Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the Journals of the Senate
of yesterday indicate that the Honourable Senator Lavigne took and subscribed
the oath prescribed by law. I wish to flag for honourable senators that at the
first opportunity, which will be tomorrow, I shall raise this as a question of
I express my regret for having tried to involve the Leader of the Government
on this matter yesterday during the Question Period. This is a matter for
honourable senators to decide, and I shall raise it as a question of privilege
at the appropriate time tomorrow.
Hon. Marisa Ferretti Barth: Honourable senators, the week of April 21
to 27 will be National Volunteer Week. This year's theme, "Experience Matters,"
was selected to draw attention to the remarkable wealth of experience that
volunteers, particularly older adults, bring to their community's organizations.
These seven days devoted to volunteerism raise public awareness of the
essential contribution volunteers make to our society and give us an opportunity
to thank them for it.
Volunteerism represents a very important social movement; the entire
population benefits greatly from volunteers' contributions. In Canada, in the
year 2000, over 6.5 million volunteers gave about 1 billion hours of their time.
This is the equivalent of some 549,000 full-time jobs. Volunteerism is
considered, and rightly so, the third pillar or third sector of society.
Given the huge contribution made by volunteers to the various sectors of
society, the United Nations declared 2001 the International Year of Volunteers.
In Canada, that year culminated with the signature of an agreement between the
federal government and the voluntary and community sector.
The week is all the more significant because it enables many organizations to
recruit new volunteers. According to the national survey on giving, volunteering
and participating, fewer people volunteered in 2000, and most volunteers were
Honourable senators, what does volunteerism mean to you? To me, it is above
all a gift of oneself, an act of loving kindness.
The beauty of volunteerism lies in the acts of loving kindness that go along
with these gifts. The motto of Armand Marquiset, the founder of the Little
Brothers of the Poor, which was "flowers before bread," holds true here. Every
donation must go hand in hand with an act of loving kindness. In closing, I wish
to thank all volunteers for their contribution to making this world a better
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I am delighted to rise to
congratulate all those associated with the 2002 Juno Awards that were held
Sunday night in St.John's.
This year's event was widely acknowledged to be the best Juno gathering ever
and featured top international names in the recording industry. The talent alone
made the Juno Awards remarkable, with performances by Diana Krall, Alanis
Morissette and Nickelback.
What really set this year's Juno celebrations apart from previous years was
the energy and excitement that surrounded them. I was there to help share in
that. This point was noted time and again by the many industry people visiting
David Usher, who won the best pop album award, said it best when he
confirmed, "After you've been to a lot of Junos, you get used to it in a way.
But people are so excited that I think it's feeding onto the artists and
everyone is much more excited." Indeed, ticket sales alone illustrate the depth
of local interest in the event. Initial tickets sold out in a matter of minutes,
and when extra seats were available in the days before the show, people waited
in line for more than 20 hours to try to buy them. In the end, an estimated
6,000 people attended the televised award show.
Another contributing factor to the success of this event was in the welcome
that people offered our special guests. The legendary Newfoundland and Labrador
hospitality was even noted by the award winners. In accepting his award for the
best selling album, for example, international recording star Shaggy said, "I
think what gets me the most here is the warmth of the people....They're just
very, very warm people and that, I think, that's really nice."
The Junos also provided our province with an unparalleled opportunity to
showcase homegrown talent. In fact, locals even picked up an award when our
hometown favourites, the Ennis Sisters, were named best new country group. Of
course, traditional Newfoundland and Labrador music was front and centre in the
opening of the show when Great Big Sea led the crowd in a powerful rendition of
Rant and Roar.
Honourable senators, this weekend proves that this type of large-scale show
can be successfully executed outside of a major centre. This year was only the
third time that the Junos were held outside of the Toronto area. St. John's is
by far the smallest city to host the awards; yet, many people agreed that this
year's celebration was the best.
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, on April7, Canada joined the 191
member nations of the World Health Organization in celebrating World Health Day.
This year's theme is "physical activity for health."
Promoting physical activity may be an effective and lasting public health
solution, particularly for our children and teenagers.
Between1981 and 1996, the prevalence of overweight children increased by 92
per cent in boys and 57 per cent in girls. Today, health organizations estimate
that one in six Canadian children are significantly overweight.
Consequently, children as young as three or four develop diseases that are
generally associated with adults, including diabetes and hypertension.
Physical inactivity is a primary cause of this epidemic of childhood obesity.
Instead of the recommended 30 minutes a day of physical activity, most Canadian
school children receive only 60 minutes a week. More than half of our Canadian
youth aged 12 to 21 do not engage in any physical activity. According to the
Foundation for Active Healthy Kids, more than two thirds of Canadian children
are not active enough to lay the foundation for basic health. These children and
youth are missing out on the physical benefits of increased energy, stronger
bones and muscles, a healthy weight, an improved immune system and the delayed
onset or prevention of chronic disease. They are missing out on the social and
psychological benefits of fitness.
I congratulate Health Minister Anne McLellan on releasing Canada's first ever
physical activity guidelines for children and youth, recommending that they
increase activity levels to
90 minutes a day and reduce their inactivity levels by the same amount.
Honourable senators, this year, let us mark World Health Day by encouraging a
young person to join us for a walk, a soccer game or a bike ride. Not only will
this be good for your own health, it will also do a great service to these young
people, who will surely benefit from it for the rest of their lives.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, on Sunday, television
stations in Saskatoon covered a memorial service that took place in a local
synagogue. The service was the community's response to an act of vandalism and
arson against a synagogue committed a few days earlier. In France, these have
become regular occurrences, with acts of violence against Jews complementing
acts of vandalism against Jewish places of worship. In Ukraine, a local mob
attacked a synagogue and the people in it. Other countries in Europe are
anti-Jewish acts of the same kind.
After September 11, I remember the care President Bush and other world leaders
took to separate the Muslim religion from the acts of the terrorists on
September 11 in New York and Washington. Our own Prime Minister took time to
visit a mosque to show his tolerance and leadership. "It was not the Arabs," we
said, "only the acts of a crazy few," although in many parts of the world the
acts of September 11 were greeted with cheers and jubilation.
Our policy of supposed even-handedness, which ensures that even the most
wretched of human behaviour receives a fair hearing, has not been modified with
the proviso that "the actions of Israel are not an excuse to attack Jews in your
own county." Jews, to their credit, are not branding me an anti-Semite because I
come from Saskatoon and am of Ukrainian descent.
Currently, our foreign policy equally supports the Israelis and the
Palestinians. It is the same as the European foreign policy of why can they not
get along and why are the Jews obstructing — in some cases boycotting —
potential export opportunitiesto all those oil-rich human rights abusers found
in the Arab world?
We have risen in partial defence of the only real democracy in that part of
the world which, even as I speak, allows domestic dissent to the war with Yasser
Arafat and his terrorist administration, which sends teenage girls strapped with
explosives to kill a few hundred civilian Jews shopping and drinking coffee.
In another nation, oil-rich Saudi Arabia holds a telethon, reportedly for
humanitarian aid, but we know it is more likely for raising funds that will pay
for more teenage girls and boys to strap on more explosives and wander around
Israel looking for victims.
How can we even talk to these people? Is there something I am missing or do
we have something in common with them? What has Israel ever done to Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, except fight for and win its sovereignty at
times when these nations attacked with the object of annihilation?
Honourable senators, I urge the federal government to be unequivocal in the
support of Israel and to condemn the acts of violence against Jews not only in
Canada but throughout the world. I ask the Prime Minister to write immediately
to the President of the Europe Union and condemn the impending trade actions
against Israel that they are contemplating. I call on the Prime Minister to
condemn the acts of violence that use young men and women as human bombs— men
and women who are far too young and vulnerable to take their own lives and those
of others. Talking about human rights violations, what about paying families
huge amounts of money to sacrifice their children here on earth, promising them
sanctuary and paradise in heaven? Israel is not the impediment to peace.
The criminal arson committed on April 5 in Saskatoon is testament to how close
we always are to acts of anarchy within our society. A normally peaceful city
has been disturbed by an act that we should find repugnant to our character and
to our community.
Hon. Jim Tunney: Honourable senators, we are faced with the extremely
complex issue of biotechnology and, more specifically, the introduction of GMOs,
or genetically modified organisms.
An article in The Western Producer indicated that Monsanto Canada
discovered a gene in one of its GMO canola crops that should not be there. It
was found in Quest canola, marketed by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Agricore,
which has already been sold to approximately 3,000 farmers. According to a
Monsanto spokesman, it was never intended to be in varieties for farmers. They
conducted a voluntary recall and offered replacements. Monsanto is quoted as
saying, "It has been caught. We saw it, we found it, and we dealt with it."
Honourable senators, I have extreme concerns regarding the lack of control of
this technology. Genetically modified canola has already chased away our
customer the Europe Union, which was a major buyer of our canola in the
mid-1990s. It will certainly do nothing to assuage the fears of Japan.
I would like to emphasize that there are currently no transgenic varieties of
wheat or barley registered for commercial use in Canada. There is a possibility
that, by the year 2003, transgenic grain could be considered for registration.
However, in all likelihood, it is much further away than that.
Honourable senators will know that Canada operates a supply management system
for dairy and poultry, and will also know of the benefits of that program to
producers, processors and consumers. The availability of food safety and
consistency, at reasonable prices, marks the difference between Canada's
producers and consumers, and those of other countries. These are features that
Canada must support and protect. A good example of that is the rewards to
producers and consumers that came with Canada's decision not to approve the use
of rBST, the growth hormone that was never wanted or needed.
Governments and the general population must continue to insist that we never
give in to the large pharmaceutical companies, in their efforts to win approval
for the use of such practices.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of tabling the report of the Auditor General of
Canada for the year 2002, pursuant to the Auditor General Act, S.C. 1995,
Chapter 43, section 3.
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, I have the honour of tabling
the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, which represented
Canada at the meeting of the Subcommittee on Future Security and Defence
Capabilities of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, held in Slovenia and Slovakia,
from March 5 to 8, 2002.
Hon. E. Leo Kolber: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have
power to sit at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, 2002, even though the Senate
may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have a question of
the Leader of the Government in the Senate on commonality of services with
regard to training and so forth.
So far, Canadians have been told by the Minister of Public Works and
Government Services that the reason for the purchase by the government of the
Challenger 604 aircraft was that our Challenger fleet was old, unreliable and
could not take off from shorter runways, and that the purchase would produce
savings through commonality with the existing fleet.
Is that a correct summary of the government's reasons for this purchase?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank the honourable senator for his question. It is important to understand
why the Challengers were purchased. It is true that they are old, though
certainly not as old as much of our military equipment. They are 19 years old.
The more precise reason is that they could not go the distance required in many
of the trips that needed to be taken, and they could not land at a number of
airports in this country due to the length of the runways.
I know of no statement made by any government official indicating that they
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have heard that suggested
on a number of occasions.
Earlier, the Minister of Public Works, the Honourable DonBoudria, cited
commonality with the existing fleet of Challengers as justification for the
recent sole purchase contract to buy the two new Challengers from Bombardier.
Yet, last October 30, if my memory serves me correctly, Mr. Boudria's Assistant
Deputy Minister, Jane Billings, told a Committee of the Whole of the Senate that
such a transaction would not be allowed under the agreement on internal trade.
Ms Billings said at the time:
We cannot use commonality to support buying more of a major system.... We
cannot use it to justify going out for a sole source.
Will the government now cancel the purchase of the Challenger and call a
tender, or was Ms Billings wrong and this chamber given incorrect information?
It cannot be both ways.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, we are talking about two
different purchases, as the honourable senator knows. The important issue is
that of purchasing aircraft that will be used primarily by the Prime Minister,
the Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the cabinet. Those people should,
if at all possible, be flying in a Canadian-made aircraft.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: We could have built the Cormorant here in
Canada. That was no problem.
Based on the fact that the government has on a number of occasions cited, in
defence of its decision, commonality and the savings arising from that
commonality, including flight training and parts, will the Leader of the
Government in the Senate ask that cabinet immediately direct the purchase of the
new Maritime helicopter to Cormorant in order to save some $500millionin the
defence budget? That amount of money would procure at least six of the C130J
Hercules tactical transport aircraft, in addition to the new Maritime
helicopters, so that we could— to use a bad pun — kill two birds with one stone.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
as I understand the honourable senator's question, he is suggesting that I go to
the government, interfere with the present process that has been ongoing now for
several years to develop the best possible helicopter for the Canadian Armed
Forces and identify just one helicopter, leaving everyone else out of the
bidding process. My answer to that is no, I will not.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, the leader would abandon her
responsibilities to everyone in order to hide behind that argument.
The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister of this country did
precisely that. Was it all right for him and not all right for the minister?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I am not sure of the nature of
the honourable senator's question. If the honourable senator is saying that we
should not have bought the Challengers, then my answer to that is that we made a
good purchase. They were purchased, for example, so the Prime Minister would
have such a plane to travel all over Africa, as he did in his recent trip, a
total of 25,000 kilometres. The Deputy Prime Minister used such a plane to
travel northern, southern, eastern and western India representing the Government
of Canada. I, for one, take great pride when a Canadian plane lands in those
countries and is recognized as such.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, whether the Prime Minister of
my country should be able to fly conveniently and comfortably to places around
the world on Canadian business was not my question.
My question is: When it was convenient, it was all right to step outside the
rules. When it was not convenient for whatever reason, it was not all right. I
would really appreciate knowing that reason. The frankness of it would be
wonderful and easily accepted.
Why could the government step outside the rules in one case, and it could not
do so with the Cormorant? Why have we wasted seven years? Why have we placed in
danger's way unnecessarily the lives of men and women for seven years? That
situation could be corrected tomorrow morning by the will of one man. Has the
minister the courage to speak up?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, with the greatest respect, I
would like to speak up for those who fly our Sea King helicopters: Their
families do not want to hear consistently from the senator on the other side
that the flight crews are in danger.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: That is pathetic.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I get disgusted when I
hear such responses from the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The
minister talked about the Prime Minister travelling to Africa and the Deputy
Prime Minister travelling to India, this at a time when Western Canada is on its
back from issues surrounding softwood lumber and agriculture. The minister said
that the reason that the government is buying these planes, over the safety of
our Armed Forces, is so that they can go the distance and get into certain
airports. Would it be so bad if they had to stop and refuel somewhere?
I am a former military pilot, and I say that the Liberals have put the Armed
Forces in jeopardy and in true danger by virtue of delaying the helicopter
purchases to which Senator Forrestall referred. The minister has the audacity to
come here and make the inference that flight personnel are not in danger when it
36 hours of service to fly the Sea Kings for one single hour.
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate this: Where does the
rationale come from that these people are not in danger? Has the government
sacrificed the safety of our Armed Forces so that the planes carrying the Prime
Minister can go the distance and get into more airports? It does not make sense.
Senator Carstairs: As the honourable senator knows, the Maritime
Helicopter Project is ongoing. Decisions will be made this year with respect to
the basic piece of equipment. Decisions will be made early next year with
respect to the mission potential of that particular plane. The issue that the
honourable senator has raised is not a valid issue.
Senator Forrestall: Who is in danger?
Senator Carstairs: If one examines the work of the Sea Kings in the
present war against terrorism, it has been first-class. It has been recognized
by the United States as being first-class, and we have not put our airmen in
danger at any time. To say otherwise does a great disservice, not only to those
airmen but, more important, to the families who hear this kind of rhetoric and
become seriously worried about the members of their family who are up in those
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before proceeding, honourable senators, I remind
all honourable senators that Question Period is for questions and answers and
not debate. I also remind honourable senators that I have a fairly long list of
senators who wish to ask questions. I am conscious that we should not spend too
much time on one issue so as to allow others the opportunity to put their
Senator St. Germain will have the final supplementary.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government
in the Senate speaks of rhetoric. Let us look at the situation realistically.
Those of us who fly know that if an aircraft requires 36 hours of service to fly
one hour, there is something wrong. There is either something wrong with the
service, which I do not believe to be so, or there is something wrong with the
I will mention another thing in regard to this particular issue. In
Afghanistan our troops were on the ground because they could not be transported
from one site to another. Now, the minister says that we have greater
justification in purchasing new Challengers even though the existing Challengers
are adequate. How does the minister justify this rationale to the general
public? The people out there are wondering what is going on.
Senator Carstairs: Let me correct a couple of errors that the
honourable senator has just made. First, it does not take 36 hours to maintain
Senator Lynch-Staunton: How much time does it take?
Senator Carstairs: Second, the honourable senator has credited me with
saying that there was greater justification to buy the Challengers. I said no
such thing. We did purchase two Challengers, and there is no question about it.
We are ongoing in our developmental program with respect to the Sea King. The
new replacement helicopters will be purchased, and those orders will be given
Senator Lynch-Staunton: When? How many hours will it take?
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: My question is for the Leader of the Government
in the Senate. It relates to the Auditor General's report. The honourable leader
will recall that yesterday senators from this side asked a number of questions
about financial reporting and accountability for various agencies as discussed
in the report by the Auditor General. Today, I would like to pose some questions
in relation to governance problems with Genome Canada.
My questions relate specifically to the ministerial oversight provisions of
this non-profit corporation. There is no provision for the Department of
Industry to take corrective action if the ministerial oversight arrangement that
it has with Genome Canada goes off track. Could the Leader of the Government in
the Senate please explain why this is the case?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
with the greatest respect, I do not have that very specific information about
the Genome project. However, I will ask officials to provide me that information
and get it to the honourable senator as quickly as I can.
Senator Oliver: Honourable senators, in terms of transparency with
respect to Genome, the Auditor General pointed out in her report that the
existing provisions severely limit public access to information about that
particular project. Genome Canada by-laws state that third parties, who are
ordinary Canadians, cannot have access to any confidential information broadly
defined as including any information or documents obtained by directors or
officers in the course of their duties. That is extremely broad.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please explain what public
policy principles are being served by this arrangement of refusing to allow
ordinary Canadians to have access to information that members of the board of
directors would have?
Senator Carstairs: As the honourable senators knows, as do the other
members of this chamber, Genome Canada is primarily a research project. I can
only assume that is one of the reasons. It seems to me somewhat unusual that
this information would be available to directors but not to the public as a
whole, so I will obtain that information for the honourable senator.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, once again, I am
completely confused about our government's foreign relations policy. Yesterday,
in Geneva, Canada found itself alone with Guatemala on an important and innocent
I wonder what new criterion is driving the government to leave us suddenly
with a new ally.
Recently it was the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands. Now, as I said
yesterday, we are improving. We are alone with Guatemala. Could I kindly ask
what is the rationale behind this policy? Are all the others so out to lunch
that they make no sense and Guatemala, at long last, is standing up?
I am saying I know why. I double-checked and triple-checked on this issue. I
was told by the Department of Foreign Affairs and others that we have to give in
to the other side. I am ashamed. We stand for equality for all. If it is
embarrassing politically, we should stand up. Could the minister explain to me
the rationale, please?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): I think the
honourable senator has explained it quite well himself. We should stand for
equality for all.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, Senator Fraser and others can
applaud. I enjoy watching those who applaud. It gives me a good idea of what to
expect in the future.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, my second question is to
the Chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, who is here
today in this place. At this time, when the world is looking at the situation in
the Middle East, when parliamentarians of all democracies are interested in this
issue and are holding meetings, I kindly ask Senator Stollery if he would not
consider having a meeting, as we used to have in the House of Commons on these
issues? Would he not see fit to call a special meeting to hear as witnesses the
Israeli ambassador, a very fine gentleman, and various other people, to explain
the policy of Canada, where we are, what we can do. We could make suggestions. I
am sure there is enough here to put forward some strong suggestions. My hope is
that the committee chairman reflects on my suggestion and considers the
possibility of holding a special meeting, if not a regular meeting, of his very
Hon. Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, I take the question as a
submission by Senator Prud'homme to the committee. I am not a member of the
government, and I am never clear about the regularity of questions to committee
As the honourable senator is aware, the committee has been actively engaged
in a study of Russia and Ukraine, and we are about to complete our report.
Certainly, we will listen to his presentation.
Senator Prud'homme: I used to be chairman of the Foreign Affairs
Committee in the House of Commons, having the full confidence of the Right
Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau for over 14 years. Very regularly, I would
hold special meetings. We do not need an order of reference. Leaders of the
world attended special committees of the House of Commons and the Senate, the
Senate being led at that moment by the very distinguished Senator Van Roggen
from Vancouver. Surely, there would be enough interest to have a special
Honourable senators, the situation in the Middle East is so dangerous that
everything could explode. What more can I say? Do you not look at the
television, honourable senators? Do you not see what is going on? The world
could explode overnight, and we will have to send Canadian soldiers with
helicopters and everything else. We will have to do our duty, although we are
not armed to do so.
I kindly ask if the committee chairman will take the initiative of seeing if
there is interest in holding a special meeting. He would be surprised at the
interest that senators and members of the House of Commons would show for such a
Senator Stollery: Honourable senators, I repeat, I am not a member of
the government. I am Chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign
Affairs. I am quite aware of the difficulties in the Middle East and the
tremendous tensions there, as I am sure every other honourable senator is here
today. The Foreign Affairs Committee does have special meetings. We held one
yesterday, as a matter of fact.
This issue seems to have gone very far. If we could be of assistance, of
course we would be happy to be so. As I say, I have listened to the
representations from Senator Prud'homme.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, my questions concern
the report tabled yesterday by the Auditor General, more specifically chapter 4
on the criminal justice system.
The Auditor General has serious misgivings about the capacity and the desire
of the federal government to put in place assessment mechanisms that will allow
a comprehensive analysis of the overall impact of certain government policies on
the criminal justice system. According to the report, and I quote:
...we doubt that such an assessment is possible with the national data and
analytical capacity currently available.
As an example, the report points out that the Canadian Centre for Justice
Statistics is unable to meet all requests for information.
My questions are as follows: How can we hope to collect comprehensive and
recent data? How can we put in place strategies to integrate information in this
area? How can we create effective assessment mechanisms in order to improve the
effectiveness of the criminal justice system and the public's trust in it, if
the primary federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing data is
underfunded? I am referring more specifically to funding for the Canadian Centre
for Justice Statistics.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank the honourable senator for his question because the Auditor General did
make some very serious comments about the lack of coordination of activities and
the lack of statistical analysis. As the honourable senator well knows, the
administration of much of the judicial system happens at the provincial level.
An agreement is required to share that statistical data and information not only
between federal and provincial governments, but also between provincial
I am informed that the Minister of Justice takes this matter into grave
concern and that he will be working with his officials to see if there are ways
to further develop the sharing of data among the players in this endeavour.
Senator Nolin: Improved coordination between the federal government
and its provincial partners, which are responsible for the administration of
justice, is a step in the right direction. In her report, the Auditor General
mentions the 2002-03 budget for the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics,
which will reach
A detailed examination of the programs currently being provided by the
Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reveals that this leaves only $150,000 to
respond to additional information requests and to develop new projects. The
Minister of Justice no doubt knows that the Canadian Centre for Justice
Statistics receives many very detailed requests during the course of the year.
Will the minister make a commitment to pressure the Minister of Finance to
increase the centre's budget so that it can carry out its mandate to the
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the honourable senator makes
an excellent suggestion. I will bring it forward to the Honourable Minister of
Finance as well as to the Minister of Justice. However, we should also examine
the integrated justice initiative that is now taking place between the
provinces, territories and the federal government. Hopefully, that coordination
of information can be of advantage as well in ensuring that we have the most
accurate information possible.
Hon. Roch Bolduc: My question is for the Leader of the Government in
the Senate. For several years now, both the Auditor General and those of us on
this side of the chamber have been concerned about the increasing use of arm's
length agencies to deliver government services. Leaving aside the issue of using
various foundations as a way to magically transform a deficit into a surplus or
a surplus into a deficit, parliamentary oversight has been placed at serious
Three years ago, in 1999, the Auditor General told the government to clean up
its act, calling for comprehensive remedial action, including stronger
leadership. The Public Accounts Committee in the other place, a few months later
issued a report echoing the Auditor General's concerns. Yet, since 1999, a
further $6billion has gone out of the door for new foundations and agencies,
without any real thought to proper governance and parliamentary oversight.
I remember, during Mr.C. D. Howe's time, we talked about millions as peanuts,
now billions are peanuts. Could the government leader advise the Senate as to
why $6 billion has been given to arm's length agencies since 1999 without any
attempt to address the serious deficiencies found by the Auditor General?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
first, we have somewhat of a philosophical difference. The government has used
foundations. The opposition has consistently objected to those foundations. I do
not expect that that philosophical debate will be resolved this afternoon in
However, the honourable senator fails to make note of the Auditor General's
acknowledgement that the government has made improvements in the governance
structures and accountability of the arm's length arrangements in the most
recent foundations that have been established. Does that mean we do not have to
reach for more accountability? Absolutely not. There is still room for
improvement in accountability, and I can assure honourable senators that the
government is examining that.
Senator Bolduc: What bothers me a bit is that the Auditor General said
the following of the government response. The government said we will do
something about it. The French version of the report has a sentence that the
minister might be interested in reading. I quote:
The government recognizes the need to improve a certain number of elements
from the governing framework, but it does not specify, in its response, to
what extent it agrees or disagrees with most of our comments and
recommendations to implement these elements in practical terms.
The Auditor General said in another paragraph:
1.5 Parliament is not receiving reports on independent, broad-scope audits
that examine more than the financial statements of delegated arrangements,
including compliance with authorities, propriety, and value for money. With a
few exceptions, Parliament's auditor should be appointed as the external
auditor of existing foundations and any created in the future, to provide
assurance that they are exercising sound control of the significant public
resources and authorities entrusted to them.
Indeed, not only does the Auditor General not audit these funds but also, in
many cases, they are not even scrutinized by the sponsoring department once the
money has gone out the door. Will the government respect this specific
recommendation and put the Auditor General in a position to provide Parliament
and the public with assurances that funds advanced to these agencies are spent
with prudence and for the purposes for which they were intended?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator
for his question. The honourable senator will acknowledge that modifications
were made in those foundations that received their money in the December2001
budget. Those changes and modifications were necessary to strengthen the
accountability of those foundations, and I think that was well recognized on
both sides of the chamber.
I want to assure the honourable senator that similar improvements will be
made to the funding arrangements of the other older foundations. This is how we
will respond to the way in which the Auditor General has spoken about the
As to the honourable senator's specific question on whether the Auditor
General's office is the only one that can provide a form of auditing for these
foundations, the honourable senator and I have a philosophical disagreement
because, I think, there are external auditors who can perform that function very
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table two delayed responses. The first is in
response to a question raised by Honourable Senator Nolin on March 19, 2002,
concerning Canada Post and official languages, and the second is in response to
a question raised by Honourable Senator LeBreton on March 19, 2002, concerning
the Marketed Health Products Directorate of Health Canada.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin on March 19,
As a federal Crown corporation, Canada Post is subject to the Official
Languages Act and is fully committed to ensure that the workplace is conducive
to the use of both official languages in bilingual regions in Canada.
In the province of New Brunswick, Canada Post has taken measures to
maintain a supportive work environment. Jointly with the Office of the
Commissioner of Official Languages, the Corporation held information sessions
for all employees to increase awareness of their rights and obligations with
respect to language of work.
Canada Post also took steps to ensure that all employee communications and
work instruments are available to employees in their preferred official
Canada Post will continue to work diligently to ensure full respect of
employees' language rights.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Marjory LeBreton on March 19, 2002)
The new Marketed Health Products Directorate responsible for post-marketing
surveillance will have a direct reporting relationship with the Assistant
Deputy Minister of Health Canada's Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB).
This change establishes an organization within HPFB focused on post-market
surveillance of marketed health products and demonstrates the strengthening of
this work within the Department.
The new Marketed Health Products Directorate will be responsible for
post-approval surveillance and assessment of marketed health products. This
- food interactions with other health products;
- medical devices;
- medication incident/error;
- natural health products;
- vaccines; and,
- veterinary health products.
As part of its responsibility to assess and coordinate the response to
marketed health product safety matters, the Directorate will continue the
Department's work on a range of activities including:
- monitoring and collecting adverse event and medication incident data;
- reviewing and analysing marketed health product safety data;
- identifying safety hazards;
- conducting risk/benefit assessments;
- communicating product related risks to health care professionals and
the public; and,
- measuring the effectiveness of marketed products
The new Directorate will work towards assuring that HPFB programs take a
harmonized approach across a range of health product lines to monitoring,
assessing and intervening. Appropriate linkages with the pre-market review
bureaux will also be maintained. It will cooperate and communicate closely
with the other Health Canada Directorates, Offices and Regions. It will also
contribute to and coordinate risk management activities related to marketed
In addition, increased emphasis on involvement of external scientific and
stakeholder advice and input concerning marketed health product safety and
effectiveness will be implemented to address stakeholder concerns about the
need for increased transparency.
The inspection and compliance function for health products is the
responsibility of the HPFB Inspectorate and is a Branch level organization.
The new Directorate establishes an organization within HPFB focused on post-
market surveillance activities to monitor the risks and benefits of marketed
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I really appreciate the
new way of recognizing senators during Senators' Statements.
Honourable senators know that yesterday— His Honour was not here— I got up
from the first moment but I did not get my chance. I accepted that, given that,
in the old days, His Honour had a tendency to say, "I see there are three
following whom I shall recognize, and after that it will be finished." That did
not happen yesterday. I did not complain; I just made a remark to Senator
Today, His Honour had 11 names on the list. I appreciate that. At least that
is orderly. I was number 11 even though I had given notice yesterday. I can take
"no" for an answer. I do not expect to be recognized every time I feel like
getting up and I do not feel like getting up every day anyway. I would like to
know the rationale for the specific time reserved for Senators Statements. I
assure honourable senators that I will come back here starting tomorrow with a
clock to time the three-minute allocation. I have always said I am ready to
abide by that rule if others do and the same thing goes for Question Period,
three minutes, to give honourable senators many more chances.
What would be His Honour's current rationale for those who make statements?
Who do we tell in advance? Is there a clock kept for those who come first,
second, third or fourth? Until last week, His Honour saw fit to recognize
everyone who got up, and the system worked very well. However, today there was a
list of 11 senators. I was number 11, so I knew that I had no chance, and I abide
by that. Is there a new procedure? I would like to be advised accordingly.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, that is a good question.
Let me give you the Chair's position when dealing with senators' statements. I
usually receive from the Table a list of honourable senators who wish to make a
statement, and it is in a certain order.
That list exists because senators have given notice that they wish to make a
statement. I also receive notice of senators who wish to make statements by
verbal communication to me or by standing in the chamber during Senators'
When the list appears to be longer than the allotted time will accommodate,
it has been my practice — although I do not observe it on every occasion — to read
the list so that senators will know when it is their turn to speak. For those
senators remaining on the list at adjournment, I have tried to ensure that their
names appear at the top of the list for the next sitting. I understand that did
not happen for today's sitting and I will look into it.
Honourable senators, I also rise to present the list when there are senators
standing during Senators' Statements because that indicates to me that they do
not know whether their names are on the list. As a courtesy to those senators,
the Chair should read the list.
There is no hard and fast practice as to the orderliness of the way in which
the Chair proceeds.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I did not ask to speak but
I would like to respond to some of His Honour's comments.
This is the first time that I have heard of a list. I do not believe that the
Rules of the Senate provide for a list or even for notice. The Chair
simply recognizes honourable senators rising in their places wishing to read
The Speaker's exercise of discretion is such that there is recognition of the
first senator on his or her feet. That has been the standard practice. I can
certainly appreciate His Honour's position and I sympathize with him. When there
are many senators rising, it would be a convenient practice to proceed on the
basis of the list. However, that is a new approach in terms of the standard
practices of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I appreciate the honourable senator's comments.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I had not intended to
speak, but since Senator Prud'homme raised the issue and since today you seemed
to be much more strict on the use of time, I would like to know if you will
deduct, from the time allotted during Senators' Statements and Question Period,
the time that you take to read the list or fulfil your duties as Speaker?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I do not intend to comment
on Question Period, because that issue has not been raised. The matter of order
that Senator Prud'homme raised was in respect of Senators' Statements. I
appreciate input from all honourable senators.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to introduce
the pages who are visiting the Senate today from the House of Commons. Ms Megan
Hayduk of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, is studying at the Faculty of Arts of the
University of Ottawa, and Ms Vanessa Cranston of Waverly, Nova Scotia, is
studying communications at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ottawa.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons returning Bill C-33, respecting the water
resources of Nunavut and the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal and to make
consequential amendments to other acts, to acquaint the Senate that the House of
Commons has agreed to the amendment made by the Senate to this bill, without
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Graham, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Pépin, for the third reading of Bill C-35,
to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, while Bill C-35 was the
subject of only two days of hearings in the Foreign Affairs Committee, I believe
the evidence we received from both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and
from Amnesty International raised significant issues in respect of the propriety
of this legislation.
Bill C-35's focus is the specific delineation of police powers during
international meetings and broadening the means by which persons forming part of
the foreign delegations attending meetings in Canada may enter Canada and
receive diplomatic immunity. This bill must be placed in a contemporary context.
We have had experience in the last year, in Ottawa, with an attempt to abuse
diplomatic immunity in relation to impaired driving by a Russian diplomat.
Currently, a Japanese diplomat here in Ottawa is under investigation for drunk
driving after a crash on March23 that narrowly missed a carload of teenagers.
Honourable senators, we have the context of the interim and final reports of
the APEC Inquiry, both of which deal with the issue of undue influence being
exerted on the RCMP by the Prime Minister's Office during meetings of
international heads of state. This interference led directly to protesters
having little or no access to those delegates attending the APEC meeting in
Vancouver. We have the recommendation by Mr.Justice Hughes in his interim report
on the APEC incidents that states:
When the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is called upon in future to police
public order events, the leadership of the force should ensure that:
Generous opportunity will be afforded for peaceful protesters to see and be
seen in their protest activities by guests to the event; and
No attempt will be made to use a university campus as the venue for an
event where delegates are to be sequestered and protected from visible and
audible signs of dissent.
Honourable senators, Bill C-35 must be seen in the context of the fact that
the G8 meeting this summer will take place outside Calgary, Alberta, in
Kananaskis. I will refrain from commenting on the fact that crucial security
information for this conference appeared in The Globe and Mail last week
because that is a topic for discussion at another time.
In the hearings before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and the
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, those who questioned the efficacy of Bill C-35
concentrated on three main areas: the power given to the RCMP to limit public
access to certain areas during international conference; the extension of
diplomatic immunity to those representing non-treaty organizations who are
meeting in Canada; and the change in the method by which the people in these
delegations who might not otherwise be admitted to Canada can gain entry to
Canada through a blanket approval obtained by Order in Council.
Professor Wesley Pue of the University of British Columbia, who gave evidence
in the other place, and Mr. Allan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties
Association, commented in a negative fashion on these powers given to the RCMP.
Professor Pue, who has been particularly critical of the government's and the
RCMP's lack of response to the APEC inquiry report, believes that this clause
will legitimize the role of the RCMP during the APEC meetings.
Mr.Borovoy is concerned that the RCMP should not, on its own, determine the
limitation of access by the public and by legitimate protesters to those
attending international meetings. He believes that the minister in charge should
be making the decisions in respect of the restriction of public access. I might
be inclined to agree, were it not for our experience with the office of this
Prime Minister and his interference with policing at APEC, as so graphically
described in the APEC inquiry report.
The interference of Jean Carle, the Prime Minister's personal representative,
in every aspect of security at APEC, especially his attempt to delineate an area
to which protestors would not have access, undermines Mr.Borovoy's conclusions.
Also, it is not good enough to respond, as did the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies. While it may apply to protect
freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, it requires time and money to
bring the full weight of the Charter to bear through intervention in the courts.
By the time we determine how the Charter can apply to protect the rights of
protesters, the event may very well have been held and the foreign diplomats
This whole area of legitimate protest at international events, policing
powers and the possibility of political interference is one with which we as
parliamentarians should be especially concerned.
The other aspects of this bill, raised in the appearance of Amnesty
International before the Foreign Affairs Committee, deal with who gets into
Canada, their immunity from prosecution while in Canada and the method by which
they gain entry. Only time will tell whether people or groups will gain entry
into Canada who might not have had Bill C-35 not been passed. Only time will
tell whether diplomatic immunity will be abused by those who enter Canada under
the provisions of Bill C-35.
The only way we will know if there are abuses under Bill C-35 is to require a
full annual report to Parliament by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on all
aspects of the operation of this bill. Only then will we be able to determine if
people who would have possibly been denied a ministerial permit to gain entry
were able to gain entry to Canada under the Order in Council blanket approval
method set out in Bill C-35.
Concern was expressed by Amnesty International that under this new regime
those who had committed or at least were accused of committing crimes against
humanity could enter Canada. A full report on the operation of Bill C-35 should
give us this type of information. Are we allowing potential terrorists into
Canada, as suggested by Amnesty International, under the guise of being
participants at international meetings?
Honourable senators, Bill C-35 is part of a trilogy of bills introduced by
this government, after September 11 last year, that have the potential to give
increased powers to the state and to the police. It is our role as
parliamentarians to ensure that the use of these powers is monitored and that
these powers are not abused. If the monitoring activity is to be carried out
effectively, we need information.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill C-35 be not now read a third time but that it be amended,
(a) on page 8, by adding after line 35, the following:
"9. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 13:
13.1 The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall, as soon as possible
after the end of each fiscal year, cause a report to be prepared on the
administration and enforcement of this Act for that year and shall cause the
report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first
fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives
(b) on pages 8 and 9, by renumbering clauses 9 and 10 as clauses 10
and 11 and any cross-references thereto accordingly.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion in amendment?
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will those honourable senators in favour of the
motion in amendment please say "yea"?
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will those honourable senators opposed to the
motion in amendment please say "nay"?
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "nays" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators.
Honourable senators, is there an agreement on a time for the bells to ring?
Hon. Bill Rompkey: If we are deferring the vote to tomorrow, I suggest
that we set an early time. Perhaps 2:30 p.m. is acceptable to honourable
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it agreed that the vote
on this amendment will take place at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow with a 15-minute bell?
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: On a point of order, I have not heard and I
have not received a French text of that amendment. It is important that we do
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, as is the practice, I have
read the amendment. If it is the wish of the chamber, I can read it in French,
although at this particular stage I have put the question. A vote is called for
and the amendment will be distributed in both languages, having just been
received by the Chair. As a matter of courtesy, I can read it now, or we can
distribute in the two languages, as is our custom.
The Hon. the Speaker: I wish to take this opportunity to draw the
attention of honourable senators to the presence in our gallery of guests from
the Russian Federation: Tatiana Yakovleva and Alexander Koval of the State Duma;
Oleg Saenco of the Office of Prime Minister Kasyanov; and Tatiana Melnickova of
the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice
of April 16, 2002, moved:
That the Senate take note of the 20th anniversary of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
She said: Honourable senators, I am delighted to speak in this debate on the
twentieth anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unlike many in this
chamber, I was not engaged in a direct way in the development of the Charter,
and I know that some of them will speak, and will speak most eloquently, later
in this debate.
The question I would ask each and every senator in this chamber is: What were
you doing in the early 1980s as the Charter was being evolved? Were you talking
about it? Were you discussing it? Did you know what it meant? Did you know what
they were trying to do? Some can say that very clearly; others perhaps not so
I want to reminisce personally today about what I was doing during those
particular years. In 1981 and 1982, I was a high school history teacher,
actively involved in the Liberal Party in Manitoba and proud to call myself a
feminist. Therefore, while the entire Charter was of interest, the fight for
section 15, the equality rights provision of all Canadians, but particularly
women, was a battle in which I was actively engaged.
For me, the Charter is the most important achievement of the last 20 years. I
was very proud of the Bill of Rights of 1960 that was championed by the
Diefenbaker government. However, having been a student of not only Canadian but
also American history, I recognized its limitations as a simple piece of
legislation and not as an entrenched document and part of our fundamental law,
as was the case of the Bill of Rights in the United States. Therefore, the
entrenching of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canada Act represented
a symbol of our coming of age to me.
My concern in 1982 was that Canadians, for the most part, would ignore this
milestone because they would not know of the fundamental new direction that our
nation was taking. Therefore, I believed I needed to do something personally, to
teach Canadians about their new Charter.
To some degree, I must confess, my students became my guinea pigs. My
experience with students, and I think Senator Cochrane will share that, is that
they are very forgiving of teachers with pet projects, if their teachers are
enthusiastic about that pet project and have earned their respect.
I went about my business obtaining 25 copies of the new Charter. I had the
copies laminated so that they would not become all dog-eared while we went
through this discussion in class. We read and discussed the Charter together.
Honourable senators, I shall refrain from reading the entire Charter to you
this afternoon; however, I would like to set the stage for you. My students were
in the ninth grade. They were
14- and 15-year-olds, a mix of boys and girls, many of Metis origin, and filled
with the lack of attention that often occurs at this level when academic
endeavours frequently take second place to raging hormones and the concept of
socialization. It was in that atmosphere that we began our study.
I told my students that everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a)
freedom of conscience and religion, (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and
expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c)
freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association. Our discussion
I was asked many questions. Does freedom of association mean that I can have
friends even if my parents do not like them? Does freedom of religion mean that
I can have a different religion than my parents? Does freedom of thought mean
that I can disagree with you — that is, me, the teacher — and not lose points
for it on the next test? Does freedom of assembly mean that I can gather with my
friends in the front of the 7-Eleven Food Store without being harassed by
Clearly, their questions were the expression of a world seen through the eyes
of a teenager. However, the discussions were thoughtful, and the students became
The section on democratic rights and mobility rights were not as easy to deal
with nor as interesting to the students.
However, when we began to discuss legal rights, the discussion was
scintillating. Young people in this country often feel discriminated against.
They resist authority. That is a natural activity of most teenagers, and they
see the police as the most powerful of authority figures. Therefore, I invited a
local police officer to meet with them. They described the law through his eyes,
and they discussed it through his eyes, and then they discussed it through their
eyes. They did find common ground.
The equality rights section was clearly applauded by the young girls in the
class, but the boys felt a little bit threatened. The visible minority members
of the class were fascinated that there was a clear recognition that the
discrimination that many had experienced was not only wrong but also now was
against their Constitution.
It is necessary to remember that, at the time of this study, Manitoba was
engaged in the French-language debate. Therefore, the sections on official
languages and minority language education rights came under careful scrutiny.
Many of my students in the town of St.Norbert were francophones. Most did not
speak French, however, although many of their parents and grandparents did.
Finally, I think they understood why they had rights as francophones living
outside of the province of Quebec and exactly what those rights were. The others
in the class who did not have that background accepted it, although I have to
say, sometimes grudgingly.
And so our study ended. Did they learn what I hoped they would learn and
would they remember it beyond the test day? I will never know for sure, as
teachers never do.
My only satisfaction came from the comments from students when I resigned
after being elected leader of the Liberal Party in Manitoba a year and a bit
later. Their comment was: "We will miss you because you made our history
interesting." For all teachers, that is the ultimate compliment.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin: Honourable senators, the twentieth
anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is worthy of note.
According to former Chief Justice Dickson, it is the major event in our
constitutional history since the adoption of federalism in 1867.
I have decided to make a dozen very brief observations on the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I will begin by saying that it would be a mistake to limit debate to the
Supreme Court. Parliament and the Government of Canada, and the parliaments and
governments of each of the provinces, are also involved. They must keep the
Charter in mind as they go about their duties.
As a legislator, I have seen firsthand the relations that must exist between
the legislative and judicial arms. A certain "dialogue" has arisen between the
two, a dialogue which is not over and which must continue. It is true that a
legislator may be tempted in difficult cases not to follow his or her duty
through to the end and to leave the problem to the courts. In my view, a
legislator must never be afraid to legislate. If the issue is very difficult, it
will end up before the courts, but at least the legislative arm will have done
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms can co-exist with federalism.
Courts of justice are now accustomed to verifying whether legislation respects
the division of powers and the Charter. We have a number of Supreme Court
decisions concerning the constitutionality of legislation in both regards at the
The court has handed down 450 Charter rulings in 20 years. The division of
powers has also given rise to several hundreds of rulings of the Supreme Court
and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council between 1880 and 1954, but this
was over a much longer period.
In our system, the Constitution is supreme. This must be affirmed and the
Constitution does just that. It is the law of laws. Now all we have to do is
Of course the Supreme Court has a very important role to play. The
legislative and the executive branches must also interpret the Charter before
they act. The three branches of government, the legislative, the executive and
the judiciary, must establish a certain harmony in applying the Charter.
Canada is a country that has entrenched the equality of men and women with
respect to rights and freedoms more solidly in its constitution than any other
country. Section 28 of the Charter establishes that the rights and freedoms
apply equally to men and women, notwithstanding any other provision of the
In a September 1985 interview, given to the Southam News Agency, Chief
Justice Dickson stated that the Supreme Court, based on individual Charter
cases, would build a "cathedral" of jurisprudence.
The Charter is entrenched in our Constitution, as is the case in the United
States with the Bill of Rights, which Thomas Jefferson, U.S. ambassador
to France at the time, had suggested to his friend James Madison, secretary of
the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Some Canadians have said
that there has not been an in-depth debate on the scope of the constitutional
charter. They regret that the public did not get the opportunity to express
itself. This is a mistake. This overlooks the work of the Hays-Joyal
parliamentary committee, which sat for four and a half months and did very good
work; it also overlooks the debate over the Drybones and Lavell
decisions, and the Lovelace case that followed at the United Nations. The
debate lasted for years.
Today, when asked about the 1982 Charter, a vast majority of Canadians
support it: 91percent in Quebec and 88percent across all of Canada.
We often hear that interpreting a constitution is as important as its
wording. Justice Louis-Philippe Pigeon often wrote this in his work, and in the
United States, Justice Hughes went as far as saying that the Constitution is
what judges say it is.
The Constitution is what the judges say it is. I know that we could have a
long debate on this. However, I agree with Mr.Justice Pigeon that the
interpretation of the Constitution and the interpretation of the Charter, which
is at the heart of the Constitution, is as important as the drafting of the
The judges overall showed reserve. They brought down
450 judgments. Some 40 or so statutes or provisions within statutes were
declared unconstitutional, or about 10 per cent. That cannot be described as
activism. It is more a form of judiciary dynamism, having enabled the Supreme
Court of Canada to determine the scope of the Charter and to bring some new life
into its interpretation.
Former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer was fond of differentiating between
"activism" and "dynamism." He did so in his appearance before the Senate
Committee on Human Rights on Monday, April 15, 2002, when he clearly
distinguished between a Charter with an activist interpretation and one with a
I am very much in favour of a Charter of Rights. It is necessary in a true
democracy, as has been said by many. Montesquieu said that power should be
checked by power.
In conclusion, I would describe the century through which we have just lived
as a violent one, probably the most violent of all centuries. Fortunately,
however, it was also the century of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in
1948 and of many international instruments relating to rights and freedoms. The
20th century was also a century of rights charters, which compensates for its
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, I have a question for the
Honourable Senator Beaudoin, if he would agree to respond to one.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will
Honourable Senator Beaudoin accept a question?
Senator Beaudoin: Yes.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I very much welcome the remarks
of Senator Beaudoin. I wish to ask him a question to which he may be uniquely
able to respond.
As Senator Beaudoin knows, the living tree doctrine of the Constitution
predated the Charter. In the last day or two, Senator Beaudoin may have noticed,
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin referred to the living tree doctrine as
applying to the Charter. Is that a doctrine that the honourable senator believes
is well established in Canadian constitutional practice?
Senator Beaudoin: The living tree doctrine, as established in 1930, is
certainly a very good thing. It is a good doctrine. It was created by the Privy
Council at the time of the division of powers between the provinces and the
federal government. It is still in place.
However, in my opinion, it is not enough because, in 1867, we adopted the
British system. We stipulated in the Constitution that our Constitution is like
the British Constitution. Of course, in addition, we have federalism, which is
very important. Evolution is great, and we are all in favour of evolution.
Because of that argument, in 1929, the Famous Five won their case before the
British Privy Council, and now the word "person" includes women. It was
evolution. We need more than that.
Saskatchewan passed a Bill of Rights in 1947. The Diefenbaker government
passed a quasi-constitutional Bill of Rights because he was not able to have the
consent of the provinces and the federal authority. We had the Drybones
case but it was an isolated one. We had the Lavell case, which was a
terrible case in my opinion because it obviously was discrimination against
women. Madam Lovelace won that case before the United Nations, and of course it
precipitated the adoption of a real constitutional Charter of Rights binding, in
all cases, all governments and all Parliaments. Therefore, to me, the living
tree is a good one. The tree is still standing and growing. It must be very tall
by now. We made a very good decision when we finally entrenched a constitutional
Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, it is always with some
trepidation that I rise to comment on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms since I
am not a lawyer. Following someone like Senator Beaudoin puts me somewhat ill at
ease. A few minutes ago Senator Beaudoin talked about what the framers thought
they were doing at the time and how it is equally as important as the words in
the Charter. My usual response to that comment has been that a Constitution is
simply a political document that we have asked lawyers to put in legal language,
as opposed to a deeply-thought-out legal document, from the legal perspective.
Honourable senators, it was 20 years ago today, some
30 or 40yards from here, at the centre of Parliament Hill, at the foot of the
main steps, following the signing of the Charter by both Her Majesty the Queen
and the Prime Minister, that the Prime Minister made a few remarks to the
assembled throng who, in the process, were getting soaking wet. Many of you will
recall that it was about as miserable an April day as one can have. He made two
observations in terms of explaining why we were introducing the Charter: first,
to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority; and, second, to remove
the fear of minorities as to what the majority would or, more likely, would not
do for them. These were the goals of the Charter.
Honourable senators, I will make some comments in a few minutes to indicate
why I think these goals have been reasonably well met, although there is more to
do. It is certainly true that Canadians believe they have been met. I never
cease to be amazed by the level of support that the Charter gains from
Canadians. Recent polls have shown that the numbers still run in the
88 per cent range.
At the time when the Charter was proclaimed and, indeed, if one goes back to
the year before that when the federal and provincial governments were fighting
continuously over whether or not there would be a Charter, it was interesting to
note that in every single province of Canada, including Quebec, 80 per cent or
more of the population were in favour of the Charter. That is one reason— and I
say this parenthetically— why a number of the premiers were reluctant to have a
referendum in which they would be opposing the Charter.
The reality is that the popularity of the Charter at the time of its
proclamation and its popularity 20 years later has not abated, nor has the image
of the judiciary, in spite of what one hears about judicial activism. The fact
is that the support for the judiciary has never been stronger. On any question
which essentially asks, "Who do you trust more, judges or politicians, judges or
governments, the Supreme Court, provincial legislatures or the federal
Parliament?", the support for the judiciary runs well over 70 per cent versus
under 30 per cent for the elected people. It is very clear that Canadians are
strongly supportive of the Charter and that it has become part of the Canadian
identity, the Canadian culture.
I want to point out something that has frustrated me over the years. While we
hear all the comments and criticisms about judicial activism and judges taking
power that they were not given, et cetera, frankly, nothing could be farther
from the truth. First, if you go back to the two observations as to the purpose
of the Charter, which are to protect minorities, how else could that be done if
judges were not to use power to exercise the protective right?
That notion was clearly present from the beginning, that judges would have
the power to do things, to overturn legislation and so on, if that was what was
required. That issue was debated ad nauseam in the closed-door meetings of first
ministers, which took place over the course of the year leading up to the
ultimate agreement on November5, 1981. The issue of whether or not there should
be a Charter and the relationship between the courts and elected officials was
very clearly debated.
It was interesting that two of the premiers were particularly articulate in
arguing against the Charter on the grounds that it would usurp the power that
ought to rest with elected officials. These two premiers were Sterling Lyon, the
Progressive ConservativePremier of Manitoba, and Allan Blakeney, the NDP Premier
of Saskatchewan. They argued the same point from two totally different
Premier Sterling Lyon's concern was that the courts would be far too
progressive and would have a tendency to give people rights that they were not
intended to have. Indeed, just to show you that his mind has not changed much,
in a recent interview he is quoted as saying the following:
We weren't just being ill-tempered. It all goes back to a grade school
understanding of the hierarchy of power in a parliamentary system. I said time
and time again to the Prime Minister, "You're taking power from Parliament,
the representatives of the people, and giving it to nine people. What you are
doingis importing an alien appendage into our parliamentary system."
That is a statement Sterling Lyon made in an interview published a week or so
ago. Interestingly enough, his big concern was that the courts would be too
On the other hand, Premier Allan Blakeney of Saskatchewan was concerned that
the courts would throw out progressive social legislation. It is often forgotten
that, when we signed that agreement on November5, 1981, the so-called "equality
rights" clause was not included. It was not included because Premier Blakeney
refused to support it. We wanted to get all nine provinces— clearly we would not
get Quebec— and the federal government to agree. The one clause in the Charter
that Premier Blakeney objected to, and therefore it was not included in that
original signed agreement, was the equality rights clause.
Many of us were almost incredulous at the notion that an NDPpremier would
oppose equality rights. The reason for his opposition, as he gave it, was that
he thought the courts would interpret equality rights far too narrowly.
Subsequently, the pressure on him over the following 48 hours was such that he
changed his mind, and therefore the equality rights section was included.
In those debates, from both the right and the left, the issue of what power
should be given to the court and how the court would exercise that power was
hotly debated and clearly articulated by people who had thought through the
issues. Therefore, while it is legitimate at this point in time in history to
decry the Charter in the sense of the supremacy it has taken away, in some ways,
from elected institutions, it is absolutely wrong to criticize the court for in
some sense usurping power that no one ever intended they would have. We
absolutely knew at the time the power that they were being given and, indeed,
what they have done is exercised that power. While I will totally accept that
one may not like the structure of the Charter, it seems to me to be wrong to
attack the judges for using power that we knew they were being given.
Let me make an observation about how effective the Charter has been in
protecting minority rights. Looking at some of the major decisions over the last
several years, one sees the case of the R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd, which
was essentially a religious freedom case that tossed out the federal Lord's Day
Act. I look at the so-called Morgentaler decision and the decision of
Vriendv.Alberta in which Mr. Vriend was fired by a small Christian college
in Edmonton. He was prevented from using the Alberta Rights Commission to fight
his firing. However, the Supreme Court ultimately read into the Alberta Human
Rights Act that gay rights should be on the list of rights that are protected.
We have a similar situation in the case of M. v. H., which was in respect
of a lesbian couple and whether the rights to alimony and the division of
property should apply. Of course, there was the case involving Donald Marshall
in which Aboriginal treaty rights were protected.
Honourable senators, we need to ask ourselves whether we really believe that
the politicians of the day would have weighed in on those cases to support the
minorities. In every case, the minority position was relatively unpopular. For
instance, "no Sunday shopping" laws were still popular, and there was no swell
of support 15 years ago for gay and lesbian rights. Even today, there is not as
much support for Aboriginal rights as many of us believe there should be. If one
of the objectives of the Charter was to protect minority rights from the
so-called tyranny of the majority, that has been accomplished by examining 10 or
15 of the major cases that the Supreme Court has ruled upon.
The second observation one must make about the Charter is that it is one of
those wonderfully classic political compromises that only Canadians seem to be
capable of pulling off. At the time, there was real concern about the Charter
becoming far too rigidly interpreted, not having enough flexibility and not
being able to use the "living tree" view of the world. Section1 of the Charter
states that we have rights, which is what the rest of the Charter says, but
those rights must be just and reasonable within the nature of a free and
democratic society. In other words, they are not absolute rights or extreme
rights; they are rights that have some element of boundaries to them. Therefore,
judges are not actually bound by an absolute literal interpretation of the
rights because the rights must be taken in the context of section1.
Early on, the federal government sent lawyers to court to argue that they are
not required to take into account the intent of the framers of the document.
Parenthetically, it is interesting that people, after the fact and although they
had never participated in the negotiations at all, felt that they were able to
go to court to state that they clearly understood the intent of the framers of
the document. In any event, it was fortunate that the court decided that that is
somewhat irrelevant. At any rate, section1 is part of the Canadian compromise
because it does not make the rights absolute; rather, it puts some constraints
Second, we have the notwithstanding clause, which is interesting because it
is effectively the last item agreed to before consensus. When the agreement was
announced, the left absolutely decried the notwithstanding clause on the grounds
that it would be used repeatedly by all to prevent any real progress and, in
effect, take away the real value of the Charter. Many of us involved in the
negotiations had a somewhat different view: The political risk to any government
that invoked the notwithstanding clause to supersede the power of the Charter
would be such that very few governments would be prepared to take that risk. The
Charter was so popular that taking away the rights, which is how that would be
perceived, would be extremely unpopular. Looking back 20 years, the reality is
that that is exactly what happened, except for the Péquiste governments in
Quebec that used it routinely as a sign of protest against the Charter. The
notwithstanding clause has only been used once on a piece of labour legislation
in Saskatchewan, and it was agreed after the fact that it need not have been
used at all.
Honourable senators, all of the people who thought that the notwithstanding
clause would do away with some of the real benefits of the Charter have been
shown to be absolutely wrong. Indeed, I would argue, after 20 years, that the
difficulty of any government using the notwithstanding clause is now a virtual
political impossibility. I would argue that given those two elements — section 1
and the notwithstanding clause — the impact of the Charter in that sense has
been profound on minority rights and that it has been a classic Canadian
One hears arguments today that many social and economic rights, such as
affordable housing, guaranteed annual income and adequate healthcare, should
have been included in the Charter
20 years ago. The reality is that those issues were explicitly discussed and
rejected by all of the governments of the day. It was believed that social
programs were not part of any legal claim under the Charter and should not be
part of any legal claim under the Charter. That issue, just as the issue of
whether we should have a Charter at all, was thoroughly discussed.
In light of the work being done by the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology, it is interesting to observe what is happening
in the area of health care with respect to the Charter. There are a number of
cases working their way through the courts that will ultimately lead to the
Supreme Court ruling on the issue of whether reasonable, timely access to health
care is a right guaranteed under section7 of the Charter, which guarantees life,
liberty and the security of the person. As an example, one case has already been
heard at Trial Division in the province of Quebec, in which an individual in
Quebec was not able to obtain a heart bypass in what he regarded as adequate
time. Therefore, he travelled to England where he had the procedure done and
billed the provincial government, which refused to pay. When the court heard the
case, they ordered the provincial government to pay on the grounds that there
was a threat to both the individual's life and the security of the person— if
one takes good health as part of the security of the person — as a result of the
government not providing timely adequate health care given the fact that the
government was a monopoly supplier.
In the last report of the Social Affairs Committee entitled "Issues and
Options," we asked: Is it just and reasonable that someone should be denied the
right to purchase the service if they want to do so? That is the other side of
the coin. With Senator Beaudoin's help, the committee had an interesting
discussion with some constitutional lawyers, including Senator Beaudoin, on the
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
Honourable Senator Kirby, I apologize for the interruption, but your time has
Honourable senators, is leave granted to allow Senator Kirby to continue?
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): For one
Senator Kirby: That issue will frequently come before the courts over
the next few years.
Honourable senators, I should like to leave you with two thoughts on this
issue, both of which stem from the closed-door portion of the meetings of the
first ministers, and which have always struck me as most interesting responses
to the question about judicial activism and the role of the courts. The first is
from the first minister who said the following: "Given how poorly Canadian
politicians have performed on occasion with respect to protecting individual
rights and freedoms, how can judges possibly do worse?" That is an interesting
and poignant statement that I have often reflected on over the years.
The second is a statement that was made by Prime Minister Trudeau in those
closed-door sessions. He asked one of the premiers opposed to the Charter the
following question: "Why shouldn't the minority who is adversely affected be
able to call government and legislatures to account in front of the courts?"
Honourable senators, if you reflect on those two questions, you will begin to
understand why, certainly in my view, the Charter of Rights is probably the
single most significant legislative achievement that Canada has made in my
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, it is Wednesday, when we normally endeavour to end the sitting at
around 3:30 p.m. in order to allow the committees to sit. Today we find
ourselves involved in a very important debate in which a number of senators wish
to take part. Some committees will be hearing witnesses.
With leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:
That the Senate committees scheduled to sit today have power to sit while
the Senate is sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Sharon Carstaris (Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice
of April 16, 2002, moved:
That the Senate take note of the 20th anniversary of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Hon. Nicholas W. Taylor: Your Honour, I had a question to ask of
Senator Beaudoin, but I could not get your attention.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am
sorry. Senator Beaudoin's time has expired and so has Senator Kirby's.
Senator Taylor: Your Honour, one leaves the chamber and you will not
recognize me to ask a question. It is a short question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am
sorry, but I cannot give permission.
Senator Taylor: Can I appeal?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I will
recognize the Honourable Senator Andreychuk.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I take this
opportunity, with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not to go into
detail about the Charter and its consequences, but rather to take this
opportunity to celebrate that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was, in fact,
entrenched in our law.
Twenty years ago, on April17, 1982, Parliament was witness to an event that
was to substantially shape the future of Canada's legal system and, more
generally, Canadian society itself. When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II signed a
proclamation to enact the Constitution Act, 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms was born.
In celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Charter, we pay tribute to
this fundamental instrument by recognizing that it is important to Canadians and
particularly individual Canadians. The people of this country strongly believe
in our Charter. We are all no doubt familiar with the recent opinion poll that
reveals that three quarters of Canadians believe that individual rights and
freedoms are better protected under the Charter than they were before it was
enacted. Charter rights are now seen by the majority of Canadians as basic
rights from which we cannot stray.
As former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer so aptly expressed at a recent meeting
of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights: "The Charter has contributed
to the elaboration and improvement of the human rights culture that exists in
Canada." This observation is bolstered by the support that Canadians give to the
Charter. In celebrating its twentieth anniversary, we realize that the Charter
is not a static instrument, nor is it the only human rights instrument that is
available to Canadians or should be available to Canadians in the future. The
scores of Charter-related court decisions that have shaped the Canadian legal
landscape over the past two decades are tangible proof of its dynamic nature.
In celebration of the Charter's twentieth anniversary, the Standing Senate
Committee on Human Rights held a round table this Monday, April 15, in which
distinguished experts shared their ideas concerning the role of Parliament in
dealing with the issues of human rights and how the Charter has affected this
role. Some very interesting ideas came out of this meeting, and I would commend
the minutes of the standing committee to all members of this chamber. If
honourable senators wish to know the consequences of Canadians having the
Charter for 20 years, I would commend the committee evidence given by these
expert witnesses and also the evidence of senators who contributed to this round
table. We learned that the Charter is not just a legal document; it resonates
throughout Canada with social and political consequences.
Some interesting ideas came out of that meeting. One of the panellists,
Professor MacKay, President and Vice-Chancellor of Mount Allison University,
observed as follows:
...the dialogue between the courts and legislators on Charter issues has
been healthy for producing better legislation.
Our role as parliamentarians and partners in the evolving relationship with
the Charter therefore cannot be ignored.
What does the Charter's maturing process hold in store for the future, and in
an increasingly borderless world. What effect will globalization have on the
future evolution of the Charter? We can only hazard a guess as to what the
answers to such questions may be.
One area that represents a particularly interesting challenge to the
evolution of the Charter concerns the Charter and Canada's international
obligations. For example, to what extent will the Charter be a tool for
implementing Canada's international obligations? The Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms represents fundamental values shared by the people of Canada. The
challenge for parliamentarians is to intergrate, into their thinking and
actions, the culture of human rights in their legislative constituency and
public work. That is the challenge of the Charter for the next 20 years.
The courts have set the framework for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As
former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer said, they dusted off some of the cobwebs
still around at the time of the Charter and set a framework for us to think
about Charter issues.
Honourable senators, the Charter will rest not only with the courts because
it does not speak to the courts alone. It speaks to parliamentarians at both the
federal and provincial level. Parliamentarians must take the Charter into
account, not after the fact by court analysis, but as a tool before we pass
legislation. We must integrate into our work the need to reflect upon what the
Charter says about the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
Until parliamentarians take the Charter into account as the essence and the
essential fabric of our work, the Charter will not resonate fully with
Canadians. Therefore, I look to this chamber to follow the work of the Standing
Senate Committee on Human Rights, where we will elaborate on the role of
parliamentarians with respect to human rights. I trust that each and every one
of the parliamentarians in this room will contribute positively to the extension
of the Charter in the next 20 years.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I understand that Senator
Jaffer must be absent from the Senate chamber later and I am prepared to let her
use my time.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, it is my privilege to
participate, today, in the special debate on the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, on the day of its twentieth anniversary since coming into force.
On September 11, 2001, as we watched the second plane strike the South Tower
of the World Trade Center on television, our whole nation went into shock.
People across the country opened their hearts and their doors to welcome
stranded travellers. We all walked in a daze for a few days.
Then there was anger, such anger that anyone who looked like the terrorists
was a suspect. In some parts of our community, there was absolute fear of
reprisal. Why fear reprisal? In part, there was a revival in the country's
memory of the Japanese internment during World War II.
Japanese internment began on December 7, 1941, with the arrests of over 22,000
people of Japanese ethnicity, most of whom made their homes in British Columbia,
and the vast majority of whom were naturalized or native-born Canadians. These
people were rounded up, arrested without cause and their property seized because
of superficial or cultural similarities with the people of Japan. Their fishing
boats and homes — their very livelihoods— were taken from them. Perhaps most
horribly, Japanese- Canadian men were separated from their families and moved
across the country, to a prisoner-of-war camp in Ontario.
It was not until 1949, years after the war had ended and four years after the
surrender of Japan, that most of these people were allowed to return to British
Columbia. They could not, however, return home, as their property had long since
been sold at a fraction of its value.
The question that arises in peoples' minds, especially for those of us who
are members of visible minorities, is this: Could people today be rounded up and
sent to camps as they were in 1941? The answer is "No."
On April7, 1982, the Charter became law. The Charter represents the values of
Canadians, harnessed and put into words that have been embedded in this
country's Constitution. This is significant not only because it gives Canadians
a written expression of what this country stands for upon the world stage, but
also because it means these values will be respected in all the laws of our
Those who have been privileged to serve in this chamber have been greatly
aided by the presence and force of the Charter. The need of Canadians to be
assured that their government will respect their rights and values, even in the
face of great pressure, is well served by the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Under the heading of "Equality Rights" section 15(1) states:
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the
equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination...
Furthermore, it gives all Canadians legal rights to life, liberty and
security of the person. This prevents Canadians from being subjected to any form
of unjustified arbitrary detention, which is exactly what happened to
Japanese-Canadians, as then Prime Minister Mackenzie King acknowledged in 1944
when he said:
It is a fact that no person of Japanese race born in Canada has ever been
charged with any act of sabotage or disloyalty during the years of the war.
Today, we can all stand united as a nation, knowing that, thanks to the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a situation such as the internment of
the Japanese will never again be repeated.
Lessons have been learned from that experience, such as the danger of
assuming that anyone who looks like our enemy becomes our enemy.
Thus it was that, after September 11, most Western democracies moved quickly
to adopt more stringent measures to protect themselves against the exceptional
risks of world terrorism and to protect their way of life.
Canada was no exception, and Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act— then known as Bill
C-36— was drafted to respond effectively to the problem of international
terrorism and the related security concerns. Great pains were taken in the
drafting of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act, and again in ensuing debate on the
bill, to ensure that Canadian ethnic groups were not victimized as Japanese
Canadians were. Our Prime Minister attended many gatherings, including a mosque,
to reassure all Canadians.
Canadians respect the values of harmony and multiculturalism and have learned
to give space to multicultural communities, in which they are free to practice
their religious beliefs without discrimination. Canadians therefore need
assurances that what happened to the Japanese people of this country during the
Second World War cannot be repeated. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures
this will never happen again. Canadians from all walks of life today can
celebrate because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has strengthened our
country. We can all work and play without fear.
Today, we have much to celebrate because of the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms in our great country. As a result of the rights and freedoms today,
minorities are very much a fabric of our country. We are all citizens of our
great country. I thank those who had the vision and strength to create the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the fortitude to have it proclaimed law on
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I wish to participate in this debate on the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. It is important not to hesitate to pose questions as to what the
Charter is and is not. First, today is not the twentieth anniversary of the
coming into force of all sections of the Charter. As honourable senators know,
section 15, alluded to by the honourable senator who spoke before me, has been
in force and effect under the Constitution for only 17 years.
Reference made by other honourable senators to section 33, the
notwithstanding provision, and also section 1, raises for me what I consider to
be a fundamental failing of the Government of Canada and, indeed, the government
of many of the provinces as well. This is not a federal statute that we are
dealing with, nor a provincial statute, but rather a constitutional instrument.
The failing that I speak of in relationship to those two particular sections,
section 1 and section 33 — more particularly
section 33 — is the failure in Canada to provide adequate public education on
the content of our Charter, what it is and what it is not.
The point needs to be underscored — and Senator Kirby alluded to it in his
remarks — that the happy fact of history is that so few governments across Canada
have used section 33 of the Charter, the notwithstanding clause, and the
reticence by governments, legislatures or Parliament to use that section lies in
the fact that the public would not stand for it. We are secure in the knowledge
our Charter rights will not be abrogated by provinces passing laws invoking
section 33 because the public would respond negatively to those legislatures.
However, the government will not receive any response if the Canadian public is
not aware of the content of the substantive rights that are in the Charter and
of the fact that legislatures can pass laws invoking the Charter. Unless one is
a Cartesian and believes we are born with innate ideas, one has to ask where
would we learn about the real nature of our Charter. That will be in our formal
educational system as well as the informal educational system, through trade
unions and other civic organizations across the land.
I believe active Canadian citizenship is terribly important in the system of
governance that we have, and our system does have an enviable record,
notwithstanding many blemishes. It is necessary that we ensure that the Canadian
public understands our Charter values and understands that unique provisions
such as section 33 and section 1 can override them.
With reference to section 1, I draw the attention of honourable senators to
another weakness in our Charter, a weakness which is seen so glaringly when we
compare our constitutional Charter of Rights with the standard that we Canadians
adopted when, with the written consent of every jurisdiction in Canada, Canada
ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That occurred in 1967,
with the written consent of every government in Canada in response to the
request of then Prime Minister Pearson.
During the constitutional preparation years in the late 1970s and early
1980s, I often wondered why we were unsuccessful in getting across the point
that there was a common agreement and common standard, agreed to by all the
jurisdictions, in those two international covenants which have force and effect
in terms of international treaty law for Canadians. Indeed, Canadians
individually and collectively have utilized provisions of the international
Reference was made by Senator Beaudoin to the Lovelace case where,
under the optional protocol, an individual communication was filed, one in which
I had a hand in the drafting, to the United Nations because of section 12(1)(b)
of the Indian Act, which discriminated against Indian women. As we all recall,
that case had a direct tie to the case of Bedard and Laval, who
attempted to achieve Indian rights for Indian women by going to the Supreme
Court of Canada and utilizing the then 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights. The Supreme
Court of Canada decided, in a five to four decision, with the then chief justice
writing the minority opinion, that section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act was
fine because that was what Parliament had decided to do.
The Lovelace case had a tremendous impact on the drafting of our
Charter. Indeed, I recall Sandra Lovelace accompanying a small delegation from
New Brunswick, of which I was a part, to appear before our colleague Senator
Joyal who was a co-chair, along with the father of our honourable Speaker,
Senator Harry Hays, of the joint committee of the House of Commons and the
Senate that heard evidence on the then proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I wish to make a point about the international standard which, frankly,
honourable senators, is far superior, in my opinion, to the standard of human
rights provided for in our Charter. One example is that even in times of
national emergency, when the life of a nation is threatened, there is no
derogation from certain human rights. In our Charter, however, in times of
national emergency, as we saw with the anti-terrorism bill, there are
circumstances when, in the interest of the security of the nation, certain
rights can be abrogated. It was argued by the Minister of Justice and the
proponents of the bill that it was satisfactory that it did not offend the
Charter. It might not offend the Charter, but it would offend the higher
standard found in the international covenants.
In addition to that weakness in our Charter, there is the weakness in some of
the areas that are not covered. There was a great concern at the time, and in
some quarters there continues to be to this day, that property rights are not a
constituent, articulated right in our constitutional Charter.
Honourable senators who have spoken before me have drawn our attention to the
whole area of economic, social and cultural rights. I am one of those who
support the view that we should find a way in which to entrench a charter of
Canadian social rights. The intellectual philosophy of Canadian values that the
Charter presents us provides the foundation upon which, perhaps one day, there
could be an amendment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that would include
an economic, social and cultural rights code or bill.
One argument that is advanced against having a social charter is that those
rights cannot be made justiciable, such as, for example, the right to education.
You cannot take such a case to court. There is a whole array of economic, social
and cultural rights to which we are bound under international human rights law
and to which we could very well be bound if they were put in our Constitution.
That is where the role of Parliament would, without doubt, be primordial in
determining the effectiveness of the manner in which Canadians would enjoy
economic, social and cultural rights.
I see a tremendous opportunity for Parliament to become more involved in the
promotion and protection of human rights through the growth of the Charter and,
hopefully, the growth that will lead to constitutional amendments to make more
explicit economic, social and cultural rights. I believe that is where the human
rights agenda of the next decade lies. However, I also believe that those who
are not at all offended by having a dynamic judiciary — because the judiciary is
a tremendously important institution for the promotion and protection of rights —
will look to Parliament and legislatures as tremendously important institutions
for the promotion and protection of rights. Hopefully, Parliament will become
more dynamic as a defender and promoter of human rights. I have always been very
satisfied with the manner in which colleagues in this house have examined
legislative proposals and tested those proposals against our Charter values.
Although we have our intense debates across the aisle, I have been impressed
with the sobriety with which all honourable senators bring their Charter
analysis to a bill that is before the house at any given time.
I am glad we have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the heart of
our Constitution, as Senator Beaudoin put it. I hope that all governments will
become more proactive in facilitating civil society and the education system in
making the values of the Charter better known, because of the important role
that that knowledge plays in holding in abeyance any attempt by governments to
use the notwithstanding clause.
With those reflections, honourable senators, I am happy to participate in
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, 20 years ago today, Canada became
a sovereign country. Twenty years ago today, Canada became a country whose basic
tenet would be to recognize and guarantee the same measure of freedom for every
individual, regardless of origin, race, language, differences. But this new
sovereignty would first serve individuals. The winners of this initiative 20
years ago would be Canadians themselves. The birth of a new Canada would
fundamentally alter the kind of society that we were going to be called upon to
build in the future. This peaceful and humanist revolution did not come about by
It came about, I recall, following the Quebec referendum of May 20, 1980, and
the initiative taken by Prime Minister Trudeau to patriate the Canadian
Constitution, enshrining a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in it.
Canadians were right. Twenty years later, the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms has become the founding document of modern-day Canada. So much so that
we wonder how we could live without the protection of rights and freedoms that
are guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What would be of
the recognition of Aboriginal peoples, the Metis in particular, if they did not
have the protection of their treaty and ancestral rights granted under section
45? What would be of the equality of men and women today, were it not for the
guarantee contained in section 28? And what would be the situation of the rights
of anglophone and francophone minorities to live and grow in their own language,
and to run their own schools? Yes, honourable senators, Canadians were right.
They saw in the Charter the essential element of what it means to be Canadian.
The Charter has made a difference in Canada. There is a direct link between the
effectiveness of this Charter and the responsibility of the highest courts in
the land to ensure that it is respected and that wrongs be righted in cases
where the Charter has been violated.
Take the bold ruling by the Supreme Court in the case regarding official
languages in Manitoba, a ruling that invalidated all Manitoba statutes since
1890. Canadians were right. Because of the fact that the courts have the
ultimate power and responsibility to ensure that their rights are respected
effectively, Canadians value the Charter and recognize its real value.
Quebecers, as much as other Canadians, have come to see the Charter and the
courts as their best defence against the excesses of politicians, who are always
influenced by the majority view at any given time.
The Charter, as was said earlier, is a living tree. That expression was taken
from the judgment of Justice Dickson in one of the first cases interpreting the
Charter, the Hunter v. Southam case in Manitoba. Justice Dickson restated
essentially that which Viscount Sankey had said in 1929, when he interpreted the
famous Persons Case.
What did Viscount Sankey say? He said:
The British North America Act planted in Canada a living tree capable of
growth and expansion within its natural limits.
Those are the same words used by Justice Dickson in 1985, in one of the first
Charter cases in Manitoba. Senator Stratton certainly remembers the famous case
of Hunter vs. Southam. Justice Dickson said that our Charter is a living
tree. Being a living tree, it is capable of growth and expansion within its
natural limit. In other words, the Charter is essentially the expression of our
own rights that live and grow in a country that fundamentally allows a culture
We as Canadians are just at the beginning of a human adventure that is unique
because it is based on the respect of the dignity of every person, not because
that person is a Canadian citizen. This differentiates us fundamentally from the
American Bill of Rights that has been quoted here. Americans are protected
because they are American, because they belong to a country. Canadians are
protected not because they belong to a country but because they are human
Honourable senators, this is a very fundamental difference between our two
countries. That is why we are described as being a humanist society in Canada.
Over and above any political distinction of nationality, our first recognition
are the rights and freedoms of a person. This is the living tree that Justice
Dickson described in 1985.
Honourable senators will understand that when many of us start thinking and
reflecting upon the Charter and the patriation adventure, many memorable
souvenirs are brought back in our memory. I remember very well Senator Arthur
Tremblay and the late Senator Maurice Lamontagne, who along with Senator Austin
sat for more than 300 hours for a total number of
106 meetings, always under television spotlights, listening to more than 314
witnesses. Among them were premiers of four provinces and the two territories
and an array of representatives of Canadians coming from all over the country.
The most compelling witnesses were representatives of the Aboriginal people of
Honourable senators, it was the first time in Canadian history that
Aboriginal people were present as witnesses in front of the Canadian Parliament.
It was the first time that we had received representatives of the Inuit people
and from the Indian treaty groups.
For the first time, we received representatives of Indian people who had
never been recognized in Canada — the Metis people. They had not been recognized
as Indian or as descendants of Indo-European people either. They fell in
between, into a kind ofno man's land with no rights. Today, we have among us a
representative of the Metis people. We would never think that the Metis people
should not be considered as full participants in thegreat adventure of defining
We received a representative of the National Action Committee on the Status
Of Women, coming to plead to get the recognition that, as Senator Beaudoin said,
is one of the best in the world for the recognition of the status of the
equality of women.
Honourable senators, we spent 300 hours in meetings almost cloistered like
Trappists in a monastery. We came out of that marathon session with 58
amendments to the original draft of the Charter, including amendments
recognizing the treaty rights of the Aboriginal people and the Metis, and the
equality of status of men and women over and above everything in our country.
The amendments recognized fundamentally all those minorities that had been
excluded in our history.
The Jewish people who had been barred from immigrating to Canada during the
last world war were recognized. The descendants of the 20,000 Japanese people —
75 per cent of whom were born in Canada — who were interned in the concentration
camps during the last world war, were recognized.
Those Canadians came to tell us that if we were thinking of establishing the
basis of a more respectable society for rights and freedoms, think of those who
have been left aside during the course of our centennial history.
When we reflect upon that initiative, it is a living adventure for which we
do not see the boundaries. The Quebec government of the day did not sign the
patriation package, as we called it at the time. There is not a single Quebecer
or single Canadian who does not have to question himself or herself about the
outcome of that. It was not because the patriation package was devised against
the province and singularly against Quebec. In fact, the package,
20 years ago, contained many provisions to address specific concerns expressed
The provisions of the Constitution provided that if there were to be any
constitutional amendment to education and culture — that, of course, being of
specific interest to Quebec — the Quebec government would be financially
There was recognition of the full control of the provinces over natural
resources. If there is a province where natural resources and, singularly,
energy is of paramount importance, it is in Quebec.
There was in the same package the recognition that three Quebec judges would
be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada and would be entrenched forever,
without the capacity for a federal government to amend the Supreme Court Act.
The package gave to Quebec a veto on the three judges of the Supreme Court.
There was in the same package recognition of linguistic rights and the Canada
clause — that is, the right of a person who has been educated in English in
Canada to be educated in English and in French and the privilege given to the
Quebec government to expand, when it so wishes, to other groups at the moment
that the Quebec society feels secure enough to move in that direction.
There were provisions in the package to constitutionally entrench the
equalization payments, the obligation that the federal government has to pay the
provinces, those who do not have a comparable level of resources, to match the
richest province. Certainly Quebec profited from that. Indeed,
48.5 per cent of the equalization payments are given to the Quebec government,
which represented more than $5 billion last year. Many provisions in the
original package were devised to address specifically the Quebec government's
History tells us that for political reasons the Quebec government and, very
legitimately, some members of the National Assembly and some members of the
Liberal Party of Quebec thought that the package should not have proceeded. It
is always the same problem: You are damned if you do and damned if you do not.
Honourable senators, there must be a starting point whereby the legitimate
request of the Quebec government, which is to maintain its capacity to protect
the language and to protect the specific need that the province has in
maintaining its identity, should be addressed.
Honourable senators, this is what is left on the drafting table.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
Honourable Senator Joyal, I am sorry to interrupt, but your time has elapsed.
Is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Joyal: Thank you, honourable senators. I will be brief.
The second challenge deals with judicial activism, which seems to be a
buzzword today. When there is a decision that is not liked by a majority of
public opinion, it is seen as judicial activism. I think that politicians in
Canada have a responsibility. When a decision of the court specifically raises
an issue that is not popular among the majority, the government must seek
redress of that wrongdoing.
Some provincial governmentsadopt remedial legislation, but they like to title
the legislation "An Act to Amend Certain Statutes" as a result of the Supreme
Court of Canada decision in M. v. H. In other words, governments shift
the responsibility of unpopular decisions to the realm of the Supreme Court.
There are situations that have to be addressed by politicians, and there is the
fact that we seem still to wrestle with constitutional reform in Canada. Since
we are in a position of not addressing, on a constitutional basis, the rights of
the Aboriginal people, it is the court that defines, through various groups of
cases, one case after the other, what is meant by self-government.
The fact is that we seem unable to assume our responsibility, to give way to
the growth, to the living tree that is the Charter. In the case of the
Aboriginal people, that responsibility has been left to the courts. Then, when
the courts define the right, we say, "Well, that is judicial activism." I feel
that judicial activism is our own responsibility when we study legislation.
Honourable senators know very well that for every piece of legislation that
comes in front of this house, which is the house responsible for the federal
principle and for balancing minority and linguistic rights, we have a special
duty to test that legislation to the scale of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and to the scale of other rights included in the other instruments that have
been mentioned during our debate today. This is one of the other challenges that
we will have to address on a daily basis, especially on this day, when we
celebrate the full sovereignty of Canada and the rights and freedoms of each and
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, it is quite appropriate
that I should be speaking after Senator Joyal, because two issues were raised
and I intend to discuss them.
First, he raised the issue of why Quebec did not ratify the agreement and,
second, he raised the issue of activism. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court, Antonio Lamer, talked about the dynamism of the courts. I would rather
use the expression "active constitutional democracy."
Why did Quebec decide not to ratify the agreement? To find the answer to this
question, we must look at the whole history of Canada. Remember that, in 1763,
the King made concessions to the French majority. He did so for very pragmatic
and reasonable reasons, since there were 60,000 francophones and a British
English minority of about 4,000.
It is obvious that the King and the military governor did not wish to
continue hostilities. In 1763, the war in Europe had already been over for three
years. It is very costly to be at war, and resuming hostilities was out of the
question. Therefore, Canada would live in peace. How? By granting rights to its
francophone majority. These rights were recognized in the Royal Proclamation,
1763, and then the Quebec Act, 1774.
What are these rights? The rights to teach in French, to practice Catholicism
and to use the civil law. At the time, it was not called the Napoleonic Code
but, as was the custom in Paris, it was known as French civil law. British
authorities maintained all that was required to ensure the respect of the
traditional rights of the francophone majority, because they recognized that it
would be impossible to give satisfaction to this majority without recognizing
These rights were recognized from the moment there was a British government
on Canadian soil. They were recognized throughout the constitutional history of
Canada, and therefore of Quebec.
Quebecers are not at all opposed to the existence of a Charter. Quebec has
had a Charter of Rights since 1974. We had a Charter eight years before Canada
did. Quebec was not the first. Other provincial governments adopted their own.
Quebecers and the governments of Quebec support a Charter of Rights. This is not
an argument. French-speaking Quebecers have collective rights, which were
recognized by the British kings. These collective rights have been maintained in
the various constitutional documents. When the constitutional amendment of 1982
was introduced, we were not against the existence of these individual rights
recognized in the charters, but we wanted recognition of our collective rights,
a coexistence of these collective and individual rights. That is why the
successive governments of Quebec have been in agreement. Unless I can be shown
that my collective rights no longer exist, I will always be in agreement, as
will many Quebecers and the 24 senators from Quebec in this chamber. Our
collective rights must be recognized in any constitutional document when we also
recognize Quebecers' individual rights. I would risk this interpretation. I
think that it echoes that of many Quebecers.
The issue of constitutional democracy may surprise some. One of the important
achievements of this constitutional amendment was to propel Canada into a new
era of constitutional democracy.
There will always be a need for arbitration when it comes to the rights
recognized by these documents. In Canada, we have managed to maintain an
independent system of arbitration. This is an achievement we should treasure.
The Canadian judicial framework is held up worldwide as a model. This
arbitration is necessary.
In the years since 1982, certain constitutional experts, and we have
mentioned them here, have come up with this dialogue theory. Since we now live
in a constitutional democracy, Parliament no longer has the last word. Nobody
has the last word. If Parliament wants to have the last word, it must use
section 33, the notwithstanding clause.
Senator Kirby explained to us why parliaments have always been very reluctant
to use the notwithstanding clause. By the way, it is important to set Senator
Kirby straight. Quebec has already used the notwithstanding clause, not just
No one has the last word. The courts arbitrate, interpret, read between the
lines. Often constitutional law has nothing to say on it. The courts go beyond
interpretation and often establish the law. This power to interpret, to go
beyond interpretation, even to establish law, has been recognized in connection
with the Canadian judiciary structure.
As for Parliament's part in this dialogue, it follows the recommendations of
the courts, or it does not. If it decides not to, it can use the notwithstanding
clause and exclude itself from the arbitration for reasons of its own and decide
not to follow the dialogue on this.
Since 1982, Canada has created its own birth certificate, as Senator Joyal
has said. Setting aside my opinion and that of a number of Quebecers on the
co-existence of our collective and individual rights as recognized by the
Charter, I acknowledge that the constitutional amendment of 1982 comprises some
very positive elements for the future of Canada.
Some might still ask: What was our situation prior to that time as far as
fundamental rights are concerned? My mentor, Senator Beaudoin, has spoken at
some length of the quasi-constitutional instruments that went before, the
various items of case law from the Supreme Court, which, when necessary, created
a whole fabric of principles of law which ensured that Canadians did not lack
fundamental rights prior to 1982.
However, since 1982, Canada has benefited from a highly pertinent
constitutional text, one with a decidedly Canadian flavour to it. Some may say
that our constitutional instruments are not very airtight. I feel they meet our
needs. In my opinion, the past 20 years have been a marked improvement, and
augur well for the future.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I am pleased, but frankly a
little nervous, to rise today to log the twentieth anniversary of one of
Canada's most important democratic achievements — our Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. In 1982, I was standing soaking wet at the back of the crowd when the
Charter was signed by the Queen and by Mr.Trudeau, and I am still at the back of
the crowd, after such a knowledgeable group of speakers today on the issue.
Today, 20 years after the advent of the Charter and 18 months after
Mr.Trudeau's passing, we can confidently say that the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms is an achievement that truly defines us as Canadians.
The success of the Charter is rooted in the fact that it is an active, living
document that has real impact on the day-to-day lives of Canadians and their
relationship with their government. Certainly, as Senator Beaudoin pointed out,
we had the Bill of Rights for over 20 years before the Charter was put into
place, but since that law was not rooted as part of our Constitution, its
influence was not significant. Nothing of the sort could be said about the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
It has often been said that the measure of a democracy is not how well it
responds to the wishes to have majority, but how it treats the interests of the
minorities. Time and time over the last 20 years, Canadians have used the
Charter in our courts to break down the walls of discrimination, exclusion,
mistreatment and stereotyping. Canadians know full well that they have rights
that are enforceable, have real meaning and cannot be usurped on the whim of
some government. In a world where dictatorships, money and fear still rule
increasing dozens of countries and billions of people, that is a noble
The strength of the Charter is rooted in the fact that ordinary people can
crash through the most immense barriers to create social change. It has created
changes that have become so firmly rooted in our society that we almost forget
how things used to be. If you do not believe me, just look at three ordinary
people who have made extraordinary contributions to Canadian society because
they chose to stand up for their Charter rights: Justine Blaney, Harbhajan Singh
and Robin Eldridge.
All Justine Blaney ever wanted to do was play hockey as well as she possibly
could. She could skate rings around all the girls in her age group in the early
1980s. If she were a boy, everyone would have been calling her the next Wayne
Gretzky. However, the Ontario Hockey Association did not approve of her playing
for a local boys' team. No one doubted she was good enough, but the OHA had a
rule that stated that only boys could play on boys' teams. The Ontario Human
Rights Commission was not much help because the Ontario Human Rights Code at the
time allowed for discrimination on the basis of sex when it came to sports.
With nowhere else to go, Ms Blaney turned to the Charter for protection. In
1986, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed that it was discriminatory for the OHA
to prevent her from playing on a boys' team.
You can trace the recent success of Canada's women's hockey team back to that
single case. Can you imagine where women's hockey would be today if women could
not compete with men in those early years to build their skills? Would we be
seeing women's hockey at the Olympic Games if it were not for Justine Blaney?
Would we all have had a chance to rejoice in seeing our women with gold medals
around their necks in Salt Lake City this past winter if it were not for Justine
Blaney and the protection the Charter gave her? I think not.
What was novel and widely frowned upon in 1986 has turned into a moment of
national joy only 16 years later. I should add that four of those young female
athletes who were playing hockey down in Salt Lake City are members of my
Brampton home team.
Harbhajan Singh wanted to make Canada his home. In 1984, he left his home in
India because he believed he was being persecuted for his political beliefs. He
wanted to start a new life in Canada.
When he arrived here, Canadian authorities denied his claim of refugee
status. The procedure at the time did not allow Mr.Singh to hear the
government's reasons as to why they decided he was not a refugee, nor was he
allowed to present his case.
The Charter guarantees that all who deal with Canada's government will be
afforded Charter protection. As a result, the court ordered that Mr.Singh be
treated with proper respect and that he have a full and fair hearing of the
matter. The court refused to allow our government to act arbitrarily with one
set of laws for Canadians and another for non-Canadians.
Canadians understand that all human beings deserve human rights, including
legal rights, and the Charter protects one and all. That is one of its many
Finally, I want to talk to you about Robin Eldridge.
Ms Eldridge was born deaf, and she suffers from a number of medical conditions,
including diabetes. In order to keep on top of her health, Ms Eldridge saw her
doctors on a regular basis. Her doctors, however, did not understand sign
language. MsEldridge asked the Government of B.C. to pay for an interpreter to
go with her to the doctor in order to ensure that the doctor understood what she
needed to tell him, and that she understood the doctor's orders. The B.C.
government said no, it was too expensive.
Once again an ordinary Canadian, Robin Eldridge, found protection in our
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ms Eldridge argued that since the government was
providing health care to all of its citizens, it has an obligation under the
Charter to provide it equally to her. This meant that the government should
provide an interpreter for her visits and cover it under the health insurance
The Supreme Court found that the government does have an obligation not only
to pass laws that are constitutional, but also to act constitutionally in all of
its dealings with Canadians. The B.C. Health Act was not unconstitutional, but
that was not relevant. The mere fact that a government treated a person with a
disability unfairly was more than enough reason to trigger Charter protection.
Honourable senators, I am very proud of Justine Blaney, Harbhajan Singh and
Robin Eldridge, three ordinary people, all of whom fought for their rights and
won because of our Charter. They are just three of thousands of ordinary
Canadians who have won battles because of this Charter.
Each time new ground is broken because of Charter rights, I believe Canada
becomes stronger. Each time a government thinks twice because of the Charter,
Canada becomes stronger.
However, the Charter does not supersede the Indian Act. The Charter is a
living document, but it still does not protect all Canadians, so it still has
some severe challenges ahead.
Long may our Charter live and thrive. We should be very proud of this Charter
of Rights and Freedoms, and may it rise to the challenge of the future.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I feel compelled to speak today
after having heard the speeches made by Senators Joyal and Nolin. Senator Nolin
set some things straight, and I would like to set some others straight as well.
On this day, as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, I am concerned to hear people making value judgments
without knowing all of the details of the discussions that took place. Heaven
knows I am the only one here now to have lived through those difficult and
painful discussions. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what transpired in caucus.
Federal officials may have heard 300 hours of evidence, but I can assure you
that the hours spent in the Liberal caucus of Quebec at the time were difficult,
even agonizing hours. I do not like it when people make value judgments without
having been present for those discussions, or taken part in them.
What happened then can easily be summed up: the survival of the Quebec
Liberal Party was at stake. Discussions were so intense that there would not
have been a Quebec Liberal Party after the discussions and the vote. Difficult
and painful decisions had to be made. Some of us accepted, others did not.
I would ask Senator Joyal to read the speeches made at the time, particularly
mine. This will explain many facts and might alter his views. Judgments are
often made here on Quebecers without any knowledge of what is going on and what
went on. It might be appropriate to look at what was said and done.
I should add that I came to celebrate the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms on Parliament Hill with some of my colleagues, at the risk of being
repudiated by the leader of the party at the time. I want to remind my
colleague, Senator Joyal, of this, and I thank Senator Nolin for setting the
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:
Honourable senators, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, that the Senate take note of the twentieth
anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I believe that if we were to seek it, leave would be granted to have
all the items on the Order Paper that have not been dealt with stand in their
place. I move that the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, April 18, 2002,
at 1:30 p.m.