Skip to Content
Download as PDF

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 36th Parliament,
Volume 138, Issue 39

Tuesday, March 28, 2000
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, Speaker pro tempore


Table of Contents

THE SENATE

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

The Senate met at 2:00 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the Chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Referendum Clarity Bill

Comments by Leader of the Government During Debate

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, last Thursday, March 23, the Leader of the Government in the Senate honoured me by quoting from a speech I gave almost 20 years ago while I was a member of the other place. His use of my words may suggest that I share his view that the Senate ought to have a limited role in Bill C-20 — a lesser role than the other place —  in evaluating the clarity of any secession question or the validity of any secession vote. However, this is not accurate. The honourable minister knows my position very well because I defined it in a 12-page letter to him more than eight weeks ago.

A casual reading of the minister's speech might suggest that my words serve to support the argument he was making, but a more careful review of the record shows plainly that my words do not serve such a purpose. With respect, I sincerely regret that my honourable colleague did not wait to hear my speech on Bill C-20 before defining my position for me.

I have been in public life for nearly 30 years. I have always been consistent in my statements about the Senate, its role and its function in the Constitution of Canada. I have always shown the utmost respect for the institution and for its distinguished members. I have never thought or said that the other place alone was capable of acting as the sole protector of the rights and freedoms of all Canadians and of the interests of all regions of our federation.

Moreover, in a speech to the other place on March 27, 1984, when I was then secretary of state of Canada, I defended the Senate vigorously. I intervened immediately after a Conservative member attacked the reputation of five members of the Senate: the Honourable Senators Pitfield, Kirby, Grafstein, Cools and Marsden. In my response to the member on that occasion, I warned of the danger of undermining the credibility of parliamentary institutions and the danger of interfering unduly with the independence of either House of Parliament.

Although I spoke with the Honourable Senator Boudreau at the opening of the sitting last Thursday, I was not advised that he would use my speech on November 30, 1981, as reported at page 13499 of Hansard. Given the opportunity, my learned colleague would have realized that the views I expressed in 1981 are exactly the views I hold and believe today. Clearly, the arguments I expressed in the other place do not serve the conclusions that were attributed to me last Thursday.

Honourable senators, I look forward to participating in the debate on Bill C-20 so that I can correct any misunderstanding by stating clearly and openly my position on the constitutional role of the Senate in our parliamentary system.

The Late Barbara Clement 
The Late David Elton 
The Late Brodie McDonald

Tribute

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, on Saturday, March 25, three Canadians from my hometown of Calgary lost their lives in a tragedy off the California coast. Mrs. Barbara Clement, a parent volunteer, Mr. David Elton and Mr. Brodie McDonald, students, were among those on a trip from William Aberhart High School to California to explore the flora and fauna of that region when Mrs. Clement was unexpectedly swept into the sea. David Elton and Brodie McDonald tried to save her but were lost to the ocean and are presumed dead.

Honourable senators, I express my condolences and those of all senators at this sad news. We all know the worry when our children leave home. This tragedy is all of our worst fears realized. I extend our sympathy to the families and friends of those lost and to the staff and students of William Aberhart High School. This is a very difficult moment in the history of that fine school, one that by all accounts sees all those who are associated with the school standing together in support of one another at this sad time.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy." David Elton and Brodie McDonald, as well as their friend Jordan Nixon and their teacher, Mr. Martin Poirier, demonstrated heroism in valiantly trying to save Mrs. Clement. That display of heroism in the face of this unexpected tragedy reminds us of the good in each of us.

(1410)

Parliamentary Vision for International Cooperation at the Dawn of the Third Millennium

Hon. Lois M. Wilson: Honourable senators, I wish to voice support for the strong document "Parliamentary Vision for International Cooperation at the Dawn of the Third Millennium" coming out of the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva and circulated to all honourable senators by our Speaker, Senator Molgat. The document points up the important role of parliamentarians internationally and to the UN in particular. I am pleased that the draft document highlights the requirement that states must ensure that their conduct conforms to international law, especially human rights and international humanitarian law.

I am also strongly supportive of the document's statement on debt, which urges the international community to seize the momentum generated by the transition to a new millennium to reduce substantially the debt of the poorest countries of the world and to cancel the public debt of the heavily indebted poor countries. I have spoken previously in this chamber about the necessity of debt forgiveness and of Canada making greater efforts to reverse the decline in official development assistance. I fully support the sentiment that debtor countries must introduce transparent mechanisms of control in order to ensure that the benefits of debt relief result in the socio-economic development of their people.

Honourable senators, a strong and cogent argument is made in the document for parliamentarians to decide on ratification of texts and treaties signed by our government, and to contribute actively to the subsequent implementation process. Throughout this process, the document points out the particular responsibility to engage the public in continuous dialogue and facilitate its input into the decision-making process. Last November, there was a gathering in this very building of 40 representatives of the Canadian public to consider these very issues and to establish mechanisms for follow-up. This document clearly will facilitate the linkage of parliamentarians with civil society on these matters, and I warmly welcome this initiative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Visit to Israel by Pope John Paul II

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, at the cusp of the third millennium, the leadership of one man shone out brilliantly last week. I refer to Pope John Paul II in his truly historic visit to Israel in pursuit of reconciliation between the Catholic Church and its followers, and Israel and the Jewish people.

The Holocaust marks a major tragedy of the Jewish people in the last century of the second millennium. The conquest of Israel and the dispersal of the Jewish people at the hands of the Romans was an equivalent tragedy in the first century of the first millennium. In the centuries between, the Jewish people have been a persecuted minority in the lands of Europe, where they resided, experiencing the heavy burden of the Crusades, the Inquisition and many pogroms, as well as restrictions on living space, education and occupation.

For the Jewish people, the television pictures of Pope John Paul II praying at the Western Wall of the Second Temple, the most sacred place in the world for Jews, and visiting Yad Vashem, the memorial to the lost lives of the Holocaust, will forever be indelible images of reconciliation and hope. A clearly pained and heartfelt Pope expressed himself with these memorable words:

I assure the Jewish people that the Catholic Church...is deeply saddened by the hatred acts of persecution and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians at any time and any place.

Pope John Paul II called for a new understanding and sense of affiliation between Christians and Jews. He said he regarded the Jews as "the elder brother" of Christians since both had sprung from the traditions of Abraham and Moses. In his own words he said:

Let us build together a new future in which there will be no more anti-Jewish feelings amongst Christians or anti-Christian feelings among Jews.

Certainly, through his revolutionary leadership, Pope John Paul II has founded a new hope, as the third millennium begins, for the ending of the ancient antagonisms between Christians and Jews. Whatever else he has done, he has endeared himself to the Jewish people.

For the Pope's leadership, deep feeling and sincere moral purpose, I say amen.

New Brunswick

Thirty-fifth Anniversary of Provincial Flag

Hon. Mabel M. DeWare: Honourable senators, I rise to congratulate my home province, New Brunswick, which on March 25 celebrated the thirty-fifth anniversary of its official flag.

The New Brunswick flag was adopted by proclamation on February 24, 1965, and was unveiled for the first time on March 25 of that year by former premier Louis J. Robichaud, whom we are privileged to count as a member of this chamber. I wish to point out that Senator Robichaud and his former assistant Robert Pichette, were honoured last week by Premier Lord for pioneering the adoption of the provincial flag.

The flag of New Brunswick flies just as proudly today as when it was first flown 35 years ago. It remains an enduring symbol of the rich heritage shared by New Brunswickers and it continues to enhance the province's identity, both within Canada and in the world beyond.

I invite all honourable senators to take a closer look at the New Brunswick flag, which is displayed outside the offices of all New Brunswick senators.

The symbols depicted on the flag are taken from the coat of arms assigned by Queen Victoria to the Province of New Brunswick in 1868. Across the top of the flag there is a gold lion on a red field. The province takes its name from the Duchy of Brunswick in Germany, which in 1784, the year the province was established, was in the possession of King George III of England. The arms of Brunswick consist of two gold lions on a red field, and the arms of the King contained the three gold lions of England. The gold lion in the flag therefore reflects New Brunswick's relationship to both the Duchy of Brunswick and England.

Around the base of the flag there is an ancient galley with its oars in action. The galley is the conventional heraldic representation of a ship. It reflects the two main economic activities, shipping and shipbuilding, which were carried on in New Brunswick when the coat of arms was assigned.

In the newspapers of the time there appeared an anecdote about the flag, which stated that the ship did not have its oars. Senator Robichaud noticed that the ship did not have oars and they were added to the flag, but it did not look right because the oars apparently were pointed in the wrong direction. Hence, the oars were removed while the flag was dedicated.

Am I not correct, Senator Robichaud?

Hon. Louis J. Robichaud: Yes.

Senator DeWare: Honourable senators, I hope you will join me in congratulating New Brunswick on the thirty-fifth anniversary of its official flag. May it fly in glory for many years to come.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS )

State of Domestic and International Financial System

Interim Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee on Study Tabled

Hon. E. Leo Kolber: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which deals with the present state of the domestic and international financial system. The report is entitled, "Export Development Act."

Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 97(3), I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

[Translation]

Payments in Lieu of Taxes Bill

First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-10, to amend the Municipal Grants Act.

Bill read first time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: 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, March 30, 2000.

(1420)

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Notice of Motion Urging Reconsideration of Ruling Denying TVOntario Request to Distribute Télévision française de l'ontario in Quebec

Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, I give notice that on March 30, 2000, I will move:

That the Senate recommend to the Government of Canada that it request the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reconsider the decision handed down on March 1, 2000, regarding the application by TVOntario-TFO (French-language television channel), in order to allow the only network producing French and cultural programming outside Quebec to distribute that programming in Quebec by cable.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

National Defence

Report on Restructuring Reserves—Viability of Militia

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In the fall of last year, the Minister of National Defence announced that the Honourable John Fraser, a member of the Privy Council for Canada, would make recommendations to the minister on the restructure of the reserves, in particular the militia. On Friday, many senators may have noted it reported in the press across the country that 41 of 139 militia units were not viable in an internal Department of National Defence assessment. The militia was assured that the independent, unbiased group led by the Honourable John Fraser would, in fact, make recommendations, but we find the decision being made in National Defence Headquarters in advance of the date on which Mr. Fraser was to report.

Could the minister explain the process for restructure? Is it to involve the recommendations of the Honourable John Fraser's group, or is there another process at work — obviously, there is — within the Department of National Defence?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I recognize the fact that the honourable senator has previously raised the issue of the reserves. In fact, he has done so specifically with respect to one particular unit.

Senator Forrestall: The honourable leader will have to answer that one today!

Senator Boudreau: I passed that information along to the Minister of National Defence.

I have also had the occasion recently to meet Mr. Fraser. I met him some time ago when we both were, perhaps, in another life. I have the greatest of respect for that individual and was happy to have the opportunity to spend a few minutes with him. He is a man of great integrity and ability.

With respect to the specific question raised by the honourable senator, obviously, the final decisions with regard to the reserves will be made by the Department of National Defence. At what stage those decisions are now in relation to the Honourable John Fraser's work I am not certain, but I will inquire. I hope to return with a clearer picture for the honourable senator of precisely what the process is and what role Mr. Fraser plays in that process.

Senator Forrestall: I was about to ask the Leader of the Government if he could recall the date on which he spoke to the minister about the Cape Breton service battalion group — that is, the 36th service battalion group. The length of time between the honourable leader's contact with the Minister of National Defence belies the fact that the department had any intention whatsoever of waiting for Mr. Fraser's recommendations before announcing their report. The department has managed to upset service personnel in some 41 of the 139 units. I do not see any justification for that whatsoever. Perhaps there is an explanation. I am sure the militia units concerned would love to have one.

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, the government and the Minister of National Defence support fully the role of the reserves and, in fact, significant resources have been committed.

I had the pleasure, shortly after I was appointed to the Senate, to attend the opening of an impressive new facility in Sydney designed specifically for the reserve forces. That is just one example of the importance and the commitment that the minister attaches to the reserves in the Armed Forces.

The honourable senator asked me a specific question about the process and Mr. Fraser's role in that process. I will attempt to respond to the honourable senator with due dispatch.

Cape Breton—Future of New Reserve Facility

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I should like to ask a final question. Was this new facility in Sydney designed specifically and primarily, but not exclusively, for the 36th battalion? If it was and it was just opened, what will be done with it now? Will it be closed?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, having toured that impressive facility, I cannot imagine that the government would intend in any way not to utilize it fully. That gives me a level of confidence as we speak about the topic. It is a brand new facility and quite an impressive one. The reservists themselves and the senior command were extremely happy with the availability of the new facility in Cape Breton. Hopefully, the presence of the reserve in that particular part of the country will remain and continue to play an important role with our Armed Forces.

Referendum Clarity Bill

Size of Majority of Valid Vote and Percentage of Eligible Voters—Comparison with Constitutional Amendment to Term 17 Regarding Newfoundland

Hon. Michel Cogger: Honourable senators, my question relates to Bill C-20. I apologize to the Leader of the Government. I wished to raise it last Thursday after his eloquent presentation on the bill, but time did not allow for that.

In particular, I wish to ask the leader a question relating to clause 2 of the bill, which recites some of the considerations the House of Commons will have to take into consideration when making its decision regarding the question. The first will be the size of the majority of valid votes and the second will be the percentage of eligible voters.

The leader will recall that 1996 was the last time that legislation of a constitutional nature was introduced by the government. I refer, of course to the legislation to amend the Terms of Union with the Province of Newfoundland and to change the school system in Newfoundland. In that case, the government argued that the legislation was based on a referendum held in the province of Newfoundland. If we were to apply the first test to that particular piece of legislation — that is, the size of the majority of valid votes — in the case of Newfoundland the answer would be approximately 55 per cent. As to the percentage of eligible voters, the percentage was about 52 per cent.

If those numbers were good enough for the government then, should we assume that they will be good enough for the government now or in the future?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, first, I apologize for not having the specific material in front of me. I did not anticipate that we would be involved in discussions on Bill C-20 in Question Period today. Perhaps it is my fault for not so doing, but I anticipated that since the bill was at second reading debate, we would not be dealing with it in Question Period. I apologize to the honourable senator if my comments are a little general, and I will endeavour to have the material with me in the future so I can answer more specifically.

(1430)

Having given that preamble, honourable senators, the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada clearly addresses the assessment of the majority as a qualitative assessment and specifically, in my opinion, disabuses us of any belief that it is strictly a mathematical calculation. That is why the Supreme Court opts out, if you will, of making a decision on that point itself, because it is not a mathematical question. If it were a mathematical question, the Supreme Court could do it. Deloitte & Touche could do it. Any number of institutions could do it. It is a qualitative issue and that is why the court, quite clearly and properly, places it in the hands of the political actors of the nation. Such a qualitative decision will depend on many factors, including, no doubt, the factors referenced by the honourable senator.

Wisely, the opinion also tells us that we are not likely to make this judgment in advance. If the judgment were capable of being made in advance, then one might do that. The Supreme Court sets out those two points clearly. First, this is a qualitative decision, and second, it is not a decision to be made in advance of the actual result.

Senator Cogger: Honourable senators, I apologize if I took the leader by surprise. I thought this question would be rather hot and he would be well prepared, but I will await an answer from him.

I would point out to the leader that when he refers to such things as qualitative judgments and subjective matters, those are also addressed in the bill. In other words, according to paragraph 2(2)(c), the House of Commons can take into consideration any other matters or circumstances it considers to be relevant. I do not disagree with that; it is entirely logical.

The first two criteria are strictly mathematical. The size of the majority is a simple mathematical number. The percentage of eligible voters is another mathematical calculation. It is a number and is not subjective. I would not presume, of course, and neither can the leader presume to know, the opinion of the House of Commons.

In the case of Newfoundland, the legislation emanated from the government; it was proposed by the government. The government took one look at the referendum results and said, "Aha! Here it is. Fifty-two per cent of the people voted and fifty-five per cent voted in favour. That is good enough. Here is the legislation."

I am asking whether the government feels itself somewhat bound by that precedent.

Senator Boudreau: The honourable senator has referred to two items, the size of the majority and the percentage of eligible voters. Those are mathematical results. However, the impact of those mathematical facts on the decision may well be a matter of quantitative analysis. One example comes to mind. Would 50 per cent plus 1 be the same result in the honourable senator's mind if 5 per cent of the population voted or if 95 per cent of the population voted? It still stands on the same 50 per cent plus 1. With the same mathematical figure, the surrounding circumstances might call for a different interpretation.

I conclude by saying that all factors must be taken together, as the Supreme Court has indicated in its opinion, to reach a qualitative decision. Some of those factors are pointed out very specifically in the legislation.

Statistics Canada

Possibility of Lowering Threshold for Cities to Achieve Metropolitan Status

Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It concerns the importance of statistics in creating or enhancing economic development in communities. Although I am thinking specifically of the City of Moncton, my concern affects approximately 19 other communities in Canada, and it relates to Statistics Canada's criteria for city metropolitan status.

Statistics Canada gives metropolitan status to cities with a population density of 100,000 people living in an urban core. The benefits to cities of metropolitan status are important. For example, cities with metro status appear in Stats Canada data that are available to a wide variety of users, including companies looking for new markets in which to relocate or expand. One issue is that many businesses, particularly American or foreign-based businesses looking to expand or relocate, will not make the effort to find out about opportunities in communities that do not have metropolitan status.

Many of us feel that this is a shame because many of these communities with a less populated urban core nevertheless have lots to offer businesses looking for new markets. For example, they may offer good location, a trained and stable workforce, a bilingual workforce, a good quality of living for its employees, and so on.

Will the minister ask his cabinet colleague the Minister of Industry to make representations to Statistics Canada regarding lowering the population threshold for metro status from 100,000 to 50,000, thus enabling Moncton and many other Canadian cities to be listed by Stats Canada in their data that are so widely consulted by firms looking for areas in which to expand?

Under the present system, the large cities get larger and the smaller cities do not have the opportunity to expand as they should. That is my first question.

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for raising that interesting point. I want to be sure I understand it so I can properly convey the issue. If I understand the honourable senator correctly, the fact that certain cities do not now have metropolitan status means that some statistics are not available to them that are available to cities with status?

Senator Robertson: No.

Senator Boudreau: What is the disadvantage? Perhaps she can indicate to me the disadvantage to Moncton because it does not enjoy metropolitan status?

Senator Robertson: Honourable senators, when American firms expand into Canada, they rely on Statistics Canada data for guidance. Invariably they look to cities identified by Stats Canada as metropolitan areas. For instance, in the American statistics, a city is classified as a metropolitan area at 50,000 people, but here in Canada cities are not so classified until they have a population of 100,000. If we cannot get Stats Canada to change that cut-off, firms seeking to come to Canada would not even know that Moncton existed because they usually search just in metropolitan areas.

If we use that as an example, many places would be totally overlooked. We have had that experience in the City of Moncton. The Americans go by 50,000 and we go by 100,000. I hope Statistics Canada can make that change as it would be rather nice to have compatible figures and it is important for these other communities. If the minister cannot do that, then perhaps the minister could have inserted in the Stats Canada material, an indication that the U.S. criterion of 50,000 is not the same as is used in Canada. In other words, it is 100,000, not 50,000, because most of the American firms do not know that. It is detrimental for cities that fall just short of that number. Some cities are very close to it, but are still ignored.

(1440)

It is logical that there be a cut-off, but these cities offer essentially the same support to business as does the average metropolitan area. This matter must be considered very carefully, and I would appreciate it if the minister would use his good offices to make a determination of clarity for future investors.

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, the honourable senator raises an interesting point. The issue is not that there are different statistics available but that companies may overlook certain cities altogether without seeking statistics because of the classification of those cities.

Senator Robertson: The companies refer to the statistics, but in Canada only cities with populations of 100,000 are given metropolitan status, whereas in the Unites States cities of 50,000 are given that status.

Senator Boudreau: Therefore, using Moncton as an example, the honourable senator is saying that its failure to be classified as a metropolitan area places it at a disadvantage, unless the company searching goes beyond the first classification to find out exactly how many people live there and what services are available.

The honourable senator makes a good suggestion and has a good fall-back position as well. I will pursue the matter with the minister responsible.

I cannot resist saying, however, having been in provincial government in Nova Scotia for nine years, and as a result in competition for business and economic development with Premier McKenna and Moncton, that I do not think that too many businesses missed Moncton. They got their share over the years.

Senator Robertson: I understand and appreciate that fact. However, the international scene is very difficult. Companies use particular statistics to plot their courses of expansion and this is where we are losing out.

Senator Boudreau: As the honourable senator has argued, if American companies are using different criteria, they will fail to recognize some Canadian cities of equal metropolitan status. I will follow up and report back to the honourable senator.

[Translation]

Referendum Clarity Bill

Application of Terms

Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, if the Parti Québécois holds a referendum, the question will be on the PQ platform, sovereignty-association or sovereignty-partnership. Everything points in this direction, regardless of Bill C-20. The Parliament of Canada will therefore be called upon, pursuant to Bill C-20, to stipulate that the question is confused and unacceptable. At a certain point, the Parliament of Canada will declare that the question is not clear because it refers to a partnership or a mandate to negotiate according to the terms of the PQ platform. Does this mean that Canadian parliamentarians, in particular parliamentarians from Quebec, will therefore have to abstain from taking part in an operation that will be shown to be contrary to legislation duly passed by the Parliament of Canada?

[English]

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would suggest at my own peril what form a future referendum question might take. The honourable senator suggests a particular form that a referendum question may take. I would not dare guess what format or what approach the Parti Québécois might adopt. However, in my view, based on past history, they will use a question that will give them the best possibility of success. They will not give clarity a high priority.

Regardless of the views expressed by the Senate and the House of Commons with respect to the form of the question, it will be up to individual Québécois to decide to what extent they want to participate in any subsequent debate. I imagine that will be a matter of personal judgment.

[Translation]

Senator Rivest: Honourable senators, I do not understand the minister's reply. He is asking Canadian parliamentarians, particularly Quebec parliamentarians, to adopt a resolution stating that the referendum is not clear, that it does not lead to any conclusion and that it is contrary to ethics and to a specific provision of a bill. Then he tells us that these parliamentarians will take part in an operation that would be illegal in the eyes of the Parliament of Canada. This does not make sense!

[English]

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, it would not be illegal. The legislature of Quebec has the right to ask any question it chooses. Whatever question it asks will be a legal one. It will have legal status and the response will, I guess, have some value. However, the key to Bill C-20 is that in order for a referendum to initiate the negotiation process and, beyond that, a potential constitutional amendment, the question must be clear. The legislation provides, as the government believes, that the people of Quebec should know the view of the Parliament of Canada before they cast their vote on whatever question the Government of Quebec may frame.

The honourable senator has asked what individual Québécois and individual politicians will do if the Government of Quebec poses a question which, under the clarity bill, is found to be unclear. I do not know the answer. The bill does not speak to that specifically. I assume that they will make individual judgments about whether they will participate in the subsequent referendum debate.

[Translation]

Senator Rivest: Honourable senators, no matter the outcome of the referendum, a federal minister will have decided, through his vote in the House of Commons, that there would be no negotiation at all. This will be a non-event.

This is what that parliamentarian will have to decide. Where would be the logic for the Prime Minister of Canada or for a government minister to take part in an operation that the Parliament of Canada would have ruled useless? A duly passed bill will have decided that the referendum is of no consequence whatsoever. How could a federal politician then take part in such a campaign? This is completely illogical.

[English]

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, the honourable senator may be right. The Prime Minister or a minister may decide not to participate. They may well decide that this question is so flawed, so unclear, that it will not lead to any negotiations. They could decide at that point not to participate in the debate because it could lead to constitutional negotiations.

On the other hand, as I have said, any question that is asked will be legitimate. The Government of Quebec can pose a question that asks any number of things.

(1450)

I do not find it inconceivable that federal politicians might want to express a view, even though it may not lead to constitutional amendment or negotiations. I do not know at this stage. The bill does not address that issue, nor should it. It will be left to honourable senators, to ministers, to government, to others, and to ordinary Québécois to decide to what extent they want to participate in a debate, if, in fact, the set of circumstances the honourable senator describes has occurred.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I should like to ask a supplementary to that question. Is the minister telling us that the federal government would not participate in a referendum campaign being conducted under the Quebec referendum law in which the No side, depending on the question, is led by the leader of the Liberal Party in Quebec? In other words, the federal government would not be supporting the No side? Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate telling us that, if such a referendum were conducted and the vast majority — say, 90 per cent — of Quebecers voted to support sovereignty association or some such thing, the bill now before us would obviate the Government of Canada joining with the other governments of Canada to negotiate with Quebec? Is he saying in terms of the latter point simply that there is no obligation and that discretion would still be in the hands of the Government of Canada as to whether to negotiate?

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, the provisions of the bill clearly provide that before any vote is taken in the Province of Quebec, or any area in the country facing those circumstances, the issue of the clarity of the question will first have been resolved.

I think I have said in response to these questions that I do not know what the position of the government, of the Prime Minister, of individual senators or members of the House of Commons might be. As to the extent they would participate in a debate following on a question that was declared to be unclear, I do not know. We are into a highly speculative area that does not impact on the thrust of the bill, which is to ensure that the question is clearly put that the people of Quebec know the view of the federal government on the question in advance of the vote, and that the obligations that arise following the vote will be determined by reference to certain specified conditions. In adhering to that procedure, Bill C-20 follows carefully the direction, instruction and advice given by the Supreme Court.

Senator Kinsella: So nothing is resolved.

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have a response to a question raised on February 24 of this year by Senator Ruck regarding provisions of the Naval Service Act and a response to a question raised on March 1, 2000 by Senator Tkachuk regarding Budget 2000, long-term benefits to taxpayers.

National Defence

Provisions of Naval Service Act

(Response to question raised by Hon. Calvin Woodrow Ruck on February 24, 2000)

The Naval Service Act was repealed effective February 15, 1952 at a meeting of The Committee of the Privy Council held February 7, 1952 and as recorded in The Revised Statutes of Canada 1952, Volume VI Appendices and Index.

Qualifications for enrolment in the Canadian Navy are governed by the Qualifications for enrolment in the Canadian Forces as laid down in QR&O Volume 1, Chapter 6, Article 6.01 — Qualifications for Enrolment. With the exception of Service in Submarines for women, there are no restrictions to employment for visible minorities and women in the Canadian Navy.

Budget 2000

Long-Term Benefits to Taxpayers

(Response to questions raised by Hon. David Tkachuk on March 1, 2000)

Question 1:

I found information on the Web site for an income of $40,000, but I was not able to find anything for an income of $45,000.

Response:

A single individual making $45,000 a year will see their net federal taxes reduced by $414 in the first full year of the implementation of tax changes (i.e. 2001).

By the fifth year, in 2004, there will be a tax saving of about 13 per cent, or $935.

Since full tax reduction does not start until July 20001, tax reductions in 2000 will be a little more than 50 per cent of the tax savings in the first full year of impact.

Question 2:

What exactly is the Web site illustrating? Why doesn't it include increases in CPP contributions?

Response:

The Web site provides information on the impact of the five-year tax plan for typical Canadian taxpayers in the first full year of implementation (i.e. 2001) and in the final year of implementation (i.e. 2004).

CPP premiums are not a tax, and as such should not be compared to personal income taxes. CPP premiums are pension contributions and go straight into the CPP fund, which is not part of the consolidated revenue fund. The CPP is a joint federal-provincial program where all governments have agreed to raise premiums to make the plan sustainable.

1Notes:

- 2000 budget impacts are not provided in the 2000 Budget Plan documents. These impacts were not included as they do not present a full picture of tax reductions announced in the 2000 budget. Some measures come into effect mid-year 2000 while others do not come into effect until 2001.

Those measures that are effective July 1, 2000 are:

- the elimination of the 5-per-cent surtax for those earning less than $85,000; and

- the reduction of the middle rate from 26 per cent to 24 per cent

Those measures that are effective in 2001 are:

- the reduction of the 5-per-cent surtax to 4 per cent.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, under Government Business in the Orders of the Day, I should like to call Order No. 3 first, the order dealing with Bill C-2, to be followed by Nos. 1 and 2, then to be followed by the three items under Reports of Committees. Following those items, we will then carry on with the orders shown in the Order Paper and Notice Paper.

Canada Elections Bill

Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hays, seconded by the Honourable Senator Adams, for the second reading of Bill C-2, respecting the election of members to the House of Commons, repealing other Acts relating to elections and making consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I should like to take this opportunity, as we debate this bill, to briefly discuss the question of political financing. More specifically, I wish to raise the question as to whether political parties should be totally and directly funded from the public purse.

As those of us involved in politics on a daily basis are aware, raising money to fund political activities is no easy task. It never has been, and I do not suppose it ever will be. Our predecessors in this place called political funding the sinews of war, and with good reason. Politics is a constant battle which costs money —  usually a fair bit of it. Since Confederation, the search for this funding has occasionally led to some notorious scandals. One of the first of these was the Pacific scandal in 1873 involving campaign contributions and a contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Equally celebrated was the Beauharnois scandal, which came to light in 1931-32. Like the Pacific scandal, it too involved political contributions. This time, however, it was in exchange for permission to divert the St. Lawrence Seaway to benefit a hydroelectric company.

In both of these cases, honourable senators, the need or perceived need for money to pay for political activities caused people who no doubt knew better to do things they would not ordinarily have done.

In recent years, if memory serves me correctly, we have been spared, thankfully, major fundraising scandals — at least at the federal level. Provincially, it is another story. In B.C., the NDP government was caught up not long ago in the Bingogate affair. In Ontario, honourable senators will recall that former premier David Peterson took quite a beating over the Patti Starr affair.

Outside Canada, numerous politicians have been badly damaged by political fundraising scandals. Helmut Kohl is a perfect example. Mr. Kohl was once a widely respected elder statesman and known around the world as the "Unification Chancellor." Now, with the fundraising scandal in Germany that has brought things crashing down around his ears, they are calling him "Don Kohleone."

In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Barak is in a similar situation. This is the man who has taken on the enormous task of trying to solve the Middle East problem. Now, he must also deal with the fact that both he and his party have, as I understand it, been found guilty of major breaches of that country's election finance laws.

Closer to home, just a short flight as the crow flies, Messrs. Clinton and Gore have been heavily criticized for, among other things, using the American White House as a bed and breakfast for wealthy contributors to the Democratic Party.

In each of these cases, honourable senators, and others which come to mind, people's reputations have been tarnished, their careers have been ruined, and the rules of propriety and proper ethics have been bent and ignored. For what? For the wherewithal to fill party election chests, for the sinews of war.

Honourable senators, while Canada may have, in modern times at least, escaped major scandal, the pressures which inevitably lead to them are still very much here. In fact, I would argue they are getting stronger. The most significant of these pressures is not, as many are prone to believe, greed or personal avarice. Thankfully, this kind of thing has been rare in this country. The most important pressure is the potent combination of desire for power and rising costs.

It should come as no surprise to most honourable senators when I say that political activity is getting more expensive. Every year, our parties are finding it more difficult and onerous to raise funds. Obviously, the governing party always has an easier time raising money. There is nothing unusual about that. The party in government always has the advantage, but for the others it is another matter.

(1500)

If the cost of doing politics keeps rising, the question that comes to mind is simply this: Where will all the money come from? The answer, under our system, is the Canadian taxpayer.

Honourable senators, there is a great myth out there that only a small number of Canadians fund political parties. That is just not true. What is true is that only a small percentage of people and corporations make direct contributions to political parties. Indirectly, all Canadian taxpayers, whether they want to or not, whether they think they do or not, fund political parties. They do so through all of the different tax credits, tax refunds and tax-deductible expenses we have put in place over the years to encourage people to support politics.

Most of the donations people make to candidates are small — $50, $100, perhaps $250. However, some contributions are big. By "big" I mean tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Elections Canada, for example, in 1998, two unions gave over $100,000 each to the NDP, and seven companies each gave $75,000 and more to either us or our friends across the aisle.

Honourable senators, when I am out and around and the subject of political finance comes up, people often ask me, "What do people who give big amounts of money to political parties get in return?" Some people wonder if giving money to politicians and parties is like taking out insurance — political insurance, especially if you are in business. In other words, if I am a businessman and a candidate asks me to contribute, I say yes just to be on the safe side. You never know — I might need their help one day.

Honourable senators, this is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Just before Christmas some of you perhaps saw the article in The Globe and Mail about a businessman who had done just that. A fellow in Quebec gave some money to the Prime Minister's campaign fund — but, for that matter, it could have been anyone's campaign. Later it was revealed that he had subsequently received a large federal grant. When journalists began putting two and two together, they asked this man for his thoughts. He said that he donated in order to encourage Mr. Chrétien to do a good job. That is what he said. He then went on to say:

We never know who's going to win. So we're always very prudent. That way, if someone gets in power, he can't be angry with us for having ignored him.

If you take a moment to think about this, honourable senators, this is indeed a sad reflection on the state of Canadian politics, scandals or no scandals. We hear statements such as, "I gave money to a candidate because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I did not contribute to his war chest, and he won, I would be ignored if I needed help or rejected if I was looking for a federal grant."

Honourable senators, this makes a person question how many applicants and recipients of the billions in HRDC largesse thought the same way.

This type of thinking is apparently quite prevalent among our friends south of the border as well — at least if Time magazine has it right. Time has been publishing a series of articles and stories under a sort of general theme of the winners and losers in the political donation business. I must say that it is not a very pretty picture. In fact, some of the reporting is quite shocking. I heartily recommend these articles to honourable senators.

By the way, I was interested to read in The Globe and Mail this morning that Mr. Gore has seen the light regarding public funding. He is now proposing to establish what he calls a Democracy Fund, which would be underwritten in part by 100 per cent tax-deductible contributions from individuals and corporations.

Getting back to corporate and union donations, let me say, lest I be misunderstood, that I have absolutely no desire to cast aspersions on anyone or any company or union because they donate money. Everyone has a right to contribute to the party of their choice. I have no argument with this. It is our system. I have done my fair share of fundraising and contributing.

Honourable senators, the problem is that big offerings of money to politicians and political parties raise eyebrows. Whether we like it or not, when someone offers tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political party, people are tempted to ask what they are receiving in return for their generosity. However — and again I wish to make this point clear — contributions, whether they be from individuals, companies or unions, are not in and of themselves wrong. Far from it.

Giving money to political parties does not mean you are out to undermine democracy or trying to buy a government — at least, thank God, not in Canada. In my opinion, money does not buy influence in this country. It does, however, procure access. I believe we can all agree with this.

Be that as it may, it is my belief that unions or corporations in this country do not see giving money to political parties as a means of exerting undue or inappropriate influence, and with good reason. Take a look at any map and just think about the number of places where wholesale corruption is the only way to do business; then think about Canada.

Honourable senators, I have strayed a little from my point. That is to say, however we dress this issue up, and dress it up we do, the reality is that most of the money used to finance politics comes from only one source, and that source is the Canadian taxpayer through the public purse. In fact, I would argue — and I think the figures back me up — that with all of the different tax breaks, rebates, subsidies and so forth, parties actually receive approximately 60 per cent of their funds each year from the public coffers. If I am correct in this, it begs the question: Should we institute a system of total public funding for political parties?

Public funding would certainly be more efficient and transparent, and I believe it would also go a long way toward alleviating public cynicism and distrust. The reality here is that politicians and political parties are caught in a kind of Catch-22 with this issue. Money is crucial to making our political system work. At the same time, however, it taints the system because of the suspicions associated with its collection and use.

Another problem associated with political financing — one, by the way, this bill fails to address — is the lack of transparency and accountability for riding association books and records. Riding associations, as most honourable senators know, are not required to audit and publish their books. This makes their records an obvious source of potential misuse, creating further suspicions in the public's mind. It seems to me that as a vast majority of the money in riding association accounts comes from the public coffers, by rights it should be subject to the same scrutiny as candidates' books and those of political parties. It is only logical.

Another issue of concern to many is indirect or third-party involvement in promoting a cause. On one side we have those who support the rights of people to properly defend a position or clarify a point. On the other are those who believe third parties are too often guilty of inappropriate interference on behalf of a political philosophy. How we balance these competing views is a difficult issue. Whether we adopt full public funding or stay with the status quo, third-party advocacy must be clearly defined and regulated.

Honourable senators, full public financing is not a magic formula and certainly will not stop all of the misuses and abuses of the system. However, I believe it would go far in mitigating the suspicion and perception of inappropriate influence. Public funding would allow political parties to plan ahead, budget properly and avoid going into debt. It would promote democracy and competition by giving smaller parties access to stable sources of revenue. Indeed, public funding would not cost the taxpayers much more.

The key to the success of public funding, from my perspective, is public acceptance. As legislators, we obviously could impose public funding on people, but if it is to work the public must accept the idea. I believe they will if we explain and debate the issue openly and honestly here in Parliament. When people understand what is happening, when they have faith that there is no backroom dealing going on and no fiddling with the rules, I think they will be open to supporting the idea. This is particularly so if a fair and transparent formula is used to appropriately distribute funds to political parties.

However, honourable senators, if we decide to ask taxpayers to fund our political activities, we must give them a rigorous commitment, backed up by some strict rules, to use their money wisely. Political parties waste large amounts of money each year, as we all well know. In my humble opinion, with a little effort and willpower, all of our parties could get by with much less than they spend now, particularly in election campaigns.

(1510)

Honourable senators, the time has come to take political funding out of the shadows and put it into the public domain. By doing so, we reduce both the pressures and the opportunities for misuse. This would be a win-win situation for everyone. For the moment, I am just raising this issue in principle. However, it is time to take another look at it. I urge and hope that the committee will investigate this issue during its forthcoming hearings. When we revisit this bill on third reading, subject to witness comments and reactions, I may raise certain specific proposals for the consideration of honourable senators.

Hon. Sheila Finestone: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to participate in the debate on second reading of Bill C-2 and, specifically, to deal with the issue of financing.

This is a large bill. It is an extensive relook at the Electoral Act. I was pleased to hear our colleague discussing the financial implications and the planning that was involved, which are not easy issues. We also heard from another colleague on the other side of this house who discussed another aspect of the bill. Today, I should like to focus on the changing political environment as a result of the initiatives that have been taken over time to ensure that women share the democratic responsibilities with respect to governance in this country and the politics of this land.

Honourable senators, this is an important aspect of a true reflection of the society in which we live. It is necessary for us to focus on that issue because much of what is contained in Bill C-2 in this regard relates to the focus of the direction that they have taken. Many women in this Senate and in the other place have been actively involved in effecting change. In so doing, they have had the support of their partners and many of the men who sit here today as their colleagues in both houses. This is not only a concern of the reflection of equality and equity within the halls of government here in Canada, it is also a worldwide concern.

Honourable senators, I ask you to take a moment to think about what international parliamentarians are saying around the world with respect to review and promotion of the promise of representative democracy by women's groups around the world.

In November of 1997, it was my particular privilege to head a delegation to India with Senator Don Oliver of this place. We took with us the findings which resulted from the discussions and the hearings that had taken place during the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform. At this international conference in New Delhi, India, we focused on the democratic deficit resulting from the low representation of half of the population — that is, women — in the Parliaments of most of the world governments. The conference examined how society, as a whole, can benefit from a new contract for politics based on partnership. It was an important moment. It was a focused conference, with equal numbers of men and women present.

Our Senate and House of Commons brought much of our findings to bear on the issues of social contract for politics, the image of women parliamentarians in the media, women's political and electoral training, and the financing of women's electoral campaigns. There is nothing new in the questions and problems that face all parliamentarians, at whatever level, when it comes to financing campaigns and financing their own responsibilities.

That particular session was the first worldwide, high-level practical follow up of one of the chapters of the Beijing Platform for Action, which I had the privilege of heading for Canada and where I signed our Canadian government's commitment. I was pleased to see the Inter-Parliamentary Union take up this challenge as the first action following the Beijing report. Later, I will find the time to table in this house an extensive report that was prepared on politics and women's insights. Contained in that comprehensive report, we find a commonality of concerns across the world regarding the issues of financing and electoral reform. In that light, this particular reform is extremely important.

The Honourable Senator Lucie Pépin has been actively involved in this issue. She has been pursuing equity and equality of opportunity for women as partners in our society. She was to have spoken today. Unfortunately, however, she is unable to be here, so I have agreed to present her report to you. It is a good analysis of the topic, and I am sure you will find it of great interest.

[Translation]

We live in a strong and very dynamic democracy. Our institutions, laws and practices serve as models to the nations of the world.

Elections Canada puts its know-how at the service of other countries all over the world. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is studied and copied, by both long-established democracies and new ones. Our legal system is deemed so fair that Canadian judges act as experts with a large number of governments. I am very proud to be part of a government that ranks so high among democracies.

We gained that reputation through reflection and work. This is the third time that the Canada Elections Act has been amended since 1992.

The Canadian lawmaker is always trying to improve the fairness, transparency and efficiency of our electoral system. The 1993 amendment provided fairer access to polling stations and established public information and awareness campaigns. It also gave the vote to judges, persons with disabilities and inmates serving less than two years and authorized the establishment of a permanent voting list.

Bill C-2 follows in this tradition of well-considered and gradual administrative reform to make the Canadian electoral system fairer and more transparent.

[English]

Honourable senators, Bill C-2 continues in this tradition of solid and incremental administrative reforms aiming to increase the fairness and transparency of our electoral system.

At its heart, this bill is really an effort to reorganize and update the Canada Elections Act in order to make it easier to understand and more relevant for today.

First, Bill C-2 aims to offset the impact of inflation, since the act was introduced in 1974, by raising expense limits.

Second, technological advances have changed the electoral process, and Bill C-2 recognizes the use of new technology in its provisions.

Third, with several changes having been made to the Canada Elections Act throughout the 1990s, this bill serves to unify and rationalize their various provisions into legislation that is more coherent and user-friendly.

Fourth, the Canadian courts struck down two provisions of the Canada Elections Act, ruling that they contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I was pleased to note that. In response, this bill will amend the act with regard to black-out periods for polls and advertising, as well as third-party spending on advertising during national election campaigns.

Fifth, Bill C-2 makes explicit the inclusion of a candidate's family care expenses as an eligible personal expense for reimbursement during election campaigns.

Sixth, Bill C-2 standardizes voting hours for Canadians across this vast land. It also takes steps to protect certain categories of people at risk — that is, for example, women living in shelters —  by authorizing that their current addresses do not appear on the voters' list.

Finally, this bill reintroduces the concept of vouching, whereby individuals can register to vote on the day of the election without proper identification, provided another individual can vouch that they are who they claim to be.

(1520)

These are the major changes proposed in Bill C-2 and I support the proposed legislation as I believe it will improve the transparency, the accessibility and the fairness of our electoral process. Bill C-2 proposes sound administrative changes that are the product of thorough reflection and debate.

Having said that, Senator Pépin also believes that, with this bill, no one in Canada can accuse us of being radicals or revolutionaries. We are a model of democracy, and we have arrived at this place by slow, methodical and incremental change. However, I would make the observation that if we continue with this slow, modest and methodical incremental change, it will take another 100 years for women to reach equity in this place.

To be radical and revolutionary would mean striving for a dream, striving for something currently beyond our reach, but something we strongly believe could and should come about. I notice many honourable senators nodding their heads in agreement that gender equity should and could come about. Equal political representation for women and enacting legislation to facilitate that would be truly revolutionary. We have a few ideas as to how that could be done.

After all, this is Canada, a country of restraint, good manners and moderation. We think before we act. We ponder the pros and cons and we engage in polite debate, certainly in this chamber we do. We have certainly had a long time to reflect on the issues related to greater equity in political representation.

Honourable senators, after 75 years of political representation for women in Canada, we are still a long way from gender parity in federal politics. Only 20 per cent of all members of Parliament and 30 per cent of senators are women.

Political history in Canada and around the world has taught us that simply guaranteeing procedural fairness in the electoral system and applying the same rules equally to both men and women will not achieve gender parity. We have been down that road, and it has taken us seven decades to break the 20 per cent line.

As good Canadians, we have studied and debated this issue with diligence. The Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing spent nearly three years, from 1989 to 1991, commissioning research and holding hearings with women across the country in order to fully understand the obstacles they face in Canadian politics. The commission has organized a special workshop with female politicians, past and present, in order to benefit from their collective experience.

On the basis of this research, the royal commission concluded that the origins of women's underrepresentation lie less in the voting booth than earlier in the electoral process. Securing party nominations and funding political challenges were cited as the greatest barrier for women and other underrepresented minorities. We speak not only for women but for all minorities in our society.

In 1991, the Lortie commission put forward a number of specific recommendations. These recommendations were formulated as articles to amend the Canada Elections Act. Several of the proposed amendments dealt with measures to facilitate women's entry into politics. The report received unanimous support from every member of the Royal Commission.

Let me outline a few of the recommendations of the commission with regard to women.

[Translation]

By way of example, as regards the costs of caring for a child or another member of the family, women often bear a greater share of family responsibilities than men. Child care is considered a factor that adds a financial burden to women seeking election. The proposed amendment provides that spending on the care of a child or other family member would be part of the personal spending eligible for refund. Happily, a provision of this sort is found in Bill C-2.

As concerns authorized leave, seeking party nomination and running in an election are basic acts of citizenship in a democracy. Many people, and especially women, have little job security and heavy family responsibilities.

The uncertainties associated with an election can represent a major obstacle for them when they consider running. The Canada Elections Act and Bill C-2 guarantee the right to authorized leave to seek nomination or to run in an election to all employees whose employer is subject to Part III of the Canada Labour Code.

The commission was of the opinion that all employees, not just those under federal jurisdiction, should benefit from job security when they decide to enter a campaign. That is why the commission proposed an extension of the right to leave to all employees in Canada. It felt that, since this legislation governs the conduct of federal elections, it would have to apply not only to public sector employees coming under federal jurisdiction, but to all employees in Canada.

Another issue related to women who encounter enormous obstacles when seeking nomination as a party candidate, particularly when the seat is certain or probable. They tend more often than men to run into competition at the nomination stage. Enormous resources are, moreover, required to gain the candidacy in a winnable riding.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform Senator Finestone that her speaking time has expired. Is the honourable senator seeking leave to continue?

Senator Finestone: Honourable senators, I would seek leave to continue.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Finestone: It is my pleasure to provide honourable senators with the balance of Senator Pépin's eloquent statement.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, women tend to lack financial resources and the necessary networking for success.

Short of imposing quotas, it is incumbent upon the political parties to present more women candidates in winnable ridings, and to help them get through not only the nomination stage but the election. The royal commission concluded that female representation would increase if incentives were offered to political parties that supported women for election to the House of Commons.

The commission therefore proposed raising the reimbursement rate for campaign expenses incurred by a party by the percentage of their MPs who were female.

[English]

Short of legislating quotas, I would suggest that there must be the political will to have more women run, and that there should be a way by which parties would reimburse election expenses based on the percentage of members in the House who are women.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the royal commission recommended adopting limits on nomination campaign expenses and making contributions to nomination campaigns tax deductible. It was thought that these measures would permit individuals with more modest and diffuse networks of campaign contributors to compete more equitably.

In summary, these were the recommendations of the commission in its attempt to remove major obstacles facing women's entry into politics. Since 1991 when the commission tabled its report, we have acted like true Canadians. We have diligently studied the recommendations, we have held polite debates on the issues raised, and we have shelved all but one recommendation because the proposals seemed too radical and revolutionary.

Honourable senators, let us not lose sight of the fact that it is the year 2000, the dawn of a new millennium, and that only 20 per cent of elected representatives and only 30-odd per cent of senators are women. Is striving for gender equity in Canadian politics so radical? Were the recommendations of the royal commission so revolutionary? I believe we all think not.

(1530)

We applaud the initiatives of the federal parties to move forward to increase gender equity. We are prepared to support in every way Bill C-2 and the changes it will bring about.

I regret that our legislated approach to electoral reform has been so truly Canadian and that we have been so polite and thoughtful and moderately restrained, but we have not had the courage to totally go after the principle in which we believe.

Honourable senators, I have expressed our sense of being proud Canadians and, as a dreamer, I believe we cannot only achieve gender equity in political representation but that one of these days we will realize it. I hope it does not take another seven decades.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, in short, should we support Bill C-2? Of course, its purpose is to make necessary and timely changes in our electoral system. However, let us not lose sight of the fact that it is also a prudent and moderate bill. I will continue to hope that next time we can go further and that is what I will be working towards.

As a proud Canadian, I want to live in the most dynamic and the fairest democracy in the world. I am sure that you share this dream and that together we will work to make it come true.

[English]

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise on a point of order. The point of order relates to the reading of a speech in the chamber that is the speech of another honourable senator when that honourable senator is not in the chamber. We should obtain a ruling from the Chair as to the exact rule that relates to this circumstance.

I know the matter has been discussed by Speaker Molgat's advisory committee, but I think that the usages and practices of this place are quite clear. I know that while Senator Finestone and many on this side, including myself, agree with many of the points that were made in the speech, very often Senator Finestone would say "I" and "we". In the context, one could understand that it was the view of Senator Finestone as well, since we know her position on these matters. However, there may have been other times when "I" was used, and it might not have been Senator Finestone's view and we would not know that.

At any rate, I wanted to put this point of order on the record, and perhaps it could be taken under advisement.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Kinsella for raising that issue. I thought about it while Senator Finestone was giving the speech. I will do my homework and also seek advice on the matter. I will take it under advisement.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, the matter of Senator Kinsella's point of order is before this chamber and some senators may wish to speak to it.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Does the Honourable Senator Cools wish to speak at this time?

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, perhaps Senator Finestone should provide some clarification. I did not hear all of the speech she presented. I assumed it was her speech, yet Senator Kinsella's point is very interesting and extremely compelling.

It is my understanding that when it comes to Parliament as an institution, no one can speak or vote for another senator. In other words, one cannot vote by proxy and one cannot speak by proxy.

If a senator is suddenly stricken mute, it would entail a decision by the chamber to deviate from the norm, but, in my understanding, that is what Parliament is all about.

Can we have some clarification from Senator Finestone as to exactly what just happened? I was under the impression it was Senator Finestone's speech. Before Her Honour receives the point of order, we should really find out what happened.

Senator Finestone: Honourable senators, I hope I have not inadvertently breached any rules of this house. If I have, I apologize, but I should like to explain that Senator Pépin and I have been active colleagues in both Houses and, long before that, in our public lives before we ran for office. We have been advocates for the rights of women and the promotion of women in issues of equality and access within all aspects of public life, whether it be as parliamentarians or leaders in any of the causes which women find so important in the areas of family and society.

Senator Pépin came to speak to me just before she had to leave on government business. She was scheduled to speak to this particular point on our daily agenda in the Senate. I was looking forward to speaking as well because I had just come back from reviewing the findings of 190 countries on the issue of women and their place in the world's view of life as a parliamentarian and in access to Parliament. I have here on my desk a book which I intend to table within the foreseeable future.

In essence, Senator Pépin showed me her text. I was totally in agreement with what she had to say, and so I decided that I would collapse both speeches into one and that I would not speak twice. I would speak with a certain degree of knowledge due to my presence in Beijing and the follow-up I undertook through the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I have also been involved in publications and studies related to this important bill. The Liberal Party of Canada at its recent convention had an in-depth discussion on the role of political parties in promoting equality for women and why nomination meetings should have a cap and what we should be doing in terms of this house.

In essence, honourable senators, I collapsed two speeches into one. I was totally in agreement with my colleague's point of view. I hope that I did not breach any rules and did not do anything terrible. I thank Senator Kinsella for alerting me to something about which I must learn as I try to manage my role in this place.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Finestone for what she has just said, but she has told us more about the reasons for doing this than for what actually happened and what was done.

Senator Finestone also went on to speak on the substance of the issue, about which I understand she has felt passionately for some time. The chamber still deserves some clarity. I understand that both Senator Finestone and Senator Pépin sat in both chambers and both are advocates of women and the promotion of women. However, within the Senate or within Parliament, parliamentary personalities are indivisible. It is not possible to split a parliamentary persona.

Having said all of that, I just wish I had listened closely. I was, quite frankly, still working on my notes for the two supply bills coming up in a few moments.

What really happened? Senator Finestone gave a speech that she may have pirated, borrowed or stolen, or whatever, from Senator Pépin. If that is what happened, then it would be Senator Finestone's speech. However, if Senator Finestone were speaking for Senator Pépin or attempting to speak through the voice or the mouth of Senator Pépin, that would be very irregular, out of order and not the sort of thing we should support or promote.

I am also very mindful of the fact that Senator Finestone intends no wrong. I believe she is attempting essentially to do a favour for a friend senator.

(1540)

I think that we should take these variables into account. However, I reiterate the point that the position and task of a member of Parliament is indivisible. The privilege of a member to speak here is neither negotiable nor transferable, and neither is it transferable between members.

Perhaps we can proceed from there. I know that we do not usually adjourn debates such as these, but I have no doubt that there are senators who would like to look at the record to see exactly what happened. I raise this matter because there is ever more pressure on members to stand aside so that other members can do things in their stead. It is a serious problem.

Is it possible to adjourn this debate?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I would not like to leave the impression that Senator Finestone did something highly unusual, because she did not. As someone who was educated in a convent, my husband tells me that I am a compulsive rule follower. I do tend to pay close attention to rules. However, I can think of two circumstances within the last year not dissimilar to the situation in which Senator Finestone found herself.

Just a few weeks ago, for example, Senator DeWare made a speech on behalf of Senator Lavoie-Roux because, as we all knew, Senator Lavoie-Roux was ill and could not make her comments in this chamber. I also remember an occasion when Senator Simard began a speech but, due to his speech difficulties at the time, Senator Kinsella assisted Senator Simard by completing the speech for him.

Those are positive things. It is that kind of interpretation of the rules that makes this place so very special. This is a special chamber because we want to hear from everyone. Even when, on occasion, they are not capable of expressing their own views, we are still willing to listen to those views.

I particularly appreciated the speech by Senator DeWare because it was very important that Senator Lavoie-Roux's message be given to all senators. I do not think the study of the bill would reach the depths that it should without those views.

Therefore, while I certainly welcome an initiative on the part of the Speaker pro tempore to deal with this issue, I do not want to give Senator Finestone the impression that she has violated the rules.

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I hesitate to rise on this point of order because we have already spent quite a bit of time on it during a busy day. However, I thank Senator Kinsella for raising it.

On behalf of the government side, I agree that it would be useful for the Speaker to take this matter under advisement or to respond now. Senator Finestone gave a fulsome explanation of what she had intended to do.

With regard to the points made by Senator Carstairs, I believe that on some of those occasions leave was sought and granted for the delivery of a speech for another senator. This is a different situation.

I support the reference. I understood the speech to be a mixture of contributions from Senator Pépin and Senator Finestone. I do not know whether that offends the rule. I look forward to the ruling by the Speaker.

I do not believe that a point of order can be adjourned. I think that we have to make our contributions now and the Speaker will determine whether to take the matter under advisement. However, I hope that we can get back to the bill because I am hoping that the bill will be given second reading today.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, the current debate is on a point of order. I was proposing the adjournment of the point of order with debate on the bill continuing. The bill could be referred to committee and the question of who can speak for whom and when could continue, giving the Speaker ample time to receive submissions and contemplate the issue.

Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I would not want this point of order to impede the ordinary progress of the bill. I would be prepared to withdraw my point of order, if I have leave to do so.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted to withdraw the point of order?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Lorna Milne: After all of that, will the senator accept a very short question?

Senator Finestone: Yes.

Senator Milne: The purpose of my question is solely to set the record straight on how long it has been since women first arrived in Parliament.

Is the senator aware that the first woman was elected to the House of Commons in 1921, almost eight decades ago, and that it has taken us almost 80 years to reach the grand total of 20 per cent female representation in the House of Commons and 31 per cent in the Senate?

Senator Finestone: Honourable senators, first, I must admit that, as I was barely born at that time, I was not aware of that. Second, I was not even a person at that time. We had to go to London, England to get the right to be a person and therefore be allowed to sit in this house.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I thank the Honourable Senator Milne for bringing that information to our attention.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators —

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, if Senator Hays speaks, his speech will have the effect of closing debate on the motion for second reading of this bill.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I wish to thank those honourable senators who have spoken for their contributions. A number of issues have been raised at second reading with respect to women in Parliament, with respect to election financing, in particular at the local association level, and also with respect to third-party spending. I believe that these matters can be explored in committee and I look forward to that.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Hays, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

(1550)

The Estimates, 1999-2000

Report of National Finance Committee on Supplementary Estimates (B) Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Supplementary Estimates (B) 1999-2000), presented in the Senate on March 23, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Murray, P.C.).

Hon. Lowell Murray moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, this is the first of three reports from the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance that will be before honourable senators in quick succession this afternoon.

These reports form the background for two interim supply bills which will be before us for second reading later today. I intend not to speak to the three reports but, rather, to reserve the few comments I have for the second reading debates on the interim supply bills.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I should like to add to what Senator Murray said by pointing out that the two supply bills will be before us in a few minutes' time. Rather than use the time of the Senate at this stage, I would point out that there are three reports now before the Senate, those being orders No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, under Reports of Committees. That being the case, I would suggest that we deal with them in the order they appear on the Order Paper and we can have a full debate when the bills themselves are before us.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I do not want to let the occasion pass us by without making the point that, should this chamber not adopt this third report of the National Finance Committee, and should it not adopt the fourth report of the National Finance Committee, and should it not adopt the fifth report, it might bring home, very starkly and clearly, if clarity is required, the message that the Senate of Canada has control of the executive's use of the public purse. I shall return to this subject when we deal with the bills.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

[Translation]

The Estimates, 1999-2000

Report of National Finance Committee on Main Estimates Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report (final) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Main Estimates, 1999-2000), presented in the Senate on March 23, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Murray, P.C.).

Hon. Lowell Murray moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

[English]

The Estimates, 2000-01

Report of National Finance Committee on Main Estimates Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Main Estimates 2000-2001), presented in the Senate on March 23, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Murray, P.C.).

Hon. Lowell Murray moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Appropriation Bill No. 4, 1999-2000

Second Reading

Hon. Anne C. Cools moved the second reading of Bill C-29, for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2000.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to second reading of Bill C-29, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2000. Bill C-29 is known as Appropriation Act No. 4, 1999-2000, and will provide supply in the amount of $3.1 billion as set out in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for 1999-2000. They are the final Supplementary Estimates for this current fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2000.

Honourable senators will recall that Senator Dan Hays introduced the Supplementary Estimates (B) 1999-2000 in the Senate on March 2, 2000. The Senate referred them that same day to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Our committee subsequently met on March 21, 2000, at which time, in the absence of Senator Lowell Murray, I had the honour of chairing the meeting. At that meeting, officials from the Treasury Board Secretariat appeared. The officials were Mr. Keith Coulter, Assistant Secretary, Planning, Performance and Reporting Sector, Mr. Kevin Lindsey, Director, Expenditure Operations, and Mr. Andrew Lieff, Senior Director, Expenditure Operations. Those officials were open, helpful and informative.

On March 23, 2000, Senator Murray presented the National Finance Committee's third report, that being the report on the Supplementary Estimates (B) 1999-2000. Earlier today, the Senate adopted that report.

Honourable senators, from a fiscal planning perspective, the amounts set out in the Supplementary Estimates (B) are provided for within the revised planned spending levels for 1999-2000 as the government announced in the February 28, 2000 budget. Specifically, these Estimates seek Parliament's approval to spend $3.1 billion on those expenditures provided for in the February 1999 budget but which were not specifically identified or sufficiently developed in time to ask Parliament's approval in the Main Estimates 1999-2000 or the Supplementary Estimates (A) 1999-2000, and on new expenditures identified in the February 28, 2000 budget.

Honourable senators, I shall now describe some of the major items in these Supplementary Estimates (B) 1999-2000. They include a budgetary item of $900 million to the Department of Industry for a grant to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which grant was announced in the 2000 budget, and provides additional financial support for the modernization of Canada's research infrastructure in the areas of health, environment, science and engineering.

There will be $454.9 million in additional funding to the Department of National Defence in support of essential operating and capital requirements, including the compensation for the increases to the salaries of uniformed personnel and the payout of accumulated military leave, equipment maintenance, upgrade and replacement, construction at defence facilities, and major capital acquisition program activities.

The items also include $240 million to the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for payments to the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba for emergency farm relief for eligible producers. Honourable senators are aware of the conditions of western farmers.

There is an item for $175 million to the Department of Finance to make grants to trust funds to the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, and the World Bank in support of their initiatives to assist over 500 million people living in the world's poorest, most heavily-indebted countries.

Another item is for $160 million to the Department of Industry for a grant to Genome Canada, which grant was announced in the February 28, 2000 budget, and will support genomics research, which is the study of how genetic information is structured, stored, expressed and altered.

There will be $125 million to the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of the Environment, as announced in the 2000 budget, for grants to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in the amount of $100 million for the purpose of establishing a Green Municipal Investment Fund, and $25 million for a Green Municipal Enabling Fund. These initiatives will allow the federation to support municipal infrastructure projects that improve air and water quality, minimize undesirable emissions and effluent, and encourage the sustainable use of renewable and non-renewable resources.

There is also $102.8 million to the Department of Finance for transfer payments to the territorial governments. This increase reflects changes in the forecasts on which the payments are based, such as population, spending by provincial and local governments, and revenues generated by the territorial governments.

There is an item for $99 million to the Treasury Board Secretariat to compensate departments and agencies for the impact of recent collective agreements and related adjustments. This funding represents retroactive and ongoing incremental salary costs for fiscal year 1999-2000.

(1600)

There is a sum of $74.9 million to the Cape Breton Development Corporation to cover additional operating losses and workforce reduction costs associated with the earlier-than-planned closure of the Phalen mine; and $74.3 million to the Department of Transport to enable Marine Atlantic Inc. to finance the purchase of a vessel for its ferry fleet. This vessel will provide Marine Atlantic with increased capacity and address service level issues.

There is also $67 million to the Department of Public Works and Government Services for additional capital acquisitions to meet accommodation requirements; $60 million to the Department of the Environment for a grant to the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society to establish the Canadian Fund for Climate and Atmospheric Science that will provide funding to researchers to strengthen Canada's scientific capacity to address climate change and air quality issues; and $50 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for payments to Merchant Navy veterans who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. These payments recognize the heroic contribution of Canada's Merchant Navy veterans to Canada's war efforts.

Honourable senators, I move now to the non-budgetary items, of which there is one. It is the $50-million decrease to a working capital advance account of the Department of National Defence. This account had been temporarily increased to meet the department's pay requirements for personnel deployed outside Canada in the event of Y2K cash difficulties. This additional authority was not used and the account is now restored to its normal level.

These items represent $2.5 billion of the $3.1 billion for which parliamentary approval is sought. The remaining $600 million is spread among a number of other departments and agencies, the specific details of which were included in Supplementary Estimates (B) 1999-2000.

I thank Senator Murray, the chairman of our committee, for his diligent work and firm management. I also thank all the honourable senators who are members of our committee for their efforts and ongoing cooperation. As well, I wish to thank the three Treasury Board officials, Mr. Coulter, Mr. Lieff and Mr. Lindsey, for appearing before the committee. I also wish to inform honourable senators that for Mr. Coulter the meeting of March 21, 2000, was his first encounter with our Senate committee in his new capacity as Assistant Secretary of the Planning, Performance and Reporting Sector. I take this opportunity to welcome him.

I urge honourable senators to pass Bill C-29, to grant supply to Her Majesty so that the Government of Canada may proceed with its extremely important business.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, with debate on this interim supply bill, we will complete the Senate's consideration of the federal government's spending for the fiscal year 1999-2000, a fiscal year which ends on Friday of this week.

The examination by the National Finance Committee and by the Senate of the spending programs of the government during the fiscal year now drawing to an end has been typically conscientious and thorough. I wish to acknowledge the work of my predecessor as chairman of this committee, Senator Stratton, who was in the Chair for most of the meetings and certainly for consideration of the Main Estimates.

Honourable senators, there are in this interim supply bill a few matters to which I should like to invite your attention. All of them are reflected in either the third or fourth reports of the committee, which we adopted earlier today.

First, I wish to thank Senator Cools for her detailed explanation of this bill. She mentioned the grants to be provided to the Canadian Federation of Municipalities to assist municipalities in various environmental projects. We tend to overlook the crucially important role of municipalities in environmental matters. They have responsibility for water and sewage systems, for garbage disposal, and for all manner of infrastructure. They have a regulatory role with regard to construction within their borders. Therefore, one can only applaud in principle the initiative of the federal government in trying to assist municipalities to improve their air and water quality, to minimize undesirable emissions and effluent, and to encourage the sustainable use of renewable and non-renewable resources.

My only concern here — and it is a concern of a parliamentary nature — is with the dubious practice, which did not begin with this government or even with its immediate predecessors, of passing the hat among various departments to finance what is essentially a single program. It appears that two departments, Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada, are involved in these programs. With ministerial responsibility and accountability thus divided, it seems to me there is always considerable danger of ministerial responsibility and accountability falling through the cracks. This is a matter that our committee may want to take a closer look at on some future occasion. As I say, it is a practice resorted to more and more frequently in the government, to impose a tithe on various departments to come to the party to help finance what is essentially one program that should be under the authority and responsibility of one department.

The second matter I wish to raise concerns genomic research. I do so in order to express the hope that a couple of high profile institutions in one or two regions of the country will not take all of the money that is available and spend it. Members of the committee, in particular members of the committee from Atlantic Canada, have expressed a determination that there be some reasonable regional balance and equity in a program like this. Our friend Senator Moore, who is from Nova Scotia, was quite firm in his view that some previous government programs in the field of support for innovation had short-changed his region. He is in a position to speak on this more authoritatively than I, but he made it clear that some of the universities in Atlantic Canada have come together with coordinated and collaborative approaches to genomic research. He has expressed the hope and expectation that this will be given very favourable consideration by the powers that be. If there is one area in which Atlantic Canada should have, and does have, a comparative advantage over the rest of the country, it is in its numerous institutions of higher learning.

I have two other matters, honourable senators, to which I wish to speak. These were reflected in the fourth report, which dealt with the Main Estimates for the fiscal year now drawing to a close. Members of the committee continue to express some concern about the increasing proportion of non-discretionary spending. As of now, almost 70 per cent of government expenditures are fixed statutory expenditures of one kind or another that, as the report says, do not appear to require an ongoing examination by parliamentarians. It certainly reinforces the view of those who call for sunset provisions in our legislation so that at least Parliament will periodically have an opportunity not only to monitor, as I hope we do now, but to evaluate the success or otherwise of some of these large spending programs.

(1610)

Finally, the last time I spoke on one of these interim supply bills, I reported on the discussion in committee concerning Canada's liability for the costs of recovery and investigation of disasters such as the Swissair disaster off the coast of Nova Scotia. It appears that neither the airline nor other nations that might be involved or responsible for the airline are expected to defray any portion of the cost of recovery and investigation of accidents. These costs, as we have learned, are not trivial. Senator Ferretti Barth has raised this matter on several occasions. The committee is so organizing its affairs that, before we go home for the summer, I hope and expect we will have an opportunity to discuss with representatives of the Canadian Air Transport Safety Board, and perhaps people from the Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs, just what the situation is in respect of our liability in these cases and what might be done to lessen our vulnerability. Our vulnerability as a country tends to be greater than others because of the large territory and the number of flights that overfly our land mass and our oceans.

With those few comments, honourable senators, I commend this bill to your support.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I was pleased to hear Senator Murray make reference in his remarks to the consideration that his committee gave to the question of the human genome and the concern that the authorities in question would see to it that monies will be expended in a variety of institutions across Canada. Obviously I am interested to see that some of it be expended in Atlantic Canada. However, more than the question of geography is the question of what kinds of studies are necessary and in what areas the Government of Canada should be ensuring that money will be spent in examining the astronomical number of questions that are associated with the human genome. Many legal, social and ethical issues surround this issue. I hope that the executive power, to use the terminology of colleagues, will be attentive to this short intervention so that we may see, as an important issue of values, that the ethical and human rights issues surrounding the human genome are addressed as well by Canadians.

A universal declaration on the human genome and human rights was drafted by UNESCO on November 11, 1997. That declaration, which describes the legal, social and ethical aspects of the human genome, is being addressed be scholars in fields other than biology and similar fields, but inclusive of scholars in the field of ethical issues.

I thank Senator Murray for raising that point in the chamber, and I simply wish to underscore the importance to Canada that we do put some resources into examining those social and ethical issues.

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I should simply like to reinforce what both Senator Murray and Senator Kinsella have said. There is a real risk developing in the international front in this research in that it is now commercially driven. There is a huge investment on the part of private enterprise in this research. Indeed, the identification of the human genome, which in the normal course probably would have occurred in about 2005, has been stepped up to probably 2002 because of the commercial interests.

It is extremely important that Canada, which has been known for its social values and its sense of moderation, promote research in this field, and I strongly commend what is being done.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I must inform the Senate that if Senator Cools speaks now, her speech will have the effect of closing the debate.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Keon for his intervention on this particular supply bill. I especially welcome his intervention because sometimes the debates on these questions tend to get a little dry and numbers-oriented. Sometimes it almost sounds as though it is a discourse for number crunchers. I belong to that group of people who has enormous respect for Dr. Keon's medical experience and medical technology and medical knowledge. I thank Dr. Keon for his intervention and invite him to do it again and again.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Cools, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Business of the Senate

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I should like to call Order No. 6 now. I know that it intervenes Bill C-29 and Bill C-30, but if we could do that we will accommodate one of our colleagues in terms of his intentions to be elsewhere later this day.

Canada Business Corporations Act Canada Cooperatives Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Michael Kirby moved the second reading of Bill S-19, to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Canada Cooperatives Act and to amend other Acts in consequence.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to you about important developments for corporate governance in the Canadian economy, developments that, I am proud to say, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has had a considerable influence over in the past several years.

The Canada Business Corporations Act, otherwise known as the CBCA, is the main federal law that sets out the rules of the game for good corporate governance for more than 155,000 federally incorporated businesses, including 249 of the 1999 Financial Post's largest 500 corporations. These 249 CBCA companies alone account for approximately $500 billion in annual revenues. The CBCA ensures that a proper accountability framework is in place by defining the rights and responsibilities of directors, officers and shareholders.

(1620)

Governance is an important tool not only on a corporate level but also on a systemic economic level. On the corporate level, proper governance will ensure that a competent board is making well-informed, strategic decisions that balance risk with accountability in order to promote sustainability and profitability. On a systemic level, governance is an important contributing factor to a properly performing market and investment system which, in turn, has an important impact on the wealth creation process in the Canadian economy as a whole.

Good corporate governance is not just another buzz phrase. Indeed, as the Conference Board of Canada reported recently in an excellent study, companies that excel in governance practices post higher long-term profit, growth, and experience faster sales increases and are much more likely to be leading companies in their sector of business. That is also why organizations like the OECD, the World Bank and the Toronto Stock Exchange are active promoters of sound corporate governance practices.

Improving the governance practices of boards in Canada has been a mission of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce for a number of years. One only need look at the committee's reports on corporate governance, the governance practices of institutional investors, joint and several liability and professional defendants, modified proportionate liability, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, all of which have been published by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce over the last three and one-half years, to recognize that governance is a concept that the committee feels very strongly about. The bill contains most of the committee's recommendations with respect to corporate governance, recommendations that have appeared over the past three and one-half years.

Honourable senators, it is clear that the CBCA is substantially in need of improvement because it has not been significantly amended since 1975. For 25 years, the corporate governance provisions in the CBCA have remained essentially the same. Surely, in the age of globalization, the CBCA rules must be modernized to provide Canadian businesses with clear, meaningful rules for pursuing today's marketplace opportunities.

Bill S-19, which is before us today, will improve and modernize the CBCA in four specific areas. First, it will expand the rights of shareholders to communicate with one another and encourage more participation in corporate decisions. Second, it will help eliminate barriers to global competitiveness so that Canadian firms can become global players, while attracting the world's best companies to establish a base in Canada for their international operations. Third, Bill S-19 will change corporate responsibilities by modernizing the liabilities of directors, officers and shareholders. This will promote fairness and reasonable risk-taking, which are necessary elements for growth and productivity in today's global economic environment. Finally, the bill will eliminate duplication of regulation and thereby reduce costs.

The proposed amendments, honourable senators, result from full consultations by both the Senate Banking Committee and Industry Canada over the past half dozen years, with several hundred stakeholders taking part in these consultations over this period of time.

A couple of years ago, Industry Canada released nine discussion papers following the initial set of consultations. These papers were then the subject of both Senate Banking Committee hearings and Industry Canada meetings from coast to coast. Clearly, the government has gone to great lengths to identify the most appropriate set of changes to the existing CBCA. Advice and comment on these proposed changes have come from a large number of shareholders, members of the legal community, large and small businesses, professional directors and other interested stakeholders.

Honourable senators, as chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce for many of the hearings the committee held, I am confident that the corporate governance provisions in this bill faithfully reflect this extensive study and consultation and, as a result, are sound corporate policy and sound public policy.

Honourable senators, I should like to turn briefly to each of the four main subject areas covered by the amendments introduced in this bill.

The first area I wish to discuss consists of a group of proposals that will strengthen the rights of shareholders and make it easier for them to communicate, both with each other and with the corporation in which they are shareholders. If shareholders are to exercise their rights to approve fundamental changes to a company, it is essential that they have access to corporate information in a timely manner, that they be able to make informed decisions on what that information means, and that they be able to vote in person or by proxy.

The current rules for the solicitation of a proxy — that is, the solicitation to act on another shareholder's behalf at a meeting of shareholders — substantially and significantly hinder shareholder communications with each other by requiring that a proxy circular be sent at the personal expense of the shareholder, not at the expense of the company, to all shareholders. As a result, the existing rules do not allow for adequate exchange of information and communication among shareholders, since such communication is severely limited and is very costly to shareholders.

The amendments proposed in Bill S-19 would improve shareholder communications and, as a result, improve corporate decision making by implementing the following changes. They would allow shareholders to discuss management proposals among themselves before or after casting a ballot or assigning a proxy. The changes proposed in Bill S-19 would give shareholders the right to make proposals to other shareholders through the use of the management circular. The proposed amendments would liberalize the existing system to allow beneficial or non-registered shareholders to submit proposals so that smaller shareholders could participate in the important decision-making process. The changes would also allow corporations to use new and emerging techniques such as e-mail, for example, to communicate more effectively with shareholders.

The second major area of change contained in Bill S-19 deals with enhancing global competitiveness. What these proposed changes do is help Canadian corporations in two quite different ways. First, they will make it easier for corporations to establish a board with the mix of skills and backgrounds that will best shape and realize their goals. Second, they will clarify directors' liability rules to ensure that these rules do not hinder sensible and necessary corporate risk taking.

The CBCA currently requires that a majority of the members of the boards of directors of CBCA corporations be Canadian residents. However, in the age of globalization, this requirement may counteract the efforts of Canadian firms that wish to strengthen their position in the global marketplace. High residency requirements, like the current 50 per cent, limit a corporation's ability to recruit a board with the most appropriate mix of qualifications to advance a corporation's goals. Stronger international representation on boards may also provide a corporation with critical leverage to pursue new markets and investment opportunities. In addition, lowering residency requirements for board directors could help to establish a climate that encourages foreign investors to incorporate and establish a base for global operations in Canada.

Honourable senators, Bill S-19 proposes to reduce the residency requirement for the board of directors from its current requirement of a majority of Canadian residents to a requirement of 25 per cent Canadian residents. As recommended by the Banking Committee, it also proposes to eliminate the residency requirement for committees of the boards. No longer will it be necessary for a majority of the members of a board committee to be Canadian residents.

Although the Banking Committee did not recommend changing the residency requirements for directors three and one-half years ago, I believe that when that issue comes before the committee again, the trends in the global marketplace since the release of that Banking Committee report will convince the committee that the 25 per cent threshold is indeed a reasonable and balanced choice to ensure the competitiveness of Canadian companies in the age of globalization, while preserving the representation of Canada's national interests in board deliberations.

Some may ask, indeed, why this bill does not propose simply repealing the residency requirement altogether and following the example of seven jurisdictions in Canada — four provinces and three territories — which have eliminated the residency requirement for provincial or territorial incorporated companies. Quite simply, my conviction is that an entity incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act should draw its strength from its Canadian national base. The contribution of Canadian residents on boards can be instrumental in expanding this base for the benefit of our domestic economy, as well as for the benefit of the corporation concerned.

Although, as a general rule, the amendments will reduce the residency requirements for boards of CBCA companies to 25 per cent, for those economic sectors in which other federal legislation and policies impose ownership restrictions, such as the transportation and telecommunications sectors, the CBCA will continue to require that the higher board residency requirements now existing in current legislation be maintained for those companies.

(1630)

The second way to enhance the global competitiveness of Canadian corporations is to ensure that the liability rules for directors are clear and meaningful. Currently, directors can be held personally liable for large legal and other costs, even if they are acting properly and in the best interests of a corporation.

The Banking Committee found that the uncertain potential of burdensome potential liability can — and, there are many examples in Canada where these conditions have occurred —  create essentially what has been called, in the literature, a "liability chill", where a director will limit his or her creativity and risk taking and, in some cases, even be reluctant to stay on the board of a Canadian corporation because of fear of personal bankruptcy. As a result, this can impede the entrepreneurial strength and the competitiveness of Canadian corporations and can lead, for example, as was the case with PWA some years ago, to a situation where the board resigned en masse in order to avoid the personal liability that would have resulted had they stayed to help try to steer the company through its difficult times.

To avoid this problem, the bill proposes to bolster the existing "good faith reliance" defence by replacing it with a "due diligence" defence. The good faith defence allowed directors to point to a reliable source of information as justification for their actions, but it did not permit them, in the absence of that specific justification, to show that they acted reasonably under the circumstances. The "due diligence" defence would provide that a director would not be liable if he or she exercised the degree of care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in comparable circumstances.

This shift from the "good faith reliance" defence to the "due diligence" defence will ensure that directors are not unduly exposed to personal liability and will allow them to make strategic decisions that incorporate reasonable and necessary risk taking while leaving directors liable if they do not carry out their decisions and their advice at a board in a responsible way.

The third area addressed in this bill, honourable senators, is a series of amendments that clarify corporate accountability and that set out the responsibilities of directors and officers in particular circumstances. These amendments are the direct result of the Senate Banking Committee's extensive hearings and reports on the liability of directors, officers and auditors in the preparation of financial information which is required under the Canada Business Corporations Act.

Currently, directors, officers and auditors face what legally is called "joint and several liability" for claims arising from financial losses due to any error, omission or misstatement in financial information issued by the company. This means that each and every one of the defendants in a lawsuit is potentially liable for 100 per cent of the damages of a plaintiff, regardless of whether they are 10 per cent or 90 per cent at fault for the plaintiff's loss. For example, if you sued two defendants, one of whom was 90 per cent liable but had no money and the other who was 10 per cent liable but had lots of money, the second defendant would still be liable for the full 100 per cent of the damages.

The Banking Committee studied this issue of joint and several liability in detail over some considerable period of time and recommended landmark changes in both its March 1998 and September 1998 reports. Bill S-19, honourable senators, reflects precisely the recommendations contained in the Banking Committee reports.

Parenthetically, I should like, in particular, to thank Senators Meighen and Kelleher, who, last summer, when we were trying to have the final details on this proposal accepted not only by the government but also by the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, were helpful in attending a series of meetings with me at which we developed a solution that everyone has accepted as a reasonable compromise under the circumstances.

The committee, in the course of its work on joint and several liability, found that the current rules tend to penalize the most accessible and creditworthy defendants, regardless of their degree of fault. Plaintiffs can be, and in many cases are, motivated under current rules to sue the "deepest pockets" such as professional advisors or directors of corporations themselves who are insured and solvent, regardless of their degree of fault. This can and has discouraged the provision of professional services and the availability of sound, reliable financial information to CBCA corporations and to federally incorporated cooperatives.

The amendments before you today represent a cutting edge shift in the way that liability is to be apportioned in the future. Canada, under the proposals in this bill which were developed directly by the Banking Committee, would become a world leader in proposing changes which, as a general rule, state that liability should be proportional to the degree of fault.

In spite of this basic principle, which seems fair in and of itself, the committee also felt — and this bill reflects this — that it is necessary to protect those in society who are most severely affected by the negligence of experts and for whose protection the joint and several liability regime was initially formulated. For this reason, under the proposal in this bill and as recommended by the committee, joint and several liability will continue to be the remedy where a plaintiff does not have significant assets or where a court is of the opinion that joint and several liability continues to be just and equitable under the circumstances. The threshold that will determine whether a plaintiff will be under the modified proportionate liability scheme or the joint and several liability system will be fixed by regulation.

Finally, honourable senators, the proposed amendments in this bill would decrease the overlap between the CBCA and existing provincial regulations. In the past, corporations have had to ensure that they complied with two duplicate sets of regulations that had the same public policy goal. The amendments proposed will decrease this duplication and, as a result, will decrease the cost for Canadian businesses. In particular, the bill provides that requirements on reports of trades by insiders will be repealed because they simply duplicate the current provisions in provincial securities acts. The bill requires that people who have been harmed by insider trading will have wider scope for seeking civil remedies, and it provides that the takeover bid provisions will be repealed, since provincial securities acts adequately cover this area. The same is true for so-called "going-private" transactions. They will be permitted subject to compliance with the fairness criteria established by provincial securities regulations.

Honourable senators, for the most part, the amendments proposed in the CBCA in those areas are mirrored also by provisions again in this bill in the Canada Cooperatives Act. This is to say, this bill amends the Canada Cooperatives Act to make the kinds of changes which I just discussed in the new CBCA.

Honourable senators, the highlights of the bill that I have just sketched will help ensure that CBCA corporations and federally incorporated cooperatives operate under the certainty of rules that allow them to compete more effectively in the international marketplace. In light of the extraordinary amount of work that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has put into all the issues discussed in this bill, and in light of the fact that the vast majority of recommendations contained in this bill are amendments that stem from recommendations made by the committee over the last three and one half years, I hope that this chamber will quickly refer the bill to the Banking Committee whose members will give it a final and detailed analysis on the basis of their expert knowledge of these issues. Honourable senators, I would urge you to refer this bill to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce fairly quickly.

On motion of Senator Kinsella, debate adjourned.


Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Before I recognize another senator, I would call your attention to another group of visitors in our gallery. We have with us today a group from Strathcona Tweedsmuir High School of Okotoks, Alberta. The office of Senator Ferretti Barth helped this group organize a visit to the Parliament of Canada. On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome to you the Senate of Canada and I wish you an enjoyable stay in Ottawa.
(1640)

Appropriation Bill No. 1, 2000-01

Second Reading

Hon. Anne C. Cools moved the second reading of Bill C-30, for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2001.

She said: Honourable senators, when given Royal Assent, Bill C-30 will be known as Appropriation Act No. 1, 2000-2001. I do not know why we do not say "twenty-o-one." This bill is also called the interim supply bill and grants supply in the amount of $15.6 billion for the first quarter of the new fiscal year 2000-2001 being April, May and June 2000.

Honourable senators, the Main Estimates 2000-2001 were introduced in the Senate by Senator Dan Hays on March 1, 2000, and were referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on March 2, 2000. Our National Finance Committee subsequently met on March 22, 2000, and the following officials of Treasury Board appeared: Keith Coulter, Kevin Lindsey and Andrew Lieff.

On March 23, the committee's chairman, Senator Lowell Murray, presented the committee's fifth report, its interim report on these Main Estimates 2000-2001. That report was adopted a few moments ago. The Main Estimates 2000-2001 describe the government's proposed spending for the fiscal year which commences in a few days on April 1.

Honourable senators, Bill C-30 will provide interim supply for certain expenditures that require Parliament's authority now in order for the business of the government to go forward. Bill C-30 is seeking Parliament's authority for the interim supply of $15.6 billion dollars.

The Main Estimates 2000-2001 total $156.2 billion, an increase of $4.6 billion, or 3 per cent over the 1999-2000 Main Estimates. These estimates reflect the bulk of the expenditure plan set out in the Minister of Finance's February 28, 2000 budget. The remainder includes provisions for additional spending under various statutory programs or for authorities that will be sought through Supplementary Estimates. The budget also provided for the revaluation of the government's assets and liabilities and makes allowance for the anticipated lapse of spending authority.

Her Majesty's government submits these Estimates to Parliament in support of its request for authority to spend public funds. They include information on both budgetary and non-budgetary spending authorities. Parliament will subsequently be asked to consider subsequent appropriation bills to authorize additional spending.

The budgetary expenditures include the cost of servicing the public debt; operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations. The non-budgetary expenditures, being loans, investments and advances, represent changes in the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.

Honourable senators, these Main Estimates support the government's request for Parliament's authority to spend $50.1 billion under program authorities for which annual approval is required. The remaining, some $106 billion, or 67.9 per cent of the total, is statutory and those forecasts are provided for information purposes only. The bill before you today, otherwise known as the Interim Supply Bill, is seeking $15.6 billion of spending authority to provide for government expenditures up to the end of the first supply period of the fiscal year 2000-2001, which is the first three months.

As honourable senators know, the purpose of interim supply is to provide the government with funds to operate until Parliament can complete its detailed review of the Estimates and deal with the full supply bill.

The process of determining interim supply is as follows. The amount of funds for interim supply is routinely determined at three-twelfths of the amount of a given vote in the Main Estimates. The funding is intended to cover the first three months of the fiscal year — that is, April to June — when the first regular supply period ends. Departments and agencies may request more than three-twelfths but must justify those requirements in one-twelfth increments to a maximum of eleven-twelfths. As a consequence, total funding can never be obtained through interim supply and the rights and privileges of members of Parliament — senators in our case — to question or debate any item in the Main Estimates are in no way compromised.

Honourable senators, typically, justification for additional twelfths relates to the season, for example construction season, or legal and quasi-legal obligations as, for example, the governments pays grants in lieu of paying property taxes and interim payments that are typically due in the spring, payment schedules under contract or transfer payment agreements such as the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, where the payments are often made early in the fiscal year under financing agreements with the bands, and for department vote netting their revenues to provide bridge funding as revenues are received after costs have been incurred.

Honourable senators, now I should ike to briefly address the contents of this interim supply bill. The total amount of authority sought is $15.6 billion, or 31 per cent of the total amount being appropriated through Main Estimates. There are four votes for which eight-twelfths are being sought. These are: $552.6 million to the Department of National Defence for the payment of outstanding claims for Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements that may come due for settlement early in the new fiscal year; $504.2 million to the Treasury Board Secretariat's Vote 5, entitled "Government Contingencies," to provide for unforeseen expenditures that may arise during the interim supply period; $9.8 million to the Canadian Commercial Corporation to supplement working capital advances; and $7.2 million to the Department of Natural Resources for full payment by April 1, 2000, on a loan agreement with Nordion International Inc.

Honourable senators, the following are typical of other items for which additional twelfths are being sought. They are: $1.7 billion to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development's Vote 15, representing two-twelfths as a result of funding arrangements with the bands that provide for a large portion of the funding on Apri1 1 each year. For example, the agreements with the James Bay Cree, the Oujé Bougoumou Cree and the Naskapi bands of Quebec all require full payment in early April. As well, there are $862.8 million to the Department of Finance's Vote 15, representing four-twelfths in accordance with the financing arrangements entered into with the territorial governments.

Also included are $424.6 million to the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Vote 10, representing one-twelfth to cover anticipated disbursements for farm income assistance programs prior to June 2000; $261.1 million to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Vote 20, representing one-twelfth to cover contract payments and pre-payments; and $88 million to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' Vote 10, representing three-twelfths to cover contribution agreements under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and the Fisheries Access Program.

Honourable senators, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance will continue to examine and study these Main Estimates for some time. The custom is until March 31 of the next year. In the meantime, I encourage all senators to pass Bill C-30, Appropriation Act No. 1, 2000-2001, the interim supply bill, so that the government may get the dollars required to do Her Majesty's business in Canada.

I take this opportunity once again to thank Senator Murray for his diligence and his experience in handling this particular committee. I have already thanked the Treasury Board officials, but I would today thank the staff of the committee, being the committee clerk, Luc Bégin, and the committee researcher, Guy Beaumier. They have worked quite hard and have been assiduous in producing our reports, organizing our committee meetings and bringing together the reports and the two bills to get them moving through the Senate chamber.

Honourable senators, I know that many individuals find the subject matter of the National Finance Committee a bit tedious. Yes, there is a lot of tedium to it, but at this particular time of year, as Senator Murray will know, many things must come together so the government can get its supply by March 31. I am sure that Senator Kinsella has a few questions to put to me about this very important business of supply, but at this particular time of year, we are in a special crunch to do a fair amount of work to meet some very tight deadlines. This year, I just thought I should thank the staff because the staff have been especially cooperative. They sped up their work essentially to fit the senators' timetable and the government's timetable.

Having said all of that, honourable senators, I encourage all of you to vote for this bill and to give the government oodles and oodles of money — buckets full.

(1650)

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Cools for her detailed explanation of this bill. I join with her in the well-deserved praise that she has expressed for the committee staff and the Treasury Board officials who appeared before the committee.

The Treasury Board officials are excellent witnesses. Further, they are prompt and thorough in providing written replies to questions that may be outstanding at the close of any meeting. As well, colleagues on both sides of the table are conscientious and very well informed in their discussion of the Estimates. They act in the best parliamentary tradition with regard to examining the spending programs and policies of the government.

With this debate, we in the Senate and the members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance commence our consideration of the government spending programs for the fiscal year 2000-2001, which begins on April 1. The background to this interim supply bill is contained in the fifth report of the committee which I tabled here last week. The report is factual. Over the next 12 months, we will be focusing, in some detail, on various aspects of government spending and policy. In this report, we have identified certain areas on which we intend to concentrate. The committee has a meeting scheduled for April 4 to consider future business of the committee. We will continue to monitor the spending plans and programs of the government over the fiscal year.

Our activity, however, in no way discourages or prevents other standing committees from examining the Estimates of a particular department or departments in order to discuss in greater depth the policies and activities of the government in those departments.

One matter to which I wish to refer may more properly belong in the budget debate which is also currently taking place in the Senate, but I will impose upon honourable senators by flagging it in this discussion.

It leaps off the page of our fifth report in which we reprint the expenditure plan and Main Estimates for the year 2000-2001. I am referring to the item at the very top of the list, that is, public debt charges of $42 billion for the fiscal year which begins on April 1. The amount of $42 billion to service the debt is, as colleagues know, far and away the biggest spending item in our Estimates. I took the trouble to examine the history of this figure, and I discovered what I had suspected — that is, that this $42 billion to service the debt in the fiscal year beginning April 1 has not changed much in recent years. The amount was $38 billion in 1993-94; $42 billion in 1994-95; $46.9 billion in 1995-96; $45 billion in 1996-97; $40.9 billion in 1997-98; $41.4 billion in 1998-99; and $41.5 billion in 1999-2000, the fiscal year that comes to an end on Friday. As I have said, next year the amount will be $42 billion, and it is forecast to be $41.5 billion in the fiscal year 2001-2002.

That is a great deal of money for debt servicing. It amounts to more than 25 cents out of every dollar the government spends, and it has been that way for a good long time, going back at least to 1988-89. At various times, it has been 27.2 per cent and 28.1 per cent.

For 1993-94, 24 cents out of every spending dollar went to service the debt; in 1994-95, 26.2 cents; in 1995-96, 29.5 cents; in 1996-97, 30 cents; in 1997-98, 27.3 cents; in 1998-99, 27.1 cents; in 1999-2000, the fiscal year ending this week, 26.4 cents; in 2000-2001, 26.6 cents; and in 2001-2002 it is forecast to be at 25.5 cents. Therefore, whether you consider it in terms of raw numbers, in the vicinity of $42 billion out of spending of $157 billion, or whether you consider it as a proportion of each dollar spent, it is a considerable number.

My point is that it seems to me to argue for far more emphasis in the government's fiscal policy on paying down the national debt. I recognize that, since we have turned the corner on deficit financing in recent years, the Minister of Finance has applied some or all of his $3-billion contingency fund to paying down the debt. However, that is really a drop in the bucket when one looks at the overall debt and the cost of servicing it.

It seems to me that, especially when the economy is reasonably buoyant, as it is and has been for a little while, we should go the extra mile to try to bring down the national debt. In doing so, we ultimately provide more flexibility for the government to use fiscal measures to combat the inevitable downturns that will come in the economy. Further, by paying down the debt at a relatively more accelerated pace, we lessen the vulnerability of our annual budget to the inevitable increases in interest rates.

These are policy matters that are not normally in the purview of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. I should have raised them in the course the budget debate, but I thought honourable senators would not mind if I flagged them at this early stage in the fiscal year.

Honourable senators, as I have said, the committee will focus on specific items in the Main Estimates and on interim supply measures as they come to us over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, I commend this bill to your consideration and support.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, in rising to speak to this bill I should like to draw the reflection of all honourable senators to exactly what we are doing and by which authority we are doing it.

(1700)

In the Debates of the Senate of March 23, 2000, at page 813, we read in a speech delivered in this house by the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following words:

...our system of responsible government gives the House of Commons leverage that we in the Senate do not have.

Honourable senators, I invite your reflection on the important lever that we are dealing with at this time, that is, the lever of the purse. It is the lever of whether or not the executive will be voted supply. This is no small lever in the hands of members of this chamber in our bicameral Parliament.

I wish to share with honourable senators the words of J.E. Hodgetts, a renowned political scientist, who stated:

Parliament is the legislature's capacity to act as the great debating, if not educational forum for the nation. This capacity, joined with the historic right to have grievances settled by the Crown before approving money in support of the Crown's activities...vests in the legislature not only the formal responsibility for approving statutes but also a continuing critical overseeing of executive actions.

Honourable senators, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has seriously and expeditiously analyzed the matter of supply over the years and this chamber has focused on it and generally voted supply. If we check the record, we may find that there have been times in the past that supply was held up, although, in my quick review, I did not find cases where supply was rejected.

The point is that we have very important leverage. To argue, in some curious theory of responsible government, that somehow the checks and balances that this institution must exercise diminish our system of parliamentary democracy is, I think, an argument that goes in the wrong direction.

It is noteworthy that we are voting on a supply bill, perhaps the most important lever in the hands of the Senate in accomplishing our mandate on behalf of the people of Canada to hold the executive accountable.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators —

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I wish to inform the Senate that if Senator Cools speaks now her speech will have the effect of closing the debate on second reading of this bill.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I would thank Senator Kinsella for his intervention. At first I thought he was asking a question of me, but I believe he ended up making a statement. Perhaps he is still planning to ask a question.

Senator Kinsella: No, I am not.

Senator Cools: I should like to make a few comments in response to what Senator Kinsella said with regard to Senator Boudreau's comments last Thursday in the debate on Bill C-20.

That which Senator Kinsella said is quite well known by all of us — that is, that the Senate is an extremely important institution. As Senator Kinsella may recall, I rose last week in the chamber to say that I believed Senator Boudreau was wrong. I held that position then, and I continue to hold it now. Perhaps some of the issues that Senator Kinsella is raising should also be debated within the context of Bill C-20 rather than in the debate on second reading of this supply bill.

Honourable senators, a word being used in universities these days is "deconstruction", which means that our ideas, customs, beliefs and values are being taken apart one by one. There is no doubt that the Senate of Canada was constructed for many purposes. The first purpose was to express the federal principle. The House of Commons is constituted and constructed as a unitary house. When the Fathers of Confederation were assembling the Senate of Canada, they intended that it would be the Senate of Canada which would embody the federal principle. Therefore, the federal principle is in the Senate, not in the House of Commons. This fact is no longer widely known or widely understood and is rapidly fading into deconstruction.

Second, the great Father of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald, as we know, personally hand wrote many of the motions and many of the first sets of bills. The man was such a great mind and such an architect it cannot be controverted. When the Senate was assembled at the time as per the BNA Act, we must be mindful that much attention was paid to the actual scripting and drafting of the BNA Act because the Fathers of Confederation intended the Senate to outlive its critics. It is important to remember that when Lord Carnarvon defended the BNA Act during the debates in England, Lord Thring, who was an especially efficient and extremely capable draftsman, paid extreme attention to every detail of the drafting. The BNA Act did not state that there shall be a Parliament, it stated that there shall be one Parliament of Canada.

I also want to make the point that we hear again and again that only the House of Commons is the house of confidence. We hear repeatedly that the Senate has no power in respect of money bills. That is rubbish and nonsense. To begin with, the term "money bill" is not particularly helpful in the constitutional parliamentary life of Canada. As a matter of fact, it is a menace. The fact of the matter is that when the Senate was put together, a few concepts of governance were rejected. The first concept of governance that was rejected by the Fathers of Confederation was that the Senate be elected. The option was there at the time to have the Senate elected. Many of the legislative councils that yielded to the Senate were elected. They rejected that.

An additional factor, which is more obscure and not well known, is that the Fathers of Confederation intended the Senate to have larger and greater powers over finances than even the House of Lords. They intended, for example, that the federal principle be embodied in the Senate so that monies raised by taxpayers in one area could not be spent by taxpayers in another area.

In the lead-up to Confederation in 1864, George Brown and the Ontario participants were especially diligent about these particular matters. Thus, the Senate was acceptable to them, because the Senate was intended to have very large powers over the business of the financial affairs of the government or the executive, as we would choose to describe that.

(1710)

As I said before, all of this is off the cuff. The only limit on the Senate's financial powers is that tax measures on appropriations must originate in the House of Commons, by a minister of the Crown, obviously, but, other than that, there is absolutely no limitation on the powers of the Senate in respect of finances.

I have seen senators who are intimidated by being told that they cannot amend a bill because it has a Royal Recommendation; and that they cannot amend a financial bill. It is all a lot of poppycock and rubbish. We are in an era of deconstruction, an era which some scholars have referred to as "the passing of Parliament." It saddens me significantly. I am coming to the conclusion that Parliament, as an institution that I was taught as a youngster to love and to uphold, is passing away from us.

I do not have the quotation in front of me, but there was a famous Liberal named Clifford Sifton, in Sir Wilfrid Laurier's government who often said that the executive and the cabinet would grow at the expense of the House of Commons, and that it was up to the Senate to be the strong check and balance on the House of Commons.

In any event, I have heard the concerns expressed by Senator Kinsella. The Senate's powers in respect of this particular bill are huge. I am also aware that Senator Kinsella is saying that the opposition is being very magnanimous and is cooperating with the government to pass its supply bills. However, he is also reminding the government that there are ways to do business other than the cooperative way. I am mindful of those thoughts and I am sensitive to them. That is why, when I run one of these committee meetings, I ensure that the members of the opposition have as much say as they want and ask questions, even at my expense.

I would encourage Senator Kinsella to pursue this particular debate during the debate on Bill C-20. I have heard his concerns and, hopefully, the government will also hear them. I would point out to Senator Kinsella that I, too, have made it my business to keenly, diligently and, I would add, quite exhaustively, study the history of this place and I also sincerely believe that the Fathers of Confederation were absolutely accurate in stating that they were configuring a senate which would be difficult to change because constitutions are supposed to be resistant to change; but that they were configuring a senate which would last as long as Canada.

I think the maxim that the duration of Canada as a country is related to the existence of the Senate as a senate is most interesting and exciting.

Having said that I have no doubt that I have brought Senator Kinsella small comfort in respect of his concerns about Bill C-20. However, with regard to this particular bill, his point has been well made and well taken.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Cools, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Financing of Post-Secondary Education

Inquiry—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Atkins calling 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 which post-secondary students are being burdened with in Canada.—(Honourable Senator Hays).

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I ask leave that this matter be stood in the name of Senator Callbeck who intends to speak soon on this inquiry.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Order stands.

Future of Canadian Defence Policy

Inquiry—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Forrestall calling the attention of the Senate to the future of Canadian Defence Policy.—(Honourable Senator Hays).

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would ask to have this matter stand in the name of Senator Rompkey who intends to speak to it shortly.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Order stands.

Review of Anti-Drug Policy

Motion to Form Special Senate Committee—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nolin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cohen:

That a Special Committee of the Senate be appointed to reassess Canada's anti-drug legislation and policies, to carry out a broad consultation of the Canadian public to determine the specific needs of various regions of the country, where social problems associated with the trafficking and use of illegal drugs are more in evidence, to develop proposals to disseminate information about Canada's anti-drug policy and, finally, to make recommendations for an anti-drug strategy developed by and for Canadians under which all levels of government to work closely together to reduce the harm associated with the use of illegal drugs;

That, without being limited in its mandate by the following, the Committee be authorized to:

- review the federal government's policy on illegal drugs in Canada, its effectiveness, and the extent to which it is fairly enforced;

- develop a national harm reduction policy in order to lessen the negative impact of illegal drugs in Canada, and make recommendations regarding the enforcement of this policy, specifically the possibility of focusing on use and abuse of drugs as a social and health problem;

- study harm reduction models adopted by other countries and determine if there is a need to implement them wholly or partially in Canada;

- examine Canada's international role and obligations under United Nations conventions on narcotics and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other related treaties in order to determine whether these treaties authorize it to take action other than laying criminal charges and imposing sentences at the international level;

- explore the effects of cannabis on health and examine whether alternative policy on cannabis would lead to increased harm in the short and long term.

- examine the possibility of the government using its regulatory power under the Contraventions Act as an additional means of implementing a harm reduction policy, as is done in other jurisdictions;

- examine any other issue respecting Canada's anti-drug policy that the Committee considers appropriate to the completion of its mandate.

That the Special Committee be composed of five Senators and that three members constitute a quorum;

That the Committee have the power to send for persons, papers and records, to examine witnesses, to report from time to time and to print such papers, briefs and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the Committee;

That the briefs received and testimony heard during consideration of Bill C-8, An Act respecting the control of certain drugs, their precursors and other substances, by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs during the Second Session of the Thirty-fifth Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Committee have the power to authorize television, radio and electronic broadcasting, as it deems appropriate, of any or all of its proceedings;

That the Committee be granted leave to sit when the Senate has been adjourned pursuant to subsection 95(2) of the Senate Rules; and

That the Committee submit its final report not later than three years from the date of its being constituted.—(Honourable Senator Hays).

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this motion stands in my name. I would ask honourable senators to agree to have the time frame within which this motion shall be spoken to extended for another 15 days.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Order stands.

Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum

Eighth Annual Meeting—Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Sharon Carstairs rose pursuant to notice of March 23, 2000:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Canberra, Australia, from January 9 to 14, 2000.

She said: Honourable senators, it was a privilege to be part of this chamber's delegation in Canberra, Australia, from January 9 to 13, 2000, at the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum.

Accompanying me from this chamber were Senator Hays, who was the co-chair of the overall delegation, and Senator Oliver, who represented the entire delegation on the drafting committee, preparing the final communiqué, a job he did with his usual high level of expertise. Although I have travelled before on behalf of the Senate, this was the first time I represented the Senate in this particular manner as part of a delegation.

(1720)

The delegation, composed of members from all parties in the House of Commons, worked extremely hard to put forward our country's agenda. Mr. Jim Hart, a member of Parliament from British Columbia, introduced a motion on East Timor and peacekeeping efforts there. After some negotiations with other nations to make this motion acceptable to all delegations, it was passed. It expressed the appreciation of all delegates for the work of peacekeepers throughout the world.

I was privileged to introduce Canada's second motion on war-affected children. I was deeply touched that this resolution received quick and unanimous approval.

The Canadian delegation also worked to achieve consensus on a number of other resolutions, particularly one on the need for drug education programs in our schools.

Honourable senators, I noted with particular interest the frequency that the Chinese delegation turned to the Canadian delegation for help in resolving difficulties. This is a sign of very positive relations between our two countries, and it encouraged me to continue to support our rule-of-law project in China. This is not a concept that is part of their tradition and not one to which they easily relate. However, it is a concept that I hope they will be able to fully embrace as the years pass.

Honourable senators, the host country, Australia, was generous and warm in the hospitality shown to all of us — even though they were unable to show us a kangaroo in the wild, which caused some of us deep regret. However, visits to the National Art Gallery, a national historic site where the arts and crafts of Australia were wonderfully exhibited, and a boat trip from the Olympic Games site and to the Sidney opera remain highlights.

I also took the opportunity to have a thorough tour of the Parliament buildings in Canberra. All of us visited the chambers, the main hall and many of the 27 patios. They are fascinating buildings. In fact, there are seven buildings, and the courtyards are all over the place. However, as a member of the Parliamentary Buildings Advisory Council, I took the opportunity to visit members in their offices and see the air conditioning and heating systems and — honourable senators, eat your heart out — the underground parking system for all members and all staff of the Parliament buildings.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Carstairs: It gave me an understanding of their buildings that I am finding very useful in my deliberations on your behalf as a member of the advisory council.

Honourable senators, I learned a great deal on this trip. I had an opportunity to get to know the senators and the members of Parliament who were part of this trip, and, yes, I had some fun, particularly as my husband, John, was able to join me on this trip. He and I had already planned a trip to Australia and New Zealand for the month of January and had already booked and, I quickly add, paid for our trip before I was assigned to this delegation. However, being part of this delegation made our visit just that much more memorable and enjoyable.

In closing, I wish to thank the clerk, Normand Radford, who went out of his way to take care of our delegation. It is a further example of how well served we all are by the staff of Parliament here in Canada.

On motion of Senator Hays, debate adjourned.

Review of Non-Proliferation Treaty

Motion to Urge Nuclear Weapon States to Reaffirm Commitment Adopted

Hon. Douglas Roche, pursuant to notice of March 21, 2000, moved:

That the Senate recommends that the Government of Canada urge the Nuclear Weapon States to reaffirm their unequivocal commitment to take action towards the total elimination of their nuclear weapons, as called for by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed April 24 to May 19, 2000.

He said: Honourable senators, in this presentation, I wish to make three points: first, why the issue is urgent; second, what the NPT review conference should do; and third, Canada's role in advancing the nuclear disarmament agenda.

First, the urgency. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Americans and Russians started reducing their nuclear arms, most people thought the nuclear weapons problem had evaporated with the Cold War. However, the problem did not go away. In fact, today, despite the lesser numbers than at the height of the Cold War, the threat to humanity posed by the existing 35,000 nuclear weapons is rated by many experts as worse than during the Cold War.

The U.S. Senate has rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The U.S. is preparing to deploy a missile defence system over the objections of Russia and China, who protest that this will start a new arms race. India is preparing to deploy nuclear weapons in the air, on land and at sea. Pakistan, which has successfully tested nuclear weapons, is now ruled by the military. Meaningful discussions at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva are deadlocked. The Russian Duma has not ratified START II, and Russia has published a revised national security doctrine that broadens the possible scenarios in which Russia would use nuclear weapons.

Honourable senators, the gains made in the past decade on reducing the dangers posed by nuclear weapons are being wiped out. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that the non-proliferation agenda is in, in his words, "deplorable stagnation." He said:

It is even more disheartening to hear Nuclear Weapon States reiterate their nuclear doctrines, postures and plans which envisage reliance on nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.

Since the only use of a nuclear weapon occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 55 years ago, most of the world has no memory of what nuclear weapons do. They are not just an advanced form of ordinary weaponry. They have the power to decimate the natural environment which has sustained humanity from the beginning of time. Nuclear weapons produce lethal levels of heat and blast, produce radiation and radioactive fallout, exterminate civilian populations, produce social disintegration, contaminate and destroy the food chain, and continue for decades after their use to induce health-related problems.

This is a staggering compilation of damage that no amount of obfuscation, such as referring to unintended collateral damage, can cover up. This is why the former president of the World Court, Mohammed Bedjaoui of Algeria, called nuclear weapons "the ultimate evil." In fact, he added that the existence of nuclear weapons challenges "the very existence of humanitarian law."

During the acrimonious years of the Cold War, with the emphasis on the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence as a constant justification for the nuclear arms buildup, the public seemed blinded to the horror of what nuclear weapons were all about; but now, in the post-Cold War era characterized by an East-West partnership, there is no excuse for shielding the public from the assault upon life itself that nuclear weapons represent.

Second, the NPT review conference. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into existence in 1970, is the largest arms control and disarmament treaty in the world, with 187 nations as signatories. Its central provision, Article VI, calls for good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament and to general disarmament under strict and effective international control. In fact, the NPT was constituted as a bargain between the five nuclear weapons states of the day — the U.S., the Soviet Union, now Russia, the U.K., France and China — and with the non-nuclear weapon states. In return for the nuclear weapon states giving up their nuclear weapons, the non-nuclear weapon states promised not to acquire them.

As the years mounted and the nuclear weapon states refused to negotiate going to zero, India and Pakistan charged that the NPT was a discriminatory treaty and refused to sign it. Now, with their tests of 1998, India and Pakistan have openly joined the nuclear weapons club. Israel has also not signed the NPT and has become nuclear-weapons capable. Thus, there are now eight nuclear weapons states, the five principal ones being the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

(1730)

The International Court of Justice, in its landmark 1996 advisory opinion, said this was unacceptable and too dangerous to tolerate, and unanimously called for the conclusion of negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

At the forthcoming NPT review conference, the records of the nuclear weapon states will be carefully examined. It will be shown that the United States and the United Kingdom have made some reductions. Russia, France and China have not.

Moreover, efforts to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons have regressed since 1995. The U.S. indicated, in its 1997 Presidential Decision Directive 60, that nuclear weapons remain the cornerstone of its security policy. NATO, at its Washington summit in April 1999, reaffirmed that nuclear weapons "will continue to fulfil an essential role" in its strategic concept, although, at the urging of Canada, Germany and Norway, the alliance agreed in principle last December to an internal review of its nuclear policy.

We must remember that the NPT, which was indefinitely extended in 1995, legally obliges its signatories to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons, not merely their reduction. This legal point has also been made in a political manner by the New Agenda Coalition of seven middle-power nations — Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden — whose resolution at the United Nations last fall:

Calls upon the Nuclear Weapons States to make an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the speedy and total elimination of their nuclear arsenals and to engage without delay in an accelerated process of negotiations, thus achieving nuclear disarmament, to which they are committed under Article VI of the NPT.

This resolution was adopted by a vote of 111 for, 13 against, and 39 abstentions, with seven of the eight nuclear weapon states voting against it. China abstained. Moreover, the western nuclear weapons states campaigned against it and have intimidated their NATO partners not to support it. To their credit, Canada and 13 other NATO members last fall at least abstained on the resolution.

Honourable senators, it is critical to global security that the NPT survive until a comprehensive plan for eliminating all nuclear weapons is negotiated. This means that the nuclear weapon states, recognizing the importance of the NPT to their own security, must be committed, without equivocation, to fulfilling their Article VI obligations.

To this end, the Middle Powers Initiative calls upon the nuclear weapon states to take the following main steps.

First, they should affirm unequivocally that there are legally binding obligations to engage in good faith negotiations, to eliminate nuclear weapons and to commence these negotiations as a matter of utmost urgency.

Then they should take clear steps to diminish the salience of nuclear weapons by reducing national and allied reliance on them by, for example, taking them off hair-trigger alert, pledging never to use them first, negotiating a legally binding agreement which assures non-nuclear weapon states that nuclear weapons will not be used against them, and committing to a prohibition on the design or development of new nuclear weapons.

Then they should also acknowledge that the NPT regime cannot endure indefinitely if a few states insist that nuclear weapons provide them with unique security benefits while denying these alleged benefits to others.

Finally, honourable senators, let me speak of Canada's role. In recent weeks, two important conferences of NGO experts have been held in Canada, designed to assist the Government of Canada to play the important role it is capable of at the NPT review conference.

A government consultation with civil society, held on February 3 and 4, heard calls for Canada to throw its support unreservedly behind the New Agenda Coalition. Some nations in NATO, observing Canada's efforts to get a meaningful review in NATO of the alliance's nuclear weapons policies, have taken to calling Canada a "nuclear nag". "More power to Canada", the participants said at the conference, and then they posed this urgent question: "How long will Canada keep the New Agenda Coalition at arm's length in the interest of working to change NATO from within?"

A second meeting, this one a joint seminar on March 18 of the Canadian Pugwash Group and Science for Peace, emphasized that Canada should work alongside the New Agenda Coalition at the NPT review conference, seek reaffirmation of the NPT Article VI commitment, and ensure that governments make new commitments to accelerate the nuclear disarmament process.

Canadian Pugwash and Science for Peace believe that Canada can, and must, provide sustained diplomatic representation to the nuclear weapon states to carry out an unequivocal commitment to nuclear disarmament. Accountability on commitments must be demonstrated by specific, concrete measures.

Honourable senators, I have discussed the urgency of the situation, the importance of the NPT review and what Canada should do. The spread of nuclear weapons is one of the most terrible threats faced by the human race. The non-proliferation treaty must be saved from unravelling. Canada, as a strong adherent of the NPT, has an opportunity and an obligation to protect this vital treaty.

I commend this motion to you.

Hon. Sheila Finestone: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise in support of the motion from our colleague who, as we all know, was a very respected member of the Canadian team, Ambassador for Disarmament for the Canadian government, and led them to the UN 1985 conference on the non-proliferation treaty with respect to nuclear weapons. We are very fortunate to have this gentleman in our midst as a senator. That he would ring the alarm bells is very much in keeping with the kind of role he has played as a conscience for Canada and the world in these areas.

Senator Roche has asked: Why is this issue urgent? Is it a major concern? Is it a major issue for Canada? I may be enlarging his thought, but I believe that the thought was there, and I am sure one of his questions is: Since Canada holds that seat at the Security Council in the United Nations, what is the government doing to address that role?

Honourable senators, there are many issues and many threats that are very wide-ranging in this world, whether we are discussing the victimization, one-by-one, of people in civil conflict, or the spectre of mass annihilation from nuclear weapons, and they are all of serious concern. These threats with respect to nuclear weapons, at their most basic, imperil all humanity. Our human security is at risk.

Often, people say that the answer is to build walls, because the threat does not really affect us, those nuclear arms are not so close by. Well, honourable senators, they are. They are just beyond our border, as Senator Roche pointed out, and it is a very important issue. We cannot turn away, ignore, retreat or shut the world out. It is not possible.

The forces of globalization are another matter. The advances in technology, the entire question of transportation and communications, rule out any form of isolation for us as Canadians. They should be an incentive for us to support the work that has been undertaken by our government and by our leadership.

I sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the other House. We were directed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to undertake an in-depth study on nuclear proliferation and the role that Canada could play before achieving a seat on the Security Council.

I recall joining a group of parliamentarians who were invited to Germany to discuss issues of nuclear non-proliferation and Canada's role. There was very serious concern about the position our standing committee had taken at that time. One of the things I learned from that experience is that isolation is not desirable, nor possible, and the forces that make those issues problems for others also make them problems for us. They highlight our common humanity and connect us in a common destiny.

We have sought, in a sense, to project Canadian values about caring on to the world stage. It was T.S. Eliot who said that April is the cruelest month. If you are a minister of foreign affairs right now, and if you were about to move into the hot seat or chair of the Security Council on April 1, I think you would find that April is a crucial month. Next month, an entire confluence of events will take place: Canada's presidency of the UN Security Council and the West African Conference on War-Affected Children that Canada is co-sponsoring with Ghana. One of our honourable senators, Senator Pearson, is very involved in that the latter. Also, the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is about to take place, which the Honourable Senator Roche has brought to your attention. All eyes will be focused on all these issues. However, I do not think any of us realizes how vitally important this Non-Proliferation Treaty is with respect to human security.

(1740)

Honourable senators, it is impossible for us not to recognize that we must promote human security at the UN Security Council. That is the way we can best address the threats to our own safety, to the safety of our families, to the safety of our society and to the safety of humanity worldwide. We cannot live in isolated ignorance and lack of understanding concerning the things that we must do.

Honourable senators, we can derive little satisfaction from the progress we have made thus far. Do not think there has not been progress, because there has; however, there is no satisfaction while the risk of nuclear annihilation looms over our collective safety. There is, quite frankly, no greater potential menace to human security.

The risks associated with nuclear arms appear to have faded from the radar screen. Do we hear anyone talking about it? Have we listened to the debates in the United States and to those men who think that they can lead the world by becoming president of the United States? Did they say one word about international affairs of any consequence? Certainly there was not a word about nuclear disarmament or the potential impact of nuclear arms.

The Honourable Senator Roche said that there are 35,000 active bombs out there, all of which are stronger than the bomb that detonated over Hiroshima. We must be concerned about this.

The risks associated with nuclear arms seem to have faded from international concern. The urgency for action has ebbed, and the structures that we have built to manage the threats are increasingly on shaky ground. We seem to have lost our way. I find it quite incredible that there are strong lobby groups out there who have not lost their way, who have seen the light and who were referred to by the honourable senator in his speech. We must encompass that will and that energy to move ahead and to ensure, by acting resolutely and together, that nuclear arms control and disarmament takes place.

Honourable senators, I do not think it can be accomplished overnight. Let us be under no illusion about that. However, the dangers are real enough. The threat to horizontal proliferation is evident. Nuclear testing in India and Pakistan has added a frightening new dimension to political instability in that region. Vertical proliferation, however, remains a challenge.

There has been undeniable progress in nuclear disarmament, but the trend by some to justify retaining nuclear arsenals as a defence against other weapons or on economic grounds is a real worry.

Those of us who were at the conference of the IPU in Brussels will remember the discussion about why we cannot expect all the holders of nuclear weapons and missiles to get rid of them in a hurry. It is hard just to get rid of them. The prospect of the illicit transfer of nuclear weapons is very disturbing.

Honourable senators, I hope that, wherever possible, we will raise the issue and that we will raise it with members of the other place. It will involve a sensitive undertaking, once again, of the population so that we can develop the political will to move our people forward.

I should like to remind honourable senators that Canada remains firmly committed to the role of nuclear non-proliferation. An effective NPT is the centrepiece of a non-proliferation regime. There are only four states that have not signed it. It is the most widely adhered to international security court in history. In a month's time, we will go to an NPT review conference, the first since its extension in 1995. The success of this conference is crucial. The future course of nuclear weapons, attitudes, policies and arsenals is at stake. I suggest, however, that the outlook is quite clouded. There is a sense that the fundamental deal at the heart of the treaty — a promise by those without nuclear weapons not to acquire them in exchange for an undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to eventually get rid of them — is not being respected by some on either side. There is, likewise, a feeling that the commitment by the nuclear weapon states to the concept of "permanence with accountability" — that is, extending the NPT indefinitely in exchange for greater accountability by others — is not being met.

In response to the third point made by the Honourable Senator Roche, which is about Canada's role in the entire area, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said there is a three-fold response: securing agreement to an updated five-year action program with new, concrete objectives for disarmament and non-proliferation; seeking a more robust review and assessment process to give full meaning to the principle of permanence with accountability; and promoting universal adherence to the NPT, with renewed commitment by treaty member states to live up to their obligations. A strengthened NPT is indispensable; so is reinforcing other parts of the non-proliferation regime.

Honourable senators, there are other issues that we will not deal with today, but Canada is pressing in all these areas. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that there should be concern. Canada fully concurs and shares in the worries expressed and the point of view you have raised today. I suggest, however, that unilateral efforts to build defences against these dangers are unlikely to provide a lasting security and might possibly increase insecurity with what is happening around the world.

The other crucial factor in all these efforts is the role of individual citizens and civil society. Political will and energy are required to restore vital momentum to raise the issue of nuclear weapons control and reduction that is not generated in the stale basements of the United Nations or certainly in the closed council chambers in Geneva. In democracies such as ours, there is a vital and important role to be played by citizens. In order to capture the minds and the hearts of people, we must work collaboratively with the NGOs. They are a vital and important force.

I would commend the NGOs to continue their effort. In discussion with Senator Roche earlier, I asked how we can tackle the notion that we should be moving forward with great energy. Perhaps we could all face the cabinet and tell them that this has to stop now. He said that the only way we will move this forward is to ensure that the NGOs gather 10,000 to 20,000 people, line them up on Parliament Hill and yell. I do not think that will get us very far now, but I do think that tens of thousands of people need to get out there and let MPs know that this is where we want to go. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs certainly knows. He has provided an undertaking to make things work well at the UN Security Council, and we wish him well in trying to meet the goals and aspirations of Canadians.

An important comment was made at the UN General Assembly in its Declaration on the Prevention of Nuclear Catastrophe in 1981, which summarized all the foregoing facts. A senator brought that to our attention. It stated that:

All the horrors of past wars and other calamities that have befallen people would pale in comparison with what is inherent in the use of nuclear weapons capable of destroying civilization on earth.

This is the ultimate evil.

(1750)

Honourable senators, I hope we will move on this motion. It is well founded and most fortuitous at this particular time. I hope the discussions go well on April 24 and afterwards.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on behalf of the opposition, I commend our colleague Senator Roche for continuing with an initiative in this field in which he has already distinguished himself and in which he has brought credit to his country.

We certainly support the recommendations that the Senate would give to the Government of Canada urging that the nuclear weapons states give their unequivocal commitment to take action towards the total elimination of their nuclear weapons, as called for by the Non-Proliferation Treaty which, as already mentioned, will be reviewed this April and May.

In addressing this motion and the recommendation that it makes to the Government of Canada, I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King who once stated: "I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation."

Those words came to mind as I reflected during these two excellent interventions this afternoon. I wondered about the frame of reference, the model of analysis at the beginning of the 21st century within which the question of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons ought to be cast. The question I ask is whether the paradigm of the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s is the appropriate paradigm for framing international action to achieve the objective of a world that is free of nuclear arms.

It seems to me that there are some very important principles but, effectively, the international community did develop during that era. On the one hand, the dynamics of international politics then demonstrated a step-by-step approach to dealing with the early attempts to limit nuclear arms. On the other hand, it was facilitated perhaps in more recent times by the geo-political change in the world community, particularly with the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Perhaps we should review what was happening then. That might be helpful as our government and other governments attempt to deal with eradication from the world community of nuclear arms.

We have perceived in the human rights field a move from a first generation of human rights dealing with civil and political rights issues, to a second generation of rights dealing with economic, social and cultural rights. Now a new generation of rights has been achieved by the world community in recent times and it has been referred to as solidarity rights, environmental rights and rights to peace. In the world community, our international culture in the year 2000 is the culture, to use the jargon, of "the global village." It may be jargon but it is true.

Not only is there a political restructuring, an economic structuring of which we often speak, there is a world cultural restructuring which is taking place.

Perhaps our government and other governments can attempt to conceptualize new world policy and the elimination of nuclear weapons in terms of this new generation of rights which speaks to the solidarity of all people. These weapons of mass destruction can affect each and every one of us on planet Earth. This is why it is a solidarity issue. I simply submit that proposition.

The non-governmental organizations which have been referenced obviously play a critical role, not only in this area but in so many other areas. Sometimes it would appear that non-governmental organizations are ahead of governments. We need not be surprised by that. Although some policy-makers resist the pressures which are brought to bear on public issues by non-governmental organizations, generally speaking, all governments attend quite judiciously to non-governmental organizations' comments.

We should remind ourselves of one of the things which most impressed Alexis de Tocqueville upon his visit to America in the last century. He wrote of it in his book on America and he stated his belief that the key to American democracy and freedom was the existence and the activity of so many non-governmental organizations.

I should like to underscore Senator Finestone's comments, not simply because it is the politically correct thing to say, but rather because the role of the non-governmental organizations speaks directly to international solidarity.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt this motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to.

[Translation]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(l)(h), I move:

That, when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29, 2000, at 1:30 p.m.;

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 position.

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, March 29, 2000, at 1:30 p.m.