The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I start the
proceedings, I should like to draw to your attention the presence in our gallery
of representatives of the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana: His Excellency
Lapologang Lakoa, High Commissioner for Botswana; Herold Luke, Second Secretary;
and Marcel Belanger, Honorary Consul for Botswana. They are the guests of
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Honourable senators, I should also like to draw your attention to the
presence in the gallery of Ms. Dorothy Zinberg, faculty member in the program
for Science, Technology and Public Policy at Harvard University; and Ms. Holly
Sargent, Senior Associate Dean, University Advancement and Senior Director for
University Women's Initiatives at Harvard University. They are the guests of
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you both to the Senate of
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, yesterday Iran's president
publicly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," with the crowd
responding, "Death to Israel. Death to America." His words leave little room
for interpretation; his meaning is clear. In another time, we have heard other
Arab leaders say things like this and we have said nothing. We cannot afford to
do so today.
For some time now, Iran has been clear about its nuclear ambitions. It is
estimated that they are 5 to 10 years away from building a weapon that would
fulfil the Iranian president's dream. On September 24 of this year, no less a
body than the International Atomic Energy Agency, the recent winner of the Nobel
Peace Prize, found Iran in non-compliance with its nuclear safeguard agreement.
Further, it pointed to a history of concealment in this area, leading to strong
doubts that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. The independent and
prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies points to recent
intelligence that Iran is developing a Shahab-3 missile, a weapon with a payload
ideally suited for a nuclear weapon. Iran has barred inspectors from all
locations near its military program.
Honourable senators, Iran has stated clearly its intentions and is busy
building the weapons to fulfil them. The Prime Minister has condemned the
Iranian president for his words. He said they fuelled hatred and anti-Semitism.
We need to move beyond words to action. We need to stand side by side with the
United States and Israel to do everything we can to halt Iran's nuclear weapons
program, and we need to convince all UN Security Council members to take
appropriate UN action in this regard. These measures are just for starters.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, as you have just heard, we
have in the Senate gallery this afternoon two internationally renowned women
from Harvard University: Dorothy Zinberg and Holly Sargent. Dr. Zinberg is a
faculty member in the program for Science, Technology and Public Policy. She was
a biochemist for 10 years at Harvard University before undertaking her doctorate
in sociology. In addition to publishing numerous papers and books, teaching and
conducting research, Dr. Zinberg has served on many boards, panels and
committees, such as the NATO Panel on Science and Technology Policy.
Holly Sargent is Senior Associate Dean for University Advancement and Senior
Director for University Women's Initiatives. She has an outstanding record of
securing major gift support to Harvard University that has helped create many
initiatives in women's issues in human rights. She has developed an advisory
board of distinguished women leaders to support women's programs at the Kennedy
School of Government.
This morning, these two remarkable women led a discussion on Women and
Science, The Harvard Experience: Bridges to Canadian Context. The panel was
chaired by Arthur Carty, National Science Adviser to the Prime Minister; and was
co-hosted by Carole Swan, Associate Deputy Minister, Industry Canada and
Honourable senators, in January 2005, comments made by the President of
Harvard, Lawrence Summers, resulted in the establishment of two task forces on
women in minorities in science and a commitment of $50 million U.S. over 10
years to support the task force's recommendations. As you know,
underrepresentation of women in science is not unique to Harvard. It occurs
throughout Canadian universities.
In Canada, we have many organizations that work independently to increase the
participation of girls and women in science and technology. We have
organizations in the federal government, non-government organizations and
programs such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada, NSERC, Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering. We have the Canadian
Coalition for Women and Science and Technology, CCWEST, which is working toward
establishing a national body to coordinate the efforts of all these
This morning, Dr. Carty, following the round table discussion, committed to
support from his office to bring together the key people, the small group of
leaders, who will bring leadership to the issue. This group will create a blue
ribbon national committee that other countries could look to for cohesive,
comprehensive solutions to increasing the participation of men and particularly
women in science and technology.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I did not give my name to
participate today. Rarely do I agree with Senator Tkachuk on issues involving
the Middle East. However, I will state, in a nuanced way, that I agree with this
I did more than that; I made my view known directly to the Embassy of Iran in
meetings with officials there last week and again this morning.
I have no desire to side with the United States and Israel, who just voted
alone against a Canadian initiative on UNESCO. I do not need the United States
and Israel to endorse my conduct. I simply find what has been said to be
unacceptable. Senator Tkachuk is busy with Senator Fraser, who took more
initiative in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, as recently as two weeks ago
Condemning is easy. Mr. Trudeau used to say that words are easy. However, in
my view as a parliamentarian, engaging with people in a vigorous, civilized
discussion is more efficient.
I would be more than happy if Senator Tkachuk, for whom I have a great deal
of friendship and respect, would join with me some day. We could easily do so
outside of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. This committee
should look into these matters. Unfortunately, the committee is too busy on
other issues to tackle the hot issue of the day. I think we could discuss this
We should remember, when saying Iran should not have a nuclear possibility in
5 to 10 years, that they are next to a country that has been a nuclear power for
about the last 40 years, courtesy of France and Charles de Gaulle — and that is
Israel. The arms race started in Israel, which gives all its neighbours a taste
for the same. Those who did not have the know-how had the money to buy the
technology. It is not pleasant to say those surrounding countries had no
knowledge but the money to buy it, but that is what they did.
We must go further than condemnation. I join with Senator Tkachuk in saying
it is unacceptable. I join with him in saying we can do more. However, I would
like to go further than just plain condemnation and making speeches to say how
strongly we condemn that action.
I find it amazing that during this time of crisis and danger in the Middle
East our business community is still stampeding to get contracts in Iran. I
think we should have consistency.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, today Parliament Hill has
been invaded by an army of 65 crusaders calling on all of us to pull up our
socks and put some muscle behind the cause of literacy in this country. A
startling number of 42 per cent of Canada's adult citizens are at risk every day
because they lack the routine skills of reading, writing, numeracy and
communications, which most of us simply take for granted.
Thanks to our national associations, led by the Movement for Canadian
Literacy, this is the twelfth annual Literacy Action Day on the Hill. We are
encouraged to meet with, to listen to and to learn from advocates and learners
that this issue is tarnishing our country and the opportunities of citizens,
young and old, to build a decent life for themselves and their families.
The good news is that more than 70 parliamentarians were listening. They
heard what Literacy Minister Claudette Bradshaw heard when she toured Canadian
communities, large and small, this past summer. Our people want to help and that
includes our learners. They are tired of piecemeal plans, which come and go.
They want some kind of security within a well-thought-out, 10-year plan, which
Minister Bradshaw is already working to develop.
They are pleased with the most generous budget ever, which focused on support
for workplace skills and training; second language assistance for immigrant
settlement; serious support for Aboriginal citizens on and off reserves; and a
$30-million investment in the National Literacy Secretariat, the agency that
understands and works in partnership with every province and territory, as well
as programs on the ground. It truly is the human face of the federal
government's commitment to literacy and must be protected and expanded.
This is my twenty-first year working on this cause. It is the first time I
have felt we are truly committed to significant progress. I am grateful for the
support of many colleagues in this house — all the colleagues in this house who
have spoken up here and are on the ground helping to make a difference. Indeed,
every one of them has been supportive and I will continue to lean on them for
that secure encouragement.
We are at a crossroads on this issue. It is time to find the right tools to
cut down those grim statistics and offer every citizen in Canada — wherever they
live, and whatever their age or circumstance — a fair chance at the incredible
opportunity on display in this blessed country.
I know, without doubt, that working together we can truly make a difference.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, of the
Supplementary Estimates (A) 2005-06, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table a copy, in both official languages, of two
documents entitled La dualité linguistique canadienne: Un cadre de gestion
pour le programme des langues officielles and Update on the
Implementation of the Action Plan for Official Languages.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table the government's response to the twelfth
report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.
Hon. Daniel Hays: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a
report of a Speaker's trip to Warsaw and Gdansk, Poland to represent Canada and
the Prime Minister of Canada at the twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations of the
founding of Solidarity and the entering into of its first agreement with the
Government of Poland.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23.6 of the
Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official
languages, the report of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de
la Francophonie respecting its participation at the APF Bureau meeting held in
Brussels, Belgium, on July 5, 2005, and at the thirty-first annual session of
the APF, also held in Brussels, Belgium, from July 6 to 9, 2005.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate relates to the project
that is being proposed in Northern Maine across the Passamaquoddy Bay. We have
had the opportunity to raise this issue on the floor of the Senate previously.
Was it one of the topics of discussion when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice was in town this week? Did the Government of Canada urge the Secretary of
State to have the Government of the United States do what it could to underscore
the tremendous environmental threat should that project go forward, a threat
that would impact Canada so adversely?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
would have to make inquiries to see whether discussions were held on that topic.
Senator Kinsella: It is my understanding that American Ambassador
David Wilkins has stated that the facility will be built if it is sanctioned by
the U.S. approval process, irrespective of Canada's wishes. Will Canada make a
submission to the U.S. approval process mechanism, in particular the
environmental assessment, when the application is examined? It is clear to
anyone who has sailed through that narrow passageway — in particular the largest
whirlpool in the world that is affected by tides, which is called Old Sow — that
the ability of tankers to make a right-angle turn is affected such that a
terrible catastrophe will occur.
It is important for the Government of Canada to make an intervention in the
U.S. approval process forum. Is the government giving consideration to doing
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I will make inquiries to learn
whether Senator Kinsella's representations are being considered.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, my question concerns the
water quality and supply emergency on the Kashechewan reserve in Northern
Ontario. The community has been under a boil water advisory since 2003. Two
weeks ago, water sample tests found the presence of the dangerous E. coli
bacteria. The water quality has been blamed for stomach problems, severe skin
infections and open sores. There are also reports of an outbreak of hepatitis A.
Yesterday the Premier of Ontario said that the federal government's response
has been "missing in action" and ordered the evacuation of the community to
Sudbury. In light of the fact that the provincial government has had to step in
and take charge of the situation, what actions did the federal government take
in the week leading up to the evacuation order?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this
is an unfortunate situation that has been allowed to develop, and it should have
been dealt with previously. As the Prime Minister said, the Government of Canada
takes its responsibilities seriously. The Minister of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development, the Honourable Andy Scott, will make an announcement later
today with respect to further actions that the government is taking.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, two days ago, on October 25, the
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development released its so-called
action plan to deal with the crisis on this reserve. Two weeks ago, the
government knew that there was E. coli there. The plan consisted of little more
than continuing the bottled water shipments and initiating a water quality
study. It was merely proof of the neglect that led to the crisis in the first
place. Why did the federal government choose to maintain the status quo rather
than dealing proactively with this water quality emergency?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, my understanding is that on
October 12 of this year a mechanical malfunction at the water treatment plant on
the Kashechewan First Nation reserve gave rise to the concern regarding the
presence of E. coli.
The Government of Canada has an agreement with the Province of Ontario under
which it is their responsibility to respond but our responsibility to pay the
costs of a response, so the definition of the concern is, by agreement, theirs.
Minister Scott was on the property in August and was made aware of the issue
there. He was assured that engineering steps would remediate the problem and
ensure the water quality. That has not been the case. Therefore, the decision to
take the current step of removing people from the area to protect their health
The Government of Canada has a water remediation program and has committed
close to $2 billion, I believe, to improve water treatment on Aboriginal
reserves across this country. Measures were being taken. Fortunately, no one was
seriously injured by this water quality issue and the next steps will be
announced by Mr. Scott later today.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I do not want to be
argumentative, but I do not know whether we can say that no one has been
injured, because these people have been under a boil water advisory since 2003,
which means there was probably already fecal matter in the water but it had not
yet become the E. coli virus. It is embarrassing for a country like Canada to
have let a situation like this continue for two years, with no action being
taken by the federal government.
I would ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to make inquiries to
ascertain whether any federal departments or the Prime Minister's Office
received representations in recent weeks from Phil Fontaine, the Grand Chief of
the Assembly of First Nations, concerning the water crisis on this particular
reserve and, if so, perhaps the leader could table such representations in this
Senator Austin: I will be happy to make inquiries with respect to any
communication received from Grand Chief Phil Fontaine. As I have said, this
issue was one of concern and was brought to Minister Scott's personal attention
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, my question for the Leader
of the Government concerns the national cancer strategy. Last week, the Minister
of Health announced funding of $59.5 million over five years for a national
cancer strategy. This amount is far less than the $260 million that cancer
groups have said is required. In response to the funding announcement, the
Canadian Cancer Society described it as just a down payment and said, "More
funding is needed to have a real impact on this disease." Why did the federal
government choose to allocate less than the society requested; and will there be
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
creation of a national cancer strategy is of critical importance. Understanding
the appropriate steps to take with a national strategy, determining whether to
create centres of excellence or to support the existing centres of excellence,
and receiving advice from the Canadian Medical Association and from its peer
groups with respect to the strategies that will fall within an umbrella strategy
are all issues that are being considered and assessed. There is some interest in
the submission but also some concerns that the targeting of the spending may not
be the best way to use money to fight cancer. That is the subject of study
today, and I hope it moves forward quickly.
Senator Keon: In keeping with that, the Canadian Cancer Society says
that a strategy has been developed, and The Globe and Mail has reported
that internal differences between Health Canada and the public health agency
have kept the federal government from announcing its adoption. The Globe and
Mail also claims that the Minister of Health and the Minister of State for
Public Health have a serious difference of opinion about this strategy at the
present time and that all of these forces are converging to delay progress and
Could the leader tell us if every effort is being made to resolve this
situation, to come to a consensus, and to make an announcement and, hopefully, a
further adjustment in the funding?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I do not adopt or agree with the
comments made in The Globe and Mail with respect to conflicts amongst
various sectors and centres that deal with this particular issue of cancer and
how the Government of Canada should be approaching the furthering of our
capacity to deal with cancer.
As I said, a number of issues are relevant in deciding what strategy to adopt
and what the sub-strategies should be. For example, in my province, the B.C.
Cancer Institute has made substantial financial requests and presents a view of
its expertise that needs to be considered and discussed. Of course, other cancer
centres in Canada also have expertise and views on what they should be allowed
to do. Therefore, we need an overall strategy, and we need a reconciliation
within the peer groups of their particular way of proceeding so that we do not
spend money on unnecessary duplication in different locations in the country.
The federal government and the provinces also require peer group advice with
respect to the evaluation of various research submissions. The CIHR is the
federal instrument for making peer group decisions, and I know Senator Keon is
familiar with its approach to cancer. It has made some interesting commitments,
interesting both as to what they have done and what they have not accepted.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, Senator Tkachuk
raised the issue of the statements made by the President of Iran. Could the
Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what action the Government of
Canada will take bilaterally or internationally with respect to these most
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): The Prime Minister
responded yesterday, and Senator Tkachuk made reference to the Prime Minister's
denunciation of the statements made by the President of Iran.
As for action, honourable senators, the matter is at the beginning of an
Senator Andreychuk: In light of the severity of the comments, will the
government consider taking this issue to the United Nations? I am not talking
about expulsion, which I think is counter-productive.
Senator Austin: I take it Senator Andreychuk is making that
recommendation, and I will certainly pass it on to the Minister of Foreign
Affairs. I know Senator Andreychuk is aware that countries such as France and
Spain have equally condemned the statement made by the President of Iran.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, in order to clarify the
situation and, dare I say it, even help some of our colleagues understand
Canada's foreign policy toward that part of the world, could the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, my successor as an MP, reiterate that it is also Canada's
policy to call upon the State of Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation
Treaty? It seems that is a forbidden topic. This is not a policy I or some
troublemakers have invented; it is Canadian policy, though not one we hear much
Each time I have discussions with Foreign Affairs, I am told that we want
Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, because Israel has had
hundreds of nuclear, biological and other weapons for several decades. It would
be a good thing to comply with the wishes of Senators Tkachuk and Andreychuk, as
well as myself, on better negotiations with Iran and on showing Canada's
balanced approach. As I said, I spoke with them last week. I also spoke with
people from Iran before coming into this chamber, indicating to them that this
statement was certainly unacceptable and does nothing to help the current
We urge you, Mr. Minister, to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the
Prime Minister of Canada to officially define Canada's policy on the Middle East
with respect to nuclear weapons and the non-proliferation treaty, which Israel
has never signed. I think that is a reasonable request.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Senator Prud'homme raises an important issue. The world community has been
concerned, even, I might add, significantly concerned, with Iran's nuclear
program. It has entered into non-proliferation obligations. According to the
International Atomic Energy Agency, it is in breach of those obligations.
Discussions are under way with respect to a reference of those breaches to the
There have been many occasions when Canada has joined in protesting the
actions of deception and concealment that the IAEA identified with respect to
Iran's nuclear programs.
Given the statement made by the President of Iran regarding Iran's disclosed
objective with regard to its relations with Israel, which is to ensure the
destruction of Israel, the question raised about Israel's nuclear program is
probably a second step.
I cannot speak for the Minister of Foreign Affairs on this issue directly,
but I know that past discussions with Israel have not caused Canada or the
United States alarm with respect to its nuclear program, if they have one. They
refuse to acknowledge such a program. The conclusion is that Canada has not been
alarmed with whatever it understands Israel's program to be, but the world
community is quite alarmed with respect to Iran.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have heard that the policy
of the Canadian government has not been reaffirmed in the world. The Canadian
policy must continue publicly; it is not a personal policy. I am clearly
expressing my opinion with regard to the policy of the Government of Canada, on
behalf of all political parties, that Israel should sign the non-proliferation
I say to the honourable senator, as someone who has followed this issue for
51 years, that it would help if we were tougher. In the name of Canadian
equilibrium, we should remind our friend, not ally, the State of Israel, that
they should sign the non-proliferation treaty, thereby admitting they have been
a nuclear power since the beginning of the arms race 40 years ago. The arms race
between the Soviet Union and the United States began with the U.S., our friend
and neighbour, at the end of the Second World War when two nuclear bombs were
For 30 years, we have continued to deny that Israel is a nuclear power. Even
I, as a former chairman of the Foreign Affairs and National Defence committee,
was asked never to mention the issue. We know that Israel is a nuclear power,
and they encourage their neighbours to take part. We also know their neighbours
cannot possibly participate, intellectually or scientifically, but they can buy
the technology. That is what is happening in that arms race.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I do not know whether a question
has been posed, but Senator Prud'homme has alluded to an issue.
Canada's official position is that Iran must suspend all activities related
to uranium enrichment until a satisfactory agreement is reached with the IAEA,
the U.K., France and Germany, which are representing the international
community. Their resumption of conversion is a breach of the Paris agreement and
successive IAEA resolutions.
Canada believes that if Iran does not resume the suspension of all
uranium-enrichment activities, the IAEA must take immediate action and report
the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
With respect to the honourable senator's representations regarding Israel, if
he has evidence that anything Israel does might be related to Iran, I would be
delighted to consider it with him.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: In the name of "equilibrium," terminology that
has just been used by the honourable senator, is there any equation to be made
between the mere non-signature in compliance of a treaty, on the one hand, and a
call for the eradication of a state by force, on the other?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I could not have put the equation
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Smith, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill C-11, An Act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings
in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
I rise to participate in the debate at second reading on an important
legislative initiative that finds its roots in earlier work by this chamber.
I would like to begin by pointing out to honourable senators, with the
greatest of modesty, that many of us in this chamber support the general
principle of the bill, and I particularly support it. However, there are still
problematic issues of detail, and I hope to address some of those now.
As Senator Smith clearly pointed out the other day, Bill C-11 aims at the
prevention of wrongdoing in the public service by establishing a framework for
ethical practices in the workplace dealing with allegations of wrongdoing and
This bill addresses a concern that many of us have held in this chamber, and
it is decidedly overdue. We are far behind our colleagues in Australia, the
United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in enacting such legislation.
As Senator Smith discussed in the chamber on October 25, no one is sure why
this bill has taken so long to come into being, especially given that it was a
Liberal commitment in the 1993 federal election campaign to do so. There is
written documentation expressing in black and white a commitment that after the
election of 1993 the government would be bringing in a whistle-blowing bill. It
is now 2005, so that commitment was made 12 years ago.
Honourable senators, Bill C-11 represents another chapter of what has become
an unacceptably long story of delay and slow commitment by this government. We
are satisfied that the Conservative initiative to keep this item on the front
burner has been successful. The need in today's world to protect public service
employees is critical at a time when the complexity of the workplace and of the
various dynamics that come to bear on the safety and rights of citizens is
different from times past. Thus, some time ago in this chamber we recognized
that it was critical for us to have a solid piece of whistle-blowing legislation
— a mechanism that would be effective so that unethical and corrupt conduct
would not be allowed to gain a foothold.
Unfortunately, our initiatives were undermined at every opportunity by the
current government in an inexplicable manner, given the reliance of the
government on the concept of such protection, touted, as I mentioned, in the
election promises of 12 years ago. My private member's bill, Bill S-6, was
embraced by this chamber and it was well studied by senators in the National
Finance Committee. The then responsible minister wanted to try to deal with
whistle-blowing through a policy model. Most senators on the committee were
skeptical of the effectiveness of such a policy approach but that is what did
unfold. Only after the public integrity officer, who was appointed under that
policy approach of Treasury Board, stated that he was incapable of protecting
employees, did the government concede that, indeed, the Senate was right in
saying that legislation was needed.
In response, the government introduced the highly deficient Bill C-25, which,
rather than protect whistle-blowers, would protect public service employees in
name only. The bill proposed that employees would be required to report their
concerns internally to their supervisors rather than to a neutral third party.
Victims of reprisals were not protected; the commissioner did not report
directly to Parliament; and the bill contained a laundry list of exempted
employees. With the election call in 2004, Bill C-25 died on the Order Paper,
and its loss was not overly mourned by many. The shortcomings of the approach in
Bill C-25 became more evident when Auditor General Fraser decried the existence
of a reign of terror at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and then the
sponsorship scandal blew wide open.
Despite the path that government ought to have pursued to remedy the
situation, it chose to introduce yet another bill that fell far short of
providing real protection to public service employees. Even after embarking on
the third round of discussions on this topic, the government still held fast and
promoted the draft of Bill C-11 that was first introduced in the other place. At
that time, Bill C-11 ignored the need for an independent third party to evaluate
disclosures and, instead, promoted a system wherein those accused with abusing
the system would be charged with rectifying it internally.
Employees were protected only in cases where they could provide complete
information on the wrongdoing. Simply providing information would not be
sufficient to trigger the new act. Quite unbelievably, the provisional draft of
Bill C-11 attempted to protect not public service employees but politicians from
the wrath of a disgusted electorate. Any revelations made by employees were to
be kept secret for 20 years, which is more than enough time for the remnants of
any potential scandal to dissipate and for the key players to have changed.
Major government entities were not included in the original draft of Bill
C-11 and the commissioner was not permitted to investigate disclosures made by
It is only through the diligent work of the members in the other place, as
indicated by the Honourable Senator Smith, that these gross missteps were
corrected in the House committee. Significant amendments, in particular to the
original draft of Bill C-11, have been made. I agree with Senator Smith that the
bill has been greatly improved from the first draft that was initially
introduced in the other place.
While those amendments represent a step in the right direction, the bill, as
adopted in the other place and received in the Senate, still contains
problematic deficiencies that necessarily raise the question: Is this bill
intended to protect public service employees who uncover and report wrongdoing;
or does it serve to create a regulatory system that will inevitably exclude and
discourage many sincere whistle-blowers from disclosing deficiencies to the
Bill C-11 offers no protection to those whistle-blowers who do not follow the
bill's procedures exactly, irrespective of how accurate the information may be.
The bill should protect all disclosures made in good faith, regardless of
whether the employee has successfully navigated the complex, legalistic statute.
As well, the bill before the house does not recognize the particularly
abhorrent nature of acts of revenge against an employee who acts in good faith
to return honesty to the public service. The bill does not provide specific
remedies for employees who are targeted for speaking the truth. They have only
costly and often inaccessible and intimidating wrongful dismissal legal
processes. Additionally, the definition of "reprisal" in the bill is
unnecessarily narrow and could conceivably not include a broad range of subtle,
yet equally insidious, actions intended to punish the employee for making a good
Honourable senators, we have learned a great deal over the years about
discrimination perpetrated out of ill will as well as intent-neutral
discrimination, otherwise known as systemic discrimination with its adverse
effects. It would seem that whistle-blowing legislation should deal with
systemic issues of unethical conduct, systems and processes in the public
Further, the identities of individuals who abuse the public trust, who
manipulate their positions of power and who defraud Canadians are still
protected because the bill contains no provisions that determine when rulings
may be made public. The identity of wrong-doers is protected. As if this
oversight were not enough to reduce the public's faith in the intentions of the
government, Bill C-11 still allows for the protection of information for five
Honourable senators will find the term "chief executive" in the
interpretation section on page 2 of the bill. The term "chief executive" is
described as the deputy head or chief executive officer of a department.
I underscore the point because one might see in that kind of terminology an
attempt to utilize private sector organizational concepts and language to deal
with the public sector. I submit that the public sector is a radically different
environment than the private sector. In the public sector, citizens are not
clients and we see that term used often. "Stakeholder" is another term that
arises. When I saw the term "chief executive," I asked what was wrong with the
term "deputy minister."
Honourable senators, there is a new language or vocabulary, but that may
speak to a different concept of the public service than we read in one of the
preambular paragraphs that speaks to an extension of Parliament.
Under this bill, the deputy minister or chief executive may opt to refuse to
disclose any records pertaining to whistle-blowing under the access to
information system or the privacy legislation for this five-year period that I
mentioned. However, I will quickly add that five years is much better than the
20 years that was in the original draft of the bill.
Bill C-11 does not extend protection to the large number of employees who
work on contract or as consultants with the public service. This group forms a
large part of the machinery of government. Such individuals on contract, and
consultants, are often privy to the same information and have the same
responsibilities as a full-time public service employee, yet this bill does not
afford them the same consideration under the law. This arbitrary distinction
undermines the rationale for the bill.
Treasury Board cannot have it both ways. They are trying to keep the size of
the formal public service down by hiring people on contract, and consultants,
because they want the flexibility of management. In conjunction with that
practice, one must ask what the safeguards are. What are the safeguards in terms
of fairness in hiring when a greater reliance is placed upon hiring these
consultants or these contract employees?
Some suggest that this practice is a way to avoid the public service
employment process and that many abuses could find their way forward by using
that process to staff the public service rather than the traditional process of
public competition. That is really a different issue, but it is an important
That discussion relates to this bill in that a large number of persons
working in the public sector do so as consultants or as contract employees. They
could apprehend the same kind of wrongdoing as persons who were covered as
full-time members of the public service. Therefore, they ought not to be
excluded from the operation of the whistle-blowing legislation.
An equally troubling oversight is the ambiguity over the role of unions in
the whistle-blowing framework. Collective bargaining is not a bad thing. It has
been effective and has brought significant fairness to the Canadian employment
sphere, both in the public sector and the private sector. Unions do not have a
clear role under Bill C-11. Bill C-11, for example, as is styled before us, does
not allow for representatives of bargaining units to be included in the process.
There is a good record of public service unions, the various offices of the
unions, the shop stewards and so forth protecting not only the employment rights
of public servants, but also the content of the work that is done by their
members in the public service. By nature, there is not an inimical relationship
between public sector unions and the public servants themselves. There is no
necessary conflict of role or function.
Over the years some managers in the public sector have adopted a view that
somehow unions are bad and not to be trusted. I do not think that is acceptable
and I do not think it is true.
Given the real history of the work of the public sector unions in Canada, at
both the federal and provincial levels, the role they have played is essential
in protecting public servants and their members. Their role in the framework of
whistle-blowing must be more thoroughly contemplated and we will continue to
contemplate that as we study this bill.
Bill C-11 still permits the Prime Minister's cabinet to exclude certain Crown
corporations and other bodies from the scope of the legislation. Once again, the
very officials who may be responsible for wrongdoing are permitted to make
determinations that can affect potential investigations. We have seen that the
sponsorship scandal involved just these types of Crown corporations and often
involved officials at the highest level. If a fraud is committed, can we really
expect those involved not to be tempted to exercise their discretion to cover up
a potential disclosure, especially in this time of precarious parliaments?
The version of Bill C-11 now before the Senate is fundamentally different
from the bill first introduced and debated by the committee of the other place.
Some of the provisions that are now in the bill before us have not been
previously reviewed by a committee of parliamentarians. The nature of the
amendments suggested creates a distinctly different piece of legislation, and
our traditional role of review is actually a first opportunity for analysis.
The witnesses who will appear before our Senate committee may wish to be
heard on the bill that was amended subsequent to their contribution to the study
of the bill in the other place. Our Senate committee work will be greatly
facilitated by hearing from those witnesses. For example, we do not need to
spread out the hearing of these witnesses, but the kinds of witnesses that we
really want to hear from are those who understand this kind of legislation. We
would benefit from having their counsel and their analysis on the bill that we
are now examining, which is so different from the one that they spoke to before.
By way of suggestion, I hope that individuals who have experienced personally
whistle-blowing reprisals, such as Joanna Gualtieri, Allan Cutler and Margaret
Haydon, to whom Senator Spivak alluded, as well as other individuals, such as
Rubin Friedman, Professor Ned Franks and Professor Hodges, will be called upon
to give evidence. Clearly, we will want to hear from officials of the ministry
and those officers who served under the other policy model, such as the Public
Service Integrity Officer.
I should like to see representatives from a couple of line departments appear
as witnesses, such as the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture,
Canada Post and the CBC. As well, it would be helpful to hear from a number of
advocacy groups. I would refer to some that appeared before the House committee
and others that did not, such as the Canadian Newspaper Association, the
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, and CUPE, and to a few
experts, both Canadian and from other countries, in particular the public
accountability project people in Washington. It would be most helpful to hear
from these people to inform the clause-by-clause analysis that the committee
will be undertaking.
Honourable senators, the meaning of certain terms in Bill C-11 could do with
some explication and clarification, to say the least. Some of the terms are a
little confusing and, perhaps, poorly understood.
Honourable senators have raised serious constitutional questions regarding
the designation of the Public Sector Integrity Officer. Such thoughtful and
probing questions must be pursued and aggressively investigated at the committee
I have pointed out the continued failings of this bill. I encourage all
honourable senators to demonstrate extra diligence during the committee review
of the legislation, as I submit that it could be further improved by thoughtful
amendments in the Senate.
We have entered an age in Canadian politics and public affairs that is mired
with suggestions of corruption and scandal. We can ill afford an act that
purports to protect people who try to restore integrity to the system, if it
will make it more difficult and complicated for them to come forward. It is not
logical that an act intended to encourage disclosure contains a presumption in
favour of government secrecy. To implement such a presumption in favour of
secrecy only broadens the category of information that will eventually be
withheld from the public. The status quo should be a presumption of
transparency, unless the government can establish or prove an exception should
be made. It should not be the other way around.
Canada has steadily slipped to its lowest ranking of all time in the
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Canada has dropped
almost 10 places in the last decade due to a marked increase in the perceived
level of corruption in government. When business people and analysts are telling
the international community that Canada is an ever increasingly corrupt country,
we must ask ourselves why. We must endeavour to ensure that confused and
contradictory legislation such as Bill C-11 does not serve to further damage our
international reputation and denigrate the trust of our citizens in our
Bill C-11 potentially creates an emergency exit for top-level decision makers
to make exceptions to refuse to disclose and to exempt themselves from the
impact of the whistle-blowing framework. The effectiveness of Bill C-11 is
greatly diminished if it does not apply objectively and without exception to the
entire upper echelon of government.
In evaluating this bill, I remind honourable senators that we might want to
keep in mind the adage, corruptio optimi pessima — the corruption of the
best is the worst — to ensure this bill fulfills its original intention and does
not inadvertently create a framework of possible loopholes and escape hatches
for those among the highest ranks of government. We look forward to the work of
I underscore support for the bill in principle. However, I think we can come
out of committee with a much better and a much improved bill than the one we
have here, although I recognize that we have come a fair distance with Bill C-11
from where we were a few years ago.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will Senator Kinsella take a question?
Senator Kinsella: Certainly, honourable senators.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, notwithstanding the
reservations to which the honourable senator has referred, I have no doubt that
Senator Kinsella is entitled to a good deal of satisfaction, as well as to our
congratulations, on seeing his tenacious efforts over so many years now
apparently about to bear fruit in the form of this government bill. I
congratulate him on that.
I regret to say that I was not in my seat on Tuesday when the sponsor of the
bill, Senator Smith, gave us a comprehensive overview of Bill C-11. However, one
or two things that caught my attention. I would ask Senator Kinsella to comment
on them and perhaps Senator Smith, when he closes the debate, will deal with
The first concerns the organizations that are excluded from the application
of the bill, including the Communications Security Establishment, CSIS and the
Canadian Forces. Senator Smith points out that each of these organizations must
establish its own disclosure and reprisal protection regimes similar to those
set out in this bill and satisfy Treasury Board that they have done so. It
occurs to me that, first, in the spirit of parliamentary cooperation to which
Senator Smith referred in his speech, and, second, because Parliament is so
central to this whole exercise and to the future success of this legislation, it
should not rest only with Treasury Board to be satisfied that the CSE, CSIS and
the Canadian Forces, for example, have disclosure and reprisal protection
regimes similar to those in the bill. Parliament ought to have something to say
about that. I think Parliament ought to have the right to make a determination
in that regard. Would the honourable senator comment on that?
Another matter to which the honourable senator alluded, as did Senator Spivak
in her speech yesterday, is that this bill gives the Governor-in-Council the
right to add or delete any Crown corporation or other public body from the list.
As we know, this is a fairly routine provision in a lot of legislation. The
Crown is given the right to add or delete bodies from the schedule. Again, in a
statute in which Parliament is so central, it seems to me that the government
ought not to have the right by itself to do that. There should be some reference
Would the honourable senator care to comment on those issues?
Senator Kinsella: I thank the honourable senator for his questions. He
is absolutely correct with regard to his first one. In clause 2, which is the
interpretation section of the bill, the public sector is defined as not
including the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the
Communications Security Establishment. There should be some kind of oversight of
We are learning, in the work of the special Senate committee that is
reviewing the anti-terrorism legislation, the importance of these special
agencies in terms of the defence of the country, and we recognize that sometimes
special power or special authority is given in free and democratic societies. We
also recognize that if we establish an oversight mechanism even for those kinds
of agencies, particularly parliamentary oversight, the potential for abuse is
The committee should delve into whether or not we can find a way to give
further thought to that particular provision.
Everything is an extension of the executive and it is precisely because of
the mismanagement and the abuses with which the executive has been tainted that
we have the need for this legislation. Clearly, I share the view of Senator
Murray that Parliament should play a role in the listing or the delisting of
those Crown agencies.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I listened to the honourable
senator carefully, especially when he mentioned the constitutional status of the
officer created in clause 39 of the bill.
Is the honourable senator satisfied that the status of the officer as defined
in the bill meets all the constitutional assurances of the independence of the
officer? That is a key element of his or her effectiveness in satisfying the
objectives of the bill. There must be assurance to Parliament that he or she is
fully protected to ensure that he or she remains independent from the executive.
I see the new system functioning such that the public servant who wants to
report a wrongdoing must have the strong conviction that the officer to whom he
is reporting is far enough from the reach of the government to offer the
required protection. Parliamentarians must be reassured that in the
constitutional and institutional structure of government the officer has the
capacity to perform his or her duties. I rely on the honourable senator's long
interest in the public service. Is he satisfied that the bill as it is now
drafted meets all those requirements?
Senator Kinsella: I thank the honourable senator for raising that
important question, which he also raised with my colleague Senator Smith on
Tuesday. Since that time I have been reflecting on it as well. My answer is: No,
I am not sure.
The first preambular paragraph of the bill reads:
...the public service of Canada is an important national institution that
is part of the essential framework of Canadian parliamentary democracy.
I hope that I am not too old fashioned. I do not subscribe to the idea that
everything must remain constant, but we must be careful as we grow these
offices, particularly with regard to their relationship to Parliament. When one
does a quick brush of these officers of Parliament — the Auditor General, the
Privacy Commissioner, et cetera — in some instances it is the intent of the bill
to give special protection to an administrative officer. It is as if Parliament
is being used as a defensive mechanism, unless there indeed is meant to be an
essential, substantive relationship between Parliament and that officer.
I do not know the answer to the honourable senator's question, but it is one
on which the committee will have to reflect. We recognize that many of these
officers have appeared on the landscape in the last 15 or 20 years. I do not
think we have done much analysis, and I do not think we have a satisfactory
parliamentary theory as to where they fit in.
The honourable senator's question is an excellent one, and we should do some
probing to see whether we can come up with a common understanding.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I believe these are valid
questions that can be dealt with at committee stage.
The Hon. the Speaker: I should advise honourable senators that if
Senator Smith speaks to the bill now, his speech will have the effect of closing
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I will speak. I am glad
that Senator Murray has touched upon the two points I raised on October 25. I
made a mistake by saying that the RCMP was not involved. It has been amended and
I am satisfied. I was concerned that CSIS, the other security services and the
Canadian Armed Forces are not involved.
I will not speak further on this subject, except to reiterate that I will go
to the committee if there is no conflict. However, I am very concerned. Much
representation has been made to some of us, perhaps because we are independent
senators. I hope not. I do not want a stampede. I have already had five phone
calls following my earlier intervention.
In order to keep my equilibrium, I called the Iranian embassy to tell them
exactly where I stand on the issue. That may satisfy some here in this house.
Honourable senators, we should be concerned about the immense number of
bureaucrats who are worried about the protection to which they should be
entitled for the remainder of their careers if they become whistle-blowers.
I am not an expert. Senator Kinsella has been involved with this subject for
many years. Senator Murray understands it, but I do not understand it as much as
I would like.
My hope is that the committee will invite as many witnesses as possible so
that senior civil servants and those at the lower levels, who sometimes see more
than those at the higher levels, will feel at ease with this legislation that is
so important to the government and which has been a long time in the process.
Those are my only comments for the time being, but I wanted to place them on
the record. I will be listening for Senator Smith's usual wisdom, and I will
follow up in committee.
Senator Smith: Honourable senators, the valid questions raised today
can be studied thoroughly and in good faith, as was the case when the matter was
dealt with in the other place at committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: The concluding speech of Senator Smith prompts
me as the Speaker to now put the motion.
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Smith, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Eggleton, that this bill be read the second time. Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Claudette Tardif moved second reading of Bill C-37, to amend the
She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to commence the
process of second reading of Bill C-37, to amend the Telecommunications Act.
The amendments being proposed to the Telecommunications Act strengthen the
role of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the
CRTC, under the act with respect to the regulation of telecommunications
facilities for unsolicited telecommunications to prevent undue inconvenience or
The goal of this bill is to create a smart and right regulatory environment
for sensible, smart telemarketing. We want to safeguard the privacy of Canadians
and their right to choose with whom they wish to communicate.
The need to make changes to the Telecommunications Act was identified by the
CRTC itself and by the Canadian Telemarketing Association. The government then
decided that it needed to intervene in order to resolve the problems in the
current system by introducing this bill to facilitate the establishment of a
national do-not-call list. To this end, the bill proposes the creation of a
legislative framework that would help solve the problem of unsolicited
telemarketing by creating a national do-not-call list.
The bill will enable the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission to do three things: first, impose fines for non-compliance; second,
establish a third party administrator to operate a database; and third, set fees
to recover the costs associated with maintaining the list.
Unsolicited phone calls have become an inconvenience and a nuisance for many
In an Environics survey conducted in 2003 for Industry Canada, fully 97 per
cent of respondents reported a negative reaction to unsolicited calls. Of those,
38 per cent said they tolerate the calls; 35 per cent reported being annoyed by
them; and 24 per cent said they hated receiving them. The majority of
respondents, almost 80 per cent, supported the creation of a national
do-not-call list; some 66 per cent indicated they would likely sign up for a
do-not-call service. This evidence is supported by yet another survey, the EKOS
survey, which estimated that 61 per cent of respondents want to stop receiving
The CRTC, the federal agency responsible for regulating unsolicited
telemarketing, receives thousands of complaints a year from Canadians frustrated
with their inability to control unwanted calls. Last year alone, the CRTC
received some 9,000 calls from dissatisfied Canadians on the subject. Under the
present regulatory regime, enforcement is ineffective because it is difficult to
establish proof of registration on company-specific lists and because, as the
CRTC itself has recognized, telemarketers appear undeterred by the present
I would like to remind honourable senators that the CRTC imposed limitations
on telemarketing in 1994. These limitations included a requirement that
telemarketers maintain individual do-not-call lists. This provision, however,
required consumers to enlist with each telemarketer separately, and there may be
hundreds of telemarketers. The consumer has no way of knowing when his or her
number may find its way onto another telemarketing list. For example, as a
senator with easy access to all legislation I was not aware that, under the
current provisions of the legislation, I could ask a telemarketer to strike my
name off his calling list. I imagine the average consumer might not have known
It is not surprising, therefore, that many consumers consider this solution
unsatisfactory. I would also like to point out to honourable senators that,
following public consultations, the CRTC itself found that the existing
regulatory system was inadequate to allow it establish a list, impose fines for
non-compliance and establish a third party administrator to operate a database.
The legislation needs to be amended in order to give the CRTC the authority to
create and maintain such a list.
Other countries have introduced regulations to protect customers from
unwanted telemarketing calls. In 2003, the U.S. federal trade commission
launched a national do-not-call registry. Some 62 million Americans subscribed
to the registry in the first year. By the end of the second year, 92 million
Americans had signed up.
Honourable senators, the bill before us is premised on the proven experience
of the United States. It provides the CRTC with the necessary powers to
implement and enforce a national do-not-call list. It will enable the CRTC to
impose fines for non-compliance, establish a third party administrator to
operate a database, and to set fees to recover the costs associated with running
The CRTC has long-standing experience in managing telemarketing. It has been
doing so since 1994. The CRTC also has proven experience in delegating to an
administrator and engaging third parties, and it is a quasi-judicial regulator
with some judicial powers.
With the proposed three amendments, both the CRTC's role and general
enforcement of the Telecommunications Act would be strengthened. The amendments
propose penalties of $1,500 per offending call for individuals and $15,000 per
offending call for corporations or telemarketers who do not respect the list.
This bill provides the CRTC with guidance on the telemarketing activities
that should be subject to a national do-not-call list. In particular, the bill
provides exemptions for certain groups. These include registered charities;
companies with whom the client has had an existing business relationship; survey
and polling activities; political activities, such as registered political
parties, nomination or leadership candidates or candidates of a political party;
These exemptions are similar to those identified in the United States. During
committee hearings, it was agreed upon that without exemptions, certain
organizations such as registered charities would lose a major part of their
fundraising activities and resources. Experience in the United States has shown
that with similar exemptions, unsolicited calls dropped from 30 to 6 per month
for those who subscribed to the list.
Honourable senators, Canadians are expecting to be provided with a service
that will easily and efficiently curb unsolicited telemarketing. To ensure this,
the bill includes review mechanisms to determine whether the national list is
Under this bill, the CRTC would be required to report yearly to the Minister
of Industry on the operation of the national do-not-call list. The bill also
provides that, after three years, a committee of the House of Commons, of the
Senate or of both Houses of Parliament would be established to review the
administration and operation of the national do-not-call list.
The list will be administered at no extra cost to Canadian taxpayers. If the
bill is passed, it is expected that the costs will be recovered from the
telemarketing sector. This means that the telemarketers will be the ones paying.
It is not only consumers that support the establishment of a national
do-not-call list. Many telemarketers prefer a national list over the current
regime. The Canadian Marketing Association believes a compulsory do-not-call
service for all companies that use the telephone to market their goods and
services to potential customers is the most effective means to curtail consumer
annoyance with telemarketers.
Honourable senators, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada also advocates the
creation of a meaningful, mandatory, national do-not-call list. In her address
to the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and
Technology, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, supported by nine of the
provincial-territorial information and privacy commissioners, highlighted the
importance of establishing a national do-not-call list to help Canadians protect
By passing this bill, we will enable the CRTC to move quickly on this issue.
It will undertake further consultations on the fees to be collected, the
selection of the organization responsible for administering the list, and other
Telemarketing has become increasingly widespread. There is no indication that
it is just a passing fad. In addition, the inability to control a telemarketer's
access to phones in our homes and businesses has become a source of frustration
for a large percentage of Canadians.
With this bill, we provide a responsible framework for a Canadian do-not-call
regime. It equips the CRTC with the necessary tools to implement and enforce a
national do-not-call list. In this way, we will give Canadians an easy,
effective way to curtail intrusive calls. We will take steps to protect their
privacy. I urge you, honourable senators, to support this bill.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: May I ask a question? I appreciate the
statement by the honourable senator.
However, we must not forget that the CRTC has jurisdiction solely in Canada.
Most telemarketing firms, which influence consumers to some extent, are not
located in Canada. Last week, I got a telephone call from India. The CRTC would
have no jurisdiction over these firms. However, in New Brunswick, for example,
jobs are being created by some credible telemarketing firms.
I have some concerns that jobs being created in New Brunswick might be
threatened because New Brunswickers are bilingual. Ultimately, not all
telemarketing being conducted in Canada originates in Canada and will not come
under the CRTC's jurisdiction. That is my fear.
Senator Tardif: I want to thank Senator Ringuette for her question. In
fact, on June 8, the Privacy Commissioner indicated that a number of countries
shared their data. The commissioner was referring, above all, to the United
States and the fact that the do-not-call lists were shared.
My information indicates that the majority of call centres receive inbound
calls, meaning that individuals call to ask questions about a product or a
service they already have and to obtain additional information. Most of these
are inbound call centres, and not outbound call centres trying to make
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kinsella, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the second reading of Bill S-41, An
Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act
(human rights reports).
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I am rising today to
follow up on the comments made by the Honourable Senator Kinsella on September
29, regarding Bill S-41.
This bill is interesting from a parliamentarian's point of view, since the
government would keep the Senate informed about the progress made by Canada in
implementing United Nations human rights instruments to which Canada is a
signatory. The Senate would also be informed of the UN response to such
This bill further interests me as a member of the Standing Senate Committee
on Human Rights as it is quite topical, the committee being in the process of
looking at Canada's compliance with such international instruments. This bill
would increase government accountability in this respect.
On September 29, Senator Kinsella reminded us of two things. First, only a
few officials and human rights advocates are systematically aware of the efforts
deployed by Canada under international human rights instruments to which it is a
signatory, and of the marks given to our country for its efforts.
Second, it is critical that those who are most affected by these documents
and rights, namely the public at large, can easily find out what Canada is doing
in terms of compliance with the UN conventions, and also how the United Nations
is judging Canada's efforts.
Bill S-41 would go some way toward bridging the information gap by ensuring
that parliamentarians, whether in this chamber or in the other place, receive a
copy of Canada's progress reports and the United Nations' responses to such
reports. The bill targets only human rights instruments originating from the
United Nations to which our country is a party.
The bill, however, could target other instruments designated by regulations.
We may know, honourable senators, that there is already information floating out
there and that Canadians are not necessarily in the dark.
Our Canadian Heritage website gives any Internet user access, free of charge,
to the full text of reports that Canada submits from time to time to the United
Nations on its progress in implementing six of the seven instruments covered in
Bill S-41: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and, finally, the Convention on the
Rights of the Child.
However, the United Nations' responses to these reports do not accompany the
reports. I therefore take this opportunity to encourage the Department of
Canadian Heritage to post these responses on its website, for the benefit of
As far as the seventh instrument covered by Bill C-41 is concerned, namely
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, it would not appear that
Canada is required to report periodically on its implementation. There are
probably two reasons for that.
First, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not binding, transferring
instead this mandate to the two international covenants; the one on civil and
political rights and the one on economic, social and political rights, which
followed the declaration in 1966 and on which Canada is already reporting.
Second, our country already has its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which
was enacted in 1982.
If indeed our country is not required to report to the United Nations on the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then Bill S-41 should be amended to
remove the declaration from the list. This is a point that can be clarified by
the Senate committee in its consideration of the bill.
While posting information on the Internet is an effective way to reach the
technically endowed and savvy, it is of little help if one does not know the
information is posted or if one is unsure exactly where to find the information.
That is where Bill S-41 could help by ensuring that Canadians, through their
parliamentarians, are aware of their country's compliance with selected
international human rights instruments.
Bill S-41 could, therefore, seem to echo some of the wisdom contained in the
December 2001 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights entitled
Promises to Keep: Implementing Canada's Human Rights Obligations. In this
report, the committee suggested that Parliament has a:
...proper role in a democracy. That role cannot remain limited to passing
whatever implementing legislation the executive deems necessary to fulfil a
treaty commitment. Parliament should be involved in scrutinizing such treaty
commitments to begin with and in helping to determine what may be required by
way of implementation.
The bill would therefore enable parliamentarians to be better informed and,
thus, to better inform their constituents. There is, however, nothing to stop
them from doing more than merely reading a document.
Some may wonder whether this bill ought not to go a bit further and recommend
that Canada's reports to the UN, and the UN responses to them, be not merely
tabled in both Houses but also referred to the appropriate committee. Here
again, the Senate committee that will examine the bill could decide on this.
During Question Period this past June 30, the Leader of the Government in the
Senate indicated that the government looks favourably upon this bill, with
amendments. My informal understanding is that these amendments could be minor
and seek only to clarify some international instruments targeted by the bill and
to subject a time frame for tabling documents.
Once again, decisions on the amendments proposed by the government can be
made in the Senate committee examining the bill.
If the principle of Bill S-41 is accepted, it seems to me that it is not
necessary to delay the committee's work any further. I therefore move that the
bill be referred to the appropriate committee.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Stratton, seconded
by the Honourable Senator LeBreton:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology be authorized to examine and report upon the state of preparedness
for a pandemic on the part of the Canadian Government and in particular on
measures that Canadians and Canadian businesses and organizations can take to
prepare for a pandemic; and
That the Committee submit its report no later than December 8, 2005.—(Honourable
Senator Rompkey, P.C.)
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I should like to
offer a few comments on Motion No. 134. I say this recognizing that the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has not had a chance
to meet since this motion was presented and that the chair and deputy chair of
the committee are not here.
I fully recognize the seriousness of the motion presented by the Honourable
Senator Stratton and seconded by the Honourable Senator LeBreton. There is no
doubt that their interest and concern are in the right place. However, looking
at this carefully, it would seem to be totally unrealistic that these good
senators would consider it possible to submit a report no later than December 8,
2005 on such an important issue.
Looking at our calendar, there are five weeks between now and December 8.
This motion cannot be considered until next week, which leaves four weeks. When
one considers that this committee is in the process of serious work on the
mental health study, I do not think it is reasonable to expect that this
committee could submit a report no later than December 8.
Also, for the record, Canada is amongst 30 or 40 countries in the world
working hard on this issue right now. Here in Ottawa, there was a two-day
meeting on October 24 and October 25. A follow-up meeting on this subject is
scheduled in Geneva, Switzerland from November 7 to 9, with 30 or 40 countries
involved. To me, this represents an unprecedented sharing of information and of
working together to develop plans of action, to develop a vaccine and other
anti-viral products, and put to best use our new Public Health Agency of Canada.
While the intent of this motion is absolutely sound and noteworthy, it is my
personal opinion, because the committee has not met, that this is not at all
possible or practicable. This is not in any way to underestimate the importance
of Parliament, the Senate or the other place discussing this at every possible
opportunity, but it seems to me that it is impossible to deal with the motion in
the time frame that has been suggested.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Would the
honourable senator entertain a question or two?
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Yes.
Senator Stratton: Is Senator Trenholme Counsell aware that there is a
general, unwritten rule of this chamber that we do not mention people who are
absent from this chamber?
Senator Trenholme Counsell: I am sorry. I will take note of that, and
Senator Stratton: Is the honourable senator aware that the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology did a quick study on
SARS when it broke out? We are asking simply for the same thing at this time.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck calling
the attention of the Senate to the state of post-secondary education in
Canada.—(Honourable Senator Callbeck)
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators —
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Honourable
senators, I must advise that if Senator Callbeck speaks now, her speech will
have the effect of closing debate on this inquiry.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I would be more than
honoured to ask the honourable senator if she prefers to terminate the debate;
otherwise, perhaps we would like to prolong it. I am in her hands. If she wants
to speak, she would close the debate.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, that is up to honourable
senators. I initiated this inquiry back in November. Several senators have
spoken, and I thought no one else wanted to speak, so I planned to speak today
to close it.
Honourable senators, last November I introduced an inquiry into the state of
post-secondary education in Canada because I believe the future prosperity of
this country is absolutely dependent upon the health of our post-secondary
institutions and upon the availability of affordable and accessible post-secondary education for all Canadians.
So few issues are so intrinsically tied to our future prosperity as
education. When the inquiry was introduced, I raised concerns that we could do
more to ensure that Canadians are provided with the opportunity to realize fully
their potential and, more significantly, to realize fully the potential of this
great country through the pursuit of post-secondary education.
I thank the honourable senators who participated in this debate on the
inquiry: Senator Atkins, Senator Kinsella, Senator Mercer, Senator Moore and
I also thank the many others who shared with me their ideas and suggestions
on how we can increase the percentage of Canadians who receive a post-secondary
education. A number of honourable senators have pointed to the need for a
dedicated transfer to the provinces for education. Other suggestions included
the need for an increase in grants available to students; increased funding for
research; assistance for student loan repayments and increased debt reduction;
the creation of national standards for education; more cooperation among
governments, educational institutions and the private sector; more incentives
for parents to save for their children's post-secondary education; increased
funding for post-secondary institutions; and a need for a national strategy to
set directions and determine priorities.
All these ideas have significant value and, I believe, need to be explored
further. I also believe that all honourable senators are agreed that the future
of post-secondary education is critical to the future of Canada.
Of course, it is not only within these walls that the importance of this
issue is recognized. Canadians are well aware that educational achievement means
better jobs, higher incomes and improved standards of living. Statistics Canada
has reported that the vast majority of Canadians understand and recognize the
opportunities afforded by post-secondary education. More than 80 per cent of
Canadian parents would like their children to pursue a post-secondary education.
The most recent data from Statistics Canada shows that graduates with a
university degree earn on average nearly twice as much as a high school
graduate. There is a very real link between education and income.
More and more, it is not only increased income but actual job availability
that is becoming dependent on having a post-secondary education. There are
studies that point to a future where three out of four jobs in an increasingly
knowledge-based economy will require a post-secondary education. To quote former
Ontario premier Bob Rae:
Around the world, the transformation of the modern economy is turning
higher education into a critical issue. Where higher education was once the
prerogative of an elite, it is now the clear need of the majority of the
Canadians themselves understand this. They understand the role of education
in the new economy. They understand that their future and the future of Canada
depends greatly on having an educated workforce that is ready and able to
compete in today's worldwide marketplace.
According to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the
demand for university education is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Over the
last three years, full-time enrolment has increased by more than 130,000
students, bringing the total enrolment to about 800,000 students.
These numbers need to increase even further. In 1994, the Canadian economy
employed more than 2.3 million university graduates. By 2004, 10 years later,
this number had increased by 45 per cent. The Association of Universities and
Colleges of Canada estimate that an additional 1.5 million graduates will be
needed by 2014. That is only nine years from now, and that number is over and
above the number of graduates needed to replace the growing number of degree
holders who will be retiring over the next decade.
Honourable senators, there is broad recognition and understanding of the
vital role that education plays in the health of our economy, the well-being of
our society and our future as a country. Other OECD nations are increasing their
post-secondary education participation rates faster than we are in this country,
so we continue to fall behind.
Right now, less than 40 per cent of our population has completed some form of
post-secondary education. That number is inadequate to meet the needs of the
future. It is inadequate if we are to ensure continued prosperity for this
country. That number must change.
One may ask why Canadians are not attending post-secondary institutions if
they understand how vital it is for their future. Two years ago, the Canadian
Alliance of Student Associations made a statement on improving access to
post-secondary education. The paper identified two overwhelming barriers to
higher education. One was the lack of funding for post-secondary institutions,
and the other was the lack of adequate financial aid to students.
University tuition has risen by 160 per cent in the last decade.
Post-secondary institutions are struggling with higher operating and capital
costs. The average student debt upon graduation is over $25,000. If current
trends continue, it is estimated that by the year 2020 a four-year undergraduate
degree will cost in the area of $132,000.
In this country today, access to post-secondary educational opportunities is
clearly limited because of a person's financial status. There are scholarships
and bursaries available to assist students, but only a small number are
fortunate enough to receive the large ones to cover most of their expenses.
Unless a decisive course of action is taken, access to post-secondary
education will more and more become a privilege afforded only the well-to-do.
This is untenable. It is untenable for a citizen of this great country not to be
able to realize his or her potential because they cannot afford the required
education. It is untenable because it will compromise the future economic
prosperity of the entire nation.
We must improve the level of assistance to students wishing to pursue
post-secondary education. In addition, students must be able to expect that the
education they receive will be of the highest quality and offered at
institutions that boast the best teaching, research and facilities in order to
prepare graduates for the world beyond.
In a country whose future depends on an educated and skilled workforce, we
need to do much better than provide post-secondary education for less than half
of the population. To quote Prime Minister Martin:
Our natural resources are finite, but talent and its potential are not.
That is why we need to focus so intently on our most important renewable
resources — the skills of our population, innovation, and investment....
The prerequisite for entry into the global economy of tomorrow is education
— quality education that begins early in life and prepares people to thrive in
a competitive world.
The Government of Canada has already taken a number of steps forward. The
budget, Bill C-48, passed in this chamber in July 2005, provides $1.5 billion to
enhance access to post-secondary education and support skills training for
Canadian young people.
In addition, the Canada Education Savings Act received Royal Assent last
December. This legislation established the Canada Learning Bond and made
substantial enhancements to the Canada Education Saving Grant, a program for
low- and middle-income families.
Changes have also been made as of August 1 to the Canada Student Loans
Program in recognition of the ever-increasing costs of post-secondary education.
These changes lower the expected parental contribution from moderate and middle
income families to dependent children. As a result, approximately 20,000 more
students are now eligible for assistance under the Canada Student Loans Program.
I commend and congratulate the federal government for these and other
initiatives aimed at improving the quality of post-secondary education and
increasing access to it.
Canadians recognize the value and importance of post-secondary education for
themselves and their families. They recognize that post-secondary graduates earn
higher salaries, have the highest levels of labour force participation and the
lowest levels of unemployment. Governments also recognize that our national
standard of living and our competitive position in the world depends on an
educated, skilled and productive workforce.
The question before us today is not whether we can afford to further invest
in post-secondary education; it is whether we can afford not to.
Honourable senators, we recognize that at the heart of this issue lies a
fundamental truth: Canada will be diminished if we do not look to the future and
begin to educate more of our population at the post-secondary level. Financial
barriers to continued education have no place in this country.
Honourable senators, this inquiry on post-secondary education has prompted
significant discussion. We need to make this issue a high priority. We must
involve the federal and provincial governments, educational institutions, the
private sector and the public in these discussions. Accordingly, I believe that
this issue of accessibility and equality must be examined in greater depth. That
is why I will soon introduce a motion in this chamber to refer this matter to a
Working together, we must more fully identify the challenges and barriers
facing Canadian young people as they enter the knowledge economy. We must also
look at ways to assist our post-secondary institutions as they seek to provide a
quality learning environment and experience. We must offer solutions to ensure
that anyone who wishes to pursue a post-secondary education may have the
opportunity to do so. The future of Canada's youth and of our nation as a whole
depends on it.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable Senator Banks, before Senator
Callbeck took the floor, senators were advised that her speech would have the
effect of closing the debate. This inquiry is now considered fully debated.