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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 140, Issue 54

Thursday, May 8, 2003
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, May 8, 2003

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Federal Reserve Force Day

Hon. Jack Wiebe: Honourable senators, tomorrow, Friday, May 9, will mark a very special day for all federal employees who also serve in Canada's military reserve force.

May 9 has been declared as Federal Reserve Force Day. Tomorrow, at 12 noon, a special ceremony will begin with a statement, signed by the Minister of National Defence, reaffirming the government's support of the regulations that stipulate the leave provisions for members of the Public Service of Canada who are reservists to attend military training with Canada's reserve force. The ceremony will recognize the reservists who serve Canada twice, first, through their civilian commitments in the Public Service of Canada and, second, as members of Canada's reserve force.

Thirty reservists from across Canada, representing 22 federal departments, will be in attendance to witness this signing. Also attending the ceremony will be Mr. John Eaton, the National Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. The CFLC is a group of businessmen and women who volunteer their time and energy to promote the reserve force and the value of reserve force training in the civilian workplace. This year, 2003, also marks the tenth anniversary of this organization. The council encourages civilian employers to grant time off without penalty to reservists, to allow them to keep up with their military activities. Since 1992, the number of supportive employers has grown from a mere 16 to well over 3,600 today.

Reservists usually train on weekends and evenings. However, most of them need two weeks of full-time service every year to keep their qualifications current. On occasion, some reservists volunteer on operational missions. As a result, reservists acquire special management skills that are useful to all employers; for instance, leadership, time and personnel management and communication skills, the ability to think quickly and to make decisions under stressful conditions. The military also encourages the development of values, such as integrity, self-discipline, teamwork and loyalty.

Reserve force units are located in hundreds of communities across Canada, with a total establishment of about 36,000 personnel. Currently, there are 290 naval reservists serving full time on 10 of our new coastal defence vessels. As well, 412 reserve personnel are serving on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions around the world.

Colonel Greg Gillespie has taken leave from his civilian job with Air Canada in Regina to become the first army reserve officer to command a Canadian Forces battle group, which is presently serving in the remote mountainous region of Bosnia- Herzegovina.

Honourable senators, we have a proud resource in our reservists. Let us begin today to acknowledge their tremendous contribution.

National Defence

Replacement of Sea King Helicopters— Selection of Eurocopter

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, today marks yet another very black day for the Canadian Forces and for every man and woman who flies or serves in the maritime helicopter community, and their families, only superseded, in my recollection, by such events as unification, the retirement of the HMCS Bonaventure shortly after a major refit, and the cancellation, almost 10 years ago now, of the EH-101 helicopter program.

Honourable senators, today is the day, almost to the hour and not very far from the minute, that the present government will cross, officially, the point of no return concerning the selection of the NH-90 Eurocopter helicopter to replace the Sea King.

The government has bent over backwards to manipulate and skew this competition to a French competitor from the very start, to the point that it unbundled and then rebundled the competition and changed specification upon specification, even when it could well have sacrificed the safety of crews.

Eurocopter has made representations at the highest levels of this government and has even had Canada's Ambassador to France involved in lobbying the PCO and the PMO, as the government's own documents show.

On this black day, I want to condemn these actions, in part for their Machiavellian adroitness and shameless lack of compassion for the Sea King community in our country. I want to condemn the government on its covert, its own Chrétien approach, to defence policy and the lack of leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces. This is not a surprise, given their treatment of the Canadian Forces over the last 10 years.

I wish the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues good health and long life so that they might bear witness to, God forbid, any tragedy that might occur as a result of the very deliberate machinations and manipulations that have gone on for so long in regard to the replacement of the Sea King.

Honourable senators, this will probably be the last time you will hear from me on this matter. It is rather sad.

(1340)

National Hospice Palliative Care Week

Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, we are most vulnerable when we enter this life and again when we leave it. Every year, 200,000 Canadians die. Some 150,000 need palliative care, but only 5 to 15 per cent have access to such care. People living in remote or rural areas or living with disabilities have severely limited access to palliative care services. National Hospice Palliative Care Week is a time to recognize that all Canadians deserve the right to die with dignity, free of pain, surrounded by loved ones and in the setting of their choice.

[Translation]

It is also time to recognize that the members of patients' families also need support, primarily from health care professionals, but also from the community.

[English]

Providing high quality care to Canadians at the end of their lives is a priority for their families and friends, for health care systems and for the federal government.

Budget 2003 delivered a six-week compassionate care leave program so that family members can care for their dying loved ones. The Health Accord signed with the provinces outlines investment in home care, including palliative care and end-of-life care. I would like to recognize the contribution of Senator Carstairs, who has done so much to bring these two measures to fruition.

Research is also critical. We need to know more about pain and symptom management, psychosocial aspects of palliative care and more effective ways of delivering such care. The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association has produced a Canadian agenda for research in palliative care that calls for, among other things, more fellowships for researchers in the early stages of their careers.

As well, this week, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research announced the development of a new research protocol for a Canadian longitudinal study on aging. Once the study is underway — and it is one of two major studies on aging — it will provide us with greater knowledge of the end-of-life process and of factors that may contribute to enhanced end-of-life treatment.

Honourable senators, death is inevitable, but a painful, lonely death is not. This week, we recognize the importance of high quality hospice palliative care for helping Canadians die with dignity and comfort.

Mental Health Week

Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, this is Mental Health Week across Canada. Each year, the Canadian Mental Health Association uses this week to draw attention to mental health issues and increase support for people experiencing mental illness. This year's theme is "Respect, Don't Reject: If you have a brain, you can have a mental illness." This is a pretty blunt message, but it is one that cannot be denied. No matter how uncomfortable it may be to hear, Canadians must be made aware that we are all vulnerable to the effects of mental illness, either through our own experience or that of a loved one.

Approximately one in five Canadians will have a mental health problem in their lifetime. It has been estimated that mental illness is the second leading cause of hospital use among adults aged 20 to 24. Despite all of the evidence that points to the prevalence of mental health illnesses in Canada, we still tend to look at this problem as something that does not happen to us, but to other people. As a result, we have less empathy for their struggles. In order to change this way of thinking, the Canadian Mental Health Association says that its goal this year is to reduce the shame and social stigma associated with mental illness so that people can seek help without fear of losing their friends, family and even their employment.

In February, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology began what we hope will be a comprehensive review of mental health and mental illness in our country. The testimony we have heard so far has been both heartbreaking and brutally honest. It is a constant reminder that behind statistics related to mental illness are real people who, on a daily basis, deal with the frustration, helplessness, isolation and all of the other inflictions this illness causes.

Honourable senators, it is my hope that the federal government will welcome the committee's recommendations when we have our work completed in order that a much-needed national approach to mental illness can be implemented. Today, let us congratulate the Canadian Mental Health Association for its dedication and hard work, and wish it good luck in achieving its formidable goals.

Health

Outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I would like to take a few moments of your time to stress certain aspects related to the SARS outbreak.

[Translation]

But, before I briefly outline my thoughts, I want to thank everyone who played a role in controlling the SARS outbreak —

[English]

— particularly, the nurses, doctors and other health care professionals who have worked selflessly to care for the individuals affected by this illness. I would like to deeply commend those involved in federal and provincial coordination, despite the confusion surrounding this frightening situation, whose concentrated actions were exemplary in dealing with the WHO ban and getting it lifted.

Having said this, I have very deep concerns about the lack of a global safety net to deal with such a situation. I am sure this may be but the tip of the iceberg. Consequently, we must all learn from this dramatic experience and take an expeditious and truly serious look at building and investing appropriately our resources by contributing to the World Health Organization, the Centre for Disease Control and other like organizations to improve the safety net.

It has been my personal belief that we need the equivalent of the American Surgeon General to objectively perform an ongoing evaluation of our health resources and their performance. If honourable senators will recall, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology recommended the creation of a new national health care council, chaired by a health commissioner, charged with carrying out this task by producing an annual report on the state of the health care system and the health status of Canadians.

The Minister of Health announced that she is considering the creation of a national public health agency like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and I congratulate her for this initiative. I am optimistic that we are headed in the right direction. However, I reiterate that, over and above the creation of this new agency, we need a health care commissioner. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology could appropriately deal with this situation within the year in a brief special report. The need to address the situation must be recognized because, rest assured, honourable senators, we cannot afford to go without it.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie

Meeting of Education, Communication and Cultural Affairs Committee, April 15-18, 2003—Report Tabled

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, under rule 23(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian section of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, as well as its financial report. The report concerns the meeting of the Education, Communication and Cultural Affairs Committee of the APF, held in Châlons-en- Champagne, France, April 15-18, 2003.

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Business Development Bank of Canada

Hon. Raymond C. Setlakwe: 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 be authorized to study and report upon the annual report, mission and corporate plan of the Business Development Bank of Canada and other related matters; and

That the Committee submit its final report no later than December 18, 2003.

(1350)

Parliamentary Associations

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have the pleasure of announcing the outcome of the latest vote at the Inter- parliamentary Union. Unfortunately, I lost 18 to 12.

Honourable senators, I hereby give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the parliamentary associations, in particular their budgets and the very odd manner in which some of them, specifically the Inter- parliamentary Union, conduct their annual meeting.

I will then make a few comments on this incredible meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Union.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Health

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome— Monitoring of Patients for Relapse

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, the SARS virus is proving to be even more resilient than originally thought. Hong Kong officials are reporting that 12 recovered SARS patients may have suffered relapses. These patients are currently being tested to see if that is indeed the case. Also, Hong Kong scientists are saying that the virus may survive in an infected person's body for at least a month after their recovery.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us if Canadian SARS patients who have recovered from their illness are being monitored for a possible relapse? In other words, are patients being followed for a month?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): The honourable senator asks a question about the monitoring of SARS patients. As he knows, the patients who have been identified have been in hospital. The good news is that apparently we are down to only 27 remaining in hospital at the present time, although there appear to be two or three who remain in very critical condition. It is possible that there still may be more deaths in Canada as a result of this virus.

When an individual is released from hospital, they are asked to remain in their home for the next five days. They have been following the policy quite rigorously. During that period of time, they are monitored. At that point, they are passed on to their family physician for any further monitoring that is required.

Senator Keon: Honourable senators, as a result of these new findings, Hong Kong doctors are urging discharged SARS patients to refrain from personal physical contact for at least a month after their release from hospital. Are we disseminating the same advice?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is my understanding that we are doing it for five days and not for one month. We have had no indication in Canada of any relapse of those who have been diagnosed with SARS, including those who were released quite early in April, and we are now well into May.

I will bring to the Minister of Health the concerns raised by Senator Keon this afternoon to ensure that, if need be, more be done.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome— Infrared Screening of Travellers

Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, the World Health Organization agreed to lift its travel ban against Toronto when it was reassured that Canada would begin screening air passengers for symptoms of SARS. As part of this, Pearson airport in Toronto began a pilot project last night using an infrared screening camera on loan from the Government of Singapore.

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is one thermal camera enough to properly screen travellers on all the international flights leaving Pearson airport as well as all flights into Pearson from areas affected by the virus? Will other cameras be added? If so, when?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it is my understanding that a pilot project will also begin in Vancouver, although I do not know its exact launch date. My understanding was that the two projects would be launched more or less at the same time.

One of the great problems is the unavailability of these infrared scanners. The government will do tests on all individuals who exit Canada to international destinations and return from international destinations where there have been outbreaks of SARS. The Minister of Health, when she made this announcement, said that, regrettably, there would be delays at the airport in order to get all of these individuals through the screening process.

Senator Robertson: Honourable senators, one of the first cases of SARS exported from this country was that of a man who drove himself from Canada to Philadelphia. There is, of course, no way for Canadian border agents to provide SARS screening for land travellers leaving this country. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us if Canadian border agents have been given any instruction as to screening travellers for SARS, travellers driving into Canada from the United States?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, to the best of my knowledge, that information is not being made available. Also, to the best of my knowledge, there have been examples where we thought that individuals had spread the SARS virus when they had not had the SARS virus.

National Defence

Replacement of Sea King Helicopters— Selection Standards

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I wanted to put this question yesterday, but I will do it today.

The minister has constantly told this chamber that the government wants to obtain the best possible Sea King replacement at the best possible price. She has indicated this repeatedly and either does not know or does not care. I suspect it is not the latter, but perhaps the former.

Let me quote from an access document entitled "Maritime Helicopter Projected Procurement, Strategy Risks." It is a declassified page. The number, for her reference, if she cares to check, is PCO 001867. The document indicates, in part, "the aim is not to obtain as much capability as possible within a predetermined budget."

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate that the government does not want the best maritime helicopter, it wants the cheapest, even if it is only marginally so, but with excessively less capability than any of the other competitors?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I will repeat what I have said over and over and over again. The Government of Canada wishes to get the right aircraft as soon as possible. Yes, it wishes to get the very best helicopter at the very best price.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is not the cheapest.

Replacement of Sea King Helicopters— Request by Eurocopter for Changes to Specifications

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: I might urge the Leader of the Government in the Senate to get hold of that document because that is not what her government is saying.

Can the government not admit that on March 26 and 27, 2001, Eurocopter made presentations to the PCO and Public Works and Government Services demanding that one engine, inoperative, be changed in the specifications, and that on April 3, 2001, Ambassador Raymond Chrétien e-mailed PCO, PMO and the Deputy Prime Minister himself — in those days, the Honourable Herb Gray — in this respect? The e-mail requested changes to the one-engine inoperative section.

(1400)

Will the leader not also admit that the Clerk of the Privy Council then demanded to know why this was not fixed in the letter-of-interest phase; that the Deputy Minister of National Defence then sent a letter to Raymond Chrétien on April 24, 2001, stating that the matter would be solved in the new specifications; and that two subsequent Basic Vehicle Requirement Specifications were issued in May to allow Eurocopter to be technically compliant within the requirement specifications? Can the minister confirm this chain of events, or is she aware of them?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it is very much the normal duty of an ambassador to report to their headquarters, from the countries to which they are posted, their analysis of any particular issue of importance to Canada. It would not be at all unusual for e-mails to go from any ambassador to France or ambassador to the United Kingdom or, indeed, an ambassador to the United States indicating that meetings had been held and that information had been shared with the ambassador. That information was being shared with the Government of Canada.

Replacement of Sea King Helicopters—E-mail from Ambassador to France to Officials in Prime Ministers' Office Regarding Eurocopter

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, is it normal for that information to be sent to senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office? I thought ambassadors usually reported to departmental heads or deputy ministers in the Department of Foreign Affairs and were very careful about having those transmissions directly sent to Jean Pelletier, Eddie Goldenberg, Mel Cappe and others at the time.

To save time, my second question is: Since when can we justify our Canadian ambassador in France being a lobbyist for a European aircraft manufacturer?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): I will answer the second question first. There is no question that an ambassador to Canada is not a lobbyist on behalf of any interest. Having said that, it is perfectly reasonable and acceptable that when an ambassador has information made available to him or her from the country that they have been sent from, by individuals in the country in which they are residing, that they would share that information with government officials; not only with the Department of Foreign Affairs but, in this case, also with the Minister of Public Works, since the acquisition of this particular vehicle is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Public Works.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Why did the ambassador not follow procedure and send at least a copy of his e-mail to the Department of Foreign Affairs? They do not even appear on the list of recipients.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I have already indicated, and I will elaborate further, that it is the job of the ambassador representing the Government of Canada to keep Government of Canada officials aware of positions represented to him by citizens in the country that he represents.

Replacement of Sea King Helicopters— Changes to Statement of Operations

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, it is interesting to note that no copies were directly sent to the Treasury Board or the project office of the Department of Public Works. The e-mail just went principally to the PMO/PCO. The word was out: Changes were made and that is the bottom line. Prove me wrong and you can have my seat.

Like an atheist, my dear colleagues, there are no Liberals in the foxholes or in the cockpits of Sea King aircraft. What does buying the cheapest Sea King replacement mean? Let us look at "engine failure in hover" or "one engine inoperable," which is the technical language, and how the specifications have changed during this process.

Contrary to what we have been told time and time again: "MHRS (0), safe landing or fly away at 100 feet per minute climb required; BVRS (2), safe landing not required; okay if the aircraft is damaged or lost." There is no mention of the souls on board. "BVRS (5), dumping of stores and jettison of equipment permitted." The hell with the plane and the crew. The specifications have gone from flying away safe or landing to crash and aircraft loss, to dumping out stores and equipment before crash and aircraft loss.

Will the Leader of the Government commit to coming back to this chamber and confirming that it is no longer a mandatory requirement for the new maritime helicopter to land safely or fly away if it loses an engine in a hover?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as the honourable senator well knows, perhaps better than anyone else in this chamber, there were consultations with all the industry, those who had the ability to make a bid on this particular project — all of them. They all entered into consultations with the Government of Canada, not just Eurocopter but also the producer of the Cormorant.

Changes were made to some technical specifications, which we have indicated in the chamber. However, those changes were only made when they maintained the integrity and the intent of the Statement of Operational Requirements.

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Is it not a fact that the Government of Canada, as long as this Prime Minister is still there, is doing all it can to ensure that one particular bidder does not qualify? Was that not the point of splitting the bid some years ago, much against the wishes of the Department of Defence experts, which would have allowed both the suppliers and the air frame people to bid separately, which would have eliminated one overall supplier in particular?

Then, fortunately, the present Minister of Defence found that not only was there a poor bidding procedure, but it would cost $400 million more. Is it not a fact that everything that is said and and done by the government, as far as the helicopter situation goes, is all aimed at eliminating one bidder in particular?

Senator Carstairs: The answer is no.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Then why is this happening?

Senator Carstairs: That is because the bidding process is ongoing, and the honourable senators opposite have no more information than I have as to who will be the final recipient of this contract.

Senator Forrestall: When she leaves the chamber this afternoon, would the Leader of the Government call and find out what deadline happened today and who met it, and then come back and try to tell us that nothing has changed?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I have no knowledge as to a deadline that happened today. Should I be apprised of information that I have not given to this chamber, I will provide it.

Foreign Affairs

United States—Participation in Missile Defence System—Effect on Policy Against Weaponization of Space

Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government. The minister will know that yesterday I raised, in the Senate, the question of the possible Canadian participation in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system. I will not repeat the question I raised yesterday because I am confident that the minister has read it.

I would put my question today in the framework of the new government report. I believe it was issued in the last day or so. That report was titled: "Partners in North America, Advancing Canada's Relations with the United States and Mexico," which is the government position on these and other questions. The report clearly states that Canada remains opposed to the weaponization of outer space and that "it is currently not clear that a U.S. missile defence system would include or promote the weaponization of space."

(1410)

I ask the minister to draw to the attention of the Prime Minister and relevant government officials the United States missile defence agency's current budget submission, in particular page 16, which contains specific references to the testing of space-based kinetic kill weapons, thereby establishing the relationship between ground and space sensors and weapons.

I ask that she further draw to those officials' attention what is contained in the U.S. publication called Defence Daily, of February 5, 2003, which discusses these questions and makes clear that there is a relationship between the national missile defence and weapons in space.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for his question today and the two questions he asked yesterday. I want to spend enough time to deal with all of them.

I will begin by saying that Canada remains firmly opposed to the weaponization of space. We do support the continuing use of space for military purposes, such as navigation, mapping, communication and surveillance, as well as the meteorological services and arms control verification that are presently taking place. We would be deeply concerned were missile defence to include or promote the weaponization of space, and it is not yet clear whether a U.S. missile defence system would do so. We are aware that the United States administration is conducting research into space-based weapons and that it is seeking congressional approval for funding the program, which could include testing in 2008. I think that is the question that Senator Roche was essentially putting today.

This is a controversial issue, as he well knows, not just in Canada but also in the United States, for political, budgetary and, indeed, scientific reasons. Previous funding requests for space- based weapons research has been cut or reduced by Congress. We are watching developments in the United States closely and raising our concerns about the possible weaponization of space.

Senator Roche: I thank the minister for that answer. I do not know how she feels about tabling the report to which I referred as a government report. I think it would be helpful, but I leave that to her.

Honourable senators, if it is established objectively that a mix of ground and space sensors and weapons does exist in the missile defence program, and thus ground and space are not being effectively separated, and thus putting weapons into space, can the minister give an assurance that Canada will then make a formal decision not to participate on the grounds that the system is inextricably linked to weapons in space?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I can only reiterate for the honourable senator that Canada is firmly opposed to the weaponization of outer space and recognizes that the best time to prevent an arms race in outer space is before one has actually begun. That position of the Government of Canada has not changed.

As to any further discussions that may take place with the United States, no decision has been made on whether we will even begin those negotiations. However, one thing remains firm, and that is Canada's outspoken opposition to the weaponization of space.

Senator Roche: Honourable senators, can the minister give us her assurance that she will carry forward, in the manner in which she has influence in the government, the belief that the longer the informal talks that are now going on at departmental levels — let them go on for a long time — the better for the successful resolution of this issue in relation to all the difficult, delicate questions involved in the various relationships that our country holds?

Senator Carstairs: I will certainly bring that representation from the honourable senator. I think that the message from the Canadian government, when that message is finally decided upon, must be clear to the Canadian people and supportive of the Canadian people's position, that they do not want to participate in the weaponization of space.

United Nations

Revitalization of Organization

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, the failure of the United Nations to successfully deal with the recent Iraq crisis underscored some of the critical shortcomings of the United Nations structures, as they are now.

On Sunday, on Canadian television, Richard Perle, who has some influence in the United States and is on many foreign affairs councils, suggested that Canada could provide some intellectual leadership in helping the UN to respond to issues in the 21st century. This would be a golden opportunity for Canada to show its leadership by pushing for revitalization of the United Nations. In the past, we have been involved in studies on how to revamp the Security Council and the General Assembly and how to manage its bureaucracy. Some well-noted Canadians have participated in the past.

What plans does the Government of Canada have underway to convene panels and to create studies with other countries to consider the means by which the United Nations can be revitalized in the coming years?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, unlike the honourable senator, I believe that the United Nations remains a very vital organization, one that should be supported by all nations of the world. In terms of the revitalization — if such revitalization is necessary — Canada has always pledged its commitment to the spirit that the United Nations represents and, indeed, to its decision-making.

Senator Andreychuk: Honourable senators, Canada was one of the leaders in the formulation of the United Nations. It was the leader's government, I may say, that undertook much of the reform initiative with regard to its bureaucracy and looked at a new formulation for the Security Council, which, as we know, is not representative of the realities of the world, and in fact, put forward suggestions on how a new Security Council might be formed. Those initiatives were all taken previously.

It would seem to me that, while some reforms were undertaken with the leadership of the Secretary General, many were not implemented. Either the timing was incorrect or there was a lack of political will to do so.

It would seem to me that there is now a political will from all parties to put the United Nations back on track, particularly in diplomatic negotiations. Therefore, perhaps some of the old reform suggestions would be timely now, or perhaps there are new initiatives. It would seem Canada's leadership role is needed in that regard.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the honourable senator mentions the importance of timing and political will. She, of course, does not mention financing. There are certain very wealthy nations in this world that have failed to meet their commitments to the United Nations. Fortunately, Canada is not one of them.

I can assure the honourable senator that Canada will continue to take a leadership role, both in timing, political will and financing.

Senator Andreychuk: Honourable senators, can I take from that response that there is no plan underway to look again at the United Nations and to convene perhaps an international blue- ribbon panel to conduct some studies on the United Nations? There is now some will on the part of the United States and Europe that could be very helpful, and perhaps there would then be an encouragement to have the finances brought into line also.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, with the greatest of respect to the honourable senator, any such blue-ribbon panel must be established by the United Nations itself. If she is suggesting that Canada would want to be a part of that panel, I would suggest that Canada would be more than willing. If she is suggesting that Canada should make representations for the establishment of such a panel, I will certainly bring that suggestion to the cabinet table.

Senator Andreychuk: Honourable senators, that, in fact, is my suggestion, if it is not being done, because I think it is very opportune now. With the foreign minister's perspective on international multilateral procedures, I think it would be timely and desirable that Canada initiate such a plan.


(1420)

[Translation]

Criminal Code
Firearms Act

Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Speaker's Ruling

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, yesterday, just before Orders of the Day, I read the message from the House of Commons stating that it had agreed to the Senate's request to divide Bill C-10. The message also stated that the House of Commons waived its claim to insist on its privileges in this case and did not want this action to be taken as a precedent.

Senator Lynch-Staunton then rose on a point of order to ask about the status of Bill C-10B that is still before the Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. There then followed a series of exchanges involving a number of senators on this question and other aspects of the message as well.

[English]

I wish to thank all honourable senators for their contribution on this point of order. The Senate study of Bill C-10 has been a difficult one. There is no doubt that in some ways the Senate has ventured into uncharted procedural waters and it has been somewhat of a challenge for the Senate to keep its bearings.

I have already made a number of rulings on the process that has been followed with respect to Bill C-10 and the instruction made by the Senate last November 20, authorizing the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to divide the bill into two bills. As I have explained to the Senate in my earlier rulings, there are no identical precedents to help guide our procedures. I have also stated, however, that I do not doubt the authority of the Senate to take this course of action, and I believe the Senate has proceeded correctly.

Now I propose to deal with the various questions raised with respect to the point of order. I hope that this will allow the Senate to better understand where things stand as a result of the message received yesterday from the House of Commons.

[Translation]

As I see it, there are two basic questions that need to be answered based on the discussion on the point of order. The first is the one that Senator Lynch-Staunton raised on the status of Bill C-10B. The second question has to do with the language of the message expressing the position of the House of Commons and the fact that it does not regard its consent to the division of the bill to be a precedent. A third question, which I touched on yesterday, related to the matter of a message being debatable or not.

[English]

The status of Bill C-10B was the subject of a ruling that I made on December 9. At that time, I provided the Senate with an account of the chronology of the procedures that were followed with respect to Bill C-10. This ruling is in the Journals between pages 368 and 370. As I pointed out on that occasion, Bill C-10 came to the Senate on October 10. The Senate agreed to refer the bill to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in late November. It also agreed to a motion permitting the committee to divide the bill into two bills.

The committee did divide the bill and reported one portion as Bill C-10A without amendment. Bill C-10B was retained by the committee for further study. On November 28, the Senate adopted the committee's report. From that day, November 28, quoting from my ruling:

...for all intents and purposes within the Senate, and I must stress this point, from within the Senate, Bill C-10 existed as two bills, Bill C10A and Bill C-10B.

Third reading was given to Bill C-10A on December 3. The message sent to the House of Commons spelled out the actions that the Senate had taken and asked for its concurrence. Quoting my ruling again:

The message indicated that the Senate was returning to the Commons their Bill C-10, as divided by the Senate together with the information that the Senate had passed Bill C-10A without amendment and was continuing with the study of Bill C-10B. Of particular importance, the message requested the concurrence of the House of Commons in the division of Bill C-10. This is highly significant. From the point of view of the House of Commons, only Bill C-10 exists. We, in the Senate, have elected to divide the bill, creating Bills C-10A and C-10B, but as it is a Commons bill, the concurrence of the House of Commons is necessary to fully implement the actions taken by us in the Senate.

Yesterday's message from the House of Commons announced that the Commons has agreed to the division of Bill C-10. This means that Bill C-10A had been approved by both Houses and is now ready for Royal Assent. It means also that, for the House of Commons, Bill C-10B exists now, as well. In reality, this means that the Commons has accepted that the substance and text of this bill were approved by them and sent to the Senate when it was still part of Bill C-10, but it has now agreed post facto to designate it as Bill C-10B. A parchment version of Bill C-10B was attached to the message as confirmation.

What the Senate had proposed with respect to the division of Bill C-10, the decision it took to make Bills C-10A and C-10B, has been agreed to by the House of Commons. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs can now complete its study and report Bill C-10B.

When the bill is reported back, the Senate will have the opportunity to consider the bill further. If Bill C-10B is passed, with or without amendment, a message will be sent to the House of Commons acquainting it with the Senate's decision and soliciting its concurrence if there are any amendments. If and when this process is satisfactorily completed, Bill C-10B will also be ready for Royal Assent.

I take it that the reason there has been so much confusion is because it has been difficult to appreciate the different perspectives of the two Houses during this process. The House of Commons adopted Bill C-10 last October 9 as one bill. The Senate divided it into two separate bills and returned one to the House of Commons while keeping the second bill in the Senate committee for further study. From the Senate's perspective, there were now two bills. This was not the perspective, however, of the House of Commons, and the message that was sent to them by the Senate had to take this difference of perspective into account. The message, therefore, had to inform the Commons that the Senate had studied Bill C-10, divided it into two, and adopted Bill C-10A without amendment.

From the Commons perspective, Bill C-10 was not yet divided; it was still one bill. It was only when the House of Commons agreed to the division first made by the Senate that there was a convergence in perspective. Now there is no Bill C-10, and Bill C- 10A had been adopted by both Houses. It remains for the Senate to complete its work with respect to Bill C-10B, already passed by the House of Commons when it was still Bill C-10. This is why the parchment to Bill C-10 was returned to the Senate where it will remain part of the permanent parliamentary record as evidence that the Commons did pass what now constitutes Bill C-10A and Bill C-10B.

I trust that this explanation will help to resolve some of the confusion that has troubled some senators through this admittedly unusual process. After all, it is only the second time in Senate history that it has attempted to divide a Commons bill.

Let me now turn to the second question that was raised as part of this point of order — the language of the second paragraph of the message. Its force apparently offended some senators. This paragraph declared that the House of Commons was prepared to waive its claims even though it disapproved "of any infraction of its privileges or rights by the other House." Furthermore, the Commons made it clear that it was not prepared to consider this event as a precedent.

Several senators suggested that this message infringed the privileges of the Senate. Others argued that if the Senate accepts this message, it would amount to an admission of wrongdoing on the part of the Senate. The House of Commons, it was argued, can agree or disagree with the Senate's decision to divide Bill C- 10, but the Commons does not have the right to disapprove of the Senate's decisions, at least not in this way. Another senator was more indifferent to the meaning of the message, explaining that whether the Commons or the Senate accepts this event as a precedent, it is really a decision for each chamber to make.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, there is little doubt that the language of the message seems stern, almost harsh. It is not, however, without precedent. Identical language was used in a message sent to the Senate on March 20, 1997 and printed in the Journals on page 1141.

(1430)

On that occasion, the message concerned amendments proposed by the Senate, and accepted by the Commons, to Bill C-70, a tax bill entitled: An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Income Tax Act, the Debt Servicing and Reduction Account Act and related Acts.

As we are aware from the traditional Royal Assent ceremony involving supply bill, the House of Commons is jealous of its authority with respect to money bills.

[English]

Supply bills are always presented at the Senate bar by the Commons Speaker and are tied in a green-coloured ribbon, emblematic of that House rather than the usual red ribbon. Nor is the 1997 message unique, though it is infrequent. Whenever the Senate has made amendments to a tax bill that were subsequently accepted by the Commons, the Commons message invariably declares that the Senate should not regard the acquiescence of the Commons as a precedent, as an indication that it is surrendering its proprietary authority over the purse of the Government. It is consistent with the past practice of the House of Commons to send the Senate such messages relating to matters that they feel infringe their rights and powers. I do not think that there is cause for the Senate to have any misgivings. Certainly, there is no point of order requiring my intervention.

Finally, as I stated in my ruling of December 4, 2002, messages between the two Houses are a vehicle for formal communication. The content of the message received from the House of Commons will often determine whether the message is debatable or not. In this particular case, there is no subsequent action flowing from the message itself that would require debate. The message advises the Senate that the Commons has passed Bill C-10A. It also includes a standard declaration about claims to privileges that are being set aside in this instance without prejudice to the merits of those claims.

There is nothing that I can see in the text that would warrant debate on the message. Despite the harsh language, it is conveyed to the Senate for information purposes only.

In conclusion, honourable senators, I rule that there is no point of order based on the arguments that were made yesterday.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Code of Conduct and Ethics Guidelines

Interim Report of Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the eighth report (interim) of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament entitled: Government Ethics Initiative, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on April 10, 2003.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, an interim report by the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament was tabled April 10, 2003. The report is the result of a reference given to the committee on February 4, 2003. It is noteworthy to remind honourable senators of that order of reference. At page 2 of our report, referring to the order of reference, the committee was asked:

That the documents entitled: "Proposals to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner) and other Acts as a consequence" and "Proposals to amend the Rules of the Senate and the Standing Orders of the House of Commons to implement the 1997 Milliken-Oliver Report", tabled in the Senate on October 23, 2002, be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament;

That the Committee, in conjunction with this review, also take into consideration, at the same, time the code of conduct in use in the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster, and consider rules that might embody standards appropriate for appointed members of a House of Parliament who can only be removed for cause;

That the Committee, in conjunction with the review, also take into consideration the present Rules of the Senate, the Parliament of Canada Act, the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Constitution, and the Common Law to determine after a full compilation and review of these provisions whether they do of themselves adequately serve to assure high ethical standards in the actions of Senators in performing their duties, and

That the Committee make recommendations, if required, for the adoption and implementation of a code of conduct for Senators, and concerning such resources as may be needed to administer it, including consequential changes to statute law that may be appropriate.

As honourable senators can see, the order was extremely complex, requiring the committee to conduct a very intensive study of all aspects of ethics, including previous reports, United Kingdom parliamentary codes and all rules, the Parliament of Canada Act, the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Constitution and the common law.

No doubt honourable senators will agree that this is a long and complex study, which is what the committee embarked upon. There was some agreement that since the government was more interested at the moment in the administrative aspects than in the rules or the code, or at least it appeared that way, we would start looking at options available or necessary for the Senate in any code or rules process.

Quite naturally, witnesses had broader experiences. As such, we touched on many code issues, as well as administrative issues. As we were proceeding in our study with many issues yet to be determined, we were advised that the government would be introducing legislation in May and that we should produce some report to give the government the benefit of our views.

From our side, as deputy chair, I pointed out that any views given would be premature and that we did not see what particular magic there was about the May date, given that the government had not particularly proceeded in haste during its many years in office. Nonetheless, members opposite indicated they wished an interim report. It was proceeded with on the basis that it was strictly an interim report, expressing indications of some consensus at that point in time.

I stated clearly that once our full report was completed, the interim findings may not take us in the direction we wish to go and that, therefore, the report should not be seen as binding opinions of the Senate, the committee or any individual senator.

On page 2 of our report, honourable senators will find this statement:

We emphasize that this is an interim report and that our ideas may evolve further as we continue our examination of the issues.

My fears have been that should the government take note of our report, it would take it as the definitive word on behalf of the Senate. From the comments of the honourable Leader of the Government in this chamber last Thursday in her intervention on this report, Bill C-34 was referred to in great detail, indicating that the government had listened to our recommendations. It now appears that we have been put in the position that the government has justified some of its bill on the basis of our report, when we clearly stated that our report was "in progress" and not necessarily our final view.

At some point, I will make known my view on Bill C-34. The bill seems to attack the issue of corruption — something which was amply demonstrated last week in this chamber — and not the issue of the rules or the code of conduct. Rather, emphasis is placed on a criminal issue which, if raised implicitly as one of the reasons for Bill C-34, will give credibility to the misconception in the public of wrongdoing in the Senate.

A simple scanning of newspapers and debates in both chambers points out that if there have been allegations, they have not been against senators or ordinary members in the other place. Rather, they have centred around the Prime Minister and cabinet. We certainly know that when these allegations take hold, they are often turned into myths and then truths in the mind of the public.

One only has to be reminded of the Airbus scandal. If those making allegations at that time had taken care with the democratic process, they would understand that vindication 10 years later is small comfort.

Honourable senators, there have been some indications that our present rules, while continually adjusted and perhaps codified and reworked in a different format, are all we need. It is, however, a prevailing mood that something more substantial in the way of a review should take place.

(1440)

As I indicated in a question to Senator Carstairs, I believe that we have been revamping the rules, and had there been any immediate concern or immediate case or issue, the Senate has dealt with it. Having said that, it is perhaps timely to do a more exhaustive and thorough review, and that is what the committee hopes to accomplish.

The interim report is somewhat misleading as we talk about forms of administrative practices when we do not know what the rules will be when they are in place. Equally, if we had put a code in without determining how we would put it into practice, that would also be misleading. Surely, we must decide what are the rules, in what form, and then look at ways and means of implementing them to ensure the best results.

To determine whether the rules should have an ethics officer statutorily defined and implemented or simply defined by the Senate without a statutory framework seems not to be the issue at this point. Rather, we should determine what are the rules and then determine the most effective way to accomplish this.

At this point, I can hardly resist going back to Bill C-34. It would appear that Bill C-34 recognized the uniqueness of the Senate and its different workings, and that is reassuring. That this message has at least reached some members opposite in the government no doubt has something to do with Senator Carstairs having brought this matter forward in cabinet. However, Bill C- 34 then gives the Senate the right to determine the scope of the mandate, in essence, of the ethics commissioner. If there was not a statutory enactment of the ethics officer, and if a code or set of rules were put together and given to an ethics officer, as contemplated in Bill C-34, without Bill C-34 as a statutory framework, the Senate would do the same. There is no benefit to a statutory enactment of the Senate officer, but there is a potential loss of parliamentary privilege by enactment. If all of the discretions lie with the Senate to make the rules to determine how the Senate officer will conduct himself and that Senate officer will report back to the Senate, a committee of the Senate or a delegate of the Senate, then why would we want within Bill C-34 to statutorily allow for a Senate officer, thereby opening the gate for the courts to comment on parliamentary privilege?

Suffice it to say that the committee is in the early stages of receiving evidence, both on the code and on various options and their implications. I trust that this chamber will support the continuance of the work of the committee in conducting a full and complete review of all the issues before coming to its final recommendations.

While the interim report could be an update of witnesses heard to this point, it should not be seen as in any way hinting at possible recommendations, which I hope will follow and which will receive full scrutiny and debate in this chamber.

Honourable senators, I also want to point out that Senator Carstairs indicated that the courts have not intervened on parliamentary privilege to this point. In fact, they have not. They have been conscious of parliamentary privilege, but the ambit and the extent to which parliamentary privilege exists has been commented on in the courts. While the courts have indicated that parliamentary privilege is correct and needs to be upheld in a democracy, they have also said that actions of parliamentarians attempting to stretch parliamentary protections and privileges to actions that are clearly not parliamentary privilege actions should be the subject of court comment and intervention.

Further, if a new act is put in place, the precedents of the past may be instructive, but they are not the end of the discussion. Courts can view legislation in a new light and perhaps will take a different point of view on parliamentary privilege and their right to comment on it. Therefore, a statutory framework is one that could leave senators open to a question of whether their parliamentary privilege has been extended too far, whether it is appropriate in today's timing and, therefore, could put this venerable institution into a different position in our democracy than is contemplated and necessary.

This debate should be about protecting the principles that afford us the generous democracy within which we live. It should be a study of how rules and ethics encourage everyone, be it a parliamentarian, the executive, the judiciary, the press or citizens at large, to use best practices and best behaviours to ensure that we maximize and reach for ever higher standards of behaviour. I believe that is the type of study on which the Senate committee has embarked, and I look forward to the committee continuing its review.

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for her comments, which I think are a solid contribution to the issue that is under discussion.

What is the role of this report, which is an advisory of sorts, in the debate that we will have if, when and as Bill C-34 is brought to us?

We used to have a custom in the chamber called the "Hayden pre-study," named after Senator Salter Hayden. Is this a pre- study of Bill S-34? Perhaps the honourable senator, being a member of the Rules Committee, could advise me whether these are comments about principles while the real study of and debate about the issue will be when the bill is presented to us?

Senator Andreychuk: My understanding was that the government brought forth, as noted here under Government Business, an issue about principles, and it related to the Milliken- Oliver report. They wished us to study it. We started to study it, and we thought we would have adequate time to canvass all the issues and give our best advice to the government on where it should go with the ethics issue, particularly, with respect to the Senate. In the course of our study, we were alerted that, irrespective of what we were doing, Bill C-34 would come to the Senate in May. That is how we got into the conundrum of what to do. Do we do nothing? That might have been my option, saying that if the government has already decided where it wants to go, what impact will we have? Perhaps we should wait until the bill arrives and debate it fully.

The majority opinion in committee was that an interim report would be useful. To the extent that I yielded to the majority, I think we were influential in indicating that there should be a separate understanding of what the Senate is and that one officer for everyone is not the case here.

Perhaps other pieces have been picked up in Bill C-34. I have not done an exhaustive study of it, having only read it superficially at this point. We are now in the conundrum that I believe we should continue the study for the sake of the Senate. It is important for the Senate to come to a collective determination of the rules we wish to have in place and how we wish to manage ourselves.

Honourable senators, I hope the government will listen to us. The government has come around the bend rather quickly with Bill C-34, choosing options that preclude our study down the line. Senator Austin's question might be better directed to the chair of the committee.

(1450)

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Andreychuk, I regret to advise you that your time for speaking has expired. Are you asking for leave to continue?

Senator Andreychuk: I would seek leave to finish this question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Andreychuk: Just to reiterate, my point would be that it is timely and necessary to have a full look at the rules. We have rules, but they are in different places. Perhaps we should look at a more refined codification. Perhaps we should have another debate on public expectations, but we have not entered into that debate. There is a significant amount of work yet to do.

Bill C-34 has arrived before we have finished our work. A modality has been chosen, and I may or may not like it. I do not know yet, and I will study it. However, what troubles me more than anything is that the modality, if pushed into place before we complete our study, will open to scrutiny by the courts the Senate's parliamentary privileges, or at least it has the potential to do that.

I am puzzled as to why Bill C-34 has this urgency to it when there has not been the urgency in the past. It was introduced and been on the Order Paper here for some considerable time. The committee only received its reference for the study in February. Now the bill is before us. It is one added complication in our study. I have received assurance that we will continue the study.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I have a short supplementary question., If the government were to make the argument that this debate on this interim report is really the debate on Bill C-34, do I understand that the honourable senator's answer would be, "Not at all"?

Senator Andreychuk: That is correct. I was ready to speak at some point. Senator Carstairs then took the opportunity to use our report and to talk about Bill C-34. I have some difficulties with Bill C-34, on the face of it, and with the fact that it impedes the completion of our full study. Perhaps, in consultation with the committee, I should be asking that Bill C-34 not be introduced in this chamber and dealt with until we have completed our study, so that all senators may have the benefit of our review.

I have already been approached by some senators who have asked, "Why did you say this and that in your report, binding us?" I continue to assure senators that no definitive decisions have been taken.

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join the debate on the ethics package, specifically the interim report tabled in this chamber by the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedure and the Rights of Parliament.

First, I should like to thank the Honourable Senator Milne, who is ably chairing this committee, and the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, our deputy chair.

Honourable senators, I have had the privilege of serving in Parliament for over 30 years, first in the other place and now here. It is a source of pride that I have had the opportunity to serve the Canadian public. I have no hesitation in saying that in that experience, I have found high ethical standards among my colleagues in both places of the Canadian Parliament.

I do not believe, nor has anyone on either side of the chamber alleged or suggested, that we have a problem with ethical behaviour in the Senate. However, we cannot ignore the fact that the world has changed. Standards have changed. Expectations have changed. All across Canada, codes of conduct have been put in place over the past decade that ensure not only that politicians always act in the public interest — I think they do, just because it is the right thing to do — but also to enable Canadians to see clearly that the public interest always comes first.

This kind of transparency is relatively new, but it is important. I believe it is no longer good enough for politicians to say, "Trust me." Canadians have a right to be able to see for themselves that we are acting ethically and in their interests. I consider it a profound privilege to serve Canadians in Parliament. I believe it is my job, in these situations, to ensure that I am meeting changed expectations.

As a Canadian citizen, I have the right to privacy, but in accepting the appointment to this chamber, I believe I accepted a public trust that may require me to relinquish some of that cherished privacy in the public interest — by no means all, but some.

Certainly, I accept that I may be held to a very high standard, and that is fine. I happen to believe that we in this chamber already hold ourselves to high standards. I have no difficulty accepting rules that will make those standards, that we already have, transparent and readily apparent to all Canadians. I am confident that we can only benefit from Canadians knowing more about our work here and the seriousness with which we view the trust that has been placed in us.

I welcome the government's initiative in introducing the ethics package that we are studying. I look forward to continuing the standing committee's study of the proposed code of conduct and returning, soon I hope, to this chamber with the results. To date, we on the committee have spent a great deal of time considering and discussing the proposed independent ethics adviser. As proposed, this person would serve to advise us as individuals on how to fulfil our obligations under the code and to prevent problems from arising. The person would serve as adviser to the chamber to help the Senate maintain its ethical standards vis-à-vis its members. He or she would investigate alleged breaches of the code and then advise the chamber on how we as a body should address particular problems. As proposed, the Senate would retain full control over the adviser and over its members.

As honourable senators have heard, a number of us were concerned about the original proposal that there be one ethics commissioner who would oversee and advise on the ethical obligations of public office-holders, members of the other place and senators. We believe that the Senate is a distinct entity within the Canadian parliamentary structure and that we should have our own Senate ethics officer. I am pleased to learn from the Leader of the Government that the bill introduced recently in the other place includes our committee's recommendation on this point and will provide for the appointment of a Senate ethics officer separate and distinct from the other place and from public office-holders.

I am also pleased to learn that our comments were heard with respect to the need for senators to have meaningful input into the appointment process of this Senate ethics officer.

Senator Oliver, while not a member of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, nevertheless was generous with his time and knowledge of the issues before us and attended a number of our meetings. He pointed out two important reasons for having an ethics officer or code of conduct: consultation and prevention. These are important functions, but to be effective, we on both sides of this chamber need to have the utmost confidence in the person who holds this position. As a committee, we were not satisfied that the appointment process originally proposed by the government would achieve this. We recommended changes to ensure input from the leadership of the recognized parties in the chamber and also a confirming vote in the Senate. I am glad to hear that our concerns were heard and resulted in changes to the proposal.

Honourable senators, it is not enough that we put in place a process that satisfies us that the Senate ethics officer is independent and deserving of our trust and confidence. The Senate ethics officer would also enable the Canadian public to see that their trust is correctly placed in us. The appointment process must be one that instils in the Canadian public trust and confidence in the Senate ethics officer. That means that the position must be established in legislation, with a term, and especially with defined grounds for early removal. In other words, there cannot be concern that if we are displeased with the advice we are receiving, we can dismiss the Senate ethics officer. He or she cannot serve at pleasure, for that does not lead to independence.

I appreciate that some senators are anxious to ensure that we do not undermine parliamentary privilege by creating this position in statute. However, I listened carefully to the testimony on this point before our committee. While there were witnesses who told us that at any time the place and the statute increases the chance that a court will accept jurisdiction to interpret the legislation, nevertheless it is quite clear that Canadian case law has held that privilege does attach to the activities of the ethics commissioners and the courts will decline to review their activities as a result. The witnesses were also very clear that we can take steps in drafting the rules on the role of the Senate ethics commissioner to help ensure that parliamentary privilege will attach.

(1500)

Although we do not have the bill before us today, my understanding is that, if words have not already been put there to ensure that privilege attaches, they will be put there, and that is something we should ensure when the bill comes before the Senate. It is quite possible to have words placed in the legislation that ensure parliamentary privilege attaches to the position of a Senate ethics commissioner.

I was also impressed with the testimony of the provincial ethics commissioners who appeared before us. Commissioner Ted Hughes is probably one of the most respected authorities in this field. He has served as Ethics Commissioner in British Columbia, the Yukon and now the Northwest Territories. He was very clear in his testimony to us, saying that, in his experience, court interference has not been a problem. Privilege attaches. The courts respect this and do not seek to interfere or to review the activities of ethic commissioners.

Honourable senators, I am satisfied that we would not run a dangerous risk by entrenching the Senate ethics officer in legislation. Other Senate officers, such as our clerk, are appointed pursuant to statute. This has not caused a problem, nor has anyone tried to suggest that this has in any way undermined or threatened parliamentary privilege.

Meanwhile, it is critically important that a Senate ethics officer be and be seen to be independent. The Senate ethics officer's role is pivotal to the proposed ethics package. If the position were an appointed one simply under the Senate rules, then the rules could be changed. He would be our employee serving at our pleasure. I do not believe that is good enough. As a chamber we deserve, and Canadians expect, more than that.

Honourable senators, I believe we are on a track to an excellent modern set of rules that will help us maintain our already high standards of conduct. Moreover, by this appointment, Canadians will clearly recognize the high ethical standards of their parliamentarians. The Senate ethics advisor will represent a significant step in this regard. I look forward to continuing the work on the proposed code of conduct in committee, and to returning to this chamber as soon as possible with a final report.

[Translation]

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a question of Senator Rompkey. Does he share my opinion that it should be a given that an ethics commissioner in the Senate speak and write in both official languages?

[English]

Senator Rompkey: Honourable senators, absolutely, I think that is a given and a fundamental issue on which we should rule here in this chamber.

On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.

National Anthem Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kinsella, seconded by the Honourable Senator Corbin, for the second reading of Bill S-14, to amend the National Anthem Act to reflect the linguistic duality of Canada.—(Honourable Senator Prud'homme, P.C.).

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, before the adjournment motion is put, I should like to ask whoever is moving the adjournment, when we might expect to hear from Senator Prud'homme on second reading debate? This order has been adjourned for a week now. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to hear his views early next week.

[Translation]

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I was going to propose, as per our usual practices, that debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate, on behalf of the senator who had previously asked for the adjournment, Senator Prud'homme. Since he is here, perhaps he could respond to Senator Kinsella's concerns.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, this is only the first day the bill has appeared on the Order Paper. Some items on the Orders of the Day are only dealt with on the eleventh or twelfth sitting day. I do not see why we should get excited over this. It is not a matter of national emergency.

I will not speak today, especially after the unfortunate events that occurred at the annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Union. This is not the time to make a flamboyant speech that might go beyond anything that I want to say about this bill. I do not understand why anyone would want to cut short the debate.

I again ask that debate be adjourned, and I do not intend to go on about the matter. Senator Kinsella is not the only one who wants to debate the bill. Others would also like to speak to it, and I will not prevent anyone from doing so. Senator Kinsella has sponsored many bills that have been deferred to subsequent sittings or that have been adjourned by various other senators.

If there are senators who wish to speak to it today, then stand up! I know that there are senators who would like to speak, but they are not here. However, I do not want to be told, all of a sudden, that a minister like Ms. Copps, whom I adore, thinks that it has become a matter of national urgency that this bill be passed. This goes to the very core of what our country represents. I do not see why we would want to adopt it so quickly, because it has profound consequences.

[English]

I have the permission of Senator Forrestall to remind you that he and I are the only two survivors of the committee that studied the national anthem in 1967. Honourable senators, I see no urgency to deal with this matter immediately.

The Senate is a place where we must be calm, so I will remain calm.

[Translation]

Let us calm down and await further developments.

[English]

Honourable senators need not concern themselves. I will speak eventually.

Order stands.

(1510)

Study on Matters Relating to Straddling Stocks and to Fish Habitat

Report of Fisheries and Oceans Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (study on matters relating to straddling stocks and to fish habitat) presented in the Senate on March 27, 2003.—(Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.).

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, Canadians are told it may take a very long time — years, maybe decades — before Atlantic groundfish are able to recover, if ever. This spring the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans conducted hearings on the question of fish stocks that straddle the 200-mile limit on Canada's continental shelf. The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or NAFO, is responsible for managing fisheries outside Canadian waters on what are known as the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

Conservation decisions are now more generally accepted by NAFO members than was the case in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, the number of fisheries violations in the area managed by NAFO has increased substantially since 1995. From what I heard during the course of the Senate committee hearings, NAFO is failing to adequately fulfil its role in the areas of reporting violations and enforcing compliance with regulations. Some witnesses said that most NAFO member countries do not have a sufficient economic stake in the fishery to invest in the expensive business of high seas fisheries management and conservation.

The evidence suggests that, for many NAFO members, the organization is only a means to gain access to fish. Conservation is not a priority. Canada, for its part, has a disproportionately large economic stake in conserving the straddling stocks adjacent to its Atlantic coast. We are also a major financial contributor to the operation of NAFO, but apparently have very little clout in the organization.

In August 1999, Canada ratified the 1995 treaty on straddling and highly migratory fish stocks known as the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, or UNFA. This will help regional organizations such as NAFO to better manage stocks on the high seas outside waters that fall under national jurisdiction. In fact, the UNFA treaty was a Canadian initiative, and Canadians played a significant role in shaping that document we ratified in August 1999.

The European Union — the most important NAFO member next to Canada — has yet to ratify UNFA, but has publicly committed to it. The EU intends to ratify it en bloc; that is to say, all EU countries will be ratifying simultaneously. We recently learned from the Department of Foreign Affairs that, with the one exception of Ireland, the EU is now ready to ratify the 1995 UNFA by June 2003. In the case of Ireland, the department informed us that passing legislation to ratify UNFA is a priority for the Irish government. I urge my fellow parliamentarians in Ireland to make the required legislative changes so that the EU can finally ratify UNFA.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, a collapse similar to what we have witnessed on the East Coast of Canada may be occurring in the North Sea. In October 2002, an international scientific advisory commission recommended that all fisheries targeting cod in the North Sea, Irish Sea and waters west of Scotland should be closed. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warned in a 2002 study that nearly half — 47 per cent — of the world's marine stocks or species groups are fully exploited, with no reasonable expectations for further expansion. Another 28 per cent are either overexploited or depleted. Some stocks have been so severely run down they may never rebound.

The need for international cooperation is being loudly articulated. At their 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, world leaders committed themselves to maintaining and restoring the depleted stocks with the aim of achieving these goals by no later than 2015.

In December of this year, an international conference called Deep Sea 2003 will be held in Queenstown, New Zealand. The forum will allow experts to discuss issues relating to the conservation and management of the continental slope and deep seas. As the oceans are being exploited as never before, there is widespread agreement on the need to identify and develop future directions and governance of deep-sea fisheries.

In closing, Canada is a maritime nation bordering three oceans, with the world's longest coastline and the largest archipelago — in the Arctic. Therefore, it is in Canada's economic interest to have an effective global maritime regime in place. We should continue to support nations that want to ensure this renewable resource is available for the benefit of future generations.

On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Rompkey, debate adjourned.

Study on Health Care Services Available to Veterans

Interim Report of National Security and Defence Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (Sub-committee on Veterans Affairs) entitled: Fixing the Canadian Forces' Method of Dealing with Death or Dismemberment, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on April 10, 2003.—(Honourable Senator Day).

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to speak to the most recent report of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Honourable senators will recall that this report was filed with the Clerk during our Easter break.

[Translation]

I am honoured to speak today on the report of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled "Fixing the Canadian Forces' Method of Dealing With Death or Dismemberment," the result of many hours of work by the members of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

I take this opportunity to thank my honourable colleagues on the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs for their contributions. I would also like to recognize the contribution of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, especially Major Bruce Henwood.

Honourable senators, without the efforts of Major Henwood and his family, it is very likely that the internal studies revealed in the report would have remained undiscovered for many more years.

Internal studies by the Canadian Forces have concluded that, although discharged soldiers are entitled to disability benefits and programs, they are often ill-prepared to deal with the bureaucratic labyrinth they must get through before they can obtain the benefits they assumed they were accumulating during their years of service.

As a consequence, it may well happen that they do not receive their benefits because resources are not made available to them. Even without these resources, Major Henwood chose to declare war on the bureaucracy, and in so doing demonstrated the many qualities Canadians admire in the members of their armed forces: confidence, determination, courage, intelligence and, most importantly, being of service to his colleagues in the Canadian Forces.

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Honourable senators, I will tell Major Henwood's story for those of you who are not familiar with it.

In 1995, while serving on the UN peacekeeping mission to Croatia, Major Henwood lost both his legs at the knee when his vehicle ran over an anti-tank mine. A British officer transported him to safety and a lengthy convalescence followed.

Not long after, Major Henwood learned that the military income insurance to which he and his comrades had to contribute could pay him no compensation for his accident.

In the spring of 1997, Major Henwood filed a grievance against the Canadian Forces, which remains unsettled five years later. The Canadian Forces Grievance Board has recommended to the Chief of Defence Staff that the grievance be dismissed, claiming that the clause in his insurance policy relating to compensation for dismemberment was not intended for a lump sum settlement, but rather for income protection.

At the time, several years after the accident, the recommendation did not surprise Major Henwood, because he had learned, in the meantime, that policy coverage was based on income. However, he stated that the insurance policy is misleading and misunderstood by soldiers who have to enrol in the plan. He suggested that it be changed to provide a lump-sum indemnity to soldiers who are dismembered while serving their country.

Major Henwood also noted that the insurance plan for colonels and generals did provide a lump-sump indemnity for dismemberment.

When he appeared before the subcommittee, Major Henwood expressed his objections to this situation:

GOIP is wrong in its present format. It is a double standard. It violates the age-old principle of the military commanders looking after their men first and then themselves.

They have taken something more important and fundamental than just an insurance policy perk. They have shaken the trust of their subordinates and have degraded the leadership ethos. This is a question of ethical conduct that has a direct impact on the morale of the Canadian Forces and challenges the integrity of the generals.

The Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs agrees with Major Henwood. It recommended that the Department of National Defence ensure that all members of the Canadian Armed Forces, regardless of rank, be entitled to the same compensation in the event of death by accident or of dismemberment, in the form of a lump-sum indemnity based on the injury suffered.

[English]

In response to our study, to the efforts of people like Major Henwood, and to the media coverage of these issues, the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable John McCallum, recently announced improved accidental dismemberment coverage for Canadian Forces members from the date of the announcement forward. Honourable senators, that is an example of how we can make a difference when we do work here in this chamber and through our committees.

While this was a most important announcement, because it applies to all members of the Armed Forces hereafter, it is only the first step. It is an important step and one that is appreciated by all members of the Armed Forces, but something remains to be done. The injustice continues for a small group of men and women who were required to pay into the plan and who did so. As they paid, they thought that, like their colonels and generals, they had coverage, but they did not.

While appearing before the committee, Minister McCallum was questioned on the possibility of the announced benefits being retroactive in order to rectify the unacceptable past treatment of those members of the Canadian Armed Forces who had been previously injured, including Major Henwood. In response, the minister promised:

...to exhaust every avenue in an effort to do something positive on this front. I have instructed my department to begin this process, and I look forward to providing you with an update on our progress in the future.

Honourable senators, the mandatory insurance program was in place from 1982 forward. Therefore, the retroactivity would apply to only a few former members of Canadian Armed Forces. The estimate is that it would apply to approximately 10 to 15 Canadian soldiers who, while serving their country, lost a leg, an arm or an eye. The Canadian public would want those individuals to be compensated for their loss in the same manner as the colonels and generals would have been compensated. The compensation is designed to help the dismembered soldier adjust to his reduced ability to earn a living.

I commend the minister for his commitment to resolve this situation. I look forward to the minister's positive announcement in that regard.

Honourable senators, I strongly support the findings of the subcommittee on this matter. Moreover, I encourage you to let the Department of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence know that you support this report. Your continued support for the recommendations is critical in order to build on the work that we have already accomplished and to ensure that these veterans and their families receive proper care when they are permanently injured.

The members of the Canadian Armed Forces perform their tasks for the people of Canada with dignity and professionalism. They should be treated in a like manner when they are injured during the performance of those duties. Anything less would only serve to diminish the valuable role they play in providing the peaceful society that we as Canadians largely take for granted.

Honourable senators, I should like to move the adjournment of this debate in the name of Senator Meighen, the chair of the subcommittee.

On motion of Senator Day, for Senator Meighen, debate adjourned.

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Study on State of Health Care System

Final Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kirby, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cook, for the adoption of the third report (final) of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled: The Health of Canadians — The Federal Role, Volume Six: Recommendations for Reform, tabled in the Senate on October 25, 2002.—(Honourable Senator LeBreton).

Hon. Joan Cook: Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator LeBreton for the opportunity to continue the debate on this subject.

I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the 2003 First Ministers' Health Accord and the February 2003 budget of the Government of Canada, particularly as they fulfill some of the recommendations of Volume 6 of the Kirby report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled, "The Health of Canadians — the Federal Role," and the final report of the Romanow commission, entitled, "Building on Values: the Future of Health Care in Canada."

The 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal made a commitment to all Canadians that they should have timely access to health services on the basis of need, not the ability to pay, regardless of where they live or move in Canada; high quality, effective, patient-centred and safe health care; and a sustainable and affordable health care system that will be there for Canadians and their children in the future. These are admirable objectives that were also supported by the report of the Senate's Social Affairs Committee and, more recently, by the report of the Romanow commission.

More specifically, the first ministers' accord set the following goals to help them work toward achieving these commitments. These goals stated that Canadians should have access to health care providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week; have timely access to diagnostic procedures and treatments; not have to repeat their health histories or undergo the same tests for every health care provider they see; have access to quality home care and community care services; have access to the drugs they need without undue financial hardship; to be able to access quality care no matter where they live in Canada; and see their health care system as efficient, responsive and adapting to Canadians' changing needs and those of their families now and in the future.

I intend to address each of those goals, although not in the order in which they appear in the first minister's accord.

First, I will focus on accountability. It has been undeniably clear that Canadians want to see where their tax dollars are being spent and that it is essential to improve the governance of Canada's health care system. The Social Affairs Committee of the Senate made recommendations for a national health care council, headed by a national health care commissioner. This would improve the governance of the health care system, keep the public informed on how the system is evolving and ensure accountability. It would be national in structure, independent of government, build on the strengths of existing organizations and be funded by the federal government.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said that the 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal envisions change and makes the system more accountable to our citizens. He then added that we have made our health care system more accountable through the creation of a health council. This council will report regularly to Canadians on the quality of their health care system. I would like to commend the federal government for recognizing the importance of accountability and taking positive steps in the right direction.

Within the budget of 2003, we see the creation of a new Canada health transfer by April 1, 2004. This will enhance transparency and accountability and provide Canadians with a more accurate picture of federal contributions to health care and other key social sectors. Provinces and territories will retain their flexibility to decide where and how they will invest federal resources in each sector.

In order for Canadians to have access to sustainable quality health care and to additional services such as those listed in the goals above, such as service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, home care and other needed services, it will be necessary to change the way primary care is provided in Canada to better utilize the services of our primary care physicians. "Primary health care" is the name given to the first contact that an individual or family has with the health care system. It aims to bring health care as close as possible to where people live and work.

Today, in Canada, primary care is generally provided by a family physician. However, nurses and nurse practitioners are capable of providing a number of services currently provided by family physicians. This means that Canada could make better use of its family physicians and these nurses by reorganizing primary health care so that it is provided by groups of health care professionals. These groups would include other professionals, such as nutritionists, mental health workers and social workers, in addition to nurses and physicians. These teams could also organize and encourage volunteers to identify and help with other community needs. Incorporating the use of volunteers from the community would certainly help the groups and, thus, the health care system to be responsive and adapt to the changing needs of Canadians, as outlined in goal 7 of the accord.

Certainly, for most Canadians, the first point of contact with the health system is a telephone call to the general practice physician's secretary. This person makes the appointment for the caller to meet with the physician and is therefore the gatekeeper for entry into the health system. Generally, everyone who calls will receive an appointment with a physician. Therefore, the gate to primary care physicians is wide open.

In a multidisciplinary primary care group, the gatekeeper would most likely be a nurse or other trained professional who, after talking with the caller to learn more about their problem, would make an appointment with the most appropriate health care professional. This might be a nurse for baby care, an immunization or a blood pressure checkup, a nutritionist for someone who is having difficulty controlling their weight, a social worker for someone stressed by financial problems, or a physician for a clinical diagnosis of an illness.

General practice physicians would then have time to take back some of the simple procedures that they have lost to hospitals over the years. Having a whole basket of services available in one place would certainly be much more user-friendly for Canadians.

This group approach to primary care would also allow more attention to be paid to teaching health promotion and disease prevention and adding or coordinating other necessary health services, such as home care and community care for mental health patients. Canada must move in the direction of providing more health promotion and disease prevention services. Our current sickness model of health care is out of balance.

In this proposed delivery of health care, a nurse becomes the gatekeeper for primary care; the family practice physician the gatekeeper for secondary health care services; and the specialist physician the gatekeeper for tertiary health care services. I believe the responsible use of the health care service is the responsibility of the gatekeeper and not the patient.

Goal 5 of the accord is that Canadians should have access to the drugs they need without undue financial hardship. The methods for doing this were set out in much more detail in the Kirby report than in the Romanow commission report, and the levels of support differ.

The Senate committee report recommended a catastrophic prescription drug plan under which the federal government would take over responsibility for 90 per cent of prescription drug costs whenever drug costs surpass $5,000 per person per annum or 3 per cent of family income, whichever is the smaller.

Under the Senate plan, private health insurance plans would also be required to continue to protect their clients up to the $5,000 level. The Romanow commission recommended that the government reimburse 50 per cent of drug costs over $1,500 per person per annum.

In addition, both reports saw that if Canadians are to receive equal medication opportunities regardless of which province or territory they live in, then a national drug formulary and a national drug agency for adding to or removing drugs from the formulary are essential. A national formulary is essential to achieve the most bang for the buck with the resources available, and the selection of drugs included in the formulary will be based on the best information available.

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In order to improve timely access to diagnostic procedures, such as MRIs, CT scans and medical specialists, the February budget provided $5.5 billion to be spent in three areas: providing diagnostic and medical equipment; obtaining needed health information, including electronic health records; and, improving research hospitals. Unfortunately, much of the equipment will not be used unless additional health care professionals are trained to use them. In many specialty areas, health care professionals are working unhealthily long hours in an effort to provide the timeliest service possible in the circumstances. Currently, providing personnel to run equipment placed in rural facilities is difficult. It will become more so when additional vacancies are created as new equipment is placed in urban facilities.

Within the committee's report, we stated that Canada must improve and increase its investment in health research in order to bring research funding up to the level of other industrialized countries. We found that health research is necessary and will lead to the creation of products and technologies that will improve the health of Canadians. For example, clinical trials supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will lead to effective guidelines and clinical practices. Population health research will lead to better health promotion and protection. Health services research will lead to a more efficient health care system, and the translation of research will lead to evidence-based clinical decision making.

A balanced approach is necessary in this area. Research and new diagnostic equipment is of no benefit if we do not support and train the staff. If we provide funds for new equipment, we must ensure that health professionals have the knowledge to use the equipment effectively and efficiently. It is also imperative that health care professionals are kept up to date on new advancements in research and technologies.

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology recommended that Canada should increase its spending on health care research to the level of 1 per cent of total health care spending, which would require an additional $440 million a year for five years. We also believe that the government should commit to a five-year budget plan for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Within the budget, we see that $500 million will support research hospitals through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The third goal is to develop a system where Canadians need not repeat their health histories or undergo the same tests for every health care provider that they see. To do this, it is proposed that a truly national electronic health records system be developed. The electronic health record will contain an individual's complete medical history, and use of the record will involve security systems to control who may have access to and be able to see the various parts of the record.

Having this health information available electronically would mean that someone travelling to a tertiary care facility would not be required to repeat tests when he or she arrives because test results would already be available to the tertiary professional. It would also allow physicians to have earlier access to the results of diagnostic test data. A truly national system would mean that Canadians can travel across the country and their health records would be available in the electronic record system whenever needed.

However, this will require the provinces and territories to work closely together in planning and implementing their electronic records system. Use of anonymous data from the electronic records would also allow researchers to carry out health surveillance tests and to determine, for example, the optimum treatment for various clinical conditions, which would increase the safety of our at-home system.

As you know, I am a Newfoundlander and, as such, I look at the recent budget allocations to health from the standpoint of Newfoundland and Labrador. The province covers an extremely large geographic area with half its population sparsely spread across huge distances. Consequently, it is difficult and expensive to provide good health care in the far-flung rural regions of the province, much more expensive than providing care in large urban centres. Therefore, I am perturbed by the large amount —

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cook, I am sorry to interrupt, but your 15 minutes have expired.

Senator Cook: Honourable senators, I have two pages left.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted for the honourable senator to continue?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cook: Honourable senators, pages 160 and 161 of the Romanow report provide details of the proportions of the various provinces and territories that are urban or rural. It is worthy of note that the distances that Maritimers must travel to tertiary health facilities is far shorter and the expense of doing so is less than it is for Canadians who must travel to certain parts of Labrador and Newfoundland. Canadians living in Labrador and parts of Newfoundland often have to travel many miles to see a primary health care professional, and all must travel great distances to access specialist care and treatment. Residents of Labrador, in particular, must spend over $2,000 to fly to St. John's, the only tertiary care facility in the province. They then must find and pay for suitable accommodation and meals. For some, the expense of the trip may explain their reluctance to travel to St. John's for treatment.

The time delays to travel these distances probably explain, in part, the lower life expectancy, the higher overall mortality rates and the higher cardiovascular disease related deaths experienced by rural Canadians.

I believe there is justification for a catastrophic travel and accommodation plan because, in general, rural Canadians have less disposable income. However, where the income level is small enough, the citizens of the Labrador portion of my province can receive government assistance, but the province does not have the funds to reimburse citizens who do not receive provincial social support.

I make these points to show why the funding formula for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, based largely on population, is inadequate. According to 2001 census data, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador make up 1.742 per cent of the Canadian population. Therefore, since most of the funds are to be divided among the provinces and the territories according to population, Newfoundland can expect to receive approximately $32.9 million per year of the $9.5 billion increase in transfers over the next five years, and $42.9 million of the $2.5 billion immediate transfer.

To put a scale on this transfer, this money will not cover the salary increases needed to bring our province's physicians' salaries up to the level of the Atlantic Provinces. Therefore, most of the $32 million will be used also to pay for salary increases of physicians and other health professionals.

At the first ministers' meeting in Ottawa, Premier Grimes stated that increasing equalization at the same time as increasing the annual transfers is necessary to ensure that the smaller provinces can keep pace with health care reforms undertaken in the larger provinces.

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The first ministers unanimously demanded that the federal government permanently remove the $10 billion equalization ceiling, which the Prime Minister has agreed to do, in order to strengthen the program and ensure that all provinces have the ability to provide comparable levels of service at comparable levels of taxation. The removal of this cap will help my province to keep pace with health care reform. I also commend the federal government for taking such important steps.

The $274.3 million of the $16 billion for a health reform fund over the next five years that is targeted to primary care, home care and catastrophic drug coverage will certainly be a help to my province, and some money currently being spent by the provincial government may be able to be diverted elsewhere in the health system. The Newfoundland and Labrador government only pays for drugs for low-income individuals and families, regardless of age. All senior citizens are not automatically covered, as is true in other provinces, so my provincial government savings will not be necessarily as great as those, for instance, in Ontario. There may also be some savings for my province in providing home care, but I would rather hope that the money available for home care can be used to improve our current home care system. As for primary care, change will be difficult and time consuming.

Finally, over the next few years, the Newfoundland and Labrador government will receive approximately $94.3 million of the $5.5 billion invested by the federal government to promote the health of Canadians by increasing the purchase of diagnostic and medical equipment and health information technology and providing more money to hospitals for applied health care research. This will certainly be helpful.

One problem not clearly addressed in the recent budget is the need to recruit and train the full range of health professionals. Newfoundland and Labrador has difficulty recruiting and keeping these professionals, mainly because salaries are higher elsewhere. Each time salaries are increased across Canada, my province finds it increasingly difficult to follow suit, and we lose professionals to the higher paid positions elsewhere.

The Senate committee's work is ongoing, and the future areas of thematic study include mental health and Aboriginal health.

Psychological problems and mental illness will affect 20 per cent of Canadians in their lifetime. Approximately 3 million Canadians suffer from depression. Roughly 750,000 people have severe and chronic mental disorders. Mental illness costs the country $15 billion a year, $6.5 billion in direct medical expenses and $8.5 billion in lost productivity. Mental illness affects people in all occupations, educational and income levels and cultures. There is no immunity.

On motion of Senator Cook, for Senator LeBreton, debate adjourned.

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Seventh Report of Committee—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chalifoux, for the adoption of the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (amendment to Rule 131—request for Government response) presented in the Senate on February 4, 2003.

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton, seconded by the Honourable Senator Milne, that subsection (3) of the Committee's recommendations to amend Rule 131 of the Rules of the Senate be further amended by replacing the words "communicate the request to the Government Leader who" with the following:

"immediately communicate the request, and send a copy of the report, to the Government Leader and to each Minister of the Crown expressly identified in the report or in the motion as a Minister responsible for responding to the report, and the Government Leader".—(Honourable Senator Cools).

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to join this particular debate on the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedure and the Rights of Parliament because of what I would call my continuing and abiding concern that the rules of this place are being burdened with all manner of unnecessaries. In addition to that, the rules are being burdened by attempts to make them decisions rather than having them form the regulatory framework around which decisions are made.

It seems that every week we are introducing new rules. When I first came here, there were about 80 rules. The rules have now multiplied and are bountiful. They have grown to such an extent that no senator really knows them any more. Most senators find themselves totally dependent on staff to find out what the rules are. This is an unhealthy and unparliamentary situation. It is something that we should begin to interrupt and arrest. All honourable senators know what I think of Parliament and how important I think it is.

My interests in this subject matter were triggered when, in her remarks on February 6, some weeks ago, Senator Milne made a comment. Remember that the question is the business of ministers ignoring Senate reports and reports of Parliament. However, the real question is how does Parliament speak to ministers. Senator Milne was responding to an intervention by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Lynch-Staunton, who was attempting to strengthen the report. She said:

The honourable senator's request seems to be a proper one. I wish we had incorporated that into the report in the first place. However, I think the report as it stands will probably do. Normally, the communication between this chamber and the other is through the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This is the normal procedure, the normal channel of communication, except of course in the papers.

Honourable senators, the normal way of communication between the two chambers is by message. The normal way of communication between either of the two chambers and the Crown or minister or the cabinet is an address. This is what prompted my interest.

If we look to Erskine May, at page 606 of the 22nd edition, we see a definition of an address as follows:

An Address to Her Majesty is the form ordinarily employed by both Houses of Parliament for making their desires and opinions known to the Crown...

Opinions and desires are made known to the Crown by manner of an address.

As we are endeavouring to be in the business of rule making, it seems our rule making is attempting to go around what I would consider to be the normal method of chambers communicating with each other, which is, as I said, not as Senator Milne described, but by message and by address.

The reasons for all of this are outlined in the report. For example, in paragraph 8, the report says:

The proposed procedure would allow the Senate, following its approval of a report submitted by committee, to refer that report to the Government with a request for a complete and detailed government response within 150 calendar days.

This is also supported by a statement in paragraph 3:

On May 17, 2001, the Senate had referred to your Committee a motion by Senator Gauthier, as amended by Senator Lynch Staunton, that would have amended the Rules of the Senate to enable the Senate, after approving a report submitted by standing committee, to refer that report to the Government with a request for a comprehensive response by the Minister within 90 days.

Honourable senators, there is no procedure whatsoever for referring anything to ministers except by address. The possibility exists that the drafting of this report is a little careless and that when the word "refer" is being used it is not being used in a parliamentary sense at all. The possibility exists that what is meant is that someone should send a minister a copy of a report, or something of that nature. "Refer," in a parliamentary sense, has a definite meaning because it means quite often matters such as orders of reference. Invariably, a referral is accompanied by orders of reference and asks for a decision or an opinion from the properly authorized body or individual. That is why in this chamber, when we refer a bill or we refer something to a committee to study, we are asking the committee for its opinion on the bill — that is, to study the bill.

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Honourable senators, what we are dealing with here is not really the need to make orders of reference or make referrals to ministers or to the Crown because we are ignoring the process of addresses to ministers, the Crown. Here we are speaking about the fact that members are saying that the Senate is ignored, that the opinions and judgments of senators and the members of the House of Commons are largely ignored. This is borne out in paragraphs 4 and 5 of this report. Paragraph 4 says an interesting thing, which is:

In the course of their deliberations, members of your Committee agreed that the work of the Senate was potentially undermined by the lack of any formal means of seeking a response from the Government to policy studies, and also agreed that this problem feeds a widespread perception in the media that such studies simply gather dust after they are tabled in the Senate Chamber.

Honourable senators, I would say that this is not a perception in the media; this is a fact. The majority of Senate opinions are widely ignored by cabinet, so it is not a perception at all.

Paragraph 5 continues in the same vein and states:

Senate studies frequently contribute to the broad processes of debate and public policy formation by virtue of the strength of their findings and recommendations. However, the absence of tangible evidence of Government attention implies indifference to Parliament, and to the citizens it represents, that is unacceptable in a democratic system of government.

That particular statement is more to the point and quite accurate. What we are really dealing with here is not so much the need of the Senate for a process; what we are really dealing with here is the need of the Senate to assert itself and to address the real issue, which is the lack of accountability of ministers of the Crown to Parliament and to the judgment of both Houses, the Senate and the House of Commons.

Therefore, the issue is not a lack of communication. Neither is the issue a lack of information. As a matter of fact, I would submit to honourable senators that we are in an era of massive information, where ministers have staff who do nothing else but listen and attend to what is being said in the chambers in case they are mentioned. We are in an era of, to my mind, massive information. I do not know about most senators, but there is so much information crossing my desk every day that I have to work hard to keep on top of it.

The question being posed in this proposal is that of ministerial responsibility to Parliament. How is Parliament to hold ministers accountable? In other words, how can parliamentarians and senators cause ministers to see life their way or in accordance with the research and work that they have done?

Honourable senators, the proposals as drafted do not achieve what they purport to do, which is that they do not allow for a reference to a minister.

The report also says that other methods were canvassed, including the method that is used in the House of Commons. I would like to put on the record standing order 109 of the House of Commons, which covers the same subject matter. Standing order 109 regarding "Government response to committee reports" states clearly:

Within 150 days of the presentation of a report from a standing or special committee, the government shall, upon the request of the committee, table a comprehensive response thereto.

The proposals coming forth from the Senate are certainly inadequate when compared to what they are attempting to mime or to imitate from the House of Commons. The proposals purport to govern senators, whereas the House of Commons standing order is quite strong. It states that the minister shall respond and within a given period of time. If that is the effect we are trying to achieve in this chamber, we should go after it in a more direct way. Standing order 109 is quite firm and states clearly that the minister "shall" respond.

Honourable senators, Senator Lynch-Staunton's concerns were extremely valid and extremely viable. I think his proposed amendment improves the problem and the proposed solution somewhat, but it really does not go to the heart of the matter.

I believe that the proposed rule should be drafted in what I would describe as a more senatorial way, in a manner that is more consistent with the senators and the upper chamber. If one reads the proposed rule, one definitely gets the impression that the Senate is being cast in the position of an inferior chamber or supplicant before the government.

Honourable senators, the solution may be to send this report back to the committee and to examine the premises on which the proposals were written. If what Senator Milne says is what she has believed, that the government leader here is the normal procedure for communicating with the House of Commons and with the government, then that is a mistaken assumption. Perhaps we should go back to the drawing board and look at the matter within the parliamentary ways of communication, which are, as I said before, messages and addresses.

Motion

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I move:

That the motion for the adoption of the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament and its motion in amendment be not now adopted, but be referred back to the Standing Committee for further study and report.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the house ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, when Senator Lynch-Staunton and Senator Cools can have this kind of debate, I think it is very worthwhile for us to study the issue a little more.

With your permission, honourable senators, I would like to adjourn debate to the next sitting so that I can read what Senator Cools has said, consult with Senator Lynch-Staunton and participate in the debate.

(1610)

Therefore, I put myself in the hands of the Senate. I think the very able clerk is telling His Honour exactly what my intention is.

On motion of Senator Prud'homme, debate adjourned.

[Translation]

Study of Need for National Security Policy

Interim Report of National Security and Defence Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kenny, seconded by the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the adoption of the Second Report (Interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled "For an Extra 130 Bucks... Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis, A View from the Bottom Up", deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on November 12, 2002.—(Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C.).

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today on the important issues raised by the second interim report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled "For an Extra 130 Bucks... Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis, A View from the Bottom Up."

Although I am not an expert on national security or national defence, I would still like to offer you a few thoughts I have had while reading this report.

You know, of course, that, over the last decade, the Government of Canada has taken on the mission of reducing and eliminating the annual deficit and beginning repayment of the debt. That is exactly what it has done. Moreover, it has done this through prudent and balanced management of the country's finances.

It is expected that the final figures for fiscal 2002-03 will show a budget surplus for the sixth consecutive year. During this period of budgetary surpluses, the government has reduced the debt by more than $47 billion.

Difficult decisions had to be made to ensure that social programs that are so important to Canadians were maintained. Each and every one of us was urged to pull his or her own weight. A great many very real sacrifices were made to get to zero deficit.

The urgency in controlling public spending required implementing major and severe budget cuts in all areas of government, including departmental and agency programs and operations.

My intention is not to provide you with a long list of these cuts that were required to balance the federal budget. Instead, I wanted to give the context.

Honourable senators, you may understand that when I read the title of the report in question, entitled "For an Extra 130 Bucks... Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis, A View from the Bottom Up", I had all kinds of ideas to better use this $130 per capita.

In other words, with $130 per capita, which represents the substantial sum of $4 billion, I can imagine being able to improve a number of existing programs. This was the amount of the increase that the authors of the report proposed for the National Defence budget.

As you know, when preparing the budget, the government must consider its priorities and the priorities of Canadians as well as urgent needs.

As soon as the government posted a budget surplus, it was careful to come back to its priorities, while still recognizing the other pressing needs of government operations. This is exactly what the government did in preparing its last budget.

Honourable senators, I move that the debate be continued at the next sitting of the Senate. I will conclude my comments at that time.

[English]

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Would the honourable senator allow one question?

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, I have no objection. If I am allowed to conclude my remarks later, I will answer questions. I have no problem with that.

[English]

Senator Grafstein: I would like to ask the honourable senator a question to which he can perhaps refer in his concluding remarks.

When I was in Washington last week, to my amazement I was told by U.S. officials that while our navy is interoperable with our allies, our air force is not. Perhaps the honourable senator could bring to our attention whether this is the understanding of the government and, if so, what it would cost to remedy this situation.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, this is a very important question that certainly merits more information. I believe that, if the military had to adjust some of its missions — we are talking about the air forces here — at some point a more logical choice could have been made, and one I would have understood better than purchasing used non-submersible submarines. We saw T.V. coverage of Armed Forces personnel with oakum, caulking leaks to stop the water from coming in. This is a very important matter.

Senator Prud'homme: We were had.

On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.

Foreign Policy on Middle East

Inquiry—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry by hon. Senator Prud'homme P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to Canadian foreign policy in the Middle East.—(Honourable Senator Prud'homme, P.C.).

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I will be speaking in connection with this inquiry in the very near future.

Order stands.

(1620)

Study on the Administration and Operation of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act

Motion to Authorize Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee to Extend Date of Final Report—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government), for Senator Kolber, pursuant to notice of May 6, 2003, moved:

That the date for the presentation by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce of the final report on its study on the administration and operation of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, which was authorized by the Senate on October 29, 2002, be extended to Thursday, December 18, 2003.

He said: Honourable senators, Senator Kolber asked me to move the motion standing in his name, to extend the date on which the committee must make its final report.

I therefore move adoption of the motion.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Are we on Item No. 100?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: We are on Item No. 112.

Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I am a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, and I would have liked Senator Kolber to be here to answer questions in the House. That is why I am moving adjournment of the debate on this motion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, it has been moved by Senator Robichaud, seconded by Senator Rompkey, that the motion be agreed to.

Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I will repeat what I said. I dearly love intermediaries and the messengers of the Sacred Heart, who have responsibilities. Back home in Quebec, we call them the messengers of the Sacred Heart.

When you have a responsibility, you assume it. When I am given something to do, I do it or I say I cannot do it or I disappear. I would have liked Senator Kolber to be here to answer questions. He is not here right now, and he will be here next week.

If the debate were adjourned until next week, I would be sympathetic, but I prefer to speak in the Senate rather than in committee, where, as the saying goes, committee business is the responsibility of the committee.

We cannot come running to the Senate every time there is a problem in committee, because the rules are very clear. Committee problems must be solved within committees. That is why I want to get certain things settled here in the Seante chamber. I do not see the urgency of going through an intermediary, however elegant he may be. Perhaps we could adjourn the debate.

Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, while I am not one of those messengers of the Sacred Heart, I did make a commitment to the committee chair that I would move the motion, but I have no objection if Senator Prud'homme moves adjournment of the debate on this motion so that he can ask questions later.

[English]

Senator Prud'homme: When I make a promise, I stick to it. I promised not to do it as a delaying tactic. At the first opportunity to speak with the chairman, I will do so.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator Prud'homme, seconded by the Honourable Senator Bolduc, moves that the debate be continued at the next sitting of the Senate.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, I would like to clarify the situation, because there appears to be some questions about it. I moved the motion and, when the Speaker put the question, Senator Prud'homme rose to adjourn the debate until the next sitting. Under the circumstances, I believe we have followed procedure, and that debate on this motion is adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.

[English]

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, there is a matter of courtesy, decency and convenience here. The author of the motion should be here to defend his motion. He is not here so let us adjourn the debate. That is the reason. If you do not defend your interests, forget them.

[Translation]

On motion of Senator Prud'homme, debate adjourned.

Adjournment

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

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 13, 2003, at 2 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, May 13, 2003, at 2 p.m.