The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we begin
tributes to the Honourable Senator Perry Poirier and the
Honourable Senator Ruck, I should like to advise you that in our
gallery is Mrs. Joyce Ruck and her son, Douglas.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, I think all
of us in this chamber tonight have reflected at sometime or
another on the beautiful words of Dr. Martin Luther King, which
he delivered in Memphis the day before his tragic death. He
spoke about a dream, a dream that his children would one day
live in a nation where they would not be judged by the colour of
their skin but by the content of their character. That dream lived
on. It lived on in all those people whose lives were shaped and
guided by it and in all those people who believed that the
challenges and injustices and inequities in life could always be
beaten. Yes, they could always be beaten by the indomitable
power of the human heart and the human spirit.
Senator Calvin Woodrow Ruck has spent a long, fulfilling
lifetime guided by that dream, guided by the content of his
character. In all the years he worked as a labourer and a porter
with the CNR, and as a cleaner at CFB Shearwater, he kept his
heart and his mind focused squarely on the promised land of
freedom. Whether he served in community development or as a
social worker or as a human rights officer who played a key role
in the desegregation of public accommodation, Cal always
looked with the heart. He would give freely of his time and his
energy to the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of
Coloured Peoples, among many others, winning a long list of
honours in this country as a result.
Tonight I refer to only a few of these, such as the Certificate of
Honour from the Black Hall of Fame, the National Harry Jerome
Award, along with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from
Dalhousie University. In 1995, he was made a member of the
Order of Canada.
Senator Ruck has spent a lifetime fighting for a country in
which our children and our grandchildren will have the fair
opportunity to do their very best, a country where they will have
the right to grow up equal, a country where children would not
be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of
Calvin Ruck rarely missed an opportunity to proudly remind
us in this chamber of the enormous contribution made to this
country by black veterans in both world wars. Tonight, we bid
adieu to a man who has always distinguished himself from those
who may have the privilege of sight but who do not have the rare
gift of vision. He has distinguished himself from those who fail
to understand that the real things in life, such as hope and
compassion, tolerance and human rights, are often invisible to
Calvin, it has been an honour and a privilege to have served
with you in this chamber, and I join all honourable senators in
wishing you and Joyce and Douglas — who is with his mother
up in the gallery tonight — good health and much happiness in
the years that lie ahead.
Honourable senators, all of us who know and love Atlantic
Canada would agree that one of the loveliest sights that graces
the landscape is —
...the tricolour flag, with its star, a mark of national pride...
The beautiful Acadian flag has flown proudly over a warm and
talented people — a people who faced one of the cruellest events
of the colonial period, the tragic deportations of 1755 to 1763.
While the star represents the Assumption, the special feast day
of the Acadian people, it was also designed to symbolize the star
of the sea, which guided sailors through tempests and around
threatening reefs. In fact, the star of gold is a symbol of a people
who travelled with courage and strength across some of the most
turbulent and troubled waters on the planet. Because of the hard
work and dedication of local educators and community leaders,
like retiring Senator Melvin Perry Poirier, this colourful, proud,
culturally rich and vibrant people continue to follow that star.
An accomplished educator, Senator Perry Poirier has been the
leading promoter of the Acadian culture on Prince Edward
Island. His distinguished 34-year teaching career culminated
with his 15-year tenure as principal of St. Louis School in the
gentle province where the Fathers of Confederation negotiated
the Terms of Union and conceived the great national dream.
All the while, Senator Perry Poirier earned special recognition
and respect for his continuing fight for the linguistic rights of the
Acadians on the Island, which included service with the
St. Thomas Aquinas Society, La Voix Acadienne ltée, and
Entente Canada Communauté.
In the Senate of Canada, Senator Perry Poirier has continued
to serve with equal dedication on the Fisheries Committee.
A teacher affects eternity, it was once said. He or she can
never tell where their influence will stop. Tonight, as we wish
Senator Perry Poirier much happiness in his retirement from this
chamber, we think of the proud esprit de l'Acadie that he has
helped so much to foster. We think of a nation that has fought all
the vicissitudes of history, and, following its star, now basks in
the sunshine of proud accomplishment.
We remember, as we say au revoir, that it has been the hard
work and vision of Acadian educators like Senator Perry Poirier
that has helped to keep the dream alive, no matter where they or
their cousins throughout North America may live and flourish,
under the proud flag of the star of the sea, and into a shared new
chapter in a courageous history.
I wish Senator Perry an excellent retirement and many happy
times with his entire family.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, it is
difficult to imagine summing up the life of anyone, let alone the
life of the Honourable Calvin Ruck, who is a Cape Bretoner, a
Nova Scotian, a Canadian, and a staunch defender of his culture.
Few in this chamber can begin to understand the experiences of a
black community activist in the Nova Scotia that I have known
so well through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and through to
the year 2000.
The Honourable Calvin Ruck, as honourable senators know,
was born in Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, and attended Sydney
Academy. He started his life there, as Senator Graham has just
indicated, as a labourer with Dominion Steel and Coal, and went
to work as a porter with Canadian National Railway. He then
worked as a cleaner at CFB Shearwater — a place where I spent
a large part of my life playing basketball, and as a member of the
sea cadet corps. Senator Ruck spent a number of years there. He
was a voter. I am not sure quite how he voted, but I could guess.
In 1968, Senator Ruck went to work as a community
development officer, serving in that position until 1981. During
that period of time, he attended the Maritime School of Social
Work, at Dalhousie University, where in 1979 he earned a
diploma in social work. What must have been for him years and
years of built-up desire finally found the moulding and the
training that allowed him to pursue his greatest goals, and those,
of course, related to his community.
From 1981 to 1986, Senator Ruck was an unpaid adviser to the
Human Rights Commission of the Province of Nova Scotia. He
tirelessly worked to eradicate the last vestiges of segregation in
our province, for which all Nova Scotians are eternally grateful.
God bless Senator Ruck for that. I know Nova Scotians join me
in that sentiment.
From 1986 to 1990, he was a community school coordinator at
the Dartmouth School Board. It was a worthy record of public
service that Canada and Canadians were not finished with the
Honourable Calvin Ruck, and he was thus called to the Senate.
Honourable senators, Calvin has been honoured, as Senator
Graham has said, time and again for his service to black
Nova Scotians, Nova Scotia, and indeed Canada. He received the
Certificate of Honour in 1981 from the Black Hall of Fame, the
Freda Vickery Award for Social Work in 1987, the National
Harry Jerome Award in 1992, the 125th Canada Anniversary
Medal, an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Dalhousie University
in 1994, and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1995.
As a personal note, some of you will know that I am a great
fan of military history, and Senator Ruck's work entitled "The
Black Batallion 1916-1920, Canada's Best Kept Military Secret"
is a worthy addition to our understanding of the First World War,
Canadian society at the time, and the experience of black
This hallowed place has been made all the richer due to your
valued ideas and experiences, Senator Ruck. It is my hope that
you enjoy your years of retirement with your wife, Joyce, and
with your family.
Never have I seen you without a smile on your face, a smile
I hope and know sprung from a job that you feel so far is half but
very well done. We look forward to the next half.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, Senator Perry Poirier
was appointed to the Senate only a few months ago. I should like
you all to know how much I have appreciated having him here,
first, for all that he symbolizes: the perseverance of the Acadian
community of his Island, kindness, dignity and a constant
willingness to help. He has shown those qualities to me,
personally, and I shall never forget him.
As for Senator Ruck, I was fortunate enough to be given the
seat next to his on the day I first arrived in this chamber, and I
have been fortunate enough to share a seat with him ever since.
We were talking soon after I arrived. He told me something of
his history, some of the history that has been recited by my
predecessors in this debate. He told me about how, when he was
a porter on the trains, he was a porter because in those days that
was all a black man could be. Black men were not even allowed
to work in the kitchens on trains. They were not allowed to peel
potatoes for the white people to eat. He told me about the years
he had spent studying and working. He told me about the time
when he and his wife were buying land to build a house and the
neighbours on the street took up a petition to say he should not
be allowed to move in there because he was black and they
Senator Ruck told me a number of things that made me
ashamed for my country, but what struck me most forcefully was
that he told me these things with an absolute absence of rancour.
He told me these stories as lessons that should be known because
we must know from where we come, all of us, but he told them
with absolutely no rancour, no resentment and no bitterness, only
with an equally absolute tenacity for the search for justice. These
stories were, and remain to me, a most moving testimony about
what one Canadian can do, starting from even the most
It has been a privilege for me to sit beside Senator Ruck.
Sometimes when I speak to audiences outside this chamber I tell
them about his story. I see their faces shine at the beginning with
shame but at the end with pride.
Senator Ruck, it has been an honour. I wish you and your
family much happiness in your retirement.
Hon. Mabel M. DeWare: Honourable senators, I am pleased
to add my voice personally, and on behalf of my colleagues on
this side of the chamber, to those paying tribute this evening to
our colleague, Senator Melvin Perry. At the same time, I am
saddened by his imminent retirement from our ranks. We shall
certainly miss him.
Although Senator Perry has not served as long as some in this
chamber, he has, in his relatively short time with us,
distinguished himself as a man of intelligence, integrity and
compassion. These are qualities that stood him well in his
34 years as an educator and that enabled him to help prepare so
many young people for successful careers and adulthood. The
students at St. Louis School were lucky indeed to receive his
guidance and counsel, both as a teacher and as a principal. His
local community, as well as his fellow Acadians in
Prince Edward Island, also knew the benefit of his hard work and
dedication to many worthwhile causes in the community.
The people of Canada, and Prince Edward Island in particular,
as well as the province's Acadian community, also have reason to
be grateful for the contribution Senator Perry has made to
They are not the only lucky ones, honourable senators. We are
fortunate he has shared his experiences and ideas with us, too. He
has added to the public debate on a variety of issues that have
aroused his passion and his sense of justice. He spoke eloquently
in the chamber on a number of occasions including, as
honourable senators may recall, during the recent debate on
Senator Perry has also worked hard as a member of the
Fisheries Committee under the guidance of Senator Comeau to
help ensure that the concerns of Canada's fishing community are
properly aired and addressed, and I imagine he paid special
attention to his own Prince Edward Island.
It is not surprising that Senator Perry is keenly interested in
fishing issues, as he hails from our wonderful island which,
incidentally, is one of my favourite spots. While I have not had
the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with him personally,
I must confess to a certain affection for his island, a place my
husband Ralph and I visited on a great many sailing holidays.
Of course, the fact that Senator Perry studied in my home
province of New Brunswick also raises him in my estimation.
I should like to wish Senator Perry many long and joyous days
as he spends his well-deserved retirement in the sunshine and
serenity of the island. Although he was fortunate that his wife,
Anita, has been able to travel back and forth with him to Ottawa,
I know that he will enjoy spending more time with her and the
children and grandchildren. I am certain that they will be thrilled
to have him home once again.
With that to look forward to, honourable senators, we in this
chamber are sure to miss Senator Perry's contribution and his
companionship more than he will miss us.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is my
pleasure to rise this evening to pay tribute to our colleague the
Honourable Calvin Ruck. He has been with us just a short time,
but he has taught us a great deal about courage. Calvin Ruck has
spent his lifetime in a series of acts of courage, and the dignity
with which he bears the physical ailments that he now has is
simply one more example of his fortitude and dignity as a
Honourable senators, as many of you know, although
I represent the province of Manitoba in this chamber, I was born
and raised in the province of Nova Scotia. However, I grew up in
quite a different atmosphere to that of Senator Ruck. While I was
white, economically advantaged, and with opportunities for a
quality education, Senator Ruck had to strive to achieve equality
in an atmosphere that was far less than equal.
My one regret is that it took me until I was a university student
to understand the blatant discrimination in my city and province
toward the indigenous black community. I did not learn these
lessons from black Nova Scotians. I learned them from foreign
students from the Caribbean who taught me of their difficulties in
finding accommodation, getting services like haircuts, and being
served with dispatch in stores and restaurants. I simply had no
contact with black Nova Scotians. Segregation may not have
been the law, but it was quite often the fact.
Senator Ruck grew up experiencing every one of these things
and much more. What has inspired me since his arrival in the
Senate is the courage and the strength of the human spirit that
Senator Ruck possesses.
Senator Ruck has every reason to have a chip on his shoulder.
He does not. He simply did not have time for such a chip to
grow, as he was too busy fighting wrongs so that future
children, his own, his grandchildren and all other black children
in Nova Scotia would have the advantages that he did not.
In the summer of 1963, I was in Washington in front of the
Lincoln Memorial when Martin Luther King gave his famous
speech, "I Have a Dream." Senator Ruck has made that dream
possible for many Nova Scotians of black descent by his
courage, by his strength, by his dignity, and in a quiet way,
although sometimes he was loud if the occasion called for it.
I thank him for all that he is and all that he has accomplished.
Senator Ruck, it has been my privilege to call you a colleague.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I was sorry to
learn at the start of this evening's session that the time had come
to bid my good friend Senator Perry farewell. I should have liked
to have had a bit more time to prepare a suitable tribute, but you
will have to accept what I have to offer, Senator Perry.
I had the honour and privilege of sitting on the Fisheries
Committee with you. I congratulate you on your commitment to
your beloved province, Prince Edward Island, your great interest
in promoting the fisheries, your work on the committee, and your
general sense of commitment. I should add, former school
principal that he was, Senator Perry had perfect attendance as a
Fisheries Committee member.
Senator Graham has already mentioned your devotion to the
Acadian community of Prince Edward Island. You have shown
equal devotion throughout your whole time in Ottawa.
Senator Perry has always shared his sense of humour with his
colleagues. He and Senator Mahovlich have become great
friends. They were certainly the Mutt and Jeff of the Fisheries
Committee, but I do not know which was Mutt and which
I should like to talk about the whales at Tofino on the coast of
British Columbia, where Senator Perry tried to persuade Senator
Mahovlich that one of the rocks in the ocean looked like a
Prince Edward Island whale.
I must point out that the Fisheries Committee was the only
committee in Ottawa with both a Perry and a Comeau as
members! This was a good attention-grabber in many places.
It only takes a few minutes to get to know Senator Perry. He
instantly becomes your friend. Even outside politics, I have never
heard Senator Perry express a political idea that I could not
support. It sometimes scared me to be that close to a Liberal, but
maybe Maritimers or Acadians are like that.
Your fellow citizens in St. Louis are rightly proud of your
contribution here in Ottawa, Senator Perry. Your stay with us has
been too short, but quality, not quantity, is what counts. And
while you were here, you did not sit on the sidelines.
As Fisheries Committee Chair, I greatly appreciated your
presence, for you were always there to support me. On behalf of
the people of St. Mary Bay in Nova Scotia, I say "au revoir", till
we meet again.
In closing, I also wish to take this opportunity to wish
Senator Ruck "bon voyage."
I did not get a chance to know Senator Ruck as well as I got to
know Senator Perry, but from all of the esteem and the respect
held for him by Nova Scotians, I can say as well that I think his
stay here in the Senate was very welcome. He has been a
marvellous representative of the people of Nova Scotia and of
the people he tried to represent in a very effective way. I wish
him goodbye as well as "bon voyage."
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I, too,
wish to rise and add my voice to those paying tribute to our
departing colleague from Prince Edward Island Senator Melvin
Perry. Senator Perry was the first Prince Edward Islander of
Acadian descent to be called to this chamber in over 100 years.
This fact speaks to the high degree of respect in which he is held
in our home province.
Soon after Melvin was named to the Senate, I was invited to a
function in his community to honour his appointment. There was
a huge crowd at that event. I think everyone in the area was
there. There was a lot of excitement and people were extremely
happy. In fact, one would have thought that everyone there had
been appointed to the Senate. At that gathering, there was a
tremendous sense of pride in the fact that one from their area
would now represent them in the Senate of Canada.
Senator Perry comes from a proud Acadian heritage. As
Senator Graham has already mentioned, throughout his career he
has worked tirelessly to promote Acadian culture in the province
of Prince Edward Island and he continued to do that in carrying
out his senatorial duties here.
I know that all who have had the opportunity to work with
Senator Perry in this place can testify to his hard work and his
dedication. He was particularly active in the Fisheries
Committee, and Senator Comeau, who is chairman of that
committee, has just spoken to the great work that Senator Perry
did in that committee.
Melvin, although you have only been in the Senate a short
time, your presence and your dedication to the people of Prince
Edward Island will be sorely missed. I know that back home in
the province of Prince Edward Island, you will continue to work
for the good of all. I wish both you and Anita many excellent
years filled with health and happiness.
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, today we are honouring an individual who
has left an amazing mark on his colleagues in this place. I am
proud to say as I stand here that Senator Ruck is from Sydney, as
I am. Once from Sydney, by the way, always from Sydney.
Senator Forrestall: They will not hold that against him.
Senator Boudreau: Senator Ruck went to Sydney Academy,
as I did, so I share that background with him.
Senator Forrestall: What happened to you?
Senator Boudreau: While I have only worked with Senator
Ruck in this chamber for a relatively short period of time, I am
familiar with his distinguished record of social activism in
Nova Scotia. Also, I had the pleasure of a close association from
time to time with his late brother, Winston, who was president of
the United Steel Workers of America and was very kind and
patient in educating a young and inexperienced labour lawyer in
Sydney. When I came to the Senate and met Senator Ruck,
I quickly discovered that patience and kindness were
Ruck family traits.
Senator Ruck has been well recognized as a social worker,
community activist, volunteer, historian, a man who truly cares
about his community.
Through his community development work and his writing, as
Senator Forrestall mentioned, he has brought about a greater
awareness and appreciation of the contribution that black
Nova Scotians have made to his province and to his country.
Senator Ruck has added a diversity of knowledge and cultural
understanding to the Senate which is so vital to representing
effectively all Canadians.
On many occasions, Senator Ruck has risen in his seat to
speak about issues close to his heart. These include the
contributions of the Black Service Battalion in World War I, the
anniversary of legislation introduced in Nova Scotia concerning
human rights, and the appropriate marking of graves of black
veterans in World War I.
Senator Ruck, you will be missed in this place. However, I am
certain your family, your friends and your neighbours will be
very pleased to have you back in Nova Scotia again on a
full-time basis. We wish you and your family all the best in your
Hon. John Buchanan: Honourable senators, this will sound
almost as though I am repeating Senator Boudreau but I am not.
Like Senator Ruck, I am a native of Sydney. I shall say the
same as Senator Boudreau, once a Sydney man, always a Sydney
man. I am a Cape Bretoner. Senator Ruck is a Cape Bretoner.
I worked in the Sydney steel plant. I was a member of the United
Steelworkers of America. I knew the Ruck family of Sydney
very well, in particular one very distinguished Ruck by the name
of Winston who, over the years, became a close personal friend
of mine, as Calvin knows.
I was very honoured, as I am this evening to tell honourable
senators, that Calvin Ruck accepted an appointment to serve on
the Human Rights Commission of Nova Scotia during
I was present with him on many occasions in Dartmouth at the
Black Cultural Centre of which I was made an honorary member.
It was probably not at the same time as Senator Ruck was made
a member of the Black Hall of Fame, but it was around that time
in the early 1980s.
Senator Ruck's brother, Winston, was an extraordinary
individual. I was very pleased to have appointed him to various
boards in Nova Scotia, and Winston was always so pleased to
serve on those boards with great distinction, as of course was
Calvin over the years.
I like to look upon Senator Ruck as a social worker
extraordinaire. I do not think there is anything — and Senator
Forrestall would know more about this — that has gone on in
social activism in the Dartmouth area with which Calvin Ruck
has not been associated in one way or the other.
Calvin, you have been here in the Senate for two years. In that
period of time you have made your mark here, the same way as
you made your mark in Nova Scotia over the years in the field of
social work and community activism.
As Senator Boudreau said, I know that Senator Ruck's family
will be very pleased to have him home, but I want to tell
honourable senators something about Senator Ruck. If you think
for one minute that he will just go home and do nothing, you are
very wrong, for Senator Ruck will continue to make his mark. He
will continue to do things for others, which has been the mark of
his life as a steelworker and as an employee of Canadian
National Railways. Calvin Ruck will always be that person who,
after graduating with his social work diploma, worked diligently
with the black community of Nova Scotia and with many
involved in social work and social activism.
Senator Ruck, we shall miss you. I will miss your company on
the flights to Halifax and coming back. Just being here with you
over the last number of years made one feel very comfortable.
God speed to you and to your family as you leave the Senate
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Calvin Woodrow Ruck: Honourable senators, first,
I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to the gentlemen
and ladies who spoke on my behalf. Your kind words were very
touching. I am pleased to know that people appreciate the efforts
I have made to date.
Mine was a very unexpected appointment. I will tell
honourable senators briefly how it all came about. I received a
phone call from a gentleman claiming to be a staff member in the
Prime Minister's Office who wanted to know if I would allow
my name to go on the short list. I had no idea at all what the short
list was for. It was all brand new to me. As my wife often says,
I am not normally a person associated with politics. I think her
exact words were, "He is not a political person." There is a lot of
truth in that.
However, I have learned some things during my two years
here. It has been a good experience. I have had a great deal of
help from my fellow colleagues with respect to how the system
works. It has been very interesting and very educational for me.
After a number of years at home, taking it easy and doing a little
gardening, this has been very good. I have met some wonderful
people and we have come a long way.
I like the phrase "the winds of change" which people use when
speaking about human rights. The remark was coined by the late
Sir Harold MacMillan when he was prime minister of
Great Britain. He pleaded with the people of South Africa to
recognize "the winds of change." His words fell on deaf ears.
However, Nelson Mandela then came onto the stage and they
literally wiped out of the political scene those people who did not
see them as equal persons.
I have had no problems here. No one rebuffed me. I did not
run into any racism. We have come a long way, and we still have
a long way to go.
To finish my story, when the gentleman from the PMO called
I put him on hold for a period. I then told him that I had to think
about it and discuss the matter with my wife. It is not an easy
matter to just close your house up, put a lock on the door and go
off. We thought about it for awhile, and my wife was in favour of
it. When he called again, I told him I was still giving it some
consideration. Finally, a telephone call came from the
Prime Minister himself. It is quite an honour to have the Prime
Minister call. I put him on hold for a brief period while I was still
thinking about it.
I am glad I decided to come to Ottawa. It has been a wonderful
experience for me. I have learned something about Parliament
Hill. I knew nothing whatsoever about politics. As my wife says,
I am not a political person. I have met some wonderful people
here, some of whom I knew before. They have helped me along
the way. We have come a long way in terms of race relations.
I recall my first visit to the city of Toronto. The train arrived
late and did not serve any breakfast. A friend of mine, who had
just got out of the army, and I decided to go to a restaurant not far
from the CNR station, and we were turned away. When we asked
why, we were told that blacks had caused quite a stir in the prior
couple of weeks. We said that we were not from Toronto but
were visitors to the city. That, apparently, did not matter. We
have run into stumbling blocks, but the winds of change
Prime Minister Trudeau brought in the Canadian Human
Rights Act. That legislation had a major impact on black
communities and on my life. We do not have to be afraid now to
go into barbershops. I recall going into a barbershop run by the
president of the barber's union in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I do
not know if other honourable senators have ever sat in the chair
of an angry barber. It is a frightening thing. He was angry
because he knew I was within my rights to receive service from
him. I told that barber that to refuse to serve me was to break the
law. The human rights people visited him and straightened him
out. We have come a long way, indeed.
Honourable senators, this is a wonderful country in which to
live. Conditions have improved considerably in Nova Scotia.
One thing I have learned from living in both Nova Scotia cities is
that Sydney is light years ahead of Halifax in terms of
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Ruck: I worked alongside Cape Bretoners in the steel
plant at Devco and got along quite well. Minority persons, blacks
and immigrants from Hungary and other Western countries had
the same kind of problems that blacks did. There was
discrimination in terms of jobs to which blacks could aspire, but
we made a living. Most of our relatives and friends came from
the West Indies. They came to a brand new environment and
climate. They found living in Sydney a wonderful experience.
That city could serve as a model for the rest of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Melvin Perry Poirier: Honourable senators, when
Senator Ruck spoke about the past, I could not help but think
about what the Acadians went through a few centuries ago.
I am also familiar with the deportation of the Acadians. I am
not going to talk about history this evening. I wish to thank all
those who had such kind things to say about me. I am not sure if
it is all true, but I appreciated it just the same.
I should like to take this opportunity to thank the
Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, for
appointing me to the Senate last summer, and also
Senator Graham. I should also like to thank all those who helped
me during my stay in Ottawa. I cannot name you all individually
for fear of forgetting someone. Spending time among you in
recent months has been quite an experience for me, a very
Honourable senators, I wish to sincerely thank you all for the
concern you have shown me. May you all have a very
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I call for
Senators' Statements, I should like to draw your attention to a
particular visitor in our gallery, one of our past senators, the
Honourable Joan Neiman.
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, when I returned home last Friday to
Calgary, I noted at the airport that all the flags on public
buildings and many flags on other buildings were flying at half
mast. I learned that this was out of respect and in mourning for
the loss of the Honourable John Walter Grant MacEwan, who is
in his ninety-seventh year. I rise to pay tribute to him now.
Grant MacEwan was born in Brandon, Manitoba, in 1902.
Although he was educated in Guelph, Ontario, and Idaho, having
spent the beginning of his career teaching agriculture at the
University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba, it is
as an Albertan that he will be remembered.
Grant MacEwan was a man who enjoyed a rich and surprising
variety in life. It was after his days as an academic that he
started, as he would say, "poking into politics."
Grant MacEwan was an alderman in the City of Calgary, a
member of the Alberta legislature and a leader of the Liberal
Party of Alberta. Grant MacEwan was also a very popular mayor
of the City of Calgary. It is in this capacity that I remember him
best, as he succeeded my father in that role.
Shortly after serving as mayor, Grant MacEwan was appointed
Lieutenant-Governor by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Grant
MacEwan proved to be one of Alberta's most-loved
lieutenant-governors. During his time in office, he logged over
400,000 kilometres within the province, participating in
countless events and touching fellow Albertans with his humour,
honesty, thrift and modesty.
Grant MacEwan was also a prolific writer, storyteller and
historian, having published 56 books in his long life. Albertans
do not remember Grant MacEwan primarily for his public roles
or achievements, but instead for what he represented. In a way,
Grant MacEwan represented what Albertans most want to be and
what we are at our best.
Grant MacEwan was able to relate to all people, no matter
their station in life. His kindness, generosity, modesty and
legendary thriftiness left lasting impressions on the province. His
devotion to agriculture and history made him a remarkable
combination of what great men are: a man of his time, yet deeply
rooted in the past.
Grant MacEwan will be honoured by a state funeral on
Tuesday. His leadership, vision, character and presence will be
missed in Alberta and Canada. His example, however, will live
on in the lives of the countless people he touched in his very
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I also rise to pay
tribute to the Honourable Grant MacEwan. To reflect on the life
of Grant MacEwan almost takes your breath away. He was a
giant of a man. He was a professor, a writer, an historian, a
conservationist, an agricultural specialist, a former mayor of
Calgary, Alberta's lieutenant-governor, a philanthropist and an
author of some 55 books.
It is hard to speak of Grant MacEwan without breaking out all
of the superlatives.
I associate Grant MacEwan mostly with Grant MacEwan
Community College in Edmonton, which carries his name and to
which he came every year from Calgary, by bus, staying at the
YMCA. So modest and humble was this great Canadian figure.
He energized and inspired students with just his presence.
To hear him speak was a thrill.
Although tributes to Grant MacEwan are pouring in and will
culminate in a state funeral tomorrow, I believe the finest tribute
came from his granddaughter, Fiona Foran, who said of her
grandfather, "He was a person of the people."
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Honourable senators, I, too, wish
to say a word about J.W. Grant MacEwan. He was my
predecessor for some years as Liberal leader in the Province of
Alberta. In the early 1950s, when I first took an interest in
politics, I worked on Grant's campaign. He was a great
environmentalist, with an agricultural background. He was not a
religious man, but he found a god in the birds, animals and
flowers. His oneness with the environment appealed to me very
strongly and is one of the reasons I joined the Liberal Party
and stayed with it throughout the years. We always had a
Grant MacEwan was six feet four inches tall, with a stride to
match. When you talked with Grant, you had to have stamina
because he was always going somewhere. You had to dogtrot
alongside of him or you would lose the conversation.
As Senator Roche mentioned, Grant knew how to look after a
nickel, not only his own but those of taxpayers. Whether he was
mayor of Calgary or lieutenant-governor, he wanted to ensure
that every penny went as far as possible.
Due to an inherited condition, I began using a hearing aid
30 or 40 years ago, at the same time as Grant MacEwan did.
I recall discussing with him the use of batteries in our hearing
aids. He told me that one battery had already lasted him two
months, I believe. I asked how that could be. He said that as long
as you keep your hair short, everyone can see your hearing aid
and they yell at you. That way, you do not need to turn it on.
There is no use trying to gild the lily about Grant MacEwan,
talking only about his achievements. I should like to tell some
stories about his more human side.
In the late 1930s or early 1940s, Mr. Aberhart and
Mr. Manning, Sr. of the Social Credit Party, the forerunner of our
present Canadian Alliance Party, were very upset with the
lieutenant-governor of the day who would not approve a bill, so
they cut the heat off in government house and forced the
lieutenant-governor to move out. They then auctioned off all the
furniture for very little. Thereafter, lieutenant-governors, who
were usually people of some substance, looked after their own
living expenses when they relocated to Edmonton.
Grant was appointed lieutenant-governor in 1965 when
Mr. Lougheed first became premier. Having no budget did not
bother Grant; he rented a very modest home just north of the
legislature, which is not the highest rent district of Edmonton by
As premiers are wont to do from time to time, Mr. Lougheed
had to call on the lieutenant-governor to get him to sign
something. He called Grant around lunchtime to see whether he
could come over, and Grant said, "Sure, come on over."
I happened to be visiting at the time as well.
Grant had moved up from Calgary and wanted to save
expenses. The premier must have been suspicious of such a
modest looking bungalow. He came in to find that the only
furniture in the place was one mattress in the corner of the living
room and two apples boxes. Grant, a vegetarian, was cooking his
soup on a Bunsen burner in the middle of the floor. The new
premier of a province that was going to take over the world had
to sit on one apple box while Grant sat on the other. I had
It was not 48 hours before Premier Lougheed had bought a
nice home in a high rent district for the lieutenant-governor to
I tell that story only to warn that the Governor General may
expect to be thrown out, with furniture auctioned off, if
descendants of that group come into power.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I, too, should
like to say a few words of praise and adulation in remembrance
of the late Grant MacEwan. Being a young country, Canada may
not have as many heroes as other much older nations.
Grant MacEwan was born just before the Province of Alberta
was created. He was a child of the Northwest Territories. He has
done all the things and more that senators speaking before me
have told of. In addition, he was a very special person over many
decades to children in Alberta. He was a man full of joy,
kindness and wit, and he never stopped learning. He conveyed
that to the very end.
Also, regardless of the toll taken by the passing years, Grant
MacEwan never wanted to be left out of the action. The last time
I saw him was about three years ago at a pancake breakfast on
the morning of the Calgary Stampede parade. He was out at the
crack of dawn to participate in a great Canadian pastime.
Grant was a tremendous gentleman. His work in terms of
writing and his heritage in terms of the college in Edmonton will
always be remembered. Most of all, he will be remembered as a
pioneer, a man of the people, and a man who very deeply loved
his city of Calgary, his province of Alberta and his country
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I wish to associate
myself with the comments of previous senators in respect of
Dr. Grant MacEwan, who was not merely an accessible person in
all of his various careers but who actually reached out to the
people and became, as Senator Roche has said, a man of the
people in every conceivable way.
As we speak, thousands of Albertans are filing past the
catafalque in the rotunda of the Alberta legislature, expressing
their regret at his passing and celebrating his life. As senators
have mentioned, there will be a state funeral tomorrow, which it
will be my duty and pleasure to attend. I believe that
Senator Taylor will also be there. We will mark the passing of a
Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Special Senate Committee on
Bill C-20, presented the following report:
Monday, June 19, 2000
The Special Senate Committee on Bill C-20 has the
honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-20, An Act
to give effect to the requirement for clarity as set out in the
opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec
Secession Reference, has, in obedience to the Order of
Reference of Thursday, May 18, 2000, examined the said
Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
bill be read the third time?
Some Hon. Senators: Never!
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): At
the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable
senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: On division!
Motion agreed to, on division, and bill placed on the Orders of
the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Report of Judicial Compensation and
Notice of Motion to Refer to the Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I give notice that tomorrow, Tuesday,
June 20, I shall move:
That the Report of the Judicial Compensation and
Benefits Commission, dated May 31, 2000, tabled in the
Senate on June 15, 2000, be referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, pursuant to
subsection 26(6.1) of the Judges Act.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message
had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-42,
for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public
service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2001.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this
bill be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Hays, bill placed on the Orders of the
Day for second reading two days hence.
Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, with leave of the
Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology have power to sit on Tuesday,
June 20, 2000, at 5:00 p.m., even though the Senate may
then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Honourable senators, on behalf of
Honourable Senator Spivak, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources,
with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I
That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources have power to sit at
5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20, 2000, for the purpose of
hearing witnesses for its study of Bill C-11, to authorize the
divestiture of the assets of, and to dissolve, the Cape Breton
Development Corporation, to amend the Cape Breton
Development Corporation Act and to make consequential
amendments to other Acts, even though the Senate may then
be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I am hard
pressed to give leave. It is a dastardly thing being done to my
Senator Taylor: Back to the coal mines!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Request for Moratorium on Heritage Lighthouses while
Fisheries Committee Reviews Bill S-21
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have a
brief question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
As the leader knows, Bill S-21, to protect heritage lighthouses,
is enjoying some measure of support. As the summer passes,
many of Canada's heritage lighthouses might well be removed
from the scene, destroyed, altered, sold and otherwise transferred
or disposed of to the detriment of Canadian history, I suggest,
with the exception of community trusteeships.
Would the minister undertake to go to his colleagues, the
Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Fisheries and
Oceans, and ask that they consider a moratorium with regard to
the disposition of Canada's lighthouses and their outlying
structures until such time as Bill S-21 has had a chance to be
reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I understand that that bill is now before the
Fisheries Committee. I will certainly convey that request to both
ministers. I will probably have an opportunity to do that as early
Nova Scotia—Infestation of Brown Spruce Longhorn
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators,
I personally thank the minister for that response. Might I ask, on
a slightly different question but also involving the environment,
will he be in a position tomorrow to give us a report on the status
of the trees in Point Pleasant Park and whether there has been an
extended infestation off the peninsula of Halifax and onto the
mainland of the province?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I do expect to be able to give a report on
that matter to the honourable senator, and to the Senate generally,
Diplomatic Relations with North Korea—Government
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, there are
some great developments going on internationally. I am referring
to North Korea, where it was strictly forbidden to entertain
friendly relations with a view to enhancing openness to the world
and toward South Korea.
In order to play the role it is proper for us to play, and not to be
one of the last countries to enter into diplomatic relations with
North Korea, which seems to be wanting to open up more to the
world, does the Government of Canada plan, like certain of the
European countries, to establish diplomatic relations with
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, as we speak, I am not aware of any change
in the position of the Government of Canada. As the honourable
senator correctly points out, quite a remarkable development has
occurred with respect to both Koreas, one that might not have
been anticipated by much of the world.
I currently do not know the reaction of the government to that
recent development, but I will make the inquiries of the minister
to determine whether the position of the Government of Canada
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I must say that
some countries in Europe did not wait for the events of last week
to establish a diplomatic relationship. Canada, having that kind
of reputation, could only be a better player if the government
were not to wait for a signal coming from our neighbour but were
to exercise leadership.
Would the minister confer with his colleague and give us an
answer before the end of this session? Perhaps the Leader of the
Government will be able to come back with at least the
beginnings of an answer.
Senator Boudreau: Yes, honourable senators, I believe I can
give that undertaking, and I expect that I should be able to come
back with some sort of answer before we rise for the summer. As
well, I will convey the views of the honourable senator.
Indian Affairs—Financial Support for Lawsuits by
Former Students of Residential Schools—Government
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, can the Leader of
the Government in the Senate state that the government will
respond favourably to a request for financial help by a number of
churches facing hundreds of millions of dollars in legal costs and
liability claims? This matter arises from suits launched by former
residents of aboriginal residential schools who charge a
deprivation of their culture, recognizing that the church schools
were, in actuality, implementing government policy of the time.
Does the government now recognize that it has a responsibility in
this matter, especially since some churches have stated that they
are facing bankruptcy over the issue?
Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I am a bit uncertain of the precise question.
The Honourable Senator Roche makes reference to some
representations or requests that have been made of the
government by the churches to cover legal expenses and so on. I
am not specifically familiar with those requests.
I know that this is a serious issue that is before the government
and before the churches. The churches I am most familiar with,
from a personal point of view, would be those in my own
province. I am not aware of any such request having gone forth
from the Nova Scotian churches, or at least those with which
I am most familiar. I will, however, make inquiries as to whether
the government has received such requests, the details, and
whether the government has formed any response.
Senator Roche: Honourable senators, I thank the minister for
that response. I can inform him, however, that this is an
extremely grave matter involving at least four national churches
that conducted residential schools for a lengthy period of time in
Honourable senators, there are an estimated 5,000 to
7,000 suits now before the courts, and there is a great concern
that the victims will be drawn into a lengthy legal process. This
raises the question of an alternate dispute resolution process at
which the government is looking, a process far superior to
litigation. Alternate dispute resolution stands the best chance of
providing reconciliation and a healing process that includes, but
goes far beyond, monetary compensation.
Will the government take the lead in establishing this alternate
dispute resolution process to bring about the dignified resolution
of a tragic chapter in Canada's history?
Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I believe the
alternate dispute resolution option is very interesting to the
government. While I cannot make any definitive statements at
this point in time, it bears further debate and investigation. One
should take a balanced view on this issue because, as the
honourable senator points out, the parties may be faced with
exhausting huge resources, which will not help the process of
reconciliation with the affected individuals and, indeed, the
churches. On the one hand, one does not want to see resources
used in that manner. The alternate dispute resolution method has
proven to be quite effective in other areas and might well prove
to be effective in this area. However, I know some churches say
that the element of verifiable claim must be involved as well and
that any alternate dispute resolution system must be balanced
with the need for a particular individual to establish a specific
claim. It is a challenging area. I would say simply that the
government is looking seriously at that option.
Hon. Jack Wiebe moved the second reading of Bill C-34, to
amend the Canada Transportation Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I must say that even at this late
hour it gives me a feeling of excitement to have the opportunity
to bring to your attention an important piece of legislation known
as Bill C-34 — excitement because of the tremendous potential
this bill will have for agriculture and for our rural way of life
throughout the West and all of Canada.
Honourable senators, the amendments contained in this bill are
crafted to respond directly to key problems that exist in the grain
However, since Saskatchewan and Alberta became provinces
in 1905 and completed this nation from sea to sea, transportation
has played a vital role in not only the development of our
province but of the West and, indeed, in its survival.
Justice Estey, in his report to the minister, stated:
The sale of grain, oil seeds and related products injects into
our national finances about $12 billion a year. As an
example of this industry's national importance, it should be
noted that the grain industry pays one-quarter —
Recently that has been about $1.5 billion annually.
— of all the freight revenue of our principal
railways....Another $300 million is spent to transport grain
from the farm to domestic customers. Without this cash
infusion, our national railway system as it now stands would
not be viable.
Throughout the three years of the consultation process that led
to Bill C-34, the government heard from different and often
conflicting interests. The bill was examined in detail in the other
place, and the Standing Committee on Transport heard from a
wide range of interests. In all, about 30 organizations were heard
in the other place: the Canadian Wheat Board, railways and
shipper organizations, the provinces, unions and others.
There may be some, as I understand it, who are concerned that
the government took too much time to table this legislation. The
other side of the coin is that the grain industry, even after two
years of study and consultation, remained deadlocked on several
key issues. Had there been consensus, I am sure that we would
have seen a bill much earlier, but when consensus is absent,
government must weigh all of the options carefully. Decisions on
a complex matter require additional consultation and, I believe,
more open dialogue. I agree with this approach. The government
did not rush decisions. It worked through the details until the
right balance was found, and one that will benefit all
There are many complicated aspects to Bill C-34, largely
because of the complex formulae that are contained therein.
Instead of going into these in detail, let me summarize what
Bill C-34 is all about.
There are four key issues that I should like to centre on: the
revenue cap, branch line abandonment, FAO or the final offer of
arbitration, and what I believe to be one of the most important
aspects of this legislation, the monitoring system that will be set
The first improvement is the revenue cap. The bill introduces
an annual limitation on railway grain revenues which gives an
additional reduction of $178 million of these revenues starting on
August 1, a direct saving to the grain and oil seed producer.
Western grain rates have been regulated for more than
100 years, first under the Crow rates, then under the Western
Grain Transportation Act, and currently under the Canada
Transportation Act. The current grain provisions provide for a
distance-based maximum rates scale that sets limits on what the
railroads can charge for moving prairie grain. To get a revenue
cap, we start from an effective rate under current law of
$32.92 per tonne. The new revenue cap which is set by Bill C-34
is an average $27 per tonne, a reduction or a savings
of 18 per cent.
Under the revenue cap, railways will have the flexibility to
vary individual rates to reflect efficiencies and offer more
innovative services. Compliance will be monitored by the
Canadian Transportation Agency based on actual grain
movements and distances hauled. Railway earnings in excess of
the cap will be repaid with a penalty. The revenue cap, I might
add, will be adjusted annually to reflect the railway inflation cost
starting in 2001-2002.
Additionally, and another key element of this bill, freight rates
for single-car movement originating on branch lines will not be
allowed to exceed main line freight rates for similar movement
by more than 3 per cent.
During the last 10 or 15 years, branch line or rail line
abandonment, as it is known out West, has been a tough issue for
many people to deal with. In this bill, the notice period required
before a railway can take any steps to discontinue a rail line or
abandon it has been extended from two months to 12 months.
This will give a potential shortline purchaser the opportunity to
put together an offer that will include all the factors that are
important to its success.
To help streamline the process, the railway's three-year plan
will only have to identify lines that they intend to operate and
those they plan to discontinue. The railways are no longer
required to identify lands they intend to transfer. Commercially
negotiated transfers can still take place at any time without
This bill is also sensitive to the communities. To help
communities retain their grain-dependent lines, Bill C-34 allows
a community-based group that feels it is ready to proceed with an
offer for a grain-dependent line to trigger an early curtailment of
the 12-month notice period. This step, if taken, requires the
railway to immediately take steps on its two-month advertising
process. Bill C-34 also extends the negotiation period from four
to six months and allows any party to request a net salvage value
determination by the Canadian Transportation Agency. This can
be done at any time during this stage.
These provisions will help to facilitate commercial agreements
by giving parties more time to reach an agreement while
allowing a key piece of information — net salvage value — to be
determined at any time.
Currently, the law requires only that the railway must negotiate
in good faith. Bill C-34 will now require that both parties
negotiate in good faith. If a party has not negotiated in good
faith, the Canadian Transportation Agency may order the railway
to enter into a commercially fair and reasonable agreement, or it
may allow the railway to end negotiations and continue to
abandon the line.
I have been speaking about the government's efforts to
facilitate the transfer of branch lines. However, the government's
job does not end here. The government also felt the need to
protect shippers and shortline operators. This bill will require
that when a railway company is transferring only part of a
grain-dependent branch line, the remaining portion of that line
must be retained for three years unless the minister determines
that it is not in the public interest to do so.
Further protection is provided by allowing the Canadian
Transportation Agency to grant running rights or to require a
railway to add a line to the three-year plan for discontinuance if
the railway has not fulfilled its service obligations.
Even with these new provisions, not all grain lines in the West
will be retained or will be transferred. Some may be abandoned.
Therefore, the bill also requires a railway that abandons a line to
make three annual payments of $10,000 per mile to each of the
municipal governments located along that line. For example, if
an abandonment involved 35 miles of line in a single rural
municipality, the railway payment over three years would be
about $1 million. This assistance puts the benefit directly into the
municipalities where the impact of the change is being felt
Another key element of this legislation is the final offer
arbitration. On freight rates, if a negotiated agreement is not
reached with a railway, the shipper can initiate the final offer
arbitration process. The mutually agreed-upon arbitrator reviews
the final offers of the two parties and chooses one of the two. The
Canadian Transport Agency plays a support role in helping to
facilitate the arbitration process and selects an arbitrator if the
two parties cannot agree upon one.
The bill also addresses some long-standing complaints that the
final offer arbitration process is too long and far too expensive. It
has been argued that the process is particularly onerous for the
smaller shipper. Concerns also were raised during the grain
review that the railways have an undue advantage since they can
view the shipper's final offer for up to 10 days before submitting
their own final offer. Bill C-34 will now provide for a
simultaneous exchange of final offers and an option to use a new
30-day simplified arbitration process instead of 60 days. This
short process allows the arbitrator the option to make a decision
solely on the simultaneous submissions by both parties.
While all four key issues are important, the main area that will
determine the future viability of what we are proposing today is
the monitoring that will take place. As part of its policy decision
on grain handling and transportation, the government will
establish a mechanism of continuous monitoring, measuring and
reporting, the purpose of which is to permit the government to
gather information to monitor the impact that these changes have
in the grain transportation and handling system. This will include
necessary information from confidential contracts made for the
movement of grain.
Bill C-34 will permit the sharing of confidential information
about the grain transportation and handling system with a
professional private-sector third party who will be responsible for
the continuous monitoring of the grain system. The existing
confidentiality provisions will apply to the third party, to protect
any of the information provided that is confidential. The
independent private-sector third party will be required to assess
the benefits that derive to the farmers, to assess whether the
Canadian Wheat Board marketing mandate is adversely affected,
to assess the effect on the grain-handling efficiency, the effect on
railway efficiency, the effect on port efficiency for grain, and,
above all, to assess the overall performance of the grain handling
and transportation system.
This independent private-sector third party will report back to
the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Agriculture, and the
minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board on the impact
of these reforms and the overall performance of the reformed
grain handling and transportation system. In addition, this bill
calls on the Minister of Transport to table in Parliament each
year a report on the monitoring of the grain transportation and
handling system. This report is to be submitted no later than
January 31, which is six months after the end of each crop year.
Let me say in conclusion that we have before us a good bill, a
bill that does the right things to bring about a better future in
grain transportation and handling. The bill certainly does a
number of right things for individual grain farmers. It provides
an opportunity for this industry to move forward, by working
together to establish new commercial relations and to
demonstrate that all parties are ready to work both at creating
new savings in the system and at sharing them fairly with all
producers involved. This bill presents a opportunity for farmers,
the Canadian Wheat Board, the grain companies, and the
railroads to work together to regain the cooperation and the trust
that has been lost amongst all stakeholders during the last
number of years.
Honourable senators, I ask you to allow this opportunity to
come about, and I urge you to support Bill C-34.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators,
my observations on this bill are not quite as glowing as Senator
Senator Taylor: Oh, come on!
Senator Gustafson: I suppose that does not come as a
surprise. However, on the other hand, farmers would not be too
pleased with me if we decided that we should turn down
Senator Robichaud: You are between a rock and a
Senator Gustafson: That brings me to the whole question of
why this is dumped in our laps at the last minute. If the Senate is
to have opportunity to do the job that we should do in this
Senate, it is time that the House of Commons gave some
consideration to an important part of the Parliament of Canada.
That is the first point I want to make, but I shall not enlarge on it
because I have a number of things to say.
Senator Kinsella: Say it again. They did not get it over there.
Senator Prud'homme: Hear, hear!
Senator Gustafson: I wish to speak about the process and
about what is happening in agriculture. Why did we need this
I go back to the time of the Crow debate, when I, as a
Conservative, was opposed to removing the Crow. We sat the
longest sitting in the House of Commons on the Crow debate,
outside of the sailor debate that was held in 1918. We sat there
until three o'clock in the morning. When the Crow was gone,
freight rates increased to the point where it costs about one third
of the value of your grain to get it to port. That was a
back-breaker for the farmers in Western Canada, because we are
land-locked. We have to ship 1,300 or 1,500 miles to Vancouver
or go out through Thunder Bay — and there are problems
associated with Thunder Bay because the big boats cannot come
into there. The issue of grain transportation is very important to
farmers vis-à-vis their ability to sustain themselves and be
profitable. The Crow rate was one part of that.
Another point of contention is the change in the railroad
system. I will give you some idea of what is happening out in the
Prairies. We are building terminals. I phoned the Saskatchewan
Wheat Pool today, and they told me that, at one point in time,
they had 1,200 elevators — and this is just the Saskatchewan
Wheat Pool. Now, however, they are down to about
300 elevators. It is amazing. The same is true of Pioneer, of the
United Grain Growers and other companies.
Here is what is happening. Louis Dreyfus Canada Limited is
building terminals. It is an international grain company. ConAgra
is building terminals in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.
United Grain Growers is 48 per cent owned by ADM, Archer
Daniels Midland. These are big companies. Pioneer Grain,
Cargill, AgPro. They are all building terminals. There is a major
change taking place in the Prairies. These rail lines are going to
go; in fact, I say they are already gone.
During the 14 years that I was a member of Parliament, I
saved a rail line that I probably should not have, and Otto Lang
bawled me out severely on the airplane for going to work and
saving that railroad. I think that era is over. Quite frankly, I think
the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool took the right approach by saying
that the shortline operations might be a tool to the change that is
coming in transportation. Many of those rail lines will go, and
they are gone. Quite frankly, if the railroad companies cannot
keep the railroads going, and have not been able to, I do not
know how a few farmers will do it. It is a great challenge.
The other issue on grain transportation is trucking. There are
municipalities and there are towns and people right now in
Saskatchewan out there trying to fill the holes in the roads
Trucking has become a major problem. What are the truckers
saying? They are saying, "Look, with fuel costs and energy costs
going up the way they are, we have no recourse but to raise our
rates." Trucking rates will go through the ceiling if energy costs
stay where they are. I talk to farmers who have trucks and who
haul generally, and they pull into my yard and say that they
cannot haul for the price they have been charging, with fuel costs
going up the way they are. I would say that this $178 million will
be eaten up in additional fuel costs that will be forced upon the
farmers and the railroads, because they have to buy fuel, too.
That money is gone. I am not saying that we should turn that
$178 million down, not at all. However, I say to the Government
of Canada: We are facing a serious issue in grain transportation
and in agriculture.
Honourable senators, let me say a few words about the roads.
There will be $175 million going to roads over five years. I
understand the minister said the other day that they intend to
designate the roads. That is a good move. Something must be
done with roads. The province of Saskatchewan has, I believe,
more roads than the rest of Canada put together. We probably
have too many roads. The time has come when we will have to
designate some roads and build some better roads to the
marketplace. The roads are a serious problem, especially in
Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta has had oil money to build
roads, and when you drive into Alberta, you notice their roads. I
certainly support the initiative of the government to move ahead
on the problem of the roads. It is a good move.
My colleague raised four or five important points, but where
does this leave the farmers? The problem the farmers are facing
is that they are not getting a proper economic share out of the
food chain. I want to give honourable senators some startling
figures in that regard.
Out of the equity they have invested in agriculture, farmers
receive a 0.7 per cent return on a five-year investment. General
Mills has been getting 61.8 per cent return. Kellogg's five-year
return out of the food chain has been 41.6 per cent. Safeway has
had a 33.8 per cent return out of the food chain. Maple Leaf
Foods has had a 4.8 per cent return. The CPR has had a
7 per cent return, which is quite reasonable. If farmers were
getting something like a 7 per cent return on equity, we
Honourable senators, I get a little emotional when I talk about
this subject. I saw young farmers this spring working harder than
ever to get together enough capital to put in a crop, and they got
it in. They are out there now spraying from four o'clock in the
morning until late at night to try to raise a crop. Many of them
say the same thing: "We will be very fortunate if we get our input
costs back." If these numbers are right, that is the truth — they
will not get their input costs back. Something must be done.
I do not hear people saying that there should be more return
out of the food chain for farmers. I have come to the conclusion
that the Americans are right in what they are doing. They have
just put an additional $15 billion into agriculture. I have come to
the conclusion that the Europeans are right in what they
Honourable senators might say: Can Canada do that? I say
Canada cannot afford not to help their farmers. In the last seven
years, about $4 billion has been taken out of the agriculture
budget. I read today that Paul Martin is talking about an
$8-billion surplus of real cash. What the grain industry needs
today is something like $2 billion of real money. I do not think
Canada can afford not to do it.
I do not think we can afford not to do what the United States
has done. I live near the border, and I have a good idea of what is
going on in the U.S. from talking to the farmers there. In fact, a
farmer from North Dakota picked up a load of canola at my farm
at eleven o'clock today, and he fills me in from time to time
about what is happening in the United States. I think the
Americans are doing the right thing, and I think Canada will pay
a big price if we do not hear the message that farmers must have
some return from the marketplace and from the food chain.
How do we bring this about? I say that all Canadians from all
parts of the country have to work together. It is very important.
In his presentation, Senator Wiebe mentioned $12 billion. The
return on trade with the United States has given Canada a surplus
of $36 billion, and quite a bit of that surplus was from agriculture
products. We cannot afford not to make the changes.
I want to address a few remarks specifically to the bill. We
have dealt with the roads and with the $178 million. The other
issue is producer car costs. I have some concerns about that. A
clause in the bill indicates that producer car costs will not rise
beyond 3 per cent. Here is the problem. If the railroads do not
want to stop at Macoun, Saskatchewan, to pick up 15 cars at
what was the pool elevator because they want to pick up 100 cars
at the Weyburn grain terminal, what makes anyone think they
will stop to pick up one producer car from my neighbour or from
myself? It just will not work.
There needs to be some clarification of that issue. If we are to
generate savings by having the railroads haul 100 cars and pick
them all up in one spot, we must be realistic about the other areas
The same thing is true in terms of rail-line abandonment and
starting shortline operations. There is probably a different view
in northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba than there is
right along the border. I recognize that. Within 100 miles of the
border, people are saying, "Well, we can truck canola into the
U.S. and we can truck other oilseeds and grains that are not under
the Canadian Wheat Board into the U.S." That may be true, but,
as I said earlier, I think the shortline operation will only be a
Honourable senators, if we do not move to a long-term
program as a government and as farmers, we will lose a lot in
rural Canada. That applies generally, not just to grain
transportation; it moves into many other areas. In our committee
— and we have an excellent Agriculture Committee — we heard
from many witnesses on the crisis. I know personally some of the
people who made presentations to the committee and who have
gone bankrupt since their appearance before the committee.
I know of young farmers who have taken jobs off their farms.
I do not like to get personal, but my own son, who is 34 years
old, took a job with an oil company and is farming at night,
something which is common with our young farmers. They are
progressive and hard working people. We need to give
consideration to them.
Another matter upon which I want to touch is safety nets.
I shall be a little critical of the government here. The government
has had seven years to put safety nets in place. At one time, some
were removed. Why were they removed? They were removed to
balance the budget. The country was in some financial trouble. It
was important that the agriculture community carry its load, and
it did. However, we now need to give some serious consideration
to safety nets. That will not happen unless the government is
willing to support crop insurance programs and other such
measures, until we get through this difficult period of low
The whole problem with agriculture is low commodity prices.
I do not buy the argument that if we could only get the
Americans off subsidies all would be well. That will not happen.
Mark that down and remember that I said it in this place,
honourable senators. It will not happen. We have been waiting
for it to happen for 20 years, and it has not happened. It would be
great if it did, but I do not believe it will.
We must support this bill because the farmers need the help
that it offers. I do not think it goes far enough. I think it is just a
step, a beginning, in the right direction. I hope that all senators
here will lend their voice to persuade the Government of Canada,
and say, "Do not let agriculture down." It is very important to
Canada and to every citizen of this country.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting
of the Senate
Leave having been given to revert to Motions:
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, with leave of the
Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and
Forestry have power to sit at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday,
June 20, 2000, even though the Senate may then be sitting,
and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, it is my understanding this motion is being
proposed in order that the committee hear the minister. Might I
ask the honourable senator if that is correct?
Senator Fairbairn: Yes, honourable senators, we want to get
right into our hearings. We will be hearing first from the Minister
of Transport, Mr. David Collenette, followed by the Minister of
Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian
Wheat Board, Mr. Ralph Goodale.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Richard H. Kroft moved the third reading of Bill C-22,
to facilitate combatting the laundering of proceeds of crime, to
establish the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre
of Canada and to amend and repeal certain Acts in consequence.
He said: Honourable senators, I spoke at some length on
second reading of this bill and will, therefore, keep my remarks
this evening as brief as possible.
This bill strengthens the existing Proceeds of Crime (money
laundering) Act by adding new measures to improve the
detection and deterrence of money laundering in Canada.
Passage of this bill will not only assist Canadian law enforcement
in its fight against organized crime and money laundering, but
will allow Canada to be an equal participant in international
efforts to combat these serious problems.
While Canada has had the building blocks of its anti-money
laundering program in place for some time, the measures
contained in Bill C-22 will bring Canada into line
with international anti-money laundering standards around
In summary, Bill C-22 provides for mandatory reporting of
suspicious and prescribed transactions, reporting of large
cross-border movements of currency, and the establishment of an
independent anti-money laundering agency that will receive
these reports and other information.
In implementing mandatory reporting of suspicious
transactions, which I point out is a cornerstone of anti-money
laundering systems around the world, Canada will, with the
passage of this bill, join the other 26 members of the Financial
Action Task Force that have put this measure into place. When
international comparisons are made, however, the legislation
being debated today is distinguished by the strength and extent of
the privacy protections it contains.
I have referred briefly to the fact that this legislation will
address the needs of law enforcement while at the same time
providing considerable privacy protections. I am pleased to add
that the committee devoted considerable time and energy during
the course of its study of Bill C-22 to ensuring that a proper
balance was struck in the legislation between these two important
objectives. Honourable senators, I believe that such a balance
has, indeed, been achieved.
I should like to take a moment to outline some of the privacy
protections contained in Bill C-22. In the first place, reports
mandated by the bill will be sent to the new centre for analysis
and not directly to the police. The centre will be an independent
body operating at arm's length from law enforcement and other
agencies entitled to receive information under the bill. I wish to
make it clear that the centre cannot disclose just any information
to authorities. The centre can disclose only limited key
identifying information, such as the name of the client, the
account number, the amount involved and other details of the
transaction. Information as to why a particular transaction is
suspected of being linked to money laundering cannot be
released. Only if the centre, on the basis of its own analysis, has
reasonable grounds to suspect that certain information would be
relevant to both a money laundering investigation or prosecution
and a tax evasion offence can it disclose the information to
If the police want additional information, they will have to
obtain a court order specifying what information or documents
they want. I should point out that the centre will not be subject to
subpoenas except for money laundering investigations and
Honourable senators, it is important to understand that these
safeguards are backed up by criminal penalties for any
unauthorized use or disclosure of personal information under the
centre's control. In addition, the centre will be subject to the
federal Privacy Act and its protections, which means that its
operations will come under the watchful eye of the Privacy
Commissioner. It also means that individuals have rights under
the Privacy Act with respect to the information the centre has
Honourable senators, I have said that the committee devoted
much attention and effort to assuring that a balance was struck in
the bill between the necessary and legitimate law enforcement
requirements of the bill and the need to protect the personal
rights of Canadians. This was a preoccupation of every member
of our committee, and I wish to thank all honourable senators for
As a result of our efforts, we gained the agreement of the
Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions, the
Honourable Jim Peterson, that certain changes should be made to
enhance individual protection in some areas. We received from
the minister a detailed letter dealing with four specific areas that
set out the actual language for amendments the government
agreed should be made. This letter, which contains an
undertaking to introduce those amendments as soon as possible
in the fall, forms part of our report.
In addition, the report contains three other amendments that
the committee unanimously recommends the government
consider while making the agreed-to changes.
With today's globalized financial markets and open borders,
criminals have the opportunity to launder billions of dollars in
illegal profits. The bill before us targets the financial rewards of
this criminal activity by creating a balanced and effective
reporting regime. It also protects the integrity of our financial
system and enables Canada to meet its international obligations
while at the same time protecting individual privacy.
With the passage of Bill C-22, we will now have an effective
anti-money laundering scheme in place to help ensure that
Canada is an equal participant in the international fight against
Honourable senators, I strongly believe that the Senate,
drawing on the commitment of all sides, has done excellent work
on this bill and has served Canadians well. I urge you to join me
in supporting it.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I should like to ask the honourable senator
a question. I am intrigued by the report of the committee, as it
recommends three specific amendments, which, I gather, were
supported unanimously by the committee. The minister, in his
letter, seems to concur. Why did the committee not attach the
amendments to the bill in order that we might pass them here and
have them ready for the House when it returns in September?
It is all very well for the minister to say, "I will do my best in
the fall," but he is at the mercy of the House leader and this
matter may not be the priority of his House leader when the
Senator Kroft: The unanimous acceptance and judgment of
the committee was that the international urgency for the
completion of this legislation was such that the procedure we
followed was acceptable. That was the unanimous concurrence
of the committee.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: My question is not whether the
procedure was acceptable. Why were these amendments not
included in your report to this chamber so that we could improve
the bill ourselves and then send it to the House for them to ratify
in the fall?
These improvements, from my reading, will take much longer
to achieve, since the House will have to entertain them in the fall
when they return, alongside other legislation, and I fear this may
not be one of their priorities. The amendments will take much
longer to become law than if you had included the amendments
with the bill when you reported to this chamber.
Senator Kroft: As I pointed out, Canada was the last country
to have joined into this legislation. The judgment of the
government, with which the committee members concurred, was
that any further delay would be unreasonable. Thus, the passage
of the bill now, in view of completing our obligations and having
them fall into place over the coming months was seen as, on
balance, the appropriate way to deal with this. That was
especially so when coupled with the commitment not to review
the bill but to have the specifically worded commitments that
have been included in the report.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I will not prolong this, except to
say that honourable senators are being asked to pass legislation
that committee members know is incomplete.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Tkachuk,
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable
Senator Finestone, P.C., seconded by the Honourable
Senator Gauthier, for the second reading of Bill C-16,
respecting Canadian citizenship.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I know I share
with all of you a great pride in being a citizen of what we all
agree is the greatest country in the world. As we begin a new
century together, indeed a new millennium, it is, perhaps, timely
that we profit from the occasion offered by this legislation to
examine in greater detail what it means to be a Canadian.
Unfortunately, both the scope of this legislation and the
government's haste to push it through this place precludes any
meaningful discussion of this important issue that we too often
take for granted.
What we see before us in this chamber today is not the
all-encompassing overhaul of the Citizenship Act that we were
promised. On the contrary, what we have here is a hodgepodge of
housekeeping measures. Together they may — and I say "may"
— serve to tighten up certain enforcement provisions that may
have led to abuse in the past; however, I dare say, the bill does
precious little more. Neither the government, the minister, nor
the spin-doctors can say that they have followed through on their
promises of extensive review for Canadian citizenship.
It takes more than patriotic beer commercials and free flags to
define Canadians as a people. It takes strong national leadership.
It demands a commitment to work together with divergent forces
and communities to forge a common identity, based on a desire
to be and remain here. It takes a mature worldview, a passion for
the future and a solid, heartfelt belief in what we can achieve
together as a nation. It is their vision, maturity and passion for
Canada that seems to be lacking in this bill.
The member from Wentworth—Burlington in the other place,
Mr. Bryden, laments that this bill is what he calls "a lost
opportunity." I share his view. The government could have done
so much more.
Honourable senators, it has been almost 50 years since my
parents and I came to Canada. We had little we could call our
own. We were not alone in this respect. Like many newcomers to
Canada and elsewhere, we had a desire to build a new and better
life, a Canadian life, and we did so. We have never regretted
In my conversations with people I meet from other countries,
one of the most common things they say to me is this: "Canada is
so darned big. It's huge. What holds it together?" I tell them that,
from my point of view, at least, it is largely a question of shared
values. Canadians believe in the rule of law. We believe in
equality of all people. We embrace the notions of freedom of
speech and respect for human rights. Above all, we recognize
that citizenship brings with it certain rights and responsibilities.
I realize that this might sound a little overstated. After all, if
my information is correct, our schools no longer teach civics or
citizenship. It is considered too boring and too passé, to which I
say, that is too bad.
Nonetheless, I truly believe that in our individual and
collective hearts Canadians do share these common values
which, in turn, help cement our love for our country. This is why
I also believe that the true separation and independence of
Quebec will never take place.
Honourable senators, when this legislation was discussed
previously as Bill C-63 by our colleagues in the other place,
committee members put forth some creative proposals. They
were creative in the sense that they sought to engage average
Canadians and not just the usual menagerie of witnesses that we
often see here. They engaged these Canadians in the process of
drawing up the final legislation. Unfortunately, most of those
proposals, I am told, fell by the wayside and were not adopted.
That, too, is too bad. Some fresh air and fresh ideas might not
have been a bad idea. Certainly they could have done no worse
than the bureaucrats and backroomers in the PMO.
The government defends what it did by saying that contentious
issues needed to be ironed out. According to its own backbench,
what happened was little more than "basic cowardice" and a fear
of making waves that might have drawn attention to some of the
frailties and weaknesses of the bill, which I will get to in a
It is to be hoped that we, and particularly our Liberal
colleagues in this place, will be a little more courageous than
government backbenchers on the other side. The limited
examination afforded this bill, both in committee and in the
House, is all the more reason for us to take our time and conduct
a thoughtful and reasoned review of this legislation.
Honourable senators, I should like to look briefly at some of
the objectives of this bill and the questions left unaddressed by it.
First, I do not disagree with certain of the measures aimed at
tightening up specific clauses in order to prevent some
individuals from obtaining Canadian citizenship. This is
particularly true of those who flaunt our criminal laws or who
may pose a threat to Canada's national security. I am surprised,
however, with the ambiguity of the language used to achieve this
end. It seems to me that this ambiguity is meant to allow a
latitude of action by the government that is a shade too broad for
comfort. This language could do with a little tightening up, and I
trust that it will be examined during committee hearings.
The issue of appeal also requires study. Honourable senators
will recall the howls of indignation that emanated from the
Liberal Party in the 1980s at any suggestion of removing any
layers of appeal with respect to criminality within the
immigration or refugee system. Now, in the year 2000, we see a
Liberal government blithely removing such appeal provisions
and, while they are at it, enhancing revocation procedures and
giving significant and special powers to the minister and
Governor in Council for granting and removing citizenship.
Honourable senators, I find this last power particularly
troubling. It does not seem appropriate, by any stretch of the
imagination, that a minister of the Crown should have the
arbitrary right to strip someone who has become a Canadian of
their citizenship. This is just an invitation to abuse. It is an open
door to attack and deport individuals who might fall afoul of the
government or overstep the boundaries of the so-called political
correctness of the day.
I will give you a personal example, honourable senators. After
arriving in this country in 1951, I was honoured to receive my
citizenship in 1957. I sat across from an insensitive, racist person
who, as I answered questions, told me that I did not have black
hair because she did not like the word "black." My citizenship
card today says that I have brown hair. Of course, that was when
I was a young man and really had black hair. Now I have a little
Honourable senators, need I fear a knock at my door decades
later with an accusation that I lied on my application and the
threat of revocation of my citizenship? It sounds far-fetched, but
We have all heard of newcomers, particularly refugees, who
arrive with little or no I.D. whose names, during the interview
process, are spelled wrong or inadvertently changed. Are they
also candidates for removal?
Honourable senators, on another front, by this bill the
government is proposing to change the title of citizenship judges
to "citizenship commissioner" and, at the same time, to change
the role of these people. A citizenship commissioner will be a
figurehead who will fulfil the ceremonial role of presiding over
swearing-in ceremonies. It seems to me that they will have little
or no clear function. Surely this is not right. The committee
should ensure that clear lines of responsibility and authority are
drawn between the commissioners and the bureaucracy now
being charged with performing some of the functions in granting
Committee members should also ask how this process will
remedy the backlog in the application process. The government
neglected to address these important matters in this legislation.
Honourable senators, I welcome the opportunity this
legislation affords us to examine the oath of citizenship. We all
recognize the importance of introducing an oath that all
Canadians believe in and see as a reflection of their commitment
to citizenship and commonly held principles and values. At the
end of the day, the oath should not be contentious or
bureaucratic. It should be a source of pride and achievement in
being Canadian with all the rights and responsibilities that
accompany such an honour. Surely we can all agree on that.
I do not want to go any further at this time, honourable
senators. I will perhaps have further comments to make after the
committee has completed its study of this legislation. This is a
most important bill, even if the government does not seem to
think so. It is to be hoped that here in this chamber and in
committee it will be given a full and proper examination without
haste, which will allow us to adopt a clear and more meaningful
definition of who we are and will make us all, whether born in
Canada or not, prouder of our Canadian citizenship.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I had not paid
much attention to this bill until I began to read it as
Senator Di Nino was speaking to it. Many questions sprung to
my mind. Therefore, I shall speak to the bill tomorrow, if I may.
Hon. Tommy Banks moved the second reading of Bill C-27,
respecting the national parks of Canada.
He said: Honourable senators, the Government of Canada has
a proud history of leadership in the protection, conservation and
preservation of our natural and cultural heritage. Our national
parks are a source of pride and a symbol of national identity to
The Government of Canada, as stewards of our national parks,
is responsible for maintaining their ecological integrity and for
finding new ways to communicate the significance of our parks
to all Canadians.
To do these things, Parks Canada needs updated tools to
continue to manage these special places effectively. To give them
these tools, Bill C-27 revises existing legislation, which will be
consolidated for simplicity and clarity. Substantive changes are
proposed in several major areas.
Bill C-27 has five main elements: first, the strengthening of
ecological integrity; second, the establishment of new national
parks of Canada; third, the limiting of commercial development
in park communities; fourth, protecting wildlife as a means of
securing ecological integrity; and fifth, a commitment to work
with the First Nations.
Ecological integrity has always been an implicit objective of
the national parks program. I should like to quote, if I may, from
the first National Parks Act, which was adopted in 1930:
The national parks of Canada are hereby dedicated to the
people of Canada for their benefit, education
and enjoyment, subject to this Act and the regulations,
and the parks shall be maintained and made use of so as to
leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future
While this dedication clause has remained unchanged in
70 years and is retained in clause 4(1) of this bill, it needs
reinforcement. The Minister's Panel on the Ecological Integrity
of Canada's National Parks has made it clear that we must
"firmly and unequivocally establish ecological integrity as the
core of Parks Canada's mandate." The Chair of that panel
reiterated that before the Standing Committee on Canadian
Heritage in the other place, as did other witnesses such as the
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Canadian Nature
Bill C-27 achieves these ends by three main means: First, it
makes ecological integrity the first priority when considering all
aspects of park management — not just park zoning and visitor
use but all aspects of park management; second, by including a
definition of "ecological integrity" based on that panel's report;
and, third, by requiring that park management plans include a
long-term ecological vision, a set of ecological integrity
objectives and indicators, and provisions for resource protection
and restoration, zoning, visitor use, public awareness, and, most
important, for performance evaluation.
The new Canada National Parks Act will formally establish
seven new parks and add some lands to existing parks.
The bill delegates to the government the authority to establish
new parks or to enlarge existing ones. This delegated authority is
subject to the disapproval of either House of Parliament. The
principle that no new park can be established without the consent
of both Houses is preserved. If either house rejects a park
proposal, that delegated authority will be inoperative.
Senator Taylor: That is better than Bill C-20.
Senator Banks: A distinct act of Parliament will still be
required to remove any lands from any park.
There are seven communities contained in national parks, all
in Western Canada — Banff, Lake Louise, Field, Jasper,
Waterton Lakes, Waskesiu and Wasagaming. These communities
have been the focus of extensive commercial, residential and
The Banff-Bow Valley study of 1996 made many
recommendations to protect the ecological integrity of Banff
National Park and to strengthen controls over commercial
development and human use in the park.
The proposed legislation takes three main steps to manage
commercial development in park communities: First, community
plans will be tabled in Parliament; second, the legislation makes
provision to set the boundaries of those communities, the
boundaries of commercial zones within those communities, and
to cap the maximum square footage of commercial development
within those communities; and third, once agreements have been
reached, those elements of the community plans will be placed in
a schedule of the act, by regulation. Once the community plans
are established, they can only be changed by an act of
The government has responded with considerable flexibility to
the concerns raised by community representatives in the parks.
Bill C-27 states that the minister may terminate a lease or
licence of occupation. This clause is required to enable the
minister to manage leases and licences of occupation; however,
concerns were raised that adequate recourse for lessees or
licensees was not clear. A clause of Bill C-27 makes it clear that
the protections and due process afforded to landowners under the
Expropriation Act will be extended to leaseholders in the parks
whenever the minister takes or acquires an interest in land in the
park, where the holder of the interest does not consent, and
where there is no cause for termination.
A new definition of "community plan" serves two purposes:
First, it ensures that there will be no confusion between the use
of the term "community plan" in this legislation and how that
term is used and referred to in Alberta legislation; second, it
signals to park-community residents that there is no impediment
to them undertaking their own planning for social, educational,
health and related needs of the community. The section on public
consultation now makes explicit reference to representatives of
park communities and requires that the minister consult those
communities on land-use planning and development in park
Stronger measures to protect wildlife and other park resources
are introduced in Bill C-27, particularly the substantial
strengthening of penalties for activities such as poaching and
trafficking in protected resources.
The Government of Canada is committed to working with
First Nations as set out in the "Gathering Strength" document.
Amendments to Bill C-27 accepted by the government responded
to a variety of concerns of representatives of the Assembly of
First Nations, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and the
Bill C-27 reflects these responses in a number of ways. First,
five national parks are being established through agreements
with First Nations — Aulavik, Wapusk, Auyuittuq, Sirmilik and
Quttinirpaaq. Provision is made for the use of park lands and the
use or removal of plant life or other natural objects by aboriginal
peoples for spiritual and traditional ceremonial purposes.
Provisions are made in the bill to remove lands from Wood
Buffalo, Wapusk, and Riding Mountain National Park to
accommodate treaty land entitlement. In all cases, those
initiatives result from agreements between the government and
the affected aboriginal communities.
The bill incorporates a non-derogation clause with regard to
aboriginal and treaty rights. The bill strengthens the commitment
to consult with aboriginal organizations and bodies established
under land claims agreements on policy, park establishment,
management planning, and regulations.
The 1997 Throne Speech committed this government to the
expansion of our network of national parks. The Government of
Canada established an expert panel to review the state of
ecological integrity in Canada's national parks. That panel has
now reported. The Minister of Heritage has taken action. The key
element of that action is to make ecological integrity central in
legislation and in policy.
Bill C-27 delivers on those commitments and helps to secure a
legacy to future generations of Canadians.
I commend the attention of all senators and ask the support of
all senators for the passage of this bill.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I have a question or two for Senator Banks.
Could the honourable senator explain the principle underlining
clause 7 of the bill, which, as I read it, provides that the Governor
in Council may make certain orders or amendments to
Schedule 1 and Schedule 2? We then find what I would describe
as another example of an infringement on the jurisdiction of the
Senate occurring in clause 7(1), where it says:
...the proposed amendment shall be tabled in each House of
Parliament, together with a report on the proposed park or
park reserve that includes information on consultations
undertaken and any agreements reached with respect to its
Once that happens, an amendment so tabled stands referred to
the given standing committee. What is the principle operating
here that will cause the bill to supplant the Rules of the Senate? Is
that being implied by that clause?
Furthermore, clause 7(2) says that the "committee of each
House may, within 30 sitting days after the amendment is tabled,
report to the House that it disapproves the amendment..."
However, clause 7(3) provides that a proposed amendment to
Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 may be made if 31 sitting days have
elapsed. In other words, if the Senate does not act within the
30 days, an amendment may be made.
Does this not rule out, for example, the technique of a hoist,
which is available under our rules? The principle in the bill
seems to be providing an override of the Rules of the Senate.
Senator Banks: I thank the honourable senator for the
question. I am sure it is not the intent of the bill to override the
prerogatives of the Senate. That is a matter that I hope shall be
discussed thoroughly in committee, which is where I hope this
bill will go shortly.
Hon. Ross Fitzpatrick moved the second reading of
Bill S-26, to repeal An Act to incorporate the Western Canada
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to
begin second reading of Bill S-26. The purpose of this bill is to
repeal the act to incorporate the Western Canada Telephone
Company, commonly known as the BC Tel Act.
The BC Tel Act was passed by Parliament in 1916 to
incorporate the British Columbia Telephone Company when
constitutional jurisdiction over telephone companies was
uncertain. Local monopoly telephone companies were common.
Some of these were owned by provinces, some by municipalities.
The BC Tel Act ensured federal jurisdiction over
telecommunications and, at the same time, limited the company's
ability to compete with provincially owned or municipally
owned telephone companies. The government is repealing this
legislation because it wants to remove the restriction on BC Tel's
ability to compete — restrictions that only BC Tel faces.
Honourable senators, this chamber should also regard this bill
as part of the government's broader objective of creating a
competitive marketplace framework. Significant changes have
occurred in the corporate structure of BC Tel in the past decade.
In 1993, it reorganized under a holding company, BC Telecom
Inc. Last year, the holding company merged with Telus
Corporation, formerly the Alberta Government Telephones, to
form BCT. Telus Communication Limited. Last May, the holding
company formally changed its name to TELUS Corporation.
Even the telephone operating company, known for years as
BC Tel, changed its name in October 1999 to TELUS
Communications B.C. Inc.
Honourable senators, the BC Tel Act is now an outdated piece
of legislation. It imposes restrictions on BC Tel that are not
imposed on any other carrier. One such restriction is contained in
section 17 of the BC Tel Act. The company must first obtain the
consent of the Lieutenant Governor in Council of the respective
province if it wishes to build or maintain facilities in Alberta,
Saskatchewan or Manitoba. The restriction was put in place in an
era of provincial monopolies. It was meant to confine BC Tel to
British Columbia. However, this is now contrary to the
legislative policy of promoting competition because it inhibits
BC Tel's ability to compete on the Prairies while no other
company is subject to this restriction.
This restriction also applies to the City of Prince Rupert, B.C.
In order for BC Tel to build or maintain facilities in Prince
Rupert, it must first obtain the consent of the municipality of
Prince Rupert, which, since 1910, has been served by a
municipally owned telephone company, CityTel.
I should point out that the CRTC has not yet permitted local
competition in Prince Rupert. If local competition is
permitted there in the future, subsection 43(2) of the
Telecommunications Act would require all carriers, including
BC Tel, to obtain municipal consent before constructing
transmission lines in public places. Therefore, the restriction in
the BC Tel Act is redundant.
Honourable senators, all four western provincial governments
have been consulted and none has any difficulty with repealing
Another type of restriction is contained in sections 8, 9
and 9(a) of the BC Tel Act. It requires BC Tel to obtain the
consent of the CRTC prior to disposal or sale of the business, or
the acquisition of shares or property of another
telecommunications company. No other telephone company
faces this restriction.
The CRTC has been consulted and has advised that the repeal
of the BC Tel Act would not give rise to any regulatory concerns,
and BC Tel will continue to be regulated by the CRTC.
The Telecommunications Act will continue to apply to BC Tel,
as well as to other carriers. Section 6 of the Telecommunications
Act provides that the Telecommunications Act prevails over any
special act where there is a conflict. Thus, a special act is not
required to regulate BC Tel's business.
The Competition Act would apply to the company with respect
to mergers and acquisitions, to the same extent that it currently
applies to other telecommunications common carriers regulated
under the Telecommunications Act.
Honourable senators, the remaining provisions of the BC Tel
Act are either spent or relate to corporate governance of BC Tel.
The BC Tel Act incorporated BC Tel, but the company was
continued under the Canada Business Corporations Act in 1993.
Therefore, it would continue to be incorporated should the BC
Tel Act be repealed.
Subsection 7(4) of the BC Tel Act creates a statutory priority
for bonds, debentures, debenture stock, and other securities
issued by the company as against the company's properties and
assets. Section 11 provides a similar statutory priority to certain
trustees. To protect shareholders and third parties from potential
loss of value, the bill to repeal the act contains a transition
provision to preserve the statutory priority until the instruments
are terminated in accordance with their terms.
The repeal of the BC Tel Act is a simple matter of legislative
housekeeping but it will also promote competition. In that regard,
I would remind honourable senators that when Parliament passed
the Telecommunications Act in 1993 the objective was clear —
foster competition in telecommunications. The CRTC permitted
competition in the long-distance market in 1992 and in local
services in 1998.
Competition is now an important characteristic of the
telecommunications environment in Canada. The policy has been
remarkably successful. Where once both long-distance and local
calling were the preserve of monopolies, there is now aggressive
Long distance prices have dropped by 50 per cent or more.
New competing technologies, such as wireless, continue to drive
prices down. The OECD has determined that Canadian prices of
its standard basket of residential and business services are the
lowest in the G7.
The telecom services industries will invest an estimated
$6.8 billion for the year 2000. Much of this investment is being
driven by new entrants such as AT&T, Call Net, 360 Networks,
Microcell and Clearnet. In the meantime, both Telus and
Bell Canada Enterprises are moving fast to build networks
The telephone industry in Canada has been a national success
story. In fact, with some 98.4 per cent of Canadian households
subscribing to basic telephone service, we have one of the
world's highest penetration rates. In the knowledge-based global
economy, where the information and the communications
technologies are the infrastructure of the new age, this is a
tremendous advantage for us as a nation.
Honourable senators, this is the environment in which BC Tel
needs the freedom and flexibility to respond to market
opportunities and compete vigorously.
The bill before us is a simple piece of housekeeping, but that
housekeeping will also provide for growth and competition that
will lead to the opportunity for Canadians to receive better
communication services. I urge my colleagues to support
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator St. Germain,
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government) moved
the second reading of Bill C-37, to amend the Parliament of
Canada Act and the Members of Parliament Retiring
He said: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Bill C-37,
which I introduced last week. Before talking about the details of
the bill, I will make a few general comments.
First, I wish to emphasize that this bill does not change any of
our parliamentary compensation policies. What it does is to make
a technical correction to the severance allowance that already
exists for members of the other place and to provide that all
members in the other place join the members of Parliament
Senator Forrestall: Let the weasels back in!
Senator Hays: This bill was developed by all parties in the
other place and received broad support there. As I understand it,
the motivation for introducing this bill was not by the
government but, rather, reflects an agreement among all parties
in the other place. As well, Bill C-37 does not make any changes
to the basic policies of our parliamentary compensation system.
Let me comment, honourable senators, on the matter of
severance. Bill C-37 corrects an unintended and unfair provision
of the legislation that was passed in 1995 which ended
double-dipping by members of the other place but which had the
unfortunate effect of making severance unavailable for many of
the members there.
The 1995 legislation, unfortunately, created two groups of
MPs. One group of MPs under 55, elected before July 1995, are
not allowed to collect a severance because they receive a small,
immediate MP's pension for service rendered before July 1995.
Over 100 members are disadvantaged because of this anomaly.
A second group of MPs under 55, elected after July 1995,
would receive severance equal to six months' salary. Some
examples may help honourable senators understand the situation.
An MP under 55 who was elected in 1993 would receive an
annual pension of about $5,600 and no severance. This pension
would increase to about $21,000 when the MP reaches 55.
An MP under 55 who was elected in the 1997 election and
retires after six years would receive a severance allowance equal
to six months' salary, or about $34,000, and at age 55 would
receive a full pension of approximately $17,000.
The bill we are addressing today would correct this anomaly
by providing a reasonable severance allowance for all members
of Parliament. MPs under age 55 who are elected before July
1995 and are in the MPs' pension plan would receive a
six-month severance allowance when they cease to hold office
minus any immediate annual pension the MP would receive. The
allowance and the pension are not combined. One is subtracted
from the other. The existing provision for MPs under age 55,
elected after July 1995, would continue to be that they receive
the six-month severance allowance. In all cases, the severance
allowance would not exceed a maximum of six months' salary,
which represents approximately $34,000.
Providing all members with a severance allowance is also a
question of fairness. Like anyone suddenly or unexpectedly out
of work, it has long been accepted that members of the other
place need a transition period.
According to the Blais commission report on MPs'
compensation, most people in the MPs' salary range take about
six months to find work. However, members of the other place,
contrary to private citizens, do not have access to employment
insurance benefits to ensure a period of transition. This is one of
the reasons it is appropriate to provide every member of the other
place with a severance of six months' salary minus any
immediately payable pension to enable them to take a new
direction and provide for their families should they lose
As the Blais commission put it, although members of
Parliament should not expect special financial advantages as a
result of service in Parliament, it is reasonable that service to the
country should not leave them appreciably worse off than they
were before being elected. The severance allowance for the other
place is reasonable and comparable to severance allowances
provided to provincial parliamentarians and to allowances in the
private sector and in the public service.
For example, the Provinces of Ontario, Alberta and
Saskatchewan provide members of their legislatures with a
transition allowance equal to one-month's indemnity for each
year of service. Similarly, in the private sector, the general rule in
case of involuntary departure is a severance equivalent to one
month for each year of service. In the Canadian public service,
the rule is one-week's salary per year of service up to a
maximum of 28 weeks, or roughly six months.
People with families who earn regular salaries in all walks of
life should not be discouraged from participating in the political
process for fear of risking their families' financial security when
they cease to hold office. Bill C-37 responds to this concern by
providing all members of the other place under 55, and not only
those elected after 1995, with a six-month severance allowance
when they cease to hold office.
I referred in my introductory comments to the fact that this bill
provides for all members to become members of the pension
plan. The 1995 changes to the parliamentary pension plan
allowed members to opt out of the pension plan. Bill C-37
provides that all members will be in the plan as of the date of
coming into force of the bill.
The bill also gives to members an opportunity to buy back
their past years of service on the same terms as other members
who wish to buy back their previous service.
In conclusion, honourable senators, this bill does not create
new or additional benefits for members of Parliament. It simply
remedies an anomaly in the 1995 pension legislation with respect
to severance. The bill also creates parity among members by
providing that all members are in the pension plan. These
changes received broad support in the other place.
For all these reasons, I would ask all honourable senators to
support the bill.
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Honourable senators, I wish to ask
a question. Many of the politicians from out west were elected on
the idea that members of Parliament, both in the Senate and in
the House of Commons, were at the trough, so to speak, and
doing very well. Cross their heart and hope to die, they would not
be contaminated by pockets that ever touched a pension. We are
being asked to reverse this order to allow some people back into
the pension plan.
It bothers me that people can campaign to serve in the House
of Commons and blacken the reputation of politicians in general,
and then they turn around a few years later and get what they
said was so wrong with Parliament in the first place — a pension.
It is about time we politicians started to take action to show that
those who are elected on the idea of running down the political
process and those who serve in the political process cannot turn
around suddenly and cry mea culpa. I know that we are supposed
to forgive and forget, but these people made a deliberate attempt
to run down the credibility of parliamentarians, and now they
turn around and want their pensions.
Senator Di Nino: They were elected because of it.
Senator Taylor: Is there any guarantee that in the future we
will not continue to turn the other cheek for everyone who wants
to run for Parliament and is elected saying they will not take this
or that, they will not move into this house or do that, and then
turns around and does the exact opposite? We then tell them that
all is forgiven. We say that there is more joy in heaven for one
sinner who repents, so there is more joy in heaven for one MP
who repents, and we give them their pensions. I am bothered by
that and wonder if there is anything in this bill to stop a repetition
of that behaviour.
Senator Hays: I thank Senator Taylor for that speech, or was
it a question? I will make two comments on his comment.
The other place is subject to accountability at election time,
and I am sure that all members of the other place know and
appreciate that this matter may be relevant at election time.
I would estimate that elections occur roughly every four years in
a majority government, and we are getting close to that time. I
think that is the best assurance of the integrity of people in terms
of the questions that the honourable senator raises.
I would make another comment. The honourable senator
described the conduct of certain members of the other place in
this respect. It is important to remember that virtually all of them
have families, and those who have not had a provision for
pensions or for the severance adjustment allowances provided for
in this legislation have really put their families at some
disadvantage. For that reason, it may well be that, on reflection,
there is a different attitude now and there will be a different
attitude in the future about pensions and severances than there
was at that time of possible political opportunism.
I repeat again, honourable senators, that the time of
accountability will be the next election. I think that is the best
way of assuring that people are held to a standard to which they
should be held, and the people of Canada will look after that.
Hon. Peter A. Stollery: I, too, have a question, honourable
senators. I am sympathetic to the members of Parliament and
their pension problems, but they seem to have been the authors of
their own misfortune. At the time they opted out, I thought they
were being unwise. I can understand that they would like to
correct the situation, having had a few years to find out the
difficulties that they have caused themselves.
The other problem that crosses my mind is the fact that there
have been schemes over the years. The one that I recall the best
was in 1982 or 1981 or 1980, when we came up with a system of
indexing parliamentary pay. That system was done away with.
My point is that many errors have been made over the years. Is
any consideration being given to giving the tax-free expense
allowance of senators parity with that of members of the House
Senator Hays: Senator Stollery, I regret to observe that there
is no such provision in this bill. As to whether thought had been
given to it or is being given to it, I do not know. Time will tell.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Can the Deputy Leader of the
Government shed some light on the process of buying back in for
those who had opted out and now will opt back into the pension
plan? I guess they are back in unless they opt out again. How will
they buy back? Is there a formula? Is there interest on the
money? Are we prepared to lend them the money? How will
Senator DeWare: You almost choked on that one.
Senator Hays: I have been briefed on the bill, honourable
senators. However, I should start my response to the honourable
senator's question by observing that the best way to get a correct
answer to that question is to ask the minister or officials
Having qualified what I have to say with that remark,
I understand that the members will buy back in accordance with
a formula designed by an actuary and which, I believe, will use
the rate of interest that the Government of Canada pays on
certain types of its debt instruments. Which instruments, I am not
sure, but it would be an interest rate determined in that way.
Senator Taylor: Might I be allowed another question along
the lines of Senator Stollery's inquiry? Would this be the act we
would amend if the Senate wanted the expense allowance for
senators to be equal to the expense allowance for members of the
House of Commons?
Senator Hays: Honourable senators, this is an act to amend
the Parliament of Canada Act and the Members of Parliament
Retiring Allowances Act.
I will give the same qualification to the Honourable Senator
Taylor as I gave to the Honourable Senator Forrestall in
obtaining an answer to the question. It is my assumption that the
Parliament of Canada Act would perhaps be one of the relevant
pieces of legislation. As for other acts of Parliament, I am not
sure. I am sorry that I cannot give the honourable senator a more
precise answer. I am sure that in committee the honourable
senator will have an opportunity to obtain the correct answer.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Lynch-Staunton,
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the
Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders
(question of privilege of Honourable Senator Kinsella) presented
in the Senate on April 13, 2000.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Jack Austin moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I have moved concurrence in
the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Privileges,
Standing Rules and Orders, which was tabled on Thursday,
April 13, 2000. The report deals with the question of privilege
that was raised by the Honourable Senator Kinsella regarding a
witness who had appeared before the Standing Senate Committee
on Agriculture and Forestry.
Allegations that a witness before a Senate committee has been
harassed or interfered with are extremely serious and must be
investigated carefully. The protections of parliamentary privilege
that apply to the Senate and all senators also extend to those
persons, including witnesses, who participate in our proceedings.
In 1993, the House of Commons Standing Committee on House
Management reaffirmed the principles of parliamentary privilege
and the extension of privilege to witnesses. Its report stated:
The protection of witnesses is a fundamental aspect of the
privilege that extends to parliamentary proceedings and
those persons who participate in them. It is well established
in the Parliament of Canada, as in the British Parliament,
that witnesses before committees share the same privileges
of freedom of speech as do Members....The protection of
witnesses extends to threats made against them or
intimidation with respect to their presentations before any
As honourable senators will recall, in 1998 and in 1999, the
Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry was
engaged in a special study of recombinant bovine growth
hormone and its effect on the human and animal health safety
aspects. This study received considerable media attention and
was closely monitored by various interest groups and interested
individuals as well as the government. It is this sort of study that
Senate committees undertake so well.
In the course of its hearings, the Agriculture Committee
requested that certain scientists from Health Canada appear. It
appears that there were extensive discussions with the scientists,
their union representatives and the department regarding their
appearance, as they were concerned about the possible
repercussions on their careers. The minister and the department
gave assurances, and the scientists appeared on October 22,
1998. Following the tabling of the committee's interim report in
March 1999, several of the scientists appeared again before
One of the scientists who appeared was Dr. Shiv Chopra, who
is a drug evaluator with the Human Safety Division, Bureau of
Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of Health Canada.
He had been involved with the application for approval of rBST
and the gaps analysis report that was subsequently prepared. He
appeared before the Agriculture Committee on three separate
occasions: October 22, 1998; April 26, 1999; and May 3, 1999.
On August 15, 1999, Senator Kinsella co-chaired a senators'
round table on citizens' participation in civic affairs, at which
time he was approached by Dr. Chopra. Dr. Chopra said he
believed that a five-day suspension without pay that he had
received was a direct consequence of his testimony before the
Senate Agriculture Committee.
Senator Kinsella immediately wrote to the deputy minister of
the department and advised Senator Carstairs of the case. When
the Senate resumed sitting in September 1999, Senator Kinsella
raised a question of privilege. He was supported by several other
senators, and on September 9, 1999, the Speaker found that a
prima facie case existed and the issue was referred to the
Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders
Before the matter could be taken up, however, the first session
of the 36th Parliament was prorogued on September 18, 1999.
On October 13, 1999, however, Senator Kinsella again raised the
question of privilege and the matter was again referred to the
Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders.
As many senators will know, the Rules Committee has been
extremely busy since the beginning of this session. The question
of privilege raised by Senator Kinsella, however, was a major
concern. We held a series of meetings and heard Senator
Kinsella, Dr. Chopra, six other Health Canada scientists, and the
deputy minister, Dr. David Dodge. Dr. Chopra and the other
scientists provided extensive briefs and documentation to the
committee, all of which has been carefully reviewed.
This was not an easy case. There was no direct evidence that
the five-day suspension of Dr. Chopra was related in any way to
his appearances before the Senate Agriculture Committee.
During the appearances of each of the six scientists, I specifically
asked if he or she had any direct evidence of any disciplinary
action against Dr. Chopra as a result of his appearances before
the Senate Agriculture Committee on rBST. Each of the
witnesses, and Dr. Chopra, replied that they had not seen or heard
anything directly linking the five-day suspension to the Senate
The stated reason for Dr. Chopra's suspension was his
participation in a conference on employment equity sponsored by
the Department of Canadian Heritage on March 26, 1999. In
particular, Dr. Chopra is alleged to have made certain comments
about another employee in a public forum, and this was the
ground for imposing discipline on him. The issue before the
committee, however, was not whether the discipline was
warranted or whether it was excessive. Rather, the issue was
whether the suspension was given wholly or in part as a result of
Dr. Chopra's Senate committee appearances, as a means to
intimidate or harass him. In other words, was he being punished
because he appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee or
because of his testimony there? Unless we could draw that link,
the question of the suspension was not one that the committee
was involved with. This is, and will be, the subject of a grievance
and a hearing before the Public Service Staff Relations Board.
Dr. Chopra and the other Health Canada scientists had no
doubts in their own minds that the suspension and the Senate
Agriculture Committee appearances were related. They asked us
to draw certain inferences or conclusions from the surrounding
circumstances and events, and from other things that had
happened within the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs.
Members of the committee were disturbed and even shocked
at the testimony that was presented regarding the working
environment in the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs. On the basis of
what the committee heard, the situation appeared to be
unacceptable. I caution, however, that the committee did not
undertake a full or complete investigation of the employment
practices at Health Canada, and we had no mandate to do so. We
did not hear from all of the stakeholders and there is undoubtedly
other evidence that was not presented to us. Nonetheless, what
we did hear concerned us. That is why, in our report, we included
the following passage 17:
The evidence clearly establishes that the working
environment in the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs at Health
Canada is highly unsatisfactory. There is a great deal of
suspicion and lack of trust, and, therefore, allegations of this
nature cannot be entirely discounted. Your Committee finds
this situation deplorable, and urges the Minister of Health
and the Deputy Minister to take steps to remedy it, as a
priority and a matter of urgency.
In cases of this type, where there is a long and complex
background and history with many interrelated issues, where
there is unpleasantness and matters have become very personal,
it is difficult to separate out particular aspects. As we said in our
Your Committee's task is complicated by the poisoned
environment that exists in the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs.
On one level, all of these things are connected together. The
difficulty that our committee encountered was that we needed
more. In order to make a finding that parliamentary privilege had
been breached or that a contempt of Parliament had been
committed, we needed clear evidence that the suspension of
Dr. Chopra was related to his appearances before the Senate
Agriculture Committee. Yet no one was able to provide direct or
hard evidence to establish the necessary link. In the result, the
committee was very careful not to say allegations of intimidating
or tampering with the witness were groundless. We were not
prepared to exonerate completely the individuals who are
complained of. However, by the same token, we were not able to
find that breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament
While determined to do everything necessary to uphold the
privileges of the Senate and of senators, it was incumbent upon
us to proceed with caution. In the report, we concluded
After a careful review of all the evidence, your
Committee is unable to conclude that a contempt of
Parliament has occurred. Your Committee is not satisfied to
the degree that it must be in order to make such a finding.
The standard of proof required in order to determine that a
contempt of Parliament has occurred has not been met, but
this is not to say that there is no evidence. Members of your
Committee consider that the allegations have not been
We were also mindful of the fact that there are other legal
proceedings, including grievances and a case in the Federal
Court of Canada, that involve related or, in some cases,
identical facts. The committee's mandate was restricted to the
issue of parliamentary privilege; the other issues must be dealt
On behalf of the committee, I should like to thank Senator
Kinsella for raising this matter in the Senate, and all of the
witnesses who appeared before us. I would also like to express
my appreciation to all senators who sat on the committee during
our consideration of this important and complicated question.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, I should like to move the adjournment of
the debate. In so doing, I wish to state that I appreciate the
assiduous, careful and cautious work accomplished by the
committee under the chairmanship of Senator Austin, and I shall
be commenting further on the substance of the report.
Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the
Leave having been given to proceed to Motion No. 75:
Hon. Jack Austin, pursuant to notice of June 15, 2000,
That the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing
Rules and Orders have power to sit from 6:00 p.m. on
Tuesday, June 20, 2000, even though the Senate may then
be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation
Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I ask for consent of the Senate to pass over
all remaining items on the Orders of the Day and Notice Paper
and proceed now to the adjournment motion, leaving all matters
standing in their place.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Hays has
proposed that all —
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I wish to
ask a question of the Honourable Senator Hays. Does that mean
that Order No. 19 on page 11 will remain as it is on the
Senator Hays: That is what I asked for.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that
all other items stand as they are on the Order Paper?