures that have been a part of this
country's existence for over 500 years.
We will finally have overcome our old visions, visions that
pitted one culture against another. We are at the first stage of this
history. We are entitled to promote and defend our identity and
receive the respect that goes with it. We all know that the Canada
of tomorrow will have to be inclusive and celebrate its diversity,
that this diversity will have to be obvious in the political arena,
and that, like Quebec and Canada's francophones, we, too, want
to control our own destiny.
How could we not celebrate the Nisga'a Final Agreement as
an original avenue in our progress? There is a necessary link
between economic responsibility and the development of
peoples. How can we ignore the huge step forward taken by the
Nisga'a and how could we possibly not celebrate that step?
Across the country, another agreement is in the works, an
agreement that is close to being what we all want. If all goes as
planned, and after a very long journey, the Montagnais Innu from
the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Issipit Charlevoix-Tadoussac and
Manicouagan-Betsiamite regions will finally have control over
their own destiny. Let us salute this progress and these
achievements, because they are fundamental.
Wherever promising negotiations are underway and foretell of
partnerships and dignity, we must delight and encourage each
other. Likewise, considerable attention must be paid to our more
northerly brothers, the Innu of Labrador and Quebec's North
These Innu have been very patient. Until yesterday, they had
every reason to be concerned about their future, because for too
long they have been ignored in development projects. Remember
the NATO plans for low-altitude flights. Did the Governments of
Quebec and Newfoundland not forget them again in their joint
planning of the Churchill River hydroelectric development?
In 1999, did these governments not again assume that the
development of Labrador did not really concern the Innu, even
misunderstanding the simple map of the ancestral territories of
the Montagnais Innu?
Agreements are needed to promote responsibilities and
sharing, because without them and without responsible native
government, without proper recognition of the space needed and
of the partnership in the sharing, the First Nations will be
humiliated and systematically ignored, today as yesterday.
This ignorance and these humiliations are a thing of the past in
a self-respecting Canada. The new agreements are so many
cracks in the dams of silence and disdain. The current will move
and flow with these cracks. We must hope that we may be fully
committed to this development process.
Yes, we must share the land and the resources. We must share
in order to enrich ourselves and also to make Canada grow. Only
then will the majority of Canadians stop perceiving these
agreements as concessions, as losses, as follies that threaten their
I ask: Have we invested enough to adequately inform
Canadians on the true nature of these agreements? The answer is
obvious. No, we have not done enough. The debate suffers from
a dangerous carelessness. What we are hearing definitely reflects
a painful lack of information.
Some say that we are benefiting from favours, from privileges
and that these agreements are basically meaningless, except for
the money that we get from them. Others think that we are
snatching rights to resources. We look like highway robbers in
the eye of the public, which perceives us as a threat and as
leeches. No, we are not investing enough to show the absolutely
positive side of these new agreements. They are not and they
may never be perfect, but we must all work together to improve
and multiply them.
These agreements represent a real hope for all. This is how
they must be presented to the general public. Again, I
congratulate the Nisga'a Nation for its tenacity and courage, and
also all those who worked so that this agreement could be
reached. In spite of the obstacles and difficulties, let us hope that
we can achieve at the national level what was achieved in this
case, because tomorrow's Canada will not be built at the expense
of these peoples and cultures. It will not be built by humiliating
its numerous founding nations. Let us ensure that we can all be
proud of being Canadians, while also being proud of who we are
and of belonging to this new circle.
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Honourable senators, I wonder if
the Honourable Senator Gill would permit a question.
Senator Gill: Yes.
Senator Taylor: Part of a small band — and I cannot
remember the exact name of it right now — exists within the
traditional land of the Nisga'a. They were upset about not being
factored into the equation. I understand that some efforts have
been made to handle the problem. Is the honourable senator
aware of this band and what is being done to satisfy their
Senator Gill: Honourable senators, I am aware of certain
things, but not of all the details. When an agreement is signed,
very clearly there are some problems relating to the overlaps of
territory between the nations. As far as I know, there has always
been a possibility of these matters being settled eventually. As
can be clearly seen, the more signed agreements there are, the
more we will have to deal with this type of situation. Until now,
certain approaches have been found to get people to discuss their
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator St. Germain,
Report of Committee Adopted
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of
the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs (Bill S-10, to amend the National Defence Act, the DNA
Identification Act and the Criminal Code, with amendments)
presented in the Senate on December 16, 1999.
Hon. Lorna Milne moved the adoption of the report.
She said: Honourable senators, as Chair of your Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I have the
honour of speaking to the report on Bill S-10, to amend the
National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the
The introduction of this promised legislation, Bill S-10, fulfills
the commitment made by the Solicitor General to the Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee in December 1998. It is based
on the legislative recommendations made by the committee in
our sixteenth report to the Senate on Bill C-3, the DNA
Identification Act of the previous session of Parliament. The bill
reflects our recommendations by making several changes to the
National Defence Act, the DNA Identification Act and the
Bill S-10 brings within the ambit of the national DNA data
bank profiles of designated offenders who are subject to the
military justice system. It also amends the Criminal Code to
extend the prohibition against unauthorized use of bodily
substances and DNA profiles to include those obtained under the
National Defence Act. Bill S-10 expands the "principles" set out
in section 4 to make absolutely clear that DNA profiles and
bodily substances are to be used "only for law enforcement
purposes in accordance with this Act, and not for any
unauthorized purpose." This is in response to the committee's
previous concerns about potential misuse of DNA profiles.
Bill S-10 makes provision for new accountability measures
that will enable Parliament to monitor the ongoing operation of
the data bank. It amends the DNA Act to give the Senate and the
House of Commons committees the same authority to conduct
the statutory five-year review of the legislation. In addition, the
bill requires the Commissioner of the RCMP to submit an annual
report to the Solicitor General on the operations of the DNA data
bank, which will be tabled by the Solicitor General in both
Houses of Parliament.
During the committee hearings on Bill S-10, we suggested that
this report should include a review of current DNA case law. In a
letter addressed to the committee through myself on December 7,
1999, the Solicitor General accepted our recommendation and
agreed to amend the draft regulations accompanying the bill,
which, by the way, were also presented to the committee, to
specify that the RCMP Commissioner's annual report will
contain a review of the DNA case law over the preceding year.
Honourable senators, Bill S-10 is reported back with two
amendments. The amendments were presented to the committee
by the Solicitor General following a meeting of federal,
provincial and territorial heads of prosecution. These
amendments are considered necessary for the purpose of
verifying the identity of a person specified in a DNA data bank
order or authorization. The amendments to the National Defence
Act and to the Criminal Code authorize peace officers or persons
acting under their direction to take fingerprints at the same time
that samples of bodily substances are collected for the data bank
from persons convicted of a designated offence.
Initially, the committee had reservations about the privacy
implications of obtaining fingerprints at the same time as
samples of bodily substances are collected for the DNA data
bank. At the request of the committee, I sent the proposals to
Mr. Bruce Phillips, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, for
study. While Mr. Phillips did express some concerns over what
would happen to the fingerprints once they had been taken, he
recognized and appreciated the need to protect the integrity of
the national DNA data bank. However, he did share the
committee's concern about obtaining fingerprints where the
Crown has proceeded by way of summary conviction, as in cases
where there is no authority to take prints under the Identification
of Criminals Act or there are no existing fingerprints on file with
which to compare. Like the committee, Mr. Phillips was also
concerned about the validity of obtaining fingerprints for the
seven "specifically military" secondary military offences, where
as well there is currently no authority to take fingerprints for
The officials responded to these concerns on December 15,
1999, by explaining the process under which the fingerprints for
summary conviction offences would be handled. As these
fingerprints are taken solely for the purpose of DNA sampling,
the fingerprints will be treated the same as pardoned records.
Only in extreme cases will the information be retained, and then
only in an in-house data base that assigns a number to the
information which will be referenced in an in-house query. The
only instance in which someone could get a name would be if
they themselves are privileged operators who manage the
pardoned criminal records information. Again, the information
would not be made available to the entire law enforcement
Honourable senators, Bill S-10 is a testimony to the diligent
and thorough work of your standing committee. I thank the
Solicitor General for recognizing our work and our contribution
to the legislative process by fulfilling his promise to enact our
recommendations before the coming into force of Bill C-3, the
DNA Identification Act. Bill S-10 is a reflection of our attention
to detail and continued commitment to both the protection of
Canadians' privacy and their right to public safety.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable
senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Milne, bill placed on the Orders of the
Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Royal Assent Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Lynch-Staunton, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Kinsella, for 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
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I am adding my
voice to the debate in which we are engaged relating to Bill S-7,
which deals with Royal Assent as a means of enacting legislation
in order to render it enforceable. As honourable senators are
aware, this matter has been submitted to the Senate on a number
My interest in this matter arises out of the relevant reflections
expressed during this debate and those before it, particularly the
judicious intervention by the Honourable Royce Frith in May
1983, and the McGrath commission report two years later.
There have been other attempts from time to time to amend the
process of Royal Assent. I have familiarized myself with all of
these in an attempt to gain a clear understanding of the reasons
set forth to justify a change and the possible consequences of the
change proposed in Bill S-7.
I will begin by making it clear that I see Royal Assent as an
opportunity to show the results of parliamentary procedure in
general, the legislative work of parliamentarians, and that of the
Senate in particular.
Honourable senators, a number of words come to mind, such
as visibility, communications, relevance, accessibility, content
and education. I see here a chance to optimize the work of the
Senate, not cloister it with some behind-closed-doors sign-off
process. Indeed, as several honourable senators are saying
publicly and privately, we should be looking at ways to make the
Senate more visible.
Formal Royal Assent, properly communicated to the public,
would serve to inform Canadians not only about their
parliamentary institutions, but also about the laws being passed
that affect them. Royal Assent could, if planned and managed in
a communicable fashion, allow parliamentarians to bring out the
relevancy and the timeliness of their work as legislators. If that
means engaging in ceremony, so be it.
Perhaps one of the tragedies of today is that we do not have
enough ceremonies to remind us of who we are and what we do.
Ceremonies, no matter how humble or extravagant, prod us into
reflection. On summer mornings, we can witness crowds
gathering on Parliament Hill to watch the colourful, ceremonial
changing of the guard. Is this merely a tourist spectacle? It is
more. It is a way of presenting to the world a tiny part of Canada.
Honourable senators, in reviewing what has been said in this
chamber in regard to Royal Assent, it is clear that no one has
advocated usurping the legislative process. This is a process that
binds together both Houses of Parliament and the sovereign, a
blending of institutions which has withstood the litmus test of
Honourable senators, the issue before us pits expediency
against tradition — changing the rules a little bit so that tradition
remains a legitimate exercise but the process is made more
convenient. I understand this to be the heart of the issue.
Senator Lynch-Staunton, through this bill, has endeavoured to
accomplish a balanced duality by retaining the ceremonial aspect
while providing for significantly less formal procedure. While
appreciating his motives — which I remind you, honourable
senators, are shared by all senators on both sides of this chamber
— I fear that the proposal in Bill S-7 for written declarations
would become the norm, with the current traditional ceremony
falling by the wayside. That is to say, we would end up replacing
a well-established tradition with an informal office procedure,
and we would lose what is perhaps a golden opportunity to
inform Canadians about the machinery of the parliamentary
institution and its vital legislative role on behalf of Canadians.
Only by giving Canadians the opportunity to see — and I say, "to
see" — the relevancy of the upper chamber can we expect people
to respect the Senate.
Honourable senators, we know that Canada is the only
Commonwealth country to have retained the ceremony of Royal
Assent in the presence of the Governor General or a judge of the
Supreme Court, acting as Deputy Governor General.
Even though we usually turn to a Puisne Judge for Royal
Assent, the fact of requiring that a senior member of the
magistrature participate, regardless of his impartiality, entails a
risk: one day, this judge will perhaps have to hand down a
decision on the validity of a legislative measure to which he will
himself have given Royal Assent.
It would perhaps be advisable for those responsible for
analysing Bill S-7 in depth, in committee, to explore options for
conferring this responsibility on other august Canadians who are
not active participants in the judicial process. A list of
distinguished Canadians qualified to perform duties similar to
those of the Lords Commissioners in England could be drawn up.
Let us remember that during the six years from 1993 to 1998
inclusive, there were 46 Royal Assent ceremonies. The Governor
General was present at only five of them. These figures are proof
to some that the official ceremony of Royal Assent is no longer
worth the trouble.
In other words, if the representative of the Queen cannot, for
one reason or another, play an active and regular role in the
legislative process, why should this duty fall to someone else?
Why not adopt an entirely different protocol?
The Governor General's rate of participation could be
justification for going even further than the proposal in Bill S-7;
by that I mean the elimination pure and simple of the practice,
along the lines of what was done in Australia.
That is why I can understand the feelings of those who wish to
simplify Royal Assent and create other means of achieving the
same ends, such as those proposed in the bill introduced by our
I wonder whether, honourable senators, if expediency — or
convenience, if you prefer — were the only consideration, I
would readily embrace Bill S-7. Logic compels me to weigh the
other side of the debate for, as you may be gathering from my
remarks about relevance, communication, accessibility, visibility,
and education, I am concerned by the steady erosion of our
traditions and symbols whose disappearance seem more to do
with expediency and political correctness than serving to remind
all of us as Canadians of who we are.
In this regard, I view as quite valid the comments of the
Monarchist League and a number of honourable colleagues such
as Senator Cools, Senator Grafstein, Senator Nolin and Senator
Milne. In a presentation to the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs the league decried "changing
current monarchical symbolism to republican symbolism" and
consigning the role of Queen-in-Parliament "to a secretarial act
performed at a distant functional desk".
Senator Grafstein and Senator Nolin have, if I interpret their
remarks correctly, touched upon the fact that Royal Assent is a
major constitutional duty of the Governor General, suggesting to
us that the Queen's representatives should be playing a more
active role in the affairs of Parliament, not less. Indeed, Senator
Milne has referred to Royal Assent as "a fine piece of theatre and
more Canadians should know about it." Senator Cools astutely
remarked that written declarations "will further distance and
obscure the sovereign's role and existence in the public business
of our nation."
Honourable senators, we are, in discussing this bill, in a state
where the heart and mind compete. The logical mind tells us
there is a more efficient way of doing business, but the heart tugs
toward an act of symbolism that reaches back across the
centuries. It is our heritage and one should not dispense with it
hastily. It is fine and well to say that because Henry VIII changed
the rules in 1541 by appointing Lords Commissioners to grant
assent on behalf of the sovereign, so can we. Henry's motives
were propelled not by a desire to facilitate the democratic
machinery but to spare himself the indignity of assenting to a bill
effectively calculated to dispatch his wife, Catherine, to the
chopping block for high treason. For that single action by a king,
for personal reasons known but best not repeated in this chamber,
the practice of appointing commissioners became so increasingly
common that today it is normal procedure.
These events demonstrate the principle of the exception
becoming the rule. This could ultimately be the case with written
declarations, despite provisions to hold once yearly Royal Assent
in the presence of the Governor General. Bill S-7 would be the
thin edge of the wedge that would, in time, cleave symbolism
from our parliamentary process.
Honourable senators, I should like to make a few more
comments which I feel are relevant to this debate.
In England, it is now common practice to delegate to Lords
Commissioners the task of giving assent to acts on behalf of Her
Majesty. This usually takes place at Buckingham Palace and is,
in my opinion, a ceremonial event.
A distinction must also be made between Canada and
Australia. Whereas Canada has maintained the traditional Royal
Assent ceremony since Confederation, Australia stopped using it
in the early years of its history. The two countries have therefore
developed different protocols. In spite of having eliminated the
Royal Assent ceremony, Australians voted to remain a monarchy,
in a referendum held last November.
Canada is a very young country which welcomes thousands of
immigrants every year, and their cultures, their rules of law, their
languages and even their alphabets may be different.
What is striking is that we assume that those who cross our
borders are invited to take advantage of the abundance that we
enjoy here in Canada. By this I mean that we share not only our
standard of living, but also our parliamentary history, our culture
and our institutions.
For many newcomers, these elements provide the stability that
was lacking in their country of origin. The question then
becomes: Are our parliamentary traditions and democracy, and
also the symbolic ceremonies involved, not worth being better
communicated to the public?
If so, and I firmly believe this to be the case, should we not use
all the modern means available to better inform the public of new
legislation, updates and procedures?
Could we not do everything possible to make our values and
our traditions known through our symbols and ceremonies? Is it
not our responsibility as parliamentarians to be more visible, to
use available electronic communication to broadcast this final
stage of the legislative process? Yes, broadcasting the ceremony
would force us to rethink it.
Honourable senators, rather than concealing our customs and
traditions like Royal Assent, we should be showcasing them.
Like justice, democracy needs to be seen to be done. Rather than
making written declarations the norm and the Royal Assent
ceremony the exception, I wonder whether the opposite might
not be a more attractive proposition. In other words, accentuate
the role of the Governor General while limiting written
declarations to rare or occasional exceptions. For a time, at least,
I suspect that written declarations will be necessary now and then
when the two houses are located in different buildings during
renovations of Centre Block. This I accept as a practical
arrangement. However, I think that we could lean toward a more
visible function for Parliament and for the Governor General
herself. Is proclaiming laws not one of the primary
responsibilities of the Governor General? As the sovereign's
proxy, the individual holding that esteemed office should be
visible regularly in the affairs of Parliament in Canada.
A few months ago, a suggestion was circulated that days
dedicated for Royal Assent be fixed when both Houses are
sitting; another option for review by the appropriate Senate
Honourable senators, during the course of my remarks, I have
argued in favour of greater promotion of the customs and
symbols of our country and called for greater transparency in the
legislative process. I therefore find myself on the side of those
who think that, to make Parliament more relevant in the eyes of
Canadians, the ceremony of Royal Assent could even, on
occasion, be held in other regions of the country. The Royal
Assent given to the bill that created Nunavut would have
justified holding the ceremony elsewhere than in Ottawa. This
event has already occurred, but it would have been interesting to
highlight the creation of a new territory in this way. It would
have drawn the attention of Canadians to a historic change in the
Honourable senators, we owe thanks to Senator
Lynch-Staunton. He drew the attention of our house to the
particular conditions of our parliamentary procedure. If our
collective goal is to ensure rapprochement between the work of
Parliament and life in Canada, Bill S-7 gives us an opportunity to
do so. Let us take time to look at the way we function. Let us
become more visible and more accessible. And, if I may repeat
myself, like justice, democracy must be seen to be done.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I thank Senator
Poulin for her words. One of the great strengths of private
members' bills is that we can have differences of opinion about
them — and I certainly have a difference of opinion with Senator
Poulin on this particular issue. I like Senator Lynch-Staunton's
bill. Its passage would be a positive addition to the way we do
business in this chamber and in Parliament as a whole. I should
like to explain why I say that.
My very first experience with Royal Assent was not in the
Senate of Canada but in the legislature of the Province of
Manitoba. I think it is true of most provincial legislatures that
most of the legislation is not given third reading support until
close to the end of a particular session. That is because sessions
tend to be more compact and because there is usually a new
Speech from the Throne each and every year.
The experience to which I refer was at a time when we were
coming to the end of my first session of the legislature. At that
time, I noticed some interesting things happening in the chamber.
For example, I noticed that members on both sides were
gathering little bits of paper on their desks. As a former teacher,
I have to tell honourable senators that they took on the
appearance of potential spitballs.
As we came to the end of the session of the legislature, the
Lieutenant-Governor had been left waiting outside the chamber
for about five hours. He entered the chamber in order to give
Royal Assent to the legislation. As he left the chamber, to my
absolute amazement I recognized what the paper was about to be
used for. It had been a tradition in the Manitoba legislature that
immediately following Royal Assent there would be a paper fight
on the floor of the legislature.
All of a sudden, paper started to fly on both sides of the
chamber. I was given to understand that at one point even copies
of Hansard flew from one side of the chamber to the other. That
practice came to an abrupt halt when one of the press gallery
representatives was hit in the eye with a piece of Hansard. Thus,
it became an unspoken rule that copies of Hansard would no
longer fly following the Royal Assent ceremony.
Several years later, while I was leader of the party, we were
fortunate enough to have a sufficient number of members elected
to allow us to become the Official Opposition. You must
remember, honourable senators, that I was a school teacher with
some 20 years of experience. I made it clear to my caucus
members that there would be no paper fights in the Manitoba
legislature. I understand that the tradition of throwing paper in
the Manitoba chamber has now come to a halt. Perhaps that was
my most significant contribution to the decorum of the Manitoba
legislature. In any event, that led me to a more serious debate and
discussion. That is to say, when is a ceremony important and
when does it do the kinds of things that Senator Poulin spoke
about so eloquently this afternoon? It led me to consider the
question of when a ceremony has become, perhaps, redundant
One of the aspects that I like most about Senator
Lynch-Staunton's bill is that he would not get rid of Royal
Assent in its entirety, which of course has happened in the United
Kingdom, Australia and every other Commonwealth country.
The bill before us calls for the ceremony to be performed once a
year. I hope that it would be become a far more significant
ceremony as a result. We would no longer have the House of
Commons being represented by members of the government side
only, something that we have had consistently in my five and
one-half years in this chamber. We have often had Royal Assent
without the Speaker of the House of Commons. Occasionally,
deputy speakers appear.
To me, that does more to harm the democratic process than
anything else. If it is held in such disdain by members of the
House of Commons that they do not think they have to come,
then that tells me that it is a ceremony that has, perhaps, gone
past its time in terms of making a significant contribution to the
body politic and, more particularly, to our democratic system.
I have serious concerns about Supreme Court Justices
appearing as Deputy Governors General. Frankly, I do not
believe they should be here giving Royal Assent to bills. At some
time in the future, they may have to make judgments in cases that
may involve Acts of Parliament to which they have given Royal
Assent. I think there is a conflict of interest created by being here
to sign off in a Royal Assent ceremony as the Deputy of the
Governor General and then to sit in judgment of that very piece
I agree entirely with Senator Poulin, when she says that we
should be looking at alternatives to those who serve now as
Deputy Governors General. If we are to continue with these
ceremonies, there are many notable members of the Order of
Canada who could replace the Governor General. There may be
others who would also make good replacements.
I think honourable senators should be aware of a court case
based on this particular issue, which will be heard in Ontario
over the next few months. It concerns whether the situation to
which I refer creates a conflict of interest.
When representatives of the Monarchist League of Canada
appeared before the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee,
which was considering this bill in another life, I put this question
to John Aimers, who is the head of the league: Should we be
more Catholic than the Pope? In view of the fact that the mother
of Parliaments, Westminster, had done away with the ceremony
some 30 years before, I asked if we in Canada should still be
doing it. I asked why other Commonwealth nations had chosen to
follow another route. His answer was that we should be more
Catholic than the Pope, and that it is important for this kind of
symbolism to remain alive and well in our nation.
I love ceremonies. I think they are good for all of us. They
give us a sense of our history. They give us a sense of the
importance of our institutions. However, I think ceremonies only
have value and purpose if they are ceremonies that everyone
takes to be of great importance and significance.
With the greatest respect to each and every one of us here, I do
not think the Royal Assent ceremony takes on that kind of
purpose and importance when the government whip is forced to
go around to ensure that there is a quorum. Technically, a
quorum is not needed for Royal Assent, but it is needed for the
adjournment. You cannot adjourn until after Royal Assent, so
you must have a quorum. All of us have been asked by our whip,
"Will you be here for Royal Assent," in order to guarantee that
the numbers will be here.
Honourable senators, if each and every one of us thinks the
ceremony is so very important, why are we not all here for the
Royal Assent ceremony? My sense is that we do not consider it
the most important part of the process. We consider the third
reading debate, or the final third reading vote if it is an issue
upon which there is disagreement, to be the most important part
of the process, not the Royal Assent process.
I should like to see the Royal Assent envisaged in Senator
Lynch-Staunton's bill become a ceremony of grand occasion.
The Governor General is here, members of the House of
Commons are present in great numbers, and the number of
senators present in this chamber is high. That is the direction in
which we should be going. I think we should be moving into a
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I had not
intended to participate in the debate but the eloquence of both
Senator Poulin and former deputy leader Senator Carstairs
suggests to me that, perhaps, we collectively have forgotten the
essence of Royal Assent.
The essence of Royal Assent is not the ceremony. The
ceremony marks a special occasion, but the essence of Royal
Assent is based on the well-known principle that ignorance of the
law is no defence, so that when laws are passed, a common
citizen cannot say, "I did not know about that law." As a question
of law, each citizen in Canada is required to know every law.
Lack of that knowledge is not, in any way, shape or form, a
defence if that law is breached by an individual citizen, either by
neglect or by omission. The essence of the law was that when
Parliament had concluded its deliberations, the monarch would
assent to the law in order to bring to the citizens' attention that a
law had been passed and that knowledge should not be denied. I
understand the arguments made by Senator Poulin and others, but
that principle is the essence of Royal Assent.
By obsolescence and by practice, we have relegated this
ceremony to a place and a time that is inconvenient, namely,
Thursday evening, when it is not convenient for senators who
travel to the West or to the East to attend. We have trashed that
principle and now some are arguing against the trashing of the
principle. In effect, we have said that because it is obsolete,
because people do not attend and because the other place is not
here, it is a moot principle. However, the principle remains that
ignorance of the law is no defence. Hence, when we pour out
thousands of pages of law without the public knowing that we
have passed that law, it strikes me as being an abrogation of our
responsibilities as parliamentarians. Why are we here to debate
these matters if not to educate the public about the changes in the
Once we have concluded the debate, to relegate it to the
Canada Gazette, which no one reads, is to dismiss the hard work
of both Houses. With Royal Assent, Her Majesty comes to
Parliament and accepts the law, from the Commons and from the
Lords, in order to demonstrate to the citizens that there is a new
and different law by which they are to be bound. Although we
have failed in the ceremony and in the practice, that should not
permit us to make the practice even worse.
There are many good ways of educating the public in the laws
that we pass. The Royal Assent ceremony is one great
opportunity to do so. I am in favour of renovating the practice,
not of relegating it to the dustbin of history.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I have a question
which I should like to put to the Honourable Senator Carstairs.
My question relates to her narration regarding John Aimers'
remarks about being more Catholic than the Pope.
An Hon. Senator: Order!
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I wanted to ask a
question of the Honourable Senator Carstairs and I was quietly
waiting my turn, as I always do.
Senator Nolin: You must ask for permission first.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (The Hon. the Acting Speaker):
Honourable Senator Cools, do you wish to ask for the consent of
the Senate to pose a question to the second last speaker?
Senator Cools: Yes, honourable senators. I seek clarification
on a statement that Senator Carstairs made, which I feel is
extremely relevant to the debate.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Please proceed, Senator
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, Senator Carstairs has
raised an extremely important question. I commend the
honourable senator for ending what I thought was unnecessary
and unparliamentary behaviour in the Manitoba legislature.
However, they are a legislature, not Parliament, so perhaps they
could be overlooked at that stage.
The proper solution here is to —
Senator Lynch-Staunton: You are supposed to ask a question,
not make a speech. You will not get leave again if you do that.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I am coming to my
question. Perhaps the honourable senator is in a hurry today.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Just ask the question.
Senator Cools: I do have leave, senator, and I am not in the
habit of taking direction from you.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Take direction from the Senate,
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, Senator Carstairs has
suggested that, perhaps, either the Senate of Canada or some
senators are attempting to be a bit more Catholic than the Pope. I
understand her concern and where she is coming from. However,
I should like the honourable senator to clarify before us whether
or not the situation she has described — that is, the situation in
England — is not unlike the situation in Canada. In point of fact,
in England the Queen's major representative, the Lord
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
Senator Cools: — sits in the House of Lords. Consequently,
the situation is not quite analogous, because the Lord Chancellor,
as Senator Carstairs would know, is the Queen's major
representative, so named because he has sufficient power to
cancel the Queen's commissions and the Queen's patents. I am
asking whether or not she considers her analogy a fair one.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, let me be clear. The
analogy had nothing to do with the situation that was occurring
in the United Kingdom with respect to the Chancellor or the
Exchequer or the Lord High Chancellor. It is concerned with
whether a ceremony we have in Canada — and one which they
no longer have in Great Britain — is necessary.
In other words, the question is whether Royal Assent is
perhaps an unnecessary symbolic act in Canada, when, for the
most part — but not entirely, because we are, after all, a federal
system and they are not — our traditions come from the mother
Parliament, Westminster, and the mother Parliament has decided
that that ceremony is no longer necessary in the way we
If I may use a phrase that is quite common, my question is: Do
we have to be more Catholic than the Pope? Do we have to be
more monarchist, do we have to be more traditional, do we have
to be more orchestrated towards formal ceremonies than they are
in the United Kingdom? Mr. Aimers' response to that appears to
On motion of Senator Corbin, debate adjourned.
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Anne C. Cools
moved the second reading of Bill S-9, to
amend the Criminal Code (abuse of process).
She said: Honourable senators, essentially, this bill attempts to
address the issue of the use of false allegations of child sexual
abuse, largely within custodial disputes and within judicial
proceedings. It had been my intention, honourable senators, to
speak more fully today, but in view of the lateness of the hour I
shall just move the adjournment and proceed on another day.
On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Cools, seconded by the Honourable Senator Watt,
for the second reading of Bill C-247, to amend the Criminal
Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act
(cumulative sentences).—(Honourable Senator Di Nino).
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, Bill C-247 would
amend the Criminal Code with respect to cumulative sentencing.
This bill has been reincarnated several times since 1996 by a
member of the other place, seemingly against cabinet's wishes.
That member persisted with the bill and, with the support of the
other parties, was finally able to persuade the government of its
merit, and the bill received third reading in the other place on
June 7, 1999.
I think it is appropriate to quote from the debate on the bill in
the other place before I continue with my short discussion. The
originator of the bill said, in a previous Parliament:
Since I reintroduced this bill I have sadly been visited by
too many victims of crime who have now come to realize
that they are also victims of parliament. Some had lost
children, some had lost parents, some had lost spouses, but
all had lost faith in the courts, lost faith in parole boards
and, most of all, lost faith in parliament.
This bill is about a principle that we accept in our common
law, that crimes against persons and against property should be
punished, and that the victims of crime have a right to justice.
This bill repairs and restores proper justice by allowing the
sentence to reflect the crime.
Too often the punishment of a crime bears little resemblance to
the nature of the crime itself. This bill would enforce the severity
of penalties with respect to the crime, reinforce the good work of
our law enforcement and legal systems, and show true
compassion to the victims and their families.
Bill C-247 would require those convicted of sexual assaults,
and any other offence arising out of the same events, to serve
their sentences consecutively, therefore reflecting the heinous
nature of their crimes. It would require those convicted of second
degree murder to serve the mandatory parts of each sentence
consecutively. This bill only impacts two groups in our society:
multiple murderers and multiple rapists.
Under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, every Canadian
has a right not to be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment; so
the courts generally impose sentences that meet certain
sentencing objectives, such as crime prevention, rehabilitation,
imposition of a reasonable sentence, and the protection of
society. Often, concurrent sentences are imposed so that a
proportionate amount of each sentence is actually served. When
several offences are committed in the course of a single incident,
the courts will use concurrent sentencing. If offences are
committed through a series of different incidents, consecutive
sentencing is imposed. Under the Criminal Code today, there is
no differentiation to account for the number of victims or the
number of crimes in relation to parole ineligibility. If this bill is
passed, it will give judges the discretion to extend the term of
parole ineligibility for multiple murderers. Depending on the
nature of the crimes committed, that judicial discretion would
allow a judge to choose to add no time for the second crime, or to
add one day or up to 25 additional years.
This bill is also realistic, as it prevents courts from imposing
sentences beyond the natural lives of offenders. In effect, we are
guaranteeing that the second, third, or eleventh victim will see
In most criminal cases, this type of provision would have little
impact, but in rape and murder, the law slips into a haze that
leaves many victims and families of victims perplexed and often
disgusted, and, like many other Canadians, cynical and
distrusting of our justice system. My sadness and frustration with
these types of crimes is only matched by my exasperation with
our justice system, when it allows someone like Clifford Olson to
receive public attention and a forum to argue for his release after
serving only 15 years.
It was interesting that, after 15 years, Clifford Olson was able
to get a member of the staff at the penitentiary to actually talk
about what a good guy he really was and to say how he did not
fear for his safety. He testified on behalf of Clifford Olson. This
gentleman need not have been afraid; he was not a little girl or a
This bill gives us an opportunity to restore some dignity to the
system. Canadians of every political stripe, from every region
across Canada, hold the same view on this issue. Over
90 per cent of Canadians would support differentiating parole
ineligibility for multiple murders or multiple sexual assaults.
That percentage would be even higher if the courts were allowed
discretion in using this provision.
Honourable senators, we have an opportunity to restore some
faith in our justice system and to promise families of victims of
the most horrendous crimes that justice will be served.
On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.
Religious Freedom in China in Relation to
United Nations International Covenants
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable
Senator Wilson calling the attention of the Senate to
religious freedom in China, in relation to the UN
international covenants.—(Honourable Senator Poy).
Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, before I begin, I
should like to wish every one of you a very happy and healthy
New Year in this year of the dragon.
I should like to speak to the inquiry into religious freedom in
China that was initiated by Senator Wilson and on which Senator
Austin and Senator Di Nino also spoke.
As the first person of Chinese heritage to sit in this chamber, I
hope to bring a unique perspective to bear on this issue,
particularly on China's cultural and historic attributes and how
they shape its approach to human rights. When speaking of
something as complex and emotionally charged as human rights,
it is easy to allow our passions and rhetoric to overwhelm
open-mindedness and logical argument.
In this chamber, it is important that we seek education over
confrontation. If we do not, we risk losing sight of our common
objective in this inquiry — namely, the greater respect for life,
liberty and dignity of the human person in China, Canada and
This is a timely inquiry, as China has recently signed the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights. We look forward to China's ratification of these
important documents. Moreover, the United States will be
introducing a resolution on China's human rights practices at the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights when it meets
next month in Geneva.
Approximately one month ago, we marked the beginning of a
new year and a new millennium. The passing of such a milestone
offers an opportunity to reflect on past events, accomplishments
and failures. I suspect that historians will view the past 100 years
as a period of profound paradox. The 20th century was the
bloodiest in human history, with millions of people suffering and
losing their lives through war, regional conflicts and genocide.
We saw the depths to which humanity can sink through the
actions of various totalitarian regimes and by those states
claiming to have a greater level of respect for human life. The
20th century also witnessed the dismantling of colonial empires,
the establishment of the United Nations as a means for resolving
interstate conflict, and the adoption of international human rights
Today, the result is that nations do not have the luxury to judge
themselves. A state's actions are increasingly assessed by the
court of international public opinion. The notion of human rights
has become so firmly established that last year NATO entered
into a war in the Balkans for what we were told was a response to
the human rights abuses in Kosovo. This conflict, as well as
those in East Timor and Chechnya, exceed the scope of this
inquiry, but, ultimately, they call our attention to the central issue
regarding the right of sovereign states to dictate on matters of
internal policy to other sovereign states. How effective is it?
Any discussion of human rights, regardless of the country or
culture we talk about, draws our attention to the relationship
between the state and its citizens. The examination of this
relationship begs us to answer the following questions: What
rights do we hold by virtue of our humanity? Is the concept of
human rights, as defined by the West, universally applicable?
What is the proper balance between the rights of the individual
and the rights of the community? These are questions that
challenged us in the 20th century and ones that will confront us
even more in the future.
The approach of the West to human rights often ignores the
darker periods of its own history. The actions of Nazi Germany
and segregation in the United States reveal that the West
certainly has not supported individual human rights uniformly
since the concept was first devised during the Enlightenment.
Even in Canada, the treatment of the First Nations, the historic
treatment of non-white immigrants and the internment of
Japanese Canadians during World War II reveals that the struggle
for human rights is never complete, even though successive
Canadian governments have sought to correct these mistakes.
Human rights, as defined by the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, is a recent concept. Up to the
17th century, Western societies placed as much emphasis on
duties as on the rights of citizens. Since the concept of human
rights varies between cultures, the West has been accused of
imposing an interpretation on cultures that do not share its
historic and cultural background.
This argument is reflected in the works of Indian philosopher
R. Pannikar, who wrote that:
Human rights are one window through which one particular
culture envisages a just human order for its individuals.
Certainly, this sentiment is reflected in the approach to human
rights taken by the Chinese government. Beijing has argued that
the interpretation and implementation of international human
rights standards varies with cultural and historical facts and the
level of economic development. China approaches Western
definitions of civil and political rights with extreme caution.
While we must be sensitive to cultural differences, for they do
exist, such differences should not be used to rationalize
systematic human rights abuse. In spite of all their differences,
cultures share, and always will, the common denominator of
To understand the actions of the Chinese government, we must
acknowledge the more collectivist nature of Chinese society and
the impact that religion has played in its history. Not doing so
can lead to charges of cultural imperialism. I found the remarks
of Senator Wilson and Senator Austin on this aspect of the
inquiry particularly interesting. Senator Wilson's detailed
explanation of China's approach to religion was particularly
enlightening, as was her observation that the Western press often
report religion-related arrests without any explanation beyond the
fact that "Chinese law was broken."
In traditional China, importance was placed on humanity, also
known as Confucian humanism. Mencius taught that people are
more important than rulers and therefore had the right to
overthrow tyrants. Centuries before European civilizations
abandoned the concept of the divine right of kings, the concept
of "people's rights" existed in China.
The concepts of human equality and popular sovereignty
existed very early in Chinese thought, but they did not lead to a
political structure that protected human rights. That is because
power in modern China became increasingly concentrated in the
hands of a few. Until the 1911 revolution, at least, the imperial
censorate was in the position to criticize the emperor's exercise
Within the past few centuries, a number of political rebellions
in China have had religious or mystic overtones, and many of
these contributed to the fall of major dynasties. I am sure the
leaders know their history well.
To emphasize the role played by religion in China's political
history, I will say a few words about the Taiping Rebellion,
which started in 1850. The God-Worshipping Society proclaimed
the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace in Nanjing in 1851. The
leader, Hung Hsiu Ch'üan, claimed to be the younger brother of
Jesus. The movement swept across the entire south China.
Religious indoctrination was used to control the population in the
conquered territories. It took 14 years for the imperial
government to crush the rebellion, and it cost the lives of
30 million people, which was approximately 10 per cent of the
population of China at that time. That is the entire population of
I, for one, can understand why the Chinese government wishes
to avoid this kind of upheaval from a large segment of its
population, particularly when it is working with great speed to
bring about the economic reforms believed to be necessary for
China to catch up with the industrialized countries.
John Stuart Mill's concept of "the greatest good for the
greatest number" has been an accepted philosophy in China for a
In the 20th century, Wu Ching-Hsiung, chief architect of the
Chinese nationalist government's first and most liberal
constitutional draft, wrote in the 1920s:
Westerners, in struggling for freedom, started with the
individual. Now we, in struggling for freedom, start from
the group... We wish to save the nation and the race, and so
we cannot but demand that each individual sacrifice his own
freedom in order to preserve the freedom of the group.
Chang Fo-ch'üan, a graduate of John Hopkins University and
a professor at Beijing University during the 1920s, believed that
there could be no areas of an individual's existence that are
inviolate. "Freedom", he said, "is public, not private," and
concerns the needs of society as fully as that of the individual.
Sun Yat-sun, in his later years, maintained that "what China
required was not the liberty of the individual, but the freedom of
the state." These are the philosophies of some of the most
important intellectuals in China in the first half of the
In the revised Preliminary Draft of the Chinese Constitution of
the 1920s under the Nationalist government, the article on
religious freedom reads:
Every citizen shall have the freedom of religious belief;
such freedom shall not be limited except in accordance with
Not much has changed since then. The Chinese government
today argues that individuals should be sacrificed where
necessary for the collectivity and that those in power should
decide what is good for that collectivity.
As long as any country is ruled by a one-party system, as in
China where the Communist Party is enshrined in the
constitution as the "dictatorship of the proletariat," the concept of
human rights remains subject to the party's interpretation.
"Human rights" in the Chinese language means "human power,"
and the struggle for human rights is understood by the
government as a fight for political power and therefore as a threat
to the establishment.
Since religious freedom falls within the confines of human
rights, which is "human power," they are viewed as one and the
same. In comparison to the draft constitution of 1920, Article 36
of China's 1982 constitution guarantees religious freedom. A
second clause limits this guarantee, however, to "normal
religious activities." "Normal" is left undefined, and the use of
religion to disrupt public order is prohibited.
The control of any Chinese congregation by a foreign religious
organization is not permitted. Historically, Western imperialists
used religion as the pretext to dominate and obtain concessions
from China. This in no way means that that was the intention of
the missionaries who went to China. Most of them were simply
used by their governments for political ends. Since the
19th century, many lawless Chinese converted to Christianity just
so that they could enjoy the protection of the Western churches,
and thus the Western governments, from Chinese law. An
obvious example was the use of missionaries by the German
government to obtain concessions in Shandong Province.
Kaiser Wilhelm II was known to have said that he would have
larger territorial rights in China if only he had more missionaries.
The present Chinese government recognizes and authorizes
five religious movements: Buddhism, Catholicism,
Protestantism, Taoism and Islam. Each of these five sanctioned
religions is supervised by a "patriotic association" which reports
to the government's Religious Affairs Bureau. Although it
flourishes, unregistered religious activity is illegal and remains a
Such an approach to religion appears alien to us as Canadians
until we understand China's unique historical and cultural
experiences in this area.
This issue illustrates one of the main points of contention in
the discussion of human rights in China — specifically,
differences arising from Western versus Chinese understanding
of human rights.
Linked to the "Asian" versus "Western" values discussion is
the argument over whether human rights should take precedence
over economic and social development. Collective rights such as
the "right to development" have been suggested as being more
important and more in keeping with the Chinese values than the
West's apparent preoccupation with civil and political rights.
Indeed, the Chinese government's attitude toward human rights
is based on the proposition that subsistence rights are paramount
and that civil and political rights are secondary.
The late Julius K. Nyerere, founder of modern-day Tanzania,
perhaps expressed this idea best. He said:
What freedom has our subsistence farmer? He scratches a
bare living from the soil provided the rains do not fail; his
children work at his side without schooling, medical care, or
even good feeding. Certainly he has freedom to vote and to
speak as he wishes. But these freedoms are much less real to
him than his freedom to be exploited. Only as his poverty is
reduced will his existing political freedom become properly
meaningful and his right to human dignity become a fact of
President Li Tieying of the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences said the same thing to me when he visited Canada in
October 1988. He said:
What's the use of having rights and freedoms when you
don't have the right to adequate food and shelter?
To be sure, the idea of the greatest good for the greatest
number of people appears at first to be an impelling argument for
delaying the implementation of individual rights such as
religious freedom. Countries have routinely explained away
human rights violations through the need for national
Authoritarian governments, however, simply have not
realistically demonstrated that free thought, speech, the
establishment of mass organizations and the criticism of leaders
is incompatible with the rights of subsistence and development.
Statistical studies do not support the claim that there is a general
conflict between civil and political rights and economic
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Poy, your
speaking time has expired. Are you asking for permission to
Senator Poy: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Please go on.
Senator Poy: Honourable senators, the 1993 Vienna
Declaration on Human Rights states that:
...while development facilitates the enjoyment of human
rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to
justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human
Indeed, it is increasingly apparent that sustainable
development actually requires a commitment to civil and
political rights. By helping to ensure government accountability
and transparency, civil and political rights can help channel
economic growth into national development.
Arising from the developmental approach to human rights is
the argument that individual civil and political rights must take a
secondary position to the maintenance of order and stability,
particularly in a country that is as vast in size and population as
China. We do acknowledge that Chinese society differs markedly
from Canada's. We are aware that China's immense population
means that its society confronts many of the issues regarding
freedom of speech, religion and assembly that we as Canadians
really only deal with in the abstract. However, there can be no
long-term peaceful coexistence among different religious and
cultural groups and territories within a country without the
establishment of a basis for respect of rights to human dignity.
Compelled silence only offers the illusion of order.
Why is the Chinese government so concerned about civil
unrest in recent years? The suppression of personal freedom has
always existed but has seldom been reported by the Western
press. With the opening up of China's trade with the West, and
because of the Internet, the rest of the world is much more aware
of what goes on in that country.
Deng Xiao-Ping's economic reforms have brought prosperity
to China, but the wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few.
Tens of millions of peasants have been driven off the land
because of industrialization and development, and they are
roaming the country looking for work. Unprofitable state
industries are being dismantled and urban workers have not only
lost their jobs but have also lost their social safety net. The
feeling of loss and insecurity in the population is channelled
towards the hope provided by religion, mysticism, and even
traditional exercises that are believed to heal the body,
particularly when a large segment of the population has lost the
government medical care that went with their jobs.
The Internet remains the greatest threat to the Chinese
government. The educated in the country can be mobilized
instantly, as we saw on television last summer regarding the
Falun Dafa movement. I believe, however, that mass arrest will
only increase instability in the country.
The Chinese people need a safety valve to release their
pent-up frustration caused by economic dislocation, and the only
way is to democratize the system of government by giving the
people more control over their own lives. Curbing freedom does
not ensure stability in any country in the long run.
Honourable senators, before I conclude, a response is required
to Senator Di Nino's suggestion that the reason the recent
Chinese migrants have come to Canada on leaky boats is that
there have been human rights violations in China. I refer to an
interview with an illegal — and I repeat, illegal — Chinese
migrant in the United States. When he was asked whether he had
more freedom in the United States or in China, he immediately
answered "China". He was then asked why he had suffered such
hardship to go to the United States and the answer was: "For
As Senator Austin remarked, China is attempting to make
progress in the field of human rights, thanks in part to the
opening up of the country to technological changes and the flow
of information and ideas. Considerable effort has been made by
the Chinese government to establish the rule of law and a court
system based on the same principles as those found in the West.
As Canadians, we should welcome such developments. Canada is
working with the Chinese government on human rights. The two
countries are participating in a constructive dialogue on these
issues and Canada is assisting China in reforming its legal and
Having said all that, I still believe that, ultimately, the
improvement of China's human rights record will come from
within, through the actions of the younger generation. Only so
much can be accomplished on a government-to-government
basis, particularly when one of those governments is
In this age of globalization, the deluge of information made
possible by the Internet is the greatest equalizer of all. No longer
can countries build walls to keep their citizens in. Chinese youths
increasingly have the ability to access or disseminate information
anywhere in the world. With better economic and educational
opportunities for the young, the future leaders of China want
what the rest of the world wants — economic security and
Honourable senators, in order for the Western democracies to
have influence on human rights in China, there must be
continuous dialogue. Friendship and trade are the two most
useful tools of influence.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says: "There are many
paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the
same." I believe China is on its way up the mountain. It will
reach the top, like Canada and the other industrialized countries,
but along a different path.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I wonder whether Senator Poy would take a
few questions on what she has had to say these past few
Senator Poy: Yes, if I can answer them.
Senator Kinsella: I think it may be rather difficult, if I have
understood correctly what you have had to say. First, is it your
position that human rights are culturally relative?
Senator Poy: The understanding of human rights is, because
everyone has a different way of understanding. What I was
saying is that the Chinese understanding of human rights is
different. What we understand is really a Western import. Not
that it is not right — it is right, but everyone must learn the same
system. However, because the country is so different, their
approach must be different.
I am stating a fact. I am not stating that what they are doing is
correct. I am attempting to explain what is happening, from my
Senator Kinsella: I wonder whether it is the honourable
senator's position that there is no unity to human rights; that
economic, social and cultural rights are somehow in an economic
relationship with civil and political rights? Is it the honourable
senator's position that there is no unity to human rights?
Senator Poy: I think there should be, but right now in China
there is not; that is what I am saying. Hopefully, very soon there
Senator Kinsella: Could the honourable senator let us know
whether it is her view that there is a difference between a
justification of a given human right and the international
recognition of a given human right? For example, freedom of
conscience and freedom of religion are recognized in
international treaty law, and she has alluded to the fact that China
has submitted the instruments of ratification of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Is it the honourable
senator's view that the international law that recognizes the right
to freedom of religion is one thing and the philosophical
justification is quite another thing?
Senator Poy: I do not believe that, honourable senators. I am
trying to explain what is happening. Historically, this is what
happened in China. It takes time for leaders to learn to deal with
things differently. When China reaches a similar standard to a
Western country in terms of economics, there will be more
opportunity for people to express themselves and to learn.
Currently, it is as if we are comparing apples to oranges.
Senator Kinsella: Is the honourable senator saying that the
human right of freedom of religion is being respected by the
Government of China? The honourable senator has advised us
that the Chinese government has an office of religion which
approves of five religions. Does the right of freedom of religion
embrace Judaism in China?
Senator Poy: According to my information, there are only
five. I cannot say anything more than that. If Senator Wilson
were here, she would be able to answer the question better than I
am able to answer it.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Andreychuk,
Distinguished Canadians and Their
Involvement with the United Kingdom
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable
Senator Cools calling the attention of the Senate:
(a) to persons of Canadian birth who sat as members of
the House of Commons of the United Kingdom,
including Ontario-born Edward Blake, Liberal Minister
of Justice of Canada 1875-1877 also Leader of the
Liberal Party of Canada 1880-1887, and
New-Brunswick born the Right Honourable Bonar
Law, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1922-1923, and Ontario-born Sir Bryant Irvine Deputy
Speaker of the House of Commons of the United
(b) to persons of Canadian birth who sat as members of
the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, including
the Right Honourable Richard B. Bennett, Prime
Minster of Canada 1930-1935, and Lord Beaverbrook,
Cabinet Minister in the United Kingdom in 1918 and
(c) to persons of British birth born in the United
Kingdom or the Dominions and Colonies who have
served in the Senate and the House of Commons of
Canada including the Right Honourable John Turner,
Prime Minister of Canada 1984 also Liberal Leader of
the Opposition l984-1990 and myself, a sitting black
female Senator born in the British West Indies;
(d) to persons of Canadian citizenship who were
members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom
including the Prime Ministers of Canada, the Supreme
Court of Canada Chief Justices, and some Cabinet
Ministers of Canada including the Leader of the
Government in the Senate 1921-1930 and 1935-1942
the Right Honourable Senator Raoul Dandurand
appointed to the United Kingdom Privy Council in
(e) to the 1919 Nickle Resolution, a motion of only the
House of Commons of Canada for an address to
His Majesty King George V and to Prime Minister
Richard B. Bennett's 1934 words in the House of
Commons characterizing this Resolution, that:
"That was as ineffective in law as it is possible for
any group of words to be. It was not only ineffective,
but I am sorry to say, it was an affront to the
sovereign himself. Every constitutional lawyer, or
anyone who has taken the trouble to study this matter
realizes that that is what was done.";
(f) to the words of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in a
1934 letter to J.R. MacNicol, MP that:
"So long as I remain a citizen of the British
Empire and a loyal subject of the King, I do not
propose to do otherwise than assume the prerogative
rights of the Sovereign to recognize the services of
his subjects." ;
(g) to the many distinguished Canadians who have
received honours since 1919 from the King or Queen
of Canada including the knighting in 1934 of
Sir Lyman Duff, Supreme Court of Canada Chief
Justice, and in 1935 of Sir Ernest MacMillan, musician,
and in 1986 of Sir Bryant Irvine, parliamentarian, and
in 1994 of Sir Neil Shaw, industrialist, and in 1994 of
Sir Conrad Swan, advisor to Prime Minister Lester
Pearson on the National Flag of Canada;
(h) to the many distinguished Canadians who have
received 646 orders and distinctions from foreign
non-British, non-Canadian sovereigns between 1919
and February 1929;
(i) to the legal and constitutional position of persons of
Canadian birth and citizenship, in respect of their
ability and disability for their membership in the
United Kingdom House of Lords and House of
Commons, particularly Canadians domiciled in the
United Kingdom holding dual citizenship of Canada
and of the United Kingdom;
(j) to the legal and constitutional position of Canadians
at home and abroad in respect of entitlement to receive
honours and distinctions from their own Sovereign,
Queen Elizabeth II of Canada, and to the position in
respect of their entitlement to receive honours and
distinctions from sovereigns other than their own,
including from the sovereign of France the honour, the
Ordre Royale de la Légion d'Honneur;
(k) to those honours, distinctions, and awards that are
not hereditary in character such as life peerages,
knighthoods, military and chivalrous orders; and
(l) to the recommendation by the United Kingdom
Prime Minister Tony Blair to Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II for the appointment to the House of
Lords as a non-hereditary peer and lord of Mr. Conrad
Black a distinguished Canadian, publisher,
entrepreneur and also the Honorary Colonel of the
Governor General's Foot Guards of
Canada.—(Honourable Senator LeBreton).
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I rise today to
participate in the debate on Senator Cools' inquiry regarding
distinguished Canadians and their involvement in the United
Kingdom. Over the years, a number of Canadians have received
well-deserved honours from the United Kingdom despite the
existence of the 1919 Nickle Resolution. Some examples were
given by Senator Cools in her presentation.
There are more recent examples about which honourable
senators should be aware. Eleni Bakopanos, a member of the
other place, recently received an honour from Portugal. My
friend, the late Peter Bosa, among others, received an honour
from Spain not too many years ago.
Conrad Black is a respected Canadian with a successful career
in international business. The Queen and the Government of the
United Kingdom decided to grant him an honour in recognition
of the services he has rendered to that country. Why, then, is this
government putting roadblocks in the path of his receiving this
honour? The fact is that the Prime Minister is unhappy with the
National Post and its coverage of his government's political
misdeeds. Thus, it seems to me that the Prime Minister has
decided to use the power of his office to obstruct Mr. Black's
appointment to the House of Lords. Surely, this is one of the
more egregious examples of Mr. Chrétien's love for petty
I applaud Senator Cools for raising this important issue, and I
look forward to a frank exchange of views with all honourable
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I should
like to ask a question of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, if he
would allow me to do so.
Senator Di Nino: Of course, honourable senators.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, Canada is a
country that has evolved greatly. I remember participating in a
vigorous debate in the House of Commons with the Right
Honourable John Diefenbaker, who was a very good friend of
mine. He was a great orator. The matter of debate concerned
changing gradually the terms of Canadian citizenship. At that
time, there were some members of the Parliament of Canada who
happened not to be Canadian citizens. Some people thought that
this should be allowed to continue. However, I thought it should
be abolished right away.
We made a deal with Elections Canada concerning British
citizens. However, there were other classes of citizens. People of
Greek origin and Italian origin were considered to be in one
class. Those of British origin were considered to be in another
class with special privileges. Then there were those who were
Canadian born and those who were naturalized. Gradually, we
changed so that everyone was on an equal footing. We said that
no longer would there be second- or third-class Canadians.
My first passport stated that as a Canadian I was a British
subject. I had another passport which stated that as a Canadian
citizen I was a member of the Commonwealth. My present-day
passport states that its bearer is a Canadian citizen.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, I, too, was aware of
the differences to which the honourable senator made reference.
I was one of those who was less Canadian than others. I did not
like it then and I do not like it now. However, that has nothing to
do with the issue at hand. The issue at hand concerns an
established tradition. Many countries recognize the contributions
made by Canadians to the service of those countries. That is the
issue we are discussing today.
I was offended much more than Senator Prud'homme. He, at
least, was called a Canadian. I was not allowed to vote. However,
my neighbour, who had just arrived from England, was allowed
to vote. I believe that was a dark chapter in the history of this
country which, in my opinion, is a different issue from the one
we are talking about now.
Today, we are talking about whether the Prime Minister,
because of personal reasons, blocked this man from an
appointment to the House of Lords. Whether Conrad Black
should receive such an appointment is not up to me. As I
understand it, the Government of the United Kingdom, as well as
the Queen, had agreed to bestow this honour on Mr. Black. Yet, a
particular piece of legislation that has not been used for a long
time was used to block the appointment. That is the question I
am raising. I do not believe it is correct.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have a
supplementary question. Now that we will look into the new
Immigration and Citizenship Act, does the honourable senator
have any comments on it at this time? I am not totally against
what Senator Cools is trying to do. It is a question of receiving
honour. Some honours you can receive; others you cannot. I do
not understand that. Some members here were candidates for
honours in foreign countries, but they were turned down because
their candidacy was not agreed upon. You need permission to
receive an honour from another country.
Does he believe we are on our way towards saying that no one
should have dual citizenship in Canada? That sounds like the
ultimate goal here. I never knew that Senator Di Nino was one of
the people whom I have been talking about. I regret the past, but
I am not someone who stays on his knees, regretting all the
mistakes that were made in the past. I want to progress and make
a better future by learning from past mistakes. Does the
honourable senator think we should slowly move towards that?
Senator Di Nino: First, I agree that it is something of the past.
We should learn from the past and not necessarily revisit it, other
than to learn from it.
I have a different point of view from yours on this issue.
Again, I am not sure that it is related. If I am out of order, I will
sit down. I think that borders or frontiers are an unnatural thing
that were created by man — mainly the male species, I may add
— to keep people out. The experiment that is happening in
Europe, where they are trying to knock down those frontiers and
borders and to engage humans more as citizens of the world, is
the way to go. I am not particularly interested in building more
barriers or more frontiers. Having said that, I recognize that it is
not necessarily a widely accepted position and that it is certainly
not something that can be done quickly in the near future. To
answer your question directly, having two or three passports or
citizenships would not bother me at all.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have a
question. I was a little confused by Senator Di Nino's explication
of this issue. I have not spoken on this issue before, although I
find it rather interesting from an historic standpoint. First, is
there not a clear distinction in the honourable senator's mind
between receiving "honours" and being appointed to the House
Senator Di Nino: Both Bennett and Beaverbrook were
appointed to the House of Lords after the 1919 legislation.
Precedents have occurred.
Senator Grafstein: That was not my question. The question is
not with respect to what has happened, but is with respect to
whether there is not, in his own mind, a distinction between
someone being appointed to the House of Lords, for instance,
and someone being called to the Senate to receive an order or an
honour. Senator Di Nino referred to Senator Bosa, who received
many honours, both from Italy and from Spain, for his very
distinguished work in international organizations. Surely there is
a distinction between that and being appointed to an upper
chamber. I want to know if the honourable senators makes that
distinction, or does he blur the line?
Senator Di Nino: I do not think it is a question of "blurring
the line". Senator Grafstein is talking about degrees of honours. I
do not think it is up to us on this side to decide which honour one
would receive in another country. If the question being asked of
us, as Canadians, was whether we should allow someone to
receive a Canadian honour for benefits that Canadians have
received from a particular person, I might make a distinction. I
agree with him on that point. However, that is not something we
must be concerned about. It is the country that is offering that
honour. Whether it is at this level or at another level, it is still an
honour to a Canadian for services rendered to that country.
Senator Grafstein: If I may make a further clarification on
this subject, the honourable senator used two examples: Bennett
and Beaverbrook. Both of those right honourable gentlemen
chose, if my recollection is correct, to live permanently in the
United Kingdom. After making a decision to live permanently
there, they were then called to the House of Lords. Am I correct
in that? The honourable senator used those as examples in this
Senator Di Nino: I cannot answer that question, other than by
saying, as we have been told, that Mr. Black would have decided
to reside in England if that honour had been bestowed upon him.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, there are some
wonderful, important questions being raised here this afternoon.
Perhaps they will be developed further as the debate continues.
Senator Di Nino stated that two members of Parliament,
namely, Eleni Bakopanos and Senator Bosa, received what we
would call foreign honours. In Senator Di Nino's travels — since
he occupies a unique position — has he encountered Canadians
who sit in upper and lower chambers in other countries of the
world? I have been told there are many, but I have not yet been
able to discover how many there are or who they are. For
instance, I am told that in Latvia there is a Canadian woman. Yes,
there are honours and there are seats in Parliaments. They are
both appointed and decided upon by the sovereign. I have begun
to develop an interest in Canadians in general who are sitting in
other countries of the world as members of both chambers. Does
the honourable senator have any information on that?
Senator Di Nino: I am not sure whether I would use the word
"Canadian". The president of either Latvia or Lithuania came to
Canada after the war, returned to Latvia to take up permanent
residency and was then elected President of Latvia. There are a
couple of others in other pre-Soviet Union countries — that is,
the Eastern Bloc — who ran for Parliament and were elected.
Their names escape me, but I am not sure whether they would
now consider themselves Canadian, other than those who once
were Canadian but are now residents and citizens of another
Senator Cools: In the House of Lords, there is also another
group of Canadians. The Conrad Black appointment was
supposed to be that of a non-hereditary lord. Among the
hereditary lords, apparently, there is a clutch of Canadians. The
information is not easy to find.
I think the real question is on the entitlement of a person with
dual British-Canadian citizenship in terms of appointments or
honours. I thank the honourable senator for bringing that issue
forward. The Queen in Canada is the Queen of Canada, just as
the Queen is also the Queen of the United Kingdom. I know
many people view this as a cryptic and arcane point; however,
we do have a Queen of Canada and a Queen of England. These
issues are complex. Mr. Black is in a unique position because he
has a foot in both camps.
I once found myself in a similar position. I belong to one of
those families that Senator Di Nino is talking about. By virtue of
being British West Indian, we could vote in elections in Canada,
whereas Italians could not. I view that as a worthy privilege.
Thank you very much, Senator Di Nino.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, whether it is agreed or not, I think the least
Senator Di Nino deserves is a lifetime subscription to the
National Post and, in my opinion, Senator LeBreton should offer
On motion of Senator LeBreton, debate adjourned.
Motion to Establish Special Senate Committee to Examine
Conduct of Personnel in Relation to the Somalia
Deployment and the Destruction of Medical Records of
Personnel Serving in Croatia—Motion Stands
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition)
pursuant to notice of November 2, 1999, moved:
That a Special Committee of the Senate be appointed to
examine and report on two significant matters which
involve the conduct of chain of command of the Canadian
Forces, both in-theatre and at National Defence
Headquarters and its response to operational, decision
making and administrative problems encountered during the
Somalia deployment to the extent that these matters have
not been examined by the Commission of Inquiry into the
Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia and allegations
that Canadian soldiers were exposed to toxic substances in
Croatia between 1993 and 1995, and the alleged destruction
of medical records of personnel serving in Croatia.
That the Committee in examining these issues may call
witnesses from whom it believes it may obtain evidence
relevant to these matters including but not limited to:
1. The present Minister of Defence in relation to both
2. Former Ministers of National Defence in relation to
3. The then Deputy Minister of National Defence in
relation to both matters;
4. The then Acting Chief of Staff of the Minister of
National Defence in relation to the Somalia
5. The then special advisor to the Minister of National
Defence (M. Campbell) in relation to the Somalia
6. The then special advisor to the Minister of National
Defence (J. Dixon) in relation to the Somalia
7. The persons occupying the position of Judge Advocate
General during the relevant period in relation to the
8. The then Deputy Judge Advocate General (litigation)
in relation to the Somalia occurrence; and
9. The then Chief of Defence Staff and Deputy Chief of
Defence Staff in relation to both occurrences.
That seven Senators nominated by the Committee of
Selection act as members of the Special Committee, and
that three members constitute a quorum;
That the Committee have power to send for persons,
papers and records, to examine witnesses under oath, to
report from time to time and to print such papers and
evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the
That the Committee have power to authorize television
and radio broadcasting, as it deems appropriate, of any or all
of its proceedings;
That the Committee have the power to engage the
services of such counsel and other professional, technical,
clerical and other personnel as may be necessary for the
purposes of its examination;
That the political parties represented on the Special
Committee be granted allocations for expert assistance with
the work of the Committee;
That it be empowered to adjourn from place to place
within and outside Canada;
That the Committee have the power to sit during sittings
and adjournments of the Senate;
That the Committee submit its report not later than one
year from the date of it being constituted, provided that, if
the Senate is not sitting, the report will be deemed submitted
on the day such report is deposited with the Clerk of the
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, considering
the hour, I am willing to forego my comments on this motion
until another day on the assumption that it will remain at the
fifteenth-day status it has now.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is it
agreed to keep Motion No. 7 at its fifteenth-day status?
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, we on this side agree to the proposition that
Senator Lynch-Staunton's motion retain its standing on the Order
Paper, even though he will not speak to it today.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 9, 2000, at