Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, I want to make my statement
today in two parts. First, I would inform honourable senators that our
colleague, and my friend, Douglas Roche has just published a book on a very
important subject. The book is entitled, The Human Right to Peace and is edited
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, the second part of my statement
refers to the fact that today is World Sight Day.
Earlier today we wore our sunglasses in front of Parliament to show our
support for the "Vision 2020, the Right to Sight'' program. This program results
from a collaborative effort between various Canadian and international
organizations, including the World Health Organization. Its goal is to eliminate
the major causes of preventable blindness.
In Canada, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind is spearheading
Vision 2020. Every year, the CNIB assists more than 100,000 blind, visually
impaired and deaf-blind Canadians to become full participants in all aspects of
Canadian society. One of its priorities is ensuring funding for research in the
area of visual impairment. This has worked in the past.
Honourable senators, because of research, more people in this country have
cataract surgery each year than give birth. It is working in the present.
Canadian researchers have made important strides forward in vision-related
research. However, they need our support, not only on World Sight Day but also
on every day.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, there has been
unhealthy confusion in Canada since the beginning of the year on the
constitutionality of criminal prohibition of the recreational or therapeutic use
In light of recent Ontario Court of Appeal decisions in the Hitzig and J.P.
cases, I would briefly like to remind you of the legal and historical context in
which this court handed down these two judgments. For everyone to understand, it
is highly necessary to grasp the intricacies of this whole subject, which have
been addressed by the Court of Appeal.
This long legal saga began in July 2000 when the Ontario Court of Appeal, in
the Parker case, declared that the general prohibition of the possession of
cannabis in Canada was unconstitutional, as it prohibited the use of this
psychoactive substance for therapeutic purposes. In order to allow the federal
government to change the legislation, the court suspended the application of its
judgment until July 2001.
Subsequent to that judgment, in July of 2001, the Governor in Council adopted
a world first, the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. At that time, Health
Canada really felt it had found a good solution for the problem raised by
In January 2002, two Ontario court decisions complicated the situation. First
of all, arguing that Health Canada was refusing to provide cannabis to patients
with federal authorization for medical use, who were therefore being forced to
get their supply through the black market, with all the attendant risks, the
Ontario Superior Court of Justice found, in Hitzig, that the July 2001
regulations were unconstitutional.
Second, and at almost the same time, another Ontario court, a lower court, in
Windsor, this time, heard the J.P. case — initials are used because this was a
young offender who cannot be identified — and found that the July 2001
regulations did not constitute an adequate legislative response to the decision
in Parker. In order to be valid, the new government policy on the therapeutic
use of cannabis ought, according to this court, to have been set via amendments
to the act. This decision was confirmed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice
in May 2003.
The combined effect of these two decisions was that, from July 2001 onward,
there was quite simply no prohibition, in Ontario at least, of simple possession
of cannabis, whether for recreational or therapeutic use. Moreover, the
confusion created by these two decisions resulted in a number of police forces
in Ontario ceasing to enforce the law on this.
Honourable senators, this week two Ontario Court of Appeal judgments — these
decisions having been appealed by the Solicitor General of Canada — have ended
all the confusion. This decision has been quashed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I would like to inform the
honourable senator that his time is up.
Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, I would ask your leave to finish
my speech, which can be summarized in two pages.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I trust that the honourable
senator realizes he is preventing several of his colleagues from speaking.
Senator Nolin: The Ontario Court of Appeal achieved this by declaring
only certain provisions of the regulations unconstitutional because they imposed
arbitrary limits on patients wishing to obtain cannabis produced for therapeutic
purposes. This ruling dismisses the need in certain cases for a second
physician's opinion favouring the use of cannabis, the restriction preventing
consumers from compensating suppliers and the restriction regarding the number
of producers who may supply cannabis to one patient.
With its ruling, the court has killed two birds with one stone; not only has
it confirmed the validity of the regulations and indirectly legitimized the
activities of compassion clubs, but it has also struck down the Superior Court's
decision in the J.P. case by reinstating the ban on possessing cannabis for
recreational purposes in Ontario.
Nevertheless, in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia,
where the courts have made decisions similar to those of the Ontario judges,
there is still uncertainty as to the validity of the ban. That said, the Ontario
Court of Appeal has sent a very clear message to the Parliament of Canada that
we should stop procrastinating on this subject and shoulder our responsibilities
in order to eliminate any confusion surrounding the use of cannabis, whether for
therapeutic or recreational purposes.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, on the night of September 28,
2003, Nova Scotia experienced the worst storm we have had in over 40 years.
Environment Canada had warned of the impending hurricane, but most of us, being
Eastern optimists, told ourselves that hurricanes have always slowed down before
they reached land, and so would this one.
Hurricane Juan did arrive, with all its fury, torrential rains and winds of
over 140 kilometres an hour. The result was more destruction than I have seen in
Nova Scotia in my lifetime. Over 300,000 residents were without power. Classes
at Halifax schools and universities were cancelled for a week because of safety
concerns for students. Many neighbourhood streets were blocked by fallen trees;
trees that were torn up by their roots, often destroying sidewalks. At least
three people were killed when trees crushed their vehicles.
The historic Public Gardens and Point Pleasant Park were largely decimated
and will take many years to recover.
Nova Scotians are resilient and have worked through many challenges in the
past. The day after the hurricane, the generosity of spirit shone through as so
many rallied around to help one another. Most power has been restored, which is
small consolation to those still in the dark, but when one has seen the
devastation, it is small wonder that it has taken this long.
Nova Scotia power crews worked long hours, day after day. The Province of New
Brunswick and the State of Maine sent crews to help restore power. Over 800
members of our military helped with the cleanup. Their generosity was most
welcomed by Nova Scotians. The Emergency Measures Organization of Halifax
Regional Municipality, which had appeared before the Standing Senate Committee
on National Security and Defence just a week earlier, coordinated what was a
great emergency response.
Honourable senators, it has been a challenging week and a half for Nova
Scotians. Their resilience and willingness to help one another have come to the
forefront as the rebuilding process has begun.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, each year, October 10 is
set aside as World Mental Health Day. It is a day co-sponsored by the World
Federation for Mental Health and the World Health Organization. It aims to
promote mental health advocacy and educate people around the world about related
mental health issues. This is a large and important undertaking, as the stigma
surrounding mental illness can be found in every country, in every group of
people, and among all ages.
The theme being promoted this year is the "Emotional and Behavioural
Disorders of Children and Adolescents.'' This encompasses a wide range of
disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders and
Canadian children are all too often affected by these disorders. The Canadian
Mental Health Association estimates that almost 20 per cent of children in this
country have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Our suicide rate for children
and youth under the age of 21 is also one of the highest in the world. Other
statistics related to the mental health of children in Canada are similarly
The World Health Organization has stated that the absence of good mental
health practices early in life may lead to mental disorders with long-term
consequences which in turn may reduce the ability of societies to be safe and
Often, we feel helpless in dealing with mental health problems in our
society, especially when they affect children. Assistance is available, but many
children and adolescents are not receiving it because mental health problems can
be difficult to recognize. Adults, whether they are parents, caregivers,
teachers or doctors, must be attuned not just to the physical well-being of the
children with whom they are in contact, but also to their mental state. Taking
the time to question a child's troubling behaviour that seems both persistent
and severe may lead to the successful treatment of a disorder that would
otherwise continue to inflict pain. Promoting good mental health practices as a
preventive measure against these disorders is another way that adults may better
protect the children in their care.
Honourable senators, let us hope that the message put forward on this World
Mental Health Day leads to the improved emotional well-being of children and
adolescents in our country and around the world.
On a personal note, I am honoured to be on a Senate committee that is now
studying this very important issue. Action must be taken.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I want to associate
myself with the remarks of my colleague from Dartmouth. As one of those who just
had power restored this morning, I have a greatly relieved spouse. She will not
have to carry water upstairs any more.
Honourable senators, I want to draw your attention to the situation in the
Middle East. It is my greatest fear, and I am sure that of many other watchers,
that war clouds are gathering in that area once again.
After what can only be described as a weekend of terrible violence, first
with a suicide bombing in Haifa and then an Israeli air strike on a terrorist
training camp in Syria, it is my understanding that both Syria and Israel have
traded threats of military action and that Israel has given its military
permission to mobilize reserve units.
Sadly, in the last day, reports would suggest that the Israelis have
reinforced with a brigade their frontier to the north with Syria and Lebanon,
and that as many as two more units are currently being sent north. Reports also
suggest that two further Israeli battalion-sized units are being put in place
opposite the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The prospect of conflict between Israel and Syria, ongoing as it may have
been, would place in jeopardy the safety of 193 Canadians who serve as
peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
I ask the Leader of the Government, through the Deputy Leader in her absence,
to convey these concerns to the government and urge that the government take all
possible steps to ascertain the current disposition of Israeli and Syrian forces
near the Golan Heights. Further, I urge the government to take increased
precautions with Canadian Forces personnel in that theatre of operations,
including their withdrawal should that become necessary, and I ask that the
Minister of Foreign Affairs take all possible steps to alleviate the tensions
and restore some form of stability to that area.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the report of the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary
Association on its thirty-second annual meeting, held in Paris, Angers and
Vannes, France, from July 6 to 15, 2003.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, I give notice that on
Tuesday, October 14, 2003, I will move:
That the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament study the way in which Parliament's senior officials are
appointed, with a view to standardizing the process so that such officials
are appointed using an established procedure that has been approved by both
Houses of Parliament;
That the necessary provisions be put in place for removing such officials
from their positions for cause, by a joint resolution of the Senate and the
House of Commons; and
That the Committee report no later than November 28, 2003.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 4(h),
I have the honour to table petitions signed by another 2,000 people, adding to
the 4,000 already tabled, requesting that Ottawa, the capital of Canada, be
declared a bilingual city and reflect the country's linguistic duality.
The petitioners pray and request that the Parliament of Canada consider the
That the Canadian Constitution provide that English and French are the
two official languages of our country and have equality of status and equal
rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Government
That section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867 designates the city of
Ottawa as the seat of government of Canada;
That citizens have the right in the national capital to have access to
the services provided by all institutions of the Government of Canada in the
official language of their choice, namely English or French;
That Ottawa, the capital of Canada, has a duty to reflect the linguistic
duality at the heart of our collective identity and characteristic of the
very nature of our country.
Therefore, your petitioners ask Parliament to confirm in the Constitution
of Canada that Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is officially bilingual,
pursuant to section 16 of the Constitution Act, from 1867 to 1982.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, even if we address all
our questions to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, given the
absence of the Leader of the Government, I get the impression that the only
response will be a guarantee to pass on our questions to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Perhaps we could take this opportunity to suggest that
the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
consider the possibility of having two individuals able to respond to our
questions. Who knows; after the next election, perhaps certain provinces will be
underrepresented and it will be necessary to appoint a second minister in the
Senate. That is my prediction.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have no objections to Senator Prud'homme's suggestion. It is indeed
unfortunate that the Leader of the Government in the Senate could not be here
today, due to special and extraordinary circumstances. I would like to remind
the house that it is quite appropriate to address questions to the chairs of
various committees. This would be completely in order.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, my question is for the
chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. Given the dramatic
and worsening situation in the Middle East — particularly along the Syrian,
Israeli and Palestinian borders; given the presence of Canadians in the Golan
Heights; given our interest and our international reputation, has the time not
come for your committee, which ought to be the best known committee in Canada,
to consider studying this issue, which could threaten the lives of Canadian
soldiers in the Middle East?
After 20 years without consideration of issues relating to the Middle East,
the House of Commons is preparing to consider the Muslim issue — there are 1.2
billion Muslims in the world. As the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
Foreign Affairs, would you agree to put on the committee's agenda the conflict
in the Middle East and not just Canada's relations with the Arab world in
Hon. Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, as the Senate knows,
committees of the Senate are instruments of the Senate. The Standing Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs has been occupied with questions of Canada-U.S.
trade relations. Yesterday and the day before, we heard from some interesting
witnesses on the pertinent question of exchange rates between Canada and the
U.S. and whether the rising Canadian dollar will adversely affect our trade with
the United States. These are the issues of which the Foreign Affairs Committee
is currently seized.
Remember that the committee has a reference from the Senate. If the Senate
orders the committee to study something, then the committee is obliged to do so.
Under the circumstances, I must say that, given the calendar we all see coming
at us, I do not quite see where we would fit in the time to study this issue.
I would add that, as Senator Prud'homme is aware, Senator Corbin has moved a
motion concerning this issue.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: I gave notice.
Senator Stollery: I stand corrected: Senator Corbin has given notice
of a motion. That is where the matter rests.
We all know that there are important issues concerning the Syrian-Israel
frontier and Lebanon, and we are all aware of them. I completely agree with
Senator Prud'homme. However, my problem is that the committee has an important
order of reference, one on which we have already tabled Volume I of our findings
here in the Senate in June. We are working hard on the exchange rate issue so
that we can also table Volume II before we adjourn.
Senator Prud'homme is certainly as experienced a parliamentarian as I am, and
he knows the calendar as well as I do, and at the moment, that is the state of
business with the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question. I have been here in this chamber now for 10 years. Before that, I was
in the other place for 30 years. People do tend to beat around the bush.
We know that the pressure is so immense that the Standing Senate Committee on
Foreign Affairs — the most prestigious committee of the Senate, in my view — is
staying away from the subject of the Middle East. That committee always studies
Canada-U.S. affairs, and no one objects to that, but every time we publish a
report it is already obsolete because the situation is changing so fast.
There have already been so many studies on Canada-U.S. relations, and so many
exchanges concerning Canada and the United States, that perhaps it is a way to
avoid other issues. I repeat again: A study on the Middle East started in 1982
and finished in 1985, and we never again touched on the Middle East.
Honourable senators, in view of the explosive situation over there, I want to
know if a prestigious committee like the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign
Affairs has a duty to take the initiative and not just sit and wait to react.
Unfortunately, I am deprived from sitting as a member of the Foreign Affairs
Committee. The honourable senator knows that, but I want to say that if I were
on his committee, I would insist and I would put motions. I am a member of the
Banking Committee, and that is fine, but I hope the chairman of the Foreign
Affairs Committee will show leadership and return to the days of the late
Senator George Van Roggen, from Vancouver, who ran a most prestigious committee
and was not afraid to tackle difficult issues. Please do not try and avoid this
difficult issue, because the question of the Middle East threatens to explode in
our faces, and then it will be too late for us.
Senator Stollery: Honourable senators, Senator Prud'homme has very
ably expressed his views on this subject. First, let me just explain to
honourable senators that the Foreign Affairs Committee has not continually and
persistently dealt with Canada-U.S. affairs. In fact, since the free trade
debate in 1987 or 1988, I do not recall us dealing with that subject at all.
What we are concerned with here is a review of the free trade agreement. That is
a very important issue and affects the lives of millions of Canadians.
Honourable senators, there are many important issues in the world. We could
sit for 24 hours per day, 365 days per year and we would not resolve the
problems of this large world in all of its complexity. We must make decisions.
The members of the committee have made decisions, and we decided that it was
important, on the fifteenth anniversary of the North American Free Trade
Agreement, to review that agreement. That is what the committee is currently
involved with and, as I said, if the Senate decides that we should do something
different, then we would follow the orders of the Senate because we are servants
of the Senate. However, at this point, as the chairman, my responsibility is to
the members of my committee.
I might add that any senator may attend meetings of a committee. There is no
rule that says any senator cannot attend meetings of a committee. That is where
matters stand. We are working hard to bring an end to the exchange rate
hearings, which are in the headlines of every newspaper in the country, if that
means anything, and that is what we are involved with right now.
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: Honourable senators, I have a question of
Senator Stollery. When he says that every senator may attend the meetings of his
committee, does that mean that Senator Prud'homme is not barred from those
Senator Stollery: Honourable senators, I am not even on the Committee
of Selection. However, for years the rule has been that any member of the Senate
can attend a committee meeting, and that of course includes Senator Prud'homme,
who is a very senior member of Parliament and of the Senate.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I will correct a
misunderstanding. I did not say I am not attending. I do attend the meetings of
the Foreign Affairs Committee. I said I was deprived of being a member of the
Foreign Affairs Committee, and for 10 years I have felt that that was unfair. I
was clearly told to ask to be a member of any other committee, that I would not
get on the Foreign Affairs committee and that I knew why. When Senator Corbin
debates his motion, I will tell you why.
However, Senator LaPierre, of course any member of the Senate may attend any
meeting of any committee, and I do that. I attend meetings frequently because I
am interested in many issues, but I am talking about being a member of a
committee. Attending a meeting of a committee is a different issue.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question
is for the distinguished chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In your
committee, is it not true that while Senator Prud'homme, or any other senator
who has not been chosen by the selection committee and approved by the Senate to
be a member of the committee, may attend, only those who are members can move a
motion and vote?
Senator Stollery: Honourable senators, that is absolutely correct.
However, I would like to add to Senator Kinsella's important observation that,
like most foreign affairs committees in the world, we do not study a great deal
of legislation because the nature of foreign affairs does not lend itself to
that. Therefore, the number of actual votes that take place are relatively
limited because we try, as much as possible, to have a general consensus when
dealing with the various issues. Though what the honourable senator has said is
true, it must be added that the situation does not arise all that often.
Senator Kinsella: Is it not true that the Foreign Affairs Committee
did study the legislation dealing with NAFTA? Given that the Chrétien-Martin
government said that they would get rid of NAFTA, is the honourable senator
expecting legislation at any time soon before his committee to repeal that
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, this question is totally beyond the scope of what a committee chair
can answer. It deals with something that is a matter of public policy and,
therefore, cannot be answered by a committee chair.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, this is now an opportunity
to ask questions of chairs of committees, and I have been attempting for some
time to get an opportunity to ask questions of the chairs of some committees.
They are seldom here during Question Period.
Senator Stollery: I am here.
Senator Bryden: I mean none of the interesting ones — no, I do not
mean that. Even yesterday, I knew that the chair of the Defence Committee would
not be here.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: I rise on a point of order.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: No point of order during Question Period.
Senator Comeau: The absence of senators from the chamber is not
supposed to be mentioned.
Senator Bryden: I am not referring to the absence of senators from the
chamber; I am talking about chairs. I am talking about people holding office. I
am not talking about who is who. I was standing yesterday because I thought I
saw the deputy chair of the Defence Committee. He was here, but unfortunately
time ran out before I got to raise my question. He was here today. The reason my
question is important is that if either the chair or the deputy chair were here,
I would have asked what evidence there is to support the claim made by the
National Security and Defence Committee that illegal aliens are coming into
North America via the Port of Campbellton, New Brunswick. This item was reported
in all of the Atlantic Canadian papers.
The people of Campbellton are up in arms and have no idea on what basis this
allegation was made. I would like to know the evidence on which these
allegations were made. It is not unusual for this committee to go around making
histrionic allegations, but these allegations should have some basis in
evidence. That is the question I would have asked if the chair or the deputy
chair were here.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, I have a question for
the chair of the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, who
incidentally is doing a fine job.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, Hear!
Senator Gauthier: Today, the committee was to meet with
representatives of CPAC concerning the broadcasting of our committee
proceedings, among other things. This meeting was cancelled. Could the chair
tell us when the next meeting with CPAC representatives is scheduled for?
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, the meeting was postponed, not
cancelled. We will meet as soon as we can find a date that is acceptable for
both parties: committee members and CPAC representatives.
Hon. Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, I have a question for the
acting government leader in the Senate. When did Question Period become a period
where committee chairmen were asked questions? This is new procedure for me and
I would like to know more about it.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the rules provide that senators may ask questions of committee chairs,
provided these questions concern the committee's work.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Austin, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the third reading of
Bill C-6, to establish the Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of
First Nations Specific Claims to provide for the filing, negotiation and
resolution of specific claims and to make related amendments to other Acts,
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Gill, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Watt, that Bill C-6 be not now read the third
time, but that it be read a third time this day six months hence.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I wish to say a few words
on Bill C-6. Some senators have expressed concerns about the passage of Bill C-6
as though it will be a detrimental bill to the Aboriginal people of our country,
something that will make their lives worse instead of better. Remarks have been
couched in terms that suggest the bill is the worst thing that could possibly
happen to Aboriginal people and that it is a real set back for them. I wish to
correct that view. Bill C-6 will improve Aboriginal people's lives in the
country. I wish to explain why I feel this way.
I have not come to this decision lightly. I am sensitive to the actions of
the other Aboriginal senators who are trying to delay this proposed legislation
and who are probably hoping that the matter will be delayed to a time when there
will be a new leader and a new government in place that might be able to improve
it. However, I am of the view that the bill should proceed. The provisions in
the bill that will establish a commission and a tribunal are positive steps and
should be pursued.
If honourable senators were to review the proceedings of our committee and
read through the presentations made, they would see that my interventions and
questions were quite pronounced. I probed government officials and the Minister
of Indian Affairs and his staff. I asked very pointed questions and raised many
issues of concern about the bill.
I am also sensitive to the stance of the AFN, their representatives and the
Aboriginal peoples who came before our committee to make their views known on
Bill C-6. I am sensitive to their aspirations. As a result of the work done in
committee, we were able to improve the bill in certain measures.
We have heard much of the history of the development of this bill and I do
not intend to repeat it. However, we should recall that this matter all started
with a joint task force. When the task force concluded its work after two years,
there was an expectation that the government would simply adopt the task force
recommendations; however, it did not. Even the government admits that it differs
significantly in at least two areas: the appointment process and the financial
cap of the tribunal process. The AFN identified other areas.
Some committee members, including myself, questioned why the bill differed
from the joint task force report. We asked why the bill did not reflect exactly
what the task force recommended given all the work that had been done. The
minister and his staff responded.
Four issues stood out as most significant when we were dealing with the bill:
first, the independence of the commission and tribunal; second, the appointment
process and consultation generally; third, the delay in the decision-making
process because there was real concern that there be a means whereby decisions
could ultimately be made and that the minister not delay decision making; and,
fourth, the financial cap of the tribunal.
The committee made amendments to the bill in three of these areas and made
observations in two of the others. I wish to address two of these issues.
I turn first to the subject of the appointments and the financial cap. The
joint task force recommended that the minister and the AFN make appointments and
re-appointments to the commission and the tribunal jointly. Bill C-6 proposed an
Order in Council appointment on the minister's recommendation alone. Joint
appointments to these types of positions are almost unprecedented. That has to
do with the democratic system of government in Canada and that the government
has responsibility. Cabinets are formed and they make the decisions for the
government. That is the reason the bill appeared in the form it did, where the
minister and cabinet have the ultimate authority and decision-making power in
terms of who is appointed to tribunals and commissions.
There are a few examples, but almost always of the sort where a board and a
minister jointly recommend who the board's chair will be. It has been done, but
not generally for these types of bodies and, certainly, not for tribunals.
Moreover, if the government and the AFN could not agree on appointments, there
was no mechanism to break the deadlock.
However, the committee did see that completely shutting out First Nations in
this process would not be fair. Therefore, several amendments were made. The
minister is now required to seek nominations from claimants on appointments and
must seek representation from all the First Nations in our country on the review
of the centre that will occur three to five years hence.
The minister is committed to making this whole process of dealing with
specific claims work. I am aware that he is personally committed to see the
commission and tribunal established and for them to be as effective as possible.
The issue of the financial cap has generated much debate. It has been implied
that any large claim will now be excluded from settlement. I want to say this as
clearly as possible: There is no cap or limitation on the size of a claim that
can be brought to the commission. There is no cap or limit on the size of a
settlement that can be negotiated. In the past few years, settlements have been
reached for claims of $1 million, $5 million, $20 million and even $100 million.
When the budget of the department has been exceeded, the minister has sought and
has obtained supplementary funding to cover these settlements. To date, the
government in its dealings with specific claims of unfulfilled treaties and such
has spent in the area of $1.4 billion and has dealt with 225 claims; hence, I
have no doubt that the process will be improved, will be faster and will be more
We have attempted to ascertain how many claims there are in the country.
Estimates are that Canada will eventually have to deal with Aboriginal claims
worth $4 billion to $5 billion. Approximately 600 claims must go forward through
this process or, if not through this process, through the court process.
The government is faced with the responsibility of dealing with this issue. A
formula in the bill outlines, in a general sense, the amount of money that will
be made available on behalf of the government to settle these claims. All
governments have a responsibility in terms of the amount of money that they
spend. I have been the head of a government, and I am aware of the
responsibilities of governments and cabinets. They simply cannot have a
situation where they could be faced with claims that amount to billions of
dollars and perhaps not have the money to deal with them. Therefore, the
provisions in the bill, as far as I can see, are drafted so that the federal
government can have a measure of control over the money that will be made
available for claims. The notion that there is a limitless amount of money that
the government can put forward for claims is not realistic. The provisions in
the bill are the government's attempt to have some control over the money that
cabinet will have available for settling these claims.
Committee members were concerned about the $7 million cap, and it was raised
to $10 million. I have no doubt that in future years, when this bill is
reviewed, there will be a further increase in the cap.
The tribunal is meant to be the process of last resort. It is used under two
circumstances. If the minister rejects the claim as invalid, a claimant can seek
a ruling on the validity. If the tribunal agreed it is valid, the claim would be
The tribunal can also be used if negotiations fail and no agreement on
compensation can be reached. Therefore, the tribunal is there as a last resort.
Aboriginal people can go to it. Unfortunately, if they go to it, they must waive
their rights to amounts over $10 million, but that is a start, and I have no
doubt that through the years this cap will be raised to higher amounts.
The government argued that it had to be cautious and had to carry out its
duty to be fiscally responsible. Therefore, it wanted a limit on how big a
settlement could be imposed by the tribunal and how many settlements the
tribunal could impose each year. This is not unreasonable, as I said. I think
government has to have some fiscal control over this area.
The committee was concerned about the requirement to waive claims above the
cap to obtain a ruling on validity, which is an issue we raised with the
government. With respect to the tribunal not being able to make decisions on
merit as well as claims, the government sees the situation as putting a system
in place. No one is perfectly sure how it all will work, and it wants to see how
the system works before it makes more improvements. I have no doubt that, in
time, more improvements and amendments will be made.
Honourable senators, this bill is not perfect. It certainly does not give
Aboriginal people everything they want, but in my view, it is a step forward.
Through my many years in government, I have pushed for changes in government,
and it always seems we never get wholesale changes. Change comes incrementally,
step- by-step, through hard work and persistence. That is the way government
works, and I hope that the specific claims centre can be one of those.
I am hoping honourable senators will see Bill C-6 as an important step in
dealing with unresolved claims in our country, and that it can be seen as a
first step. I will be here five, 10 and 15 years from now and I will have a
chance to review this matter. It is not a matter that will simply become law and
be forgotten. There is a provision in the bill for the minister to consult with
First Nations in three to five years, so I look forward to the minister
reporting to us in a number of years, at which time I will question him about
what improvements and progress have been made. We all can take the
responsibility of ensuring that this bill and the system that it will put in
place will have a good start and, eventually, a good life and that it will deal
with the aspirations and claims of Aboriginal peoples.
Honourable senators, I stand here today encouraging you to pass this bill. It
is not perfect, but I encourage you to see it as a first positive step in the
struggle of Aboriginal people in our country to have justice.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, would the honourable senator answer a question of clarification?
Senator Sibbeston: Yes.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, we just heard from Senator
Sibbeston and he speaks of this bill as not a perfect bill. Would he share with
us in what ways, in his view, this bill is not a perfect bill?
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, it is not a perfect bill in
the sense that the Aboriginal people of our country do not have the same role
and the same influence in terms of appointing members to the commission and the
tribunal. Of course, in a perfect world, both the federal government and the
Aboriginal people would have equal say. Does our government, our democratic
system and our system of cabinet government, where cabinets are ultimately
responsible for the government, permit that?
In terms of a tribunal —
Some Hon. Senators: Order!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry to interrupt the
Honourable Senator Sibbeston, but his time has expired. Are you asking for leave
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would like leave to be granted to Senator Sibbeston to complete his
answer to a question by Senator Kinsella.
Senator Sibbeston: Another point I wish to draw to your attention is
with respect to the tribunal itself. The tribunal is in place as a last resort;
that is, when negotiations break down, Aboriginal people can go to the tribunal
for a decision on the merits of a case. Presently, if Aboriginal groups go to
the tribunal, they must waive their rights to anything above $10 million. It
would be nice if they did not have that restriction. I get the impression that,
in time, this will happen; that in time, that cap will be raised, and perhaps
some day the tribunal will not have a cap and can make a decision completely on
the merits of a case. That is another area.
A further area of concern is the financial limits. At the moment, the federal
government has put in place, or is in the process of placing, about $250 million
a year toward settling specific claims. Would it not be nice if it were $1
billion or $2 billion to resolve all the claims quickly? However, it does not
work that way in the sense that there are limits. It takes time to consider all
the claims. There are only so many claims with which the government can deal in
a year because of the time it takes to review and to research claims. Yes, it
would be nice if there were a limitless amount of money available, but such is
not the case.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I wish to ask the Deputy
Leader of the Government what criteria he is using on which to base his
decisions regarding those who are allowed to continue speaking? Sometimes it is
only when someone is finished questioning; at other times, permission is given
to extend the time, and there are then two more questions, or one question and a
half. The deputy leader just gave permission for the honourable senator to
finish this answer and that was it.
What are the criteria? If we give permission to extend the time for
questions, it is because there is a lot of interest. Strangely enough, my
question is the same question as Senator Kinsella's. I do not know what is
happening; I was about to ask the same question. We are here to make every bill
as perfect as possible.
First, I do not know the criteria. I would like to know that for the future,
before I give permission for people to extend their time. If it is to be only a
question or a question and a half, I wish to know so that I am aware of the
Senator Kinsella: It is a point of order. You decide.
Senator Prud'homme: It was only a point of order.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, there is definitely an
interest here. Many of us would like to ask questions concerning the point
raised by the Honourable Senator Sibbeston. Therefore, I would like to have this
debate continue a bit longer so as to understand what exactly we are talking
Senator Kinsella: What is the ruling on the point of order?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Watt: Honourable senators, I do not agree with the outline
given by Senator Sibbeston. If I recall, when this bill was still in committee
and it came time to vote to bring this matter to the Senate, the honourable
senator abstained. I want him to make it absolutely clear where he stands on
this matter. In a sense, we are dealing with matters that will have an effect
and a tremendous impact on our people.
Since the honourable senator considered this bill — and he seems to be moving
in the right direction — it will have some positive elements, if not today then
maybe tomorrow. However, tomorrow will come. The people who are dealing with
this bill at the political level, especially those who are elected, are here
today but they will not be here tomorrow. Senator Sibbeston highlighted the fact
that he will be here for the next 15 years. I think I have the same term left.
Senator Prud'homme: You have 16 years!
Senator Watt: It might be longer than yours.
It is important to ensure that the instruments that we provide to the general
public of Canada, the Aboriginal people, have a meaning in the sense that they
can be used for good purposes.
The honourable senator says that the tribunal is the last resort. What
happens if the minister decides not to answer the request and the tribunal is
eternally handicapped? Let us say that during their deliberations they find out
that their claim is worth a lot more than $10 million — for example, in the
neighbourhood of $53 million or $100 million or $200 million? That is a very
real possibility, because they must go through a number of years of research and
things of that nature, depending upon their research capabilities. They then
bring the information to the commission, whereupon they find out that their
claim is actually worth not $10 million but over $100 million. The minister says
absolutely nothing; that is his privilege. However, all of those years will have
been spent on this process and, at the end of the day, the applicants find out
that they have no choice but to go to court. That is what will happen, unless
there is a serious amendment to that particular area of the legislation.
How does the honourable senator feel about that? It is almost, in a sense,
make-believe. People can go through that process but, at the end of the day,
they can find out that there is nothing. That is what is wrong with this
instrument here; it is incomplete. Too much power is being held by one person.
Senator Gill pointed out clearly yesterday that this matter must be
rectified, clarified and dealt with once and for all. That is where the conflict
of interest arises. Does one man, a minister who is politically elected — and
who became a minister when he was appointed by the Prime Minister — a one-man
show, have the right to run the life of the people? No. This is not right. This
is 2003. I can understand that, perhaps, in the beginning, when there was a
movement in the country and they had no choice.
Senator Chalifoux: What is the question?
Senator Watt: I already put the question on the floor, Senator
Chalifoux: How does the honourable senator feel about so much uncertainty that
lies at the feet of the Aboriginal people? I do not think we should accept that.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, we must look at our system of
government that is in place, our democratic system and the executive system of
government that we have in our country, where the Prime Minister with his
ministers and his cabinet make decisions on behalf of government. That is our
system of government that is in place. Governments are generally jealous of
their ability to make appointments. The system is necessary so that decisions
rest ultimately with a government. If we have a situation where other groups,
other people, can also have a hand in making appointments, then the system will
not work. It will break down. What if there is no decision with respect to
appointments? Does the matter just end up in the air, undecided? Someone
ultimately has to make the decision. That is the system of government we have in
Senator Watt raised the issue of conflict of interest, which was referred to
yesterday by the Honourable Senator Gill. In our system of government,
appointments are made to the judiciary and to the tribunals. In my brief
experience, I sat on a human rights tribunal, a semi-judicial board that dealt
with human rights issues. I was appointed. The moment you have a matter before
you, you focus on it and try to make a fair decision to the best of your
ability. It is my understanding that Senator Gill sat on a body similar to what
we have here, one dealing with specific claims. I would ask him whether, when he
was appointed, he felt that he was bound to toe the federal government line. I
do not think that is the case. You basically make a decision on the issues at
hand. You are not very conscious of what the government thinks. You try to make
a fair decision as best you can.
There is no other system. No other approach is possible in our system of
governance, where the government appoints people to tribunals and boards. We
have to live with that system and trust that the appointees are not in a
conflict-of-interest situation. We must trust that they can make judgments based
on their very best ability without regard for who appointed them.
Honourable senators, I have some faith in the system. Perhaps I am naive.
Perhaps it is because I am from the North, where we have had a good experience
with government and where Aboriginal people have become very involved in
government, from a time when everything was controlled by Ottawa through the
commissioners. Eventually, through political struggle, we took over. I have
experience in government and have some faith in our democratic system and in the
system of appointments because it is the only system we have.
I have no fear and no doubt that the minister exhibits goodwill and means
well. I trust that his appointments to the commission and tribunal will be fair.
Obviously, he will appoint the best people in our country. These appointees will
make the best decisions they can based on the facts before them.
Senator Watt alluded to my abstention in committee. Politics is the art of
the possible in the sense that you achieve what you can. When I abstained the
other day with regard to the vote on whether Bill C-6 should go back to
committee as is, it crossed my mind whether it would make any difference if we
delayed this bill for six months until there was a new government and a new
leader in place. I did consider it. For a moment, the thought went through my
mind that perhaps there will be changes; perhaps with a new government there can
be a better bill, an improved bill. However, after considering everything, I
came to the decision that it is best for this bill to go forward as it is.
Let the system carry through. Let the government have a chance to set up a
commission and a tribunal. We will have a chance in three to five years to
conduct a review and report on how things are proceeding. That will be, in my
view, the critical time to judge whether Bill C-6 has really come to life, as we
all hope that it will.
I decided, therefore, that I would support the bill and give the government a
chance, rather than delay the bill. If we delay the bill, who knows whether it
will ever again see the light of day.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, even though Senator
Sibbeston has not mentioned it, do I understand correctly that he does not
support the motion in amendment by Senator Gill?
Senator Sibbeston: No, I do not.
Senator Nolin: One of the reasons Senator Gill is proposing such an
amendment is the famous letter of Grand Chief Fontaine. Was Senator Sibbeston
aware of that letter being sent to the chairperson of the committee?
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I became aware of the letter
yesterday, just as others did. However, I am still persuaded. Organizations take
positions. We are in the political business, where we hear the views of
different people and different organizations trying to influence our decisions.
I certainly considered the letter, and I considered that despite the position of
the AFN, it is ultimately in the best interests of Aboriginal people to pass the
bill at this stage.
Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, in making such a statement, has
Senator Sibbeston taken the time to at least read the letter? Has the honourable
senator read the entire letter, or has he just assumed the intention of those
who wrote that letter?
Senator Robichaud: We cannot assign motives to an honourable senator,
yet that is exactly what Senator Nolin is trying to do.
Senator Nolin: I will repeat my question, just to make it clear.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): All he wants to
know is, did you read the letter?
Senator Nolin: Did the honourable senator read the letter before he
made the statement in his previous answer? Has Senator Sibbeston read that
Senator Lynch-Staunton: He only heard about it yesterday. Do not
confuse him with the facts.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I have not read the letter.
However, I have listened to days and weeks of testimony by AFN representatives.
I have not read the letter that was tabled yesterday in the house. I see it as a
statement of general position by the new Grand Chief of the AFN.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: How do you know if you have not read it?
Senator Sibbeston: That is what I take it as. It is the general stance
of the head of the AFN. I do not think that position differs much from the days
and weeks of testimony that we have heard. I am more influenced by hearing
people than by a letter.
Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, does Senator Sibbeston not think
it would be respectful to the leader or the representative of an important
organization, who took the time to write to the chairperson of the committee, to
at least read the letter before making comments on the intent of it, and to wait
until the next sitting of the Senate to make a comment or even to repeat the
comment that he just made? That would at least show respect for a group of
respected Canadians and what they represent, and to a man elected by them.
Hon. Jack Austin: I wonder if Senator Sibbeston would let me ask him a
question before he answers that question.
Senator Kinsella: Paul Martin is not Prime Minister yet.
Senator Sibbeston: It is nice to be getting so much attention.
Senator Nolin: You are making comments on something you have not read.
Senator Sibbeston: I very much respect Phil Fontaine, the Grand Chief
of the AFN. Generally speaking, I respect the organization that represents the
First Nations of our country.
Senator Kinsella: Generally, when it is convenient.
Senator Sibbeston: All I am saying is, please do not make a big thing
of this. I am aware that the letter was tabled yesterday, and I am aware that
there is a letter that contains the views or position of Mr. Fontaine. However,
that is not all there is. We have heard days and weeks of testimony, and that
influenced my decision more than one simple letter. As soon as I am finished
here, I will read it.
Senator Kinsella: After he votes!
Senator Nolin: I have a final question for the honourable senator:
Sir, before you read the letter, out of respect for our colleague who decided to
introduce an amendment to the motion because of that letter, at least read the
letter and wait until tomorrow or the next sitting day to speak.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, this is very much like the
motion that was made to ultimately have the bill sent back to the committee.
Senator Kinsella: It is a totally different issue.
Senator Nolin: Read the letter.
Senator Sibbeston: I found that motion disrespectful of the
chairperson and the committee members who worked for weeks and weeks on Bill
C-6. Do you know what? The Powley case had no effect on that bill.
Senator Nolin: Read the letter.
Senator Sibbeston: I do not have too much regard for amendments made
by people such as those on the opposition benches.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I would like to ask Senator
Sibbeston a question. I spoke yesterday in the Senate. I made clear in my speech
the testimony given to our committee by Mr. Schwartz, senior counsel for the
Assembly of First Nations. He read the Fontaine letter into the record, and he
was examined on the record. Members of the committee who are in the Senate
today, I am sure, will remember that event.
The questions of Senator Nolin, I believe, are based on a false premise. The
committee fully considered Phil Fontaine's letter, and it was fully presented by
very able counsel, Mr. Schwartz, whom I quoted extensively yesterday.
I believe that Senator Sibbeston was not present for that part of the
committee's hearings; is that correct?
Senator Nolin: My question followed Senator Sibbeston's answer.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, it is true that I was absent
last week when the committee held meetings at which a representative of the AFN
was present, and at which time it seems that they filed a copy of Mr. Fontaine's
letter. I must admit that I was not present at that time, and so I was not
cognizant of that letter until yesterday.
Senator Corbin: On a point of order, Senator Sibbeston said that it
was disrespectful to the chair of the committee to send the bill back to the
committee. That was a decision not of an individual but of the Senate. Is the
honourable senator imputing disrespect to the Senate?
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I am saying that I do not
believe it happens very often that, after a committee works for weeks and months
and files a report, the Senate adopts a motion to have the bill involved sent
back to the committee. I think that is most unusual.
Senator Kinsella: On the contrary!
Senator Sibbeston: In the brief time that I have been here, I have not
seen it happen. I know that for the time that this bill was being considered, I
thought, "Wow, we worked so hard on this committee. We sat so long and worked so
hard. Why is it that the matter is being sent back to the committee?'' I believe
that the only new element was the Supreme Court decision, and so that was the
basis for having the committee deal again with Bill C-6. I know my initial
reaction was, yes, one of discouragement. "Does the Senate feel we did not do
our work thoroughly? What is the reason for sending back to a committee work
that they had done already?''
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Because the bill is not perfect.
Senator Nolin: It needs more study.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: You yourself said that the bill is not
perfect. Let us improve it.
Senator Kinsella: Have you read the bill?
Hon. Aurélien Gill: Honourable senators, in my past life I have
already heard it said that it is very difficulty for minorities to make
themselves heard. It is usually said that the whispers of the minority are
drowned out by the shouts of the majority. I think that is what is going on here
in the upper chamber.
I see the paternalism of the past being repeated here. When Senator Austin
comes to the defence of Senator Sibbeston, that is paternalism. I have a
question, and I hope it will be answered by Senator Sibbeston. The honourable
senator is right when he says that we have spent a lot of time on Bill C-6. Can
you tell me the difference between the regulations of the old Indian Claims
Commission and what is in the bill the government is trying to have passed? I
want to know whether your group has had experiences under the old Indian Claims
Commission. Have you experienced the effects of claims?
Senator Sibbeston: The honourable senator asks about the difference.
My understanding is that, up until now, the whole matter of specific claims had
been dealt with under the provisions of the federal Inquiries Act. The federal
government at one point decided to set up an inquiry to deal with specific
claims. That, in my view, is minor. Any time a government does such things as
setting up inquiries, they can likewise take them away.
My view of our country, Canada, having to deal with specific claims of
Aboriginal people is that it is more profound, more meaningful and more
definite, bigger, if you will, to deal with a matter such as this through
legislation, as we see here. Rather than the government holding a little
inquiry, which can be taken away at any time at the whim of the government, it
now has come forward with a bill. That bill has passed through the House of
Commons and is now before us in the Senate. Parliament is now dealing with a
body that will be set up to deal with specific claims. To me, that is much more
profound and meaningful. It is a much bigger step, if you like, than the
inquiries we have had up till now. To me, it is a very big, positive step
Also, there are provisions for independence. Under the Inquiries Act there is
sole dependence on the minister and the goodwill of the government for
appointments to an inquiry. Under this provision, at least the process is
legislated in terms of the membership of the commission and the tribunal. The
process is much more open.
What we have before us today, in my view, is a step forward in dealing with
all the unresolved claims of the Aboriginal people in our country. It is a step
forward. Let us move forward with it.
Senator Gill: The honourable senators are speaking of an appointment
process, but will that process be independent, the Minister of Indian Affairs
not being involved?
Senator Sibbeston: I believe it will not be any less independent than
the Supreme Court of Canada. The government makes appointments to the Supreme
Court of Canada. Do we ever question the Supreme Court of Canada's independence?
It is the same thing. When a minister makes appointments, we must place some
faith in the minister picking and choosing the best people for the roles that
they will play on these commissions and tribunals. There must be some trust in
the system that is in place. If there is not, then the whole system in our
country is a failure and should be questioned.
The provisions in this bill are no different. Someone in the government has
to make the decision. We amended Bill C-6 so that the minister now must consult
with the claimants and in three to five years must consult with all the First
Nations in the country. We did not have that provision before we began the
amendment process. That took a lot of work to get done. It was not like we just
rubberstamped a bill that came from the other place. We worked hard and we did
respond to the First Nations that came before us. We did the best we could with
the powers that we were given.
I am a bit saddened by the fact that First Nations, Aboriginal people, must
look to the Senate as a place where they can get justice. They should be getting
it in the normal course of their dealings with the federal government. Why is it
that First Nations and Aboriginal people look to the Senate only? Justice should
be done in the course of day-to-day government dealings with Aboriginal peoples.
That point needs to be recognized. While we in the Senate do the best we can, we
have limits, and everywhere possible we will just do the best we can in the
Senator Gill: Honourable senators, I have confidence in the
government. The people elect the members of Parliament in whom they have
confidence. The people have confidence in the ministers appointed by the Prime
Minister. According to a poll of First Nations people, their leaders have also
been democratically elected. So, how does democracy function? Does it function
only on behalf of one part of Canadian society and ignore the rest? Why does the
honourable senator willingly put so much confidence in the Minister of Indian
Affairs, who has absolutely no mandate from the Aboriginal population? How can
you have confidence in the Minister of Indian Affairs and not have confidence in
our national chief, who was elected by the chiefs, who in turn were elected by
the local people?
Senator Sibbeston: I certainly have respect for the leaders of our
Aboriginal people. In the Senate, we are in the realm of the federal government,
in the realm of Parliament. In our system of government, ministers have
responsibility for different matters. In the case of Aboriginal people, the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is responsible, so that is
our system of government.
The Northwest Territories, the area that I come from, has a long history of
struggling for responsible government. Aboriginal people have struggled, but we
have done reasonably well. Nunavut was created in 1999 and the aspirations of
the Inuit were accomplished. I was involved in that ultimately happening.
Our experience in the Northwest Territories with the federal government was
such that we hated the federal government, just like other people do, but we
worked incrementally, to the point where eventually we ousted the federally
appointed commissioner. We ousted the federal government, but through hard work
There are land claims in the Northwest Territories. I am fortunate and I do
recognize that Aboriginal people in other parts of the country have a tougher
life because there are many non- native people with a longer history. In the
North, the federal government has done better and has settled land claims with
most of the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal people in the North are
flourishing. They are involved in government and in all aspects of society.
Aboriginal people are involved as partners in the diamond mines in the North.
Aboriginal people will own one third of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline that will
go through our region some day.
While I have a certain amount of distrust of governments, my experience has
been that through cooperation, through hard work and making incremental
progress, positive things can ultimately be achieved. I do not have this great
distrust and dislike for the federal government that some do. The minister, Mr.
Nault, in this case, has good relations with the North. During the first year I
was a senator, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development came to
the North four times, which was never done before. I have seen the minister
doing his work in the North, in his dealings with Aboriginal people, and he is
very positive. He has made many concessions and has done very well in his
dealings with and his treatment of Aboriginal people in the North.
Can I assume that the minister's attitude and his nature is the same toward
Aboriginal people in the rest of the country? My only hope is that it is. I
trust that once we pass this bill he will work fervently to set up the
commission and the tribunal. I also trust that these bodies will do their work
and produce results. I have that faith.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Senator Sibbeston did not answer the
fundamental question of Senator Gill. I will ask the question in a different way
by quoting from the letter Senator Sibbeston has not read, which is the letter
Grand Chief Fontaine sent to the chair and members of the Aboriginal Peoples
Committee dated October 2. My rewording of the question is by quoting from the
letter, which states.
Few organizations operate as democratically as the AFN. A National Chief
needs a mandate from a full 60 per cent of Chiefs who represent the
overwhelming majority of First Nations. No organization is better suited to
consult with and speak for claimants and potential claimants. Its position
on Bill C-6 is supported by regional and individual First Nations across
Canada. There is no split between the "grass roots'' and the leadership.
All I want to know from Senator Sibbeston is does he agree with these
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, just like anything, it is not
a letter from God; it is not the Bible. I believe certain things in it, but I
recognize that just like in politics, people in different areas of the country
have different views; so, when someone makes a statement, it does not
necessarily apply throughout the whole country.
It was not God who wrote that letter. While I believe generally the
statements that are made, I recognize that Aboriginal people are spread
throughout the country from coast to coast to coast, so you are never able to
get one unanimous, united view on certain things. While I respect the view of
Mr. Fontaine, I know there are pockets of support in the country for Bill C-6.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Mr. Fontaine signed "Phil Fontaine, National
Chief,'' not "God,'' just to make that clear.
My question is: What role does the honourable senator see the Assembly of
First Nations playing as representative of Aboriginals? To me, the honourable
senator is dismissing the Assembly of First Nations, and I find that very
difficult to accept.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I believe we could be in a new
era where the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations will have good cooperative
relations with the federal government so that we do not find ourselves again in
the situation where the Senate is looked to, to make changes. It is to be hoped
that, in their day-to-day work, they can wheel and deal and meet with the
federal government and cabinet ministers, and good decisions will be made so
that these matters do not end up on our plate.
I am optimistic that we are into a new era where the Assembly of First
Nations will have good relations with the federal government and that a great
deal will be accomplished.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, in the spirit of
clarifying the question raised by Senator Sibbeston, I will ask him a question
that is intended to put on the record the response that his question raised.
Is the honourable senator aware that, in their wisdom, the Fathers of
Confederation created the Senate with some specific mandates, one of which was
to promote and protect the interests of regional and minority interests? If he
is so aware, why is he asking what the Senate's role is in this issue?
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I totally believe in the
mandate of the Senate, as the honourable senator indicated. I recognize our role
as representing the regions, minorities and so forth. All I was saying is that
it would make our task easier if major issues between the Aboriginal peoples and
the federal government were dealt with in the normal course of their dealings. I
get the sense that here in the south, relations between the federal government
and the Aboriginal people are not very good. I sense that; that is all I am
My hope is that, in the next few years, relations will improve and decisions
will be made. I saw a bill go through last winter dealing with the Yukon where
the First Nations were involved in drafting the bill. The bill came before the
house and to our committee. The Aboriginal people from the Yukon were at the
table, saying that they were involved in the legislation and heartily endorsed
its provisions. We were so happy that we were able to confirm and approve the
provisions of that bill.
Bill C-6 is so unlike some of the other bills we have seen. Honourable
senators will recall Bill C-7, and there are other bills that are coming forward
where there seems to be such a diametrically opposed position between the AFN,
First Nations and the federal government.
I am only saying that it is to be hoped that we are in a new era where the
AFN and Aboriginal groups can have good relations with the government, and that
they can work cooperatively together on legislation so that when bills come
before us there will be hardly a thing to change, hardly a thing to do and we
can heartily support such bills. That is all I am saying.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, that is not a good enough
answer. It did not answer the question. If we have nothing to do, if we have
hardly anything to do, then the taxpayers of this country should shut us down
and send us home.
At the end of the day, does the honourable senator not agree that, in a
perfect world, all of those wonderful things might happen, but when they do not,
there must be a place where people and communities can go to get a fair shake in
life? That is what this body is all about. This is why they are here. This is
why they should be encouraged to be here, and not questioned as to why they
should come to this place.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I heartily agree with the
stance of the honourable senator and what he has stated. I agree that this is a
place where minorities, Aboriginal peoples and other regions can have their
On any matter such as this, some people will support the bill and others will
oppose. In this case, certainly for the region that I represent, the Northwest
Territories, my region would support this bill. To a certain extent, this bill
is not even applicable because we are into a modern era of treaties and land
claims. All of the historical grievances and so forth have been set aside with
these new land claims agreements.
In some respects, for my region of the country, the Northwest Territories,
Bill C-6 is not tremendously applicable. We only have one reserve. I am aware of
one or two little claims that perhaps do not even amount to $1 million. However,
I am conscious of the situation throughout the rest of the country where there
are billions of dollars in outstanding claims that need to be resolved within
the next few years.
I see Bill C-6 as a mechanism whereby we can make a serious start in dealing
with some of these long-outstanding claims. I agree that the Senate of Canada is
the place to deal with these matters.
Who is to say that the honourable senator is more right than I in terms of
representing regions or people? I have stated my position. Senator Chalifoux and
I have stated our positions. We support the bill. The fact that others do not
exactly agree does not mean that they are more right than we are. On balance,
honourable senators will have to make their own decision as to what is right and
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, the specific motion to which
Senator Sibbeston has spoken is the motion in amendment of Senator Gill. That
motion is that the bill be not now read the third time, but that it be read the
third time six months hence.
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: Honourable senators, on a point of order,
that is not exactly what the amendment says. The motion in amendment of the
Honourable Senator Gill, seconded by the Honourable Senator Watt, says:
... that Bill C-6 be not now read the third time, but that it be read the
third time this day six months hence.
This day is Thursday, October 9, 2003. That third reading will not occur six
months hence. Is my understanding correct?
Some Hon. Senators: No, no.
Senator LaPierre: Is it not a fact that that is what the Order Paper
says? It does not say, "this day six months from now.''
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I would like to thank Senator
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, someone had the floor when
the point of order was raised.
Senator Cools: Are we on a point of order? What are we on? What is the
question before us?
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, Senator LaPierre raised a
point of order on the basis of the English text. However, I would ask honourable
senators to read the French text that is absolutely exact.
Que le projet de loi soit lu une troisième fois dans six mois de ce jour.
You are right and you are wrong. You are right because the bill would be read
in six months, counting from yesterday, but it is not something that had to be
done yesterday. It is postponed for six months from this day. That is the usual
expression when we are postponing a bill.
Senator LaPierre: Do we take the French version or the English
version? Could the honourable senator be quiet? The English version is one
thing; the French version is another. Which one should we take?
Senator Cools: I would like to say that there is no point of order. I
think it is not a valid point of order. It may have provided a moment of levity
and a bit of humour, which is always useful.
Senator LaPierre: She has no right to insult me.
An Hon. Senator: You are not being insulted.
Senator Cools: Should I start again? I was saying that there is no
point of order and there certainly is no valid point of order because the motion
that is before us, to which Senator Sibbeston was speaking, is crystal clear. In
point of fact, the intervention and opportunity has provided a relief for
senators because I think humour in debate is always useful and levity is always
What was passing before us, I thought, was an extremely serious exchange. I
do not know about some honourable senators, but I have been deeply touched by
what Senator Sibbeston said. I am not sure I agree with it, but I was touched by
it. Senator Sibbeston, I would dare add, is a man who holds much respect here
and in his own part of the world. I say that with all seriousness.
I would hasten to add that Grand Chief Phil Fontaine equally commands a high
degree of respect, and, to my mind, his words should be heard, considered and
heeded by this chamber.
In actual fact, honourable senators, there is no confusion whatsoever in the
intent or the meaning of the motion because motions, after all, are moved on a
particular day, but they can only take effect on the day that they are actually
adopted and passed. Therefore, the term "this day'' will be referring to the day
that the motion is actually adopted. Therefore, for example, if the motion were
adopted today, this day six months would begin counting today. In other words,
if the motion were not adopted for another five months, then the six months
would move along, and the counting of the six months would begin from that day
because "this day'' usually refers to the day that the order takes effect. I
would have thought that was pretty clear. I thought that we were taking the
intervention as a way of refreshing ourselves mentally.
I want to ask honourable senators — and I do not know if I can now — about
the letter to which everyone has been referring. Yesterday, Senator Gill asked
for leave to table the letter from Grand Chief Fontaine. I had assumed at the
time that he was asking leave as well to have it appended to yesterday's Debates
of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Cools altered the
debate by replying to the first question from Senator LaPierre. Then Senator
Cools raised a point of order, which is not valid at the moment.
Senator Cools: I do not think I have changed the debate at all. I have
been speaking to the point of order and, in that way, have been very consistent,
I was saying that the issue of this letter came up time and again. It is
relevant to the adoption of this motion because it has been a pivotal plank in
Senator Gill's previous statements.
In addition, on the point of order and the motion, I was trying to discover
why the letter was not appended to the Hansard of yesterday's proceedings. On
looking at Hansard and the Journals of the Senate, I have discovered that the
letter will be recorded not in the debates, but in the sessional papers because
it seems that Senator Gill was not explicit enough in the request. As a matter
of fact, he actually made no request at all. It was Her Honour who rose and made
such a request.
Since that letter comprised such an important part of today's exchange, could
it be appended to today's proceedings.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable
senators, that the document be appended to today's Debates of the Senate?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(For text of document, see today's Debates of the Senate, p. 2100.)
Hon. Willie Adams: I move the adjournment of the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I will ask the honourable
senator kindly that the next time he stands up to please use the microphone
because we do not hear a word here.
It is moved by the Honourable Senator Adams —
Senator Kinsella: No, we have a point of order that must be dealt
Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, several of you are under the
impression that a point of order raised by Senator LaPierre is under discussion.
The Senate should decide whether or not there is a point of order. We could then
resume debate and move to the adjournment motion by Senator Adams.
Senator LaPierre: Honourable senators, I bow to the will of the
people. I therefore withdraw my point of order.
I can raise it six months hence. In the meantime, I think we may proceed with
this very fascinating debate, as long as we do not hear too much from Senator
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh! Withdraw.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I rise on a point of order. I have
always been under the impression that it is out of order in this place to make
sharp or unpleasant statements about senators. I have the floor.
Senator LaPierre: I withdraw everything that I said.
Senator Cools: There is nothing much to add to that.
Senator Kinsella: I think we are still on Senator Sibbeston's time. I
had risen to ask the honourable senator a question on the motion that is before
us, which is the motion of Senator Gill that the bill not be read the third time
now but that it be read six months hence. It is to that question that I assumed
Senator Sibbeston was speaking.
My question for clarification to Senator Sibbeston is simply this: What harm
does he see being done in a real way if this bill is not given third reading now
but, rather, third reading six months hence?
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I think Senator Kinsella knows
the answer. The answer is that there is no harm, but at the same time there is
no gain. There is no gain, likewise, in the sense that the senator knows that in
the present political atmosphere that prevails, in the event that there is
prorogation it would absolutely kill this bill and we would have to start over
and do again all of the work that we have done to date. To me, that is neither a
prudent nor a wise use of our resources. I have made a decision that it would be
best to pass the bill during the life of this session of Parliament.
Senator Kinsella: Does the honourable senator not agree that there is
a practice in this place of long standing that no work is lost? Indeed, when the
House is considering a bill and a committee has deliberated upon a bill, all the
papers and testimony that have been tabled with that committee can be brought
forward to the committee, even in a new Parliament? Why does the honourable
senator think that the work that has been done, which is important work, would
Senator Sibbeston: I admit that perhaps all of the committee hearings,
and so on, would not have to be done again, which is what the honourable senator
is saying, namely, that that is preserved and we would go on from there.
Politics being what they are — and Senator Kinsella knows how politics works
— who knows who the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs will be in the
future? Who knows what will be the views of the Prime Minister and the
government, and whether or not they will be amenable to supporting and being
supportive of bills such as this? At this time, when we know that the government
supports this bill and is prepared to take action on it, I think we should take
advantage of that and jump ahead and pass this bill.
Senator Kinsella: Is the honourable senator suggesting to the house
that, in the unlikely event that Mr. Martin becomes the Prime Minister, under
Mr. Martin's government the bill would be better or would be worse? That is,
would it be better under Prime Minister Chrétien or better under a prime
Senator Sibbeston: That is such a political question. I have no doubt
that the government will be better. Once we have passed this bill during this
session, then we can work in the life of the next government to make this bill
even better. That is my view.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, are honourable senators correct
in assuming that the position of the honourable senator is that no particular
damage would be done by adopting the motion that is before us from Senator Gill,
namely, that the bill be not now read a third time but be read a third time six
Second, while the honourable senator advised us that he did not read the
letter from Chief Fontaine, which is dated October 2, can he advise the house as
to whether or not he has read Bill C-6 and all pages of the bill?
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I can tell the honourable
senator that I have read the bill a number of times. I have read it before going
to bed. I have read it when I have risen. I have read it quite a number of times
and I am totally familiar with the bill and the amendments; I was intimately
involved with the amendments.
As to whether I can cite chapter and verse at the moment, I cannot say that I
can. However, I know the general details of the bill reasonably well.
Senator Kinsella: Could you tell us how many pages are in the bill?
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I inform you that it has not been possible to reach an agreement
concerning the time to be allocated for the consideration of this bill.
Therefore, pursuant to rule 39, I give notice that, at the next sitting of
the Senate, I will move:
That, pursuant to rule 39, not more than a further six hours of debate be
allocated for the consideration for third reading of Bill C-6, An Act to
establish the Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First
Nations Claims to provide for the filing, negotiation and resolution of
specific claims and to make related amendments to other Acts;
That, when debate comes to an end or when the time provided for the
debate has expired, the Speaker shall interrupt, if required, any
proceedings then before the Senate and put forthwith and successively every
question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the said bill;
That any recorded vote or votes on the said question shall be taken in
accordance with rule 39(4).
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, having risen and having the floor, I move that the Senate do now
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The Honourable Senator
Kinsella, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton, moved the
adjournment of the Senate. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those honourable
senators in favour of the motion please say "yea''?
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those honourable
senators who are opposed to the motion please say "nay''?
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In my opinion, the "nays''
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Day, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Harb, for the third reading of Bill C-25, to
modernize employment and labour relations in the public service and to amend
the Financial Administration Act and the Canadian Centre for Management
Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts,
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Beaudoin, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Comeau, that the Bill be not now read a third time but
that it be amended in clause 12, on page 126, by replacing lines 8 to 12 with
"30. (1) Appointments by the Commission to or from within the
public service shall be free from political influence and shall be made on
the basis of merit by competition or by such other process of personnel
selection designed to establish the relative merit of candidates as the
Commission considers is in the best interests of the public service.
(1.1) Despite subsection (1), an appointment may be made on the basis of
individual merit in the circumstances prescribed by the regulations of the
(2) An appointment is made on the basis of individual''.
And on the subamendment of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Nolin, that the motion in amendment be amended
(a) by replacing the words "on page 126, by replacing lines 8 to 12''
with the following:
"(a) on page 126, by replacing lines 8 to 11'';
(b) by adding after the words "free from political influence'' the
"and bureaucratic patronage''; and
(c) by replacing the words "of the Commission. (2) An appointment is made
on the basis of individual'' with the following:
"of the Commission.''; and
(b) on page 127, by adding after line 9 the following:
"(3) The qualifications referred to in paragraph 30(2)(a) and
subparagraph 30(2)(b)(i), and any qualification standards referred
to in subsection (1), that are established for an appointment in
respect of a particular position or class of positions shall apply
to future appointments in respect of that position or class of
positions, unless any change established by the deputy head or
employer to the qualifications or qualification standards, as the
case may be, is approved by the Public Service Commission.''.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak
on the sub-amendment by the Honourable Senator Di Nino, my colleague and friend.
Senator Beaudoin, who is a lawyer, a constitutional expert and a good friend,
moved the amendment. Senator Di Nino's sub-amendment is not, in my opinion, in
order, for the following reasons.
The main amendment by Senator Beaudoin refers to the principle of merit in
almost identical terms as current legislation. With his amendment, Senator
Beaudoin is reintroducing in the new legislation all the jurisprudence that has
bogged down and increasingly bureaucratized the current staffing system, which
has long been criticized. Senator Beaudoin is a good lawyer; he thinks in legal
terms and he wanted to use jurisprudence because, up to now, the courts have
been the ones to interpret the principle of merit, as this was not included in
the legislation, and nor was there a definition in the legislation. On numerous
occasions, this issue has been brought before the courts.
Under the current legislation, the Public Service Commission can make
appointments based on selection by competition to establish relative merit —
this is section 10 — as well as appointments based on selection according to
individual merit, meaning the candidate must be measured by standards of
competence, under section 10(2).
Bill C-25 does not change this authority. The Public Service Commission can
continue to make appointments through competition or, under the new legislation,
through an advertised appointment process. The terminology is different, but the
meaning is the same. The commission can continue to make appointments based on
individual merit, through the non- advertised appointment process, under section
33 of the act.
Bill C-25 does not refer specifically to processes based on individual merit,
but it allows such processes to be used to staff a position. The Public Service
Commission will continue to determine when and how individual merit will be
used. This is not new.
What is new is that the bill replaces the courts' rigid interpretation of the
merit principle with a new approach that allows the commission to take more
factors such as employment equity into account. This was not part of the current
legislation and was used by exception. The courts' current interpretation of
merit does not allow this type of factor to come into play. The best candidate
must always be chosen and the courts imposed rigid and prescriptive rules on how
to determine who the best candidate is.
Bill C-25 goes much further to protect us from abuse in the use of individual
merit. It specifies that a manager's abuse of authority in the appointment
process is grounds for a complaint to the Public Service Staffing Tribunal. This
There is a whole array of mechanisms to protect us from other abuses in this
area. For instance, there is the Public Service Commission's authority and its
ability to delegate that authority. The commission usually delegated its
authority to the deputy minister, who in turn delegated authority to a manager.
The commission had to regularly monitor and audit the way things were proceeding
with what few staff and resources it had. It did not always do this in a
continuous or sustained manner.
For instance, the commission had the authority to investigate. It could
conduct audits. There are many other new elements.
During his speech yesterday, the Honourable Senator Di Nino cited Ms. Sheila
Fraser's report on the Radwanski case. The report was cited almost in its
entirety to support his argument. Page 2069 reads:
We need to ensure that qualifications cannot be changed without the
agreement of the Public Service Commission. Surely we ought to have learned
something from the Privacy Commissioner's fiasco.
What is the connection with the merit principle? None. Position
classification is the responsibility of the employer, not the Public Service
Quoting the Auditor General of Canada, in connection with Bill C-25:
It is my interpretation of Bill C-25 that the role of the Public Service
Commission is clarified...
As we are doing.
...and becomes much more of a surveillance role, one that is more
demanding than at present. I think this is likely to do a great deal to help
in such situations.
Let us talk about the amendment proposed by Senator Di Nino. He referred to
bureaucratic favoritism, which is important, I will admit. It is, however,
covered in the bill.
One of the grounds for complaints to the staffing tribunal is bureaucratic
favouritism. This is an abuse of power, which can be challenged.
Deputy heads currently have the power to establish the required
qualifications for a position, and this is continued. The terms have been
changed. In the past, they spoke of "selection standards,'' and then it was
stated that the position required the person to possess certain qualifications.
Now the term is qualifications, not selection standards. Now deputy heads have
the power to establish the qualifications for a position, this being included in
Bill C-25 under subsection 30(2). Obviously, the qualifications required for
staffing a position vary according to the development of new knowledge, the
strengths and weaknesses of the incumbents, the changing needs of a good
administration. People have to keep up to date, so position qualifications are
certainly subject to change. If the position is for a lawyer, an engineer, a
position with specific requirements, people have to meet these requirements. The
employer will make the decisions, not the Public Service Commission. This is, in
my opinion, a step in the right direction.
If the Public Service Commission were responsible, as Senator Di Nino
suggests, for monitoring all changes and the qualification process, it would
never end. The commission would be responsible for monitoring every standard,
and that might not speed up the process. Bill C-25 proposes exactly the
opposite. Its purpose is to let managers manage and administer their
It is essential, in the spirit of Bill C-25, to accelerate the process. There
must also be serious monitoring of implementation and of the performance of each
public servant and manager, with respect to the hiring process. These aims are
clearly part of Bill C-25.
Bill C-25 contains solid measures to protect against bureaucratic
favouritism. Our committee held nine meetings and heard 42 witnesses. The
subject came up several times, and I heard no criticism of this. Incidentally, I
do not know why this issue is being raised at third reading.
Clause 17 of the bill requires the Public Service Commission to conduct
audits. Its authority has been enhanced and powers given. The commission must
ensure that appointments are made on the basis of merit. It must ensure that
there are ongoing audits. The commission will have the human and financial
resources necessary to do this.
I do not understand why anyone would suggest that the commission should set
the qualification standards. That is not part of the spirit of the bill. The
power has been transferred to the employer, which is the Treasury Board, and
then delegated to the manager.
Therefore, the Treasury Board is responsible and, through delegation, so are
those charged with the administration of the public service.
Senator Beaudoin, in his main amendment, wants to add bureaucratic
favouritism. He talked in particular about relative merit versus individual
merit. There is not much difference between the two. One is a system; the other
is a function.
Re-establishing subsection 32 in its current form in Bill C-22 and
re-establishing the previous legislation is inconsistent with the spirit of this
legislation. It is even inconsistent with Senator Beaudoin's amendment. Agreeing
to Senator Di Nino's amendment would be a step backward and would go against the
spirit or the scope of Senator Beaudoin's amendment.
Honourable senators, I want to reserve the right to speak at third reading.
Senator Di Nino's amendment, made in good faith, would greatly undermine this
legislation. In my opinion, these two amendments would constitute a setback in
terms of the intent of Bill C-25. We should adopt Bill C-25, but not the
amendments before the house.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, there should be little
doubt in the minds of honourable senators that I have great respect for Senator
Gauthier. My intervention was based on the horror story that the Auditor General
discovered and imparted to this house. As Senator Gauthier properly said, most
of my speech was comprised of quotes from her report because that was where I
found my inspiration. The amendment was intended to be useful.
The Hon. Serge Joyal (The Hon the Acting Speaker): Senator Di Nino,
the time allocated to Senator Gauthier for his intervention has elapsed. Is the
honourable senator requesting leave to continue?
Senator Di Nino: I would ask leave to continue for a moment.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Senator Gauthier, would you accept a
question from Senator Di Nino?
Senator Gauthier: Yes.
Senator Di Nino: Thank you, honourable senators. The amendment was
intended in good faith to try to improve the bill such that it would result in
the prevention of such activities in the future. I respect the good points that
Senator Gauthier made in his statements.
My question for the honourable senator is this: Do you believe that Bill
C-25, in its present form, has sufficient provisions to ensure that the kinds of
abuses that have occurred — possibly criminal — would be eliminated?
Senator Gauthier: I believe that Bill C-25 has sufficient provisions
to do that, and I will tell you why. It begins with a big "if'' in respect of
the people responsible for the implementation of Bill C-25 from the Public
Service Commission side, and the surveillance of the merit principle.
If the public service audit process is truly meaningful, I believe it will
work. However, the Treasury Board is responsible for its proper administration
and management. If the system is in place, with proper monitoring and serious
audits, this will work. The problem in Mr. Radwanski's case is that he was not
audited, not by the Auditor General, not by Treasury Board and not by the Public
Service Commission. The two reports were presented after the fact. There was a
realization that staffing procedures were not normal. There were
overclassifications. People played with the system thinking that no one was
watching. With good monitoring and good implementation, Bill C-25 will work.
Senator Di Nino: Obviously, I did not succeed in achieving my
objective, at least in the eyes of Senator Gauthier. That is the big "if.''
People who do not respect the rules indulge in activities of abuse and of
criminality. They commit acts that lead to criminal activity.
Would the honourable senator have a better amendment to recommend? He appears
to be quite conversant with this issue. Would the honourable senator have a
better amendment that I could support so that the objective of the amendment I
moved yesterday could be accomplished?
Senator Gauthier: I must admit that it is not my intention to amend
this bill at this time. I have had a long history over the years in the affairs
of the public service. I was there when Mr. D'Avignon submitted his report on
the merit principle in the 1970s. I was there when Mr. Finkelman submitted his
reports on public service administration. I was present and active at that time.
During my career spanning 20 years in the House of Commons, I was the party
critic for eight years on matters of the public service. I was aware of the
problems. It is my understanding that the honourable senator is talking about
criminal activity, and that cannot be correct. I am not saying that there was
any, but you are telling me that such allegations may have been made. Madam
Robillard, President of Treasury Board, and I do not believe that there were any
Senator Di Nino: — or abuses.
Senator Gauthier: That is so for the time being.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the
question on the sub-amendment?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Graham, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill C- 34, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics
Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) and other Acts in consequence.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the honourable senators who wish to speak are invited to do so, with
the usual sequence of the opposition going second, with a speaking time of 45
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology have power to sit at 2 p.m., Tuesday, October 7, 2003, even
though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, this motion is no longer relevant, since we are past the date in
question. I move, with honourable senators' consent, that this motion be
withdrawn from the Order Paper.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators,
to adopt the motion?
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 Monday,
October 20, 2003, at 2 p.m.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, some senators already
have commitments on Monday, October 20 and the Friday of the following week. The
purpose of my question is to make it easier for us to organize our schedules. We
are talking about sitting on Monday, October 20 rather than Tuesday, October 21,
and I agree with that. Do you intend to do the same for the three weeks
Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, I understand the question very
well. The honourable senator wants to know whether it is possible that the
Senate might sit on Mondays and Fridays. I would say yes, but if we feel this is
necessary, we will try to inform the honourable senators as soon as possible
through the Senate.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Monday, October 20, 2003, at 2 p.m.