Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Senator Gustafson, Senator Fairbairn and Senator St. Germain are among the very
active members of the Senate who have focused their interests on our
agricultural situation, and have continued to request information as well as
make representations. I would like to add something to the responses I have
As is well known, the May 2003 finding of BSE in Canada radically changed the
environment in which cattle and other ruminant sectors operate. Access to our
largest market, the United States, closed for a time. However, on strong
representations from the federal government, the provinces, in particular
Alberta and Saskatchewan, and many industry groups, the United States Department
of Agriculture reopened the border later in 2003 to packaged boneless cuts of
Canadian beef from animals younger than 30 months. However, the U.S. market
continues to remain closed to live cattle and other ruminants from Canada as
well as to meat products from animals over the age of 30 months.
On September 10, 2004, the Government of Canada took measures to assist the
Canadian livestock industry in ensuring longer-term viability. A federal
investment of $488 million was provided to help expand Canada's processing
capacity, and to create new demand for value-added products.
Senator St. Germain and Senator Gustafson have been concerned about the
policy dealing with older animals. A new program called Herd Management for
Older Animals was announced on June 29, 2005 by Andy Mitchell, Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-Food. The program is designed to provide for the selective
culling of older animals. This program will be on a 60/40 cost-share basis with
Additional funding of $17.1 million is being expended to develop Canada's
slaughter capacity with the goal of processing 100 per cent of the country's
livestock production. In particular, changes will be made to the Loan Loss
Reserve Program to encourage investment in processing facilities, in particular
those targeting older animals. The program will be extended through December 31,
All these measures are in addition to the $1 billion Farm Income Payment
Program announced in March 2005 to help Canadian farmers deal with immediate
cash flow pressures due to record low farm income. Producers of cattle and other
ruminants are expected to receive over $300 million under this Farm Income
In addition, a further $80 million is provided in Bill C-43 for the disposal
of specific risk material; and $10.2 million is provided to support genetic
improvement of breed animals.
Canada, supported by the provinces and industry, continues to make all
possible efforts toward the opening of international markets for Canadian beef
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before recognizing Senator
Jaffer, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in our gallery of
guests of Senator Jaffer, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and other guests.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, today I rise to call
your attention to the visit of a great and talented man, His Holiness Sri Sri
Ravi Shankar. He is a spiritual leader whose message of compassion, commitment
to society and cosmic understanding of life has impacted on the lives of
Sri Sri is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, a United Nations
non-governmental organization. He is the inspiration behind numerous
humanitarian organizations focused on service and the promotion of human values.
He says, "Service is the expression of joy and love. Ask yourself, 'How can I be
useful to those around me and to the whole world?' Then your heart starts to
blossom and a completely new level of life begins."
Today, Sri Sri reminds us that the great spiritual traditions have common
goals and values. He encourages people from all religions and cultural
traditions to come together and celebrate. His love, practical wisdom and
whole-hearted dedication to service inspire people everywhere. With limitless
compassion and grace he brings a whole new dimension to spirituality, infusing
it with a sense of celebration and joy.
In 1997, he founded the International Association for Human Values, an NGO
located in Geneva. Its mandate is to foster, on a global scale, a deeper
understanding of the values that unite us as a human community.
Underlying this mandate is a vision of a world where people can celebrate
their distinct traditions while having a greater appreciation of what we all
have in common.
His 5-H program is making a difference in the world through service and
social projects. It focuses on providing five goals. They are health, homes,
hygiene, harmony in diversity and human values.
He has initiated projects in 25,300 villages around the world, bringing
self-reliance to more than 2.3 million people.
His simple message of love, practical wisdom and service encourages harmony,
and teaches everyone to follow their chosen religious or spiritual path while
honouring the path of others.
Sri Sri's gift to mankind is that he teaches us:
A stress-free mind and a disease free body are birthrights of every human
being. Neither at home nor at school have we learned how to handle negative
emotions. The Art of Living breathing techniques and meditation courses have
helped millions around the world and empowered them with unconditional joy.
Honourable senators, I know you will join me in welcoming this extraordinary
man here today.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, it is no secret that Nova
Scotians love to celebrate, and when we celebrate we invite the world.
Every year, my home province of Nova Scotia hosts over 700 summer festivals
and events. Today, I rise to share with honourable senators some of the
festivals that make Nova Scotia one of the most artistically diverse and
creative provinces in Canada. For instance, last month, from June 17 to 19,
approximately 40,000 people from around the world converged on Dartmouth
waterfront for Nova Scotia's Multiculturalism Festival. For three days, over 25
ethnocultural groups celebrated diversity through friendship, food and music.
When the festival was established, 18 years ago, the show was staged in the
ballroom of Dalhousie University. Over the last 18 years, the multiculturalism
festival has become the premier summer event in the province.
Another marquee event is the TD Canada Trust Atlantic Canada Jazz Festival
that will be held this year from July 15 to 24, in venues throughout Halifax. A
major event in the Canadian music scene, the TD Canada Trust Atlantic Jazz
Festival is Atlantic Canada's largest music festival, with over 450 local,
national and international performers delighting audiences for 10 days every
summer. Since 1987, more than 65,000 music lovers from across the region, across
the country and across the border have enjoyed countless top-quality acts.
One final example, honourable senators, is the Antigonish Highland Games,
held every summer in my province since 1863. For generations, the Scottish way
of life — and my wife is a Scot — has been maintained in eastern Nova Scotia and
Cape Breton Island. The language, traditions, music, dances and songs of the
Gael, along with feats of strength and excellence, continue to flourish at the
Antigonish Highland Games. Every July, hundreds of musicians, dancers and
athletes perform and compete in this grand festival, which is the oldest
continuous highland games in the world outside Scotland.
Traditionally, Nova Scotians have referred to the province's tourism industry
as "our best kept secret." However, with over $1.3 billion in total revenue
generated in 2004 alone, it would appear, honourable senators, that the secret
Hon. Shirley Maheu: Honourable senators, I take this opportunity to
salute our brother and sister legislators in the Congress of Deputies of Spain.
On Thursday last week, Spanish parliamentarians voted 187-147 to become the
third nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Henceforth, the citizens of Spain
will enjoy a broad definition of marriage. A majority of lawmakers in Belgium,
Netherlands and Spain have been joined by a majority of members in our own House
of Commons to proclaim that cherry-picking in the field of human rights will no
longer be tolerated.
On Tuesday last week, the other place passed Bill C-38, respecting certain
aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes. The proposals in this
legislation have been debated, demeaned, demonized and delayed ad nauseam for
many months. In fact, I believe that this proposal has had as thorough an
examination as any piece of legislation that I can remember in my 17 years of
service in both Houses of Parliament.
Honourable senators, it is time to move on. There is nothing about this
proposal that has not yet been said in both our official languages by anyone,
anywhere in Canada. Clearly, this is absolutely nothing new, or there is
absolutely nothing new that could possibly be said.
Let us move on. Let us provide and enshrine dignity and inclusiveness for all
Canadians, and let us do it now!
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, our generation of
parliamentarians, and several that have preceded us, would want to take note of
the retirement last month of Mary Dawson, Q.C., as Associate Deputy Minister of
During her 35 years of public service, Ms. Dawson was directly involved,
often as the senior responsible officer, in all the major legislative,
constitutional and quasi-constitutional initiatives of the various governments
that have held office during that period. She worked on the drafting for the
Patriation of the Constitution in 1982 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Parliamentarians came to know her well from her appearances at our
committees, and during study of the Meech Lake accord and the Charlottetown
accord under the Mulroney government, the regional vetoes bill, the Clarity Act,
and the amendments to education provisions affecting Quebec and Newfoundland
under the Chrétien government.
At a recent reception in her honour, the present Minister of Justice, Mr.
Irwin Cotler, paid moving tribute to her central part in all that history. He
went on to give personal witness to her critical role in developing and drafting
two recent initiatives, Bill C-38, which is now before the Senate; and the
political accord between First Nations and the federal Crown on the
recommendation and implementation of First Nations governments.
When Mr. Cotler said that Mary Dawson personified justice, all of us knew
what he meant. Ministers who worked closely with her — and I was one of several
in that category who were present for her farewell — depended heavily on her
intuitive understanding of the complexity and subtlety of issues. In my case,
she often had to point them out to me. Parliamentarians appreciated her ability
to articulate their concerns sometimes better than they could themselves, and to
analyze and clarify difficult issues for and with them.
All of us valued her formidable professional skills and her professional
integrity. Hers was a very high standard indeed, and she has done honour to her
department, to her profession and to the Canadian public service.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, last Thursday, June 30, the
Ottawa Citizen reported, in an article signed by Randy Boswell, that the
birthplace of Sir John A. Macdonald on 20 Brunswick Street in Glasgow, Scotland,
was to be demolished. Only recently discovered by a journalist of CanWest News
Service as the original birthplace of Sir John A., where he lived from 1815 to
1820 before emigrating to Canada, the site belongs to the British Selfridge
chain store that is owned by a Canadian well-known in the retail business
milieu, Mr. Galen Weston.
I need not remind you of the lead role Sir John A. Macdonald played in the
negotiations for adopting the British North America Act in 1867 and in the
development of a national policy that made Canada what it is today. His name
remains inseparable with that of Sir George-Étienne Cartier. Their political
association resulted in a lasting achievement that continues to benefit all
Canada should have the pride to commemorate its prime ministers in Canada,
where they have completed their achievement, and sometimes abroad when it so
happens that there lies their birthplace — as is the case for Sir John A. — in
Glasgow, Scotland, where so many Canadians have ancestors. I remind honourable
senators that it is through a Senate private bill, Bill S-14, introduced by
former Senator Lynch-Staunton and adopted by Parliament in 2002 that Canada now
officially celebrates Sir John A. Macdonald Day on January 11 and —
Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day is celebrated every year on November 20. Sir Wilfrid
Laurier was born in Saint-Lin des Laurentides in 1841 and died in Ottawa in
1919. His two places of residence have been enhanced by Parks Canada, as well
they should be. Even in Paris there is a street named for Wilfrid Laurier, with
the explanation "Canadian politician," located in the 14th arrondissement, near
Porte de Vanves. It is a reminder that, in 1896, Sir Wilfrid was one of the
first Canadians to be conferred the Legion of Honor, with the rank of Commander,
its highest rank, by French President Félix Faure. This commemoration was due to
an initiative by the City of Paris, not the Government of Canada.
Last week, I moved a motion calling the attention of the Senate to the need
for a formal policy to be adopted by Parks Canada to commemorate, in an
appropriate way, the various prime ministers of Canada who led the country in
the building of our nation. I hope, honourable senators, that you will support
that motion so that Sir John A. Macdonald's birthplace and the residence of Sir
Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine in Montreal shall be preserved, and that their
achievement will be commemorated by a country proud of its founders and origins.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and
National Finance be empowered, in accordance with rule 95(3), to sit during
the period of July 8 until July 15, 2005 inclusive, even though the Senate may
then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week; and
That these committees be authorized to meet at any time during this period.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question is directed to
the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is a follow-up to a question I
asked the honourable leader on June 7, 2005, relating to the representation
levels of visible minorities on significant public boards, commissions, Crown
corporations, federal councils and agencies, and in executive level positions
within the public service.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate will recall that at that time I
asked whether he believed that there should be visible minority representation
on significant public boards of directors and, if so, whether he would undertake
to make representations to colleagues in cabinet in an attempt to rectify this
problem and ensure that public boards and agencies more closely reflect the
multicultural mosaic of Canada.
Has the honourable leader made those representations to his cabinet
colleagues? If so, did he receive a favourable response? If so, when does he
expect that some appointments can be made?
Could the Leader of the Government indicate whether cabinet is considering
having an independent commissioner for an open and independent process modeled
on the U.K. process?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
have certainly had discussions with cabinet colleagues with respect to the
subject matter of Senator Oliver's question, and I am confident that recognition
of this problem and action on it is moving forward.
I obviously cannot answer as to when appointments will be made. I have no
idea what persons are being considered. The government is a very large
institution, and there are 38 other ministers who make appointments. Complexity
sometimes defies an easy answer.
With respect to the question of an independent commissioner, I recognize that
Senator Oliver has maintained this representation and identified the way in
which the role is played in the United Kingdom. Again, I cannot forecast
government policy, but I will make specific inquiries to satisfy myself that the
question of an independent commissioner is being considered.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, my question is directed to
the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is a follow-up to a request made
last week by the Leader of the Opposition for an update on whether the
government intends to extend the term of Information Commissioner John Reid.
The Leader of the Government had no information at that time, but later that
afternoon he rose in the Senate and announced that there would be a three-month
extension of Mr. Reid's term. That announcement was made around 4:30 in the
afternoon. The email from the PMO indicates that it was released at 4:39, so the
response of the Leader of the Government to the Leader of the Opposition was
The PMO's news release announced more than a simple three-month extension. It
said that the Minister of Justice will engage an eminent person to be named in
July to examine the merits of combining the responsibilities of the Information
Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner into a single office. This eminent
person is to report to the Minister of Justice in September.
As we all know, announcements made at 4:39 p.m. on the eve of a long weekend
generally do not get much media coverage. Why would the Prime Minister wait
until the last possible moment to make such a major announcement involving two
officers of Parliament? Why would the Prime Minister not have done this at a
time when we could have asked questions about it immediately?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable
senator for acknowledging my timeliness in bringing forward information in
response to Senator Kinsella's question about extending the term of the Privacy
Commissioner. Senator Kinsella did not ask about any other issues and I did not
want to go beyond his specific question, as it would not have been a succinct
With respect to the remainder of Senator Comeau's question, I suppose that
timing is never satisfactory to everyone. However, at least the answer was
given. I believe that the idea of combining the offices of the Privacy
Commissioner and the Information Commissioner deserves serious consideration. It
would, if proven meritorious, provide a parliamentary officer with very strong
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, the Prime Minister's press
The arm's-length review will be conducted by an eminent person, whose
mandate will be to assess the successes and challenges of the current model,
review models used in other jurisdictions, and develop options for the
Honourable senators, the Information Commissioner and the Privacy
Commissioner are officers of Parliament. Why has the Prime Minister chosen to
bypass Parliament to conduct this review? Why will this yet-to-be-named eminent
person develop options for the consideration of the government but not of
Parliament? What does the government have to do with this?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I believe that Senator Comeau
knows more about the way government and Parliament works than his question
discloses. The government is responsible for the governance of Canada and issues
of any kind are within its provenance. The government must look at what it
believes are important issues in Canadian public policy. This does not in any
way direct Parliament or take away the role of Parliament.
As honourable senators know, Parliament disposes of whatever the government
proposes. If a proposal by the Government of Canada with respect to the way in
which Parliament operates is unacceptable to Parliament, it will be refused.
This is the normal system and there is nothing alarming or of concern with
respect to how it works. It is also completely possible for Parliament to
reverse the system and carry out its own studies by way of motions in the other
place or in this chamber. All these systems are available for the consideration
of public policy.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I hope that this chamber will
take up the honourable leader's challenge. It is the purview of Parliament, not
the government, to determine whether it wishes to have the Office of the
Information Commissioner and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner combined
into a single office. The two have quite different mandates. In the past we have
had some good Privacy Commissioners and some not-so-good Privacy Commissioners.
I hope this chamber is up to the challenge that the Leader of the Government
has issued to us this afternoon, and that we make up our own minds rather than
leaving it up to the Minister of Justice as to whether we should be combining
the two offices or whether they are to be kept separate.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, good ideas should be acceptable
from wherever they come. Why not wait to see what the eminent person reports and
consider that report in the appropriate way here in this chamber? We can decide
where we go from there.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I am following up on
the answers the Leader of the Government gave to our colleague.
We understand that that study will take place over a period of three months.
By the end of September, then, we will know the result of that consultation.
That is how we read the announcement.
Who gave the Prime Minister that advice? Was it cabinet? Who recently
supported Mr. Reid's re-nomination for a year? Was it the Clerk of the Privy
Council? Was it the Minister of Justice or PMO advisers who were concerned by
linkages Mr. Reid made in various reports? Who gave the Prime Minister the
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I take it from his question that
it was not Senator Nolin. The question of who gives advice to the Prime Minister
is not one on which I respond. It is not within the conventions of our
parliamentary practice to disclose the specific advisers to the Prime Minister
or to the cabinet on any specific information.
Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, I accept that answer, but let me
take the question down a different path. Can the government leader assure us
that what is taking place is not a manoeuvre to get rid of Mr. Reid because he
kicked some people in the rear? Give us that assurance, and we will take the
answer as a promise.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I believe Mr. Reid has performed
in an outstanding way in his office. The government has shown confidence in
extending his term by an additional three months. The press release, which was
referred to by Senator Comeau, explains that the government wants an independent
review of the possibility of combining those two offices. I do not think any
implication of criticism can be drawn of John Reid in the way he has conducted
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I wish to pursue something
the Leader of the Government in the Senate said a few minutes ago. Will he give
us the assurance that Parliament will have an opportunity to debate the report
of the eminent persons group before any legislation is brought in affecting
those two offices of Parliament?
Senator Austin: No, honourable senators, I cannot give that assurance.
However, nothing bars any senator from initiating an inquiry to deal with this
issue, should any senator wish to pursue it.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, my question is a
supplementary one as well. The Access to Information Act itself has been under
review and continues to be under review. How will the three-month review to
combine the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act mesh with proposed
changes that may be coming to the Access to Information Act?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I do not think it is a very long
step to say that this study must be considered to be a part of that process.
Senator Andreychuk: Honourable senators, as a follow-up, the Access to
Information Act has already been the subject of some deliberation in the other
place. May I presume that that report then will be made available to them? If
so, would it not be made available to the Senate?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, any report made available to the
other place will be made available to this chamber.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: I want to change the subject and ask the
government leader whether he can give us a status report on the fixed-wing
search and rescue aircraft replacement program. As he knows, it has been stalled
for several months and is reportedly in a bit of a mess. Can the government
leader tell us when the process might move forward or give us a report of sorts?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
cannot provide any further information with respect to that program. I know that
both Senator Forrestall and I are disappointed that the program has not made
more obvious progress.
Senator Forrestall: I have a supplementary question, which, against
the background of events here in Canada in recent years, has a degree of high
It is my understanding that a number of former Libyan Air Force G222
transport aircraft that have sat for many years in the Libyan desert are now in
Canada being refurbished for resale. The G222 is an early — albeit several
decades older — version of the C-27J aircraft, now reportedly the favoured
choice for the fixed-wing search and rescue competition. It is terribly
important that we be very cautious about equipment, not necessarily given the
experience of the submarine boats.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate assure the chamber that these
refurbished G222s will not be allowed to enter the competitive process for the
fixed-wing search and rescue program? I ask that question believing that the
Canadian military is entitled to good, new working equipment. The equipment does
not have to be built in Canada, but it has to be new, working and reliable. God
knows, I would not invoke the Sea King, but it is nevertheless in the back of my
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, as usual, Senator Forrestall is
ahead of me on information with respect to defence procurement. I have no
information with respect to the Libyan aircraft, but I shall make inquiries and,
I hope, provide more details at a later time.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting six delayed answers to oral questions
raised in the Senate. The first three respond to oral questions by Senator
Tkachuk, two regarding the firearms centre, the efficacy of the registry in
reducing violent crime and the cost of gun registry, and the other regarding
testing at CFB Gagetown. These questions were raised on June 14, 16 and 29
I also have the response to a question raised in the Senate on June 14 by
Senator Keon, regarding avian flu; the response to a question raised on June 23
by Senator Plamondon, regarding the Monsanto Study on Genetically Modified Corn
— Right of Public to be Informed; and the response to a question raised on June
20 by Senator St. Germain, regarding assistance for lumber associations.
(Response to question raised by Hon. David Tkachuk on June 14, 2005)
Canadian statistics on firearms crime, including homicide and robbery, were
not reported in the Homicide Survey prior to 1974. The available national data
from Statistics Canada show that:
The firearm homicide rate has decreased over the last 30 years.
Although there was a slight increase in firearm homicides in 2003 compared
to 2002, the firearm homicide rate for 2003 (0.51 per 100,000) remains
nearly 60 per cent lower than the 1974 rate of 1.24 per 100,000, and 47 per
cent lower than the rate of a decade ago (0.97 per 100,000 in 1991);
Over the past three decades, the rate of robberies involving the use
of a firearm has declined by 54 per cent (from 26 per 100,000 in 1974 to
12 per 100,000 in 2003).
Canadian statistics on firearm-related domestic homicide were not reported
prior to 1995. The available national data from Statistics Canada show that:
The number of firearms-related spousal homicides has decreased by
8 per cent (from 25 incidents in 1995 to 23 incidents in 2003).
The number of firearms-related family homicides has declined by
25 per cent (from 43 incidents in 1995 to 32 incidents in 2003).
Long-term reductions in firearms crime over the past several decades have
paralleled the implementation of enhanced firearms control measures in Canada.
The National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST) — a national police
service managed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — assists police
investigations and helps to track stolen and illegal guns to their source
across the country, and internationally. Since 2002, NWEST has helped with
over 12,000 police investigations, assisted with over 700 search warrants, and
provided approximately 1,000 technical information sessions to the policing
community on investigation techniques including the appropriate use of
databases such as: the Canadian Police Information Centre, the Canadian
Firearms Information System, the Canadian Firearms Registry Online, and the
Integrated Ballistic Identification System.
The Canadian Firearms Registry is one part of the Firearms Program
responsible for the registration of firearms, including when a firearm is
transferred to a new owner and upon import or manufacture. Police have direct
online access to the licensing and registration database and they use it daily
through the Canadian Firearms Registry Online (CFRO) service. With the help of
this essential tool, police make approximately 14,000 queries to the online
system each week to support their efforts to prevent and investigate crime.
Over 3.6 million queries have been made on the CFRO by police and other public
safety officials since the program was first implemented in December 1998.
Between 2002 and 2004, almost 3,800 affidavits have been provided by the
Canadian Firearms Registry to support prosecutions of gun-related crimes
across the country.
(Response to question raised by Hon. David Tkachuk on June 16, 2005)
Hill & Knowlton Ltd. was hired in January-February 2004 by the Treasury
Board Secretariat. The Secretariat was seeking an assessment of the financial
position of the Canadian Firearms Program and the Canada Firearms Centre and
options for the future.
The Treasury Board Secretariat commissioned the report consistent with its
role as the government's management board and in light of the government's
decision to initiate a review of the Firearms Program and the potential
changes to the program that could result from this review.
On August 20, 2004, the Access to Information and Privacy Office of the
Secretariat received a request for a copy of the report prepared by John
McLure, Senior Associate, Hill & Knowlton Canada Ltd. A copy of the report was
released to the requestor on November 18, 2004. Sections of the report were
not disclosed because the economic interests of Canada were at risk and
because of confidential third party information.
The Treasury Board Secretariat specified that the review by Mr. McLure
should focus on the current situation (Winter 2004) and should make
recommendations for future action.
Officials of the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Canada Firearms Centre
have studied and evaluated the report in the context of other reviews that
have been commissioned on the Firearms Program.
In May 2004, the government announced the creation of a separate
registration vote that would cap registration activity costs for the Canada
Firearms Centre at $25 million annually. The announcement also indicated that
future funding for the Canada Firearms Centre would be $85 million annually,
including registration activities.
The 2005-2006 Main Estimates for the Canada Firearms Centre requested total
funding of $82.3 million. Of this amount, $14.6 million is for operating
expenditures in support of the registration vote. In total, registration
activity costs for 2005-2006 are $15.7 million including employee benefits of
Since becoming a department in 2003-2004, the Canada Firearms Centre has
been reporting its licensing and registration activities to Parliament through
its Departmental Performance Report, Report on Plans and Priorities
and the Commissioner's Annual Report.
As of March 31, 2005, more than 7 million firearms were registered
with 6.76 million firearms registered to individuals, 207,000
firearms registered to businesses and 40,000 firearms registered or
recorded to public agencies and museums. In 2004-2005 alone, 352,000
firearms were registered.
In 2004-2005, the Canadian Firearms Registry Online service received
approximately 2,000 daily queries from police and public safety
Between December 1, 1998 and March 31, 2005, more than 13,500
firearm licences belonging to individuals have been refused (5,700) or
revoked (7,800) for public safety reasons. Some reasons why firearms
licence applications have been refused or licences revoked include: a history
of violence, mental illness, the applicant is a potential risk to himself,
herself or others, unsafe firearm use and storage, drug offences and providing
(Response to question raised by Hon. David Tkachuk on June 29, 2005)
For a total of seven days in 1966 and 1967 the government cooperated with
the United States to test a number of chemicals at CFB Gagetown, including
Agent Orange and Agent Purple.
The purpose of these tests was to determine the effectiveness of the
chemicals as defoliants.
A list of the chemicals tested in 1966 and 1967 can be found at Annex A.
Since the 1950s, various types of herbicides have been applied at CFB
Gagetown to reduce brush in the training areas and to reduce the risk of
A brush control program is necessary to keep the training areas free of
foliage for good sight and mobility. Originally, these areas were cleared
mechanically and re-growth occurred quickly. Herbicide spraying offered a more
effective and cost efficient solution.
As well, many of the base's target ranges cannot be cleared mechanically or
by hand due to unexploded ordinance. For these areas, spraying herbicides is
the only available option to maintain a cleared target zone.
Today, the CFB Gagetown's brush control program follows all provincial and
federal regulations and utilizes licensed applicators.
Chemicals Used During Spraying Tests at CFB Gagetown
The following is a list of the 19 compounds used during the spraying tests
in conjunction with the U.S. at CFB Gagetown in 1966 and 1967. They are
identified by their common name and the year in which they were used.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilbert J. Keon on June 14, 2005)
The international veterinary community recognises that vaccination of fowl
is an acceptable tool for the control of foreign animal diseases such as avian
The World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is the international
animal health standard setting organization, and it recognizes vaccination as
an acceptable tool in the most recent avian influenza chapter of the OIE
Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
In Canada, the CFIA may choose to use vaccine as a control tool in the face
of a serious outbreak of disease. However, our policy at the present time is
to remove infected flocks rather than to vaccinate. This 'stamping out' policy
is recognized internationally as more effective in that it removes the virus
rather than allowing for it to potentially remain at a low level and not
detected. The use of avian influenza vaccine needs to be well-monitored since
the level of protection is variable and vaccinated birds could get infected.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Madeleine Plamondon on June 23, 2005)
Yes, MON 863 is used in Canada.
MON 863 was approved in March 2003 by Health Canada and the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA) for food, feed and cultivation in Canada, after a
comprehensive assessment. This genetically modified corn line is resistant to
damage by corn rootworm and has also been approved in Australia, Japan, the
Philippines, Taiwan and the U.S.
Canadians and other members of the public have access to decision documents
for all novel foods and feeds. The MON 863 documentation is available at the
following Health Canada and CFIA websites:
Germany, the European Union (EU) member state responsible for the
assessment of this product, had requested a 90-day feeding study in rats as
part of its evaluation. Canada and other regulatory authorities do not
normally require this type of animal feeding data to be submitted for
assessment because of the known limitations of these studies. It is
internationally recognized that conventional toxicological tests are of
limited value in assessing whole foods.
Germany issued a positive initial assessment and forwarded it to the EU
member states for review. After the French Commission for Genetic Engineering
raised questions regarding the 90-day study in October 2003, supplemental
analyses were provided by Monsanto. On April 2, 2004, the European Food Safety
Authority concluded that MON 863 was unlikely to have an adverse affect on
human health, based on the assessment of all the available data for this corn
line, including the 90-day feeding study in rats.
Health Canada and CFIA have concluded that MON 863 is safe for food, feed
and environmental release in Canada.
The rat feeding study is not secret. The developer of this corn variety has
published the entire feeding study on its website.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill C-38, respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I will be brief. Given
my religious beliefs, I will be voting against Bill C-38 and I want these
reasons to be made public and entered into the record.
Yesterday, as usual, the Honourable Senator Joyal gave a speech that was well
structured, well researched, interesting and respectful of all concerned. I am
not as eloquent as he is; he is skilled in the art of discourse and seasoned in
all manner of political nuances. I do not have his ability; he found elements in
the legislation to support his argument. I do not have his knowledge of the
Senate and of what all senators have said or done in the past, something that
was extremely relevant to his remarks. I do not have his political experience.
However, I still feel uneasy, even though this unease may not, perhaps, be
If Prime Minister Martin had listened to his conscience and said publicly
that he was unable to sanction same-sex marriage, would the political discourse
be the same on the government side and the opposition side? To what point will a
party line, of any party, be toed? I will say that, as a Catholic, I feel part
of an endangered minority. Being politically correct means that we have to be
open, not only to ideas but to the point where we have to deny our faith in
order not to be labelled homophobic.
Instead of quoting legislation, I will quote the apostle Peter who, on the
eve of the death of Jesus, answered three times before the rooster crowed, "No,
I do not know that man."
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is important and, as its preamble
states, it recognizes the supremacy of God and the role of the family in a free
society. This freedom is based on respect for moral and spiritual values. As
long as the Charter is in harmony with my spiritual beliefs, I will defend it,
but if, as today, I am forced to choose between my conscience and the Charter, I
will not hesitate: I will vote according to my conscience and, therefore,
against Bill C-38.
I know that everyone has a different path to follow. I respect all the
opinions that have been and that will be voiced, because I know that they are
being made in good faith. But, as a Christian, I want to leave you with these
words, which could apply equally to the Charter and the gospel, "If the world
sings my praises when you blame me, will it save me when you judge me?"
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of July 4, 2005, moved:
That, pursuant to rule 39, not more than a further six hours of debate be
allocated for the consideration of the second reading stage of Bill C-38, An
Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil
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 second reading stage of the said Bill; and
That any recorded vote or votes on the said question shall be taken in
accordance with rule 39(4).
He said: Honourable senators, I think it is clear with the adjournment of the
debate on Bill C-38 that it will not be possible to move ahead with as much
reasonable speed as we and most Canadians would have liked. We on this side
certainly cannot allow any undue delay in the passage of this bill. We have seen
that delay practised in the other place, and we have taken note of that. We have
no choice but to introduce this motion in order to ensure that similar tactics
to those used in the House of Commons are not practised here and that the bill —
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator Rompkey: — passes with a reasonable amount of debate and
expedition. Our preference would have been to have reached agreement to allot a
specific number of days to the debate, but we could not come to such an
agreement. Once again, I emphasize that we have to move ahead and prevent any
delay in the passage of the bill.
I have no doubt that my colleagues on the other side will argue that we are
limiting debate on a very important matter and that all sides must be heard. I
agree, but the fact of the matter is that much debate has already taken place in
parts of the country and indeed in Parliament itself. I should like to spend
some time outlining how much debate has taken place on this issue.
Going back to November 12, 2002, the Minister of Justice released a
discussion paper on marriage and the legal recognition of same-sex unions. The
discussion paper was referred to the Justice Committee in the other place. That
committee travelled across Canada from November 2002 to April 2003, holding 27
public hearings and hearing from 467 witnesses.
On June 17, 2003, the government announced that it would introduce
legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry across Canada, but first it
referred the marriage reference to the Supreme Court. On December 9, 2004, the
Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the marriage reference, giving the federal
government the go-ahead to introduce legislation.
The federal government introduced Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, on
February 1, 2005. Second reading debate in the other place lasted 11 days, with
164 members of Parliament speaking for a total of 30 hours and 25 minutes. This
is not rushing, honourable senators.
The legislative committee on Bill C-38 began their hearings on May 5, 2005.
The committee held 19 meetings and heard from 75 witnesses. Another nine hours
and 30 minutes were spent at report stage, with 33 MPs speaking.
Finally, third reading debate took place on June 28, and 26 members of the
other place spoke, equalling another nine more hours and 40 minutes of debate on
This issue has been fully discussed and both sides have been heard. We are
giving the opposition further time to discuss the substance of this bill. They
are being given that opportunity, but it will be for a set period of time.
What we do not want is another series of delays and filibusters as was
witnessed in the other place. As a matter of fact, the only reason Bill C-38 is
before us now is because closure was successfully invoked at third reading in
the other place.
Honourable senators, these are the reasons why it is important to pass this
motion now and to refer the bill to committee where committee members can call
witnesses, ask them questions and take the time needed to study the bill. Of
course, there will be further opportunity for debate at third reading.
This is a debate that did not start this week, this month or this year. It
has been going on in Canada for quite some time. It appears to me that Canadians
have thought about the issue and have made up their minds about it.
Parliamentarians on both sides of this chamber have made up their minds about it
and want an opportunity to stand and to be counted. However, they do not want
interminable debate and simply talking out the motion. It is important to pass
this measure with a period of debate, but expeditiously and in a reasonable
amount of time.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I really am rather surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Government
would advocate the abolition of this place. It is amazing that the honourable
senator says that we are delaying debate on this bill. We just started debating
it yesterday. We have put up three speakers in the last two days. How many
speakers has the government side put up?
Senator Kinsella: Two.
Senator Stratton: The question is: Who is delaying what? Why has the
government not put up another speaker today? Who is delaying debate? Who is
I am standing here because the government is shutting down debate on a
critical issue, one which is divisive. It is something that should not be done.
I do not believe that this bill is required because it is so divisive. It
divides Canadians unnecessarily. I believe you are closing off debate because
you know the longer it festers the worse it becomes for you.
Senator Kinsella: How many spoke in the other place?
Senator Stratton: Quite a substantial number.
Senator Tkachuk: They actually took the bill seriously.
Senator Stratton: There were 30-some hours of debate at second
Thus far we have had five speakers in total on the bill. We have barely
broached the subject at all.
Senator Cools: They do not care.
Senator Stratton: I think the government is worried more about what
will transpire should this debate continue. I am prepared to sit all summer on
this issue. I am sure others on this side are also prepared to do that.
The government wants to shut down debate because the issue is so highly
polarized and divisive. That is why it is wrong. As Senator Kinsella pointed out
so well in his speech yesterday, there are other solutions to this problem than
the one that the government is advocating. We have not really explored those
Yesterday, the Leader of the Government in the Senate virtually told us that
the leader of our party, Stephen Harper, and some members of our party are
homophobic or anti-rights. Some other members of the party opposite have also
alluded to that. That is wrong. It takes the level of debate down to where we do
not want to go. It was totally inappropriate of the Leader of the Government in
the Senate to do that.
I would like to remind honourable senators that when Paul Martin won the
leadership of the Liberal Party, he said that he would do things differently in
Ottawa. Democratic reform was at the top of the list of things that he wanted to
In February 2004, he issued an Action Plan for Democratic Reform, which
included a letter signed by him that stated:
Democratic reform includes ensuring that members have greater freedom to
voice their views and those of their constituents, reinforcing the role of
House Committees and their capacity to influence and shape legislation, having
Ministers engage Members and House Committees on policy priorities and
legislation, giving Parliament a greater role in the appointment process for
public office holders, and modernizing the procedures of the House of Commons.
Last night, debate was shut down. So much for democratic reform and doing
I wish to refer to a particularly interesting article that was written over a
week ago by Norman Spector and which appeared in The Globe and Mail. He
To capture the essence of Mr. Martin's rhetoric, you have to refer to Harry
G. Frankfurt, emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton University.
Honourable senators know I do not like to use swear words, but the title of
this paper is "On B———t." Honourable senators can fill in the blanks. The
"On B———t," a reprint of an academic paper the eminent Professor Frankfurt
wrote nearly 20 years ago...
Mr. Spector then quoted The Globe and Mail's Zsuzi Gartner, who noted
the article's applicability to our very own Prime Minister, who said:
For most people, the fact that a statement is false constitutes a
reason...not to make the statement. For St. Augustine's pure liar, it is...a
reason for making it. For the b———er, it is itself neither a reason in favour
nor a reason against.... The b———er...does not reject the authority of the
truth, as the liar does...he pays no attention to it at all.
Paul Martin knows that by stopping debate on Bill C-38 he is throwing his
promised democratic reform out the window. He knows that he is tossing aside
alternative solutions that could work in this country. We know there are
alternative solutions, such as those proposed by Senator Kinsella. We know there
are other ways of doing this. Instead, the Prime Minister chose to close debate
and narrow it down to a very singular issue, which is inappropriate.
I could go on and on about the broken promises by this minister. For example,
at the height of Adscam, the Prime Minister went on TV to plead with Canadians
not to fire him. He told the nation:
If so much as a dollar is found to have made its way into the Liberal Party
from ill-gotten gains, it will be repaid to the people of Canada.
Has that money been repaid? No. I look at that and say that I do not think
the Prime Minister can be trusted at his word because he says one thing and then
simply does another.
That has nothing to do with a Prime Minister who is concerned about the
elimination of the democratic deficit. It was a statement by a highly partisan
politician scrambling pathetically to cling to power. Unfortunately, he had
forgotten the people who had voted for him and made him Prime Minister — the
people of Canada.
Honourable senators, I will close on that point. This debate is being cut off
prematurely. This chamber is known for its sober second thought, in particular
the work that we do in our committees.
I do not think we have explored the debate to its fullest; in other words,
existing options could be explored, not only to address the concerns on both
sides, but also to satisfy the required needs on both sides, without dividing
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, normally I would alternate.
No honourable senator rising on the government side, I now go to the opposition
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I had not intended to
take part in the debate on Senator Rompkey's motion, but these arguments strike
me as so weak and insulting to this institution of ours that I feel obliged to
rise in order to inform him that the effort we put into our committees to
enhance the work of this institution cannot be made a mockery of by the desire
to put a rapid end to a very important debate.
I am in agreement with the government on this bill, but I do not accept being
forced to move quickly when the other place had as many hours as they wanted to
discuss it. We must hold a serious, interested and constructive debate. Even if
the other place had taken a thousand hours to discuss it, that is of no
importance to the Senate. We are deciding to debate this matter because our
institution exists. As long as no new Fathers of Confederation come along and
decide we cannot hold debates, debates there will be! The arguments of the
deputy leader are weak.
That being said, I support the government's bill. Just because the rest of
the world or the country took part in a debate is no reason for us not to have
one. Not to have one would be a disservice to our institution.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, as they say, "fasten your
seatbelts," you are in for a very long speech.
I totally agree with my friend Senator Nolin, although I still have not made
up my mind. I totally agree with what he said. I am against and totally opposed
to closing debates on such important issues.
If anyone wants to leave this chamber, or if anyone feels unable to stay in
the Senate, then leave. There are others who will stay. I think it is a shame
that our speaking time is being cut. That goes against everything I have always
said the Senate should be. It should be a chamber that takes its time and does
not listen to the hue and cry. I still have not made up my mind on the substance
of the issue.
I agree with Senator Nolin when he says it is absolutely absurd that we are
being told in advance what will happen: we are impatient, we will give you six
hours, we will go to committee, you will leave on Thursday, you will come back
in two weeks and, just like that, end of debate.
If there is a vote today or tomorrow, I hope to be available, because there
are special events going on in Ottawa that I must preside over. I will vote
against the closure motion if I am in the Senate. If I am not here, just
remember that I said I was against this motion. I want to thank Senator Nolin
for inspiring my comments yet again.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I am always disappointed when
I see government senators cheering a motion for time allocation or closure. My
understanding of these processes is that, regardless of the substantive side of
the issue that one is on, the Houses should have ample and plenary debate.
Many government supporters really do not understand that every time they
applaud these kinds of initiatives they are placing another nail in the coffin
of the Senate's effectiveness.
There are many in this country — and I am beginning to reach that position
myself — who feel that Parliament as a ministerial responsibility of a system is
essentially lost. It has morphed into something, but I do not know what. Even
the lexicon of the system has been lost. This motion, moved by Senator Rompkey,
who is not even bothering to listen to the debate, is proof of the state of
affairs in this country.
Honourable senators, the term "democratic deficit" was coined by Prime
Minister Martin. Well, this sort of activity is living proof of this
government's democratic deficit.
I am again disappointed in the paltry and insufficient comments made by the
Deputy Leader of the Government. From what I can see, he is saying that the
House of Commons has spoken, so there is no need for the Senate to speak. In
short, he is saying little debate is good, less debate is better, and none is
best. I find this attitude disturbing. I would have expected that, if the deputy
leader or the government chooses to resort to a measure that is as stringent as
this motion, at least some serious and substantive reasons would be put before
the chamber, supported by some constitutional authority and, perhaps, even some
policy authority. Honourable senators, it truly bothers me. I would ask this
chamber to reject the proposition that Senator Rompkey has placed before us. The
deputy leader can cite before us no reason whatsoever for the motion he has
moved, and he can cite no circumstances in this place; however, what he does
cite is events in the other place. Senator Rompkey expects us to believe the not
even credible proposition that, because of events in the other place, there
should be no debate or serious limitation on debate in this place. I wonder
where the defenders of the Senate are. The deputy leader's proposition is
Senator Rompkey used the expression "interminable debate." I have news for
Senator Rompkey. First, this chamber has, to date, not had a debate on the
question of marriage. Second, the House of Commons barely had a debate. For the
past many years, the Attorneys General and the Ministers of Justice have
contrived to ensure that there was no debate on the floor of the House of
Commons. Hence, the debate in the Houses of Parliament, far from being
interminable, has been woefully inadequate vis-à-vis the enormity of the
question that was put before us.
All I can conclude, honourable senators, is that this motion that has been
put here has nothing to do with circumstances in this place but everything to do
with the fact that the government considers any debate in this place to be an
inconvenience and to be dispensed with. I should like to record my very serious
objections to that phenomenon.
The motion before us is of the nature of a motion described in the literature
as a guillotine motion. It testifies to the collapse of parliamentary government
because, as a proposal for time allocation, it is an extreme and severe
procedure that has the effect of throwing the house into a state of siege, into
a state of parliamentary dictatorship, and that in advance of the debate itself.
This is not even a classic closure motion wherein the question before the
house has been well debated. This is a guillotine motion, a very serious process
that should be rarely used. When it is used, the mover of the motion is supposed
to demonstrate exceptional circumstances that require the invocation of such an
I served here, honourable senators, with Allan J. MacEachen, who once told us
that in his career as a cabinet minister in the other place he never once moved
a motion of closure.
Senator Murray: Although he voted for quite a few of them.
Senator Cools: Undoubtedly, but he said he never moved one. The point
is that he was expressing an opinion. Honourable senators need not worry because
Mr. MacEachen is in a league of his own and remains a giant of a
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mercer: Finally something we agree on!
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, Mr. Hawtrey and Mr. Abraham, in
their Parliamentary Dictionary, describe the guillotine motion as
A colloquial term for an order made by the House of Commons fixing the
amount of time which may be spent in discussing a particular bill or a
particular section of a bill at various stages. Such orders are technically
termed "allocation of time orders".
Honourable senators, in old parliamentary debates one finds that stringent
requirements should be in play when such a motion is put before the chamber for
its consideration and judgment. All the literature makes clear that a guillotine
motion is naturally distasteful and repugnant to Parliament. The requirements
are threefold. First, there should be a state of urgency. In other words, the
measure that is required must be urgently required. There is some sort of an
emergency in play, and the literature describes this requirement as "urgency."
Second, the opposition in this house must be fiercely obstructing the measure
that is urgently needed.
Senator Nolin: This house.
Senator Cools: That is right; this house, not the other place.
There must be obstruction, and the mover of the motion, who is usually a
government member, is supposed to supply to members proof of the obstruction. An
obstruction is not two, three or five days of debate. A good example of
obstruction is the GST debate in 1990. I participated in that debate. I sat in
this chamber 24 hours a day month after month after month because we were
determined that the GST bill would not move. We were so determined that the bill
would not move that we did not let the calendar of the day move for months and
months. If one looks to the Debates of the Senate of that time, one will
find that the date of the sitting did not change.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the rules provide for
10-minute speeches on these types of motions. Does the Honourable Senator Cools
wish to ask for an extension of time?
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I would love to have more time and
my colleagues are prepared to defer to me.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Cools: I want to know who said no.
Senator Prud'homme: Many people said no.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cools is asking for leave to continue.
Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Kinsella: Who said "no"?
Senator Comeau: Lapointe and Mercer. Mark them down. A former director
of the Liberal Party.
Senator Cools: I will get hundreds of letters about this tomorrow.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I am delighted to rise to
join in this debate pursuant to a rule that, as we all remember, was used when
the opposite side was on this side of the chamber.
Time allocation motions always evoke interesting debate. In my nearly 11
years in this place, I have never heard new arguments made on this side for
moving time allocations, and I have never heard new arguments made on the other
side for not moving it. It is important to examine the purpose of time
allocation and how it can be put into force and effect.
First, there must be discussions between the sides. That is the first step in
the rule that provides for time allocation. The Deputy Leader of the Government
meets with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in an attempt to reach agreement
on when second reading stage of the bill can be concluded, which is what we are
attempting to move to here.
We heard yesterday, when the Deputy Leader of the Government introduced his
motion, that he tried to negotiate but that it did not work. There was no
agreement to a specific number of days in which we could conclude second reading
debate. Therefore, the government decided that it is now time to use the rule,
so well put in the book by the other side, to conclude the debate at second
reading stage. In order to do that, we must have six hours of debate.
Another interesting fact is important to remember. Again in my nearly 11
years in this place, I have never known a debate on a time allocation motion to
occupy the full six hours. It always collapses. The aim is to pass this motion
so that honourable senators on both sides can put on the record their very
strongly and firmly held views on Bill C-38. Bill C-38 will then be referred to
committee, where witnesses will be heard. The bill will then come back to this
chamber for third reading and, honourable senators, I think we will all be well
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I rise to speak against the
closure motion moved yesterday by Senator Rompkey. I have always believed that
debate is not merely a frenzied attempt to deal with a matter without time to
think. Perhaps people shot each other in years gone by when they disagreed
because there was no time to think.
Closure causes us to complete our debate in one day, which gives us no time
to contemplate what other senators have said or to research whether what they
are telling us is true. We have no time to think about the consequences of what
we are trying to do here.
If the whole idea of Parliament was efficiency, we would do this with every
We would have a quick three-hour or six-hour debate. We would not care
whether there was time for what we were talking about to get to the public. The
idea of Parliament is to have what we say make its way somehow over time to the
general public, the people we are representing. Parliament is not here just for
us to talk to each other. Surely, if the only thing we had to do here was sit
around and speak for 10 minutes over six hours on every piece of legislation
that comes here, Parliament would be an awfully expensive debating club.
Many pieces of proposed legislation are given much debate. Yet, with respect
to one of the most important pieces of proposed legislation to come before this
chamber, the government has said, "Well, we have had lots of debate; the House
of Commons has had debate."
What does that have to do with us? The Senate is one of three parts of
Parliament. The Senate's purpose is to closely examine proposed legislation. If
we accept Senator Carstairs' premise of just sitting around for six hours and
getting it done, perhaps not even using the full six hours — forget about the
idea of time, forget about the idea of engaging the general public, so that they
have some say in this — and say that just because the bill was debated in the
House of Commons we should accept it, then why are we here?
I have talked about this on other items of closure. If a debate has taken
place over three or four months — for example, if the government is of the view
that a particular matter has been the subject of significant debate, as was the
case with the GST — then perhaps a motion like this is necessary. However, Bill
C-38 has only had one day of debate. All of a sudden, because we adjourn the
debate and want to think about it for a while, we hear, "Oh, gee, we should have
We have all lamented at times the lack of coverage by the media of the
Senate. It is actions such as this that give sustenance to the opinion that we
are irrelevant. In meetings of the Transport and Communications Committee, I
have inquired of a number of media companies, including The Globe and Mail,
Global and CTV, whether their newsrooms have decided that the Senate is
irrelevant. They have all assured me that they have not. I do not believe them.
They have decided that we are irrelevant. Would we be acting this way if we were
Senator Andreychuk: No.
Senator Tkachuk: I wonder how the Liberal senators from Alberta would
be dealing with this legislation if they were elected. I wonder how the Liberal
senators from Saskatchewan would be acting if we were elected. If the senators
from Atlantic Canada were elected, how they would be acting in this place?
It is because we are buried in this place with no media attention that we can
get away with this. That is the only reason we can get away with this, because
nobody can see what we are doing. The media does not report on us and we do not
have to face the electorate.
That, to me, is a dishonourable thing for us to do. That is why I do not
support the position of the government on this matter.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I realize that I am
still a novice in this place and, consequently, I am quite surprised by the
attitude often shown toward the usefulness and essential nature of this chamber.
If we belong to an organization, we do so with the purpose of being faithful
to it because we believe in it and we pledge our allegiance to it. If we believe
that this institution must change, it must be done in a way that is structured,
according to an established process and in order to improve the fate of the
Since my appointment to the Senate, I have received a great many requests —
as I did before — to speak, discuss and take part in various activities. I
respond that I cannot because I have a full-time job making an important
contribution to the democratic process in our country, and that my presence in
the Senate is required. And almost without exception people just laugh at me or
tell me, "Be serious, it is more important for you to attend our event than the
I do not understand why, after so many years, we have such a bad reputation
and are so misunderstood by society. We have not established a process, a
methodology or an increased presence in this society that would convince the
people about our work and how vital it is.
I constantly see RCMP officers in red uniforms. We see them at weddings,
baptisms and funerals. They made a decision nearly five years ago, because they
felt they were misunderstood, had a poor reputation and did not have a public
presence. They said, "We have a strong image to offer Canada, because we are a
Canadian entity that supports this democracy and the supremacy of law in
I think that we are capable of doing the same thing. We do not need to wear
red outfits; we can establish a methodology to put an end to our
self-accusations that our role is irrelevant. On the contrary, we must be
proactive, take a leadership role in our society and "sell our product."
To come back to the speech by our colleague Senator Cools, I am surprised by
her use of hyperbole. We cannot use the terms "dictatorship" and "Parliament" in
the same sentence. That cannot exist. It is impossible. We are in an institution
that reflects the democratic history of a country. The Liberal Party was elected
and the Liberal Party has a leader who becomes the Prime Minister. It is up to
the Prime Minister to take decisions such as appointing senators. It is an
extension of the democratic process. I do not see the urgent need to call an
election when valuable and pertinent work is being done.
Instead of throwing accusations at one another and making up stories about
abusing the democratic system, we should be working on enhancing our presence,
confirming the value of committee reports, and affirming the extent of our
influence on the decisions from the other place.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
would like to join this debate briefly.
Senator St. Germain: What about a question?
Senator Kinsella: Can we not ask a question?
Senator Comeau: He still has time.
The Hon. the Speaker: I think a senator is rising to ask a question.
It is up to you, Senator Dallaire, whether you will take a question.
Senator Cools: I wonder if Senator Dallaire would take a question.
Senator Dallaire: I am sure the question would be pertinent, and I
certainly would respond.
Senator Cools: Is the honourable senator aware that, in the literature
on closure motions and guillotine motions, this is the language that is used,
that Parliament is thrown into a dictatorship, into a state of siege? Is the
honourable senator aware that this is used frequently among the "authorities" on
Senator Dallaire: I cannot believe that we are using terminology like
that in official responses or in the debate, because it is impossible to have
Parliament, which is a democratic process, and to speak of dictatorship. We are
using an instrument of Parliament that is procedural, that is accepted and that
is used by the government in power when it feels that its use is essential Its
use is by exception, and I totally agree with this exception. This is not
anything other than the appropriate use of the proper procedures in the
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I wish to rise on a point of
Different senators come here with different experiences, and some senators
have served less or more in this place.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I wonder if a point of order is
in order during this debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am not aware of any rule, other than that
points of order cannot be raised during our Routine Proceedings, that prevents a
point of order being raised. Whether or not there is a point of order is
difficult to determine until one hears the claimed breach of order, so I will
hear Senator Cools.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, my understanding is that this
motion is before us under rule 39, and rule 39 does not prohibit points of
Honourable senators, the expression "dictatorship" seems to shock Senator
Dallaire. Perhaps because I have served here as long as I have, I am neither
shocked nor surprised. The only surprise for me was the manner in which the
leaders proposed this guillotine motion. That is the word that is used, because
it stops and ends everything with great abruptness. This is a point of order. In
fact, what surprises me is the lack of serious and good reasons for invoking
such a stringent measure.
For the sake of Senator Dallaire, I would like to read from a book by Josef
Your Honour, I ask that this be taken into consideration because of the
motion before us. You would not want any honourable senators to entertain a
thought that the language is somehow or the other improper or inappropriate. The
document I cite is called, The Procedure of the House of Commons: A Study of
its History and Present Form. It was written by Josef Redlich. I do not have
the year it was published, but it is of some reasonable age.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am having difficulty hearing Senator Cools. If
you could come to your point of order expeditiously, Senator Cools, I can allow
other honourable senators to participate if I see a point of order. Please give
me your point of order as quickly as possible.
Senator Cools: The use of terms such as "guillotine" or "dictatorship"
are commonplace in debate on this particular procedure. I would like to refer to
Chapter 3 of Redlich's book, The Urgency Procedure and the Introduction of
the Closure (1881-1888). It says:
The resolution brought in by Mr. Gladstone with the object of preventing
further Irish obstruction upon the Coercion bill is one of the most remarkable
documents in English parliamentary history. Its contents may be characterised
in one word. It proclaimed a parliamentary state of siege and introduced a
dictatorship into the House of Commons.
The author, Mr. Redlich, proceeds to lay out the entire history of the
origins of closure and subsequent time allocation systems. Therefore, honourable
senators, it is in order to refer to a state of siege and to a state of
dictatorship. That state is created far too frequently in today's community.
Honourable senators, I ask the Speaker to adjudicate as well the propriety of
this motion being before us, because none of the requirements have been met that
would give any reason, or even qualify the Speaker to put this motion before us
for a vote. As His Honour would know, it is within the discretion of the Speaker
to refuse to put a motion that is irregular or not in order. I contend, in
addition, that this particular motion is out of order as well.
The Hon. the Speaker: I have listened to Senator Cools, and I thank
her for her intervention. Her question is an anticipatory one at most. I do not
find in it any matter of order. The motion we are on is a debatable one, albeit
limited to a specific time: two and a half hours, ten minutes per senator,
thirty minutes for the leaders and fifteen minutes, if we had any, for the
leaders of official parties. We are in a different set of time references than
normal, but apart from that, it is a debatable motion.
In the course of debate, I think the exchange that took place between Senator
Dallaire and Senator Cools over the use of certain words does not involve any
breach of order in that there is no evidence of this motion having been
introduced improperly or the Senate having proceeded in any way not in
accordance with our rules. Accordingly, I find the motion in order.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, when I last rose to my feet, I
said that I doubted it was a point of order. Senator Cools is famous for
manufacturing debate opportunities out of alleged points of order. Believe me,
we have had a long experience of that. Sometimes it was used from this side.
Sometimes it is now used from that side. Honourable senators, it is not in
accordance with the practices of this chamber and the fairness allowed to
members to proceed contrary to the rules in the fashion that is familiar to
Having said that, I point out, as did Senator Carstairs, that the time
allocation rules are long-standing in parliamentary practice. I, however, put no
negative charge against Senator Murray and his era when these rules were so
designed. They were in accordance with parliamentary practice. Ample use has
been made of this rule from time to time by all governments in this chamber and
all government supporters in this chamber. The real issue here is not the rule,
as some have said in their debate, but the necessity for applying the rule.
Honourable senators, as my colleagues Senator Rompkey and Senator Carstairs
have said, we have sought an orderly process with respect to the debate on Bill
We believe that an orderly process is something that ought to have been
negotiated. For the reasons that Senator Rompkey addressed, there has been
extensive debate throughout the country. Ours is a chamber to review that debate
in the context of Bill C-38, which is now before us.
When this debate was called this afternoon, there was no speaker speaking for
the official opposition. Senator Plamondon spoke. She is an independent.
On our side, we believe that it would be of maximum value to the members of
this chamber if the debate were allowed to proceed within rule 39 and the matter
then referred to committee, where witnesses can be heard. With respect to the
committee, we do want to hear from the Minister of Justice, who is willing to
make himself available by video conference because he is in Europe. We do want
to hear other appropriate witnesses, not to reargue the same propositions that
have been maintained everywhere else for so very long, but to know whether there
are new insights that could bring a better judgment on the issues.
We would like to see what Senator Kinsella means in terms of a possible
amendment and to consider it in the committee if he is prepared to introduce it
there, or at least to have the further information that we need with respect to
the amendment so that if he wishes to introduce it at third reading we have the
opportunity at least to consider and examine the proposals in the committee.
Honourable senators, the situation is not one that I would like to see
reduced to personal denunciation. I am very regretful that Senator Stratton
referred to me as arguing that any member of Parliament was homophobic. I did
not say so; I deny having said so and I do not believe that. I have not seen any
evidence to establish that there is any member of Parliament in either House who
has that attitude.
Honourable senators, I do however agree with Senator Stratton but on the
other side of the point he makes. I do believe there are many in the other place
and perhaps even some in this chamber who do not understand the concept of the
equality of human rights. That is what our debate is about. That is what we are
dealing with on the merits.
Honourable senators, finally, I wish to address the points Senator Dallaire
was making. I appreciate his comments. Parliament is not merely a place for
debate. Parliament is also a place for decisions. Our responsibility is to
effectively raise the issues through debate and then to arrive at a time when a
decision is to be made.
Honourable senators, we must move in an orderly way and we must take a
decision on this bill. Therefore, I maintain that it is correct in both the
rules and in the proper behaviour of this chamber that this motion be dealt
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, in the spirit of decision
making, we have been filling time here in a quite agreeable way this afternoon.
However, while all this has been going on, Senator Rompkey and Senator Stratton
have been leaving the chamber together, returning to the chamber together,
leaving the chamber together, returning to the chamber together. In the spirit
of decision making, may we now find out what they have decided so that we can
know where we go from here?
Senator Prud'homme: Point of order.
Senator Rompkey: We have decided that the carpet in the chamber is in
immediate need of repair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, comments made about points
of order are much in my mind. If a senator is rising on a point of order, it is
our practice to hear them first.
Senator Prud'homme: Your Honour, knowing your wisdom, you will stop me
if I am not on a point of order.
Following on what Senator Murray has said, I was also witness to this
movement in and out of the chamber.
I wish to repeat that there are 11 non-aligned senators: five independents,
five Progressive Conservatives and one New Democrat. We are totally out in the
bush. No one tells us anything. No one told us that Senator Robichaud has been
elected as the fifth senator to sit on the conflict of interest committee. We
are in limbo. It is as if we do not exist. It is my view we do exist and most of
us contribute much more than any other 11 senators. Therefore, we would like to
know what it is going on. I back what Senator Murray just said.
The Hon. the Speaker: We have a few minutes left on Senator Murray's
10 minutes. He has raised something that might be commented on or a question
that someone might want to comment on in terms of what he is asking of the house
leadership. If no one rises, I will see Senator St. Germain.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I would like to enter
this debate on closure because Canadians have a right to a full and unfettered
debate on this issue. Those who would see this act as democratic really surprise
me. Invoking closure after one day of debate is not democracy.
The government is trying to narrow Bill C-38 down to a human rights issue. It
never has been and never will be. When Canadians went to the polls in the last
election, they were not aware that this piece of legislation would be before the
House of Commons or the Senate. Mr. Martin had clearly stated that this was not
an issue with which he would deal. The fact is that he has continually said that
judicial activism in the provinces have driven him to this decision.
Senator Austin: The Supreme Court made its decision.
Senator St. Germain: One of the senators from the other side spoke of
the great democracy of this place and the other place. Why are we making
reference to the Supreme Court? We must be respectful of the Supreme Court.
However, the fact is that the Liberal government has misrepresented the facts to
Canadians, whether we go back to wage and price controls in the 1970s, then in
the late 1970s and early 1980s, 18 cents a gallon on gas, GST, free trade and
same-sex marriage. The way the Liberals have presented things is a total
disgrace. They invoke closure on anything that is contentious or anything that
will embarrass them.
Honourable senators, I believe that we must debate this issue fully. To many
of us, same-sex marriage goes to the very core of what we stand for as human
beings. Senator Plamondon spoke of her position today and laid it out clearly.
There are very few issues that go to the core of the moral and religious beliefs
of people in this country. For the Liberal government to attempt to narrow the
gap and ram this bill through is absolutely and unequivocally wrong and
disgraceful because it is such an important issue to so many people.
It is a different situation for those who think that the country should be
totally secular. For those who have their faith and beliefs, this bill is an
intrusion into the foundation of section 2 of our Constitution, the freedom of
expression of religion. For the government of the day to be derogatory toward
anyone who speaks about restricting debate is an embarrassment to this place.
It is correct. We always wonder why we do not get publicity. Senator Dallaire
spoke of how we have not got a better position in society. He spoke about the
RCMP improving its image. What do we do at the end of term? We save up all our
bills to the end and try to ram them through in one day. We wonder why Canadians
I have seen it before, Senator Austin. Every time we come to Christmas and
this time of the year, we try to ram things through. Just because we want to
have a full, intelligent, constructive civil debate on an issue, we are
ridiculed on this side. We will never improve our image in the eyes of Canadians
if we do not deal with each piece of legislation in a systematic chronological
method. Honourable senators, if we want to improve our image, we can do it in
the way we conduct ourselves. Let us not try to get home; rather, let us do our
work and do it properly on something that is truly important.
Senator Austin: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator St. Germain: Yes.
Senator Austin: Were you ever a member of government that brought in
Senator St. Germain: Absolutely, we were part of it. I can remember
the GST debate in this place. I will compare notes with you any time as to time
allocation. I am not worried about that. Time allocation is time allocation, but
after one day of debate do we try to sweep it under the rug, boys and girls?
That is not the way it should be done, and I can tell you that there has been
closure invoked by the government that I was part of.
If you look at the GST debate that went on in this place — I was not part of
this place then — and if you think that was a time to be proud of being
senators, believe me, you disgraced the Senate. It was your side that had
kazoos, or whatever they call them, and all those other crazy things going on. I
remember one senator reading into the record the book he wrote so he could get
it translated. Do you believe that, honourable senators? That actually happened
here. They read the book into the record so that he did not have to pay to get
his publication translated.
Forget it, gang, you guys are out to lunch.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I am sorry I asked.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I am disappointed to hear
Senator Rompkey saying that the debate on same-sex marriage is over, that all
the discussion has been held, that there is nothing more to say. The House of
Commons has done all the work so there is nothing more to do in this place.
Senator Dallaire has used the argument that the Prime Minister was entitled
to invoke closure. Perhaps he does not understand that this chamber is part of
Parliament, not part of the government. It is a separate chamber.
While not denying that Senator Dallaire is a man of experience, I would point
out that decisions sometimes have to be made very quickly in the military from
which he has come, but things are done very differently here in Parliament.
Parliament was designed to avoid having to resort to the military. Debate takes
time and can be costly, but what is the alternative to a worthwhile
parliamentary debate? That is what we are discussing today: Will there be a
debate or will we make decisions immediately?
We could well ask all the questions quickly, as Senator Mercer suggested, and
do as we generally do. As Senator St. Germain just said, every year in the month
of June we pass a whole lot of bills at lightning speed, as we also do at the
end of December. That is not our purpose. Our purpose is to examine issues,
reflect on them and think before acting.
I am still interested in hearing the arguments from both sides. I do not,
however, want to address the great debates that went on in the House of Commons.
I would rather reflect on the arguments presented in this chamber. So far, I
have not been impressed by the fact that a guillotine motion has to be moved
I would like to cite An Encyclopedia of Parliament, Fourth Edition, by
Norman Wilding and Philip Laundry. It makes reference to the word "guillotine":
Unlike a closure motion, which has to be passed when a question is actually
before the House, an allocation of time or 'guillotine' motion is passed in
advance of the debate it is proposed to limit.
Thus, debate is limited.
A 'guillotine' motion is designed to expedite the passage of a Bill, and
seeks to do so by means of time-table, allotting a certain number of days....
And so on.
Somewhat later, they return to the guillotine.
The 'guillotine' is unpopular on all sides of the House. It renders the
opposition ineffective and severely impairs the value of debate. Its only
virtue is that of saving time, although a certain amount of time is always
lost in the discussion of the motion itself. A Government is usually reluctant
to propose its use...
Except this one, with all the stress it is under.
It "will only do so as a matter of urgency."
Where is the urgency here? Who is in such an all-fired hurry to get through
this as quickly as they want?
For instance, a government might seek to call the guillotine into operation
if it is being unduly harassed by delaying tactics or if fierce and prolonged
debate is anticipated on a measure that threatens to disrupt the program for the
Fierce and prolonged debate by the great opposition of 22 who will cause you
all kinds of grief — what is this chamber coming to? There are 22 of us, but we
wanted to propose quality debate on this issue.
Apparently, it has all been done in the House of Commons, according to
Senator Rompkey. According to Senator Dallaire, we have exhausted completely
what we need to say on it. Let us quickly proceed to action as they do in the
military. Make a decision and go for it. Ram the torpedoes.
That is not the way for Parliament to operate.
Let us take time to reflect. Let us take time to debate what is extremely
important. I hear from people in my area that we should take our time on this,
and reflect on what we are doing. Then, when we have properly taken the time to
reflect, we will come to a decision.
We will reach that decision as quickly as possible and we will do so on
behalf of our fellow citizens, without having to say that it has all been
discussed in the House of Commons.
It would be an abdication of our responsibility as a chamber if we have to
resort to saying that the House of Commons has done its work, and, therefore,
there is nothing else for us to do. If that is the case, why would we be here?
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, like Senator Prud'homme, I have
the intention of making a long speech.
Senator Andreychuk: Good!
Senator Fraser: As an aside, like my colleagues, I was around during
the last election campaign. I remember being clearly persuaded by the public
discussion during the campaign that this bill would be before us. I do not find
that surprising at all.
However, in my view, six hours of debate is a long debate. The motion now
before us proposes six hours of debate. That length of time allows for 24
speakers, plus the five we have already heard, which makes 29. How many bills on
second reading are addressed by 29 speakers in this chamber?
Senator Rompkey: There is still third reading.
Senator Fraser: There is still third reading. There is also committee
The only argument against not proceeding would be that in some way this bill
had come as such a total surprise that senators needed months more to understand
it and to make up their minds. As has been explained to us by the Deputy Leader
of the Government, and by others, this issue has been before the country and
Parliament for years. I suspect there is not a single member of this chamber who
has not thought long and deeply about this question. It involves serious
questions about the way in which we view society.
There is no surprise in this. It is time for us to take that six hours, say
what we believe, and then do what the people of Canada pay us to do, which is to
cast our votes.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Tkachuk: Would the Honourable Senator Fraser take a question?
Senator Fraser: No.
Senator Cools: She will not debate.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I will be brief. I wish to
bring an additional dimension to the reflections we are having this afternoon on
the motion of Senator Rompkey.
If honourable senators look at today's Order Paper, they will see on page 5,
Motion No. 12 standing in the name of Senator Cools. Motion No. 12 states:
Second reading of Bill S-32, An Act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited
Degrees) Act and the Interpretation Act in order to affirm the meaning of
Honourable senators, this motion has been on the Order Paper for years in
various incarnations. I do not dispute for a fraction of a second the right of
Senator Cools to postpone the debate on that proposed bill that has been on the
Order Paper in many incarnations. I can do it. If we choose to keep an issue on
the Order Paper, any one of us can do it. Of course, in all logic, if any
senator presents a bill in this chamber and respects the legislative process, it
is because that senator has a clear objective to draw the attention of
colleagues to the issue of marriage, for instance.
This bill has reached 15 days. It has been rolled back for another 15 days,
time and time again. As I said yesterday in my speech, Senator Cools put forward
to the Supreme Court a well-articulated and well-argued brief. It was expected
that at one point in time she would have an opportunity to raise those issues
and we would review them.
What did we do? Both last winter and last spring, I proposed twice that the
subject matter of marriage be studied by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal
and Constitutional Affairs so that we could have an opportunity to review the
brief of Senator Cools. I did that on February 23. To that request, we received
a clear "no" from the representative of the opposition party. It is their right.
I do not dispute that.
We raised it again a second time on March 9, which was a Wednesday, and a
regular meeting day of the committee. Again, the answer was "no." I do not
dispute that. They have the right not to want to discuss an issue.
We are now told that we need many more hours to discuss this issue. I humbly
submit that the six-hour time limit in front of us will allow honourable
senators to conclude the second reading stage of this bill. The Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will then meet. Personally, I am
ready to sit mornings, afternoons and evenings, five days in a row, if need be,
to hear the arguments that any honourable senator wishes to bring forward. At
some point in time we must know if we want it or not.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Tkachuk: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Joyal: With pleasure, Senator Tkachuk.
Senator Tkachuk: This is a question I wished to ask of Senator Fraser.
However, I will ask it of Senator Joyal.
Will the minister appear before the committee to present the bill?
Senator Joyal: I might not be in a position to answer that question.
However, because I am the sponsor of this bill at second reading, I met last
week with officers of the department and the minister's office in preparation
for this debate. I understand that this week the minister is travelling in
France. In fact, if honourable senators have read the paper this morning, they
will have seen that he received an honorary degree from an institute of law in
Paris for his work in support of human rights.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator St. Germain: On secular rights.
Senator Joyal: The minister's assistant happened to be in the gallery
this afternoon. I said there is no way that our committee would want to debate
this bill without the testimony of the minister, especially in light of the
question so rightly raised by Senator St. Germain. He needs an answer to his
concern regarding the interpretation of the bill. In my opinion, the minister
has the capacity to offer an answer.
I proposed that the minister and his officials appear by video conference.
That is something which the Special Senate Committee on the Subject Matter of
Bill C-36 did regularly and efficiently with the concurrence of former Senator
Lynch-Staunton. We heard witnesses from Indonesia, New Zealand, London — from
almost everywhere in the world — without having to leave Ottawa. We offered the
minister the opportunity to appear via video conference. The minister has
appeared many times before the committee. He is familiar with the regular
members of the committee. We will have a good exchange with the minister.
Because the minister has time available in his European schedule, he has
accepted to appear before the committee this Friday. He must also address
various groups in Strasbourg and other places.
Many members on this side, including myself, have said that we are ready to
listen to the minister on Friday, pending the fact that we get the bill into
committee by Friday.
Senator Tkachuk: I do not understand this. Are we debating this
closure motion today so that we can hear the minister on Friday?
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Tkachuk: Is that what this is all about?
Some Hon. Senators: No!
Senator Tkachuk: That is what this is all about. You know that is
exactly what you said.
Senator Mahovlich: You misinterpreted.
Senator Tkachuk: My point is that a minister of your government does
not think it is important enough to come to Ottawa to testify before the
committee on a bill that you say is so important that we need a closure motion
Senator Cools: And so urgent!
Senator Tkachuk: What is the minister doing all next week? Why is the
minister not prepared to come before us to speak to his own bill?
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, the minister makes himself
available, as any minister makes himself or herself available, and proposes to
the committee a date that fits within his agenda. The minister has proposed to
make himself available this Friday by way of video conference. I feel that is
totally amenable for any honourable senator who wants to attend the meeting of
the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Senator Tkachuk: What I am hearing, first, is that Parliament is here
in Ottawa; not in Paris, Strasbourg or wherever he is. I hope he is having a
very nice time, getting an honorary degree and all that. If this closure motion
does not pass for some reason, and we do not have committee meetings until
Monday and Tuesday, will the minister be available anytime after Friday?
Senator Joyal: In all fairness, honourable senators, I cannot answer
that question. I do not know the agenda of the minister. The only thing I know
is that, in his schedule — his travel was planned a long time ago — there is an
opening for this Friday. I did not check for the next week or the week after. I
did not want to inquire about that. The only thing I wanted to know is the
soonest the minister would be available so that we would have the benefit of
questioning him on all of the aspects of the bill raised yesterday by the
Honourable Senators St. Germain, Kinsella and some others.
Senator Tkachuk: We hear on this side that the government denotes the
importance of a bill by the symbolism and the treatment that they reserve for
it. First, the honourable senator tells me that the minister does not think it
is important enough to come back to Ottawa to deal with this bill or that he
does not think we are important enough to come and deal with this bill. In both
cases, I find it insulting that the person who is actually putting the bill
forward and who thinks it is important enough that we have closure in this
place, so that we can have a video conference on Friday rather than fully debate
the bill and, perhaps, send it to committee next week, when the minister should
be able to appear, but he will not be here. My view is this: No minister, no
Senator Cools: That is right!
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, I have attended all the meetings
of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs where the
minister was invited to appear and testify and for which he made himself
available on each of those occasions, the last one being about 10 days ago on
Bill C-2. The minister offers.
Senator Tkachuk: That is his job! He gets paid to do that.
Senator Joyal: The minister offered and shared all his knowledge and
expertise with the members of the committee.
Senator Tkachuk: We are thrilled.
Senator Joyal: As a matter of fact, I think the minister was genuine
in his testimony. I expect that the minister, knowing the importance and
sensitivity of this issue, will want to help the committee members do a thorough
study of this bill.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to advise that Senator Joyal's 10
minutes have expired.
Senator St. Germain: Could I ask for leave? I would like to ask him
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Only Senator Joyal can ask for leave.
Senator Cools: Yesterday Senator Rompkey did it.
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, I have answered at length the
concerns of the other side of the house on the testimony of the Minister of
Senator Prud'homme: Is that a yes or a no?
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I wish to go on
record supporting my colleagues on this side that this closure is not necessary
and is an affront to the Senate. I want to deal with two points that I find
surprising and disappointing that came up in the exchange that we just had. The
exchange enlightened us and gave us information that we, as individual senators,
do not otherwise have.
If we allow a minister to appear by video conference because he has a prior
set schedule and does not believe it is more important to be here to represent
his bill face-to-face with senators, it will set a precedent that each and every
one of us, because of our schedules, which may be equally important —
Senator Kinsella: More!
Senator Andreychuk: — or, in some cases, more important, as Senator
Kinsella says — can follow. We have already had a request by one of our own here
in this chamber to do just that. How can we turn down a senator's request to be
afforded the option of video conferencing once we do it for a minister? I think
it would be highly improbable and unjust if we did not accept the request.
Personally, I said I would not participate in a study on subject matter again
after I participated in the one on anti-terrorism. I was assured that if we did
a pre-study it would enlighten us and alert us to the issues and then we would
have full and fair debate throughout the process of Parliament for second
reading, committee stage and final stage. However, after I participated in the
pre-study it went to the minister and it came back to the committee. What were
we told? Well, you already had your chance to look at it and we shortened and
shortened the debate. Not only did we shorten the debate on that piece of
legislation, but on all the companion pieces of legislation.
Honourable senators, our rules were put in place for a purpose. They should
not be casually put aside. I do not believe that because we said no to a study
on the subject matter it should be used against us when we want to work on the
subject itself through the elements of process we have in place here.
I thought all senators were independent and that in doing our work we would
receive information from as many sources as we could find. Each of us is unique.
We have different constituencies. Some of us belong to parties and are extremely
loyal. Some are loyal but are guided by other concepts and other loyalties. We
work differently. We place a high price on independence. What we are saying by
closure in this case is that we do not have time for each other, that the
debates that other people have had in other fora are more important. I thought
this chamber was all about dialogue, debate and compromise and having heard
varying points of view.
Make no mistake, honourable senators, the average Canadian has not been
involved. Those who are deeply religious have been involved and the community
that will be affected by same-sex marriage has been involved, not only with
those who wish to avail themselves of marriage but also those who have to
perform marriages and the provincial governments that have to implement it.
Those groups have followed it. Certainly, from the people I talk to, they have
some opinions, but not informed opinions. They look to the Senate and the House
for informed opinion. If we do not do that, we have not served the public. Make
no mistake, members in the other place are accountable by election, we are not.
We cannot afford to take shortcuts if we are to do our duty.
Finally, this is an issue about human rights. Any violation of human rights
commands urgency. This is not just about same sex. This is about the right to
freedom of expression and religion. It is about how we balance those elements. I
think Senator Kinsella eloquently raised other aspects. That is what the Senate
does well. We take what they do in the other place, which is highly driven by
politics, and review it here. The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in
particular looks at the aspects of administration. We have said, "Is this
ideologically a good bill? How will it be administered?" The devil is in the
detail. The government may want a certain outcome, but what will happen when the
legislation is put into practice? We who have sat on the Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee for many years know that while the government
may have a good idea, it often falters in practice. That is what I thought we
would do, namely, look at how this bill would be administered.
Senator Kinsella has pointed out that there are better ways than dividing the
community to achieve the objectives of the government. Surely we owe that to
Canadians. We owe that to each other. I do not believe that the way to do
business in this place is to shut down debate and say it is July.
I would accept closure if I believed there was an emergency. What about the
human rights of Aboriginal people? Two reports of this Senate state that the
rights of women and children on reserves are being violated. We have said that
repeatedly, but I do not see a government bill to deal with that matter. We are
not dealing with that problem with urgency.
Some say this is a matter of human rights. There are many human rights
entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that some Canadians are not
enjoying and that should be given equal attention.
Government members say that it is only closure, that we will have six more
hours of debate at second reading stage of debate on Bill C-38, then committee
hearings and third reading debate. However, the air goes out of the balloon the
minute closure is imposed. Why would I talk to people who do not want to hear
me? Why would I attend committee hearings when the minister will be available
only this Friday and only by video conference? What reason do I have to believe
that the government will listen to what I have to say about amending the bill in
committee or at third reading?
This is the point where it becomes clear whether the Senate is independent or
is just an organ of government without the power that the House of Commons has.
Senator Prud'homme: Will the Honourable Senator Andreychuk accept a
Senator Andreychuk: Yes.
Senator Prud'homme: We have been told that the minister can appear
before the committee by video conference. Is not the first duty of a minister to
answer to Parliament? Unfortunately, the CBC and everyone else has said that
Parliament has adjourned, but the Senate will continue. That is unbelievable.
The Senate is Parliament.
Is it not true that the minister's first and greatest responsibility is to
answer to Parliament, of which we are a part? Does the minister want to avoid
the press? It is easier to avoid a press scrum in Ottawa by appearing via video
conference than it is to be here in person.
The minister received this great award on Sunday. The award reads:
Mr. Cotler, in recognition of his career in the cause of human rights and
the protection of vulnerable people around the world.
This is a great award, but he received it last Sunday. What is he doing next
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to advise that the 10 minutes allotted
to Senator Andreychuk have expired.
Senator St. Germain: I have a question for Senator Andreychuk.
The Hon. the Speaker: The rules limit speeches on a time allocation
motion to 10 minutes.
Senator Andreychuk: I request leave for additional time.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator St. Germain: We will remember that!
Senator Comeau: Mercer said no.
Senator Andreychuk: Senator Austin said no.
Senator Austin: I would like to hear some new points of view.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Andreychuk has asked for additional
time. Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry, Senator Andreychuk, leave is not
I see no senator rising to speak. As honourable senators know, the motion can
be neither amended nor adjourned. When debate is completed, the obligation of
the Speaker is to put the question.
Seeing no senator rising, I take it that debate is completed. I will put the
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Rompkey, seconded by the Honourable
That, pursuant to rule 39, not more than a further six hours of debate be
allocated for the consideration of the second reading stage of Bill C-38, An
Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil
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 second reading stage of the said Bill; and
That any recorded vote or votes on the said question shall be taken in
accordance with rule 39(4).
Those honourable senators in favour of the motion will please say "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Those honourable senators opposed to the motion
will please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: I believe the "nays" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: The rule provides for a one-hour bell,
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: I propose a 30-minute bell.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: I agree to 30 minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is that agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: We will have a 30-minute bell with the vote to
be held at 4:58 p.m.
Do I have permission to leave the chair, honourable senators?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Baker, P.C., for the second reading of Bill
C-48, to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I am pleased today to
offer some remarks on Bill C-48, which deals with the New Democratic Party's
I would like to begin by reminding all honourable senators of a passage from
the February 2004 Speech from the Throne:
Aboriginal Canadians have not fully shared in our nation's good fortune.
While some progress has been made, the conditions in far too many Aboriginal
communities can only be described as shameful. This offends our values. It is
in our collective interest to turn the corner. And we must start now.
The use of this word "shameful" to describe many Aboriginal communities
struck a chord with people right across Canada. "Shameful" is a strong word and,
unfortunately in this instance, a very appropriate one. Perhaps at the time
Canadians thought that the Speech from the Throne would signal a renewed
willingness on behalf of the federal government to deal with the issues facing
Aboriginal peoples quickly and in an innovative matter. However, this has not
yet come to pass.
Not too long ago, the United Nations released a report that illustrated how
far Aboriginal peoples in our country have yet to come. The report makes the
Poverty, infant mortality, unemployment, morbidity, suicide, criminal
detention, children on welfare, women victims of abuse, child prostitution,
are all much higher among Aboriginal people than in any other sector of
The litany of problems facing First Nations communities, as laid out in the
UN report, does not tell Canadians anything we did not already know. These
problems are well documented and long-standing. However, another part of the UN
report may prove more surprising: If Canada's ranking on the human development
index were based solely on the lives of registered Indians, Canada's ranking
would plummet, from the eighth best country in the world in which to live to
Honourable senators, with both the United Nations report and the Speech from
the Throne in mind, I would like to take a look at the bill before us today.
On the face of it, the bill authorizes massive levels of spending, including
$1.5 billion for access to training and post-secondary education, to benefit
Aboriginal Canadians, among others. It also allocates $1.6 billion for
affordable housing, including housing for Aboriginal Canadians. However, just
how much of this money will benefit Aboriginal Canadians is nowhere to be found
in the bill. Nothing in the NDP budget suggests that this money will be provided
in conjunction with an evaluation of the situation or a well-thought-out plan.
This bill contains no move by the federal government to seek greater
assurances that the $10 billion spent annually on Aboriginal programs and
services will go to those who need it in an effective and timely manner. In
fact, Bill C-48 will add millions more in unfocused spending.
I would like to point out that the original agreement reached between the
Liberal government and the New Democratic Party contained little to supplement
the meagre provisions for Aboriginal peoples made in the finance minister's
version of the federal budget, which was tabled on February 23 of this year. In
fact, it appears that one element of the NDP budget particular to Aboriginal
peoples was added as little more than an afterthought. I am referring to the
post-secondary education portion of the bill.
According to Mr. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, the budget
deal initially promised an increase of $1.5 billion over two years in provincial
transfer payments for the purpose of tuition reduction and to provide training
programs for unemployed workers. Bill C-48 removes specific mention of tuition
reduction but added that this money should "benefit, among others, Aboriginal
Canadians." That is not very definitive.
Honourable senators, as I have said, the bill does not state how much of this
money should be allocated for Aboriginal education or how it should be used.
Last November, the Auditor General reminded us of the widening education gap
between the high school graduation rates of First Nations people living on
reserve and the Canadian population as a whole. This gap, my friends, will take
28 years to close.
Despite the $1 billion allocated annually for primary and secondary education
by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the education gap has actually increased
since 2000. That year, the Auditor General issued a similar alarm about the mess
that characterizes the funding and delivery of Aboriginal education.
Honourable senators, we are talking here about an entire generation of
Aboriginal men and women who are being kept on the sidelines. A country as
blessed as Canada, which offers its citizens so many advantages and
opportunities, should never accept a situation like this. Its government should
not accept the situation either. We do not fix it, however, by throwing more
money at programs that do not meet their objectives. We fix it by making sure
that the money currently available is spent effectively to provide young
Aboriginals with the highest quality of education.
While the NDP budget will provide more spending, it does not pay any regard
whatsoever to another very important part of the Auditor General's warning. In
last November's report, the Auditor General told us that the department does not
know if the funds it provides to students are sufficient, if the funds it
provides are enough to meet the department's own educational standards, or — and
this is very important — if the funds are even used for their intended purpose.
The department simply does not know these things and, because it does not know,
Parliament does not know. The Treasury Board Secretariat does not know. In fact,
no one knows. Is that how we improve Aboriginal education in this country, with
ignorance and a lack of accountability?
As the Honourable Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has pointed out in
reference to post-secondary education, and as Senator Keon has told us with
respect to our health care system, throwing piles of money at a given problem
without a clear assessment of the reality of the situation will never solve
anything. We need a frank assessment of what is working and what is not.
Honourable senators, let us now consider the other element of the bill that
is particular to Aboriginal Canadians, which is housing. As I have said, the NDP
budget sets aside $1.6 billion for affordable housing, including housing for
Aboriginal Canadians. There is no way of knowing how much of this money is
allocated for Aboriginal housing, whether it would go to the building of new
homes or whether it will provide much-needed upgrades and repairs to existing
homes. We do not know if it will go towards new programs or if it will be
funnelled into the department's housing program. We do not know if it will be
limited solely to housing on reserve or if some portion will be set aside for
There is no question that housing conditions on reserves across Canada are in
need of improvement, and more money is required to address the problems. This
situation is reflected in the words of Mr. Richard Jock of the Assembly of First
Nations, who recently said to the House of Commons Finance Committee, "When
you're in desperate need, you don't necessarily look a possible gift horse in
the mouth." The original version of this year's budget tabled by Finance
Minister Goodale provided $295 million over five years for housing construction
and renovation on reserves. It is interesting that the original budget plan
found this amount to be sufficient. Page 96 of the 2005 budget plan states that
the original amount set aside was "enough to stem the growing shortage of
housing units and begin to eliminate it."
As was the case with the post-secondary education component, the original
press release from Jack Layton on April 27 contains different information than
what is found in this bill. Mr. Layton said that the affordable housing
allocation would hold "a dedicated fund for aboriginal housing construction to
improve the appalling living conditions many Aboriginal peoples face. This money
is not contingent upon provincial matching funds, since this requirement has
been proven to fail in the delivery of affordable housing construction."
None of this is found in the bill. Only when the government found itself on
shaky political grounds did it decide to increase this funding.
Again, I must stress that we do not know how much will go to Aboriginal
housing or what plans this money will follow. This information just does not
Honourable senators, the complete lack of consultation behind the bill is
amazing and, in my view, unprecedented. Beyond the ongoing roundtable process,
was there any consultation with Aboriginal peoples on this specific bill? Did
anyone ask their priorities in these areas? I understand the AFN will be
lobbying for between one half and one third of this new money to be directed
towards First Nations.
Honourable senators, these kinds of funding decisions usually take place
before the money has been set aside, not after.
An NDP member of the other place, Mr. Pat Martin, who is also the party's
Aboriginal Affairs critic, told The Globe and Mail on May 4 that three
ministers of the Crown had approached him to encourage spending for First
Nations in the crafting of this bill. This claim only served to further
illustrate the irrelevancy of the Finance Minister, whose cabinet colleagues
turned not to him but to the NDP to seek changes to the federal budget.
Those who have been lauding this deal would do well to remember the federal
government's track record with providing the funding it has promised in a timely
manner and in full.
For example, Finance Minister Goodale's version of the budget highlighted a
federal commitment made at last September's first ministers' meeting to provide
$700 million over five years for Aboriginal health care. However, instead of
building on this commitment, this year's original budget actually made funding
cuts in the area of Aboriginal health.
I draw your attention to a press release, dated February 24, from the
Assembly of First Nations. It noted that the budget removed $27 million in
funding from the coverage of non-insured health benefits, which provides
medically necessary goods and services to about 700,000 treaty Indians and
recognized Inuit and Innu.
In addition, the original budget will phase out $36 million in funding for
the First Nations and Inuit Health Information System, which will result in its
The Assembly of First Nations also expressed its disappointment that the
$700-million investment did not constitute new money, as the budget reassigned
$75 million from previously announced programs, such as the Aboriginal Diabetes
I should also like to remind all honourable senators that, in March, the
Minister of Health acknowledged that First Nations communities had not yet
received this money and could not say when it would be made available. This is a
commitment that was made about 10 months ago. Where is the money?
Honourable senators, examples of the federal government's mismanagement in
the area of Aboriginal Affairs are not hard to find, but one particularly
painful example could be found in a system that provides compensation to
residential school abuse survivors. When the federal government instituted the
alternative dispute resolution process, also known as ADR, it argued that
dealing with the claims in this way, outside of the normal litigation route,
would prove to be more efficient and timely. The facts do not bear this out. In
fact, I would say that the failings of the resolution process have re-victimized
people who have already suffered enough. The numbers paint for us a system that
did not work as the government said it would. The department acknowledges that
between November 2003 and February of this year, almost 1,300 claimants applied
for ADR, but only 79 former students have seen their cases settled. The Assembly
of First Nations has said that, at this rate, it will take 53 years to resolve
all the claims, at an administrative cost of $2 billion.
The CBC reported in April that, over a 16-month period, the ADR process paid
out about $1 million in compensation in total, while the administrative costs
during that time amounted to $34 million — $1 million cost $34 million to
A few months ago, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the minister responsible
for Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada, told a committee of the other
place that there has been no mismanagement of the ADR process. I find that
statement incredible. Where can we find efficiency in a process that took so
long to settle a handful of cases? Where is the good financial management in a
department that has invested the vast majority of its spending over several
years towards administrative costs and lawyer's fees and not the victims?
Honourable senators, I wish to point out that Bill C-48 follows the federal
government's method of dealing with matters affecting First Nations peoples.
This can be summed up in its response to the October 2003 report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, a report entitled Urban Aboriginal
Youth: An Action Plan for Change. Very little in the government's response
would indicate its willingness to move forward on the recommendations brought
forward by that very excellent committee. Many of the government's answers were
vague responses to specific recommendations made over a year and half ago.
The Minister of State for Northern Development, the Honourable Ethel
Blondin-Andrew, appeared before the committee to speak about the government's
response to the committee report. She admitted that the department still has a
lot of work to do to assist urban Aboriginal youth. The minister said, "What the
department currently offers them is spotty and in need of better coordination."
Those words could be stretched to cover much of the department.
Canada's Aboriginal population is young, with almost 40 per cent under the
age of 19. These young people will need more than superficial concern.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform you
that your time has expired, Senator St. Germain.
Senator St. Germain: Thank you very much, Your Honour. I have only a
few words left to read in my speech.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In that case, you may
finish your speech.
Senator St. Germain: These young people will need more than
I believe that new ideas are necessary, ideas that are not rooted in policies
bound by the past. These ideas must come from all parties, especially the young
Honourable senators, this bill speaks in generalities. The Aboriginal people
of Canada want specifics. They cannot live in a world of generalities.
Senator Joyal was part of the constitutional package of 1982 whereby we were
going to right the wrongs to our Aboriginal peoples. We were going to make
things right. We are 23 years down the road, and they are still living in total
despair. Davis Inlet still exists, as it did with the relocation of these
I would ask all honourable senators to make certain that, when we make
financial commitments, they are not hollow promises based on nothing. We need
sound, positive results. This is a human rights issue, if ever there was one.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I rise today at second
reading stage of Bill C-48, to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain
payments, in order to set the record straight.
First, before I comment on the bill itself, I want to respond to certain
statements by Senator Mitchell that I consider unjustified. In his opinion, a
so-called cooperative agreement reached a few weeks ago between the Conservative
Party and the Bloc Québécois threatened national unity.
Honourable senators, Senator Mitchell and I agree on one thing only: the Bloc
Québécois is a sovereigntist party whose sole objective is to demonstrate that
Canada does not work and that it will never fulfill the profound aspirations of
That said, I believe it is important to remind him that the Bloc Québécois
was created because the Meech Lake accord was rejected, particularly by former
Prime Ministers Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, at the end of the
1980s. If this historic accord, which satisfied Quebec's five traditional
demands, had been adopted, the sovereigntist movement would never have been
revived in the early 1990s. I want to remind you that these five demands were
made by both Premier René Lévesque and Premier Robert Bourassa. The Bloc
Québécois would never have won 54 seats in the 1993 federal election. Perhaps it
would never even have been created! Ultimately, our country would never have
found itself on the edge of a precipice on the evening of October 30, 1995.
To those who might try to minimize the shock wave that was sent through
Quebec with the failure of this accord, I will remind the earnest statement that
the former federalist Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, made on June 22, 1990,
on the eve of the official failure of the Meech Lake Accord.
English Canada must clearly understand, Quebec is today and for all times a
distinct society, free and capable of assuming its destiny and its
Honourable senators, I can assure you that, as a member of the Quebec "no"
committee, I witnessed the harmful consequences of this tragic event for
national unity throughout the difficult 1995 referendum campaign. I was not
alone in making this observation. Some members of the current government did as
In asking Robert Bourassa a question during a debate on the failure of the
Meech Lake Accord for his book Gouverner le Québec, Stéphane Dion, who
was a political science professor at the University of Montreal at the time,
After Meech, we would have had stability for a very long time. The worst
constitutional mistake of this country was probably Mr. Trudeau's campaign
In this context, honourable senators, we on this side of the chamber — and I
think this position is shared by the other side of the chamber as well and by
everyone — do not need any lessons from the current government on how to promote
national unity, since it has shown to what extent it can be a serious threat to
national unity! If you do not believe me, then just look at the various polls on
support for Quebec's sovereignty since the spectacular revelations of Jean
Brault at the Gomery inquiry.
An opinion poll conducted by CROP for the Montreal daily La Presse
yields some rather troubling data. According to a poll released on July 2, 55
per cent of Quebecers today would vote in favour of Quebec's sovereignty in
combination with a partnership with the rest of Canada — the question they were
asked in 1995.
Surprisingly, close to 45 per cent of Quebecers would vote "yes" to a
sovereign Quebec without any political association with Canada!
I must remind you that, at the start of the 1995 referendum campaign, close
to 45 per cent of Quebecers were already in favour of the concept of
sovereignty-association before the referendum came along. Today, that same
percentage, 45 per cent, supports the concept of pure sovereignty.
Never has there been such support for Quebec sovereignty since the failure of
the Meech Lake Accord. Is that really the fault of the Conservative Party?
Truth to tell — and Senator Mitchell is well aware of this — the sponsorship
scandal is one of the main causes of the rapid increase in support for the
sovereignist option in Quebec.
Rather than respond to the profound aspirations of Quebecers, in keeping with
his solemn promise just days before the referendum, former Prime Minister
Chrétien found nothing better to do than inundate Quebec with pro-Canada
Let us not be afraid of calling a spade a spade. The government wanted to buy
Quebecers' votes and hearts without any thought to the long-term consequences of
Honourable senators, this government has unfortunately made a miserable
showing in other ways than its acceptance of Quebec's traditional demands.
National unity has also been seriously compromised since 1994 by the
deterioration of federal-provincial relations. There is no doubt that the
problem of fiscal imbalance has made matters worse.
Now, getting back to the debate on Bill C-48, the problem of fiscal imbalance
was wholly the creation of the present Prime Minister back in the days when he
was Minister of Finance. This is, without a doubt, one more cause of the
increase in sovereignist fervour in Quebec. To some extent, the introduction of
Bill C-48 bears witness to that rather sad situation.
Unfortunately, more often that not throughout the entire 20th century,
expansion of the federal government's role has caused friction with the
provinces. This did not reach the serious level, however, that it did in the
1990s, with this government's cavalier handling of its relations with the
provinces. The arrogant way in which this government pits one province against
another, with the ultimate goal of gaining control, is a source of great
After 10 years of Liberal reign, can we truly blame the provincial premiers
for constantly mistrusting Ottawa, which shamelessly uses its spending powers to
impose its own views?
Can we criticize the provinces and territories for having created the Council
of the Federation in order to better confront a federal government that is
hostile to their needs? Honourable senators, is this how our founding fathers
imagined the 1867 pact, one based on compromise, mutual respect and equality
between the two levels of government within our federation?
I am pleased to remind you of something that former Prime Minister Pierre
Elliott Trudeau wrote in 1957, when he was a journalist, in an article published
in Cité Libre, in which he addressed the fiscal imbalance as he saw it.
...if a government had such an excess of revenue and undertook to ensure
the part of the common good that fell outside its jurisdiction, the
presumption would arise that that government had taken more than its share of
As you know, between 1995 and 1999, the government unilaterally and
drastically slashed federal transfer payments to the provinces by several
billion dollars. In 2002, a poll conducted for the Commission québécoise sur le
déséquilibre fiscal revealed that more than 66 per cent of Canadians
acknowledged the existence of this serious problem undermining our social fabric
and national unity.
Each year, Canadians realize that the federal government surpluses increase
substantially and unjustly.
For example, for the year 2004-05, the government initially announced a
smallish surplus of $1.9 billion in its budget speech, which is relatively
This magically swelled to over $14 billion in the latest federal budget, and
then to $19 billion, according to the April issue of The Fiscal Monitor,
published by the Department of Finance.
According to the latest budget figures, this leeway could reach the $100
billion level over the next six years, while a number of provinces, Quebec and
Ontario not the least of them, will be confronted with budget deficits because
of their spiraling health costs.
On February 5, 2000, Hon. Jean Lapierre, Mr. Martin's current political
lieutenant in Quebec, wrote the following in the ultra-conservative journal
Pockets bulging with what is estimated to be a $100 billion-plus surplus
for the next five years, the federal government is taking a cavalier and
paternalistic approach to the provinces. This Ottawa-knows-best attitude is
beginning to rub the taxpayers the wrong way. After all, their coffers are
overflowing because we are paying too much in taxes.
Once again, Canadians have become aware of this sad reality with the Prime
Minister's introduction of Bill C-48 intended to save his scandal-plagued
government. That, incidentally, had nothing at all to do with the Minister of
Finance's financial and fiscal priorities.
This bill provides for expenditures of up to $4.5 billion, several components
of which concern areas of provincial responsibility. Once again, they are
blithely and shameless invading areas of provincial jurisdiction, that is,
provincial responsibilities as defined by our Constitution.
The government therefore had a fresh, unheard-of opportunity to sit down with
the provinces in a true partnership to attempt to resolve the problem of the
fiscal imbalance, as well as perhaps bolstering our federation.
What did it do? It gave up the future and the proper functioning of our
country for its own partisan interests.
The government concocted a budgetary agreement with the New Democratic Party
about which we know very little concerning how it will be carried out, who will
get the money, which departments will be responsible for the financial
management, or how the provinces will be involved.
For example, clause 2 of Bill C-48 includes a $1.5 billion expenditure in the
area of post-secondary education. Unless there is evidence to the contrary,
honourable senators, you will agree, this area of activity is exclusively a
How will this money be spent? Will it be transferred to the provinces through
the Canada Social Transfer or the highly controversial Canada Millennium
Since Quebec has its own loans and bursary program, will the money simply be
transferred to that province so that it can find its own way to resolve the
critical funding problem for the CEGEPs and universities, and the student debt
problem, within the framework of its own constitutional jurisdiction in matters
of education? I doubt it.
Clause 3 of this bill only vaguely proposes all of these options.
For this reason, I believe that Bill C-48 is far from being a crucial step in
improving federal-provincial relations or budgetary practices and will instead
confirm the fact that the government does not, in any way whatsoever, recognize
the fiscal imbalance.
It is even worse, given that an amendment to the Speech from the Throne,
passed unanimously by the other place last October, urged the federal government
to resolve this problem.
Since Bill C-48 does not in any way respect that amendment or the fundamental
principles of healthy budgetary planning, I will vote against it.
In closing, if national unity is being threatened today, we have only the
current government to blame.
The Conservative Party created Canada, despite opposition from Sir Wilfrid
Laurier. My political party, the Conservative Party of Canada, tried honestly to
bring Quebec back into the Canadian fold, with honour and enthusiasm, in the
words of a prime minister whose name I will not mention.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Your time is up. Is it
your pleasure, honourable senators, to extend the speaking time of Senator
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I believe the usual agreement is five minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed,
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Nolin: In the coming years, as we have done since
Confederation began and as we will continue to do in the future, my political
party, with the support of a majority of Canadians of good faith, will work hard
to respect the Canadian pact in order to reinforce national unity and,
unfortunately but necessarily, address the spectre of Quebec's separation.
The Conservative Party of Canada will show Canadians and Quebecers in
particular that, when all the partners in our federation respect one another and
work together, our country can accomplish great things.
It will prove that the ideal defended by Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir
John A. Macdonald, although greatly sullied over the past decade, is still alive
and well in this country.
In closing, I want to address the point made by our colleague Senator
Eggleton. With regard to the 1993 deficit, stop treating us like idiots. The
then Auditor General clearly explained it to you. You cooked the books. When you
came to power in the fall of 1993, you set out expenditures for 1994 in 1993,
thereby increasing the deficit to $42 billion. Stop trying to mislead us. You
sat at the table, Senator Eggleton.
As for the increase in the GDP, as several of your colleagues whispered to
you during your speech, I refer you to the revenues resulting from the
Canada-United States agreements on trade and the revenues from the GST, in the
coffers of your Minister of National Revenue. You will understand the reason for
the increase in Canada's GDP.
Since you raised the issue of your government's major priorities in your
remarks, how is it that, in your famous Bill C-48 — we are no longer talking
about Bill C-43, on the budget — which is an addition to the budget, you did not
consider it a priority to make up for the cuts you made between 1995 and 1999?
Why did you not take this opportunity to restore funding to the official
languages support program in minority communities and make that a priority? We
would have started to believe in your real priorities instead of concluding that
Bill C-48 is nothing more than a shameless partisan measure?
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I want to remain true to
the memory of Mr. Trudeau. I will ask the senator to make a brief comment. Was
rejecting the Victoria Charter, which would have resolved all our problems, not
one of Quebec's greatest mistakes of all time? I think that this position has
been well defended by Mr. Beaudoin.
We know it was because of those I have always referred to, although perhaps
not politely, as the three Claudes, Claude Castonguay, Claude Morin — who was on
the RCMP payroll — and Claude Ryan, that the Victoria Charter was stillborn,
unfortunately. Mr. Bourassa supported it but had to withdraw his support when he
came back to Quebec. We know it would have resolved all the problems we have
encountered since. Out of respect for history, we must acknowledge that the
Victoria Charter was certainly an extraordinary masterpiece.
While not being one to defend those who are no longer here to defend
themselves, I would like to share what I saw.
Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, there is no doubt whatsoever that,
had there been agreement on the Victoria Charter, this could have been a very
good step toward a solution. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that,
when 10 first ministers ratified the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982,
this was a charter of individual rights. That is why René Lévesque decided — and
rightfully so — against signing it, since we have had collective rights in
Quebec since 1763, and all representatives of Quebec, regardless of political
stripe, have always defended those rights. This is why the Meech Lake Accord was
important: it successfully married individual rights as recognized by the
Charter — and no one questions the importance of those rights — with the
collective rights of Quebecers and other Canadians living in other provinces,
which the Victoria Charter did not. One of those rights is raised by the debate
on another bill.
Senator Ringuette: We were second-class workers.
Senator Nolin: No, you also had collective rights in New Brunswick.
One of the beauties of this country is, moreover, that individual and collective
rights are able to co-exist. But for this co-existence to have a legal basis, we
must ensure that the courts are properly aware of them, hence the importance of
the distinct society clause.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): I take it that no
one on the other side wishes to participate in this debate. Therefore, I shall
participate in this debate.
I listened carefully to Senator Eggleton's speech on Bill C-48; it was
interesting but, in my judgment, not very convincing. I listened carefully as
Senator Tkachuk made some very convincing arguments. I listened to Senator St.
Germain and now, very eloquently, Senator Nolin.
I am of the view now, unless I hear more convincing arguments to the
contrary, that this bill is not worth supporting, even in principle, at second
However, there are many other reasons why the bill should not be supported,
in addition to the reasons that were so well articulated by my colleagues. I
will focus on the area of education.
Senator Eggleton, who has vast experience in the other place, sponsored the
bill in this chamber. Whilst this bill is entitled "An Act to authorize the
Minister of Finance to make certain payments," the bill, oddly enough, does not
have a short title. A bill usually has a short title. Thus, it is left to the
great unwashed rest of us to identify it by short title. It is not surprising,
therefore, that Bill C-48 has been referred to as the "socialist budget" or the
"Liberal-NDP budget" or the "budget companion bill." In light of the fact that
it seems to have barely a passing acquaintance with planning, which is the
hallmark of a budgetary process, perhaps it might best be called the "blow the
Honourable senators, both Senator Tkachuk's and Senator Nolin's remarks offer
a useful description of the difficulties such a bill poses for parliamentarians.
The dearth of detail means that we are being asked to approve discretionary
spending in the amount of $4.5 billion, with only a general idea of the broad
areas to which the additional spending is supposed to be devoted.
For those who have not yet had a chance to peruse the bill, I would note that
it contains just three clauses in two pages. When we consider the relatively
detailed control structures surrounding monies that were diverted to Liberal
friends and to the Liberal Party coffers through the AdScam profiteering effort,
I expect the Auditor General will find this process of more than passing
Although I need no more argument as to why this bill is not worthy of
support, I should like to examine briefly paragraph 2(1)(b), which
allocates up to $1.5 billion — and I quote:
for supporting training programs and enhancing access to post-secondary
education, to benefit, among others, aboriginal Canadians, an amount not
exceeding $1.5 billion.
Senators Nolin and St. Germain have alluded to this clause in a general way.
In addition to what we have heard from Senators St. Germain and Nolin,
honourable senators will be surprised to learn that this paragraph contains
within it — well hidden, mind you — a pledge to reduce tuition fees for
post-secondary education. Senator Nolin just reminded us that it is ultra vires
for the Parliament of Canada to be setting tuition rates. This matter is for
I cannot base what I just said on the actual wording of the bill, because
there are so few words in the details, but, rather, in reliance on the news
releases and media coverage that followed on the heels of the bargain reached
between the Prime Minister and the leader of the New Democratic Party.
Canadians are only too well aware of the fact that tuition costs are indeed
mounting and that these costs present significant challenges to individuals
wishing to pursue higher education. The goal of lower tuition is certainly a
goal that I support and, based upon debates we have had in this place on that
topic, a goal supported by many honourable senators on all sides of the house.
It is always worth underscoring, honourable senators, particularly in these
days where much of our debate is on different topics, that the issue of human
rights norms is advanced. Interestingly, a certain amount of cherry-picking
takes place. If it is supportive of the government's position on an issue,
defenders will articulate a human rights instrument, and some particularly
define human rights. If it is not convenient, or if it is not supportive of a
given position, defenders will not underscore human rights instruments or define
human rights. This is why I now wish to draw attention to article 13(2) of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an international
human rights treaty binding on Canada as a state party, a treaty that has been
in the corpus of international human rights to which Canada has been bound for a
long number of years. That article provides as follows:
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to
achieving the full realization of this right:
(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and
vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and
accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the
progressive introduction of free education.
In clause (c) — which I shall now read — the term "higher education" is the
United Nations' terminology for post-secondary education.
(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis
of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive
introduction of free education.
That is an obligation undertaken by Canada under international treaty law and
not being complied with.
Honourable senators, in many provinces the exact opposite is going on. Higher
education has become more expensive for students and their families as tuition
fees have been increased to cover a greater proportion of the costs.
This brings me to the public pronouncements on April 26 of this year, made at
the time the Faustian bargain was struck to divert some $4.5 billion from the
normal budgetary process into the bill presently before us. On that day, April
26, Mr. Layton stated the following:
It appears likely that we will have an agreement in principle reached with
the government. Families will pay less for their kids' education.
The text of this budget bill agreement states:
$1.5 billion in total measures in two areas: to enhance access to
post-secondary education, particularly aimed at assisting students through
tuition reduction or other measures as appropriate; as well as money to
support training programs, with no obligation for provincial matching funds.
Both measures will include Aboriginal Canadians.
Honourable senators, Mr. Layton could not have been clearer. Tuition
reduction was part and parcel of the agreement. Thus, current and future
post-secondary students would be relieved of some of the burden placed on them
by tuition and other ancillary fees.
Across the country, immediately after the agreement was publicly announced,
expectations were raised. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, which
represents some 300,000 students, issued its press release, from which I quote:
The increase of $1.5 billion in transfer payments, a portion of which is
committed to the reduction of tuition fees, is a positive step to addressing
the complete lack of attention afforded to education in the last federal
In addition, the Canadian Federation of Students issued their press release
on the same day, from which I quote:
The deal reached between Prime Minister Paul Martin and NDP Leader Jack
Layton is good for post-secondary education according to the Canadian
Federation of Students. Among other initiatives, the agreement reached between
the federal Liberals and the NDP will allocate more funding to the provinces
in return for reducing tuition fees.
Honourable senators, media from coast to coast broadcast the news that
tuition relief was on its way. Unfortunately, neither the word "tuition" nor the
word "reduction" is anywhere to be found in this bill that is before us. It may
have been a simple oversight in the drafting of the bill, one which might be
corrected through an amendment, or it may be that, once again, Canadians and
students have been led down the proverbial garden path.
My hope is that if and when this bill reaches a standing Senate committee,
members of that committee will take their time to explicate that issue, probe
into the depths of that commitment, and report to this chamber with the
assurance that we will see a timeline as to when this money will flow and that
it will be demonstrated that tuition at our universities will be, indeed,
Even if an express commitment to tuition reduction was included in the bill,
it would be virtually meaningless in the absence of provincial agreement, which
was the point just underscored by Senator Nolin. As he has indicated, there is
no confusion as to jurisdiction in this manner. Section 93 of the Constitution
Act of 1867 begins as follows:
In and for each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in
relation to Education...
Tuition at publicly funded post-secondary institutions remains the sole
jurisdiction of the provinces. That factor is important and must be borne in
mind when it comes to policy matters and efforts by the federal government to
The undeniable fact of the matter is that the Government of Canada handled
this matter irresponsibly. A major funding initiative was announced without
anything resembling a comprehensive legislative framework or agreement with the
provinces to back it up. Moreover, the government did not even bother to
undertake that crucial step of first negotiating an agreement with the provinces
and territories. To use the oft-quoted analogy, they put the cart before the
Had the federal government really intended to take a proactive approach to
tuition fees, we would be facing a completely different scenario with
federal-provincial consultations leading to an agreement.
Honourable senators, having a meeting such as this would have provided the
provinces and the territories with the opportunity for significant debate and
for the establishment of clear objectives to which all stakeholders could lend
their mutual support.
The absence of a plan for lowering tuition has not gone unnoticed by the
media. On April 29, the Montreal Gazette stated the following in an
How will the $1.5 billion over two years ear-marked for tuition cuts be
allocated? Per student, or on the basis of existing tuition rates? If the
latter, will Martin be able to justify giving Quebec less than other provinces
where fees are higher? What happens when the two-year deal expires and the
provinces stop getting this money? Will provincial governments have to suck up
the cost, or will tuition rise? Do provinces get any say in this?
Honourable senators, I notice that we are approaching six o'clock. Rather
than be interrupted, I wonder if the Deputy Leader of the Government would
express his wish.
Senator Rompkey: I believe there would be a consensus not to see the
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that we not
see the clock?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, from that editorial in the
Montreal Gazette, I found it interesting that the day before in The
Globe and Mail, a column written by John Ibbitson also noted some of the
pitfalls of this haphazard approach to tuition relief proffered by the Liberals
and the socialists:
The $1.5 billion is to be spread over two years. All premiers would want to
ask Prime Minister Paul Martin a few questions such as what happens after two
years? Does the money stop coming, leaving us to pick up the tab? Or is this
really an offer of an additional $750 million in annual transfers?
Perhaps Senator Eggleton could answer that question. If not, we had better
get an answer to that question in committee.
To continue with John Ibbitson's article:
No premier should sign any agreement to take the new federal money for
post-secondary education without a written guarantee that the funding increase
is permanent, and won't be sabotaged by future cuts in federal transfers in
other areas. That, of course, would require a meeting of first ministers,
complete with asymmetrical agreements and provincial reporting mechanisms.
Honourable senators, these views about the government's erratic approach are
not just the musings of various columnists. Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal Premier
of Ontario was, I would suggest, less than charitable in his reaction to this
hastily arranged addendum to government expenditure. On April 28, Premier
McGuinty was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen as follows:
It is of passing interest that I certainly wasn't consulted on this either
as head of the Council of the Federation or as premier of Ontario.
Premier McGuinty went on to note that his colleagues were likely in the same
situation. He stated:
I don't believe that any one of my 12 counterparts across the country were
Convening a federal-provincial conference on this matter in advance of trying
to push legislation through Parliament would have been the prudent and
responsible choice. It would have given Canadians a clear indication of exactly
what their hard-earned tax dollars would be funding. There is ample precedent
for such a conference between federal and provincial leaders. Less than one year
ago, the Prime Minister, provincial and territorial leaders gathered at the
Conference Centre in Ottawa to come to terms on a new funding allocation for
health care in Canada. In addition, despite the difficult moments during the
negotiation process, the premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia
reached a deal with the Prime Minister on the terms of the Atlantic accord.
That is how the process in Canada is supposed to work. This government,
however, has decided to completely ignore the provinces and territories and
their sphere of jurisdiction. That is obviously part of the price being paid for
the support of the 19 New Democratic Party members in the other place.
Honourable senators, the problems I have indicated thus far are reason enough
for one to be in ardent opposition to the legislation before us. Unfortunately,
there are more problems. Specifically, this bill further nullifies the role of
Parliament by granting virtually untrammelled power to cabinet to spend this
money in whatever manner it deems fit. By cost comparison, the sponsorship
program could be considered a minor aberration when viewed beside this
lightly-worded but extremely expensive piece of legislation.
Bill C-48 extracts a large sum of money from the public treasury with no
details and virtually no controls. One might ask where Parliament fits into this
equation. Notwithstanding the rather novel analysis of our democratic
parliamentary system that we heard earlier this afternoon, it seems clear to me
that if this chamber passes this bill as it now stands, the rest is in the hands
of cabinet. How can we properly fulfil our role of scrutiny and examination of
taxpayers' funds if we allow an additional $4.5 billion to be spent with only a
flimsy two-page document as our frame of reference?
Sadly, the problems of parliamentary oversight and lack of planning are not
the only ones that plague Bill C-48. As Senator St. Germain noted, Aboriginal
Canadians are likely to get short shrift, should this bill proceed. In my view,
the Senate, as an institution, desires positive outcomes for all Canadians, in
particular Aboriginal Canadians. As all senators are aware, especially those
serving on the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, First Nations
Canadians face great challenges and, overall, their socio-economic prospects lag
behind those of non-Aboriginals. This situation is clearly unacceptable and I
believe that members on all sides of this chamber are interested in having this
change for the better. This legislation makes only passing mention of improving
access to higher education for Aboriginal Canadians and, as expected, fails to
state how this will be done.
According to the Auditor General, the Department of Indian and Northern
Affairs already has much to do to improve accountability in its handling of
post-secondary student support programs. In the Auditor General's report of
November 2004, we read:
...in examining program implementation and accountability under the new
framework, we found significant weaknesses in a number of areas. These
included ambiguity in the Department's roles and responsibilities, potential
inequities in how funds are allocated, a lack of clearly defined expected
results, limited program and performance information, and discrepancies in the
information provided to the Treasury Board.
Honourable senators, the Auditor General's report went on to note the
In our opinion, these weaknesses seriously undermine the capacity of the
Department and First Nations to work together toward achieving the program's
objective, using resources effectively to produce expected results, measuring
and reporting performance, and taking corrective action when necessary.
These aforementioned statements from the Auditor General's report indicate to
me that current mechanisms for post-secondary education support for Aboriginal
Canadians are not, in the judgment of the Auditor General of Canada, entirely
effective. The department must do more to demonstrate accountability and
transparency. Moreover, the department must ensure that First Nations peoples
receive access to higher education. Knowledge and skills development are
necessary ingredients in the recipe for economic prosperity, and we must do all
we can to ensure that the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have full access to those
Again, Bill C-48 pays lip service to the ostensible goal of enhancing access
to post-secondary education by our First Nations peoples, but there is no plan,
no framework, and an existing apparatus that, in the judgment of the Auditor
General, is flawed.
Higher education is a societal matter that should not be used as a pawn for
political expediency. It is only through concrete action that we, as
parliamentarians, can achieve positive outcomes for Canadian students, present
and future. My judgment on this front, as on all the other fronts that have been
articulated so far, is that this bill is a dismal failure, not the least in the
appalling lack of vision it represents. The Canadian people expect and deserve
much more than what this bill offers them.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, never do I understand
better why I sit on the government side than during debates on fiscal policy
that always emanate from the budget.
Unlike colleagues on the opposite side who have spoken against Bill C-48, I
think it is an excellent bill.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Carstairs: As politicians, we always want to have our cake and
eat it too.
However, what we heard in some of the debate today is the kind of thing I
have been hearing for years. It is that we need more tax cuts. I have to tell
you, honourable senators, that I have never been a great believer in Reaganomics
because I do not think it ever does filter down to the people in this country
who need it the most. Almost always, when we have tax cuts, it is the rich who
benefit, not the poor.
Honourable senators, when I hear rhetoric from the other side about the need
for tax cuts or how they will result in higher productivity, I look at the
American presidencies. When have they had the highest deficits? It was under
Ronald Reagan and now under George W. Bush. That is the reality of so-called
I look at the success of the Liberal government since 1997, with eight
successive balanced budgets and with surpluses, and then I look at the other
side. Having sat in this seat for a while, I know the kinds of questions that
have emanated: "Why are you always underestimating your surpluses? Why are you
not more fiscally responsible?"
In this bill, we actually have a very good first start. After some months, we
can project a surplus and then spend that surplus to enhance already good
programming. We can make that good programming just that little bit better.
When I look at the $4.5 billion commitment over two years, which will only
come forward should there be the kind of surpluses that we anticipate, I look at
the five areas in which this money will be spent.
The first is in the area of housing for two specific groups of people: our
Aboriginal people and our homeless people. For those senators who have not had
the same opportunity to visit reserves as I have had, let me say that when you
drive onto the reserve — sometimes you must land because you can only get there
by aircraft — the very first thing that strikes you is the totally inadequate
housing. We know that sometimes there are 25 people living in a home. I do not
disagree with anything that Senator St. Germain said about the educational needs
of our Aboriginal community. However, as an educator, I can say that it is
awfully hard to teach a hungry child. It is very hard to teach a child who comes
— or does not come, as the case may be — to school because they do not have any
clothes. It is very hard to teach an Aboriginal child who does not have adequate
housing, because when that many people are living together, those children do
not have regular bedtimes. That often means they do not have regular get-up
times and, as a result, they frequently are not in the very classrooms where an
educator would need to have them to have any impact on them.
When I see the government specifically targeting housing for our First
Nations people, I say hallelujah; it is a much-needed step forward. I see them
targeting the homeless.
Honourable senators are well aware of my deep commitment to the issue of
palliative care. One of the most interesting projects that we have in Canada is
the palliative care beds located in the mission here in the city of Ottawa,
which the government wants to use as a model to spread elsewhere. The reality is
that the homeless do not like institutions very much generally and will not go
into the hospital. They sometimes will not even go to a hospice if such a
hospice is available, but they will go to the mission and accept care. If any of
this money can find its way into homeless initiatives across the country that
will provide for those homeless people who are dying on our streets, then I say
Honourable senators, when I look at the third objective, which is public
transit, then again I say this is a very positive initiative. We know that we
have a serious pollution problem in this country. How many senators have
grandchildren out there with puffers in their pockets?
Senator Stratton: None if they live in Western Canada.
Senator Carstairs: I have to tell you, Senator Stratton, I live in
Western Canada in the very same city that you do and never in the history of my
province and my city — and your city — have so many children been walking around
with puffers. The reality is that one of the major causes of asthma in young
children is pollution, and one of the major causes of pollution is the number of
automobiles on our roads. One way to address that significant problem is, quite
frankly, by investing in a major way in public transit. When I see additions to
a public transit initiative, I say hallelujah.
Honourable senators, I was extraordinarily proud of our Prime Minister when
he said, "I will not make a commitment if I cannot meet that commitment." We
look at other countries, and we know from tsunami relief, earthquake relief and
all kinds of other initiatives that they make great pledges but do not deliver.
One thing about Canada, whether it was under the previous Mulroney government or
this government, is that when we make a commitment to be there in terms of
fiscal contribution, we are there.
Yes, I would like our foreign aid to get to 0.7 per cent of GDP tomorrow.
However, the reality is that we probably cannot do that. I have enormous respect
for a Prime Minister who says, "I will get there as fast as I can, but I will
not make commitments to the international community until I am fully assured
that I can honour those commitments."
Honourable senators, I am bullish on this particular package of new budgetary
measures. They can only enhance the lives of those in this country who need it
the most. However, I also am bullish on the fact that the government once again
is showing its fiscal responsibility. It is saying: We are looking forward to
spending our surplus in this direction. These are the directions we want to go.
We are very confident we will have it but, again, we are not making commitments
we cannot keep. That, to me, is the very best thing about being a Liberal.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Will the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Carstairs: Of course.
Senator Tkachuk: The senator talked with great passion about housing.
Mr. Joe Fontana, the Minister of Labour and Housing, testified on June 13 in the
Commons Finance Committee. I would like to quote him. In his statement, he said:
Originally, our government committed to spending $1.5 billion over five
years, which was reiterated by Minister Goodale following the tabling of the
budget in 2005.
This committee meeting was on Bill C-48.
Bill C-48 — has now accelerated that commitment to two years and increased
it to $1.6 billion, obviously with the assistance of some of our partners. As
the finance minister has already mentioned, the accelerated delivery is
contingent on year-end surpluses.
He said that there was $1.5 billion allocated in the budget over five years.
They took that $1.5 billion and made it $1.6 billion and said that instead of
spending it over five years, they would spend it over two years. There really is
not $1.5 billion new money, but perhaps the senator might answer that. Is it
$1.5 billion of new money over the top of the budget, or is it simply the same
amount of money increased by $100 million and accelerated over two years?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, we need to get this into
committee so we can ask the minister those kinds of questions. That is the
purpose of the excellent committee study that we undertake in the Senate of
Canada. The reality is that $1.6 billion over two years is a lot better than
$1.5 billion over five years, and that means enhanced housing for the homeless
and the Aboriginal people.
Senator Tkachuk: I am sure when we look at the transcripts, Senator
Carstairs said new money. This is not new money. This is the same money that is
in the Goodale budget, increased by $100 million and squeezed from five years to
two years. Then you run around the country and say, "There is $1.5 billion in
new money." That is not what the Minister of Labour and Housing said in
committee in the House of Commons. He said, and I will quote it again, because
this is a big deal here:
Bill C-48 has now accelerated that commitment to two years and increased it
to $1.6 billion ...
He increased the $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion. That is all he did. It is $100
million worth of money. It is not new money, so why all this talk about all the
great things you will do with all that extra money? Are we counting this money
twice? Are we counting the money in the Goodale budget and the money in this
budget? Are you counting it twice? We are confused here about what kind of sham
you are trying to put over on the Canadian people, and it is a sham.
Senator Carstairs: I was not a mathematics teacher, but I think I can
multiply and divide: $1.5 billion over five years is $0.3 billion, and $1.6
billion over two years is $0.8 billion. It seems to me that is a significant
difference and a significant additional amount of money.
Senator Robichaud: Do you need a calculator?
Senator Stratton: Just a few billion dollars. This is obviously not
new money. It is just old money squeezed.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Your Honour, I
think that if you were to seek the consensus of the chamber, you would find that
there is agreement to stand all other items on the Order Paper, including
government items, to the next sitting of the Senate and that they stand in their
The Hon. the Speaker: I do not think I need to repeat that. It was
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I have one question. Is there still a commitment from Senator Austin
to speak tomorrow on the 0.7 per cent?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): I hope to do that. I am
still working on the address. It is my intention to speak tomorrow.
Senator Stratton: That is the commitment I would ask, because we had
that commitment for today.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the Deputy Leader of the
Government has asked if we have an agreement, and I put that question to you,
that we stand remaining items on the Order Paper, that they remain in their
place to the next sitting and that we proceed to the adjournment motion. It is
agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, July 6, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.