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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 36th Parliament,
Volume 138, Issue 72

Tuesday, June 27, 2000
The Honourable Gildas L. Molgat, Speaker


Table of Contents

THE SENATE

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.

Prayers.

[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Honourable Louis J. Robichaud, P.C., Q.C., C.C.

Fortieth Anniversary of Election as Premier of New Brunswick

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, there are some events that make such an impact on our lives that we can still remember the circumstances surrounding them. We probably recall what we were doing when we learned of the death of President Kennedy or of Lady Diana.

On June 27, 1960, I recall that I was rocking a one-month old baby to sleep when I heard that Louis J. Robichaud had been elected Premier of New Brunswick. I applauded his victory and savoured it, although I did not attend the celebrations. History has demonstrated that the people of New Brunswick were right to have elected this young Acadian, aged 35 at the time, as premier.

What was Louis J. Robichaud's vision? It was a vision of social justice based on the principle of equity and equality, one that is constantly challenged still today. Premier Robichaud's program of "Equal opportunities for all" guaranteed all of the province's children the same quality of education from country schoolhouses right up to university. There was some opposition to this program, even going as far as threats on the lives of the premier and his family.

The program was a pivotal point in provincial history. It made a significant contribution to the self-actualization of the Acadians. This and his many other accomplishments during his premiership of New Brunswick and during his life in politics made Ti-Louis, as we fondly called him, our idol.

On behalf of my colleagues, particularly Senators Eymard Corbin and Fernand Robichaud, and of all the francophones of New Brunswick and even of the Atlantic region as a whole, I thank you, Senator Louis Robichaud! Thanks to you, a dialogue between anglophones and francophones was begun, and my grandchildren now reap the benefits.

Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, it was 40 years ago today that the youngest premier in Canada and the first Acadian to become Premier of New Brunswick was elected. Last week, Senator Rivest referred to the Quiet Revolution, whose architect was Jean Lesage. Today, it is important to mention the equally significant revolution undertaken in New Brunswick by Louis J. Robichaud, who was elected on June 27, 1960, five days after Jean Lesage's election. Mr. Robichaud was Premier of New Brunswick for 10 years, until 1970.

I want stress how the work undertaken by Mr. Robichaud in his province benefitted the cause of social justice and equity. At the time, Mr. Robichaud was barely 34 years old. Allow me to quote the 1987 edition of The Canadian Encyclopaedia:

— he introduced far-reaching social reforms through the centralizing Programme of Equal Opportunity. His Liberal government modernized liquor laws, abolished the Hospital Premium Tax, passed an Official Languages Act, established U de Moncton, increased Acadian administrative influence, and encouraged the mining and forest industries.

Acadians, among others, are deeply indebted to him. Indeed, it was under his administration that the University of Moncton, the only Acadian university in Canada, was created in 1963. It was also under his administration that, in 1969, New Brunswick became officially bilingual — the one and only province to have that status to this day — and that Acadians began to truly have access to education and services in French, and also to better jobs.

Maurice Basque, a journalist for Le Devoir, wrote the following last summer during the Francophone Summit, which was held in Moncton:

It is in New Brunswick's Acadia that Acadians have made the greatest legal, political and socio-economic gains. From 1960 to 1970, the government of Premier Louis J. Robichaud promoted a true Acadian quiet revolution in New Brunswick... That same government imposed a series of major socio-economic reforms that have greatly contributed to the development of Acadian regions in that province.

The Robichaud administration was responsible for introducing the equal opportunity program, a program designed to ensure a fairer distribution of opportunities and resources between the poorer northern part of the province with its francophone, that is, Acadian, majority, and the more industrialized, richer and majority Anglophone southern part, and between rural and urban regions as well. In fact, Arthur T. Doyle, a well-known analyst on the political scene in New Brunswick had this to say last fall:

More than any other premier, Louis J. Robichaud introduced a significant change in the role of the provincial government with his equal opportunity program. He also undertook to centralize the management of hospitals, health care, education, income assistance and the administration of justice. These were radical changes, never before seen in Canada, which were a model for other provinces and certain American states.

[English]

I am sure that I speak for all corners of this house in paying tribute to a great Canadian, our colleague Senator Robichaud.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I congratulate Senator Losier-Cool, from New Brunswick, and Senator De Bané, from Quebec, on their tributes to Senator Louis J. Robichaud. I join with them in offering my personal congratulations to our friend and colleague, as well as those of my parents, Alphonse and Lucille Charette, and of all Franco-Ontarians and everyone who speaks French in Ontario.

Imagine, honourable senators, what the election of Louis Robichaud, in 1960, as head of the government of New Brunswick meant to all Franco-Ontarians. Think of the trust, the vision, the confidence this new leader of New Brunswick inspired in us. He gave us the opportunity to show our pride as French-Canadians, something we still do today, in French, with our children and our grandchildren.

[English]

Question of Privilege

Notice

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I recognize other senators under Senators' Statements, you have all received from the Clerk of the Senate notice of a question of privilege. This notice was submitted to the clerk at 11:15 a.m. on this day, June 27. Rule 43(3) of the Rules of the Senate provides:

Except as provided in section (4) below, a Senator wishing to raise a question of privilege shall, at least three hours before the Senate meets for the transaction of business, give a written notice of such question to the Clerk of the Senate.

The written notice was received, but not within the time provided by the rule. I leave that with honourable senators for your information regarding later proceedings.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Letter of Thanks to Committee from Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, we so seldom receive praise for or even recognition of the work we do in this place. However, when I received a letter two weeks ago that did just that, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs decided unanimously that I should share it with the entire Senate.

By way of background, during the hearings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill C-23, members heard from representatives of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach. Although the witnesses were generally in favour of the principle of Bill C-23, they addressed some serious concerns about its impact on their treaty rights, as well as the negotiation process that had been followed to arrive at the relevant parts of the bill which affect them the most.

The committee took the concerns of the Cree-Naskapi very seriously and was able to assist them in obtaining the appropriate written assurances from Ministers Nault and McLellan. As a result, on June 19, Chief Philip Einish of the Cree-Naskapi wrote to me, as chair of the committee, as follows:

Dear Senator Milne,

On behalf of the Council and members of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, I would like to express my sincere thanks to you and to the members of the Committee you chair for the good services rendered to the Naskapi Nation in connection with Bill C-23.

Prior to proceeding before your Committee, we felt that our voices had fallen on deaf ears. From my reading of the transcripts of the proceedings of your Committee and from the reports of our representatives, it is more than clear that our concerns were listened to and quickly understood by the members of your Committee, and that your Committee played the key role in obtaining for us the commitment from the Government that we had been seeking from the outset for the protection of treaty rights.

The letter is signed, "In Peace and Friendship, Chief Philip Einish."

Honourable senators, I wanted to put this letter on the Senate record to congratulate all members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for their excellent ongoing work, as well as to highlight the good work accomplished by the Senate every day.


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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Bill

Report of Committee

Hon. Peter A. Stollery, Chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, presented the following report:

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs has the honour to present its

TENTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-19, An Act respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has examined the said Bill in obedience to its Order of Reference dated June 22, 2000, and now reports the same without amendment.

However, your committee regrets that it did not have sufficient time to give the bill the full attention that the committee would have liked. Consequently, your committee recommends that an ongoing study be undertaken by a committee of the Senate of issues and concerns arising from the bill, as well as evolving issues pertaining to the coming into force of the Statute of Rome and the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Your committee recommends that this study be completed within three years.

Respectfully submitted,

PETER STOLLERY

Chairman

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

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

National Horse of Canada Bill

First Reading

Hon. Lowell Murray presented Bill S-29, to provide for the recognition of the Canadien Horse as the national horse of Canada.

Bill read first time.

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

On motion of Senator Murray, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.

Constitutional Role of Senate

Notice of Motion to inform house of commons of intention to protect status

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, on behalf of Senator Taylor, I give notice that tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28, 2000, Senator Taylor will move:

That the Senate of Canada views with grave concern the increasingly frequent practice of the House of Commons to debate and pass legislation which ignores the constitutional role of the Senate, the rights of our aboriginal peoples and official minority language groups;

That the Senate will continue to maintain its legitimate constitutional status by amending any bill that fails to recognize the constitutional roles enjoyed by both Houses of Parliament; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs have power to sit on Wednesday, June 28, 2000 at 3:30 in the afternoon, even though the Senate may then be sitting, for the purpose of receiving evidence related to its study of Bill C-18, to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters), and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Explain!

Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I have been given to understand that due to the pressing nature and long list of the business still before the Senate this week, the Senate may indeed sit late tomorrow afternoon. If we are to get this bill through before the summer recess, we will need to hear witnesses tomorrow afternoon as scheduled.

Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, could the Chair of the committee tell us whether the minister is involved in the hearings tomorrow?

Senator Milne: At this point, the minister is not involved in the hearings tomorrow. We have been trying to make arrangements, but we may not be able to do so.

Senator Cools: What a disappointment.

Senator Kinsella: May we hear who are the witnesses?

Senator Milne: Honourable senators, at this point, the witnesses from the Criminal Lawyers Association, the Canadian Bar Association and the Barreau du Québec have all been approached but have not yet answered as to whether they will appear.

We will be hearing from Mothers Against Drunk Driving; the Canadian Police Association; Mr. Wayne Jeffery, who is with the RCMP in British Columbia and a member of the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science; and either Mr. Roger Culter or Mr. Andrejs Berzins, both Crown counsel who testified during the impaired driving study of the House of Commons Justice Committee. They were in favour, I believe, of expanding police powers for drug testing. That is who we have lined up at present.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to.


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Pages Exchange Program with House of Commons

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I proceed to Question Period, I should like to introduce to you the pages from the House of Commons who will be here this week on our exchange program.

Annie McKendy is studying visual arts and psychology at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. She is from Montreal, Quebec.

[Translation]

Jean-François Laberge is from Orléans, Ontario, and he is studying political science at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa.

[English]

Laura Floyd is studying communications at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. Laura is from Brentwood Bay, British Columbia. For those of you who do not know Brentwood Bay, I encourage you to visit. It is a lovely spot.

I welcome our three visiting pages on behalf of all honourable senators.

[Translation]

We hope that your stay with us will be interesting and useful.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

National Defence

Sea King Helicopters—Program to Upgrade—Request to Speed Up Process

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have some serious questions for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I must preface them with some comments on the impression left by the actions of the Minister of National Defence when he visited the military exercise in the Pacific. We all know about the loss of the Sea King. Thank God, the aircraft loss was without harm to the crew. However, it raises serious concerns when we learn that Minister Eggleton preferred the services of the United States helicopter, rather than our own, to ferry him about.

As well in preface to my question, I wish to say that we welcome the Prime Minister's statement in Europe. However, I reject the spin of "unfounded" being placed upon the possibility of a directed contract to Aerospatiale with respect to the Cougar aircraft. That is very important. What bothered me most about that comment was the use of the word "soon." I become irritated when I hear the government using the word "soon" because I believe that you will not go through with it.

As the minister knows, number 442 sits at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, probably in water too deep for recovery. There is little doubt as to what happened. A faulty gearbox of the 21000 series caused the crash.

Honourable senators, 441 and 442 are simply numbers assigned to aircraft when they are built. It was just a few short weeks ago that Talon 441, with the same 21000 series gearbox, barely made it to Shut In Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is Sea King 442 that is sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. If that does not send a message, I do not know what does.

I am told, honourable senators, that in the fleet of 29 Sea Kings, only three have been upgraded to the 24000 series. These are not new gearboxes or motors, but are rebuilt ones. However, they do have some credible life expectancy, quite unlike, as we have now seen, the 21000 series.

Will the minister go to his colleague, the Minister of National Defence, his colleagues from cabinet and the Prime Minister and request two things? Speed up, please, the replacement of these faulty gearboxes, because it is critically important. If that cannot be done, please restrict the use of these aircraft indefinitely, until such time as this work can be done, or there is a replacement either by way of a directed contract or otherwise.

Incidentally, if it is to be a directed contract, why not direct the contract to the assembly line that is already in place building our new search and rescue helicopters, the Cormorant. That production line is up and running. The orders and specifications are already in place.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate give some response to these very serious matters?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I anticipated that there would be a question with respect to the Sea Kings today, having read that very serious news over the weekend. Hopefully, I shall address all of the issues that the honourable senator raised. In the event that I do not, I am sure he will follow up.

With respect to the precise nature of the procurement process, I am not in any position to give him any specifics at this stage. I was pleased, as he was, that the Prime Minister had indicated that the process would move forward this summer, if I recall correctly. The procurement of new aircraft is obviously encouraging news to the people in the Armed Forces, and to the honourable senator who has raised this issue quite a number of times, certainly while I have been here and no doubt before my arrival.

(1440)

At this point, I cannot conclude precisely the nature of the problem with respect to the Sea King that was lost. There will be the normal investigation, which I understand is already underway, and a report will be made giving us a very precise idea of the problem.

In the past, we spoke of a $50-million program to upgrade certain equipment on the Sea King fleet. I do not have that information in front of me now, but at that time I gave the amounts for each particular part of the program, including the gearbox upgrade, how far along it had progressed, and the anticipated time of completion. I or my staff will check to see that that information is all on the record there. If it is not, I can retrieve it and share it with the honourable senator and anyone else who is interested.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Did you fly on the one that crashed?

Senator Boudreau: The Honourable Leader of the Opposition asks me if I flew on the one that crashed. I am not certain, but I must say that the thought had occurred to me.

Honourable senators, I shall check to see if the information is already on the record, and if it is not, I shall produce it. I shall also pass along to the Minister of National Defence the senator's urging to complete the $50-million upgrade program as quickly as possible and to limit the assignments for those particular pieces of equipment that have not completed the upgrade.

Senator Forrestall: I can share the minister's lack of specific knowledge as to what happened because the aircraft is on the bottom of the ocean. The pilot and the crew were safely plucked from the Pacific Ocean. They were on board when the plane landed. There is a process that tells the pilot when he is having transmission problems. A signal or an alarm tells him to get on the ground quickly because soon he will lose power. The crew reported that this is what happened. I expect this information will trickle down sooner or later.

In all likelihood, it was a transmission problem. There were all of the attendant indications of gearbox and transmission failure.

Does the minister recognize that two of these situations in a row, in just a matter of a few weeks, are sufficient to restrict this equipment until all of these upgrades have been completed? One cannot gamble with lives. Now is the time to stop being polite. We must call a spade a spade.

The four very senior men who taught me the difference between "pan, pan, pan" and "mayday, mayday, mayday" are maybe now, in their wisdom, considering issuing their own mayday. Should the government not say, "Yes, we shall restrict these aircraft"? What does it matter? We shall have to retrain pilots in any event. There is likely not enough flying time to maintain proficiency. We do not have enough aircraft or equipment. What we do have is not safe. Is it not time to ground these aircraft for the sake of the lives of these men and women?

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, I do not feel comfortable presuming at this stage to know the cause of the latest incident, but I do know that the $50-million upgrade is proceeding.

I shall convey the senator's sentiments that all of the units be grounded. Once all of the evidence is in, I believe that an operational decision will be made by senior military personnel. I would hope that the $50-million upgrade program would proceed as quickly as possible.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

Summit of the Americas 2000-01—Invitation to President of Cuba

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, some time ago, I asked the minister whether the Government of Canada was contemplating taking the initiative of recognizing North Korea. I have not yet had a response and I would like to have one shortly.

My question of today relates to a major event. As we know, the Summit of the Americas will be held in the historic French city of Quebec in the spring of 2001. I understand, and it is regrettable if true, that the host government, that is Canada, has not yet seen fit to extend an invitation to the President of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Would the minister be so kind as to indicate to his colleague that a number of senators are certainly of the opinion that President Castro should be invited to this very important summit and that it would be unthinkable for him not to be invited? It is the responsibility of the host country to issue invitations. Since Canada is that country, it is up to Canada to issue the invitation to President Castro.

There is a link between my two questions, since they both relate to international policy. When are we going to cease following others and when are we going instead to take the initiative of recognizing North Korea — and on this I would appreciate a response — and, second, could the minister possibly pass on this urgent message relating to this invitation to the Summit of the Americas to be held in Quebec City in 2001, a summit for which the Prime Minister of Canada will be the official host?

[English]

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I shall transmit that request and, indeed, the question that accompanies it with respect to the attendance of President Castro. I extend apologies for the outstanding question with respect to North Korea, and I undertake to do my very best to have both of those answers back before we break at the end of the day on Thursday.

This past couple of weeks have proven more difficult than usual to contact the ministers involved, resulting in some delay. I shall make a special effort to answer those questions before we adjourn.

The Senate

Comments by Prime Minister on Recent Appointments

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate in respect of an article in the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday, June 24, 2000, headlined "Chrétien's Senate oldest in 30 years, poll finds; PM accused of `seat warming.'" The Prime Minister is quoted in this article as saying:

What I like about it is these people don't come here to make a career of it.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what the Prime Minister meant by that and whether he was speaking for the Honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator Cools may have an opportunity to ask that question of the Prime Minister directly. If she does have such an opportunity, I would suggest that she do so.

I do not interpret those kinds of comments, whether they are made by the Prime Minister or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate or, indeed, the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I leave it to the individuals involved to explain or expand upon such comments.

(1450)

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, given that this side has less of an opportunity to ask questions of the Prime Minister, I wonder if the Leader of the Government would ask the Prime Minister on our behalf if he includes senators from this side of the house as well.

Senator Boudreau: I am not sure I understand the question, honourable senators.

Senator Comeau: Honourable senators may recall that the Prime Minister indicated that the new senators would be more diligent and would take their work more seriously than those senators who have been here for a longer time and who see it as a career move, which I assume would be the case of the Leader of the Government. I wonder if the Prime Minister views the work of the senators on this side of the house as not being as constructive as that of older senators on the government side of the house.

Senator Boudreau: Honourable senators, if the question is whether the Prime Minister views the work of senators on the opposition side as somewhat less constructive than that of senators on the government side, I could take a guess at that one. I am speculating somewhat here, and honourable senators will forgive me if I do not purport to explain or expand upon such a comment, but I think the Prime Minister was simply making the point that senators coming to this place later on in their careers can still make a valuable contribution. That point, I think, was very well made.

[Translation]

Heritage

Allocation of Funds to Quebec for Canada Day Celebrations

Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, this July 1, the Government of Canada will be spending close to 75 per cent of Heritage Canada's Canada Day budget on Quebec. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what the justification of this expenditure is? This situation is extremely unfair to the other provinces.

[English]

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am not familiar with the details as to where the funds have been committed or indeed what the rationale for those decisions was, but I shall pass along the honourable senator's question.

Clarity Bill

Alleged Comments by Chair of Special Senate Committee in News Article

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I have a question for Senator Fraser as past chairman of the former special committee. I am referring to an article in the Ottawa Citizen.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Cools, that committee has now reported and thus no longer exists, so far as I know.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I disagree. It does so.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret, therefore, that questions cannot be addressed to the former Chair.

Senator Cools: The former Chair, the Honourable Senator Fraser, is still available to answer some questions for us. I am quite aware that the committee is no longer functioning. As senators will recall, I had very strong feelings about the formation of that committee and I thought my —

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Cools, you might ask questions of the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the matter.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, when I asked the leader a question about the Prime Minister, he referred me to the Prime Minister, so I thought if I asked the leader a question with respect to Senator Fraser, he would refer me directly to Senator Fraser. Therefore, I took the option of going to Senator Fraser directly. Can I put a question to Senator Fraser or not?

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Cools, Senator Fraser is not able to answer the question because the committee no longer exists and therefore she is no longer chairman of the committee.

Senator Cools: Then I shall place my question before the leader.

Honourable senators, the question relates to an article in the Ottawa Citizen on Friday, June 16, 2000, entitled, "'Silly' clarity bill unconstitutional, ex-justice says. Estey says controversial legislation is vulnerable to court challenges."

In the body of the article, there is a statement not in quotations but referring to some conversation with Senator Joan Fraser as follows:

Ms. Fraser told him that the Senate is being left out in the bill because of time constraints during a referendum process. She cited previous holdups such as during the passage of the GST and the free trade agreement, which caused the government of the day problems.

My recollection of those particular Senate "holdups" are that they were largely engineered and driven by Liberal senators. I wonder if the Leader of the Government in the Senate can tell me if he agrees with what Senator Fraser had to say in the newspaper article?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have been in public life since 1987, and I have learned never to comment on quotations in newspapers, and that is a practice that I propose to continue.

National Defence

Eviction of Military Families from Military Housing to Shelter Homeless

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, on a separate matter, I should like to raise with the Leader of the Government in the Senate the plight being faced by military families in the PMQs in Area 2 of Rockcliffe Base. They are to be evicted as of July 31, 2001. I am told they got their notice after dark on a Friday night a week ago, so they could not call anyone immediately. These military families are being put out on the street in what is a seller's market in Ottawa.

The reason, I am told, is a memorandum of understanding that has been signed between the Department of National Defence and another government department to house the homeless. It is very clear that the government either has utter contempt for military families, wants revenge for the embarrassment they got from the Quality of Life Study and is taking it out on military families, or is showing that they have no interest whatsoever in remaining in the PMQ business. This is an outrage.

Can the minister confirm that this is the case, that a memorandum of understanding has in fact been signed, that military families are being evicted to house the homeless, and that this will take place in major bases that were affected by closure or cutback? If that is the case, can he tell us what is in the future for the married and officers' PMQs in Willow Park, Windsor Park, Shannon Park and Shearwater?

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I shall be happy to get information for the honourable senator on that very specific question. I shall attempt to have an answer for him before the end of the week.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I request leave to make a statement about Senate business.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, when I move the adjournment motion at the end of the Notice Paper today, I shall move to adjourn to 1:30 tomorrow, and will not include an order that the house rise at 3:30. Rather, thereafter we shall have a normal day, because we have much business to do, in particular a number of speeches on the order dealing with Bill C-20.

I shall also rise before we reach Item No. 1, dealing with Bill C-20, to move a motion under rule 38 of the Rules of the Senate in accordance with an agreement which I believe I have with Senator Kinsella, Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

For now, I should like to let honourable senators know that the order in which I intend to call government business will be Item No. 2, Bill C-11, dealing with the Cape Breton Development Corporation; Bill C-16, dealing with citizenship; following that, Item No. 6, Bill C-27, dealing with parks; and then Item No. 1, dealing with Bill C-20.

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Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization and Dissolution Bill

Third Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government) moved the third reading 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.

He said: Honourable senators, I defer to Honourable Senator Kinsella.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, there are a number of senators who wish to speak to this bill, and I now yield to Honourable Senator Murray.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Thank you, honourable senators. I know that the Cape Breton Development Corporation is on the way out!

Honourable senators, I had hoped that Senator Buchanan, our principal spokesman on this bill, would have arrived by now. We are expecting him momentarily. I hope he will not object if I intervene at this point.

Honourable senators, it occurs to me to ask whether the courtesy that is usually extended to the first speaker on this side might be extended not to me, since I do not take intend to take much time, but to Senator Buchanan when he arrives. I shall leave that for your kind consideration.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Honourable Senator Murray has suggested that the extra time allowed to the first speaker after the motion should be awarded to his colleague rather than himself. Is it agreed that this be done?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Murray: Senator Buchanan and I stated our opposition to this bill during the debate on second reading. This bill is not about the principle of privatization. Were it so, Senator Buchanan and I probably would have supported it quite cheerfully. However, this bill has Parliament delegate to the cabinet and to the board of directors of the Cape Breton Development Corporation the authority to dispose of this Crown corporation as they see fit. This, in our view, is an abdication of parliamentary responsibility. As public policy goes, this is, quite simply, wrong. I ask honourable senators to reflect on that in terms of the precedent it creates for the future.

This bill is also unfair to Cape Breton and to the people of that place. This Crown corporation was set up 33 years ago by the Parliament of the day for reasons both social and economic. It has played an important part in the social and economic life of Cape Breton during all these years. As parliamentarians, we should have seen it through. We should have reserved to ourselves, as parliamentarians, the final word on the terms and conditions of any divestiture of that Crown corporation.

The bill was approved at second reading and went to committee. I am not normally a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; I was appointed a member simply for the duration of this bill. I want, therefore, to take this occasion to thank the chair, Senator Spivak, and other members of the committee for their cooperation and forbearance during our deliberations on this bill. I think there were four of us on the committee with extensive personal knowledge and experience with Cape Breton and with the Cape Breton Development Corporation. That is pre-eminently the case with Senator Buchanan, Senator Graham, Senator Boudreau and myself. It must have seemed to those honourable senators who hail from other parts of the country as if the Cape Bretoners on the committee were speaking in some kind of foreign language or code. It was extremely difficult for them to follow. Nevertheless, I appreciate their forbearance.

Some of the issues we raised — especially that of the human impact on what is being done with this Crown corporation —  were matters to which a number of senators, no matter where they resided in this country, were able to relate. Senator Christensen and Senator Finnerty, who come from resource areas of the country, Senator Kelleher, who is from Sudbury, and Senator Taylor, who is a mining engineer, took a very keen interest in the proceedings and in the bill. I wish to acknowledge their interest, cooperation and, in a general way, their support for us as we tried to find our way through the bill and as we examined witnesses and discussed the issues.

At the committee, we heard from the leadership of the unions. We had testimony from Mrs. Edna Budden, Chairperson of the United Families Organization, who came here to fight for a group numbering perhaps as many as 490, she thinks, who may be left out in the cold in terms of pensions and other benefits if the most optimistic projections of the government and of management turn out to be unrealized.

I wish to focus, however, in this brief intervention, on the testimony we heard from the minister, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, and from his officials and from the management of Devco. I think it is important to understand the context for the evidence and the testimony that the minister and his officials brought. It is clear — in fact, it has been clear for some time —  that they are very close to an agreement with a potential private-sector purchaser. For some weeks now, Mr. Goodale has been predicting that such an agreement would be achieved during the month of June — this month. It is clearly a matter of days, not of weeks or of months, before an agreement is finalized.

It is fair to assume that the minister was fully knowledgeable and conversant with all the issues on the table in these negotiations and with the state of play. Therefore, his policy statements to the committee had added authority and credibility in terms of what we might expect in the near future. When he spoke about the type of deal that the government wants to achieve, about obtaining a long-term commitment on the part of the private-sector buyer to maintain a viable coal mining industry in Cape Breton, about the desirability of having the private-sector buyer specify the number of jobs, and when he made references to 500 jobs, I think we can safely say that he understood the implications of what he was saying. I think it is clear that he knows or can see the shape of a deal in the very near future. While it might be somewhat of an exaggeration to say that I was encouraged by his testimony, let me say that I am not as apprehensive as I was before the committee deliberations began.

Honourable senators, I think we know the concern on the street in Cape Breton. The concern is that a private buyer will purchase the company, mainly in order to supply the lucrative Nova Scotia Power contract that still has 18 months remaining, and then, having bought the company, operate it for a very short time, shut it down and import coal from the United States or from some other foreign country to supply that contract.

The minister's testimony served to alleviate some of our most severe and pressing concerns on that point. I think he sees the shape of a deal, and the shape of the deal he sees strikes me as being acceptable and beneficial — that is, if it turns out as I believe he is predicting it will.

(1510)

Senator Buchanan and I had thought of presenting some amendments either at committee stage or at report stage. I think we could safely predict the fate of such amendments — they would have been defeated. We decided a more constructive approach, and one more helpful to the people of Cape Breton, the people to whom we are trying to be of assistance, would be to achieve a report with some recommendations incorporating some of our concerns, and to achieve unanimity on those recommendations. We did that. Again, I want to acknowledge the constructive spirit and the spirit of cooperation of our colleagues on the committee.

Honourable senators, I shall not take you through all the observations appended to the report of the committee. I simply want to highlight the fact that the committee recommends that no deal be concluded by the government unless the purchaser has demonstrated, first, that it will maximize employment of the existing workforce to the greatest extent possible and, second, that it is committed to the long-term commercial success of the Prince mine, and any other assets involved in the purchase that could serve to increase coal production in the region.

I now turn to the notorious Donkin mine. This is a mine into which the federal government put $80 million a few years ago before they sealed the tunnel. For many people, it represents the last great hope for a future for coal mining in Cape Breton.

The committee made it clear that if the Donkin mine is to be included in the assets to be sold to the private-sector buyer, then that decision should be seen to facilitate the eventual development of that mine. If it is not included, then an effort should be made to sell the asset to another interest who would be interested in its future development.

Honourable senators, we took a close look at the problems presented to us by Mrs. Budden and the union leadership with regard to the human resources adjustment package. We as a committee have taken the position that if the prediction of 500 jobs, which was the basis of an arbitration report, is not realized, the government will have to reopen the workforce adjustment package accordingly. Quoting from the arbitration decision, we pointed out that, should there be a future downsizing at the Prince mine, the only mine now in operation, then a new adjustment program would need to be put in place for these workers at that time.

Finally, while we maintain our objection to having this deal consummated by the government and the board of directors at Devco, and while we would vastly prefer that Parliament reserve to itself the final decision on these matters, we have at least stated that the committee will exercise its right to study the deal after it is done. We will examine witnesses and draw our own conclusions on the terms and conditions of any sale of the Devco assets.

I do not want to exaggerate the importance of this process. However, I believe it will have some moral and political weight, perhaps some cautionary influence when those who are responsible for any deal know that they, that is, the minister and officials, will have to come before a Senate committee and justify it.

Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I should like to move the adjournment of the debate in the name of Senator Buchanan for later this day.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Buchanan, debate adjourned.

[Translation]

Citizenship of Canada Bill

Second Reading

On the Order:

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. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, first I want to thank my colleagues who, by not ending the discussion last Thursday, gave me an opportunity to address Bill C-16 today. I am in more or less the same spirit today and I had promised that I would not speak for more than 15 minutes.

[English]

Therefore, I shall certainly follow my own advice. I shall not ask for more than 15 minutes. Second, I shall not take 15 minutes.

Over the course of the weekend, I read all the speeches that were made in the House of Commons. I listened attentively to the speeches made by Senators Finestone, Wilson and Andreychuk. I got in touch with many associations. As honourable senators know, I have been involved in citizenship matters for over 35 years.

I fought in the House of Commons for years for passage of a Private Member's Bill to reduce from five years to three years the period necessary to become a Canadian citizen. Eventually, I won. It was not because my bill passed; it was opposed year after year. However, one minister of immigration, because of my strong views, made it part of a bill. Therefore, I was happy, as were hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

The bill before us now seems to be very important. Honourable senators would not believe the number of people who have wanted to appear to discuss it. When so many people want to be heard, it should ring a bell that there is something wrong. When you see the Canadian Jewish Congress, followed immediately by the Canadian Islamic Congress, and the B'Nai Brith and the Canadian Arab Federation all seeing eye to eye on the bill and saying that they want to be heard, bells should ring.

To be frank, I was surprised last week at the exchange that took place when our very good and able friend Senator Hays asked the chairman of the committee that will study the bill, "What is your program of action?" The honourable chairman said — and if I misquote I stand to be corrected — "If I would have had the bill last week, it would have passed."

What about these 24 people who insist on being heard? They insist. You cannot hear that many people in one day, let alone in three days. We are not children. We know the government has an agenda, and that is fair game. I shall not accept being pushed around by the House of Commons at the end of a session with them saying about a series of bills, "Hold your nose and pass these bills."

There are rules that govern this place. I do not accept that our very gentlemanly leaders in the Senate, Senators Boudreau and Hays, are being pushed around.

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We all know how politics work. However, there will come a time when senators will demand to be respected. There will come a time when we should take any bill that seems to be important, and say, "Too bad, we will take our time. We will study that bill. Many Canadians wish us to look into it."

Earlier today, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee tabled a bill with an addendum. The members admit saying that they are not too clear on that bill. They believe that it is not good, but have passed it with the intention of creating a committee to study it during the next three years.

Honourable senators, if the bill is not good, we should postpone it. I do not understand that we as senators should accept being treated as we are.

I was a member of the House of Commons for 30 years. I was highly respected in my district. I became a senator, and I am still highly respected in the province of Quebec. When I return to my district, those who once called me Marcel began to address me as Mr. Senator. Those who believe senators should be pushed and not respected are wrong. The point is that we refuse to take the debate to Canadians and tell them what the Senate is about. We do not need to defend the Senate.

We have a song in French, Tout le monde veut aller au ciel, mais personne ne veut mourir, which means that everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.

[Translation]

The question today is more or less the same: We do not want to be treated as they want to treat us.

[English]

We must stand and say that the bill arrived too late.

I have a confidential letter that I cannot read aloud, but I could show it to honourable senators privately. It is the list of people and organizations that have requested to appear. They are among the most important people, groups and organizations in Canada.

Honourable senators, there must be something wrong somewhere in that bill. I have been in Parliament for 37 years. I have never seen a parliamentary secretary resign because the ministry for which he is the parliamentary secretary has put forward a bill. Either the member is totally out of his mind, or he must have strong opinions on the bill. He wants to be heard. He is not the only member of the House of Commons who wants to be heard.

Mr. Gallaway resents the Senate. I would take on this type of member of Parliament any time, anywhere in Canada, on the subject of reform of the Senate. I have talked to him about the reform of the House of Commons. He voted against the bill. Eight Liberals voted against this amendment. Five voted against the bill. Twenty-eight, I did my homework, refused to show up. Of those, at least 19 are opposed to the bill.

I read the speech of Senator Finestone. It is a fine speech, as always. I could debate that speech. I remember in 1947 there was an amendment to the Citizenship Act, because our passports said that we were British subjects. We were not Canadian subjects. It changed slowly. I have all my passports, and I have my father's passports. I can see the development. That is how it came about. When they say that we do not give citizenship for money, they should look at our immigration policy.

Honourable senators, I am troubled by the bill, like many people. I was afraid last week that we would send the bill to the committee, we would call a few witnesses, and the minister would be absent — like all the absent ministers for certain bills that will be sent to committee tomorrow. The minister will be absent. If the minister cannot come to defend his own bill, we should wait. The bill could wait in the other place.

The minister is not here for this bill. Another minister will not be there for the bill that you will study tomorrow. I do not know if I shall consent to this bill when it comes back. Even though I promised not to speak long, I must repeat, where is the relevancy? There are bills that should not be rushed. There is a fundamental question of principle.

I address myself now to the four newest senators. You should not accept to be pushed around for the sake of your own pride. It is a question of both pride in ourselves and pride in the institution. Tough luck if people attack the Senate. It is our duty to organize ourselves to go to the colleges and universities, and say that we are in favour of reform of the Senate and ask what they would suggest.

Honourable senators can see the relevancy of the song that says that everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. Everyone wants the reform of the Senate, but they want to go in different directions. We could start by explaining what the Senate is all about. It could be a different kind of Senate. I shall do my duty this summer and fall by talking about the Senate with the young people at the universities.

We need to stand up once or twice in our life to say, "Sorry, if the House of Commons wants that bill, or wants that agenda, all that they need to do is come here and be heard." They only need to say that it would be good to have this bill.

I shall finish by asking whether everyone has read the last page of Bill C-16, the oath of office? It is a very sweet oath of office.

Senator Cools: A very strange one.

Senator Prud'homme: It is a very strange oath. There was a member of Parliament who was once a refugee. He came to Canada, was saved by Canada. He became well known in the separatist movement. He became a Canadian citizen, ran for office and defeated a young man by 47 votes. He sat with the Bloc Québécois. That young man, who had been defeated, did not give up, because I had told him to never give up. On his fourth attempt, he was elected by 10,000 votes. He is Minister of Sports and Youth.

What does the oath of office mean to these people who may democratically decide that they want to secede from the country to which they made that oath? Even though a new Canadian citizen, they become separatists within less than a few months. We must have an explanation for that. I want an explanation. I was not given an explanation. It is like an afterthought. We are thrown in the door and given the oath.

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Some people say that perhaps the time has come to have a different kind of oath. Mr. Bryden is not known as a lightweight in the House of Commons. I read the speeches. Mr. Bryden is very concerned about the oath. He asked where that oath came from. He moved an amendment which was defeated. He wanted to know if it was important to pledge allegiance to a country, as I have pled allegiance to the Queen 16 times, I think. That is why I am a monarchist until she dies or abdicates voluntarily.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Prud'homme —

Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I am happy to sit down if my 15 minutes are up. I have kept my word as best as possible, but I think the bill can go to committee. I suggest to Madam Chair, please do not rush. Listen to people who want to be heard.

The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senators wishes to speak, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Finestone, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gauthier, that the bill be read the second time.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

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

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

Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization and Dissolution Bill

Third Reading

On the Order:

Resuming the debate on the motion of the Honourable Boudreau, seconded by the Honourable Senator Graham, for the third reading 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.

Hon. John Buchanan: Honourable senators, the unfortunate thing about Bill C-11 is what we are witnessing with its passage. I am a realist and I know the bill will pass. We could have proposed dozens of amendments, but it would have just taken up the time of the committee. When you are in a position where you can hear what people say and what they plan to do and how they will vote, then it is simply a matter of counting, and we can count.

I do want to say this. This bill may — and I use that word "may" — mean the end of an era in Cape Breton. Those senators who know the history of Cape Breton will understand and appreciate that the lifeblood of Cape Breton for over 100 years has come from two industries, the coal industry and the steel industry. We are now witnessing, as we have for the last few years, the downsizing of both of these industries, and rightly so.

The steel industry has fluctuated from some 4,000 or 5,000 employees after the Second World War, down to 1,200, then to 800. It appears it is now down to maybe 200 or 400 employees. That way of life has been dying for a number of years but it is not gone yet. We shall continue to have a steel industry.

Today, in this bill, we are concentrating on the coal industry that has, for 100 years and more, been the major industrial employer of Cape Breton. At times in the era from 1910 right up to the 1940s, the coal mines of Cape Breton employed in excess 18,000 people. Those were the times when most coal was dug with a pick and shovel. Production was not that great, so a large number of men was required until mechanization and new technology took over.

The coal industry has been downsizing for many years because of new production methods and the fact that the cost of mining coal in some of our collieries was getting so high that it was better to close them. That happened through the 1950s and the 1960s.

At a point in the 1960s, the Governments of Nova Scotia and Canada came to an agreement. The Government of Nova Scotia would be responsible for the steel industry and the Government of Canada would be responsible for the coal industry in the Sydney coalfields which are located in industrial Cape Breton. The province would continue to be responsible for any coal mines in Inverness County, Pictou County and Cumberland County.

The role of Devco in the 1960s was to phase out the coal industry and to provide alternate employment for those workers who would not be employed in the mines because of downsizing and close-outs. It was described in what we have referenced over the last number of weeks and months as clause 17(4)(b).

There is no question that the federal government had that responsibility when that bill was passed back in 1968, led by the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen. That is the past history. With the passage of this bill, Devco as we have known it will go into history, though maintaining the responsibility for cleanup and other such matters.

What concerns me about the bill is not the privatization. I have said before that I am not opposed to privatization. However, I am opposed to the way the federal government has gone about this privatization. They have put together a bill to sell all the assets of the Cape Breton Development Corporation — and this is important when you think of it — including the operating coal mine known as Prince. The assets also include the minable coal still in the Sydney coalfields, although there is some question as to whether the federal government has the right to sell those reserves because they are owned by the province of Nova Scotia, and were only leased to the federal government at the inception of Devco.

The assets to be sold also include the banking and lifting mechanisms and the railway used to transport coal. They include the chemical wash plant where coal from our collieries is washed down to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide. It includes the international piers, which have the capability of handling millions of tonnes of coal, originally for export. It is important to remember that they were originally for export. Devco not only supplied all of the requirements of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation but also was able to sell hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coal offshore. The international piers looked after that, although the international piers over the years also were responsible for bringing in iron ore at first from Newfoundland and then from Labrador and the province of Quebec. The sale includes all of these assets.

(1540)

Someone might say, "Is it not time that the federal government get out of coal mining?" I have no problem with that. "Is it not time that there be no more coal mining in Cape Breton?" The answer is no. Why is that? It is one thing for a company to mine or manufacture a product for which there is no market or the market is of such a nature or such a distance away that the company cannot make a profit or break even. Here, however, we have an extraordinary situation where there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal in the Sydney coalfields with a market for that coal less than a few miles away.

Honourable senators must understand that about 80 per cent of all electricity used in Nova Scotia is generated at six generating plants located on Cape Breton Island, the major ones being Lingan 1, 2, 3 and 4, and one called the Point Aconi generating plant. The Leader of the Government in the Senate is well aware of these plants, as is Senator Graham. In fact, even though it was during my time as premier of Nova Scotia that the Point Aconi plant was started, it was officially opened by a government of which the Leader of the Government in the Senate was part.

It is interesting to note that I was dumped upon from high places over the Point Aconi plant. "What a terrible thing to build this big generating plant," said certain people, including at the time the leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. "What a dastardly thing to do, to build this new generating plant." The fact was that the generating plant used the newest technology in the world to eradicate SO2. There was no other such plant in Canada. We built the Point Aconi generating plant. It is called a fluidized bed generating plant, where 90 per cent of SO2 is erased. If anyone wishes to question that number, I have the figures from the federal government's own report that the Point Aconi plant reduces SO2 by 90 per cent through fluidized bed technology.

Honourable senators, we pushed ahead. We planned the project and fired up the plant, but it was opened by the Liberals. I would have thought they would have backed away and said, "We have to finish the project now because the plant is built and it is underway, but let's be away when it is opened." However, they did not go away. They cut the ribbon.

Senator Murray: Did they invite you?

Senator Buchanan: No.

Senator Graham: He invited himself.

Senator Buchanan: They cut the ribbon.

I can tell honourable senators a story about invitations; however I shall not. That is a way of political life in Nova Scotia, of course.

The Liberals cut the ribbon for this incredible generating plant. I remember some of the comments from the people who were opposed to the plant. As the Liberals cut the ribbon, they said, "This is the newest technology, not only in Canada but in North America and maybe the world."

That is past history, honourable senators. I am reminded of the time a big daycare centre opened in Halifax, the biggest in the city. I had been Leader of the Opposition since 1976. I was invited to sit in the front row with about 50 others at the daycare centre. When the time came for the opening, after the kids had put on a concert, Brian Flemming, who was the master of ceremonies said, "Those of you who are involved in the ribbon-cutting, please come onto the platform."

The premier, Gerry Regan, goes up, along with George Mitchell, a minister of the Crown, Walter Fitzgerald and about four others. I said, "I shall go up," and walked onto the platform.

The ribbon was stretched across the platform with a little boy holding one end and a little girl holding the other end. Then the master of ceremonies said, "Now we shall have the ribbon-cutting ceremony." Gerry walked up to the centre. They gave him the scissors. Suddenly he looked to his left and saw me standing there next to him. He said, "You are not supposed to be here." I said, "Why don't you tell them?"

The picture in the paper the next day had the caption showing Premier Gerald Regan and the Leader of the Opposition cutting the ribbon. I do not think I was ever invited to anything else.

Senator Graham: I bet your name was on the building.

Senator Buchanan: It is good thing my honourable friend mentioned that. I have 36 plaques all over the province. I have two plaques in the Glace Bay General Hospital. Inside there is a great big picture of myself and one of the other supporters. When the government changed in 1993, I wanted to show some people the big plaques in the Glace Bay General Hospital. I told them, "There is a big picture of me inside." We went in and the picture was gone. I do not know what was done with the picture. It is somewhere.

I shall return to the bill.

Honourable senators, we have all these generating plants and the fuel used is not oil, not natural gas, but coal. The market is there for coal, 3 million tonnes of coal. Immediately, someone will say "privatization," but let us make absolutely sure that the 3 million tonnes of coal required by the Nova Scotia Power Corporation is Cape Breton coal.

Someone might say that Cape Breton coal is too expensive to mine. That is true. In collieries like Phalen, Lingan 26 and those that have been closed, it was too expensive. They were six or seven miles under the ocean. However, in the Sydney coalfields, much coal can be mined economically and can be used in our generating plants.

(1550)

One of them is called the harbour seam at the Sydney coalfields located at Donkin, outside Glace Bay. The tunnels are there. Senator Graham is well aware of the location of the tunnels. Back in the late 1970s, because of the quality of the coal, the coal seams were delineated with a big drill ship. Throughout the 1980s, the tunnels were drilled at a cost of $85 million. Where is the coal? It is right at the coal face. If we were to go down the tunnels, as I did before they were flooded, we would see the coal right at the coal face.

Senator Taylor: Where else would it be?

Senator Buchanan: I am glad to hear the honourable senator ask that question because some people say miners must go a few miles out to get to the coal. That is wrong. The coal is right there. Developmental coal can be used in the fluidized bed plant very easily.

Honourable senators, I raise this matter because there are the issues of pensions, severance and continued employment. The issue of continued employment is particularly important. That is not to say that the other issues are not important, because they are. What did the minister say when he was before the committee? He gave us a little encouragement, frankly. The minister stated that his goal was that there would be jobs up to a range. Did he use the words "up to"?

Senator Murray: Actually he used the word "minimum," but it mysteriously disappeared from the blues.

Senator Buchanan: Did it?

Senator Murray: Yes.

Senator Buchanan: You and I heard it.

Senator Murray: Yes.

Senator Buchanan: A minimum of 500 jobs.

Senator Graham: "Something in the range of" were the exact words.

Senator Buchanan: The minister did use the word "minimum," though. The honourable senator, as a defender of Cape Breton, as he always has been, will certainly agree with that.

Senator Graham: The minister's quote was "something in the range of up to 500."

Senator Buchanan: Well, someone, in taking it down, missed the word "minimum."

Honourable senators, let us not argue about the words. The important aspect is that the minister did talk about 500 jobs; therefore, he knows the identity of the successful bidder. One would have to be stupid to be on that committee and not realize that the minister knows that. This is one of those great secrets of Ottawa — everyone knows the name of the bidder. I know the name of the company and I know where they are located. The union representatives know the name of the company. Many honourable senators know the name of the company. The fact is that the minister knows, so why would the minister use the phrase "500 jobs" unless there will be a minimum of 500 jobs?

Senator Robertson, from Moncton, New Brunswick, understands that. There is coal in New Brunswick.

Honourable senators, I do not think anyone should be content with just 500 jobs. The minister went further, therefore, and said something to the effect that he wanted to ensure there would be a maintenance of coal mining in Cape Breton now and for the future. That means that the Cape Breton coal industry should come close to supplying the needs of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation.

If the minister's words mean something, why is it that when the government is trying to sell the assets, they keep putting emphasis on the deepwater port? They will not export much coal. Therefore, why emphasize to a new buyer that we have this great international pier with this deepwater port for the importation of coal? Why would we import coal into Cape Breton when we have all this coal?

Honourable senators, an American company will buy the assets, and it will have access to the Nova Scotia Power Corporation contract for 3 million tonnes of coal. In other words, this American company will go around the world and broker coal from coal mines in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. They will get coal from Colombia in South America and ship it to this beautiful port in Sydney. In other words, the profits from the coal will go to this company in the U.S. No miners will be employed in Cape Breton other than those who will be employed at the Prince colliery for as long as it will last. Is that is a good deal?

Honourable senators, that is why we are not happy with the bill. We would be happy with privatization. There are groups in Nova Scotia who could develop a new mine to employ Cape Breton miners and continue the mining of coal in Prince colliery. They have expertise. I do not think anyone in this Senate would say that Cape Breton miners are not among the best in the world.

You would not say that, would you, Senator Graham?

Senator Graham: No, I would not say "among the best"; I would say they are the best.

Senator Buchanan: They are the best.

If they are the best in the world, why is it that they will not even be looked upon to mine more coal; rather it will be brought in from Colombia or from the United States? That does not make any sense. If there were no market for the coal, fine.

Let us look at another argument, honourable senators. Some have suggested that we look at the natural gas sector. They remind us that we, as politicians, have fought for years to get natural gas and that we have signed agreements with the federal government to get the maximum benefits for Nova Scotia from natural gas. They tell us that natural gas is now flowing in pipelines down to Dracut, Massachusetts, and that natural gas will be flowing into the Halifax-Dartmouth area, and probably Cape Breton. No way.

Natural gas is much higher in price than the Nova Scotia Power Corporation would be prepared to pay to maintain the cost level of electricity for Nova Scotians. I have all the figures that were put together by the consultants, which indicate that the use of natural gas will be up and the use of coal will be down. Natural gas will not replace coal in those big generating plants in Cape Breton. It probably will replace oil in the big generating plant in Dartmouth, and so it should. It might replace coal in Trenton. I am not sure of that. However, natural gas will not replace coal in Lingan 1, 2, 3, 4 and Point Aconi. Those plants represent the bulk of our coal requirements for generating electricity. Therefore, natural gas is not the answer and will not happen. What does that leave? We are left with coal.

Honourable senators, the other argument is that the sulphur content of the coal in Cape Breton mines or in the new coal mine that has been trumpeted for years is too high. That is interesting, because Nesbitt Burns has clearly indicated something that we have known for years, that you and you have known for years; I am sorry, I keep pointing to the two honourable gentlemen in front of me because they are very knowledgeable about the coal industry.

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Nesbitt Burns has said the coal in the harbour seam at Donkin and the Sydney coal seams is excellent, volatile, thermal coal and metallurgical coal. Some people say, yes, but there is high sulphur in the roof and the floor. That is true but they have a technique — and have had for years — called selective mining. It is interesting technology. Mining engineers have told me that, by using selective mining, they can go in and take the coal from the centre of the seams, which is very low-sulphur coal. They can then take that coal to Victoria Junction, to our big wash plant, chemically wash it down to reduce the sulphur in the coal, so they end up with an excellent mix of coal that will ensure that Nova Scotia adheres to agreements that were signed on SO2 tonnage. There is no question about it, and that is in the Nesbitt Burns report, too. It is also in reports that were put together by consultants for the United Mine Workers.

The coal is there and it is good, low-sulphur coal; the workforce is there, and yet it appears that the Government of Canada is washing its hands completely of the miners of Cape Breton for it is having the coal brought in from the big port in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The coal will be from Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, even from as far away as Colombia.

Honourable senators, that is not fair.

You might ask, "What will you do about it?" Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about it. This is democracy in reverse. The bill will be passed, the federal government will sell all the assets of Devco, and no parliamentarian will be able to say anything about it. The House of Commons will not have anything to say about it. The Senate will not have anything to say about it. It is a fait accompli, a done deal. That is ridiculous. Why would the federal government, and senators on the government side, not have agreed that the bill be put into abeyance until after the details of the sale were made known? In that way, parliamentarians could discuss and debate it to ensure we are getting the best deal for Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Canada? That is not what is happening. The government wants the bill passed so that, behind closed doors, they can do the deal with the American company, and never mind what is happening in Cape Breton.

At least the Senate Energy Committee has agreed that, once the deal is done, the committee will have an opportunity to discuss and debate the purchase agreement. I do not know what we shall be able to do about it, but we certainly will have the right to look at the whole deal, and that is very important, although not as important as it would have been if we had put the bill in abeyance until after the deal was done.

I am still hopeful. I just spoke to a very prominent mining engineer on the weekend. The reason I did not get up here this morning is I stayed in Halifax today to discuss some aspects of this bill with others who know the coal industry: geologists, mining engineers, other engineers. I am still hopeful that something can happen.

You might say, "But this American company is the only one qualified to do it." I might be wrong, we might all be wrong, and maybe this company we are thinking about is not the company that is involved, but if it is, I can tell you they have one operating coal mine. The rest of the business they do is coal brokering. They buy and sell coal. You might say it is better to have them work the Prince colliery and to forget about the Donkin mine. I say, "No way." I was annoyed when I read in one of the reports that the Cape Breton cooperative group, including Donkin Resources Limited, lacked management. I know the people involved personally, and I know what they do politically, and God bless them, that is great. I do not think they voted for me many times, maybe never. I know they voted for my colleague across the way here from time to time, maybe always. Forget the politics of this situation; the fact is they are excellent managers. They are contractors, businessmen, accountants, engineers.

The interesting thing is that they are all Nova Scotians who have been involved in business and contracting and coal mining for years. They are all Nova Scotians. They put together a plan, and they were turfed aside. I am told they were turfed aside by the consultant. Come on; you have to be born yesterday to believe that. When you hire a consultant, the consultant is given his marching orders. When someone from the federal government says, "We had nothing to do with that, that was a decision by Devco," I say, "Come on." Devco and the federal government are one and the same. Devco is owned by the Government of Canada. You cannot get off the hook by saying, "Oh, well, the decision not to award it to the Nova Scotian and Cape Breton group was made by the consultant, we had nothing to do with that." What a lot of nonsense. The decision was made at the highest level not to have this group of Nova Scotians and Cape Bretoners involved.

Honourable senators may ask why. Well, I know why. It is because here in Ottawa they want to get out of the coal business. I say let them get out. However, they want to go further than that. They never want to have anyone from Cape Breton or Nova Scotia come after them again and say, "We need money to do this or that." They think the best thing to do is to give the whole thing to someone in the United States or offshore because they will never bother us again. That is what is happening here.

The gentlemen over here know what is happening. I shall not name names. We all know the people who are involved in the Nova Scotia group. They are very prominent people, very prominent mining engineers, very prominent geologists.

Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, would the Honourable Senator Buchanan not agree that the decision as to who would be on the short list and recommended to the Devco board of directors was made by Nesbitt Burns?

Senator Buchanan: The honourable senator knows I do not agree with that. It is like the real estate agent employed by someone and asking, "Well, now, what do you think your house is worth?" "I think it is worth $500,000." "Good, we shall put that down." Come on. As a certain friend of ours in Halifax would say, "Get with it, get with it."

Senator Kinsella: Next question.

Senator Graham: There is no point.

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Senator Buchanan: The decision, Senator Graham, was made in the hallowed halls here in Ottawa. That is where the decision was made. It is interesting to note that the Cape Breton cooperative group, including Donkin Resources Limited, was turfed aside early in the game. When asked why they were tossed aside, the response was that there was no management. I would not want to be the one who has to go to Pictou County in Cape Breton to tell those people that it was turfed aside because there is no management in Cape Breton and that there is no expertise there. They have only been mining coal for more than 200 years. Those in management have not been around for 200 years, but most of them have been around for upward of 50 years.

Let us just hope that we can accept the minister at his word that there will be a minimum of 500 jobs and the opportunity, as he put it, for maintaining a long-term coal industry in Cape Breton. Although those may not be his exact words, that was clearly the intent of his remarks. I understand that to mean that there will be 500 jobs, as well as more jobs in a new coal mine. There is something afoot. We are being told that Donkin Resources Limited and the Cape Breton cooperative group will now be able to negotiate with the group from the states to develop the new mine, and sell the coal from the new mine to the group from the states who, in turn, will sell it to the power corporation. Honourable senators, that will not happen. It will not happen because the group in Cape Breton — and some of them are in other parts of Nova Scotia — are Nova Scotians. They will not have the security of a power corporation contract to raise money. I have seen the figures. If they were the successful bidder and they did have the security of a contract, they could raise $70 million from financial institutions immediately, and a further $150 million of capital over the long term. That would be paid for mostly out of sales to whom? The Nova Scotia Power Corporation.

The biggest market for coal anywhere in Eastern Canada, outside of Ontario, is what we are giving away to a group in the United States. It is not fair. Speaking as a Nova Scotian, I say that it is not fair to Cape Breton miners and their families.

Turning now to the Cape Breton miners and their families, one of the dearest women that I have met, outside of my own family, is Edna Budden. She is a very passionate person who speaks from the heart. We are not talking politics here. In fact, we should not be talking politics at all, since politics has nothing to do with what is happening here. If every member of this Senate could have been in that committee room to listen to Edna Budden, you would have immediately said, "My God! What is the federal government doing to these people?" This woman's husband spent 24 years working in the coal mines. How many in this chamber have been in a coal mine? I know quite a few have been. How would you like to have to go down hundreds of feet in the ground, miles under the ocean, and mine coal five days a week, week in, week out? That is what miners do. Some people say that it is better to get rid of the coal mines because those men should not have to do that job. That is an interesting statement. Honourable senators, that is their life! Their fathers and grandfathers worked in the mines, as did mine. That is how they live. They want to mine coal.

Some of those men who are losing their jobs do not have 25 years of work experience in the mines. I am not opposed to what Bruce Outhouse, the arbitrator, said. He is one of the best mediators around, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate knows that. He was appointed by us to conduct this arbitration. He has excellent credentials. However, he went as far as he believed he could go. All the miners who had less than 25 years of experience in the mines are gone. They will not receive a pension, but some of them will receive severance pay that will tide them over for several months, or a year. Those miners will not have an opportunity to be among the 500 miners who will get the jobs the minister talked about.

Honourable senators, the federal government should have done more to honour its commitment under section 17(4)(b) to create alternate employment for all of those men, or at least to treat them with dignity, respect and fairness. I do not believe they did. If the gentleman from Cape Breton who used to sit over there, the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen, were here today, he would certainly agree that those miners should be treated better than they are being treated at this time.

Honourable senators, I wish to reiterate that it appears we may be coming to the end of an era in Cape Breton. I hope not. I hope that our people will still have an opportunity to mine the coal that is needed by the power corporation to light up Nova Scotia. It will be a sad day when 1.4 million tonnes of coal will be landed at the piers in Sydney to be transported to the Lingan power plant and all of that coal is coming from either the United States or Colombia, especially when we have all the coal in the ground that we need.

Senator Comeau: What about the ships?

Senator Buchanan: I do not want to get involved in the politics of this debate at all. I do not know where those ships will be from. They may be from Canada or from somewhere else, perhaps, Liberia. They may even be registered in Panama. Frankly, I don't care. I only know that those ships should not be bringing coal into Cape Breton. I have heard it said before by other politicians — and I shall not name them — that, "There will be no coal brought in to Cape Breton from the United States or from Colombia." Unfortunately, all those politicians are either deceased or retired long ago.

Honourable senators, the end result of this is that I shall vote against this bill. My conscience would never allow me to vote for it. I could not vote for a bill that will harshly treat Cape Breton miners and Nova Scotians. As I have said before, we could have brought in amendments; but we can count.

Honourable senators, I urge you to put this bill aside for a while and to carefully look at the successful bidder. Let us do that for Edna Budden and for the United Mine Workers, a group of hard-working men. Do it for them. Let's put this bill aside and look at it later.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I must inform the Honourable Senator Buchanan that his speaking time has expired.

Hon. J. Bernard Boudreau (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I rise to join in the third reading debate. I was particularly interested in the charming and articulated presentation of the last speaker, Senator Buchanan. Senator Buchanan and I have debated this issue since 1988. We have been on different sides of the chamber in every case. I am sure that his concern and his feelings for the Cape Breton coal miners and, indeed, the Cape Breton community, are genuine. However, he is also a pretty crafty politician. I do not know if any honourable senator has noticed that, but over the years he has been so. As a matter of fact, I think he is probably one of the finest political figures our province has produced, and we have produced some pretty sharp politicians.

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In any event, when we get to a subject like this, honourable senators, I am tempted to believe that the senator, not just today, but over the years, has dragged so many red herrings across this trail that he may single-handedly be responsible for the crisis in the fishery.

This is a very important bill for the community of Cape Breton, for the workers and their families. It is a turning point, a very important transition point. In that community, we are turning away from a history that has been in place since before 1900. It is a way of life. Sydney was a company town. There was a time when one did not join the yacht club unless the president of the steel plant gave his blessing. What you bought at the store and how much credit you received depended on how the senior executives of the mining company felt about you. This is a community which, for many years, was owned lock, stock and barrel by the private-sector owners who were only concerned with the bottom line.

In 1967 — 33 years ago — the government had to step in. Indeed, the government subsequently stepped into the steel plant. We had the provincial government operating the steel plant and the federal government operating the coal mines. The Honourable Senator Buchanan played a large role, particularly with respect to the steel plant. He did so on an ongoing basis.

Senator Buchanan: Might I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate?

Senator Boudreau: Of course.

Senator Buchanan: Had my honourable friend been in the legislature back then, would he not have done the same thing?

Senator Boudreau: Absolutely.

However, the history has gone on for some considerable period of time. I would have to say that since 1967 both the steelworkers and the coal miners, along with their families, have lived in the community. When the steel and coal industries occupy such a large spot in the community, no one is immune. No one can stand apart. Thus, the entire community suffered from a level of uncertainty which I think has become more and more pronounced as we have moved through the years. It is, perhaps, one of the most cruel blows. In fact, there is an uncertainty among families who ask themselves: Will we be working next year? Will the industry survive? Will I have money to assist my son or daughter to attend university? Can I afford to pay the mortgage? Will I lose my home? Is there any other chance for an opportunity of employment? All these questions are being asked. The tension built, as did the uncertainty and the torment, which I do not think is too strong a word, in the families of many miners and steelworkers.

We have been moving toward this day for a long time. As I have said on other occasions in other places that day has now arrived, and a transition of the economy of Cape Breton is now taking place in a relatively short period of time. In other areas, the same type of transition has occurred over decades, perhaps even over generations. In our case, it is happening in a very compact way with respect to the coal industry.

We must face the turning point. We must get on with life. The people in Cape Breton, the miners, their families and everyone else, must be able to turn toward the future. As I said in my speech at second reading, Cape Bretoners cannot live their lives looking in the rear-view mirror. We must move forward. We must build a life in the new world. Does that mean there is no room for the coal industry? No. I do not believe that for a moment. However, it means that we must look for other opportunities for those individuals directly involved in the coal mines, for their families and for the entire community.

When we do that, honourable senators, we cannot forget or ignore the people who have made commitments over years and years to the industry. The government, as it should have, put before the workers a human resources package. That human resources package was not acceptable; thus, an arbitration process was agreed to. I agree entirely with Senator Buchanan's assessment of Bruce Outhouse, the arbitrator. He is probably the finest arbitrator in Nova Scotia. He was suggested by the union. They had such confidence in him that when the government agreed and the minister appointed him, there was also an agreement that his judgment would be binding on both parties. That was because the union, as well as the government, had confidence that, given all the circumstances and after he reviewed the entire picture, he would come out with a fair and reasonable human resources adjustment package — and he did.

By way of an aside, the cost of that entire package will probably be in excess of $160 million of additional monies committed by the Government of Canada.

The package basically divides the employees into three groups. There are those employees who will receive an immediate pension. Then, presumably, they will be free to do whatever other activity they might wish to do. This pension is available to those with 25 years of service or more. Those with under 25 years of service — and I think the evidence in the committee was that there are something like 910 or 915 of them — are divided into two groups. One group, composed of approximately 500 people, will have the opportunity to gain employment in the coal industry with the new operator. I want to put an asterisk next to that comment because I wish to return to it.

These workers will come to that employment under the same collective agreement under which they are now operating and under which they have operated in the past. It will be up to their union — the union that represents them and which has represented them for decades and decades — to negotiate any changes to that collective agreement. They will be offered those jobs on the basis of seniority. That is how collective agreements work. Thus, the most senior people will have the opportunities.

Everything else being equal, the 500 most senior people of the 900 have an opportunity for employment. For example, mention was made of Edna Budden and Edna's husband. Her husband will be one of those people. If there are 500 jobs — and I am saying "if" for the moment because I shall come back to it —  then under the seniority rights in the collective agreement, Edna Budden's husband will have an opportunity to have one of those jobs. It will be under the same working conditions and the same rates of pay, and so on, as are now in place.

For the 400-odd individuals who will not find employment there, there is a severance package. The details of the severance package are probably well known to most people. It is a significant severance package.

One of the uncertainties is that the miners are not sure that there will be 500 jobs. That became clear to the committee, and I think the committee took a very thoughtful approach, including honourable senators opposite. They took a very thoughtful approach on this matter and said, "If that is not the case, if that does not happen, then we think, perhaps, the government should review its human resources package." That was a comment agreed to unanimously by all committee members. If, in fact, it is true, then approximately 400 employees will have to deal with severance. As I remember some of the statistics that Edna Budden gave us, those people could potentially range in age from 27 to 44. If every senior employee takes a job, then it is likely that those 400 will be the youngest of the 900 displaced workers. That is not necessarily true, but it is highly likely.

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Such a package is never as much as we would like it to be. However, Bruce Outhouse, the leading arbitrator in the province, thought it was reasonable. I think that he made a good judgment. The package is one that the government should stand by. The government has indicated that it will stand by the package.

Senator Buchanan spoke about all the coal that remains in the coal fields of Cape Breton. It is quite true that there are millions of tonnes of coal in those coal fields. No doubt that coal would be available to anyone.

Honourable senators, let me step back. The best guarantee for the future development of that coal is for it to be economically and environmentally sound to develop. If, for some reason, those coal fields cannot be developed in an economically and environmentally sound way, they will not be developed. We can pass numerous amendments, make numerous regulations, and give all the direction we want, but it will not happen. However, if they can be developed in an economically viable and environmentally sound way, someone could develop them. Surely, that is the best guarantee in the long term for the future development of the coal mines.

I do not know if the coal fields can be economically viable and environmentally sound. I am not sure, but I am not a coal expert. In my view, the market will determine that at the end of the day.

At one time, as Senator Buchanan mentioned, by far the largest consumer of that coal was the Nova Scotia Power Corporation. That corporation was publicly owned. It was a provincial Crown corporation. Therefore, as a matter of public policy, it could be directed to buy Cape Breton coal, even if it was not the cheapest alternative. It could be directed to buy that coal even if cheaper alternatives were available.

A public policy decision was made to privatize the Nova Scotia Power Corporation. I do not know if Senator Buchanan was still premier at that time.

Senator Buchanan: No, I was not.

Senator Boudreau: That decision was made by the government that the honourable senator led in an election. They made the decision to privatize the corporation and, with that, they eliminated the authority that the province had to direct Nova Scotia Power Corporation to buy coal from a particular area.

The Nova Scotia Power Corporation now imports coal.

The government of the time made its decision for two reasons. First, Devco could not produce the volume of coal that was necessary at the time to meet the requirement. Second, there was an environmental requirement to blend the coals.

I sincerely join with Senator Buchanan in hoping that Donkin mine can be developed. I hope that if it is developed, it will employ 500 miners or even 1,000 miners.

However, I know in my heart that it will only be developed if it is economically viable and environmentally sound. We could make any kind of pronouncements we want. However, if that is not the case, it will not happen.

Senator Buchanan: May I ask a question?

Senator Boudreau: Yes.

Senator Buchanan: I have no disagreement when you say that it must be economically viable and environmentally sound. However, is the problem not that there is no company or group of people who would be able to develop Donkin mine unless it is economically feasible? A buyer must be able to raise the money to complete the development of the mine. The only possible way that that could happen would be if they had access to the Nova Scotia Power Corporation contract. If they do not have that, no one will lend them money.

Senator Boudreau: One of the witnesses made it clear to us, I believe it was Mr. Shannon, that the contract is not being sold. I believe he made that very clear. There is an illusion that there is a huge contract that automatically supplies 3 million tonnes a year to Nova Scotia Power Corporation for as long as they want. That is not the case.

If a group wanted to develop Donkin mine, they would need to find buyers, just as the individuals who would purchase the balance of the workings would need to find buyers. If they could convince Nova Scotia Power Corporation that they can produce and deliver coal at a reasonable price, I do not know why they would not get a contract.

I should like to correct one unfortunate impression that may have been left with respect to the Cape Breton cooperative group involved in making the submission to take over the Donkin mine, or at least to take over some of the Devco assets. The Honourable Senator Buchanan discussed their potential rejection by the group responsible for shortlisting and the possibility of them choosing an appropriate private-sector operator. It was very clear in the hearings, and from meetings that I have had with that particular group, that any buyer would come to the table with two very important qualifications. One qualification would be that any potential purchaser could raise $70 million to $90 million on the private market. I have some serious concerns that that would be possible. I doubt if someone could walk into the main office of the Toronto-Dominion Bank in downtown Toronto and negotiate that loan. That was one of the conditions.

The other condition was even more onerous. In order for a buyer to proceed, they would need this legislation not to permit ongoing successor rights to the union. In fact, the union rights would have been removed. Any proposal would have rested upon that condition. When the president of the United Mine Workers of America appeared before the committee, I asked if he would support such a thing. He responded by saying, "No, absolutely not." I think that there is very good reason why he would not support it.

By the way, if he did support it, there would be no guarantee that, should there be 500 jobs, the senior people would get them. They could hire anyone to fill those jobs. They could bring 500 people up from southern Tennessee. It was an essential element of this entire privatization process to have that collective agreement and those successor rights in place.

I find it difficult to accept a summary dismissal of the judgment of Nesbitt Burns in this case.

Senator Buchanan: I have another question. I agree with Senator Boudreau that the successor rights were to be in place. However, there is no guarantee at the present time that the new owner of all the assets will even operate the Prince mine. That would require them to negotiate with the union. Steve Drake told us that there is no doubt about that, and the minister unequivocally said that they would have to negotiate under the Canada Labour Code.

Would it not have been better, as we had suggested, that the bill be held in abeyance until the negotiations were complete? We would be able to see exactly what this new company, apparently from the U.S., would do regarding a successor rights.

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I spoke with people in the union and they would like to see that happen. They want to see the deal on the table before they accept it holus-bolus. Once the bill is passed, the contents fall under the purview of the federal government, not the House of Commons, the Senate or Parliament. The federal government can do what it likes with it.

Senator Boudreau: I shall address that specific question. Why do we not simply postpone things, let the deal be made and then bring the deal back and go through it?

I do not think that is very realistic from a commercial standpoint. Currently, we do not have the authority. The Cape Breton Development Corporation and the individuals involved on the team sitting down to negotiate have no authority to sell this corporation. They have no authority to make any terms whatever. Before any deal can be concluded, even in a preliminary fashion, the authority of this bill is required. The purchaser will ask if it can be sold and under what conditions.

If we leave the passage of this bill until after the fact, what would be the practical option of a purchaser? "Look, we think that, as part of the deal, we should have this particular provision." I simply think that, under these circumstances, that is unrealistic. It is legitimate to say —

Senator Buchanan: As Senator Murray just said, it is like going back to the shareholders.

Senator Boudreau: In these circumstances, the approach taken is a realistic approach. It is the only commercially viable approach. We the Senate have the opportunity to openly review the terms of the deal. We have made comments with respect to the 500 jobs. That was not an unreasonable comment for the committee to make. However, we must get on with it. I suggest, I implore senators, that we get on with this because people need to get on with their lives.

We must complete this arrangement. We shall not see the end of coal mining in Cape Breton and we shall not see the end of the government's involvement in this very key transition period for the community. This is a necessary step and we must get it done. With that, I repeat my motion for third reading.

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

Senator Murray: On division.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division.

Business of the Senate

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, before we proceed to the next item, which will be continuing debate on Bill C-20, I rise pursuant to rule 38, to move —

Hon. Lowell Murray: What about Bill C-27?

Senator Hays: Bill C-27 is the parks bill. The spokesperson on the other side is Senator Rossiter. She will be here today, I am told. I am planning to call, as the next order of business, Bill C-20. Before I do that, I wish to make another motion.

Bill to Give Effect to the Requirement for Clarity 
as Set Out in the Opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec Succession Reference

Motion for Allotment of Time for Debate Adopted

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 38, I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator Kinsella:

That, in relation to 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, no later than 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 29, 2000, any proceedings before the Senate shall be interrupted and all questions necessary to dispose of third reading of the Bill shall be put forthwith without further debate or amendment, and that any vote on any of those questions be not further deferred;

That if a standing vote is requested, the bells to call in the Senators be sounded for thirty minutes so that voting begins at 4:00 p.m.;

That after the first amendment is disposed of, if there are further amendments, the bells be sounded for five minutes after each amendment is disposed of; and

That, if at 6 p.m., the business of the Senate has not been completed, the Speaker shall not see the clock.

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

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, will the Deputy Leader of the Government tell us whether he expects that Bill C-20 will be the last item of government business that the Senate will be addressing before summer recess?

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, this is a little irregular in that it is not a debatable motion that we are on at the present time. I wonder if I could respond to the honourable senator's question after the vote. I shall be happy to do so then.

Senator Murray: Sure.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to.

Business of the Senate

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, just to assist my friend, I wanted to know whether there were contingency plans for Parliament to deal with legislation in the event of a strike at Air Canada.

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the best answer that I can give is I do not know. It is fair to assume that that matter is under consideration. My assumption at this point in time, based on my discussions with my counterpart, Senator Kinsella, is that we shall be finished our business on Thursday next and that our disposition of Bill C-20, whatever it is, will see the end of our work before the summer recess. However, as I always do when I am asked such questions, I caution that, in this position, things change. I am not aware of any need to sit beyond that time at present.

Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, I have a question for the deputy leader. I have already spoken on my proposed amendment to Bill C-20. Will I have a second chance to refresh the memories of honourable senators, in other words, to speak again before the vote?

Senator Hays: That is a good question in that we shall not be disposing of the amendments one after the other, seriatim. I can assure Senator Watt there will be an opportunity for him to speak in that there will be, I assume, other amendments. I do not think he has spoken on the main motion, though he has spoken on his amendment. With a little bit of care, he might well find it possible to bring forward some of the issues when speaking to another amendment. That is all I can say.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, for the clarification of the Chair and so there will be no misunderstanding, I understand that if there are a series of amendments, they will be voted on at the end of the process and that the speakers can speak on each amendment. That would answer Honourable Senator Watt's question.

The speeches will be on the broad scene and not simply on the specific amendment before us? This is how we have conducted ourselves in the past. Is my understanding correct?

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Senator Hays: Honourable senators, perhaps others will be helpful. It is not part of the agreement that has now been accepted by the house, but my hope was that the final speakers would be the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Government, and that senators who have proposed amendments might not have the usual right of reply simply because of the difficulty in ensuring that each and every one is treated properly. That, though, is a matter that has been raised, and I shall be happy to enter into a discussion with Senator Kinsella to see whether there is some way that this can be dealt with. However, at the present time, Your Honour, I could not say simply yes to your question.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I believe the understanding is that as far as this house order is concerned, the bells will ring for half an hour on Thursday from 3:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. A vote will then be taken on the last amendment brought forward, and we shall move through those amendments until we get to the main motion. However, between now and 3:30 Thursday afternoon, when the item is called, the debate proceeds. Any honourable senator can rise to participate in that debate. Should an amendment come forward to which an honourable senator wishes to speak, I believe that honourable senator has the right to get up to speak to it even though he or she may have spoken to the main motion or a previous amendment. We wish to allow for full participation in the debate, and we have the time between now and 3:30 p.m. on Thursday to do so.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, we are all aware and fully comprehend that the vote will be Thursday afternoon. I think we have all known this for quite some time. Where my lack of clarity exists — and perhaps this is something that should be sorted out at some point in the future — is that once a motion such as the one by Senator Hays has been put and been voted on, it is not clear to me whether that motion speaks to the essential questions of how we proceed and how that time is used up. With respect to this process of finalizing a vote two days in advance and announcing it by a vote of the chamber, at some point we must settle down as a chamber and make decisions as to how we proceed, what the order is, how senators get to speak and how they do not get to speak. I note that His Honour was on his feet inquiring as to how he should be putting the votes, but at some time we should address as a chamber how we proceed in the event of such motions so we can all know and it would not be a mystery.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, in response to Senator Cools' question, I do not know how helpful this will be, but this practice that you see being played out is the alternative to proceeding under our rules to allocate time. We have sometimes used that rule, and when we do, we are governed by the precise wording of the rules. It is sometimes the case that it is possible to reach an agreement as an alternative to that, such as Senator Kinsella and I have done, which permits the moving of other amendments and the ability to be more precise in terms of the time for a final vote on amendments and on the main motion.

This procedure does, I admit, leave a little uncertainty as to the kind of question raised by His Honour, but that is the nature of the circumstance in which we find ourselves. I think both Senator Kinsella and I, in my response to Senator Watt's question, indicated that senators who wish to speak within the time constraints will probably find an opportunity to do so under an amendment.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I want to be crystal clear that I shall have an opportunity to speak and that we shall not have a situation such as on Bill C-68 some years ago where many senators who wished to speak never had the opportunity to do so.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is purely for the guidance of the Chair that I ask this question. Senator Kinsella spoke in a very broad manner on the whole issue of the amendment of Honourable Senator Watt, and no objection was raised. Therefore, I presume we shall continue that way. In other words, any senator wishing to speak to any amendment, if they have not spoken before, can speak to the amendment in general, not simply specifically to the amendment.

Honourable Senator Hays indicated that it was his desire that the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition be the two final speakers. It is impossible for the Chair, of course, to control that. The Chair must depend on honourable senators to arrange that amongst themselves.

Senator Hays: I understand.

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I rise on a point of order. I should like leave to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or Special Committees.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or Special Committees?

Senator Kinsella: We would be prepared to revert at the end of the day.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if leave is not granted, we shall revert at the end of the day.

[Translation]

Bill 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

Third Reading—Motions in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hays, seconded by the Honourable Senator Graham, P.C., for the third reading of Bill C-20, 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;

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Watt, seconded by the Honourable Senator Adams, that the bill be amended, in paragraph six of the Preamble to read as follows:

WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that, in Canada, the secession of a province, to be lawful, would require an amendment to the Constitution of Canada, that such an amendment would perforce require negotiations in relation to secession involving at least the governments of all of the provinces and the Government of Canada, as well as representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, especially those in the province whose government proposed the referendum on secession, and that those negotiations would be governed by the principles of federalism, democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law, and the protection of minorities;

and in subclause 3(1) to read as follows:

It is recognized that there is no right under the Constitution of Canada to effect the secession of a province from Canada unilaterally and that, therefore, an amendment to the Constitution of Canada would be required for any province to secede from Canada, which in turn would require negotiations involving at least the governments of all of the provinces and the Government of Canada, and the representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, especially those in the province whose government proposed the referendum on secession.

Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, first of all, I must say, with respect to this discussion on procedure, that it is always dangerous to play with the rules. Things are very confusing when it comes to the amendment and the main motion.

At third reading stage of Bill C-20, I will begin by saying that, for many of us, the parliamentary debate on Bill C-20 has been extremely interesting and instructive.

I am neither a lawyer nor a constitutionalist. I therefore benefited from the testimony and well-reasoned arguments presented by witnesses and senators before the special Senate committee and here in the house. As a lawmaker, I believe that I now have a better understanding of the complexity of the issues raised by this bill.

It is not my intention to dwell on all the issues. I do not have the expertise of certain senators, and I do not have the time in the 15 minutes allotted me.

First, Bill C-20 leaves the Senate out of the process of determining the clarity of the question and of the required majority. Such an approach runs counter to Canada's bicameral parliamentary system, which recognizes the obligation to obtain the consent of both Houses of Parliament before binding the Canadian government. In fact, just after the preamble and before clause 1, Bill C-20 says:

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

By passing this bill, the Senate is cutting itself out of the parliamentary process. This is a dangerous precedent and perhaps even unconstitutional. Such an approach has already been suggested and used by the government. One of the most recent precedents was in the reform of the Canadian financial services sector, where the Senate was excluded from decisions about bank mergers.

Second, I always thought my country was indivisible. Perhaps I am a bit naive. Bill C-20 confirms that, under certain conditions, a province could separate from Canada, citing as an authority the Supreme Court opinion.

Third, with regard to the need for a national referendum before negotiations with respect to the secession of a province can be entered into, in committee, our colleague, Senator Joyal, emphasized the need and clearly explained the reason for such a provision.

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Fourth is the right of aboriginal peoples to take part in consultations on clarity and to sit at the negotiating table on the secession of a province, should their constitutional rights be affected.

Finally — and this is the point I shall focus on — is the right of official language minorities, which must be specifically mentioned in the bill in connection with the consultations that must be held by the House of Commons within the framework of an examination of the referendum question, in clauses 1(5) and 2(3).

Some may say that it is not necessary to specify that the linguistic minorities must be involved. There is nothing in Bill C-20 to include official language minorities in the consultations, yet these are the communities that will be most affected by the agonizing solution that is being contemplated.

The linguistic minorities are invited by Minister Dion to have faith in the political future of the country. The House of Commons must take into consideration all intervenors listed in the bill, yet the linguistic minorities are not among them.

Minister Dion suggests it is not necessary to list the linguistic minorities specifically in clause 3(2), because they are included in the minorities that clause addresses. A number of groups, however, are considered minorities: women, the disabled, homosexuals, as well as cultural, racial and religious minorities, and some others I have likely forgotten. Yet, according to the Charlottetown Agreement, the interests of certain minorities had been taken into consideration. The same phenomenon is likely to repeat itself if there should be constitutional negotiations after a referendum. It is therefore necessary to expressly protect linguistic minorities in Bill C-20. Who knows what party will be in power when such negotiations take place? We can certainly not expect the Canadian Alliance to protect us. We know what their position is.

If someone were capable of predicting the future, and of telling me when the next referendum will be and what party will be in power in the Canadian Parliament at that time, then perhaps I would be reassured, but I am not that naive.

This is why, for greater certainty, I prefer the protection afforded by a bill that is clear and precise, particularly one that provides for the consulting of those groups that will be seriously affected by the process. Finally, like aboriginal people, I want to be consulted about and involved in any political and constitutional change. This is why I will table an amendment that will give official language minorities the political guarantee that they will be heard by the House of Commons during its evaluation of the clarity.

I am not asking for more, but not for less either. We are one of the founding peoples of this country, just like the aboriginals, and there are many more of us. There are over 1.5 million Canadians who are part of linguistic minorities. We want to be treated as equals.

I am confident that such an amendment will allow Quebec's anglophone minority to be heard by the House of Commons, and also the francophone and Acadian minorities, which would be the most affected, should negotiations on the secession of Quebec be undertaken.

The Senate has traditionally been the protector of minorities and regional interests. As a francophone resident born in Ontario, I remain faithful to my minority group and this is why I want to make an argument in favour of this amendment. I know that I will probably not convince the majority, but I will try to talk about consultation, as opposed to negotiation.

The bill provides that, in considering the clarity of a referendum question, the House of Commons shall take into account the views of a number of stakeholders. These stakeholders are identified in clauses 1(5) and 2(3). However, the bill is silent on official language communities.

Honourable senators will remember that the House of Commons amended Bill C-20 to include aboriginal peoples, particularly those in the province where a referendum would be held. I find that amendment to be fair and equitable, because aboriginal people have a direct interest in this public consultation process. Minister Dion told me in committee:

We agreed to mention Aboriginals specifically only because they have a specific role in the Constitution under section 35.1.

It seems just as important to me that linguistic minorities enjoy the same rights. We have two official languages and they are protected by our Constitution. If section 35 of the Constitution protects aboriginals, and I agree that it does, then sections 16 to 23 of our Constitution do the same for official language minorities. Why the difference?

Official language minority communities are present in all regions of the country and are the key to Canada's linguistic duality, which is the cornerstone of our national identity. Since our country's future would be at stake in such a referendum, I, for one, think it essential that these minorities be heard in the process of consultation with respect to clarity.

During the meetings of the Senate committee, certain individuals tried to confuse the issue by introducing the concept of negotiation along with consultation. There is a fundamental difference between consulting and negotiating. Representatives of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne were very clear in this regard. On June 12, Gino LeBlanc, the federation's president, had this to say in committee:

We are not, nor do we pretend to be a government. We are not elected, but our legitimacy comes from our democratic community structures.

The minorities are talking about consultation only. They do not claim to be representatives of governments that could eventually be involved in the negotiation process. Honourable senators, the negotiations will be complicated and laborious. Like all minorities, we will be well represented by the political authorities, who we are confident will respect our constitutional rights. I think it essential that these political authorities be well informed.

In the Beaulac decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that section 16 of the Charter must be interpreted so as to ensure the preservation and development of linguistic communities. On pages 790-791 of the ruling, it explains that language rights, specifically under section 16, create obligations for the Government of Canada. These rights require the government to take concrete action to ensure respect for language rights and for the preservation and development of linguistic communities. I refer you to a report by Senator Jean-Maurice Simard recently tabled in the house, in which it is specifically recommended that any passage of future bills take into account the interests of both official languages. I think that this is a good recommendation and one that we should adopt.

Therefore, the federal government cannot pass a bill without ensuring the protection of the linguistic minorities of Canada since all French minority groups in Canada would in all likelihood bear the brunt of the English majority's backlash after Quebec secedes. If you want examples, I can give you some. Just remember what happened when Quebec adopted an act restricting the use of English on signs. Seventy Ontario municipalities adopted resolutions proclaiming that they were unilingual English in reaction to Quebec's Bill 101. The federal government therefore cannot pass a bill without ensuring the protection of the linguistic minorities of Canada. Since the French minorities would in all likelihood bear the brunt of the majority's backlash in the province, the federal government has to ensure their participation and their protection in Bill C-20.

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Honourable senators, this call for fairness and justice comes from someone who has spent more that 40 years of his life defending the rights of French Canadians outside Quebec.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: On their behalf, honourable senators, I sincerely ask you to consider the following amendment. I move, seconded by Senator Corbin:

That Bill C-20 be not now read a third time but that it be amended,

(a) in clause 1, on page 3, by replacing line 40 with the following:

"resolutions by the Senate, any formal statements or resolutions by the representatives of the English or French linguistic minority population of each province, especially those in the province whose government is proposing the referendum on secession, any formal state-"; and

(b) in clause 2, on page 5, by replacing line 2 with the following:

"ate, any formal statements or resolutions by the representatives of the English or French linguistic minority population of each province, especially those in the province whose government proposed the referendum on secession, any formal statements or resolutions by".

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

[English]

Hon. Dan Hays(Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this is one of the amendments that will be dealt with on Thursday in the votes which precede the vote on the main motion.

Senator Gauthier:Honourable senators, I rise on a point of order.

I do not believe His Honour read the amendment as I handed it to him. I believe the words: "anglophone and francophone" were omitted. Mention was only made of francophones. There is a reference to anglophones in the amendment.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I read the wording of the amendment in French: "de la minorité francophone ou anglophone de chaque province". That is what is in the text.

Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin: I would have a question for Senator Gauthier, if he accepts it.

The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry, honourable senators, but Senator Gauthier has used up the 15 minutes at his disposal.

[English]

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I propose that we give leave to Senator Gauthier to allow him to continue for another 10 minutes.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[Translation]

Senator Beaudoin: Honourable senators, my question is this: In the Supreme Court opinion, reference is made to certain key parameters, one being minority rights and the other constitutionality. I should like to know whether the basis of Senator Gauthier's argument is that, under section 16 of the Charter, we have two official languages in Canada — these being entrenched in the Constitution — and that in the constitutional negotiation that might follow on a clear verdict and a clear question, the official language minorities cannot be ignored and have a right to enter into the debate on constitutional negotiations.

I find the argument an interesting one, but I should like to know whether this is indeed the argument of the Honourable Senator Gauthier.

Senator Gauthier: I must tell you, honourable senators, that I am totally in agreement with the present provisions. I do not understand why we have been excluded from the debate. As the honourable senator said, section 16 is clear and the Supreme Court explained clearly in Beaulac what it meant for a country to have two official languages.

Minister Dion said that the minorities are covered by the preamble to Bill C-20. I pointed out in my speech that the term "minority" can have a lot of different meanings. There is, however, one minority which must be heeded, in my opinion, and that is the linguistic minority, when a constitutional or other change is to be made. I do not claim any expertise and I would not like to get into the area of negotiations. However, I do believe that it is clear in the legislation that we must be present at the consultations on which the House of Commons has pre-empted the right to decide. This is important because the Senate will no longer be there to protect minorities, and only the House of Commons will be authorized to reach the decision, which displeases me greatly.

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, when I spoke last April 13 in the debate on second reading of Bill C-20. I voiced my strong opposition to this initiative. At that time, I believed that it was dangerous to judicialize the process of Quebec's access to sovereignty, since this is essentially a political process.

That was two months ago. Since then, a special Senate committee has been set up to review Bill C-20. After having taken part in each of the committee's sittings and after questioning many witnesses on the presumed legitimacy and effectiveness of the bill, I remain convinced that the Senate must reject this initiative to avoid a situation where this legislation would hang over the future of our country like the sword of Damocles.

This is why, honourable senators, I first intend to discuss the legitimacy of Bill C-20. Then, I will show its ineffectiveness in providing a framework for the process allowing Quebec to secede, should the sovereignist option prevail in a future referendum. Finally, I will conclude my speech by sharing with you my vision of what the next referendum campaign could be if we pass this legislation.

Honourable senators, let us begin with the legitimacy of Bill C-20. When he appeared before the Senate committee on Bill C-20 for the second time, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Dion, said again:

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[English]

I think we all agree that this Supreme Court reference about Quebec secession is binding. All the legal experts have told you that it is binding. It is more than binding. It is an incredible victory for Canadian unity and for democracy.

[Translation]

Still, since the bill was introduced, I always questioned the need to have an act to meet, as the title of the bill suggests, the alleged "requirement for clarity as set out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec Secession Reference." In that sense, I did not interpret that opinion in the same way as the minister did.

Unlike the minister, the Supreme Court showed great restraint in the scope of its findings. It drew a dividing line between the issues that come under its responsibilities and those that it sees as being part of the political dimensions of the constitutional negotiations. That, in my view, is fully justified. In paragraph 100 of its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that it is the responsibility of the political actors to determine what constitutes a clear majority on a clear question, based on the circumstances prevailing, before undertaking negotiations. Only the political actors would have the information and expertise to make the appropriate judgment as to the point at which, and the circumstances in which, those ambiguities are resolved one way or the other.

The court concluded at paragraph 101:

To the extent that the questions are political in nature, it is not the role of the judiciary to interpose its own views on the different negotiating positions of the parties, even were it invited to do so.

Accordingly, the court does not, nor does it wish to, play a role of overseeing the actions of the political players, who will define the political framework in which negotiations with respect to the secession of Quebec are held. It is clear to me that the Supreme Court is explicitly asking us not to take a legislative approach to a purely political matter, especially when we do not yet know the circumstances under which the next referendum will be held.

But the federal government has ignored this conclusion by introducing Bill C-20. With respect to the binding nature of a Supreme Court opinion, a former justice of the highest court in the land, Willard Estey, testified during his appearance before the special committee:

[English]

There is no classic definition for Canada's system of referring questions to the courts. They are not judgments. There are no parties. Neither stare decisis nor res judicata arises from a reference....The power of an advisory opinion is moral; second, it is human nature....The advisory opinion is not a big thing that I am leaning on. It simply illuminates the sky around events.

[Translation]

In his presentation before the committee, Professor Patrice Garant of Laval University confirmed my fears with respect to the risk for Ottawa of taking a legislative approach to a political matter such as the secession of Quebec. He said:

From a purely legal point of view, Bill C-20 could face a constitutional challenge because it was enacted by Parliament. Government decisions will flow from the legislation and possibly even from the House of Commons resolution...This bill runs the risk of setting us on a course of constitutional challenges.

I do not know if this is what the government hopes to accomplish with Bill C-20. However, there is no doubt that it could have very serious political repercussions on the eve of another referendum on the secession of Quebec.

Already, the federal government is weakening the position of federalists in Quebec with this bill. Given the failure to respect the bicameral nature of the Canadian parliamentary system and the prerogatives of Quebec's National Assembly, a negative ruling by a court on the bill's constitutionality could destroy Ottawa's credibility in Quebec, and more particularly in the rest of Canada.

That is, moreover, what Jean Charest, the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party and of the federalist camp in the next referendum, stated on May 25 on the program RDI à l'écoute. According to him:

There is, I believe, a very strong majority opinion on Bill C-20. Among other things, what has been done is to judicialize what is a political issue. This is, I feel, a very bad idea, and we opposed the bill. Being consistent, we are opposed as well to the Parti Québécois government's reaction of also judicializing an issue which is of a political nature, as far as Quebec is concerned. I believe this is a very serious error, and one that is liable to again set off legal wrangling that will go on for some years.

Honourable senators, it is true that the government can ask Parliament to enact the legislation that it wants, provided that legislation respects the limits and jurisdictions assigned to it by the Constitution Act, 1867. However, I was pleased that a number of witnesses who came before the special committee shared my opinion that the legal bases of this initiative are not in the April 1998 Supreme Court opinion. I must point out that the courts that will determine the legitimacy of Bill C-20 will not be indifferent to the remarkable work of the special committee of this House in addressing the bases of this initiative. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Prime Minister of Canada, both of whom refused to heed the court's caution about the temptation to judicialize a political matter, will have to live with the consequences of their actions.

Honourable senators, it is distressing to realize that the government has decided to take refuge behind a theoretical approach based on constitutional law in order to deal with a political and social phenomenon. This is entirely divorced from the reality. It may, of course, have short-term results, as we have seen earlier this year, with considerable popular support for the Liberal Party. If, however, Bill C-20 were to be implemented some day, a number of Canadians might well be amazed to find that this initiative does not have the touted curative virtues the minister attributed to it during the committee deliberations. The future of a country cannot be dealt with in this way.

The minister never told the public that the court, in discussing the issue of economical and political interests, unstable political climate, minorities and borders that would be at the core of the negotiations following a victory of the sovereignists, wrote, in paragraph 97:

In the circumstances, negotiations following such a referendum would undoubtedly be difficult. While the negotiators would have to contemplate the possibility of secession, there would be no absolute legal entitlement to it and no assumption that an agreement reconciling all relevant rights and obligations would actually be reached. It is foreseeable that even negotiations carried out in conformity with the underlying constitutional principles could reach an impasse.

Contrary to the minister, the court did not hesitate to say that the framework that it defined has serious limitations. In the real world, it is very likely that it would never work. Such comments are explicit enough to question, as I said earlier, the effectiveness of Bill C-20 in the eyes of many Canadians. When he testified before the committee, the President of the Canada West Foundation, Roger Gibbins, spoke about this ineffectiveness of the bill. He said:

There is a strong possibility that western Canadians assume that the clarity bill goes much further than it does. It would not surprise me, for example, if western Canadians were to believe that the bill both defines the question that might be posed to Quebecers and sets the threshold level at which a Quebec vote would trigger a response by the Government of Canada. In other words, Bill C-20 falls short, and perhaps well short, of public expectations in these respects.

Honourable senators, as regards the referendum question that will be put to Quebecers, a few witnesses have confirmed that the Supreme Court never suggested that, in order to be clear, the question must be on a specific option — as currently stated in clause 1 of the bill — when it referred to a "clear question." Former Supreme Court justice Willard Estey said, in his testimony:

[English]

This is a strange bill. It is put together in a strange way, as though it had many authors. I cannot understand how they arrived at the arbiter of the meaning of "clear."

[Translation]

Aside from constitutional and legal issues, unless the polls show that support for sovereignty is climbing back up, it is a foregone conclusion that, for political reasons, the government of Lucien Bouchard will never put the question that Ottawa would like to see in a referendum. This is why Bill C-20 will not be very effective in imposing the terms of the question to Quebec parliamentarians.

From a purely legal point of view, the decision the House of Commons made about the clarity of the question can be construed as an improper intrusion of the federal government into a prerogative of the National Assembly. That is what Patrice Garant, a law professor at Laval University believes and what he stated before the committee when he said:

In a federal system, it might be considered bad form for a Parliament to comment on the quality of an intervention undertaken by another legislature... I would by far prefer that we allow some time to pass and that we wait for the results of the referendum, examine the question and the answer, and see whether they meet the criteria for clarity set out in Bill C-20.

Although the third paragraph of the preamble reaffirms the right of the National Assembly to formulate its referendum question, clause 1 of the bill says differently.

Unfortunately, the same criticisms can also be applied to clause 2 of the bill. It sets out the criteria the House of Commons will use to determine if the majority of Quebecers who would have voted for sovereignty is a clear majority, taking into account the size of the majority, the participation rate and any other factor the honourable members deem appropriate. In the speech I gave last April, I said that those criteria are so vague that they will let the House of Commons make a biased decision based mostly on partisan considerations. As Michael Behiels, a professor at Ottawa University, said before the committee:

[English]

The legislation, as it now stands is, in fact, wide open. It is far too discretionary. It will give the federal government, and, of course, the cabinet and the governing caucus, far too much power to decide, after the fact, what it considers to be a legitimate vote. I think, in a democracy, that is unacceptable.

[Translation]

Patrice Garant went even further and said that, because they are not precise enough, the factors in clause 2 of the bill could be a threat to the basic freedoms of Quebecers under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Thus, the bill could be vulnerable and open to a court challenge because of its lack of precision. The bottom line is that the federal government should give a more precise meaning to the concepts of clear majority and required level of participation. This will help avoid any confusion in the minds of Quebecers and Canadians in the next referendum as to the position of Ottawa on this issue. Moreover, if the other factors to be considered by the House of Commons were better defined in clause 2, we would prevent partisan considerations from clouding the proceedings of the House when it is called upon to determine the clarity of the majority. The courts seldom accept lack of precision in legislation.

Honourable senators, I am concerned about this lack of openness on the part of the government. It can only contribute to a false feeling of security. Many Canadians could be tempted to believe that this legislation makes the secession of Quebec virtually impossible. However, the minister keeps refusing amendments that could clarify the clarity bill. This uncompromising attitude could well result in Bill C-20 being challenged before the courts and could have a very major political impact in the next referendum.

The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt you, Senator Nolin, but your 15-minute period is over.

Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, I ask leave to continue.

[English]

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I propose that the time of Senator Nolin be extended by 10 minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted to extend the time of Senator Nolin by 10 minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is granted.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, the third part deals with the impact of Bill C-20 on the next referendum campaign. I would now like to conclude this exercise by stating that in addition to being ineffective to counter the threat that Quebec sovereignty presents for the rest of Canada, Bill C-20 could disorganize and derail the campaign on the federalist side.

As you know, I was deeply involved in the last referendum held in Quebec, and I humbly claim I know what I am talking about when I talk about the 1995 referendum campaign. The last weeks of the campaign were difficult for most Quebec federalists. The possibility of a defeat created a feeling of panic everywhere in Canada, a feeling that the current Prime Minister of Canada was unable to check.

As for myself, I confess that I do not want to relive such a situation. However, in the next referendum, the situation could be worse since Bill C-20 will force the House of Commons to take a decision on the clarity of the question, a decision that could come up right in the middle of the referendum campaign. Let me explain.

Bill C-20 provides that the House of Commons shall, within 30 days after the Government of Quebec tables — not gets the approval of — in its legislative assembly the question it intends to submit to its voters in a referendum relating to the proposed sovereignty of the province, consider the question and, by resolution, set out its determination on whether the question is clear. In considering the clarity of the question, the House of Commons shall consider whether the question would result in a clear expression of the will of the population of the province on whether the province should cease to be a part of Canada and become an independent state. If the House of Commons determines that a referendum question is not clear, the Government of Canada shall not enter into negotiations on the terms on which a province might cease to be a part of Canada.

Under section 7 of the Loi sur la consultation populaire du Quebec, if a referendum is organized by the Government of Quebec, only the National Assembly may decide on the wording of the question to be put to Quebecers. Debate on a bill or a question to be put to the public may not exceed 35 hours. Under section 14 of the same legislation, no order with respect to the holding of a referendum may be issued before the eighteenth day following the day on which the question or the bill to be put to the public is submitted to the National Assembly. If Bill C-20 had been in effect in early 1995, the question put by the PQ government would probably have been found unacceptable by the House of Commons. According to Minister Dion, it would have taken less than 30 minutes.

All those who think that the rights of minorities, rights other than provincial rights, will be taken into consideration during consideration of the clarity of the question can think again. The minister himself has told us that 30 minutes is all it would have taken in 1995 to decide on the clarity of the question. Those who think that aboriginals, among other groups, will be consulted can forget about it.

A number of observers, including Roger Gibbins and Patrice Garant, are worried, as I am, about the inclusion of a limit of 30 days in Bill C-20. The reason is simple. This decision could be taken a few days before the holding of a decisive vote on the future of Quebec and of Canada.

Considering the climate in which the last referendum campaign took place, it is likely that, if the House of Commons declares that the question passed by the National Assembly is not clear, there will be disastrous repercussions for the strategy of the No camp. In this regard, the example of the 1995 referendum is very useful in evaluating the impact of Bill C-20 during the next referendum campaign, because it could happen again in the near future.

This is why.

On September 11, 1995, then Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau introduced a draft bill on Quebec sovereignty in the National Assembly. The bill addressed, in particular, the question to be asked of Quebecers in the referendum planned for late October that same year. On Sunday, October 1, 1995 — in other words, 19 days after that — the cabinet approved an Order in Council ordering a vote to be held on Quebec sovereignty on October 30. Had Bill C-20 been in effect in 1995, the House of Commons would have had to reach a decision on the clarity of that question by October 10, 1995 at the latest, or 20 days before the vote and in the heat of the referendum campaign. It was precisely at that point that the No camp was experiencing considerable reverses, while the Yes side was experiencing an equivalent gain. Lucien Bouchard became the spokesperson for the Yes side after his appointment on October 7, 1995 as chief negotiator for Quebec after the victory of sovereignty. The No option began to lose ground in the polls, both those released to the public and those made available only to the key federal organizers in Quebec.

One can therefore imagine that a decision by the House of Commons disapproving of the question asked by the National Assembly would have had disastrous consequences for the No camp under the direction of former Quebec premier Daniel Johnson. The sovereignist big guns would likely have spoken out vigorously against this unacceptable interference by Ottawa in the Quebec referendum process. Trust me, they are capable of doing so! It can be taken for granted that such a decision would have stirred up the ire not just of the sovereignists but also of the "soft nationalists" who allowed the federalist option to win by a scant majority on the October 30, 1995 referendum evening.

It can therefore be stated without hesitation that, if the Government of Quebec wanted to win the next referendum, it would merely have to repeat the scenario of 1995. The House of Commons, constrained by the provisions of Bill C-20, will have no choice but to decide on the clarity of the question, and probably to disavow it, during the referendum campaign. This is, therefore, an excellent strategy for the Yes camp, which might be able to capitalize on the unacceptable and unprecedented character of this decision against the democracy of Quebec. The No camp, on the other hand, will need to devote the last 20 days of the campaign to downplaying the importance of such a decision.

In a worst case scenario, it will create major dissension within federal ranks. In that regard, Claude Ryan, the former leader of the No side during the first referendum, the one held in 1980, said the following when he testified before the committee:

...with Bill C-20, the federal government undoubtedly wants to give the federalist forces an additional weapon in the battle against Quebec separatism. However, it is risking creating the opposite effect in Quebec...Bill C-20 is helping to feed the anti-federalist convictions of Quebec sovereignists, and is unfortunately a source of pointless tension at this time within the federal forces.

To avoid such a situation, Patrice Garant is adamant. When he testified, he said that the 30-day period should be removed from clause 1 of Bill C-20 to avoid having the decision be perceived as interference in the Quebec referendum campaign. Still, when he testified on May 29, the minister said:

Join me in saying that it is not interfering. You cannot let people say the House is interfering when that is not the case.

Such a statement should make the sovereignists happy.

Honourable senators, I ask you: Do we need an act to make Quebecers understand what is truly at stake with the next referendum question? Based on my political experience, I can tell you that this is useless and dangerous. It is true that since 1995, several observers, including professors Maurice Pinard from McGill University and Guy Lachapelle from Concordia University, have speculated on the clarity of the referendum question and the degree of understanding of that question by Quebecers, on the basis of a detailed study of surveys.

However, most observers agreed at the time that the Liberals led by Daniel Johnson would have won the debate on the question at the National Assembly to convince Quebecers that the question was confusing. In fact, on September 20, 1995, the 44 Liberal members at the National Assembly voted against the draft bill and the wording of the question. Quebecers were not indifferent to the debate on the question at the National Assembly, which took place over 35 hours between September 11 and 20, 1995, and to the result of the vote on the draft bill.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to interrupt the Honourable Senator Nolin, but the time allotted for his speech has expired.

[English]

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I propose a further five-minute extension for Senator Nolin.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted to extend a further five minutes for Senator Nolin?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, an initial poll by CREATEC of 1,004 Quebecers between September 15 and 19, 1995, revealed that 53 per cent of them found the question ambiguous. A second poll conducted between September 19 and 25, 1995, confirmed that over 46 per cent of Quebecers found the question ambiguous.

Without resorting to an initiative such as Bill C-20, almost half of Quebecers in 1995 were able to say that the question they were being asked was not clear. Despite the fact that most of the polls carried out during the referendum campaign showed that a large percentage of Quebecers believed that a sovereign Quebec would keep Canadian currency, passports and citizenship, and that it would still have MPs in Ottawa, Quebecers were still able to see that the question was ambiguous. Quebecers are intelligent enough to decide whether or not a question is clear without the House of Commons formally interfering in the process of democracy in Quebec, with all the political risks that that entails. As Professor Garant said:

People, voters, are nevertheless not schoolchildren. They can make their own judgments, up to a certain level.

In addition, leaders of the No side did not hesitate to state publicly that the referendum question asked in 1995 by sovereignists was ambiguous. Shortly after the draft bill on sovereignty was introduced, Mr. Johnson had this to say:

By using very strong language such as "signed agreement", "formally" and "offer of partnership" in the question, Mr. Parizeau and his allies are giving Quebecers the impression that they will be deciding on a new partnership and not on the separation pure and simple of Quebec...clarity is the first standard, the least that citizens expect.

For his part, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, said in Toronto on September 12, 1995:

The question is not very clear, because one cannot say what exactly the referendum strategy is. They are trying to deceive people, to get them to think that there will be some sort of agreement, which is strictly hypothetical. For me, it is clear: a yes vote in a referendum is a one-way ticket out of Canada for Quebec. That is what it means. They did not want to be very honest about the question, and it is our job to tell people that they will be voting for separation.

Nonetheless, he said that his government would play an active role in the referendum campaign in order to convince Quebecers that the question was misleading.

Thus, contrary to the binding rules of Bill C-20, a simple official statement from the Prime Minister of Canada or the leader of the No forces with respect to the clarity of the question during the Quebec referendum campaign would suffice to get across to voters of Quebec and of Canada what the federal government's position was on the referendum question.

(1750)

In conclusion, honourable senators, with all the arguments I have advanced, a careful reading of Bill C-20 is sufficient to convince us that it is poorly written and does not respect the principles of Canadian federalism and democracy. As a result, it smacks of a vote-getting campaign aimed at Quebec rather than a serious piece of legislation. Moreover, in Minister Dion's appearance before the committee, he confirmed that the objectives of Bill C-20 were first and foremost political. Was it intended to scare Quebecers or to polarize Canadian public opinion? As University of Ottawa law professor Joe Magnet told the committee:

[English]

We cannot scare people into wanting to stay in Canada. To the extent that this bill attempts to do that, I do not think this is a particularly great strategy.

He continues:

...my experience is that trying to scare people is not a good thing.

[Translation]

We will be called upon as parliamentarians within the next few days to reach a decision that is fraught with consequences for the future of Canada and the millions of Quebec federalists who are prepared to commit themselves to saving our country. Theirs is an unpleasant duty, but as the former Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, said during a speech on June 21, 1990 before the Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, just one day before the failure of the Meech Lake Accord:

[English]

Everything we do in this life brings with it consequences. Some good, some bad, some wilful and some unintended. We all have to live with the consequences of our own decision. As Members of Parliament, we are elected to stand up and take the heat and decide, and so we must accept the consequences of our action.

Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I rise today to discuss Bill C-20, the most important piece of legislation to confront the Senate in my time in this chamber. Like other senators, I have carefully considered the merits of the clarity bill from a variety of viewpoints, studying the substantial testimony presented to this special Senate committee. Upon careful reflection, I have determined that there are four points upon which I situate my position on this bill. The first is the constitutionality of the bill. The second is the politics behind it. The third is its wisdom: Is it good for the country? The fourth is the role accorded to the Senate.

Honourable senators, I shall speak first of the constitutionality of the bill. Whether everyone likes it or not, the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling in the secession reference is binding. Its ruling must be respected. Furthermore, the clarity bill is consistent with this ruling in establishing both guidelines and procedures for the establishment of clarity in any referendum process and the possibility of a secession of a province.

The Supreme Court has made it clear in the secession reference that the amending procedures of the Constitution extend to all types of amendments, including the secession of a province. I share with my colleagues the difficulty in recognizing the divisibility of Canada, but does anyone in this chamber believe that the separatists maintain Canada's indivisibility? We know they do not. We know that they contemplate, and most likely would declare, unilateral independence with a 50 per cent plus one majority.

We must formulate an answer to this most dangerous situation. We must have the framework at our disposal to counter the ambiguity thus far inherent in the process and outcome of a referendum on secession. We cannot hide behind the belief that the potential breakup of our country is not possible because "Canada is indivisible."

Just as no province has the legal right to secede unilaterally from Canada, Canada has not the legal nor the moral right to hold against their resolve those Quebecers who have clearly expressed their democratic will to secede.

The Government of Canada cannot be indifferent to the expression of a desire to secede by a clear, substantial majority on a clear question. The Supreme Court has told us this. If the scenario of having to negotiate secession should ever arise, there exists an obligation to undertake negotiations on secession within the legal framework of the Constitution. In accordance, then, with the Supreme Court's ruling that Canada's divisibility would be acceptable only under conditions of clarity and would have to be effected through a constitutional amendment, Bill C-20 effectively establishes the rule of law in a situation of extreme confusion and uncertainty.

The second issue, honourable senators, is politics. All problems cannot be settled before the courts. Even the Supreme Court recognized that this issue must ultimately be resolved in the political realm, and so I move to the politics of Bill C-20.

In this legislation, I see recognition of the errors and ambiguities of the 1995 referendum campaign. We now know that the secessionist government of Quebec held the 1995 referendum with the intention of declaring unilateral independence if the Yes side had won by so much as a single vote. There was an ambiguous question, and polls later demonstrated that the people of Quebec voted in confusion. There were beliefs in 1995 that a Yes vote would only lead to negotiations between Quebec and Ottawa. There were beliefs that a majority Yes vote would only act as a bigger bargaining chip for Quebec within future provincial-federal relations. Many wondered whether the federal government would protect minorities who sought to remain in Canada. Beliefs over the sanctity of Quebec's borders in case of a secessionist victory corresponded only to political aspirations, not to the rule of law.

What dangerous ambiguities these were — ambiguities that continue to threaten the constitutional rights of Quebecers and of all Canadians.

Linguistic and ethnic minorities within Quebec, in particular, have felt their representatives have failed to defend their constitutional rights. This damaged confidence has manifested itself in a series of municipalities within Quebec, representing nearly 1 million people, having passed resolutions supporting their citizens' right to remain a part of Canada regardless of any referendum result. We cannot ignore that these municipal councils have conveyed Quebecers' lack of confidence that their constitutional rights will be defended at the federal level.

In Bill C-20, the government has responded by legislating the recognition of those demands for a clear legal framework to the threat of separation, a legal framework that safeguards the constitutional rights of the people of Quebec and all of Canada who are threatened with the fracturing of their country through ambiguity.

Bill C-20 will do a great service to the people of Quebec and to all Canadians by restoring the rule of law to any future referendum process. The clarity bill ensures that the law, as it should, informs and shapes the unity debate.

I come now to the wisdom of the bill, honourable senators. One of the great strengths of Bill C-20 is the wisdom of laying down the criteria for clarity in advance of any future separatist referendum. I see nothing in Bill C-20 that endorses, sets a road map or validates secession or the divisibility of Canada. I find it also difficult to sustain the argument that the bill is a provocation to Quebec and that it prevents the people of Quebec from freely choosing their own destiny. The bill does nothing of the sort. In fact, reactions to Bill C-20 have been either supportive or indifferent in that province. Only the Parti Québécois has responded with vehemence — and how have they? By reiterating that they plan to ignore the Supreme Court ruling in any future referendum. To my mind, this only reinforces the need for, and the importance of, this legislation.

The only constraint upon a secessionist province that I can discern in the bill is that the act of secession must be negotiated under the Constitution of Canada. It is difficult to accept that the federal government is acting unwisely by insisting that such monumental negotiations, should there ever be any, take place within the law.

(!800)

The separatists have set the terms of the unity debate for far too long. The Government of Canada has now responded, and I support the response.

A vote of support for Bill C-20 is a vote of confidence in the government's dealings with the threat of separatism in Canada. Each and every Canadian naturally has a stake in the future of the country. Their representatives in Ottawa are now, through Bill C-20, effectively voicing their interests and concerns.

Honourable senators, I turn to the topic of the role of the Senate. Many feel that the Senate has been mistreated by Bill C-20, and that the bill is unconstitutional as it would give the Senate a consultative, as opposed to a determinative, role regarding the clarity of the referendum question, and the clarity of the result. I shall admit to having shared such concerns. I made a point in the second reading debate of voicing those concerns about the treatment of this chamber.

This being said, however, I have reviewed the testimony of the many learned witnesses who testified before the special committee. I am convinced that the role envisaged for the Senate under Bill C-20 is both legal and constitutional.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is now six o'clock. Is it the wish of the Senate that I not see the clock?

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I would propose that we give leave not to see the clock.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed by all senators that I not see the clock?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Roche may continue.

Senator Roche: At the outset, honourable senators, we must keep in mind that Bill C-20's chief aim is to set the conditions under which the executive would be willing to enter into constitutional negotiations in the wake of a referendum on secession. In this regard, we must acknowledge that, under the current situation, the executive already has this power and does not require anything more than the confidence of a majority of the House of Commons in order to conduct negotiations. Indeed, a constitutional amendment providing for the secession of a province could be presented to Parliament as a fait accompli.

If Bill C-20 gave equal weight to the House and Senate in giving permission to the government to enter into negotiations for a constitutional amendment for secession, the Senate would be seen to have an indirect veto over constitutional amendments. We cannot give the Senate a power that it does not already enjoy under our Constitution. At the same time, we cannot fault the proposed legislation for not granting powers to the Senate that it never had.

The Senate must accept the fact that it is in a junior position to the elected chamber on constitutional matters. I accept Professor Hogg's assertion before the Special Senate Committee on Bill C-20 on June 5, when he said:

...there is no doubt about the constitutional validity of a provision delegating decision-making authority to the House of Commons alone.

Honourable senators, I wish to sum up my argument. With respect to any amendments, I see a special problem. If any amendment passes, the bill would, of course, have to be returned to the House of Commons. In my view, an amended bill risks being rejected by the House. This would be particularly true if an amendment provided a specific role for the Senate that was not originally given by the House of Commons. The risk may also obtain on other subjects. As a result of an amendment on any subject, a legislative impasse may well result with, in the end, the country being deprived of the clarity that Bill C-20 seeks to establish.

In order to make the case for a determinative role for the Senate, the Senate would itself become the focal point of public discussion. In such a circumstance, the Senate would be seen as overreaching. The opponents of the Senate would make the Senate the issue. There are signs of this already in the media. We might well emerge from such a fight not only bloodied, but also bowed. I do not think that we could win such a fight, nor is the clarity bill the right fight for the Senate to make to enhance our role in constitutional affairs.

The role of the Senate in constitutional affairs was established in 1982 when the present Constitution gave the Senate only a suspensive veto in constitutional matters. The overall powers of the Senate do need to be strengthened, but that can only come about by constitutional change and due process.

Bill C-20 is about establishing clarity in a referendum for separation. Other issues ought not to obscure the central aim of this bill. The Senate is not overlooked, for the bill provides that the House of Commons shall take into account the views of the Senate, as well as the provinces and aboriginal groups, in determining clarity.

Bill C-20 takes nothing away from the Senate that we now have. For the good of the country, it is better for us to leave Bill C-20 the way it now stands. The Senate will be heard, and senators will do their job in making sure that we are heard in the determination of clarity. For these reasons, I shall fully support the bill on third reading.

[Translation]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, the honourable senator claims to have read almost all the evidence by witnesses. He also seems to remember the evidence of some people who never took part in a referendum, whether in 1980 or 1995. Senator Roche seems to have been greatly influenced by Professor Hogg. I do not remember, nor does Senator Nolin —  and we are the only two members of the 1980 committee, the one which divided our families — seeing Professor Hogg or someone else. Out of all his readings, did the honourable senator note what Claude Ryan said in evidence? Mr. Ryan, Senator Nolin and myself were members of the No committee. I know that what I am saying bothers some of you. We are not only participants but survivors of the No committee chaired by Mr. Ryan. I hope that, out of all the evidence he read, Senator Roche did read what Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the 1980 No committee, had to say.

[English]

Senator Roche: Honourable senators, I always have respect for Senator Prud'homme's views. I can only say that I am bringing to this debate the perspective of a senator from Alberta. Our perspective is that the entire country needs to be protected in the terms of Bill C-20, as I have outlined.

I have known Claude Ryan for 35 or 40 years. Many of his writings and philosophies have deeply influenced me. However, I have not always found myself in total agreement with the honourable gentleman.

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, Canada belongs to Canadians.

[Translation]

The proposals I have the privilege of presenting to you this afternoon represent what I feel is most essential as a Canadian who has his roots in Quebec, and particularly as a Liberal. What I am submitting to you today is a kind of political manifesto that reflects my deepest convictions.

[English]

Let me first state unequivocally that I am of the conviction that, when one envisages the termination and dismemberment of Canada, the rule of law and constitutional principles are of paramount importance to prevent social unrest and to protect the rights and freedoms of all Canadians.

Second, I strongly support the general objectives of Bill C-20 that aim to answer the question that the Supreme Court has left to the initiative of the political actors, including defining what constitutes a "clear question and a clear majority" in any future referendum on secession.

Third, after an extensive debate on second reading and having heard the evidence of 20 witnesses at committee stage, the essential elements of Bill C-20 are quite commanding, as are the omissions and unanswered questions that have been brought to light.

(1810)

Contrary to what happened in the other place, where hundreds of amendments were proposed for no other purpose than to derail the process, we have in front of us a small number of proposals, each of which addresses the very essence of what Canada is: first, the protection of minority rights at the heart of the compromise that made Confederation possible 133 years ago; second, the recognition of the status of aboriginal peoples in any decision affecting their ancestral and treaty rights; third, the essential principle that, as a sovereign country, we are one and indivisible; fourth, the direct involvement of all Canadians in any decision that would change or terminate their constitutional rights as Canadian citizens; and, finally, the status of the Senate as one of the national institutions where the federal principle is embodied.

Honourable senators, the total of these five elements is greater than the mere sum of its parts. They speak as a whole to what we are as a country. They are interwoven and permeate the very fabric of our complex nationhood.

None of the proposed amendments would affect the legality of the bill, jeopardize its effectiveness or undermine its essential goals. On the contrary, they would strengthen the legal authority of the proposed bill by providing greater certainty as to its constitutional foundation.

It is on that broad horizon that I would propose to reflect with honourable senators on Bill C-20. In pith and substance, the three clauses of Bill C-20 are simple. They address essentially the determination of the conditions following which a future Canadian government would have to negotiate the secession of a province or a territory. As such, they deal essentially with the process leading to the dismemberment of the country. However, the bill is, in its substance, silent on the fundamental obligations of the Government of Canada to "maintain, at all times, the rights and freedoms of the citizens, the protection of the values of the body politic, the preservation of the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity" of Canada.

During the debate, the government spokesman and witnesses have sustained that the government possesses an unfettered prerogative to initiate any discussions or negotiations leading to the dissolution of the country without any need to get prior authorization, with the only limit being a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. According to this view, there is no constitutional principle that would prevent the government from initiating its own extinction. In other words, the Canadian executive pretends to be supreme over the Constitution. It can negotiate with any province or territory the repeal of the present constitutional order at will.

In my opinion, this view runs contrary to the basic democratic principle that people are the source of all sovereignty and legitimacy of government. This view is also contrary to the explicit statements made by former prime minister Trudeau in 1980 and current Prime Minister Chrétien in 1995 to the effect that the Prime Minister of Canada has no mandate to dismantle Canada.

With respect, I contend that the people are supreme over the Constitution. It is not accurate to maintain that it is the executive, rather, that is supreme over the Constitution.

Honourable senators, I will outline three principles in support of my contention that the Government of Canada, on its own, has no prerogative to seek the dismemberment of the nation.

The first principle was entrenched in our Constitution at the very outset of its creation in 1867, when the three original colonies "expressed their desire to be federally united into one Dominion under the Crown...with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom, making Canada a new nation."

To quote Sir Wilfrid Laurier in a speech from 1897:

[Translation]

Colony and nation, these are words that in days gone by were not considered synonymous, that were never used to describe both the sovereign power and the dependence of a people.

Canada is a nation. Canada is free and freedom is its nationality.

In 1890:

Here, we form, or we wish to form, one nation composed of the most heterogeneous elements — Protestants and Catholics, English, French, Germans, Irish, Scots — each with their own traditions and prejudices, let it not be forgotten.

Honourable senators, what was the principle on which Canada was founded?

The Canadian federation was founded on the free consent of Canadians and of their elected and appointed representatives.

Although the vote was close, 26 to 22, francophone representatives in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada voted in favour of the proposal. In the partly elected and partly appointed Legislative Council, the vote was 45 to 15 in favour of union. At the next following election, a plebiscite with confederation as its sole theme, the Conservative Party led by George-Étienne Cartier won 45 seats, while the Liberals led by Antoine Aimé Dorion, who were opposed to the proposal, obtained only 20. In the next election, in 1872, the Conservative Party was again re-elected, with a majority of 38, a testimony to voter approval.

The federal union received the approval of the popular vote in Quebec.

It has already been recalled how authorities at the time refused to entertain the request to withdraw from the union submitted the following year, in 1868, by Nova Scotia, thus confirming the continuity of the new union.

When a resolution was introduced 50 years later, in 1917, in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec by MLA Joseph N. Francoeur, calling for the withdrawal of Quebec from the Canadian federation, Premier Lomer Gouin intervened to have the motion withdrawn. He said:

[English]

I wish to make my position on this subject very clear, Your Honour. I believe in the Canadian Confederation. The federal government appears to me to be the only possible one in Canada because of our differences of race and creed, and also because of the variety and multiplicity of local needs in our immense territory....Confederation was not the result of a whim, nor an act lightly performed, but the result of an absolute necessity. This act was freely accepted by Quebec. Had it not been for Cartier, had it not been for the popular wish of Lower Canada, we would not have had Confederation.

[Translation]

The democratic legitimacy of the federal union was thus reconfirmed 50 years later.

Yet the political debate on the nature of the federal union laid the seed for the interpretation of Canada as the result of a compact between two "nations," one francophone and the other anglophone, and that as a result Quebec may decide on its own to withdraw from that compact.

[English]

This vision of Confederation as a compact is historically and legally untenable.

[Translation]

This "compact theory," which was to give rise later to the two-nations theory, was debated right up to the Supreme Court, where it served as an argument against the constitutional powers of the federal government. Each time this claim was made, it was clearly rejected by the Supreme Court, the last time quite recently. This occurred in 1981 with the reference on patriation, and in particular with the courts of Quebec itself, including its appeal court.

Chief Justice Laskin wrote as follows in the 1981 reference on patriation of the Constitution:

[English]

Theories, whether of a full compact theory...or of a modified compact theory, as urged by some of the provinces, operate in the political realm, in political science studies. They do not engage the law...

[Translation]

Justice J. A. Turgeon of the Quebec Court of Appeal wrote the following regarding the same issue:

But none of the decisions turned this theory into a rule of law. A distinction must be made between a "compact" and a "political arrangement". History does not support the "compact" theory... The "compact" theory is a purely political argument that has no legal basis.

In 1982, the Quebec Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the "principle of duality" as an argument in support of Quebec's veto:

However, these distinctions do not confer on Quebec's legislature more extensive powers than those given to the others.

That political interpretation of the constitutional rule to the effect that Quebec joined the federal union on the basis of a compact or a contract it can opt out of unilaterally has always been rejected by the highest courts in the land as being contrary to the legal principles that form the very foundations of the Canadian constitutional order.

If a province cannot opt out at will, it follows that the federal executive branch is not above the law and cannot evade the constitutional order by initiating, on its own, discussions that could lead to the secession of a Canadian province and to the dismantling of the country.

(1820)

Our second argument against the government's claim that the executive may, on its own initiative, enter into discussions and negotiations leading to the extinction of the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Canada can be found in section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in the very purpose of patriating to Canada the amending powers of the Constitution in 1982.

The primary purpose of the Charter is to confer rights, free from and beyond the supremacy of legislative assemblies and federal chambers, thus rendering impossible any breach of these fundamental freedoms.

Second, the Charter confers on Canadians control over the constitutional order of their country.

[English]

According to Prime Minister Trudeau, in a statement made in this chamber in 1988, the Charter:

...was meant to create a body of values and beliefs that not only united all Canadians in feeling that they were one nation but also, in a sense, set them above the governments of the provinces and the federal government itself. So, they have rights which no legislative body can abridge, therefore establishing the sovereignty of the Canadian people over all our institutions of government.

[Translation]

Prime Minister Chrétien put it succinctly ten years later in 1992:

[English]

We've given the Constitution to the people of Canada and that's going to be the test of any change in the future.

In other words, it is my view that the executive of our country cannot put itself above the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by entering into negotiations to extinguish those very rights and freedoms belonging to all Canadians. I believe that the statements of 1988 and 1992 that sovereignty belongs to the Canadian people were right. No government can trade and bargain outside, or against, the consent of the Canadian citizens, their rights and freedoms.

The third principle is in the very ruling of the Supreme Court on the secession of Quebec in 1998. What were the questions asked of the court?

The first question was: Under the Constitution of Canada, can the Government of Quebec effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally? The court answered: No. The court stated:

Quebec could not, despite a clear referendum result, purport to invoke a right of self-determination to dictate the terms of a proposed secession to the other parties to the federation.

The second question was: Is there a right to self-determination under international law that would give the right to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally? Again, the court answered: No. It stated:

Quebec does not enjoy a right at international law to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally.

In my humble opinion, one must draw the following conclusions from those two clear legal answers. First, no law, Canadian or international, can serve as the basis for an alleged right of Quebec to secede from Canada or to sustain that Quebec does have a right to "order" the dismemberment of the Canadian territory.

Honourable senators, what is the legal meaning of the word "right"? According to Black's Law Dictionary, a right is:

A legally enforceable claim of one person against another, that the other shall do a given act, or shall not do a given act.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to interrupt the honourable senator but his 15-minute speaking time has expired.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I would propose that we give leave to allow Senator Joyal to continue for an additional 10 minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Joyal: Thank you, honourable senators.

In clear legal terms, the Province of Quebec does not have the right of self-determination that would entitle her to secede unilaterally from Canada, neither according to Canadian law nor under international law. That right does not exist in our Constitution. Clearly and simply, this is the law of the land.

The second conclusion is that no one has a right under the Canadian Constitution, as it stands now, to require that Canada be divided. The Supreme Court could not have stated it more clearly when it said:

Quebec could not purport to invoke the right of self-determination such as to dictate the terms of a proposed secession to the other parties.

That is the basis of former justice Estey's statement when he said of Canada:

Clearly, it is not divisible by constitutional means until you amend the Constitution...I think offhand I agree with the 1998 judgment or advisory opinion that it is indivisible, because that is in the present tense.

Honourable senators, that is exactly where there is an essential legal distinction to be made. The proposition that Canada is divisible formed no part whatsoever of the decision of the court. Under the Constitution of Canada, as interpreted by the court, there is no principle of divisibility of Canada. That is the law.

Most commentators simply conflate or fail to distinguish between the absence of a legal constitutional basis for an alleged right to secession itself and the legal mechanism for constitutional change provided in the amending formula. In other words, the present Constitution of Canada embodies the principle that Canada is indivisible. That is the law as it stands now.

Let us not confuse a right and a political obligation. The court, in its wisdom, has seen the trap of jumping too rapidly to one conclusion, that Canada is divisible. The court said of division or secession that:

There would be no absolute legal entitlement to it.

...a distinction was drawn between the law of the Constitution, which, generally speaking, will be enforced by the courts, and other constitutional rules, such as conventions of the Constitution, which carry only political sanctions.

In other words, the court insists that the distinction between the essential legal rules of the Constitution and the political obligations that can exist to a particular set of facts that challenges the political order must be maintained.

Those political obligations are not subject to court review. They are essentially subjected to the judgment of the tribunal of public opinion. There would undoubtedly be repercussions if the federal and provincial governments would refuse to negotiate the dismemberment of the country, but as the court stated:

...the appropriate recourse in some circumstances lies through the working of the political process rather than the courts.

There is a real danger to confuse the status of the rule of law, as provided in the Constitution, with political expediency.

In our debate on third reading, it was stated:

There is a constitutional right of a province and a constitutional duty in Canada to negotiate secession.

These words were recorded by others who sustained that "our government must negotiate" separation.

The court never gave a legal basis to that political obligation and I submit that to not state the rule of law of the land in such an exceptional circumstance would run contrary to the fundamental obligations of the Government of Canada to maintain the constitutional principle that Canada is indivisible as long as the people of Canada, who are the holders of the sovereignty of the country, have not relieved the government of its essential obligation.

We, as senators, must carefully draw the line between what is legal and what is political, always remembering that the rule of law exists to protect the stability, the rights and freedoms of the citizens and the integrity of the country.

Since the dissolution of Canada or the secession of a province or territory are inconsistent with our current constitutional arrangements, because the Constitution as it stands does not embody a right to secession, Canada is indivisible and will remain so until the Constitution is amended to specifically provide for secession or dismemberment.

The government position is that the court has now held that Canada is divisible. This position does leave open the possibility that the government believes that unanimity is required, but it also opens the door for this or any future government to argue that the 7-50 formula, or even some lesser level of consensus, would be sufficient to destroy our country.

To reconcile the point of view that I support, that no rule of law of the Canadian Constitution recognizes the right to require that Canada be divided, and the government position, I would propose an amendment to Bill C-20.

The amendment does not actually say that Canada is indivisible in the way caricatured by some speakers, encompassing the resort to violence at the extreme. It merely requires the government to act at all times in accordance with the principle of indivisibility subject to Bill C-20. In other words, the Government of Canada will act in accordance with the principle that Canada is indivisible until Canadians decide differently. Such a decision by the Canadian people would have to be expressed in a national referendum.

(1830)

What is the effect of this amendment? The government's position is that it presently has an unfettered power to negotiate secession. If Bill C-20 is passed as is, the prohibitions in it will only apply once a question made public by the provincial government is deemed to be unclear, or if the answer is found to be unclear. Hence, under Bill C-20 the government will retain an unfettered power to negotiate separation with a province, one, prior to the province ever putting the question and, two, if the response to the provincial referendum is a clear "yes."

Honourable senators, the amendment I propose would remove the prerogative of the federal government to negotiate secession with a province, or dismemberment of the country, except as permitted under the bill. Canadians could rest assured that no Government of Canada was paving the way to secession with preliminary negotiations prior to a question ever being publicly asked.

Under this amendment, no government of Canada could negotiate secession until three things occur. First, the citizens of a province must express a clear will to secede. Second, the citizens of Canada, as a whole, must be consulted about the proposed secession or dismemberment by a national referendum. Third, the Senate and House of Commons must debate the results of the national referendum and give the government a mandate to negotiate based upon their deliberation.

Why is it necessary to hold a national referendum before the Government of Canada could negotiate a secession or dismemberment of Canada? Some have argued that it would add an undue additional obstacle to the resolution of the political deadlock in which Canada would find itself. To me, such an argument does not stand up to the fundamental democratic principle, as stated by the Supreme Court, that the "Constitution is the expression of the Sovereignty of the people of Canada...it lies within the power of the people of Canada to effect whatever constitutional arrangements are desired within Canadian territory...." The argument that it would be difficult is insufficient reason for abandoning the democratic principle that we have cherished since before we were a country.

Has the Supreme Court ruled out a referendum? The answer is no. The Supreme Court stated that the governments involved in such negotiations "may, of course, take their cue from a referendum."

A national referendum is certainly consistent with the fundamental democratic principle that Canada belongs to Canadians — not to the House of Commons, not to the Senate, nor to the government of the day. Canada belongs to each and every citizen of this country. As Thomas Paine stated 250 years ago:

The authority of the people is the only authority on which Government has a right to exist in any country.

This is the essence of our democracy. No Canadian government has the legal, moral or political authority to dismantle the country, nor ignore or disregard the sovereignty of the people of Canada.

The ultimate power on the process that a country will cease to exist resides in the citizenry and governments cannot do certain things without their consent.

That is the principle that John Locke well understood almost three centuries ago, and it is still a compelling force in a democracy such as ours.

If the Canadian government was to embark on the process of fundamentally altering the present constitutional order, an initiative through which the rights and freedoms of each Canadian would be terminated, be they minorities or aboriginal people, the principle of democracy upon which our entire system of government is built and animated would require it to go back to the very source of its legal existence and legitimacy — the Canadian people.

Those fundamental principles of democracy are part of the political statement for which the Liberal Party of Canada stands. To ascertain them, let me quote the public letter that the then leader of the opposition, Mr. Jean Chrétien, sent on August 17, 1992, to then prime minister Brian Mulroney on the eve of the constitutional conference that led to the Charlottetown Agreement.

Canadians want an agreement that focuses on what unites us not on what divides us. Canadians also want to decide for themselves to approve an agreement. And because the Constitution belongs to the people, the Liberal Party wants any agreements to be ratified by the people in a national referendum.

If, according to all democratic norms, the people of Canada would have had to ratify a substantial change that would affect the Constitution as it now stands and that belongs to them, how could they not have to authorize their government to initiate the process that would lead to the extinction and dissolution of Canada as one country?

We have now reached, honourable senators, a crucial moment vis-à-vis the options facing us in our evolution as a united country. The debates that have taken place in this house of Parliament have clearly brought to light two visions on the nature of our country. The first one, defended by some, can be summarized in the four following points.

First, Canada is divisible in legal terms according to the reading of the Supreme Court ruling.

Second, the political culture generally accepted, according to them, is to allow the secession of a province that expresses clearly its will to leave. We are a sort of consensual federation.

Third, the government of this country has an embodied prerogative to initiate discussion of secession or division of the land on its own without any prior consultation or authorization by the Canadian people and would be bound to negotiate secession if so desired by a clear majority on a clear question of secession through a provincial referendum.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to inform the Honourable Senator Joyal that his speaking time has expired.

Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, may I have leave to continue?

Senator Hays: May I ask Senator Joyal how much longer he thinks he will be?

Senator Joyal: Five minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed to give the honourable senator a further five minutes, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Joyal: Thank you, honourable senators.

Fourth, the result of those assumptions gives effect to the theory of the two nations; the concept that Quebecers form "a nation" or "a people" and that as such they have an unfettered capacity or "right" to leave Canada whenever they so choose.

The other vision can be stated on four counter grounds.

First, Canada is one and indivisible. Neither the Constitution acts nor the Supreme Court ruling of August 20, 1998, recognize the right of anyone to divide or legally request the dismantling of the country.

Second, the political stand always defended by successive prime ministers affirms clearly that Canada is one country from sea to sea, with two official languages, equal in rights and status, united under a shared set of values and institutions.

Third, the federal government has the essential role to develop and enhance the rights and freedoms equally benefiting all citizens of the country through national institutions where the federal principle is embodied and valued.

Fourth, Canada belongs to each and every Canadian. Canadians constitute a sovereign people. They are the sole and unique masters of the destiny of their country and the only ones to hold the key to its future as one united country.

If one accepts the first vision, Bill C-20 should remain unamended. If one proposes to bring Canada to a further step of nationhood, Bill C-20 must be amended to confirm our maturity as a united country.

Honourable senators, when the political debate or political culture tends to be divorced from the clear recognition of the constitutional principles embodied in the rule of law, it creates alleged legal positions like the "compact theory," like the theory of the two nations, like the theory of the veto of Quebec, or like the constitutional right to negotiate secession. These unfounded positions serve only to exacerbate tensions, to put unbearable stress on the stability of our country and to hinder the resolution of our profound differences.

Only the full recognition of the fundamental principles of our democratic constitutional order will guarantee that a solution that is commonly acceptable to everyone involved in determining the future of the country is achieved. The Government of Canada has the duty to uphold the rule of law, which guarantees to all Canadian citizens a stable, predictable and ordered society, and the duty to maintain the continuity of the Constitution of Canada, which guarantees the continued existence of the rights and freedoms of all Canadian citizens.

We shall come soon to cast our final vote on the most important piece of legislation since the creation of Canada 133 years ago; a piece of legislation that recognizes that our country, as it now stands, can be dismembered.

Honourable senators, let me remind you what Edmund Burke stated in Bristol in the late 18th century on the very obligation of each member of Parliament, as we are, as senators:

Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgment, and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

This is essentially why we have been called to this place — to exercise our judgment, in our soul and conscience, over the future of our unique country in which lie those freedoms and the hopes of so many millions of human beings.

(1840)

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, that is why I move:

That Bill C-20 be not read a third time, but that it be amended:

(a) on page 2, by adding the following after line 33:

"1. Subject to this Act, the Government of Canada must act at all times in accordance with the principle that Canada is one and indivisible.";

(b) in clause 3, on page 5, by adding the following after line 24:

"(2) Where it has been determined, pursuant to section 3, that there has been a clear expression of a will by a clear majority of the population of a province that the province cease to be part of Canada,

(a) the Government of Canada shall consult the population of Canada, by national referendum, about the proposed secession; and

(b) after the national referendum, the Senate and the House of Commons may, by joint resolution, authorize the Government of Canada to enter into negotiations to effect the secession of the province from Canada, subject to the terms and conditions set out in the resolution."; and

(c) by renumbering clauses 1 to 3 as clauses 2 to 4 and subclause 3(2) as (3), and any cross-references thereto accordingly.

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

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to the order on the vote, I suggest that the amendment of Senator Joyal is one of those amendments that will be voted on Thursday of this week.

[Translation]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I do not know how long we are going to sit this evening, but would it be possible, since we have only two days of debate left, for us to have a copy of these amendments during the evening? This could change what those who have not yet spoken on third reading will have to say. Otherwise, we will have to wait for tomorrow and will then have only one day left to debate this bill. I know that this is hard on our employees — our very faithful employees —  but if it is possible, I personally would appreciate it.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Prud'homme, there is no problem. The honourable senators will have the amendments distributed to them.

Senator Prud'homme: I thank you, Your Honour.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, first of all, I should like to address the new senators who have been appointed in order to make sure that Bill C-20 gets through.

In a parliamentary government system such as ours, it is the duty of the opposition to examine very carefully any legislation introduced by the government. The first reaction of any senator on that side of the House is to support the initiatives of his government. This is natural in Canadian democracy. Yet we must never lose sight of the fact that the Senate was created to represent the interests of our regions and of our minorities, as well as to turn down bad legislation referred to it by the House of Commons. Our primary duty is to our country and not to our political party.

I would encourage the new senators to read up on this. The Library of Parliament can recommend some excellent reference works to them. They must find out about their new duties as parliamentarians and about their predecessors. They will find that the most respected parliamentarians are those who have always made decisions in total keeping with their constitutional duty. These honourable senators have taken a solemn oath to their country. Although they may feel beholden to the party of their choice — and there is nothing wrong in that — their civic duty must be performed with loyalty. Honouring that, they will never be wrong.

Bill C-20 is the kind of legislation that requires such reflection. The honourable senators must read the bill very carefully and forget for a moment that they are on the government side. They must set aside the opinions of lawyers and experts. They must ask themselves if this bill makes sense. Honourable senators, think about the consequences and ask yourself if this bill is in the best interests of your country. It is an bill under which the House of Commons alone, without consulting Canadians, can make a ruling and authorize cabinet to negotiate the end of Canada. This is the country of your ancestors, of your children and grandchildren. This is a serious issue.

[English]

I have heard some parliamentarians in this chamber say that they support the bill because legal experts have told them that the Supreme Court has ruled that this is so. With all due respect, the Supreme Court of Canada did not rule that Canada can be divided. The court certainly did not decree that we should provide the legal means to break up our country. I invite all honourable senators to read the text of the decision.

Suppose Mr. Bouchard were to hold a successful referendum today and Bill C-20 is the law of the land. The authority to break up the country for all intents and purposes would be decided by Ontario and Quebec members of Parliament who make up 82 per cent of the government's members. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Minister of International Trade and a host of other Quebec cabinets ministers — all Quebec cabinet ministers —  would be negotiating Quebec's secession while they represent Quebec ridings. Is this not a conflict of interest?

This bill declares that the Canadian population has no say in the matter, that they should trust their elected politicians. I do not believe that Canadians in the last election authorized their members of Parliament and Stéphane Dion to negotiate the breakup of our country. The question is far too important.

Honourable senators, elections can produce interesting and unintended results. Who could have imagined a couple of decades ago that a group of separatists could become Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, only to be replaced in the next election by a protest party whose winning campaign slogan was an "X" through the faces of prominent Quebec politicians? Those who fantasize that the Liberals will always be in power are mistaken. Sooner or later, I can assure honourable senators, Canadians will vote for change.

The combined vote of the Bloc and the Reform in the 1997 election amounted to approximately 31 per cent of the vote, and the Liberals formed the government with less than 39 per cent of the vote. This is within 8 percentage points.

Regional and strategic voting can produce strange results in our first-past-the-post system. This is how the Bloc, with 13.5 per cent of the popular vote in 1993, formed the official opposition with 54 members, while the Tories, with 16 per cent of the popular vote, wound up with two seats.

Similar to the last two elections, the electorate may well continue to vote for regional parties in the next election. This could result in a splintered Parliament with no clear majority, as in Italy.

Honourable senators will recall that the current government was formed with 39 per cent of the vote of those Canadians who voted. It is therefore not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine a perverse scenario whereby the Reform Party, the western equivalent of the Bloc Québécois, would agree to form a coalition government with the separatists. Manning himself has said that he wants to reform the federation, and that his ideas would be attractive to Quebecers, if they would only listen to him.

(1850)

Manning, who has built a party on what divides us as Canadians, cannot risk the loss of his western base of support by seeking unity and reconciliation. Given his historical animosity toward Quebec in order to create his base of support, Manning knows full well that Quebecers will never vote directly for him. The means to accomplish his dream could well be to form a coalition with the Bloc and orchestrate the winning conditions needed by Bouchard. This would not be terribly difficult.

The techniques of provocation are fairly straightforward for one who is prepared to resort to such measures. All you have you to do is look under "Politics of Division 101!" Recall the "X" across the Quebec politicians' faces. Imagine the reaction if one of Manning's surrogates were to orchestrate something similar with René Lévesque's face. If a snap election referendum is called, a few extra juicy provocations are engineered, and a quick Commons vote is held to declare that the referendum results meet the terms of Bill C-20, and away we go.

Regardless of the question, this bill would authorize Manning and Duceppe to negotiate the secession of Quebec, and Manning would no longer have Quebecers to stop him from becoming the Prime Minister of his new Canada. It would be just a matter of dividing the spoils.

I invite our new senators to read some of the public comments of Reformers to get an appreciation of their sentiments on national unity issues, minority language rights, the position of blacks, of aboriginal rights, and of Quebecers. Read the comments of the separatists also. In order to gain preferential market access to the newly formed countries, we should expect that a number of countries would be quick to sponsor Quebec's bid for a seat at the United Nations. The same courtesy would no doubt be extended to the remainder of what was once Canada, should it decide to form a new union. The exchange of ambassadors would not take long.

President Lucien Bouchard of the republic of Quebec and President Preston Manning of the united provinces of English Canada somehow does not sound appealing. Some talk of finally getting back at the separatists for two agonizing referendums and putting us through years of uncertainty. To others, it creates the perception that the government has placed a secure roadblock on the secessionist movement. The very name, clarity, sounds nice. If such was the case, I would be there promoting the virtues of Bill C-20.

Quite the contrary, Bill C-20 plays right into the hands of the secessionist forces by dividing the federalist forces. The oldest and most successful warfare tactic is to divide and conquer. Bouchard is playing Chrétien and Dion like a fiddle, and it's a very bad tune.

Honourable senators, like a magnificent building, it took visionaries to build Canada. Any simpleton can tear down a great building, but it takes a first-class carpenter to build it. Let us not provide the tools to those who would tear down our nation.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do other senators wish to speak?

Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I am pleased to give my perspective of Bill C-20 from the Northwest Territories' point of view.

The view from the Far North on Bill C-20 and what it deals with — the federal government's strategy or plan on how it will deal with a province's secession initiative, should such occur —  seems very remote and far from our reality. We experienced division, a mild form of secession, within Canada in 1999, when Nunavut was created. We in the western part of the Northwest Territories experienced many feelings about half of our territory going "its own way" and becoming an entity unto itself.

We had been together as one territory since 1870 when the Dominion of Canada bought what was then Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company for 300 British pounds. Indeed, the history of our country is in large measure the extension and creation of provinces from the land originally encompassed in Rupert's Land in the Northwest Territories.

We in the Northwest Territories know something about division in the Canadian context. While I appreciate that secession of a province is something more serious, nevertheless it is worth pointing out that, in our country, we can divide and create territories and provinces in a rational, democratic and peaceful way.

The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut are territories. We are not provinces. Constitutionally, we are different from provinces and generally do not have the same status and role when it comes to constitutional matters. Our role in the clarity bill is very limited. We are not mentioned in the preamble, and are only mentioned in clause 1(5) as well as clause 2(3), where it is provided that the House of Commons will take into account any formal statement or resolution of the government or Legislative Assembly of the territories in regard to the clarity of the question and sufficiency of a vote.

A point is raised by Senator Joyal that, according to the Interpretation Act, a province is defined to include the territories. While that is true, section 3(1) of the application section states that the Interpretation Act applies to every federal statute, "unless a contrary intention appears." Because there are specific references in the clarity bill to "any province or territory," in clauses 1(5) and 2(3), it would seem that the territories are explicitly referred to whenever a clause is intended to include them. This would seem to suggest that the intention was not to include the territories in those clauses where they are not specifically referred to. This established a "contrary intention" to the automatic application of the definition of "province" in the Interpretation Act.

The clarity bill does not apply to the territories as regards their ability or jurisdiction to hold referendums on secession. That is just as well, because the Northwest Territories, for one, would never consider such a referendum. We are happy campers within Canada. We have had reasonable relations and dealings with the federal government and other provinces. We have a unique consensus style of government, and we are on the road to eventual provincehood. We have obtained responsible government and have most of the powers of provinces, except control of our natural resources. We still derive a large portion of our annual budgets from the federal government, and in the foreseeable future we hope to be a "have" territory when all the mining, oil and gas development come to fruition within the next decade.

I have found the discussions, the witnesses' presentations, and the various positions taken by senators quite fascinating. I have attended almost all of the committee hearings. I am convinced more than ever that the process outlined in the clarity bill amounts to the delineation of a power that is executive in nature.

Much has been said about the process within which the House of Commons will have the central role in determining whether the question is clear and whether there is a clear majority. I understand and fully support this approach. The fact that the government can already take the initiative to deal with the issue of clarity in a referendum without this bill makes it clear to me that it is perfectly within its political mandate and within its constitutional power to govern accordingly.

The process outlined in the bill where the federal government, on being faced with a referendum on secession, refers the matter to the House of Commons and that body in turn seeks the views of the Senate, the provinces, the territories, the aboriginal peoples, and others, on the clarity of the question and sufficiency of a majority vote, is a reasonable approach. It is very much a political process. It makes sense that the House of Commons is the body to which the executive turns to seek a vote of confidence before it embarks on negotiations on secession.

It has been argued by some senators that, because we are not being given the same role as the House of Commons, our constitutional powers are somehow reduced. Honourable senators, we are not elected. I know my role as a senator is to review and deal with legislation. In that regard, we are equal to the House of Commons, except for initiating money bills. However, the House of Commons is an elected body, and the cabinet or executive has a mandate from Canadians to govern, to act wisely and expeditiously on political matters. The cabinet makes political decisions every day. Surely, the Senate is not involved; surely, we do not expect to be involved, or even consulted. The fact that the secession issue is more important than ordinary government matters does not of itself give the Senate the right to a veto on the resolution of the government and the House of Commons in this matter.

(1900)

It is my view that Parliament has the constitutional authority to enact Bill C-20 as it is drafted and that the Senate, in supporting this bill, is not in any way diminishing its constitutional powers or reneging on its traditional responsibilities.

I turn now to the issue of aboriginal peoples and the process outlined in the bill. There are three circumstances set out in the bill in which aboriginal peoples will be consulted. The first two are outlined in clauses 1(5) and 2(3), when the House of Commons makes a determination of the clarity of the question and when it makes a determination on the sufficiency of the majority vote. In these instances, the House of Commons will seek the views of representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, particularly those in the province proposing secession.

The third opportunity will arise further along in the process, after the House of Commons has determined that the question is clear and the majority is sufficiently large to embark on the negotiating process. Clause 3(2) provides:

No Minister of the Crown shall propose a constitutional amendment —

— unless it addresses, among other things —

— the rights, interests and territorial claims of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada...

In my view, those three provisions in the bill provide for sufficient involvement by the aboriginal peoples in the secession process.

In addition to these provisions, the recognition of aboriginal rights in the Constitution and the provision for a constitutional conference in section 35.1 thereof guarantees that aboriginal people will be involved throughout the secession process. Section 35.1 would trigger a conference should there be an amendment to Class 24 of section 91, which is the federal government's jurisdiction over Indians and lands reserved for Indians, or to section 25 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which deals with treaty rights and other rights of aboriginal peoples dating back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and rights achieved through land claim settlements or any rights that may be so acquired. These provisions are extensive in ensuring that aboriginal peoples will be involved.

Section 35.1 is very clear in its guarantee to aboriginal peoples. Should any of these rights be affected in any proposed constitutional amendment, the Prime Minister must convene a constitutional conference and invite representatives of the aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal peoples live in every province and territory and, therefore, without doubt, the secession of any province from Canada affects aboriginal rights, and their participation is guaranteed.

I believe the provisions in the bill with regard to aboriginal peoples go as far as is constitutionally permitted.

Mr. Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said as much, I believe. He is of the same view and is supportive of the bill's passage.

I have heard the amendments proposed by my colleague Senator Watt. While my sympathy goes out to him, I do not believe that the amendments he has proposed are appropriate or constitutionally valid.

To explain, Mr. Dion has stated that the bill follows closely the Reference re Secession of Quebec. The first of Senator Watt's amendments deals with the sixth paragraph of the preamble of the bill, which reflects the statements contained in paragraphs 84, 88 and 89 of the secession reference dealing with the requirements for an amendment to the Constitution as well as with what the Supreme Court calls "parties to Confederation."

Paragraph 88 states:

In Canada, the initiative for constitutional amendment is the responsibility of democratically elected representatives of the participants in Confederation.

The court refers to provinces and the federal government as those parties to Confederation. There is no mention in these paragraphs of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.

Therefore, adding the involvement of aboriginal peoples to this paragraph of the preamble would be inaccurate in that it purports to give aboriginal peoples a role that is not presently provided for in the Constitution or suggested by the Supreme Court reference.

Senators know my views as I have expressed the hope that in my lifetime the Constitution will be amended to recognize and provide for First Nation governments and other aboriginal groups to be recognized as a third level or order of government and that they will have the same status and role as provincial governments and the same ability to amend the Constitution. We are not there yet, but I am hopeful that we shall be in my lifetime.

The second of Senator Watt's amendments deals with clause 3(1) of Bill C-20. This clause focuses on constitutional amendments. The margin note in the bill says "constitutional amendments." Senator Watt would include aboriginal peoples in negotiations leading to an amendment of the Constitution. Again, this is not provided for in the secession reference.

While I wish it were possible, the Constitution presently does not provide for aboriginal peoples to be a party to negotiations at this level of the amendment-making process. Section 35.1 provides for a constitutional conference to which aboriginal peoples are to be invited. However, section 35.1 does not purport to give aboriginal peoples access to the amending formula itself. Aboriginal peoples do not have a veto in the event the negotiations do not go their way. They are not part of the constitutional amending process. Therefore, such an amendment would not respect the existing constitutional reality and would give aboriginal peoples false hope and false illusions of their rights in the amending process.

Honourable senators, for all these reasons, I shall not be supporting any amendments to this bill. I support the bill as it stands and I trust the political wisdom of the Prime Minister in this very difficult matter.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I rise to support the amendments proposed by Senator Watt last Thursday. At the same time, I should like to indicate, although I shall not be dealing with them in any detail, that I also support the amendments put forward earlier today by Senator Gauthier and by Senator Joyal.

Some colleagues who support these and other amendments do so from a position of principled support for the bill itself. That is not my position. As I indicated during debate on second reading and during our deliberations in committee, I am opposed to this bill in principle. Nevertheless, the issues raised by these amendments are, as Senator Joyal so eloquently reminded us this afternoon, defining issues for Parliament and for Canada, and we cannot be indifferent to them whatever our stand on the principle of the bill.

I believe that the question raised by Senator Watt's amendments is whether the parties to the amending formula —  the federal Parliament and the provinces — could simply hand over constitutional responsibility for Quebec aboriginal peoples and their lands to some new jurisdiction without the consent of those aboriginal peoples. I believe the answer to that question is no.

It would have been helpful, reassuring and clarifying had the Supreme Court of Canada pronounced on this issue. It did not do so. It did not do so because the federal government specifically asked the court not to do so. It is quite disingenuous for the government and its supporters now to justify the exclusion of aboriginal rights from Bill C-20 on the basis that the court did not deal with the issue.

(1910)

There are, of course, references to aboriginal rights in the Supreme Court advisory opinion. For example, at paragraph 82, the court says that the prosecution of these rights "reflects an important underlying constitutional value."

At paragraph 96, the court refers to:

...linguistic and cultural minorities, including aboriginal peoples, unevenly distributed across the country who look to the Constitution of Canada for the protection of their rights.

If clarity were the government's motivation, this bill should have confirmed that the constitutional relationship between the aboriginal peoples and the federal Crown and Parliament cannot be changed without the consent of those peoples. Instead, I regret to say that during this debate the government has created more uncertainty about the role and rights of aboriginal peoples in any secession negotiations.

During debate at report stage in the House of Commons, the government accepted, and the Commons incorporated into the bill, two amendments that would include aboriginal peoples in the focus groups whose views would be taken into account by the House of Commons when considering whether the referendum question, and the majority in favour of it, are clear. The Assembly of First Nations proposed those amendments. However, the government rejected a third amendment that would have stipulated that the aboriginal peoples be included in the secession negotiations referred to in clause 3(1), where only the federal government and the provinces are now mentioned.

They rejected that amendment for reasons that I have never seen or heard fully explained. That is what I mean when I say that there is more uncertainty about the role and rights of aboriginal peoples now than when this parliamentary debate started. I believe there is a sense in which it can be said that their position is weaker than it was.

Senator Chalifoux, in her speech of Thursday, June 22, 2000, placed on the record the text of the amendments to Bill C-20 already agreed to by the government. She also cited relevant sections of the Constitution Acts, 1867 and 1982. Where I respectfully part company with her is in her conclusions. For example, as reported at page 1743 of the Debates of the Senate, she stated:

In determining the clarity of the question, or what constitutes a clear majority, the aboriginal people of the province will be consulted.

Later on the same page, she says that the amendments "now require consultation with our people."

Our friend Senator Sibbeston has just made, I think, the same mistake in his interpretation. I am sorry, but those amendments do not require consultation. They require only that the House of Commons "take account of any formal statements or resolutions by the representatives of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, especially those in the province whose government proposed the referendum," in addition to taking into account those of political parties, governments, legislatures, the Senate, "and any other views it considers relevant."

Needless to say, there is a big difference between an obligation to consult, which is still not provided for in this bill, and an obligation to "take account" of any formal statements or resolutions.

Senator Chalifoux speaks, again as reported at page 1743 of the Debates of the Senate, of the two amendments accepted by the government as providing for "participation and consent" of aboriginal peoples. With great respect, those amendments provide for neither participation nor consent. This is precisely the deficiency that would be corrected by the amendments suggested by Senator Watt.

Mr. Dion and the supporters of this bill have in effect acknowledged the practical limitations of the amendments to which they agreed. They have, therefore, fallen back on section 35 of the Constitutional Act, 1982. Senator Chalifoux's interpretation of that section is that "no proceeding, procedure or institution can affect those rights, positively or negatively, without the full, equal and meaningful participation of the First Nations." I believe that I heard much the same interpretation given to it by Senator Sibbeston in the speech that he has just delivered. Again, I am sorry, but section 35 says nothing about "full, equal and meaningful participation of the First Nations."

Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is right.

Senator Murray: It says that the Government of Canada and the provincial governments "are committed to the principle" that before any amendment is made to various sections affecting the aboriginal peoples — and Senator Sibbeston mentioned those sections — a first ministers conference must be called, and representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada must be invited "to participate in the discussions on that item."

Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is all.

Senator Murray: Does section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provide adequate guarantees for the aboriginal peoples of Quebec, who would be most directly affected by any attempt at secession? It certainly guarantees them a voice. However, it does not make them parties to the negotiations, still less does it require that they consent to any secession resolution that directly affects them.

I note in passing that section 35 is not to be found in Part V of the Constitution, the procedure for amending the Constitution of Canada. It is to be found, rather, in Part II, rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. This leads me to believe, on the basis of what we have heard, and on the basis of the hypothetical situation that we are contemplating in this bill, that some greater certainty is needed to protect their rights in any such negotiation.

I also point out that during the committee hearings, Mr. Dion could not bring himself to say that the consent of the aboriginal peoples would be required for any change in their constitutional status. No matter how often or how pointedly the question was put to him, he would not answer. At least, he would not give the answer that I think he should have given and that I think the aboriginal peoples of Quebec and of Canada are entitled to hear from the responsible minister.

In Bill C-20, clause 3(1) stipulates the federal and provincial governments as parties to the negotiations. An amendment that would have added aboriginal representatives as full participants was rejected by the government before it could be presented to the Commons.

Earlier today, Senator Sibbeston stated that the role of the aboriginal peoples as contemplated in this bill is as far as the Constitution permits. I think that is a curious and, I say it with respect, a rather dangerous doctrine for an honourable senator to take, especially one who is, as we all know Senator Sibbeston is, a champion of the rights of aboriginal peoples. I say further that it is a rather narrow and legalistic approach to the situation. I say further that it is inconsistent with the view that he and many other senators in this place took at the time the Nisga'a bill was going through. It was a liberal and generous interpretation of aboriginal rights in British Columbia. It seems to me now that they are taking an excessively restrictive and narrow view of aboriginal rights in Quebec.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Exactly.

Senator Murray: Senator Sibbeston also mentioned quite correctly that Grand Chief Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations, who had proposed three amendments when the bill was before the House of Commons, was in the end satisfied that the Commons had passed two of his amendments. He was satisfied to see the bill go forward, even without the third amendment. Senator Sibbeston is quite correct in telling us this.

I find that position by Grand Chief Fontaine somewhat at odds with the position he took in the letter that he sent to me, and I think to all honourable senators, concerning his amendments. While he spoke of the need for consultation in the early stages of determining the clarity of the question and the size of the majority, I thought that he attached special importance in his letter to what would happen afterwards to the negotiations. He said that their participation and consent must be recognized and affirmed in Bill C-20.

(1920)

The First Nations peoples of Canada, including those living in Quebec or any province proposing to secede, must be part of the consultation process which will determine both the clarity of the question and the appropriateness of the voting majority. Even more importantly...

I draw honourable senators' attention to those words.

...the first peoples of Canada must be full participants with the federal government and the provinces and territories in any negotiations which might take place after an acceptable referendum process.

I point out the words of Chief Fontaine, not to drive a wedge between him and other aboriginal leaders, but to make it clear on the public record that, though he has been a spokesman for the aboriginal peoples in Quebec, some in Quebec take a rather different view on this issue than does Chief Fontaine.

In his speech last Thursday, Senator Watt referred to the analysis prepared for the Privy Council Office by Professor Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan points out that the court's position "does not explicitly identify the native peoples of Canada or Quebec as being parties to the negotiations." He alludes to section 35, but says that it "is compatible with merely allowing representatives of native peoples to voice their concerns over the negotiations, without giving them any decisionmaking authority in the negotiations." I state for the record that this document of Professor Buchanan was prepared for the Privy Council Office. As for the fiduciary obligation of the federal government, relying on this as the key protection can be read as allowing a "paternalistic" mode of fulfilling the obligation — "having the Canadian government speak for the native peoples rather than allowing them to speak for themselves at the negotiations." This, he said, quoting the intervenor for the James Bay Cree, "would be to perpetuate one of the evils of colonialism: treating native populations as if they were the property of others to be moved about or exchanged among white governments without their consent."

This point was captured quite frequently during the committee deliberations of Bill C-9, the Nisga'a bill. As Senator Sibbeston pointed out on February 16, the interests of the federal government and those of the aboriginal peoples are not necessarily identical.

The federal government has never given anything away to native people. They do not have a history of jeopardizing their own interests. Trust the minister. Trust the government that they have looked after the federal interests.

Senator Gill posed the question during second reading of the Nisga'a bill, at page 558 of the Debates of the Senate: "What is the point of having rights if we cannot exert them?"

The amendment proposed by Senator Watt would achieve what Senator Chalifoux incorrectly claims is done by section 35, that is, the "full, equal and meaningful participation" of the First Nations, in particular the aboriginal peoples of Quebec, in any secession negotiations. Without this amendment, Bill C-20 would treat the First Nations as just another focus group. With the amendment to Bill C-20, the First Nations are full participants.

As Senator Sibbeston suggested, other participants, including the federal government, will look after their own interests. Who is to protect the interests of the aboriginal peoples of Quebec? Nobody but the aboriginal peoples of Quebec can protect their interests, but first we should ensure that they have the opportunity to exercise their rights.

Finally, honourable senators, a few months ago there appeared a new book, Canada's Founding Debates, excerpts from the debates held between 1864 and 1873 in the colonial legislatures from Newfoundland to British Columbia and in the constituent assembly of the Red River Colony. This book is a wonderful addition to the historical record that for most of us consisted until now mostly of the Confederation debates in the United Province of Canada. In the debates of the British Columbia Legislative Council of March 11, 1870, I came across this statement by a Mr. E.G. Alston:

I am not disposed to regret the occurrence of the difficulty in the Red River, for it will teach the Canadian government, and all governments, that though you may buy and sell territories, you cannot transfer the human beings therein, like so many serfs and chattels, to a fresh allegiance with impunity; that the consent of the people must first be obtained; and that though the soil may be sold, the soul is free.

I must confess that, before reading the 1870 debates from British Columbia, I had never heard of Mr. Alston. However, 130 years later, his words ring clearly and eloquently to the issues raised by Senator Watt's amendments.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Ione Christensen: Honourable senators, the presentations on third reading of Bill C-20 have been wide-ranging, demonstrating the depth and wisdom reflected in this place. In addressing Bill C-20, we must, first and last, live with our final actions. This presentation is personal, following my journey through the evaluation, the study and finally coming to terms with the course of action that I must take.

When Bill C-20 first went to the other place and before I read it, I thought "what a great idea." I agreed with the need for clarity, a clear question and a clear majority. It all made sense and it was something that I was proud to support. Then I read it and I said to myself, "But where is the Senate in all this?" At such a critical time, when secession would be on the verge of reality, when we have no idea what the makeup of the other House might be, where was the safety valve? Were we really being asked to exclude half of the Parliament from the most critical part of the process, the clear question and the clear majority? These triggers set everything else in motion.

I am not a very sophisticated politician nor a constitutional analyst. Yet, supporting this bill would be breaking my oath of office. Is that not what oaths are all about, to be true and loyal to the office to which you are asked to serve? I have taken a number of oaths for very important offices. I have always taken them seriously.

The Senate is an inseparable part of our federal bicameral system. I accepted the appointment of senator to try and play a part in promoting good legislation and to represent my region, the Yukon, in the most honourable way that I could.

I am a realist. Perfect bills are few and far between. I can live with that. The elected house can always make amendments down the road if needs are not met. The role of the Senate is to give a breathing space, to allow the public to catch up with what is happening. The role of the Senate is to scrutinize each bill, highlighting the weaknesses and, where practical, making amendments. I can accept differences of opinion and respect others' views, but I do have an inherent instinct for what is right and what is wrong and I have always followed that instinct. It has never let me down.

Every person who comes to the Senate brings a lifetime of experience, a lifetime of making difficult decisions and evaluating issues. Some of us may be new senators, but we have not come this far by taking unconsidered action.

I have tried to rationalize and find ways of supporting the bill. I want to support Bill C-20, but I always return to the instinctive knowledge that I cannot abandon my obligation as a senator to the Senate. If this were just my interpretation, I would have long since changed my position, but I am not alone. There are others in the Senate and other places with deep roots in such issues who agree.

In analyzing many of the concepts raised during the review of this bill, I have concluded that there are no right or wrong arguments, only many opinions and options to consider in reaching the ultimate goal, a blueprint for dealing with the most difficult decision on the process to follow should any province of Canada express, through referendum, a desire to separate.

The options that are to be used should be spelled out: the rights of the aboriginals in secession negotiations, the rights of francophone minorities outside Quebec, the process for dealing with the constitutional indivisibility and the reality of political divisibility, the formula for secession negotiations, and whether the clear question and the clear majority should be set out before or after the referendum. All these issues beg for clarity and closer scrutiny in this bill.

(1930)

For me, this causes very personal agony. Each of us interprets our oath and our duty in our own way. I do not ask others to accept my interpretation, only to respect it.

Bill C-20 in itself does not exclude the Senate. It would only be after I voted for it that the exclusion would happen. It takes an act on my part for Bill C-20 to execute the exclusion. The Senate must do it itself.

As former justice Willard Estey observed:

How is it that Bill C-20 has survived its unconstitutionality when it has effectively and indirectly undermined the concept of bicameral Parliament? Bill C-20 has put one half of bicameral power in the invidious position of losing its status in the general operations planned in this bill the moment that body, the Senate, signs the proposed legislation.

He further emphasized his point with this graphic analogy of this process to the insect that commits suicide. He said:

...there is a funny little animal: when it begins to think and grow up, it kills itself.

Professor of Political Science David Smith from the University of Saskatchewan observed:

...to excise the Senate from consideration of the referendum question is to silence the expression of Canadian opinion....To abandon bicameralism at the moment the Canadian federation faces its greatest test is to abandon the principle that made Canada possible as a plural society in the first place.

Honourable senators, Mr. McEvoy, of the Faculty of Law at the University of New Brunswick said:

The legitimate role of the Senate is not as a second voice of the people but as the voice of the regions of Canada within the most basic federal institution, Parliament. As a political actor, the Senate surely has a legitimate voice to determine issues of clarity.

Robert Howse, Professor of Law, University of Michigan said:

The Clarity Bill appears to attempt to create a mechanism whereby the House of Commons alone could, in certain circumstances, determine, as a matter of law, certain actions of the Executive Branch. I do not see how Parliament could give the House of Commons powers that do not exist in the present Constitution.

Conversely, Patrick Monahan observed:

It is my view, however, that the approach adopted by Bill C-20 does not infringe upon the privileges or prerogatives of the Senate.

I could go on providing quotes from our many witnesses, but to what avail? With the exception of Mr. Ryan, I sat and listened to them all. We can each find many quotes to support our individual arguments. Are some of these very expert witnesses right and others wrong? I think not. We were given opinions, opinions based on learned interpretations made by very different individuals. Thus it comes back to each of us to search our souls and to find a way of dealing with this very complex bill in a way we feel is right and will best serve Canada.

In my view, the Senate has done its job in the very best tradition for which it was first instituted. Bill C-20 has been laid bare in a way the other place could never do it. It is now for the elected House to take this bill and make it stronger to meet all of the challenges ahead.

If they choose not to amend, it is they, the elected House, who must live with the results, and the electorate will judge them, as they cannot judge us. If amended in this place, we send the bill to an uncertain future. It is not as simple as the House approving the amendments in the fall and sending it back for Royal Assent. Therefore, I cannot vote for amendments.

This bill sets out a much-needed blueprint should secession become a reality. It is a bill crafted by the elected players. To defeat it would clearly play into the hands of those who would rather this bill did not exist at all. Therefore, I cannot vote against Bill C-20.

Here is where I meet the conundrum for which I have no satisfactory solution. In my view, all amendments are possible at a later time, all but one. That one is the act that I must take in order to support the bill; my vote. My vote, which takes the Senate out of the equation, eliminates the safety valve at a time when it will be most needed; my vote that, once cast, can never be taken back and never amended.

As an appointed senator, I fully appreciate the equal part the Senate plays in the important regional and minority representation. I also appreciate the equally important role the elected House plays. We are equal partners, each half playing a different role, but together forming a strong, representative whole.

Democracy consists of these two parts: the rule of the majority and the protection of individual and minority rights from the tyranny of the majority. The Senate must be there. Therefore, I cannot vote yes. What am I to do?

Not to exercise my vote is unconscionable, an abrogation of my duty as a parliamentarian. Yet, what are my alternatives?

I cannot absent myself from the house. I must be counted on in this very precedent-setting and important bill. It is with a heavy heart that I must follow my conscience and be counted as an abstention.

I had hoped to rise with a strong "yes" for Canada, but the omission in this bill — the omission of the safety valve, the omission of the Senate — prevents me from doing that.

I honour and I respect the position that will be taken by each and every senator in this house. Bill C-20 has drained us all. In the end, each of us will live with the very difficult decision that we must make. May a higher power guide us all.

Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I should like to make a short comment.

I must admit that I shall remember for a very long time the speech of the Honourable Senator Christensen, to the point where, even if she did not speak a word of French, and even though I may vote differently from her, I should be very honoured to sit next to her, as I have done in some circumstances in the past. If I understood well, it is an agony for many of us. Why should we be hypocritical? It is tough to say "no" to your oldest friends or, dare I say, the Prime Minister himself.

If I am challenged on this matter, I should not hesitate to go to the end of the discussion.

I do not think we shall vote the same way, but the speech of the honourable senator has touched me personally as being the meaning of the Senate. I hope that the debate will continue so that every senator will have a chance to listen to what Senator Christensen has said.

I shall say to Senator Christensen that I shall make sure that everyone reads her speech. Even if the honourable senator had said, "I came to the conclusion of not accepting an amendment and voting `yes' to the bill," I would still stand up because I was very moved by her speech. I am not saying this emotionally. The honourable senator has just delivered to us an unbelievable piece of art. It is a good example of what the Senate should be.

On motion of Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.

(1940)

Canada National Parks Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Ferretti Barth, for the second reading of Bill C-27, respecting the national parks of Canada.

Hon. Eileen Rossiter: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak at second reading of Bill C-27. As parliamentarians, we have a special trust relationship with other Canadians when it comes to our national parks, our national historic sites and our marine conservation areas.

Canadians from all across the country take great pride in our national parks. The park vision began in 1885 when the federal government set aside 26 square kilometres near the town of Banff, Alberta, and Banff National Park became Canada's first national park.

Today, we enjoy 38 national parks or reserves in 24 natural regions in Canada. These parks vary greatly in size and topography, from St. Lawrence Island Park in Ontario, established in 1914, to the remote and vast Wood Buffalo Park in the Northwest Territories, which was established in 1922.

Canadian parks and historic sites, including marine parks, play an important role in the economy, generating $2 billion annually for the tourism industry. These parks welcome an astonishing 26 million visitors per year. It is not surprising, therefore, that over 70 per cent of Canadians identify national parks as symbols of our national identity.

When a national park is established, a parcel of land is protected. This, in turn, promotes the preservation of clean air, water and land. A national park also acts as a buffer to protect wildlife from detrimental human activity. A park also provides a haven for rare plants and old growth trees.

One just has to look to the Gwaii Haannas National Park at the lower tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands for a success story about plant and animal protection. This national park provides protection to 39 species of plants and animals not found anywhere else on the globe.

Honourable senators, my home province of Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest province and, as islanders, we are very proud of our national park. Our national park is located on the north shore of the province. It is made up of salt-water beaches, sand dunes, high coastal cliffs, marshes, ponds and woodlands.

This beautiful park is also home to one of Canada's endangered species, the piping plover. Prince Edward Island National Park is one of the few remaining areas of Canada for the piping plover. It is imperative, therefore, to ensure protection for this fragile ecosystem so that this species can continue to call this island park its home.

Honourable senators, in examining Bill C-27, one has to consider where we have come from in terms of major amendments to national parks legislation in recent times. Parks Canada delivers its mandates primarily through the National Parks Act. This act undergoes periodic amendments, with the last set of comprehensive changes being made in 1988 by the former Progressive Conservative government.

In March 1999, Bill C-70 was introduced in the other place. The bill died on the Order Paper at first reading. This year, Bill C-27, which is essentially the same as Bill C-70, was introduced. Some of the major points of Bill C-27 include: the establishment of new national parks; changing the process through which national parks will be established from one done by legislative enactment to one done by cabinet; the fixing of boundaries of all communities in the park system; the capping of commercial development; increasing the maximum fines for some poaching offences; and bringing the authority of park wardens to enforce the laws under the National Parks Act and the power to arrest in line with other peace officers.

To put Bill C-27 in proper perspective, it would be healthy to scrutinize it within the context of this government's overall record in the area of national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas.

With this in mind, Bill C-27 can be considered the latest of three recent major legislative initiatives undertaken by the government. The other initiatives were the creation of the Canada Parks Agency and Bill C-8, respecting marine conservation areas.

One of the promised directions of these legislative measures is, according to the government, a move to better enable the ecological protection of our national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas. Another promised direction, according to the government's pronouncement surrounding their parks legislative agenda, is to supposedly achieve greater efficiencies in the overseeing and administration of our park sites and marine conservation areas.

Within the context of the government's other major legislative measures on national parks, historic sites and marine protected areas, one must consider how effective this government's national parks policy will be in achieving its stated objectives and principles.

Consider the goal of greater protection of the ecological integrity of our national parks. As has been mentioned in this chamber before, Canada has a problem in this regard. One need look back no further than what the Auditor General said in 1996 when he warned Parliament that the ecological integrity of our existing parks is under attack. How has this government responded to this admonishment of the Auditor General? A good argument could be made that some aspects of this government's national parks policy have subtly undermined Parliament's oversight role with respect to the administration and creation of national parks, diminishing the ability of government and Parliament to act on such problems as the one highlighted by the Auditor General.

The act creating the Canada Parks Agency as a semi-autonomous, quasi-governmental organization is a perfect illustration. The pressures in terms of commercialization and overdevelopment will still be there under the Canada Parks Agency. Indeed, many critics of the Canada Parks Agency bill pointed to how the park's administrative regime, enabled by the passage of that legislation, could potentially contribute to increasing the stressors that undermine the ecological integrity of our national parks.

Simply put, it is hard to see how the principle of greater protection and promotion of the ecological integrity of our parks is enhanced when Parliament and government are less, not more, accountable for what happens within national parks. I mention this because, interestingly enough, one element of Bill C-27 seems to consolidate this trend towards the reduction of parliamentary oversight over national parks.

I am speaking of how Bill C-27 modifies the process by which national parks come into being. Under the existing National Parks Act, a park is created by either Parliament's enactment of a statute or a proclamation procedure whereby a description of the land in the park is added to a schedule of the National Parks Act in order to ensure its protection. Bill C-27 will change this process. Under Bill C-27, the government proposes that new or existing parks and park reserves be created or enlarged by means of an Order in Council. This will be done without the passage of new legislation and all the debate and scrutiny that occurs when legislation is passed through both chambers of this Parliament.

Parliament would still play a role as the draft Order in Council will be tabled in the House of Commons and the Senate and then referred to the appropriate standing committee for consideration.

I do not want to completely prejudge the proposed process at this stage, but what I shall say is that I hope we shall receive some assurances when this bill goes to committee that this change is both necessary and that the role of Parliament in the creation of national parks is not needlessly compromised by this proposed change.

In this regard, I find it interesting that the other House has already had to amend a subclause of Bill C-27 dealing with this new process. Before it was amended, subclause 7(3) of Bill C-27 would have placed a three-hour limit on a motion to concur with amendments to our national parks system.

While it is a good thing that the other place made this amendment, it is puzzling that this subclause made its way into the original legislation in the first place. Surely, if the government was trying to reassure us that the role of Parliament was not going to be excessively diminished or needlessly compromised by the provisions of Bill C-27 regarding the creation of new national parks, a provision so dismissive towards Parliament's role in this new process would not have found its way into the original bill.

(1950)

At committee I should hope that we examine the bill further to see if there are any additional problems of this nature. I can already see, in clause 34(3), a similar provision in this regard that has not been amended.

Also at committee, I hope my fellow senators heed my point about the need to consider this bill against the backdrop of this current government's overall national parks policy. It is important that we try to see past all of the buzzwords, such as "consolidate" and "streamline" that are used by government to sell its national parks policy, in order to examine if promise will be matched by performance with respect to the government's stated objectives of promoting ecological integrity, responsible environmental stewardship and heritage conservation.

I cannot emphasize enough, especially in this chamber of sober second thought, that we scrutinize how and why this bill affects government's and Parliament's role vis-à-vis both the administration and the creation of national parks, not to mention the people who both live in and use them. To state a policy objective and then to follow through with a legislative enactment is one thing, but examining the rationale behind the objective and the legislative enactment designed to achieve that objective on their own merits is something quite different.

Honourable senators, educators, politicians, government officials and outdoor enthusiasts all have a vital role to play in teaching our young and old the importance of preserving our national parks and creating new ones. We all have a responsibility in our own capacity to protect these magnificent areas. Our children, grandchildren, and all future generations depend on it. We shall keep this in mind as we examine the merits of Bill C-27.

Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Would the honourable senator answer a question?

Senator Rossiter: Yes.

Senator Taylor: I did not quite follow the honourable senator's comments about strengthening parliamentary input in the bill. The honourable senator mentioned halfway through her speech that there was something in the bill that might hurt parliamentary input, and I could not find it. Perhaps Senator Rossiter could elaborate.

Senator Rossiter: Honourable senators, the Senate's role and Parliament's role is diminished in one way in that the time for debate on an amendment is limited.

Senator Kinsella: Three hours.

Senator Rossiter: We do that through our rules, not through legislation. It is limited to three hours. That is one example.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: It has never been done before to limit debate in legislation. That is unheard of.

Senator Taylor: It is in the by-laws.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: It is in the bill.

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I, too, have remarks I should like to make about the national parks of Canada and Bill C-27 in particular. My remarks are not quite ready and I, therefore, move the adjournment of the debate, seconded by Senator Robertson.

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we have had a very interesting speech by Senator Rossiter and are anxious to get this bill to committee today. Accordingly, I would urge Senator Oliver to speak now if he can because it is not our intention to let the bill stand.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Why? What is the problem?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Oliver, do you wish to speak now?

Senator Oliver: No, I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by the Honourable Senator Robertson, that further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those honourable senators in favour of the motion please say "yea"?

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those honourable senators opposed to the motion please say "nay"?

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In my opinion, the "nays" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Please call in the senators.

Is there agreement as to how long the bells will ring?

[Translation]

Honourable senators, the whips will have to agree on how long the bells will ring.

[English]

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): One hour.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The bells will ring for one hour.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, in the absence of an agreement for the bells to ring for less than one hour, my information is — and I do not have the rules at hand because I did not expect this vote — that we have a choice between a 15-minute bell or a 60-minute bell. The opposition is asking for a 60-minute bell, so I do not think we would get agreement for the bell to ring less than that. Accordingly, I suspect that we are stuck with a one-hour bell. Perhaps Her Honour could help me with that.

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am not aware that this was a bill that needed to be rushed through. If it is a question of taking the bill to committee for proper examination and not forcing the committee to report to the chamber on Thursday for a final decision, I think that is acceptable. If the intention of the government is to ram the bill through — tomorrow being Wednesday — to bring it back on Thursday, I do not think that is acceptable on this side. I suspect the other side might be a little resentful of being treated that way.

Senator Hays: That is a helpful suggestion but for one thing, which is that perhaps such a sentiment should be expressed by senators on a division. I should like to see this bill go to committee. I am in an awkward position because, as senators will know from discussions on the floor of the chamber, there is a desire on the part of some on both sides of the chamber to give the bill passage before the summer break.

Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton is quite right — this bill was not identified in my discussions with Senator Kinsella as a bill that we want to see passed, but I point out that we have bills so identified that would appear will not be passed. Accordingly, that list sometimes changes.

I invite other honourable senators to comment on that point, but I cannot undertake to not try to pass the bill. That will depend on the disposition of the matter in committee, if we can get the bill to committee tonight.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have a point of order. We had this exercise not long ago and I was reminded that all honourable senators were out of order. From the time that Senator Oliver moved the adjournment we were in order. When Her Honour asked the question and decided that the nays have it, a vote was called. That was in order. Everything else on the floor is out of order because we are establishing a precedent.

Honourable senators were reminded of that by His Honour last Thursday, June 22, when I was the subject of that adjournment. At the end of the day, I was told that I was the only senator who was in order. What is happening now is out of order. It is proper for the two whips to look at each other. If they do not agree, the rules should be applied. Otherwise, we shall establish a precedent.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, we made the decision to call the senators and to proceed with a vote. I am now waiting for the decision of the whips as to how long the bells will ring.

[English]

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I just stepped inside the chamber and this seems to me to be a repetition of what happened last Thursday. It seems to me, if the chamber is denying an adjournment motion, that is clearly one decision of the chamber.

(2000)

Rule 66(1) clearly states that leave has to be had to alter the time frame concerning the ringing of the bells. The question has to be put. The whips simply cannot make that decision on their own.

Senator Prud'homme: Point of order.

Senator Cools: Rule 66(1) states:

Unless previously ordered or elsewhere provided in these rules, when a standing vote has been requested in accordance with rule 65(3) —

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we have at least three senators standing at the same time, all of them speaking.

The Rules of the Senate are quite clear. If a bell is called for, it is to ring for one hour unless, by agreement of the whips, the time can be abridged. However, if there is no agreement, then the bell must ring for one hour.

Senator Cools: It requires more than the agreement of the whips.

The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry, honourable senators, but this is not a debatable question.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, in the time that has been taken to discuss this matter, I have had an opportunity to meet with my counterpart, Senator Kinsella. I believe we have an agreement on the disposition of this matter. I propose that we accept the adjournment motion so that we can deal with the bill tomorrow. I appreciate that this requires unanimous consent. I, therefore, ask for that unanimous consent.

Senator Taylor: Honourable senators —

The Hon. the Speaker: If Senator Taylor is rising on a point of order, I would ask him to make that clear.

Senator Taylor: It is more a point of explanation than anything else.

Some Hon. Senators: No, no!

Senator Taylor: Very well. I shall call it a point of order, Your Honour.

The only reason we are trying to put Bill C-27 through is because the Chairman of the Energy Committee, who is a Tory and who is not here this evening, requested that we do this. The minister and his staff were to appear before the committee this evening since we were unable to hear from them last week. Now a member opposite is asking to adjourn the debate. We were trying to be accommodating, but it seems that certain senators do not know what they are doing.

Senator Prud'homme: You are out of order!

Senator Taylor: Let them have a three-hour bell!

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the motion of Senator Oliver has been carried. The debate is adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.

May we please proceed to the next item of business?

On motion of Senator Oliver, debate adjourned.

Business of the Senate

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, there are no senators who wish to speak to the remaining matters under Orders of the Day, Government Business. Accordingly, even though some stand in the name of opposition senators, I request leave that they stand adjourned and that we now proceed to Senate Public Bills.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Parliament of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved the third reading of Bill S-5, to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Poet Laureate).—(Honourable Senator Kirby).

He said: Honourable senators, I am most privileged to rise on the third reading of this modest yet far-reaching bill to create the post of parliamentary poet laureate.

Honourable senators, let me repeat the arguments I made to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology which unanimously reported this bill. At the outset, I wish to thank the honourable senators of the committee who gave my bill a thorough and comprehensive review.

The digital era of media convergence is upon us, pushing, crowding, homogenizing and, some say, even crushing us. We witness electronic perceptions easily morphed into virtual reality. By zapping or clicking endless images, messages are seamlessly reorganized and transformed. Senses are swamped by the warp and the woof of this unreal world. The canons of "the word" are almost drowned out by this digital age.

We fear our civic society is becoming grammatically illiterate or, worse, culturally ignorant. Just as Parliament is predisposed as a check on state power, so poetry can provide a reality check on the confusing image chaos and information fog rampant in our civic society. In this collectivizing age, we need more platforms for stronger individual voices, stronger free voices.

As a modest counterweight to this digital tidal wave, I argue we need poetry more than ever. From this whirring, spinning society, a virtuous cycle has suddenly emerged — a surprising revival, a renewed interest in poetry and poetry readings. Some spontaneous readings are called poetry "slams." Why?

Poetry works to boil ideas to their essence. Poetry steps back and reorients virtual reality. Poetry exposes the individual aesthetic. Poetry helps us look inward to ourselves and beyond our situation more clearly. At times, poetry and virtual reality almost become like competing entities of truth.

Some observers complain that virtual reality is springing out of control, magnifying otherwise inert forces and nascent feelings of dislocation, isolation and alienation. Think of the games our children play.

The speed of digital change seems, in itself, disorienting. In turn, malaise, rootlessness and apathy eat away and displace a country's nurturing, common dreams and shared values as societal anchors. Violence erupts when common values we share fragment, erode and implode too quickly. Poetry can ease and soften the impact of these forces of distortion, so overloaded with floods of information that makes our modern life so confusing and disorienting. Sometimes one speech can become a prose poem that binds a country and its people together, armed only by a simple phrase, a thoughtful metaphor.

As Robert Pinsky, the American Poet Laureate argues:

..."in its proper place", poetry may bring harmony from disharmony, understanding from confusion.

Poetry and the written word can help us refocus. In this 24x7 world, time is the essence. Poetry can freeze experience and then defrost, with a word, a phrase, a line, a paragraph, a verse, a poem, a metaphor.

Walt Whitman argued that the United States was so immense, so fragmented, so disparate and divided, "to be held together by anything but poetry." Untutored forces can work in unintended ways that, without our assent, press us together in crushing conformity. Our society needs other visions, alternate voices, fresh breathing room, more thinking time, and different rhythms.

Poets and poetry give us space, give us pause to analyze our society and our work in slower motion. Some scoff at poetry, demeaning its rich record of history. Some argue that poetry has no place associating with political power. Associating with Parliament can only taint poetry, they say. Poets would be held in bondage by the poet's association with Parliament. There is some force to this argument.

(2010)

For over a century, those three miserable `isms', Communism, Fascism and Nazism, all organized to harness the poet's art to the uses of state power. Yet, Parliament was created precisely as a popular check on state power. Hence, the model that informs this modest recommendation is that the cabinet — the executive of state power — would have no hand in the selection of the Poet Laureate. The process proposed here is quite simple. The leaders of our major cultural institutions, the Library of Parliament, the National Archives, the National Library, the Canada Council and the Official Languages Commissioner, would biannually propose nominees. Poets, their societies, writers and the public would be encouraged to lobby for these selections. Three poets would be nominated. From these three, the Speaker of House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate would take a decision. The Poet Laureate would serve for two years with minimalist responsibilities. He or she would act freely as a catalyst to bring poetry to the heart of public dialogue, to heighten public awareness.

Honourable senators, Robert Pinsky, the Poet Laureate Consultant of the United States, pointed out that William Blake was quoted more often in the British House of Commons than any other source. The power of poetry is potent. Everything we do here is based on words. "Words" are the only business of parliamentarians. Some argue that Parliament works in a cocoon, immune to the realities of life since Parliament can deal mostly with laws that please the largest numbers. The Poet Laureate can place a mirror before Canadians that refracts different images of life. The Poet Laureate can parse our common lexicon in much different ways. We need diversity of thought to create a unity of dreams, a unity of visions. Poetry might even add some greater sense and sensibility to the word factory of Canada — to our Parliament. Poetry might bring fresh realities to the very heart of the Canadian soul, wherever it may reside.

This bill, honourable senators, has received enthusiastic support from the leaders of those cultural institutions, from the Library of Parliament, from the National Archives, from the Canada Council, from the National Library, from the Commissioner of Officials Languages and from the associations representing Canadian poets.

Honourable senators, for your careful deliberations, I commend this bill, this modest millennium idea, for consideration and, hopefully, for unified and positive support on third reading.

On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate adjourned.

Human Right to Privacy Bill

Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Finestone, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-27, to guarantee the human right to privacy.—(Honourable Senator Kinsella).

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, given the hour of the evening, I will not impose on you by giving the full text of the remarks that I put together on what I consider to be an important initiative by our colleague Senator Finestone, but I do have my abbreviated version and I should like to take five minutes to place on the record a few comments.

The bill, which I support in principle, is a good initiative. It speaks to the right of privacy that we, as Canadians, have recognized not only in our international human rights obligations, such as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12, but also pursuant to international treaty law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in Article 17.

Bill S-27 is an initiative that will add to the required fabric of the legal protection of Canadians' right to privacy. What is privacy? Privacy is a fundamental human right that underpins human dignity and other key values, such as freedom of association and freedom of speech. It has become one of the most important human rights issues in the information world of the present day and in an era of remarkable advances in the fields of medicine. Thus, we speak of body rights or bodily privacy, which is also at centre stage given the concerns associated with the protection of people's physical selves against invasive procedures, such as drug testing, cavity searches and the use of DNA.

Privacy of communications concerns each of us today, especially given the many forms of communication, whether in terms of security and privacy of mail, e-mail included, or the ubiquitous telephone. There are also territorial privacy concerns — that is, the setting of limits on intrusion into domestic and other environments, such as the home, workplace or public space.

Honourable senators, in terms of reflecting on justification of this human right of privacy, privacy has roots deep in history. References to solitude are numerous in early civilization. Early examples of privacy legislation, per se, would include the Justices of the Peace Act of England in 1361, which provided for the arrest of eavesdroppers and peeping Toms. One of my favourite early examples are the words of the great parliamentarian, William Pitt, who wrote:

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter; the rain may enter — but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.

In more recent times, Mr. Justice Louis Brandeis argued that privacy was the individual's "right to be left alone."

In his 1967 book Privacy and Freedom, Alan Westin writes that privacy is the desire of the people to choose freely under what circumstances and to what extent they will expose themselves, their attitude and their behaviour to others.

It is, honourable senators, the dignity and inestimable worth of the human personality that provides for me the ultimate justification for the right of privacy. Privacy is an interest of the human personality. It protects the inviolate personality, the individual's independence, dignity and integrity.

All honourable senators are familiar with the fact that we in Canada are one of the few countries that does not have in its constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms the constitutional recognition explicitly of the right to privacy. That is not to say that we have not a good fabric of statutory and common-law practices dealing with the issue of privacy. On the contrary, the Canadian courts, in interpreting section 8 of the Charter, which grants the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, have recognized the individual's right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. We have had a number of important statutes in Canada, such as the statute that created the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, two of the offices of Parliament, and, more recently, the passage of Bill C-6, which was the federal government's response to the need for an extension of data protection laws to the private sector under federal jurisdiction in Canada.

Honourable senators will recall that it was our Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology that did a fairly good piece of work when it was studying Bill C-6. Therefore, we have in our Social Affairs Committee a corporate memory on the issue of privacy. It would seem to me that Bill S-27 would be in good hands should it, upon the adoption at second reading of the principle of the bill, be sent to our Social Affairs Committee.

(2020)

In closing, I agree with the objective of Bill S-27, which is to situate the right to privacy within an overarching context of Canadian values by providing an articulated legal framework that speaks to the primacy of the right to privacy in Canadian statutory law. As I said, given that the right to privacy is not explicit in the Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Bill S-27 appears to me to be a most appropriate initiative and one that we all should support, which I am pleased to do.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

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

On motion of Senator Finestone, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Bill

Second Reading—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton, seconded by the Honourable Senator DeWare, for the second reading of Bill S-23, respecting Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day.—(Honourable Senator Hays).

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I request that this order stand in the name of Senator Grafstein rather than in mine.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that the order stand in the name of Senator Grafstein?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Order stands.

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Perrault, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-11, to amend the Criminal Code to prohibit coercion in medical procedures that offend a person's religion or belief that human life is inviolable.—(Honourable Senator Cools).

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, Bill S-11 is entitled "An Act to amend the Criminal Code to prohibit coercion in medical procedures that offend a person's religion or belief that human life is inviolable."

Honourable senators will recall that former senator Stanley Haidasz, a very fine man, worked for many years to protect human rights, specifically in this area. Senator Haidasz was, in fact, responsible for the predecessor of this bill. However, as a result of his retirement from the Senate, his bill died on the Order Paper. It seems that Senator Perrault has resurrected that bill, built on it, and has brought before us the product as Bill S-11.

Bill S-11 seeks to protect the right of health care practitioners and other persons, without fear of reprisal or other discriminatory coercion, to refuse to participate in medical procedures that offend a tenet of a person's religion or his or her belief that human life is inviolable. Senator Perrault's bill attempts to safeguard such individuals from reprisal and negative actions mostly in their places of work.

Senator Perrault said on April 13, 2000 that many physicians and nurses have expressed concern that an ethical decision concerning the risk to human life may be hampered by fear of reprisals. For example, it is becoming increasingly difficult for nurses to choose areas of practice in which they can avoid or refuse to assist in abortion procedures, since many such procedures are often performed in wards other than those of gynaecology and obstetrics.

Senator Perrault's initiative is worthwhile and deserving of proper study and consideration.

On April 13, 2000, in his speech on this very important issue, as reported at page 1162 of the Debates of the Senate, Senator Perrault said:

Freedom of conscience and freedom of expression lie at the very root of Canadian Confederation. The cultural freedom of disparate religious groups has become a touchstone of Canada...

He continued:

In the context of the reality that medicine, both science and practice, has loosed its moorings from the stays of respect for human life, there is need to strengthen the fundamental regard we have of conscience. We must put in place measures to meet the serious abuses of personal freedoms and ultimately of patients' lives. Down the road, we need legislation that is more comprehensive than this bill or the bill that was introduced in the other place.

Honourable senators, it is late in the day and there are still many items on the Order Paper to be dealt with. However, I wish to make clear and to affirm before honourable senators that I support Senator Perrault's initiative, Bill S-11. I should like it to be referred to committee and given the study that it deserves, with witnesses called to air the issues contained in the bill.

Honourable senators, the time has come to study the problems, challenges and needs in our society created by the Supreme Court of Canada judgment in Morgentaler. It is time to look at the impact of the changes caused by that ruling on the practitioners in the field, who do the work on the ground and may be subjected to negative treatment that we might not support.

The work of the former senator Haidasz and Senator Perrault raises many questions about freedom of conscience and human rights, questions that should be addressed. I look forward to the discussion in committee. In his speech, Senator Perrault laid out some of the case law and many of the social problems. I urge honourable senators to support this bill.

[Translation]

(2030)

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have long wanted to take part in a debate of this sort. My father was a doctor. He delivered over 9,000 babies, providing his services for free in half the cases because his patients were members of the working class. I was always taught that no one should ever force anyone to do anything they did not wish to do, particularly when it came to matters of a medical nature. We know Senator Haidasz's passion for this issue.

The bill was resurrected by Senator Perrault and supported by Senator Fairbairn. Many people speak about freedom, write about freedom, and sing about freedom, but when someone wishes to exercise his or her freedom with respect to such profound and personal issues, suddenly society wants to stand in the way. This will never stop those who wish to participate in general medical procedures but if, for deep-seated personal, religious or other reasons, some people decide that certain medical procedures are contrary to their religion or beliefs, we should not force them to perform them.

I have known doctors; that is something we can agree on. Some senators are very familiar with medical questions. I do not know anybody who, for religious reasons, in an emergency, would let someone die. However, generally speaking, forcing people to participate in medical procedures contrary to their religion or their beliefs should be prohibited.

I am anxious to see this bill referred to committee for consideration. We will be present to see what becomes of it and, if we are not satisfied, we will speak again at third reading.

On motion of Senator Hays, debate adjourned.

Aboriginal Peoples

Opportunities to Expand Economic Development of National Parks in the North—Budget Report of Committee on Study Adopted

Leave having been given to revert to Reports of Committees:

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Chalifoux, seconded by the Honourable Senator Finnerty, for the adoption of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (power to hire staff and to travel) presented in the Senate on June 21, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Kinsella).

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, might Senator Chalifoux give us an explanation as to the nature of the study that is being proposed?

Hon. Thelma J. Chalifoux: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to give you an explanation. In December of 1998, the then Secretary of State for Parks, Andy Mitchell, sent a letter to Senator Carstairs requesting that the Senate consider doing such a study. When we were looking at developing some of the parks, we realized that they affect all the aboriginal communities surrounding the parks in the Northwest Territories. There are 10 parks of which we are speaking in regards to economic development, opportunities, and possibilities.

In most of these communities, the unemployment rate is between 80 per cent and 90 per cent. National parks have the potential to create some economic resource possibilities. Parks Canada is now under Minister Copps of Heritage Canada. Mr. Tom Lee is the chief director for the parks. They have come to us. Parks Canada is now $50 million in the red. They do not have any money to carry out this study. At the request, indeed the insistence, of some of the aboriginal leaders, and in light of the concern expressed by the people of Parks Canada, we have been requested to undertake this study.

Our budget was cut by 10 per cent. Our budget is now $45,411. What we propose to undertake will not be a comprehensive hearing, rather, it will take the form of a task force study. Three senators and two staff members will do this work. To record their proceedings, they will use a tape recorder and take notes. Honourable senators, our efforts will assist Parks Canada to develop economic opportunities for the aboriginal communities in these 10 parks.

Senator Kinsella: I thank the honourable senator for that information.

The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak, I shall proceed with the motion.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Developments Respecting Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee—Motion adopted as amended

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the Motion of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mercier, for the adoption of the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology entitled: "Quality End-of-Life Care: The Right of Every Canadian", tabled in the Senate on June 6, 2000,

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Corbin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Ferretti Barth, that the motion be amended by adding the following words:

"; and

That the Senate request the Government to provide a comprehensive response to the unanimous recommendations contained in this Report within six months of the adoption of this motion."—(Honourable Senator Maheu).

Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, I should like to take part briefly in the debate for the adoption of the report entitled "Quality End of Life Care, the Right of Every Canadian," presented to this chamber by the Subcommittee to Update "Of Life and Death," the report of 1995.

First, I would take this opportunity to congratulate Senator Carstairs for her leadership, and all my colleagues who took part in the work of the subcommittee. The report now before us bears the stamp of a serious work, done with great care and with no wasted time.

[Translation]

I feel that the objective of the whole exercise, which was to report on the state of palliative care in Canada and to suggest means of ensuring that our fellow citizens receive quality end-of-life care, was achieved. The 14 recommendations contained in the report will, if translated into concrete measures, make it possible to introduce improved palliative care for Canadians.

[English]

Some of these recommendations are, from my point of view, very important. For example, the sixth one suggests that we explore ways to increase multi-disciplinary training and education of professionals involved in end-of-life care. As a matter of fact, a thorough education in end-of-life care would help the health care providers give appropriate treatment to the dying. That would translate into a more peaceful end of life for the dying, where their dignity would be respected.

I also believe that the fifth recommendation of the subcommittee is timely. This recommendation states that the federal government immediately implement income security and job protection for family members who care for the dying. This finds its meaning with the reorganization of the burden on the health care system everywhere in Canada, and especially in the province of Quebec.

[Translation]

Last week, Quebec daily newspapers reported that the Conseil du statut de la femme has discovered a very serious, but far from surprising, situation. According to the council, women are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the movement in recent years in Quebec to not keep people in hospital.

(2040)

They are the ones who, to a large extent, have to provide family members with care that is no longer provided in hospital. Before they were "natural caregivers" and now they have become "nursing care providers." The burden now being placed on women looking after a sick family member is often extremely onerous, and can often jeopardize their own health and their careers.

The situation the Conseil du statut de la femme is decrying manifests itself particularly when it comes to caring for terminally ill patients. That is why I feel the fifth recommendation of the committee is extremely important. Family members, women in particular, must not be penalized for caring for a dying relative.

Honourable senators, that said, I would like to go on to speak of a concern I have about this report.

[English]

Honourable senators will remember that last February I spoke and voiced my concerns regarding Bill S-2.

[Translation]

I supported, and I still support, the broad thrust of this bill. However, the bill still struck me as incomplete in several regards and could be seen as opening the door to certain abuses. I felt, and I still feel, that Bill S-2 may even be, in its present form, an initial step towards legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide, which I find totally unacceptable.

[English]

In English, we say that this may be that slippery slope to which everyone refers.

[Translation]

In order to avoid this, I asked that the committee responsible for studying Bill S-2 approach its deliberations with great care. I even suggested various amendments which, in my view, could improve the bill.

My fear, which I mentioned to you earlier, is that the present report, which notes how little progress has been made in the field of end-of-life care over the past five years and the urgent need for action, will encourage the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to act too precipitously during consideration of Bill S-2. I am, however, nearly convinced that my concern is ill-founded and that my colleagues on this committee will do their work with their usual rigour.

[English]

Finally, I believe that this report, together with Bill S-2, once amended, will ensure Canadians better end-of-life care.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Sheila Finestone: Honourable senators, I wish to support a very important piece of work that has been done by this Senate and to thank the committee and its chair for moving us forward on a most important undertaking. We have moved in the field of maternity care and it is about time that we moved to eternity care.

The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak, is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: The question is now on the main motion. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the main motion, as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion, as amended, agreed to and report adopted.

Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders

Fourth Report of Committee Adopted—Message to Commons

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Austin, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Bacon, for the adoption of the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders (questions of privilege of Honourable Senators Andreychuk and Bacon), presented in the Senate on April 13, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Cools).

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, it is my information that Senator Cools will not participate in this debate. The motion was reserved in her name.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I am quite prepared to yield the floor to Senator Austin. Unless there is another speaker, I would ask Your Honour to put the question.

The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak, is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(i), I move:

That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to inform that House of the recommendations appearing in the Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders, dated April 13, 2000, concerning the premature and unauthorized disclosure of committee reports.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to.

Sixth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders (Question of Privilege raised by Senator Tkachuk), presented in the Senate on June 22, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Austin, P.C.).

Hon. Jack Austin moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Seventh Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders (length of time of Senators' Statements), presented in the Senate on June 22, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Austin, P.C.).

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of this report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Carried.

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Explain.

The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry, but the motion has been carried.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, I rose and requested an explanation.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted to allow an explanation?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the committee considered what it believed was the growing abuse of the three-minute rule for Senators' Statements. We were unanimously of the opinion that the Speaker should vigorously enforce the three-minute rule. We have recommended a change in the wording of the rule so that it is very clear that three minutes means three minutes.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Lynch-Staunton: His Honour will appreciate that it is for his benefit that I ask for an explanation. From now on, statements will be recognized as being no more than three minutes long, with no leave being given. Am I correct?

Senator Austin: If the motion is carried, that is the intention.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I hope that is clear to all honourable senators.

The Hon. the Speaker: I expect that all honourable senators will support me when I rise.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Eighth Report of Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders (changes to Rule 86), presented in the Senate on June 22, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Austin, P.C.).

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of this report.

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Explain.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the committee discussed the issue of this house having a particular focus through its committee work on defence and security, on the one hand, and human rights and the rule of law, on the other. This item was dealt with also in the last session and reported on by the committee at that time.

At that time, however, the issues were combined with other questions relating to the organization of committees and also combined with the question of the role of independent senators. The committee now has limited its recommendation only to the creation of these two committees. They would be organized in the fall by the Committee of Selection only if the house approves of the motion. The question of the role of independent senators as members of committees has been deferred by the committee until the fall.

(2050)

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators will notice the various matters on the Order Paper. Number 6 is clear; we know exactly what that is about. It is a question of privilege raised by Senator Tkachuk. Item number 7 on the Order Paper relates to the length of time for senators' statements. We know what that is all about.

Number 8 was almost passed by. It concerns a change to rule 86. We do not know exactly that that is, so I insisted that some explanation be given. I see my message got to Senator Austin. It is very important that we be presented with the facts. I would hope that, in the Senate, facts are what we base our decisions on.

We were given the undertaking, under the able chairmanship of Senator Maheu, who is still in the Senate, that the questions of new committees, subcommittees and the participation of independent senators would be discussed, debated and reported to the Senate. I was at that meeting and I agreed with Senator Kinsella who was there. For three minutes, Senator Rossiter was there. I was at those meetings. The only one I missed was the one where the subject of independent senators was discussed.

By coincidence, I was at the unveiling of the monument to Jean Lesage in Quebec City. I spent four days at the National Assembly. I think it is important that some of us show our faces there and see what is going on in the National Assembly, especially towards the end of a session. It may even resemble the Senate at the end of a session when lots of bills are dealt with.

There was an undertaking by Senator Maheu. I do not lie; I do not need a witness. The honourable senator is in the chamber, and I would be the most surprised person if she were to correct my general understanding of what occurred that day. The committee looked into the role of independent senators. I know there was a lot of disagreement on both sides. Perhaps some will have less difficulty in their participation if new horizons develop in the role of senators. It was understood, though, that we would have an answer and a real debate in the Senate.

We now arrive at the binding creation of two new committees. It is not written anywhere. I am tempted to ask every senator —  I am shy but not that shy — if they know how many people will be involved and what they will do. I do not think we are being fair to each other. Two new committees are being created with seven members. I must ask: Why not 10 or 11?

There was also understanding that there may be room for independent senators on new committees. I know Senator Lynch-Staunton does not like the term "independent senator." I agree with him but I do not know what else to call myself. Perhaps if I call myself "senator Québécois," that would be more clear.

Two new committees have been created. There will also be a change to rule 86 and, of course, there must be such a change because the two new committees will have seven members. One will study defence and the other human rights. Both topics are most interesting and I am happy for those senators who will participate on those committees.

On top of that, honourable senators, new colleagues and esteemed colleagues —

Senator Graham: They are all esteemed.

Senator Prud'homme: — we are told now that these two new committees will not be convened until the autumn. At that time we shall also discuss the role of independent senators. Then why should we not wait until the autumn?

I see influential senators on the other side, whom I shall not name, who know that my comments make sense. Honourable senators have agreed that nothing will be done with regard to these two committes until the autumn. At the university, I did not do very well in certain subjects, but I defeated almost everyone in logic and philosophy.

I shall not beg; and I have been told that I cannot speak for other independent senators. However, others may be affected.

Senator Austin is a reasonable man. I must question why he will not avoid this debate by saying that, since nothing will be done before autumn, we shall wait and see what is to be done about the independents. You may come to the resolution that there is no role for independents on the two new committees. That decision will be debatable and, I suggest, should be voted on.

I would ask the leadership and all honourable senators to consider what I just said on my own behalf as an independent senator who still has the power of logic, as well as a good memory. These matters are dealt with in the ninth and eleventh reports.

How long can you push people and yet they remain polite and gentle? There comes a time when one wonders why one came to this bloody place. I love the Senate. It is not because it is red that it is a bloody place but because sometimes one feels called upon to say or do something that can be very difficult. Some of us may do something wrong. Some of us may get on others' nerves. I know some senators are bored. I keep saying to myself that one day I shall tell them, "Senator, there is a big door. If you are bored with yourself, why do you not resign?" Some senators would like to adjourn as soon as the session starts, and others think that our sittings are too long.

I talk about Canada and the world, and the role that Canadian senators can play. Senators can play a certain role because we have been given the independence of not being required to report to electorate.

I have never been treated badly in Quebec because I am a senator. During those four days I spent in Quebec City, I saw almost the entire city. I was not insulted by anyone for being a senator, far from it. Maybe they all hope to be in the Senate; I do not know.

You could, in a gesture of cooperation, say, "I have listened to you, Senator Prud'homme, and I think what you say makes sense." Nothing will be done before the autumn. That being so, I would suggest that that gives us time to come up with some satisfactory solutions to this.

Senator Austin: Senator Prud'homme, I have more sympathy for your position than you can possibly know.

Senator Prud'homme: I do not want sympathy. I want action.

Senator Austin: There are three points on which we need to focus. First of all, the Senate should be part of a very important public policy debate in this country regarding defence. We need a committee that will focus on those issues. That entire sector will become far more important in the months ahead than it is even today.

(2100)

Second, the same remarks apply to human rights. This is a profoundly important area and a significant part of Canada's foreign policy, as well as a critical part of our domestic structure.

I acknowledge that in the previous session, under Senator Maheu, the ninth and eleventh reports were linked together and submitted to the Senate as a package. In the Rules Committee, we felt that we should take apart the constituent sectors and move ahead where there was consensus on the creation of the two committees.

We had a thorough discussion on the role of independent senators. Regretfully, there is as yet no consensus with respect to that role in the committee. I cannot give the honourable senator an undertaking that a consensus will emerge, but I can give him an undertaking that we shall come back to the subject when we meet in the fall and consider it in his presence. I shall go out of my way to ensure that he is invited to that particular discussion.

Finally, I have no objection to the motion standing until the Senate meets in the fall, and we can continue our debate at that time.

Hon. Sheila Finestone: Honourable senators, I would ask the Chair, at the same time the committee reviews the aspect raised by the honourable senator, to consider the addition, not just of veterans to defence, but also of official languages to the human rights committee.

Senator Austin: I have no difficulty bringing the honourable senator's submission to the committee for its consideration. I undertake to do that.

Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I wish to adjourn the debate.

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I urge the Senate to pass this committee report now. I do not think we should hold out for the perfect to establish the good. The perfect would be if we could establish the committees and have a resolution to the situation of independent senators, but we shall not get that today. Why should a committee or two new committees be held hostage to other issues that we cannot resolve? In a democratic fashion, let us move forward as quickly as we can; let us take one step at a time. There is a consensus to set up two new committees, including one on defence.

This country is crying out for an analysis of defence policy. The defence forces in the country, I believe, are in danger of slipping, perhaps, into farce. There are many issues, not the least of which is the situation of the reserves, which is critical. We are heading into an election. We are in an election year. We have a chance, it seems to me, to have some influence on public policy. We do not have a vehicle in this chamber for doing that, as far as defence is concerned, and yet there are so many issues.

There has been no thorough analysis of defence policy since 1993. The House of Commons has skirted around the edges of it. Sure, they have spoken about housing and issues such as that, but with the exception of some issues that have been raised — and I give credit for that to Senator Forrestall — we have not had a thorough debate. All of us on this side want to have a chance to participate in the debate, too. I think Senator Forrestall would welcome a thorough debate on both sides of defence issues.

We have been debating this issue now for years. As I understand it, the issue of a Senate defence committee has been before us for years. How much longer do we have to wait for a vehicle to do what we want to do and what we can do and what the expertise exists in the Senate to do? There are senators on both sides of this chamber who I think know what questions need to be asked. All we are asking is a chance to do that. We must be given a vehicle to do that.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I agree with what Senator Rompkey has said. I wish to point out — although I know it is not necessary — before the honourable senator adjourns the debate that when a committee having to do with human rights is established, there could be no senator more accomplished and qualified in that respect than Senator Roche.

On motion of Senator Roche, debate adjourned.

Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum

Eighth Annual Meeting—Inquiry—order stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Carstairs calling the attention of the Senate to the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Canberra, Australia, from January 9 to 14, 2000.—(Honourable Senator Prud'homme, P.C.).

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, perhaps Senator Prud'homme could ask for an extension. I would be pleased to agree that it should be given.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: I would be more than happy to follow the advice of the Deputy Leader of the Government.

Senator Hays: Honourable senators, this item is at day 15, and unless we extend the time, it will fall off the Order Paper.

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Has the deputy leader not spoken to it already?

Senator Hays: I have spoken to it, as a matter of fact.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The deputy leader cannot speak again.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Sit, sit!

Senator Hays: I am asking for leave —

Senator Kinsella: He cannot ask; he spoke.

Senator Hays: — for this matter to be given additional time so that Senator Prud'homme may have a little more time to consider his remarks.

Senator Kinsella: The deputy leader is out of order!

Senator Prud'homme: Then my friend Senator Roche wishes to say something.

Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I think this matter needs more discussion.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, that can be considered a speech. I gather, then, that there is general agreement that the matter should be left on the Order Paper. Is there unanimous agreement that it remain on the Order Paper?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Order stands.

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Eleventh Report of Committee Presented

Leave having been given to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or Special Committees:

Hon. Bill Rompkey, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its

ELEVENTH REPORT

Notwithstanding the Procedural Guidelines for the Financial Operations of Senate Committees, your Committee recommends that the following additional funds be released for fiscal year 2000-2001. These funds are in addition to those recommended by the Committee in its Seventh Report, adopted by the Senate on April 7, 2000 and its Tenth Report, adopted by the Senate on June 7, 2000.

Special Committee on Illegal Drugs     $ 170,062  
Agriculture and Forestry                       
    $ 1,500

Your Committee will continue to review Committee allocations taking into account historical trends of Committee expenditures and possible changes in the structure of Senate Committees.

Respectfully submitted,

WILLIAM ROMPKEY  

Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

On motion of Senator Rompkey, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

Adjournment

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

Hon. Dan Hays (Deputy Leader of the Government), with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), moved:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28, 2000, at 1:30 p.m.

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, June 28, 2000, at 1:30 p.m.