The first list records senators present in the Senate Chamber during the course of the sitting.
An asterisk in the second list indicates a senator who, while not present during the sitting, was in attendance to business, as defined in subsections
of the Senators Attendance Policy.
The sitting of the Senate was suspended to await the
arrival of Her Excellency the Governor General.
After awhile, Her Excellency the Governor General, having
come and being seated upon the Throne,
The Honourable the Speaker commanded the Usher of the
Black Rod to proceed to the House of Commons and acquaint that House that:
"It is the pleasure of Her Excellency the Governor General
that they attend her immediately in the Senate Chamber.''
The House of Commons being come,
Their Speaker, the Honourable Peter Milliken, said:
"MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
The House of Commons has elected me their Speaker, though
I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If, in
the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error, I pray
that the fault may be imputed to me, and not to the Commons, whose servant I am,
and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to their
Queen and Country, humbly claim all their undoubted rights and privileges,
especially that they may have freedom of speech in their debates, access to Your
Excellency's person at all seasonable times, and that their proceedings may
receive from Your Excellency the most favourable construction.''
The Honourable the Speaker of the Senate answered:
"Mr. Speaker, I am commanded by Her Excellency the
Governor General to declare to you that she freely confides in the duty and
attachment of the House of Commons to Her Majesty's person and Government, and
not doubting that their proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temper and
prudence, she grants, and upon all occasions will recognize and allow their
constitutional privileges. I am commanded also to assure you that the Commons
shall have ready access to Her Excellency upon all seasonable occasions and that
their proceedings, as well as your words and actions will constantly receive
from her the most favourable construction.''
Her Excellency the Governor General was then pleased to
open the session by a gracious speech to both Houses, as follows:
Members of the House of Commons,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Two hundred and fifty years ago, on October 2, 1758, the
first parliamentary assembly of its kind in Canada was held in Nova Scotia. It
is worth solemnly remembering in this Chamber the historic significance of that
Because today, we are free to reach our full potential
thanks to the efforts of women and men, young and old, who established democracy
in this country, where anything is possible.
This country is made up of every hope we cherish, every
dream we pursue, every project we realize.
Upholding the ideal of democracy that we embody in the
world is a responsibility that each of us bears.
As the great-great-granddaughter of slaves, I know just
how precious this legacy is to the citizens of this country. They have again and
again expressed their pride in this legacy to me, through their words and deeds,
over the past three years.
In these uncertain economic times, it is more important
than ever that our spirit of solidarity prevails and reaches beyond our borders,
so that Canada represents not only a hope of renewal, but also a promise for the
Today, in this democratic tradition, the representatives
of the Canadian people gather for the 40th time in this great nation's history
to open a new federal Parliament.
For over 140 years, since the era of Queen Victoria, Sir
John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier and the other Fathers of
Confederation, the Parliament of Canada has assembled to deliberate upon the
great issues of the day.
This institution thus represents one of the longest and
most unblemished records of peaceful, democratic self- government anywhere on
The people spoke once again in a general election on
October 14th, and entrusted this Government with a renewed and strengthened
At the same time, the people also chose to elect a
minority Parliament. And in a parliamentary democracy such as ours, the
government must always be responsible and accountable to the people's
Our Government is mindful of both the privilege and the
responsibility with which we have been entrusted.
This is a time of extraordinary global economic challenge
and uncertainty. The world's financial system faces pressures not seen for many
generations. Governments around the world have taken unprecedented steps to
restore confidence in the face of a global economic slowdown.
As Canadians watch these developments unfold, they rightly
wonder about what they might mean here at home, for their jobs, their savings
and their families' well-being. Canadians know that, as Canada is a trading
nation in the global economy, these events—while originating outside our
borders—will nevertheless reverberate here.
In the face of this uncertainty, just as when faced with
difficulties before, Canadians will prevail.
Canada was founded on the belief that, by joining our
strength in confederation, our united country would be able to meet and rise
above any challenge set before us.
From the explorers and pioneers to the settlers and
railroad builders, this vast country was built by people who took tremendous
risks and braved unforgiving elements for the prospect of a better future.
The dawn of a new century saw new challenges. In a war
that ended ninety years ago last week, our young country came of age on
battlefields whose names echo across our history — Ypres, Vimy, Passchendaele.
The generation that followed overcame the Depression and again confronted the
devastation of war. The achievements of these generations are marked not only by
monuments to their bravery and sacrifices, but also by their legacy in forging
Canada as one of the most peaceful and prosperous nations on Earth.
We know that Canadians will face the problems of today
with the same spirit of determination and resolve as those who came before us
faced the challenges of their generation. And like them, we know that we will
emerge stronger than ever.
In this time of global economic instability, we can be
reassured that the hard work of millions of Canadians has laid a solid
foundation for our country. We have pursued policies different from those of
many of our trading partners. We have paid down debt and kept spending under
control. We have set public pensions on a sound footing and refinanced important
programs such as health care and post-secondary education. Our banks are among
the strongest and best regulated in the world. Canadian households and
businesses have been prudent and avoided taking on the excessive debt witnessed
Embarking on its renewed mandate, our Government is
committed to providing the strong leadership that Canadians expect. It will
protect Canadians in difficult times. It will work with Canadians to secure our
future prosperity. It will support Canadian workers and businesses in their
pursuit of a better future. And our Government will continue its pursuit of
distinctly Canadian policies that will contribute to a better economy.
Our Government has a clear approach to Canada's economic
security. It will work with its partners to help address the current
international crisis. It will maintain a prudent course for the country's
finances. It will take action to support the economy today while building a
stronger economy for the future.
As our Government dedicates its efforts over the months
ahead to supporting the Canadian economy, so too does it rededicate itself to
working in partnership with others to achieve this goal. Canadians expect
federal and provincial governments to work together to steer us through the
current economic turmoil and, ultimately, build a stronger Canada. To this end,
First Ministers met on November 10th and will meet again in the new year.
Reforming Global Finance
The first order of business must be to put the
international financial system on a sounder footing. Just as these troubles
began beyond our borders, so will their solution demand that Canada engage its
partners and allies around the world.
Canada will use its experience in developing a strong
model of financial regulation to help lead the world in the repair and
strengthening of the international financial system. The Prime Minister and
Minister of Finance began this important work on November 15th, joining the
leaders of the G20 in Washington, D.C., to re-examine and renew the rules and
institutions that underpin the global financial system.
The financial sector exists to serve the economy. Without
sound financial institutions, loans would not be available for home ownership.
Businesses would be cut off from the credit needed to expand and hire new
workers. By choking off financing to the global economy, the credit crisis has
dramatically weakened the prospects of growth. Canada will play a leading role
to help resolve the crisis, maintain free and open markets, and advance Canada's
The credit crisis has also underlined the dangers of a
fragmented financial regulatory system. To further strengthen financial
oversight in Canada, our Government will work with the provinces to put in place
a common securities regulator.
Ensuring Sound Budgeting
Canada's relative success in weathering the global
economic turmoil thus far can be attributed in no small measure to our country's
solid fiscal fundamentals, the best among all major industrialized countries.
A strong fiscal foundation is not an end in itself, but it
is the bedrock on which a resilient economy is built. Responsible budgets,
significant debt repayment, and declining corporate and personal income taxes
have provided an important competitive advantage. As Canada navigates today's
economic uncertainties, it is even more important that we keep our sights fixed
on responsible fiscal management.
The Minister of Finance will provide details on our
Government's approach to economic and fiscal management in the Economic and
Fiscal Statement to be delivered next week.
Ongoing, unsustainable deficits are quite rightly
unacceptable to Canadians. These structural deficits must never return. At the
same time, in a historic global downturn, it would be misguided to commit to a
balanced budget in the short term at any cost, because that cost would
ultimately be borne by Canadian families.
Hard decisions will be needed to keep federal spending
under control and focused on results. Grants, contributions and capital
expenditures will be placed under the microscope of responsible spending.
Departments will have the funding they need to deliver essential programs and
services, and no more. Our Government will engage Parliament and encourage
members to take a more active role in scrutinizing spending and suggesting areas
Our Government is also committed to responsible fiscal
management of public sector compensation, and will table legislation to ensure
sustainable compensation growth in the federal Public Service.
Our Government will ensure that the provinces receive the
generous transfer payments planned for health care and social programs. We will
ensure that Equalization payments also grow, but that they do not grow more
quickly than our economy as a whole.
Any new measures to support the economy will also be
carefully chosen and targeted for maximum benefit.
Securing Jobs for Families and Communities
Global turbulence is translating into real challenges for
Canada. Our Government understands the pressures on ordinary hard-working
Canadians and the businesses that provide them with jobs.
Canada's economy will only remain as strong as its workers
and families. Our Government will strengthen Canada's workforce for the future
by continuing to support student financial assistance and taking measures to
encourage skilled trades and apprenticeships. Our Government will also work with
the provinces to make the recognition of foreign credentials a priority, attract
top international students to Canada and increase the uptake of immigrant
Our Government will also take steps to ensure that
Aboriginal Canadians fully share in economic opportunities, putting particular
emphasis on improving education for First Nations in partnership with the
provinces and First Nations communities.
Our Government will support workers facing transition. It
will ensure that existing programs and services are as effective as possible in
meeting the needs of Canadians. Targeted help will be available to those who
need it the most.
Our Government has already cut taxes to lower costs for
business and help them compete and create jobs. To further reduce the cost
pressures on Canadian business, our Government will take measures to encourage
companies to invest in new machinery and equipment.
The Canadian manufacturing sector, particularly the
automotive and aerospace industries, has been under increasing strain. Our
Government will provide further support for these industries.
Canada's traditional industries, such as fisheries, mining
and forestry, sustain the economic well-being of many regions and communities.
Our Government will continue to assist these industries through measures aimed
at marketing Canadian products abroad and helping businesses to innovate.
Our Government will continue to support Canada's farmers
by ensuring freedom of choice for grain marketing in Western Canada and strongly
supporting our supply-managed sectors at home and in international negotiations.
Public infrastructure is vital not only to create jobs for
today, but also to create the links between communities and regions to help
generate jobs for the future. Our Government is committed to expediting our
Building Canada plan to ensure that projects are delivered as quickly as
Expanding Investment and Trade
Canada's prosperity depends not just on meeting the
challenges of today, but on building the dynamic economy that will create
opportunities and better jobs for Canadians in the future. As one of our
greatest hockey legends has observed, we need "to skate to where the puck is
going to be, not to where it has been.''
Building a more dynamic economy will require new ideas and
new investment. Our Government understands that advances in science and
technology are essential to strengthen the competitiveness of Canada's economy.
Our Government will start at home, working with industry to apply the best
Canadian scientific and technological know- how to create innovative business
solutions. It will invest in new world-class research facilities.
Our Government will also expand the opportunities for
Canadian firms to benefit from foreign investment and knowledge, while taking
steps to safeguard consumers and our national security. Our Government will
proceed with legislation to modernize our competition and investment laws,
implementing many of the recommendations of the Competition Policy Review Panel.
Cultural creativity and innovation are vital not only to a
lively Canadian cultural life, but also to Canada's economic future. Our
Government will proceed with legislation to modernize Canada's copyright laws
and ensure stronger protection for intellectual property.
Both investment and trade matter to Canada's prosperity.
Our Government is committed to seeking out new opportunities for Canadians and
to promoting global prosperity through free trade. It will work with the new
administration in the United States in addressing shared challenges, especially
during the current economic downturn, and seek opportunities to enhance North
American competitiveness. New trade agreements will be pursued in Asia and the
Americas, as well as with the European Union, to open markets for Canadian
firms. Our Government will proceed with legislation to ratify the results of
trade negotiations that have been concluded with the European Free Trade
Association, Peru, Colombia and Jordan.
Our Government will continue to invest in expanding
gateways on our Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and in vital border corridors such
as the Detroit River International Crossing, to ensure that Canadian goods and
services can reach markets in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Better positioning Canada to compete for investment and
market opportunities will require action at home. A fragmented regulatory
environment for internal trade and commerce has for too long restricted the flow
of labour and investment across the country. Our Government will work with the
provinces to remove barriers to internal trade, investment and labour mobility
Making Government More Effective
Part of a solid economic and fiscal foundation is the
sound management of government. To make Canada's national government more
effective, our Government is committed to reform and streamline the way it does
Our Government will pursue innovative reforms to the
administration of programs and services, drawing on the successful experiences
of other governments around the world. It will build partnerships with third
parties and the private sector to deliver better services at a lower overall
Our Government will review all program spending carefully
to make sure that spending is as effective as possible and aligned with
Our Government will cut the red tape faced by the private
and not-for-profit sectors when doing business with the government.
Fixing procurement will be a top priority. Simpler and
streamlined processes will make it easier for businesses to provide products and
services to the government and will deliver better results for Canadians.
Military procurement in particular is critical: Canada cannot afford to have
cumbersome processes delay the purchase and delivery of equipment needed by our
men and women in uniform.
Our Government will also strengthen and improve the
management of Canada's federal agencies, boards, commissions and Crown
corporations to achieve greater cost-effectiveness and accountability.
Securing Our Energy Future
Energy is vitally important to our country. Our geography
and climate mean that Canadians depend on affordable and reliable energy. The
development of our rich energy resources is an important source of wealth and
Our Government will support the development of cleaner
energy sources. The natural gas that lies beneath Canada's North represents both
an untapped source of clean fuel and an unequalled avenue to creating economic
opportunities for northern people. Our Government will reduce regulatory and
other barriers to extend the pipeline network into the North.
These measures will bring jobs to northern Canada and
create employment across the country, just as they will bring new energy
supplies to markets in southern Canada and throughout the world. Economic
development in Canada's North, led by a new stand-alone agency, is a key element
of our Northern Strategy.
Nuclear energy is a proven technology, capable of
reliable, large-scale output. In Canada and around the world, energy authorities
are investing in nuclear power to meet both energy security and climate change
goals. Our Government will ensure that Canada's regulatory framework is ready to
respond should the provinces choose to advance new nuclear projects.
Tackling Climate Change and Preserving Canada's
Our Government understands that Canada's economic
prosperity cannot be sustained without a healthy environment, just as
environmental progress cannot be achieved without a healthy economy. Our
Government will continue its realistic, responsible approach to addressing the
challenge of climate change.
Our Government has committed to reducing Canada's total
greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. We will meet this goal while
also ensuring that Canada's actions going forward remain comparable to what our
partners in the United States, Europe and other industrialized countries
undertake. We will work with the provincial governments and our partners to
develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse
gases and an effective international protocol for the post-2012 period.
To meet the challenge posed by climate change, we will
also need to make greater use of technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases.
Our Government will set an objective that 90 per cent of Canada's electricity
needs be provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal or
wind power by 2020. In support of this ambitious national goal, our Government
will continue to provide support for biofuels, wind and other energy
To ensure protection of our vital resources, our
Government will bring in legislation to ban all bulk water transfers or exports
from Canadian freshwater basins.
Our Government will work with all parties in Parliament to
introduce sensible policies that can help consumers and improve our
environmental well-being, such as increasing incentives for energy-saving home
Helping All Canadians Participate
Canada is built on a promise of opportunity, the chance to
work hard, raise a family and make a better life. Today, it is more important
than ever to deliver on this promise, and ensure that all Canadians share in the
promise of this land, regardless of cultural background, gender, age, disability
or official language. This Government will break down barriers that prevent
Canadians from reaching their potential.
Many working-age Canadians are faced with the dual
pressure of holding down a job and caring for their family. Increasing numbers
of Canadians are taking care of elderly parents while also raising young
children. Our Government is committed to supporting working families and helping
make ends meet.
Our Government will improve the Universal Child Care
Benefit and take measures to increase access to maternity and parental benefits
under Employment Insurance.
We will act to help families caring for loved ones with
disabilities and to assist Canadians buying their first home.
Some Canadians face other barriers to participation in the
economy and society, whether in the form of homelessness or debilitating
illness. Our Government will extend the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and
help more Canadians find affordable housing. It will take creative measures to
tackle major heart, lung and neurological diseases and to build on the work of
the Mental Health Commission.
Keeping Canadians Safe
In times of uncertainty as in times of prosperity,
Canadians need to be assured that they are safe in their homes and communities.
Canadians look to governments to ensure that the justice
system is working effectively and that Canadians are safe. Our Government will
take tough action against crime and work with partners to improve the
administration of justice. Serious offences will be met with serious penalties.
Legal provisions will be strengthened in key areas, such as youth crime,
organized crime and gang violence. Gun laws will be focused on ending smuggling
and stronger penalties for gun crimes, not at criminalizing law-abiding firearms
owners. More broadly, Canada's criminal justice system will be made more
efficient. Citizens need to know that justice is served, and that it is served
Safety and security also mean that Canadians must be
assured that the food on their dinner table, the toys they buy their children,
and the medicines on which they rely are safe. Our Government will follow
through with legislation providing better oversight of food, drug and consumer
products. It will strengthen the power to recall products and increase penalties
for violators. It will also move quickly to launch an independent investigation
of this summer's listeria outbreak and act quickly upon its findings.
National security is the most fundamental duty of any
national government to its citizens. Our Government will table a national
security statement to explain how we intend to balance the new threats and
challenges to national security that we face with the need for oversight,
accountability and the protection of civil liberties.
Contributing to Global Security
Our national security depends on global security. Our
Government believes that Canada's aspirations for a better and more secure world
must be matched by vigorous and concrete actions on the world stage.
Security ultimately depends upon a respect for freedom,
democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Where these values are imperilled,
the safety and prosperity of all nations are imperilled. Canada must have the
capacity and willingness to stand for what is right, and to contribute to a
better and safer world.
Our Government is transforming Canada's engagement in
Afghanistan to focus on reconstruction and development, and to prepare for the
end of our military mission there in 2011. The hard work and heroic sacrifices
of Canada's men and women in the field—military, diplomatic and development—will
leave the people of Afghanistan the lasting legacy of a more secure, more
peaceful and better governed country.
Our Government will also continue to rebuild and arm the
Canadian Forces with the best possible equipment. We will renew all of our major
air, sea and surface fleets over the next two decades, creating new,
high-technology jobs in Canada in the process.
Canada's international assistance will continue to
increase and will be spent more effectively in the promotion of development
goals. A new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency will also be established
to support the peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and help
emerging democracies build strong institutions.
Building Stronger Institutions
Canada's institutions are the cornerstone of our
democracy, our freedom and our prosperity.
Parliament is Canada's most important national
institution. It is the only forum in which all Canadians, through their elected
representatives, have a voice in the governance of the nation. Parliament should
be an expression of our highest ideals and deepest values, our greatest hopes
and grandest dreams for the future of our children. Our Government believes
these ideals can only be achieved if Parliament truly reflects the character and
aspirations of the Canadian people.
Our Government will introduce legislation to move toward
representation by population in the House of Commons for Ontario, British
Columbia and Alberta. Legislation will also be introduced to allow for nominees
to the Senate to be selected by voters, to serve fixed terms of not longer than
eight years, and for the Senate to be covered by the same ethics regime as the
House of Commons.
The Public Service of Canada is a key national
institution. Public servants inspect our food and police our borders. They
deliver programs and services to millions of Canadians in every region of this
country, from our largest cities to the most remote Arctic communities. Drawing
on the recommendations of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public
Service, our Government is committed to the continued renewal of the Public
Our Government will also take steps to strengthen the
Canadian confederation. It will respect the jurisdiction of the provinces and
territories and will enshrine its principles of federalism in a Charter of Open
Federalism. The federal spending power will be constrained so that any new
shared-cost program in an area of exclusive provincial responsibility will
require the consent of the majority of the provinces to proceed, and that
non-participating provinces can opt out with compensation, provided that they
implement compatible programs or initiatives.
Canadians have renewed their confidence in our Government.
They have placed their trust in their representatives. And they have asked us to
work together to meet the challenges before our country.
Our Government is committed to Canada's continued success
at this time of global economic instability. All its energy will be directed to
addressing the challenges Canadian families, businesses and workers face, both
today and in the future. It will continue to establish effective policies that
give a competitive advantage to this country. It will strengthen the
institutions that keep Canadians safe, secure and prosperous. And it will work
in partnership—with its allies, with the provinces and territories, with
industry and with the millions of Canadian families—to keep Canada the true
North, strong and free.
Canadians have faced times of uncertainty and renewal
before and have always emerged a stronger and more united people. Gathered here
in this Chamber, we remember the men and women who went before us and the legacy
of freedom and prosperity that they have bequeathed to us. It is now our duty to
protect and enhance this legacy for those who will follow us.
Honourable Members of the Senate and Commons, yours is a
most important task. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.
The Commons withdrew.
Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to retire.
The sitting resumed.
PRO FORMA BILL
The Honourable Senator Comeau, presented to the Senate a
Bill S-1, An Act relating to railways.
The bill was read the first time.
The Honourable the Speaker informed the Senate that a copy
of the speech of Her Excellency the Governor General had been left in his hands.
The speech was read by the Honourable the Speaker.
The Honourable Senator Comeau moved, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Champagne, P.C.:
That the speech of Her Excellency the Governor General
delivered this day from the Throne to the two Houses of Parliament be taken into
consideration at the next sitting.
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.
The Honourable Senator Comeau moved, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Champagne, P.C.:
That, pursuant to rule 85(1), the Honourable Senators
Brown, Carstairs, P.C., Cochrane, Di Nino, Fairbairn, P.C., Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., Munson, Robichaud, P.C. and Tkachuk be appointed a Committee of Selection
to nominate (a) a Senator to preside as Speaker pro tempore and (b) the
Senators to serve on the several select committees, except the Committee on
Conflict of Interest for Senators, during the present Session; and
That the Committee of Selection report with all convenient
speed the names of the Senators so nominated.
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.
The Honourable Senator Comeau moved, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Di Nino:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.
(Accordingly, at 3:07 p.m. the Senate was continued
until 2 p.m. tomorrow.)