The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Floyd Roland, Premier
of the Northwest Territories; the Honourable Louis Tapardjuk, Minister of
Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, Government of Nunavut; Paul Okalik, former
Premier of Nunavut, and currently a member of the Legislative Assembly of
Nunavut; Paul Quassa, former President of Nunavut Tunngavik and signatory of the
Nunavut Land Claim Agreement in 1993. They are the guests of the Honourable
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have received a notice
from the Leader of the Opposition who requests, pursuant to rule 22(10), that
the time provided for the consideration of Senators' Statements be extended
today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Willie Adams,
who will be retiring from the Senate on June 22, 2009.
I remind senators that, pursuant to our rules, each senator will be allowed
only three minutes, which, I also remind you, is the time allowed for Senators'
Statements, and that they may speak only once.
However, it is agreed that we continue our tributes to Senator Adams under
Senators' Statements. We will, therefore, have the balance of the 30 minutes for
tributes not including the time for Senator Adams' response. Any time remaining
after tributes will be used for statements.
Is that agreed, senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: As we have agreed to use Inuktitut during
tributes today, senators can follow the proceedings in English on channel 2, in
French on channel 3, and in the floor language on the other channels.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
no one who has ever met Willie Adams or heard him speak has failed to be
impressed by the depth of his passion for his people.
In his first speech to the Senate, on August 5, 1977, he spoke eloquently
about his responsibility to represent the people of the North, their rights,
their way of life, and the challenges and opportunities arising out of
exploration and development.
The passage of time has only sharpened that focus. Only last week he was
urging us to approve a motion for concurrence in the passage of the Official
Languages Act by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut, which would enhance and
protect the special status of the Inuit language.
Who will forget his speaking Inuktitut during last week's Committee of the
Whole proceedings when Mary Simon was our guest? Senator Adams spearheaded our
efforts to enable our Aboriginal colleagues to speak to us in their own
Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Senator Adams to the Senate on April 5,
1977. Senator Adams had served on the Rankin Inlet Community Council and as a
member of the Northwest Territories Council from 1970 to 1974. Those of us who
had an opportunity to travel with him in the North know full well the enormous
respect with which he is held in that part of Canada.
Senator Adams has never forgotten from whence he came and has taken every
opportunity to help us understand the special place that is our North and the
special people who have lived there for thousands of years.
Honourable senators, the interaction of northern and southern cultures has
not always been happy. Senator Adams has done much to raise our awareness of the
difficulties and challenges which have been the result. Time after time, he has
described the impact of climate change and environmental degradation upon the
way of life in the North.
Senator Adams is a passionate Canadian, but he is not afraid to draw public
attention to numerous examples where his Canada has failed his people. Whether
it is in the areas of education, health care or ensuring the availability of
food, fuel and other necessities at a reasonable cost, he is a constant fighter
for a fair deal for those who live and work in the North.
As a member of our Standing Senate Committees on Fisheries and Oceans, and
the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, he has been able
to advocate effectively for the issues about which he cares so deeply.
Honourable senators, as we pay tribute today to our friend Senator Adams on
the eve of his retirement from the Senate, let us recognize the good work he has
done and pledge that we will honour his service by continuing the fight in those
public policy areas that have been close to his heart — land claims, living
costs, fishing rights and the environment.
Willie Adams is a wise man and we have learned — and have so much more to
learn — from him.
Willie, we will miss your wise counsel on a regular basis and we know that
our friendship continues and that we will have many opportunities to see you and
Mary in the months and years ahead.
Just yesterday, Senator Adams presented to the Senate a magnificent sculpture
that will grace the Aboriginal Peoples room and will be a tangible reminder of
his presence here.
Senator Adams, we thank you for your work in the Senate and wish you and Mary
a long, healthy and happy retirement.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to our departing
colleague, Senator Willie Adams, who retires after a long history of
representing the citizens of the Northwest Territories and, since 1999, the
citizens of Nunavut. His very distinguished 32-year career in the Senate is not
surpassed by anyone sitting in the chamber today.
Over 40 years ago, while continuing to work as an electrician, Senator Adams
began his illustrious career in public service, serving on the Rankin Community
Council, as chairman of the Hamlet Council in Rankin Inlet and as a member of
the Northwest Territorial Council.
As Senator Cowan mentioned, it was in April 1977 that former Prime Minister
Pierre Elliot Trudeau decided that Inuit should have representation in the
Senate of Canada. Warren Allmand, then Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs,
was tasked with recruiting potential candidates. It was during this recruitment
period that he approached Willie to ask if he would be interested in becoming
the first Inuk to sit in the Canadian Senate. Willie's admirable work ethic was
clearly demonstrated when he proposed postponing a meeting with Prime Minister
Trudeau so that he could finish the electrical wiring of two houses, a
commitment in which he took great pride.
I knew there was something about you, Senator Adams. You are a working man,
with a trade background, and that is a good thing to have here in the Senate.
At the time of his appointment to the Senate, Willie had little knowledge of
this institution. We could probably all say that, Willie. Even people like me,
who had spent many years around Parliament Hill, could say that.
Senator Adams, you had little knowledge of the institution in which you would
spend the next 32 years of your life, serving and representing the interests of
your fellow citizens in the North. Throughout your work as a member of various
Senate committees, you have thoughtfully worked on a multitude of issues
concerning the North and your fellow Inuit peoples.
As demonstrated by your many contributions to public life, you have come to
be known as a well-respected senator amongst us. Senator Adams, it is
regrettable that the Nunavut official languages motion did not pass through the
Senate last week with leading officials from the North in the gallery to witness
it. It is to be hoped that your colleagues here will see fit to resolve this
issue before your official retirement date of June 22.
Senator Adams, as you leave us today, but officially as of June 22, to embark
on a new journey in your life, to dedicate more time to your hobbies and to
spend more time with your wife Mary and your children and grandchildren, I thank
you, on behalf of my colleagues, for your dedication to public service and your
contribution to the Senate of Canada. I personally and all honourable senators
wish you the best.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I rise not to say farewell but
to say au revoir to my colleague from the North, and my neighbour to the north,
Udlukut, Willie — good day.
Silatsiak, Willie — have nice day.
Quvianaqtuq, Willie — it has been fun.
The details of his life are known. He was born in Kuujjuaq, went to the
Anglican mission station there, and we have heard that he became an electrician
and so on. However, the real value of being born an Inuk and having gone to that
school is that Willie knows a bit about both cultures and has provided for us a
unique bridge to understand his people and where he came from.
That has been a unique contribution for honourable senators, and I doubt that
any other legislature in the country has had that opportunity. We have had Inuk,
it is true, in the House of Commons, but Willie and Charlie were both able to
speak their languages here in this chamber, and Willie has been able to bring to
us that unique bridge.
He was an electrician. He trained at the base during the war, and I have to
remind people that the Second World War was a turning point in the North because
it provided opportunities for young people like Willie to train in trades,
training that would stand them in good stead in their future. That training
happened all across the North. It happened in Kuujjuaq, Goose Bay, Greenland and
Iceland because of the ferry routes across the North. Those bases gave Willie
the opportunity, but he also had the desire, opportunity and ambition to create
the communities and businesses that he created.
Honourable senators, Willie took that business experience, and today in
Canada we are celebrating the rise and the expansion of Aboriginal businesses in
this country. Willie started that rise and expansion decades ago.
Willie understands turbot, turbot quotas and how they are accessed, both off
Labrador and off Newfoundland, but he provided a bridge and a unique idea to
harvest those stocks. They had stocks off Nunavut, and they had, of course,
people who wanted to harvest those stocks. They had boats, and there were unused
fish plants on the Labrador coast. One idea was to have a joint enterprise in
which both Labrador and Nunavut could benefit. There were Nunavut boats and many
Nunavut people, no doubt, on those boats, but the fish was brought to Labrador,
Makkovik in particular, where it was harvested.
That creative idea came from Willie, just one of the great ideas that he has
had. I want to pay tribute to Willie today, and I want to say: Taima qanuq
— now what; tunngasugit — you are welcome; and nakurmiik —
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I rise today in tribute to
our colleague Senator Willie Adams. Since 1977, when he was first appointed to
this chamber by Prime Minister Trudeau, Willie has been tireless in his efforts
to raise awareness of the issues facing his people and his territory. He has
been a constant presence in this chamber, around committee tables and, most
importantly, in his beloved territory of Nunavut.
With his characteristic passion and perseverance, Willie always looks out for
the little guy. He asks the questions that the people he represents want
answered, and he takes every opportunity to bring attention to the issues that
matter to him and to them. He is undeniably vocal when it comes to northern
issues and his people, and he will leave no stone unturned in getting their
When we travelled together last June with the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans, I gained insight into where that drive of Willie's comes
from. I was impressed by the fact that everywhere we went, it seemed everyone
knew him. It did not matter if it was in Iqaluit, Resolute Bay, Pond Inlet or
Pangnirtung, people knew him and approached him. It seems to me that he just has
that warm, open way of "being" that draws people to him. He listens
attentively to what is being said, regardless of the speaker or the setting.
Honourable senators, anyone who knows Willie can attest to the fact that he
is always cool, calm and collected. I was reminded, for example, of a trip to
California some years ago with the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources. We were travelling by bus to San Francisco. I
believe it was in San Francisco that the bus suddenly broke down on the side of
the road. Can you imagine? There we were — a group of weary travellers —
suddenly stranded on a busy highway. However, Willie was not shaken. Instead, I
remember that he got out and took a look around just to see what he could do.
In all these years of working together, even during some emotionally charged
committee meetings, I have never seen Willie lose his composure. Instead, in all
situations, whether good, bad or indifferent, he chooses to keep a smile on his
face and to take the high road.
Willie, to say that you have made a great contribution to the people you
represent is an understatement. We have been fortunate to have you with us in
this chamber. Through your work, you have inspired us and reminded us of the
great honour we have been given to serve our communities and our fellow
Canadians. I have appreciated your friendship, Willie, and the kindness that you
have shown to me over the years. I wish you, your wife and your children many
happy years together in your retirement.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, Senator Willie Adams has
served the people of the North in an honourable, down-to-earth, sincere and
effective manner. Willie was born on the land in the area of Leaf River, 60
kilometres west of Kuujjuaq in 1934. His mother had two girls and him, and his
father was the Hudson's Bay manager. Without going through all the details,
later in his life he discovered that his father is still living in Newfoundland
and is 94 years old.
In 1970, we were both members of the N.W.T. Territorial Legislative Council,
a partly elected and partly appointed body that eventually evolved into today's
legislative assembly. I was elected for Mackenzie Liard and he was elected from
Keewatin South, and we were seatmates for four years. In 1975, we both left the
council. He went back to Rankin Inlet to continue his business career and two
years later, in 1977, was appointed to this chamber by Prime Minister Trudeau.
I want to say a word about the fact that someone like Willie Adams, coming
from humble beginnings in the North, has been able to make a contribution to the
government in the North as well as in the Senate. Honourable senators must
remember that we in the North had never had government as we now know it. We had
never had a democratic government; we were governed from afar in Ottawa.
It was in that era that Willie became involved in politics. He comes from a
background that was different from the environment of today. During his life in
politics, the region of the Northwest Territories was divided, and governments
in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have evolved into more responsible
For the last 32 years, Willie has been a stalwart defender of the interests
of the North, first as a senator for the Northwest Territories and then for
Nunavut. He has brought an Inuit style of decision-making to this chamber and to
the many committees that he has served on over the years. He does not make fancy
speeches; he tells simple stories about how the lives of ordinary Inuit are
impacted by government policies and laws.
Recently, in our Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and
Natural Resources, where Senator Angus is the chair, he brought in a clock to
try to limit senators to their set time. We reminded Senator Angus that he would
have to recognize the cultural difference and recognize that someone like Willie
needs more time, because the way of the Inuit and other Aboriginal people is to
tell a story and to take their time to make a point. Fortunately, Senator Angus
was patient and allowed that approach.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Sibbeston's time is
up. I call on Senator St. Germain.
Senator Sibbeston: Can I ask permission to have my time extended by
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Sibbeston: We have people from the North here observing us.
Honourable senators, Senator Adams performs his work with humility and humour
and adds a great deal of civility to our deliberations. Willie's first language
is Inuktitut, and it is a great legacy to him that on the days before his
retirement the Senate has begun a pilot project to permit Inuktitut to be spoken
and translated here.
Willie, I wish you the best in your retirement. I am glad to see your family
and other people from the North here.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, Willie, my friend, I
guess this is it, or as close as it will come.
The way Willie tells it, when he was asked 32 years ago if he would like to
become the first Inuk to hold a seat in the Senate of Canada, he asked, "What
is a Senate?" Well, Senator Adams, 32 years later, you sure found out the
answer to that question.
More importantly, the Senate of Canada has learned the answer to the
question, "Who is Willie Adams?" We not only know the answer, but — and I
think I can speak for all honourable senators — we have come to know and respect
Willie Adams and we have a great deal of affection for him.
Senator Adams also tells a story that after he indicated an interest in the
appointment, he was asked to fly to Rankin Inlet to meet with then Prime
Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He replied that he could not go. He was too
busy: "I am an electrician and I have two houses to wire."
Since then, Senator Adams, in your distinguished career in Ottawa, you have
served Inuit Nunaat very well. In doing so, you have also served Canada. You
have demonstrated that you are a man of honour and commitment; a man dedicated
to his people.
You are likely one of the greatest environmentalists of this country because
you always spoke of protecting the fish, the whales, the bears and the caribou
of the North.
Sir, June 22 is your seventy-fifth birthday. We wish you a happy birthday. I
hear you plan to do a lot of goose hunting. With all respect, I might say that I
would guess you have picked up many ideas on strategy right here in this place,
in Ottawa, that should serve you well while goose hunting.
Remember, Willie, you can take Bill C-68 with you. I do not know what you
want to do with it, but I know you voted against the long-gun registry and it
would be a blessing to this country, and especially to our First Nations people,
if you took it with you.
We wish you much happiness in the years to come. We hope there will be
opportunities for us to see you again frequently. We hope that you can enjoy
your life with your family and your children. Thanks to you, sir, I honestly
believe this Senate is a better place. Good luck and God bless you.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, today we bid farewell to a
friend and a colleague who has served in this place since 1977. Not only is he
one of the longest-serving appointees in the upper chamber — 11,755 days to date
— but he is also one of the rare ones who represented two different senatorial
divisions over the years. First appointed on the advice of the Right Honourable
Pierre Elliott Trudeau for the Northwest Territories, Senator Adams became the
first senator to represent Nunavut when it became a territory in 1999.
Over the years, he has distinguished himself as a respected businessman, a
great parliamentarian, but also as an advocate for Inuit issues. In fact,
Senator Adams has worked tirelessly for decades to advance files and to find
innovative solutions for the benefit of the population living north of 60.
He managed to work with successive federal governments and found arguments to
convince them to act to improve the lives of people in Inuit communities. If
honourable senators ever had a chance to speak to Senator Adams about education,
land claims or infrastructure, it is impossible not to be impressed by his
ability to paint a realistic picture of the challenges in northern communities.
More than once I have been moved by the plea of a passionate man; the plea of a
man of convictions.
Senator Adams was born in Tusiujaq and schooled in Fort Chimo, a community
now known as Kuujjuaq, in northern Quebec. As a minister of the Quebec
government, I had the opportunity to visit this unique place.
Over the years, I enjoyed the company of Senator Adams, especially during
fact-finding missions for the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications. I would like to thank him for his active participation in every
meeting he attended. He has brought to the Senate a unique point of view and an
expertise that will be difficult to find elsewhere.
Senator Adams, I would also like to thank you for performing your duties so
professionally and for the great respect you have always shown for the Senate
and the people who work here.
To your credit, you have worked hard to promote collegiality in Senate
affairs. I truly believe that you will find a way to put your talent for
bringing people together to good use in your current and future undertakings.
I wish you many happy years together with your family and loved ones.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, I will speak in Inuktitut.
My colleague in the Senate is retiring after so many years in his position.
He has been diligently working here along with me over the years. I have worked
with Willie for many years at the Senate.
Sometimes we are alone because we work so hard to represent Inuit issues. As
representatives of a people, we do not always have one voice. That is how it is
in the world. That is the practice.
I have known Willie Adams for many years. I have known him since Kuujjuaq
used to be called Fort Chimo, where we are from. He left the community on a ship
called the C.D. Howe in 1953. I was a young boy then. However, Inuit were
not large in number in each community. We were a small population. Some
communities were very close together and they would hunt nearby before the
government started putting all Inuit communities together.
Willie Adams' family and my family were like one big family in the beginning.
We would be together in one building. I remember this vividly as a child growing
He was in Fort Churchill, Manitoba, in 1954. He came to pick up his family in
a DC3 plane with three engines. I remember that from when I was a young boy. It
was snowing heavily. The plane was carrying a large load and Inuit people had to
lend a hand in packing it.
I would like to say to Senator Adams that we do not want him to go. However,
after 32 years in the Senate, I guess it is time for him to go. I have been
sitting with Willie Adams since I became a senator.
Willie, it will not be easy to have you leave. I know that I will miss you. I
will be all by myself as an Inuk here. I will be wishing that you were here
because I will need your support. I hope you will not move to a different
community too far away. I hope you will be nearby.
Willie's family is present in the gallery — his children, grandchildren and
great-grandchildren. I am sure that many of them are here. Those people who are
not senators will be able to see Willie more often. I sometimes wonder how he is
feeling when his family, office and home are here, so far from his homeland in
Nunavut. I am grateful that you came here. We have come this far. While I am not
too happy that you are leaving this place, to give a more positive side to your
retirement, there is your family. You will be able to be with your
grandchildren, your great-grandchildren and your entire family.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, as incoming dean of the
Senate, I do want to salute the retiring dean who has borne the burden so well.
I have been a heartbeat away from the deanship for quite a while. Now that my
time has come, I am glad that Senator Adams is about to greet the first day of
the rest of his life in such excellent health. I would not have wanted that this
burden be thrust upon me in traumatic and premature circumstances.
As senator for the Northwest Territories and, since 1999, as Nunavut's first
senator, the Honourable Willie Adams has had to try to educate us about his
people and their territory. Unfortunately, we have not always been the most apt
pupils, preoccupied as we myopically or selfishly are with other issues
elsewhere. Nevertheless, Senator Adams has persisted and he has made us listen,
especially when governments have tried to pursue policies and programs without
much thought for their impact on northern peoples.
I confess that during the years when I was Leader of the Government in this
place, my heart always sank when I saw Senator Adams rising during Question
Period. I knew that I would not know the answer to his question. I also knew
that Willie knew I would not know the answer to his question. However, his
purpose was never to embarrass anyone, but, rather, to focus our attention on an
issue that we had neglected or was completely new to us.
Those southerners who have travelled to the North will have seen for
themselves, and heard from Willie's people and from their representatives in the
Nunavut government, what he has been telling us about these many years: The
incredible challenges of providing needed infrastructure — social as well as
physical, and effective political representation — for a population thinly
spread over vast distances; education; a resolution of the interminable conflict
with Ottawa over a fair sharing of resource revenues; and adequate
Above all, and subsuming all, we owe respect for the ancient culture and
modern aspirations that the story of the life of Willie Adams, his successful
business career and his political apprenticeship as an elected member of the old
NWT Council made him uniquely qualified to impart to us. If we are somewhat more
knowledgeable and respectful than in the past, honourable senators, it is at
least partly because of the respect honourable senators have for their colleague
Senator Adams. He leaves here with our admiration and thanks and that of the
people he has served so well.
A final thought: The one Senate seat for Nunavut ought not to be left vacant
for long. His people, more than most, need a voice in both Houses of Parliament.
Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure for me
to pay tribute to Senator Willie Adams as he retires from this chamber after a
long and distinguished career.
I have enjoyed working with him on the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries
and Oceans and have been very impressed with his wise and knowledgeable
contributions to the issues being studied. I only wish that I could have known
him for a longer time.
It also gives me great pleasure now to read this short message from a mentor
of mine, former Senator Len Marchand, of Kamloops, B.C.:
Many thanks for your many years of service to our country. You made an
immense contribution, in your own quiet way, to bettering of lives of Canada's
On a personal note, Donna and I enjoyed our many visits with you and Mary
at your farm. I especially enjoyed the time we went horseback riding — an
Indian cowboy and an Inuit horseman riding off into the sunset together.
May you and Mary and your family enjoy a long, healthy and happy
That is from your friend, Len Marchand.
I will say one more quick word. Len told me a lot about the Senate and, in
particular, he told me that I would enjoy meeting Willie and Charlie. It was
only then that I realized why he always knew the names of my children. He always
asked me how Willie and Charlie were doing, and I know it was because he was
thinking of you.
All the very best. Thank you so much.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, one of the Fathers
of Nunavut, John Amagoalik, gave private testimony:
Throughout this long and distinguished career as Senator, Willie Adams
served on the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples; Fisheries and
Oceans; Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; and Transport and
In 2006, Senator Adams called for a probe into complaints about foreign
involvement in Nunavut's fragile fishery in Davis Strait, especially for the
turbot and shrimp resources, a move that resulted in the establishment of the
Fishery Coalition to look into the matter.
He had one of his last opportunities to stand up for the rights of Nunavut
Inuit when the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met in
Nunavut in June 2008 and he spoke on the question of fishery allocations in
waters adjacent to Nunavut and related shore infrastructure needed to lift the
economy. The committee travelled to Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, including
Pangnirtung Fisheries Limited.
A 1998 editorial in Nunatsiaq News admitted:
No one could ever suggest that Senator Adams has not represented Nunavut
and the Northwest Territories to the best of his ability.
This newspaper also mentioned:
He not only voted against his own Liberal party's firearms bill in 1995,
for example, because it clashed with the subsistence hunting needs of the
Inuit, but resigned from the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
over this matter.
This was, honourable senators, the only issue on which we did not share the
In 2006, he called again for some protection and asked for an "audit of Inuit
benefit from the fishery."
Every time he was off from Senate, Senator Adams went back to Rankin Inlet.
In the beginning, honourable senators, the trip took two days each way. His wife
Mary said, "Even though we have been together for 32 years, I have only seen him
In my case, I must say that I have shared his passion for politics and his
community for 19 years, which is five years during the Trudeau era and since
1995 in the Senate.
Three years ago, I made a commitment to stand up for seal hunters, and
Senator Adams has always proven to be a faithful ally and advisor, which is
further proof of his dedication to serving the people of Nunavut. Once again
this year, Senator Adams has stood with me in proposing an innovative strategy
to European ambassadors that resulted in the Universal Declaration on the
Ethical Harvest of Seals.
Senator Adams was an advocate for hiring policies that include Aboriginal
people at all levels of government and for this he has my full support.
Senator Adams supported the motion for concurrence in the Legislative
Assembly of Nunavut's passage of the Official Languages Act.
It is with much feeling that I say goodbye and thank you to you and your
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay
tribute to our colleague, Senator Adams. He was appointed to the Senate by the
Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau on April 5, 1977, representing the Northwest
Territories until the creation of his current region of Nunavut in 1999. He has
been called the Dean of the Senate, as he is the longest-serving member of this
institution. He has served with distinction in the role of senator for 32 years.
During this time, Senator Adams has been a passionate advocate for Canada's
Inuit community, not such an easy constituency to represent. The geographic
complexities of this region alone make it an exceptional place for a
parliamentarian. It is beautiful, but vast.
Who could have predicted in the spring of 1977 that Senator Adams' life would
take such a dramatic turn? That year, Prime Minister Trudeau decided that Inuit
should be represented in the Senate by an Inuk, and that Willie Adams would be
An article from the Nunatsiaq News of March 1997 tells of the
circumstances of Willie Adams' appointment. The Minister of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development was dispatched on a mission to screen three or four
potential candidates. Senator Adams remembers that interview with the minister
with great clarity, and he describes it in the newspaper with the dry wit we
have all come to know so well and to appreciate in this chamber.
He said, "Why me?" He was surprised to learn he was even being considered.
He had served two terms as chairman of the hamlet council, but gave it up as
there was "not very much money in politics." In his words, "Electrical
contracting provided a better living," but still he was curious.
"What does the Senate do?" he asked.
"Not much," said the minister.
Some things do not change.
"What does it pay?" he asked.
The minister told him, and Senator Adams said, "I'll take it."
Senator Adams, for the entire duration of your career in this place you have
given so much. You have ensured that the Inuit are consulted on important issues
such as sovereignty, fisheries, mineral resources, land use and wildlife
resources. You have helped us understand issues such as the preservation of
language, culture and identity, as well as the struggles and ability of the
Inuit to survive and enjoy what their land has to offer.
I would be remiss if I did not mention your enthusiastic support of the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and your active role in the process involving the
creation of Nunavut in 1999. They are part of your legacy here.
Senator Adams, as a senator you have brought this land and its people closer
to us. You have been an educator, an advocate and a promoter of Inuit customs,
culture and concerns. Your voice will be missed by your region and by your
colleagues here on Parliament Hill.
In the article from the newspaper, Willie admits, "I still get a little
lonely for the North sometimes."
Senator Adams, may this loneliness for the North be replaced with more time
in Rankin Inlet and treasured memories with your family who have shared you with
us for far too long.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I am rather angry
today about Willie's departure. Everyone is praising him, and I am upset that he
is leaving, because he has left me with the responsibility for what he and I
started with our good friend Charlie Watt some nine years ago.
Nine years ago, Willie, Charlie and I were having dinner in the parliamentary
restaurant. I was upset with the water crisis in Walkerton. Willie and Charlie
said, "Why are you so upset? We have lived all our lives with bad water. It is
just coming to your attention for the first time."
It was that conversation that led me to my almost decade-long quest to have
clean drinking water for everyone across the country, including in the
I have always believed that drinking water is a question of equality and that
it is unfair that we should have clean drinking water in the Senate when there
is not clean drinking water in the far reaches of this country.
Those bills are still on the Order Paper, Willie, and you are leaving. I am
upset because your support has been invaluable.
I will relay an incident for honourable senators. There has been a great
debate in committee about bad drinking water. We have heard reports from one
government agency after another telling us how good the drinking water is, and
how they are improving the product.
Willie said to me one day, "I can help you with that." The following week
when he came down from the North he brought me his house water filter, which was
black. He said, "This is the drinking water that they think is clean, and that
is what my family has to deal with every day."
Willie, the mission continues. We will discuss water today, tomorrow and as
long as I am here.
There is no question that you have the best smile in the Senate. You have the
brightest eyes in the Senate. May your smile and bright eyes continue to shine
on all those who have had the privilege of your company.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
[Editor's Note: Senator Adams spoke Inuktitut.]
Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, thank you for your kind words.
Your comments were wonderful and clear. My family was mentioned earlier
throughout the speeches. I would like to introduce some other important people
in the gallery — the Commissioner of Nunavut, Ms. Ann Hanson; and Mr. Paul
Quassa, who was one of the signatories of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement in
Growing up in Nunavik 75 years ago, the Senate of Canada was not an
institution I knew anything about. Keeping my family — my mother and my two
sisters — together was my main concern, and I took various jobs in the community
to do this.
To find a better life for myself, I put my name forward with families from
Inukjuak and Pond Inlet in 1953 to travel to Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord as
part of the Inuit relocation. However, once in Churchill, where the boat was
forced to stay for six weeks, I discovered that I would not be allowed to travel
to the High Arctic as I was a single man and they only wanted families.
Therefore, I stayed in Churchill, became an electrician and eventually moved
my young family to Rankin Inlet. It was just a new community at that time and
because I was interested in the future of the community, I became a member of
the Hamlet Council. I guess that was my first step to the Senate.
I have a picture in my office, taken in Ottawa, in which Mr. Chretién, the
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, met with people who had traveled to
Ottawa to discuss a land claim agreement. As the group had no money, Mr.
Chretién proposed a motion in the House of Commons that money be set aside to
assist the group in their negotiations.
I remember very well in the beginning of our land claims negotiations,
especially Indian and Northern Affairs. Like I said earlier, it was in the 1970s
when things really started going. We did not have our ITK office in Ottawa. It
was in Edmonton. The office ended up relocating here, I think for about 30
years. I do not really remember. I do not remember how many people have worked
with ITK. One example is Paul Quassa, who is sitting in the gallery. His name
was already mentioned. At the time the Nunavut land claims agreement was signed
Mr. Thomas Siddon was the minister of Indian Affairs, and I would like to
express my appreciation to him, and to Ms. Cournoyea, who was the Government
Leader for the Northwest Territories.
I said earlier they have negotiated for nearly 30 years, and at the time, as
a group, we had no money. Mr. Jean Chrétien proposed a motion in the House of
Commons, as he was the Minister of Indian Affairs. He told me the amount of
money he was talking about, because during the land claims negotiations, First
Nations, Inuit and Metis did not have the money allocated. Mr. Chrétien said we
should talk about this, and if we were to borrow money to return it after the
land claims, and that is what we did. Jean Chrétien's idea was that at the time.
As I said earlier, $30 million was paid back to the Government of Canada from
$580 million transferred to the new territory of Nunavut. The $580 million was
given to Nunavut for the land claims negotiations. So they returned the $30
million of the $580 million that they borrowed for negotiations.
This amount of money totalled $30 million which was paid back to the
Government of Canada from the $580 million transferred to the new Territory of
Nunavut. It was the recognition necessary to start the long journey to
In the 1960s, three or four people from the Northwest Territories were
elected and the remaining seven or eight were appointed by the Prime Minister
and were from Indian and Northern Affairs in Ottawa. This was because people in
the North were not familiar with the federal legislative process.
From 1970 to 1974, I was a member of the Northwest Territories Legislative
Assembly where I first met my colleague Senator Sibbeston. Stuart Hodgson was
the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and we used to call him the King
or umingmak — which means muskox — of the territories.
My father was originally from Newfoundland and after living in Montreal went
to work for the Hudson's Bay Company. A comment earlier about him was mistaken.
My father and Charlie's mother knew each other. We used to ask them where my
father was. At the time, the Hudson's Bay Company workers would bring White
people to work in the communities at the store called Hudson's Bay Company.
Those were the only White people who came to our communities. I just wanted to
correct my colleague about my family history. The government in Ottawa will have
a correct history of my family. The attraction was in working for Hudson's Bay
Company in those days. For about five years, he lived in the Inuit community and
worked there. Sometimes these days children have to leave the communities for
educational purposes. My granddaughter, Stephanie, had gone to Cambridge,
Ontario, for a school trip. A relative of my father saw her. My father knew
about me but he never mentioned me. That is a little bit about my family.
I am sure Nick knows the history. It seems that the King or umingmak
name was a good description because it gave him the drive to work harder.
At the time in Yellowknife, the airlines did not operate as efficiently as
they do today. Many times, we had to travel by land or sometimes the White
people would arrive by Lear jet. We used to think the commissioner was like a
prime minister, or even more. Then there was a deputy commissioner, John Parker,
and they both did a wonderful job working with community councils on housing,
water, waste delivery and health care. These jobs are important jobs that they
Discussions were undertaken at this time to have elected members from the
four regions in the territory — the Mackenzie Delta, Baffin, High Arctic and
Keewatin regions. When I was a member, I was the only representative from the
Eastern Arctic speaking on behalf of seven communities. There are now seven
representatives in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly representing the Keewatin
I also wish to thank Wally Firth. He was elected as the first Aboriginal MP
for the Northwest Territories. Peter Ittinuar replaced him later. After Nunavut
was created, Jack Anawak was a representative in the House of Commons. I would
also like to extend my thanks to him and to Paul Quassa, Tommy Saluk, who was
also a Conservative member of Parliament for the Inuit; and Nancy
We are happy that Minister Aglukkaq is a Member of Parliament. I am sure she
is more than capable.
In the 1970s, I represented Rankin Inlet. Today, territorial representation
has improved a lot. Today we have two representatives in Rankin Inlet. I am
happy that this system has improved. We did not even have TV, radio or
technology at the time.
In 1977, the NWT Legislative Assembly was sitting in Rankin Inlet, and what
Senator St. Germain was saying was true. Warren Allmand was a federal minister
then, and he came to listen to the legislative assembly.
He said he was staying at the hotel and that he would like to see me after
the meeting. When I went, he said that Prime Minister Trudeau would like to
appoint an Inuk person to the Senate. First I asked, what is the Senate? What do
they do? How will I represent them, being all the way from Nunavut, or Northwest
Territories, knowing everything is operated in Ottawa?
Like I said earlier, my salary at the time was small at the Legislative
Assembly. For example, I was making $13,000 a year. Once I was elected, it went
down to $7,000, so it went the other way around. It was like I was demoted.
Of course, I was curious about the Senate and what the senators did while
sitting in the Senate. That is why I was asking questions. We did not even have
a name or title when we were first appointed to Parliament. These days they use
an Inuktitut term that means "senators' chamber." That is why we have the
official name of the Senate here. A lot of people ask me about it.
At the time, I was asking, "What is my annual salary and how long would I be
serving in the Senate?" "I am not asking you how old you are," I was told, "but you will quit when you reach 75." Once he said that:
"What kind of money will I make?" "You will make around $60,000 a year." That is the kind of
money I ended up making, which was quite a bit more than what I was used to
making when I served as a legislative member in Yellowknife.
On April 5, 1977, I was sworn in as member of the Senate along with Senator
Royce Frith, Senator Peter Bosa, and Senator Bud Olson. Claire Barnabe, who is
in the gallery today, was present when I was sworn in and she represented my
family as they could not make the long trip. Thank you, Claire.
Like I said earlier, moving from my home community of Rankin Inlet to Ottawa,
back and forth, was not easy. I left my young family behind for longer periods
of time. I missed quite a few milestones as they grew up but travel to Rankin
Inlet in those days took two days from Ottawa through Winnipeg to Rankin Inlet
and two days return to Ottawa.
I ended up moving here to Ottawa because it was too difficult for me to fly
back and forth in a short period of time.
I have been a senator since 1977. I met many wonderful people who have left
this place already. In 1977 when I arrived, senators shared offices with other
senators and I shared an office on the sixth floor with my dear friend, the late
Dan Riley. Then I moved to room 160-S, where my office is now. My first seatmate
in the chamber was Senator Hartland Molson.
Like I said, Senator Riley was my good friend. Some of you knew him and some
of you did not. He became my good friend and colleague and we had our offices on
the fourth floor. There were three of us in that office. Senator Molson served a
lifetime here. I think many of you knew him. He was here during the GST debate.
He told me that he wore ear plugs because it became too noisy here.
Senator Dan Riley had quite a sense of humour. When Canada celebrated its
centennial in 1967, a group of us were in Whale Cove celebrating the centennial.
We built an igloo outside the village.
We then went into town to take part in the festivities. Someone forgot to
blow out the candles and when we returned in the morning, there was nothing left
but a bit of cardboard and cans from the cases. Senator Riley and Senator Bosa
never let me forget that incident and always asked me if I was able to collect
insurance on the igloo fire.
Since then, whenever we went out to eat together, he asked that same
question: "Did you collect insurance on the igloo fire?" I always told him
that I never had a chance because I was too busy.
I have my family here. My grandchildren and my children are in the gallery.
As Inuit, when a child is born, it is Inuit custom to name them after someone
who has died. We named one of my grandchildren after an important person. My
great-granddaughter Riley, who is six years old, was named after Dan Riley. My
grandsons, Clarke and Elliott, who are in the gallery today, were named after
former Prime Minister Joe Clarke and former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot
Trudeau. I know Senator Murray will be pleased to hear this.
I have had many friends. Senator Paul Lucier was one of them. When I was
first appointed, he said, "Willie, when you become a senator, I hope you will
have a good working relationship with your new colleagues." I always remember
his words. A man named Guy Williams, from Vancouver, took me to the Senate
chamber. I have always remembered those people.
Honourable senators, I want to mention those important people who played a
big role in my work and in my life, for example, Senator Bill Petten, Senator
Lorne Bonnell, Senator Derek Lewis, Senator Ray Perrault, Senator Herb Sparrow,
and many more. I have many colleagues whom I consider to be my friends. They
were all gentlemen and women who cared deeply about this wonderful institution.
I have watched them all leave and now it is my time to depart this distinguished
In 1984 among Senators appointed were Senators Joyce Fairbairn, Dan Hays, Len
Marchand and my seat mate, Charlie Watt, who shares the same dreams I do for the
Inuit of Nunavut and the Inuit of Nunavik. Len has retired but we still keep in
touch. I know I have missed many names but you have all had an enormous impact
on my life here.
You can tell it is time for me to go as Harry Hays was a member when I was
sworn in and his son, Dan, who was appointed in 1984 retired in 2007.
Senator Jacques Hébert was always interested in the North. He wanted to
travel to one of the communities to find out for himself to what life was like
there. He asked me which community would be the best to visit. A few years
before he retired he took his grandson to Igloolik.
Senator Jacques Hébert once asked me, "How do people survive in the
Arctic?" He wanted to travel to one of the communities to find out for himself
to what life was like there. He asked me to tell him which community would be
the best to visit.
Senator Marchand, along with one of his grandchildren, was looking for a
Catholic minister he knew so that he could have a place to stay while he was
there. Since he thought the place was too expensive and too small, he asked me
where else he could possibly stay.
I told him, "What about living in an igloo? You wanted to find out for
yourself what it is like to be up North. Here is a good chance."
He asked me, "Can you build an igloo for me?"
"Yes," I told him that I could easily build an igloo for him.
He asked automatically, "Who would build the igloo?"
I said, "Go to the hamlet office in any community. I am sure they know who
could build an igloo where you can sleep."
The next question that popped out was, "What kind of a blanket is available,
or do you have any warm blankets?"
I responded, "Well, we do have caribou skins for your mattress and blankets
for both you and your grandchild." I am sure some honourable senators know
Senator Marchand. In the chamber, he was involved in dealing with finances. When
he came back to Ottawa he said, "How do you people survive in the Arctic?" He
took the thermometer so he could test the igloo and see how cold it was. He told
me, "It was minus 42 degrees."
I told him that in the morning the temperature was only minus 32 degrees. I
am sure his memoirs, probably in French only, speak of his long service here in
Before we conclude, I want to thank all my colleagues here, especially my
earlier colleagues from the past. I would like to express my appreciation to all
of you, my friends, Bill, and my colleagues, especially in dealing with issues
relating to the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Senator
Rompkey mentioned earlier about our last trip to Nunavut. I want to express my
appreciation to honourable senators, my colleagues, in believing in the issues I
have brought up.
Upon my arrival in the Senate, I became a member of the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications, the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, and the Standing Senate Committee
on Fisheries and Oceans.
The Energy Committee studied many issues, most of which had an impact on the
North. Climate change will always be of utmost importance to people living in
the Arctic, as we see the changes to our environment on a daily basis.
During my time with the Fisheries Committee, fishing in the North became a
major source of income for fishermen from all over due to the depletion of
stocks on the East Coast. It has been and will continue to be my hope that Inuit
will become the major stakeholders in the resource. There is high unemployment
in Nunavut and the jobs created would provide much needed income for the
After the Fisheries Committee's latest trip to Nunavut, it recommended the
development of a commercial fishery. It has been rewarding to see the Fisheries
Committee, under the direction of Senator Rompkey, take such a keen interest in
Nunavut since its creation in 1999.
I want to mention all who assisted me while I served on in this committee. I
neglected to mention earlier that I became the chairman of the Fisheries
Committee. I worked with former Senator Marshall. I cannot mention everyone's
name, but he stands out.
When we were dealing with infrastructure issues, there was always a problem
with dollars, and that shifted according to the kind of government in power,
especially when dealing with fisheries and oceans and new land claims
settlements, among many other issues. I know there will be infrastructure in
Nunavut. I travelled with Senator Comeau on a Canadian Coast Guard ship, the
Louis St-Laurent, a few years ago. Senator Comeau and I spent a few days on
that ship, which also had guest scientists from Russia, China, United States and
Japan who were studying the permanent ice and the changes that were occurring.
It was an amazing trip, and I know he enjoyed it as I did. I would also like to
express appreciation to Senator Comeau for being my friend and colleague. Our
trip was wonderful. We were very welcome and met with the captain. We celebrated
together, ate together and drank together.
In the last year and a half, three committees travelled to Nunavut to hear
witnesses on special studies. I guess the Arctic is the place to be these days.
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry studied rural poverty,
and the witnesses expressed concerns about the lack of affordable housing and
poverty in Nunavut, especially for women who may be raising children on their
own, or may be the sole wage earners of their families.
The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament went
to study the prospective use of Inuktitut and other Aboriginal languages in the
I also want to mention Senator Robichaud. I will tell you a funny story.
Senator Robichaud was at a gathering where we were celebrating. People kept
asking me to dance. I told them to ask Senator Robichaud. I want to thank him
for being willing to dance at that time and take my place. He was a very good
I have watched the territory of Nunavut evolve from a dream to a reality with
a strong and promising future. It is only natural that Nunavut has its own
government in which we can follow Inuit culture to manage our affairs to ensure
a future for our children and grandchildren. We must cherish and nurture them in
their own culture.
I have met many wonderful people during my travel throughout the North, many
who have the same concerns and dreams I have. We have much to be proud of,
especially our heritage, culture and language, all of which we must ensure is
passed on to our children and grandchildren.
One of my hopes is that Inuit children remain in school and receive an
education to enable them to qualify for jobs within the Nunavut government and
Our leaders and many different leaders — government leaders, Inuit leaders
and Nunavut leaders — sometimes we do not always come up with the solutions we
are looking for. However, Charlie Watt and I know what the problems are, and
sometimes it takes a long time to get what you are asking for. That is how the
There is one seat in the Senate for Nunavut; that is the system we follow.
Although I was appointed as a Liberal, in Nunavut or in the Inuit communities or
Inuit Nunaat; there are no parties. Sometimes it is difficult when the operating
government is not the government we want. That is a reality of life. We do not
have party politics in Nunavut.
I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak and to say
goodbye to you all. Although I will not be sitting here, I will be seeing you.
Although I cannot speak in this chamber, I will be speaking on behalf of Inuit
Nuunat — Inuit of Canada.
Thank you to all the staff that I have had the pleasure of working with
during my time in the Senate, from Chamber officers, Committee staff, security
and services. We are blessed to have such committed people who make our lives so
much easier. It has always been a pleasure to walk through the doors to spend
time with my second family.
I thank honourable senators, my family in the gallery and all my friends,
children, grandchildren, my wife, and my wife's family, who are sitting up
there. Please stand up.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Adams: Finally, I should not forget Anne Ryan. I know honourable senators have
secretaries but she has been my secretary for 29 years. She is wonderful. I
would very much like to thank you, Anne, and your family, for your hard work
over the years.
I want to thank my children for allowing me to spend the last 32 years in
this place. I know I missed many events as you were growing up but you were
always in my heart. I thank you for your understanding and patience over the
years. My children and my grandchildren are wonderful. Perhaps this week I will
be with them.
I do not know if honourable senators understand what I am trying to say in my
speech but I thank you very much.
Before I leave, I very much want to thank all of you. I would not have left
this place peacefully at my age of 75 if I did not have good colleagues, staff
I grew up not knowing my father, just my extended family in Kuujjuak. I
always thought my father came from Scotland as he worked for the Hudson Bay
Company and they called him Whitey. About ten years ago my granddaughter,
Stephanie, was on a student exchange in Cambridge, Ontario and she told people
her Grandpa was Senator Adams and a relative of my father heard this and
realized that Nelson Adams was my father. He had worked for the Hudson Bay
Company in the Lake River post and from there he went to Wakeham Bay, Kimmurit,
Lake Harbour and Coral Harbour and moved back to Newfoundland to become a member
of the Merchant Navy when the war broke out.
I want to thank Mary who has supported me and been at my side for so many
years. She has been my guiding light.
In closing, I thought I would never use my own language in the Senate
chamber. I am very happy that you approve of me speaking Inuktitut, and from now
on we will be speaking Inuktitut. This will be a great help for Inuit in all
Nunavut if we can use our own language. We are all Canadians, and although we
have different languages, we should have the right to speak that.
It has been my heartfelt honour to have represented the designation of
Northwest Territories from April 5, 1977 until March 31, 1999 and Nunavut until
June 2, 2009.
Hon. Hector Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, this past winter, the
federal government outlined many priorities in the Throne Speech, highlighting
the need to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, at the
same time, promote economic development. As part of Canada's economic action
plan, the government included the Green Infrastructure Fund, which will provide
$1 billion over five years to support projects that promote cleaner air and
water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
I want to inform all honourable senators about a win-win project that meets
all these objectives, which was announced last week in my region of the country,
Yukon. Yukoners are pleased to have the first project approved under this fund.
The Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon have committed a 50-50
cost-sharing agreement to expand the existing hydro power infrastructure in
northern Yukon, called the Mayo Hydro Facility, and to complete the construction
of the hydro transmission grid between Mayo and Whitehorse.
Presently, Yukon relies heavily on diesel to generate its electricity. With
completion of this $142 million energy project, it will eliminate the need to
purchase $20 million of diesel per year and 50,000 tons of greenhouse gases from
the atmosphere annually. Further, it will cut our annual diesel demand by over
40 per cent by 2012 and reduce greenhouse gases by 50 per cent from current
An added benefit to the project is the completion of the transmission grid,
which will allow Yukon Energy to consider new clean energy projects in the
future. The project will create up to 350 jobs during construction, and will
provide many opportunities for First Nations for employment and business
involvement, as well as long-term investment possibilities.
Also, I think it is important to note there are many economic opportunities
for southern companies to supply transmission line poles, as well as
manufacturing of the turbine that is required for the hydro expansion.
As I stated earlier, Yukon is the first jurisdiction to benefit from the
Green Infrastructure Fund. Credit must be given to the Yukon Energy Corporation
for the thorough work they provided to develop the project. I also want to
recognize the positive working relationship that the Government of Yukon and the
Government of Canada have developed over the years that helped to expedite this
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to section 72 of
the Access to Information Act and section 72 of the Privacy Act, I have the
honour to table, in both official languages, the 2008-09 Annual Reports on the
administration of those Acts with the Office of the Information Commissioner.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group to the National
Governors Association Winter Meeting: Innovation America, held in Washington,
D.C., from February 24 to 27, 2007.
Through inadvertence, this report was improperly signed and I was not able to
table it until today.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the One Hundred Eighteenth IPU
Assembly and Related Meetings, held in Cape Town, South Africa, from April 13 to
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the United Nations Parliamentary
Stakeholder Forum on Official Development Assistance, held in Italy, Rome, from
June 12 to 13, 2009.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, the shortage of medical
isotopes is becoming less and less "sexy" than the minister would have us
believe. First, there were reports out of rural communities that they have
exhausted their small supply of isotopes. We have now learned that urban centres
that keep larger inventories on hand have depleted their stockpiles. The Ottawa
Hospital, for example, has to turn away 70 per cent of its patients and move
them to the back of the line. It has to reduce diagnostic testing by 180
patients. It is estimated that 60 per cent of those people have cancer. That
figure represents the time between now and this weekend alone. These patients
are waiting to hear the results of a diagnosis that may, indeed, mean their
Further, on the tape recording of the minister that was released the other
day, she went on to say, ". . . it's just about money, we'll figure it out. It's
not a moral issue."
Honourable senators, this is a moral issue.
Let me give Senator LeBreton a couple of quotes to consider as she formulates
This is a quote from the CBC yesterday. It is from Jennifer Holdner, a cancer
I hope if I do need more treatment, the isotopes are going to be available.
Because it's just torture to wait. Cancer doesn't stop growing in your body
just because Chalk River shuts down.
This next quote is from Jean-Luc Urbain, the President of the Canadian
Association of Nuclear Medicine.
Because of the lack of foresight and the decisions of the government, we
have to practise 20th-century medicine in 2009. . . . Prolonged shut down of
the NRU reactor is a real catastrophe for two million patients in Canada. . .
. The chronic and acute shortage of medical isotopes is neither a funny nor
sexy story. It is a real drama we have to live with our patients on a daily
The final quote is, "If the level of medical isotopes supplied —
Senator Lang: What's the question?
Senator Mercer: I will get to the question.
Karen Gulenchyn, Medical Chief, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Hamilton
Health Sciences and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, said to the Standing
Committee on Natural Resources, June 9:
If the level of medical isotope supply falls to the point that we are able
to deliver less than 50 per cent of the usual examinations, then I believe
that deaths will occur due to the additional strain on the health care
To the Leader of the Government in the Senate, when will we see a concrete
plan? When will isotopes be delivered to hospitals in urban centres, and to
rural communities? When will the isotopes be available to those who today need
to be treated?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. As I have said
in this place many times before, all of us could get up and quote various
opinions and people. According to the Ontario Association of Nuclear Medicine on
last night's "Reality Check," there has been no disruption of critical medical
isotope testing. The CBC spent some time on the isotope issue and the impact the
closure of Chalk River has had on testing in Canada. That program maintains that
there has been no disruption.
Honourable senators, the minister considers this a serious issue. We all know
the problems at Chalk River and we know it produces 50 per cent of the world's
supply of isotopes. Obviously, an unexpected shut down in May is of great
Minister Raitt and Minister Aglukkaq — Minister Raitt in particular because
of her responsibilities for the AECL issue — have been working around the clock
trying to work with partners in the world to secure isotope supply. They have
met with great success because other people in the world recognize the
difficulty we are having. We have come to their aid many times when reactors
have been shut down in their countries and they are likewise stepping up to the
plate this time.
Honourable senators, this situation requires cooperative global responses. At
Canada's request, all isotope-producing countries will meet for a high-level
panel meeting in Toronto early next week. Minister Raitt will chair this panel.
The panel includes representatives from countries that have all agreed to
increase production of isotopes, including Australia, South Africa — which has
increased production by 30 per cent — and the Netherlands. This panel will bring
global experts together to discuss ways to coordinate isotope supply to come up
with solutions to this global problem.
I wish to also report to the honourable senator that, as a result of the
efforts of the minister, next week we expect that isotope delivery to our
hospitals across the country will be approximately 50 per cent of normal supply.
There is progress on this serious issue. The minister has been working
diligently on this issue. I believe that a number of columnists, who have taken
a close look at this matter, have pointed out that the minister has been seized
of this matter and has been working very hard. In fact, Minister Raitt has been
working on this file long before the unexpected shut down of the Chalk River
facility in May.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mercer: I do appreciate the minister's answer and I appreciate
the minister's serious tone. Indeed, this is a serious matter. The Leader of the
Government in the Senate will have to admit that delivering 50 per cent of our
normal supply is not good enough.
What about the woman diagnosed with breast cancer, or the person diagnosed
with bone or lung cancer? We all have personal cases, honourable senators. I
live with cancer every day.
In 1996, my wife discovered a lump in her abdomen and was diagnosed with
ovarian cancer within a month. We have been living with that ever since. Thank
God she had access to good quality medical care and services. Thankfully there
was no isotope shortage at that time so that she could receive the diagnosis and
treatment she required. We are lucky that she is healthy today and still
surviving with ovarian cancer.
Honourable senators, this is a serious issue. We appreciate that Minister
Raitt apologized today — it is about time — for her comments about this being a
"sexy" issue. However, the shortage of medical isotopes is a direct result of
the Chalk River facility being closed. This is a Harper Conservative crisis that
has happened on the honourable senator's watch when her government was in
Minister Raitt says she is working with the Minister of Health to solve the
problem. However, 50 per cent is not good enough. The leader has commented that
we are getting supplies from other countries around the world. That may be true,
but it is still not enough. For example, Kevin Charlton, the commercial manager
of isotope supply at the Petten FHR reactor in the Netherlands, said yesterday:
It would be pretty difficult to see how the medical community could manage
to cope if we have to go out for a long period before the (Canadian) reactor
This is not only our crisis, minister. We have exported this crisis around
the world because we are a major supplier. This government should be in crisis
mode. The Prime Minister should be on top of this file and have a minister in
charge who is competent to get the job done.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this is not an issue that is
exported around the world. The honourable senator knows and we all know the
state of the various isotope-producing reactors around the world and their age.
I explained yesterday that the Australians had a start date of the fall and
have now moved that up. They have asked for our assistance. They are coming here
and we have offered to send people to Australia. We are also working with the
United States on a medium-term supply and, more fundamentally, on the global
We have a competent minister. The Minister of Natural Resources is dealing
with this issue and has been seized of this issue since she was made minister.
She set up an expert panel to deal with Chalk River. The minister knew and the
government knew that other supply sources would have to be worked on, and she
has worked on this since she was appointed last October. The power outage and
leak discovered in May were unexpected.
With regard to patients in urgent need of medical isotopes, several experts
and doctors have explained to the public that those in immediate need of testing
are given priority. The people for whom it is not as serious a matter are not
given priority. Anyone whose life depends on this testing is not being denied
For Senator Mercer to say they are being denied does not make it fact. The
isotope supply is a serious concern not only for Canadians but also for people
around the world. When the honourable senator refers to the figure of 50 per
cent, that is 50 per cent of normal supply, which is quite encouraging.
Apparently, today is the point where shortages are starting to be felt. We will
replenish the supply to 50 per cent of normal by next week.
Honourable senators, despite all of the flak and noise in the background,
Minister Raitt deserves great credit. If we read anything about her background,
her own family experiences with cancer put her on a different educational path
to understand these issues. That is why she is the obvious person to be the
minister responsible for this file. She understands the medical and
All honourable senators should be encouraging her and her counterparts from
other countries to keep working as diligently as they are now to resolve this
matter. This high level of cooperation between Canada, the United States and
other isotope-producing countries places us in a much better position than had
nothing been done and everyone ran around wringing their hands over the
unexpected shutdown of Chalk River.
Honourable senators, AECL appeared before the parliamentary committee and
were hopeful that they would have this reactor up and running. However, the
government, isotope-producing countries and the medical profession know that a
situation like this cannot be allowed to continue. We are making every effort to
alleviate the problem and fix the situation.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate with respect to the H1N1 outbreak in
Northern Manitoba reserves and in Nunavut. Last evening, there were 21 cases in
ICU. Half of those were Aboriginal people. They were all on respirators. The
World Health Organization has expressed concern over the severity of these
cases. They base that concern on what happened with the Spanish flu pandemic
that killed as many as 90 per cent of the residents in some Aboriginal
Can the leader tell me if the Minister of Health has struck a special task
force to ensure that problems specific to the health needs of those living in
Aboriginal communities will be addressed?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, Minister Aglukkaq has pointed out that the
H1N1 flu virus does not discriminate with respect to the people it affects. As I
stated yesterday to Senator St. Germain, the situation in Northern Manitoba is a
serious situation. It was featured last night on CBC. A number of people have
been evacuated to Winnipeg. I think they are in the St. Boniface General
It is sort of an all-hands-on-deck situation. Minister Aglukkaq is working
with the province, INAC and Aboriginal organizations to ensure a coordinated
response. As I pointed out yesterday, Health Canada has provided additional
nurses to the community. Physicians are on-site and the Public Health Agency of
Canada has epidemiologists in the community who arrived last week. There are
also registered nurses in the community. They are in contact with the minister
twice daily to update her and health department officials on the status.
On June 5, the minister announced that the government will fund a national
influenza research network focused on pandemic vaccine evaluation. As I said
yesterday in answer to Senator St. Germain, the minister has also been working
closely with Minister Oswald in Manitoba to deal with this serious outbreak. One
of the situations that Senator St. Germain pointed out yesterday is the serious
housing issue. Having people living in close proximity exacerbates the problem.
I can assure the Honourable Senator Carstairs that Health Canada officials,
people working at the laboratory in Winnipeg and all public health organizations
are working diligently to deal with this outbreak and to treat the people who
have been stricken with this virus.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is clear that H1N1 does not
discriminate. However, we are beginning to see the impact of the H1N1 virus on
Aboriginal peoples. For reasons of which we are not entirely sure, the rate of
severity affects how they deal with the virus.
In communities like St. Theresa Point and Garden Hill, as the minister knows,
many homes do not have running water. One of the major prevention strategies is
to ensure that hand washing becomes a part of daily life. Have these and other
communities been provided with emergency provisions of alcohol sanitizers?
Senator LeBreton: There has been a public awareness effort to educate
and to bring people up to speed, not only in our Aboriginal communities but also
in all communities. In this specific case, I do believe they have stepped up
their activities as to what people might do to guard themselves against the
effects of this virus.
I saw an expert making reference to the fact that people who have respiratory
problems seem to be more susceptible to the H1N1 virus. The experts that we have
primarily in your own city and in your province of Manitoba are assessing and
will continue to assess the unique situation in which some people have
contracted H1N1 to try to find out if there is a specific link as to why some
people are more susceptible and why this virus seems to affect younger people as
opposed to older people. There was some speculation not long ago that people who
lived through the 1950s and early 1960s, when there was a similar type of flu
virus, were inadvertently immunized because of that flu strain. That might be
the reason why older people are not affected. Dr. Butler-Jones and the people
involved with the lab in Winnipeg are working here and also with the WHO to
determine why some people are more susceptible to H1N1 than others.
With regard to the outbreak in Northern Manitoba, Minister Aglukkaq has a
special interest in this issue. She understands the situation and the people
living in remote areas. She has been working very hard with her officials. Every
possible thing is being done to assist people living in these communities. The
government has made an incredible investment in on-reserve and off-reserve
housing, including, in Budget 2009, $2 billion to address social housing, of
which $400 million is for direct support for on-reserve housing; and $200
million for housing in the North.
Minister Strahl and, before him, Minister Prentice have made great inroads,
but it is still not where it should be in terms of improving the quality of
water for people living on-reserve.
Senator Carstairs: Public education programs about washing hands are
excellent programs and I promote them, but it is difficult to do that when you
do not have running water. That is why I suggested that we could obtain an
emergency supply or employ an alternative strategy such as alcohol sanitizers.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, my next question is about
evacuations. In almost all cases in northern reserves, people who are seriously
ill must be medevaced. In most cases, they are medevaced to Winnipeg. The ICU
beds are beginning to run short in the city of Winnipeg. Does the government
have an emergency strategy in place so that these patients can be medevaced to
communities other than Winnipeg in order to get the ICU services they will
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): The honourable senator is quite right. Winnipeg does accommodate
the vast majority of evacuees. I will take the question as a delayed answer. I
am quite sure that the department has other contingency plans.
With regard to hand sanitizers, while I do not have the actual facts, I
cannot imagine that Health Canada would be up there with doctors and nurses
without them. Common sense would tell you that they would have a supply of
alcohol and hand sanitizers and all the other supplies they need to deal with
this situation. That seems to make sense.
With regard to the evacuation, I will be happy to get a response to the
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I have a question for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate with regard to the isotope issue. The
minister mentioned that Canada supplies 50 per cent of the world's demand of
isotopes per year. How many is that and what is the demand of Canada each year?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): That is a good question, honourable senators. I imagine that it
is quite a number. I do not know the answer to that question, but I would be
happy to find out.
Senator Moore: On the economic side of the issue, I presume that the
Atomic Energy Canada produces and sells them. What do we charge per unit? I
would like to know what kind of revenues we get and what we may be losing with
the current loss of production.
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows, there is a
complicated distribution system in place with MDS Nordion. MDS has filed a legal
action over the MAPLE reactors. Even when the NRU reactor at Chalk River was
running, it still went through this complicated distribution system. When MDS
Nordion had them, they would sometimes distribute them down to the United States
before they were distributed in Canada.
I will refer the honourable senator's question, plus the economic side of it,
to the department. Regarding this rather complicated distribution system, it
would be in all of our interests to have the reply written down on paper. I am
sure it would be helpful to all senators to understand the processes. I thank
the honourable senator for the question.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader
of the Government in the Senate. Canada's municipalities are urging the
government to send them infrastructure money so that they can get projects up
and running. To date, they have only received a lot of promises. We now hear
that, over the weekend, Minister John Baird commented on a crucial job creation
application by the City of Toronto to build street cars, and his blunt and
profane dismissal. This project is exactly what the country needs. It would help
the struggling manufacturing industry in Ontario and the parts industry in
Quebec and Manitoba by creating jobs now. Also, this project is building the
kind of green infrastructure that your government says it wants. Public transit
reduces congestion. Street cars are environmentally friendly. Will the Toronto
application be funded?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. We have had
incredible support from the Province of Ontario and many municipalities in
Ontario. We have announced nearly $3.4 billion for nearly 1400 projects
province-wide, the largest combined infrastructure investment in Canadian
Having been a former municipal politician and later a federal cabinet
minister, Senator Eggleton knows that we did double the tax fund to $2 billion a
year and accelerated the first payment to municipalities. Much of the
infrastructure that has been taking place has been as a direct result of this
In defence of Minister Baird, I think he was expressing some frustration.
Many mayors and many municipalities in the province of Ontario have filed their
requests, put the requests for proposals in, tendered the contracts and are
ready to go or are already working. Minister Baird was expressing some
frustration with the Mayor of Toronto, when all of these other people can get
their projects in on time and cooperate with the provincial government and the
federal government. As the honourable senator knows, Minister Baird did
apologize for expressing his frustration, even though he thought he was
expressing it in private.
Honourable senators, as I said to Senator Eggleton and other senators, we
will provide to Parliament and to the Canadian public a complete and detailed
report of every project and all of the activity, not only in Ontario but also
across the country.
I cannot specifically comment on the status of the 23-streetcar project, but
I will take that part of the question as notice.
With regard to public transit, we have announced support for the expansion of
the Spadina subway, for GO Transit, to refurbish Union Station and to support
the Sheppard line. I believe that the good City of Toronto has taken advantage
of the various government programs in support of some much needed work.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Judges
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 57(1)(f), I move
that the bill be read the second time at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding
rule 57(1)(f), bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the
next sitting of the Senate.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, from today until the end of
next week, we will be saying farewell to departing pages and wishing them luck
for the years ahead.
Mélanie Chartrand is very happy to have had the opportunity to work as a
Senate page. This summer, she will travel in Europe, and in September, she will
be taking a Masters in Public and International Affairs at the University of
Ottawa. She thanks the Senate for this unforgettable experience.
Charlene Kwiatkowski has thoroughly enjoyed her two years as a Senate page,
serving the senators and getting her feet wet in politics. Charlene plans to
complete a master's degree next year and is increasingly enticed to return to
her roots in British Columbia, where the natural beauty and her mother's cooking
are weighty considerations. Charlene wishes to thank all honourable senators and
the staff who have made her time here an unforgettable experience.
After two years with the Senate, Jessica McLean is leaving us after having
completed her B.A. in International Policy at the University of Ottawa. Before
starting her post-secondary studies, she will head to Istanbul, Turkey, to teach
English and perfect her fourth language, Turkish.
Jessica sincerely thanks the wonderful team of pages, and of course, all the
senators and employees of the Senate, who have made the past two years an
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have consulted with all sides regarding the fact that we are getting
close to four o'clock. I believe I have agreement from all sides,
notwithstanding the existing order that we sit until four o'clock on Wednesday.
I believe we have agreed to sit beyond that time to deal with Government
Business and Private Bills, at which point we will ask that all items remain in
their place and adjourn. Along with this motion, I would ask that we allow
committees to sit while the Senate is sitting.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, have we made some
accommodation for the many people who are here for Senator Adams? There is a
Senator Comeau: I would have no objection at all to including that as
part of the house order and bring in Senator Adams farewell tributes. If the
honourable senator is talking about the reception, that might cause some
problems. I leave it to all honourable senators as to how we might deal with
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if I could be of some help,
with the assistance of colleagues who often replace the Speaker in the chair, I
would absent myself at the appropriate time to look after our guests in Senate
quarters. Is there unanimous consent to proceed as described?
Hon. Patrick Brazeau moved third reading of Bill C-28, An Act to amend
the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I have the honour to start our examination at
third reading of Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
The value of this proposed legislation is clearly evident to us all. For
proof, I need only look to the words that were spoken during debate on this bill
at second reading and during consideration of it by the Standing Senate
Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senator Watt for his words of
support during second reading debate. As one of the signatories of the James Bay
and Northern Quebec Agreement of 1975, he possesses profound knowledge of the
history, the current needs and the future ambitions of the Aboriginal peoples of
I would also like to acknowledge the witnesses who testified before the
Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. In particular, I want to pay
tribute to the representatives of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and Oujé-Bougoumou,
the people who will be deeply and directly affected by this bill. These
witnesses provided us with firsthand evidence of how Bill C-28 will enable the
residents of the nine Cree communities of Northern Quebec to take greater
control over their lives and their futures.
I also want to highlight the remarks made by the Minister of Indian Affairs
and Northern Development during his appearance before the committee. What
impressed me most about the minister's testimony were his remarks on the
consultation between the Government of Canada and the representatives of the
Cree of Eeyou Istchee. The minister clearly pointed out that not only did the
Cree play an integral role in the development of the bill, but the consultative
process also reflects the defining traits of all productive relationships
between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country: cooperation,
collaboration, negotiation and partnership. I can think of no better foundation
for a strong, enduring relationship than these characteristics. In fact, I can
assure honourable senators that this consultative process continues, even as we
speak. Representatives of the federal government and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee
meet regularly to address shared concerns.
The two parties hold these meeting through the Cree-Canada Standing Liaison
Committee. Established as a result of the signing of the New Relationship
Agreement, this committee is a permanent dispute resolution mechanism authorized
by the two sides to resolve any differences they may arise in the future.
Honourable senators, I just mentioned the New Relationship Agreement. For
those who do not know, it is a landmark accord signed last year by the
Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. Raising that historic
agreement provides me with a perfect opportunity to delve into the details of
Bill C-28 itself and show just how direct and definite an influence it will have
on the lives and futures of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.
Like the Cree-Canada Standing Liaison Committee, Bill C-28 has been created
as a direct result of the New Relationship Agreement. To be more precise, Bill
C-28 amends the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act to give the force of Canadian law
to two fundamental elements of the agreement. First, Bill C-28 provides the Cree
Regional Authority with bylaw-making powers similar to those now enjoyed by
local Cree governments in the region. The Cree Regional Authority is the
administrative body of all nine of those communities.
Armed with the legal authority to develop and enforce bylaws, the Cree
Regional Authority will oversee several essential local functions that are
managed by municipal governments throughout our country, including police,
sanitation and firefighting services. These new bylaw-making powers will also
enable the Cree Regional Authority to administer key contributors to regional
economic growth and development, such as job training and employee recruitment
At the same time, Bill C-28 empowers the Cree Regional Authority to set
standards for water quality, financial accounting, land use and environmental
protection throughout the region. The Cree Regional Authority has stated that it
intends to appoint a Cree regional environmental administrator. This official
will oversee all environmental assessments conducted on the traditional lands of
the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and will take steps to ensure that any development of
natural resources is environmentally sustainable.
Honourable senators, the second aspect of Bill C-28 is equally important and
consequential to the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. Bill C-28 amends the Cree-Naskapi
(of Quebec) Act to bring a ninth Cree band, the Oujé-Bougoumou, under the act.
In so doing, the bill ensures that this community will have the same status,
rights and responsibilities as the other eight Cree communities in the region.
Like the eight communities already covered by the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec)
Act, the Oujé-Bougoumou have made the lands and waters of this region their home
for thousands of years. However, this community did not enjoy the same legal
status as the other Cree communities in the region because they had been
relocated temporarily to other First Nations communities near the town of
Chibougamau and, therefore, had not been distinctly recognized in the James Bay
and Northern Quebec Agreement that was concluded in 1975.
Nevertheless, the Cree of Oujé-Bougoumou had remained their own distinct Cree
community, entitled to the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by the other
Cree communities in the region. Bill C-28 now fulfills a commitment to rectify
the situation by formally recognizing the Cree of Oujé-Bougoumou as the ninth
Cree band under the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
Honourable senators, those are the main features of Bill C-28 that will have
a direct and definite influence on the lives of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. While
this bill empowers the Cree of Eeyou Istchee to take greater control over their
lives right now, I believe its real value lies in how it blazes a clear path to
an exciting future for these people. Let me explain.
Bill C-28 is the first step in a two-part process through which the
Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee will negotiate the full
self-government of the Cree people of northern Quebec.
The path to self-government is clearly laid out in the New Relationship
Agreement. Once Bill C-28 is adopted, all sides will work together to identify
the subject areas that the Cree of Eeyou Istchee will control, the degree of
authority that these people will have over these areas and the exact
geographical jurisdiction in which this authority will be exercised.
When these negotiations have been successfully concluded and a
self-government agreement ratified, the Cree Nation government will be in a
position to fully represent all Cree communities in the region. Instead of nine
voices speaking for nine communities, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee will have one
voice speaking for all. The Cree Nation government will place the Cree of Eeyou
Istchee in a much stronger position to achieve their shared goals.
Honourable senators, none of those benefits can be achieved if we do not pass
With those stakes clearly in mind, honourable senators, let us give our
sanction to Bill C-28, which will have a direct, definite and immensely
beneficial influence on the lives and futures of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)
Hon. John D. Wallace moved third reading of Bill S-4, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code (identity theft and related misconduct), as amended.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased today to speak to Bill S-4, which
amends the Criminal Code to address the growing problem of identity theft. Bill
S-4 has received a comprehensive and detailed study by the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which reported the bill back with
This legislation is urgently needed. By all accounts, identity theft is
growing in both the number of incidents and the amount of losses to consumers,
retailers, service providers, financial institutions and governments.
At the personal level, identity theft hurts Canadian in more than just their
pocketbooks. In increasing numbers, Canadians fear that they will become victims
of identity theft. Often, sensitive personal information is misappropriated by
criminals, and the individuals whose information is being used may be completely
oblivious that their information has been compromised for quite some time.
During that time, they are vulnerable without even knowing it.
When that information is eventually used in the course of a fraud, a
travel-related offence or another offence, the ramifications can be severe.
Victims of identity theft report psychological impacts, such as feeling
violated and feeling that they have lost control over their lives. They could
lose some or all of their life savings; they could lose their home; they could
be left unable to get credit; and they could be subject to suspicion that they
are involved in criminal conduct. Even if they are lucky enough to remedy all of
that damage, they may be left wondering for years if their identities will be
We also know that new technologies have dramatically improved our lives in
many ways, but enterprising criminals have been quicker to take advantage of the
new technologies than governments may have been to ensure that those same
technologies do not leave Canadians vulnerable. We also know that identity theft
is linked to organized crime and to terrorism. People's identities and
information are used to generate large-scale profits to fund other crimes and
are also used by organized criminals to conceal their true identities.
Virtually all of the witnesses the committee heard from, including the
Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Canadian Bar Association, Visa and
MasterCard, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Interact Association and the
Canadian Bankers' Association recognized that this issue has reached a critical
stage and that Bill S-4 is urgently required.
The most important components of Bill S-4 are the creation of three new
offences that are directly targeted to the early phases of identity theft
operations. These new offences would complement offences already in the Criminal
Code, which prohibit the most harmful consequences of identity abuse. Offences
such as fraud, impersonation and forgery, for instance, already apply if
Canadians have their identities misused by others for gain.
The new offences are directed toward the earlier phases of these crimes. They
will allow the police to take action and lay charges even before a fraud is
committed, a person is impersonated or someone unlawfully crosses the border.
Here is how Bill S-4 will do that: One new offence will prohibit the
obtaining or possessing of another person's identity information where the
information is intended to be used deceptively in connection with an offence.
This offence will allow police to go after people at the point of collection,
who gather this information either for their own criminal use or as a supply
source to other criminals. That information allows identity crime to be
Another offence targets middlemen, those who traffic the information from one
person to another but who may not otherwise be involved in the fraud or other
crimes in which the information is destined to be used. This is often a
specialty activity in the chain of organized crime identity fraud.
Finally, Bill S-4 creates an offence that targets the unlawful possession or
the trafficking of crucial government-issued identity cards that pertain to
other people. The RCMP told the committee that they believe these new offences
will help them stop more serious crimes before they happen. That is everyone's
Other amendments contained in Bill S-4 clarify or complement existing
offences in the Criminal Code. For instance, the bill introduces complementary
forgery and Canada Post offences and brings greater clarity to the credit card
offences in the offence of impersonation, which would be renamed "identity
Bill S-4 also extends the restitution provisions in the Criminal Code to help
victims recover some of the costs they must bear if they are unfortunate victims
of this crime.
As I mentioned, the committee heard from many important witnesses. Following
a comprehensive study, the committee made some changes to the bill. Two changes
in particular were made to ensure that the Criminal Code can capture new
technology and new developments as they occur.
The first amendment was based on testimony by Visa and MasterCard, who
brought to the attention of the committee the fact that new technologies for
authenticating the identity of users when their credit cards are used are always
under development. In response to the recommendations made by these witnesses,
the committee amended clause 4 of the bill by adding the notion of "personal
authentication information" to the offence of unlawful possession of credit
card data. This amendment means that as identity authentication technology
evolves, the Criminal Code will stay current.
The committee made other adjustments to clause 1 of the bill, which
introduces a new offence of unlawful possession or transfer of specified
government-issued identification documents. The amendments add to the list of
documents covered a death certificate and a government employee identification
card. In addition, the committee added the phrase "or other similar document"
so that Parliament will not have to amend the Criminal Code if the federal or
provincial government introduces a new type of identity card.
All of these amendments to Bill S-4 improve its ability to deal with identity
crime by ensuring the law will be able to stay current and relevant, and will be
able to deal with developments in technology and security which cannot yet be
The committee also introduced a five-year review of the legislation. Although
there are already offences for fraud impersonation, Bill S-4 does introduce new
offences to target the early stages of identity crime.
I hope honourable senators will agree it is appropriate for us to review the
implementation and application of these laws to determine how effective they are
at helping to reduce and prevent identity fraud of various sorts. That
evaluation will give us an opportunity to recommend any corrective amendments or
other improvements that may be necessary to better protect Canadians.
Honourable senators, Bill S-4 will not end identity crime, but it is a major
leap forward in equipping our police with the tools they need, the very tools
they asked for, to begin to more effectively combat the scourge of identity
crime. I urge all honourable senators to pass this legislation, with the
improvements made by the committee, and send it to the other place for their
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I rise to speak today on third
reading on Bill S-4 because there is an important issue related to the rule of
law in the bill, which we considered at the committee stage during our study of
Bill S-4 and that I would like to bring to your attention today.
First, I would like to commend Senator Wallace for sponsoring the bill. I
know it was his baptême de feu, his christening, if I can use a religious
expression, and he did it very well. We were pleased to have him as a new
recruit at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
My concern, honourable senators, relates to sections 7 and 9 of the proposed
bill. Senator Wallace has not alluded to those two sections of the bill, but
they are very important for the principle at stake.
Sections 7 and 9 of the bill allow a person to commit forgery in good faith
at the request of a police force or the Canadian Forces. An employee of any
government agency could be requested by a police officer to make a forgery. It
could be a birth certificate, a driver's licence or one of the documents that
the bill already enumerates. It gives a kind of blessing to everyone. An
employee who is requested by the police to duplicate or to make a fake document
— a fake passport, for instance — would be absolved of any wrongdoing. To
paraphrase clause 9; No public officer is guilty if the acts alleged to
constitute the offence were committed by the public officer for the sole purpose
of establishing or maintaining a covert identity.
A police officer who uses a fake passport, birth certificate, marriage
certificate or any kind of public document in the context of a covert operation
would not be found guilty under the Criminal Code, because we are creating a new
Those two clauses were of great concern to the Canadian Bar Association when
they testified at the committee. In their brief tabled at the committee, they
Our fourth recommendation to you deals with the exception for police and
other official acts. Clauses 7 and 9 propose another exemption for certain
activities of public officers as defined by section 25.1 of the Criminal Code.
Given the existing legislative scheme, it is unclear why another exemption
might be necessary.
The CBA Criminal Justice Section has strongly opposed an exemption for
criminal liability for police and their agents, arguing that the law should
apply to everyone, but acknowledges the existing sections contain detailed
procedural safeguards and reporting requirements. The section sees no reason
why the acts specified by Bill S-4 would be inadequately addressed by the
existing scheme and are opposed to creating further exemptions of this sort.
The Criminal Justice Section recommends that police activities in clauses 7
and 9 of the Bill S-4 be removed.
In other words, the Canadian Bar Association has requested for us literally
to delete those two clauses of the bill.
Honourable senators, I am not standing here this afternoon to ask you to
delete those two clauses. Covert operations are a part of police reality.
I went back to the Bible of police activities, the McDonald commission
report. You will see that I am consistent in using my religious vocabulary
today. I am inspired by Senator St. Germain.
The McDonald commission, in its 1981 report, had a lengthy chapter on
undercover operations — chapter 9. Paragraph 28 states:
The kind of support documentation used varies with the operation involved.
Several common types of false documentation have been brought to our
attention. They include:
Honourable senators will remember that the McDonald commission investigated
wrongdoings of the RCMP following the FLQ crisis in Quebec — Senator Rivard will
certainly remember that. The commission came forward with many recommendations,
but they recognized that covert operations were an essential element of any
The McDonald commission report clearly stated the principles of our criminal
justice system. I am turning to Senator Grafstein at this point. The first of
those principles is the Bill of Rights. The 1689 English Bill of Rights is the
foundation of our criminal justice system. Section one states:
That the pretended power of suspending of laws, by Regal authority, without
consent of Parliament, is illegal.
That the pretended power of dispensing with laws, or the execution of laws,
by Regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal.
The foundational principle of our criminal justice system is that the rule of
law applies to everyone. That principle is well enshrined in the doctrine or
textbook of criminal law documentation: "It is an established principle of
constitutional law that official position and superior orders, whether of the
Crown or of a private master, are not in themselves a justification for
committing an act that would otherwise be a legal wrong." In other words, you
cannot say that you have been authorized by your superior to commit a wrongdoing
as an excuse for committing a criminal offence. This principle is foundational
to our criminal justice system.
Honourable senators, we had to deal with that issue before. We claim that our
house has an institutional memory. I call on you to remember our debates in 2001
when we adopted Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime
and law enforcement). The situation was similar in 2001.
Bill C-24 was adopted and received Royal Assent on December 18, 2001. Police
were requesting from Parliament special powers to break the law in order to
fight organized crime. It could be for a police officer to buy drugs on the
market to show that he is part of a gang or to break and enter a premise to
steal something with another member of the gang, et cetera. When police
infiltrate a gang organization, they are part of the lifestyle of the group that
they are infiltrating and they might be called on to break the law.
We were very concerned with the issue because we thought it was essential for
the police to have that power in the same way as it is for police to use forged
documents — passports, driver's licences, et cetera.
However, eight years ago, in 2001, we could not let that bill go forward
without "framing" that power. A police officer cannot be free to decide on his
own that he will buy drugs on the market because sometime down the road he might
be called to an investigation where he will be asked to infiltrate a gang.
Similarly, a police officer cannot request a departmental employee to make a
fake passport because he thinks it will be needed in a covert operation
We amended the government bill in 2001. I was sitting on the government side
at the time, as was Senator Moore. We were on the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs. We proposed at third reading an amendment to
the then bill, which is now section 25.2 of the Criminal Code. This was the
amendment adopted at that time to try to frame the power of a police officer to
commit a crime:
25.2 Every public officer who commits an act or omission — or directs the
commission by another person of an act or omission — under paragraph 25.1(9)(a)
or (b) shall, as soon as is feasible after the commission of the act or
omission, file a written report with the appropriate senior official
describing the act or omission.
When a police officer commits a crime under the organized crime bill, he or
she must report that to his or her superior in writing. It remains within the
confines of the department and will be reported in the usual chain of operation.
There is a counterweight in the system. When we had the debate in the
chamber, senators on both sides spoke in support of that amendment. Senator
Moore declared on December 5, 2001 — and I informed Senator Moore that I would
. . . the Canadian Bar Association and the Barreau du Québec . . .
expressed concerns about these provisions. There were concerns that expressly
allowing law enforcement officers to engage in conduct that would otherwise
constitute offences could undermine the rule of law in Canada.
I have informed the Honourable Senator Andreychuk that I would be quoting her
today. She said:
It is time that there be some mechanism — be it in the Senate, the House of
Commons or jointly — to address the continual reduction of the safeguards and
protections we have built up in our system in order that police officers do
not become arbitrary and government ability to use police cannot become
dictatorial. There is a fine balance between the need for security and the
need to protect the individual freedoms that make this country different from
I think this principle is fundamental to our discussion today. Of course,
when we were concerned about this issue, the report that the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled in support of Bill C-24 at
that time, raised similar concerns. Members of the Canadian Bar Association and
Barreau du Québec, along with representatives and practicing defence lawyers
were unanimous in their concern that the exemption from criminal liability
provisions in Bill C-24 would fundamentally change our criminal justice system.
They were requesting amendments.
Today, honourable senators, we are in the same position as far as the
principles are concerned. A police officer could now use any kind of fake
document in a covert operation and would not have to report it, as much as an
employee who would be asked by police to make a fake document would not be
compelled to report it to his superior.
Therefore, honourable senators will understand that the concern of the bar
associations and the concerns of witnesses we heard last week at the committee
are of tremendous importance for the principles of our criminal justice system.
That is why, at third reading of Bill S-4, especially regarding clauses 7 and
9, I informed the honourable senators attending the debate that it needs further
reflection and that, at third reading, I reserved the right to introduce an
amendment to those two clauses — not to delete them. Again, the bar asked for
them to be deleted. I am not asking the chamber to delete those clauses.
I am proposing to frame that power so that the employee or police office will
have to present a written submission to his superior. Additionally, if the
superior decides to report it at the appropriate time and not identify any of
the parties or any of the times it was used, it be noted that they had to resort
to breaking the law to try to fight crimes or use documents that might be needed
in the course of their investigation.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill S-4, as amended, be not now read a third time but that it be
(a) in clause 7, on page 5, by adding after line 17 the following:
"(6) The Minister responsible for an entity referred to in subsection
(5) that has requested a person to make a false document shall disclose or
cause to be disclosed each year, in a report that is published or otherwise
made available to the public, the number of times that the entity made such
a request during the immediately preceding year.
(7) For the purposes of subsection (6),
(a) the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is
the Minister responsible for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
(b) the Minister responsible for policing in a province is the
Minister responsible for a police force constituted under the laws of that
(c) the Minister of National Defence is the Minister responsible
for the Canadian Forces; and
(d) the Minister who has responsibility for a department or
agency of the federal government or of a provincial government is the
Minister responsible for that department or agency."; and
(b) in clause 9, on page 6,
(i) by replacing line 15 with the following:
"368.2 (1) No public officer, as defined in sub-", and
(ii) by adding after line 22 the following:
"(2) Subject to subsection (3), every public officer who commits an
act that would, but for subsection (1), constitute an offence under any of
sections 366 to 368.1 shall, as soon as is feasible after the commission
of the act, file a written report with the appropriate senior official
describing the act.
(3) A public officer who commits more than one act referred to in
subsection (2) involving the same forged document is not required to make
more than one report under that subsection in respect of those acts within
any twelve month period.
(4) A competent authority, as defined in subsection 25.1(1), may
designate senior officials for the purposes of this section.
(5) The competent authority shall include in the annual report referred
to in subsection 25.3(1) the number of acts that were reported under
subsection (2) to senior officials designated by the competent authority.
(6) In this section, "senior official" means a senior official who is
responsible for law enforcement and who is designated under subsection
Honourable senators, I know it is very technical. However, it is to the same
effect that we have under sections 25.1 and 25.3 of the Criminal Code, in as
much as the laws against organized crime was adopted and voted on in this
chamber eight years ago.
The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Joyal,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Grafstein, that Bill S-4 be not now read a
third time but that it be amended (a) in clause 7 — shall I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker: Shall there be further debate on the amendment?
Hon. John D. Wallace: Honourable senators, there is no question that
it is a technical amendment is and it is a lot to absorb, especially for
senators who have not been part of our discussions at our Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
I had thought that Senator Joyal might make an amendment. I was not quite
sure what form it might take. What he has said does not totally catch me by
I would like to begin by saying that the amendment proposed by Senator Joyal
is to amend clauses 7 and 9. I want to begin by telling you that those
particular clauses are integral to supporting a key police function in the fight
against crime in that they seek to provide the police with an exemption for the
use of identification documents in a fictitious manner in order to support
covert law enforcement operations.
Having listened to a very compelling presentation by Senator Joyal, I want
honourable senators to be aware that the exemption included in Bill S-4 is very
narrow and restricted. That was done purposely so that it would not open up
opportunities for improprieties, many of which were referred to by Senator
Joyal. It is no question: There are cases when the type of reporting that
Senator Joyal has suggested from section 25 is and would be appropriate in the
However, I would strongly say it is not appropriate and not required in this
rather unique situation where we have a very narrowly-defined set of offences
that would be subject to that. Honourable senators will have to bear with me
because I have bits and pieces here that pull together and, having heard Senator
Joyal's comments, I want to ensure I clearly communicate all the points to you.
Clauses 7 and 9 of the bill provide an exemption for peace officers for what
would otherwise be only forgery-related offences committed in the course of
their undercover work. That is the fundamental job of police officers. The
exemption would also relate to people who, in good faith, make forged documents
at the request of a government agency.
I say to honourable senators that these exemptions, in their current form in
the bill, are essential and very much required.
Concealing the true identities of undercover police officers is a protection
akin to a uniformed officer carrying a side arm. In that regard, police do not
have to rely on the law enforcement justification in the Criminal Code to carry
their guns. Instead, they are provided a clearly defined exemption in the law to
certain firearms offences. Obviously, every time police officers are required to
put their holster on and go out and do their duty day-to-day, there would not be
a requirement — nor would any of us believe there should be — that a report be
filed and once a year be reviewed. That is accepted and has been very much part
of the duties of our police officers.
Of course, police officers are there for the benefit of our citizens. They
are there for all of us. They are doing the job that all of us require to be
done in order that we can sleep safely at night and so that our children will
not be the subject of crime. There must be a practical appreciation of the types
of offences we are considering here, as compared to other offences that were
considered some years ago, as Senator Joyal has said, when section 25
qualifications to the exemption provision may have been appropriate.
Regarding Senator Joyal's proposed amendment, it is important to understand
that the exemptions in the bill do not provide the police with immunity from
identity theft offences that are created by this bill or by any existing
offences in the Criminal Code with a fraud element. The exemptions have nothing
to do with that subject. Honourable senators should never be left with the
impression that the bill gives the police carte blanche to break the law and,
somehow, entitle them to commit identity fraud. That is not the case. This bill
comes down to giving our police, our law enforcement officials, the legitimate
tool that they need to protect the interests of our public. That is it, plain
These exemptions facilitate the acquisition and use of identification in a
fictitious name for police to use in order to build and maintain their
undercover status. Such steps are taken every day by police officers across the
country. It is essential that we provide a clear and effective legal basis for
them to use this tool so without placing roadblocks in their way. While
perfectly appropriate in other circumstances, as I said earlier, these
roadblocks have absolutely no place in this context.
What are we talking about, honourable senators? We have a serious problem in
this country with identity theft. We know that many citizens have suffered from
the scourge of identity theft. We know that organized crime have infiltrated
identity theft and, to a large extent, control it. The police have their hands
full dealing with it. You and I, and everyone else out on the street, as well-intended as we might be, want to see this identity situation curbed or better
controlled. Frankly, there is not one of us, by ourselves or even as a group,
who are capable of curbing or controlling the it. It is the police, the law
enforcement officials, who have the ability, if anyone has, to deal with this
I say to honourable senators in the strongest terms that we must let our law
enforcement officials do their jobs. We must let them do what we have hired them
to do, and what wish them to do effectively every day, namely, to protect our
citizens. That is what this bill is all about: protecting our citizens.
As with each of you, I have neither faith nor trust in organized crime and
the criminal element — none. However, I do have faith and trust in our law
enforcement officials. I say that not to imply that we have blind faith and no
checks and balances in the system. Generally, those things have a place, but I
do not share the suspicions of our police and our law enforcement officials that
maybe others have. From all evidence that I have seen, they are always
well-intended and always try to do the right thing. I start from that premise. I
realize that none of us are perfect; there are times when certain situations
arise. However, we need them and they want to do the right thing. About 99 times
out of 100, that is exactly what happens. They know the law enforcement
business. I would say not one of us in this chamber understand it to the extent
that they do.
Honourable senators, we must allow them to do their job, particularly in this
case, where we have a narrowly defined offence. These exemptions that are
contained in clauses 7 and 9 relate to public officers. Clause 9 of Bill S-4
states in part in the proposed section 368.2:
. . . for the sole purpose of establishing or maintaining a covert identity
for use in the course of the public officer's duties or employment.
It must be in relation to the public officer's duties or employment.
Obviously, there must a framework within which our law enforcement officials
operate. We must define that framework; we cannot be naive about it. I agree
with that 100 per cent. On the other hand, we cannot, and we should not,
micromanage the day-to-day operations of our law enforcement officials. With
all due respect to Senator Joyal, for whom I have tremendous regard, I believe
that is what his amendment does. It will compel us effectively to start
micromanaging those day-to-day operations. I agree that it is not that clauses 7
and 9 of the bill would be repealed. However, amending them in the way in which
Senator Joyal has suggested would involve reporting once a year. What is that
reporting? It is administration; it is bureaucracy. That will not change
effectively what happens on the street day-to-day.
Honourable senators, I believe that we should move ahead and show confidence
in our police and in our law enforcement officials. With all due respect, I
strongly oppose the amendment suggested by Senator Joyal and I move the adoption
of Bill S-4, as amended by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, as soon as possible.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, this bill, which seeks to do
good things and to protect us all, is important, as Senator Wallace has said.
However, the bill deals in a large degree with technology. I have a particularly
sensitivity to the changes in technology in the Alvin Toffler sense of the
telescoping speed at which it happens.
This bill deals with identity and information relating to identity, and with
the means by which that information is stored, registered and conveyed. Senator
Wallace will be aware of what I am talking about because I talked about this
issue in committee. He will recall that I was planning to make these amendments
in committee but we ran out of time. I have taken the chair's advice and I am
now making them at third reading.
The intent of the amendments that I will propose, honourable senators, is to
strengthen the bill by ensuring that the technology that is referred to and the
lists of the means by which information will be stored and conveyed are not
overtaken by time and by advances in technology.
Honourable senators, if someone had said to you in 1950 that DNA would be the
means of absolute determination of identity, 11 or 12 people in the world would
have understood what you were talking about; DNA was not used for that purpose
in 1950. If someone had said to you 10 years ago that someday, you would not
sign a credit card slip because there would be a chip in it and you would have a
secret PIN number, you would not have believed that person. My cat has a chip in
his ear that clearly identifies him.
I do not think that we can say that DNA used as a means of identity; or
looking in a machine that reads your iris to determine your identity; or a chip
in one's ear to determine one's identity, are documents, and this bill refers in
several places to "documents."
My amendment deals with that in the hope of bullet-proofing the bill in order
to provide for when changes in technology take place in the means by which
personal identification will be made. Honourable senators, I promise you that
before any of us leave here, the means by which personal identity is made
certain will change and it will not be by documents in the normal sense of the
word. There will not necessarily be cards in the sense that we are now limited
to. We cannot conceive of the means by which we will in the not distant future
be required to establish our identity.
Hon. Tommy Banks: In that context, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill S-4, as amended, be not now read a third time but that it be
(a) in clause 1, on page 2, by adding after "or any similar
document," the following:
"or any other document, apparatus or information storage device that
establishes or purports to establish the identity of a person,"; and
(b) in clause 10, on page 7, by replacing line 3 with the
"including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, a
fingerprint, voice print, retina".
The second part of my amendment is a belt and suspenders amendment. I am
referring to the language "without limiting the generality of the foregoing",
because following the word "including" is a list of the kinds of information
being talked about. I know that, in law, the word "including" followed by a
list is not exclusive. It does not circumscribe that list and say that nothing
else is on the list. I understand that.
The second part of my amendment is for greater certainty, saying that the
list that follows the word "including" is not a complete, exclusive or
circumscribed list of the kinds of information that are referred to there. It is
belt and suspenders and makes it more certain that the bill will contemplate
other kinds of information and other kinds of materials that will in the future
be used for those purposes. I commend those amendments to your positive
consideration, honourable senators.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is moved by the
Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore that Bill S-4
as amended be not now read the third time but that it be amended —
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, our motions in amendment
are stacked, and therefore debate can proceed either on the main motion, the
motion in amendment by Senator Joyal or now the motion in amendment by Senator
Hon. John D. Wallace: Honourable senators, we discussed Senator Banks'
concept in committee. As you can appreciate, it is difficult, when you hear
those amendments, to fit them into the bill as it is now, but I did hear enough
of it, and some of it did sound familiar. We had considerable discussion around
opening up some of the defined terms or expanding them or giving some
flexibility to cover the types of situations to which Senator Banks just
referred. We had a rather exhaustive discussion around that, that is, all of us
who are regular members of that committee.
Having been through that exercise in committee and having given serious
thought to those issues so that we provide as much flexibility as possible going
forward, my response at this time would have to be that the amendments that
Senator Fraser presented as part of the report of the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs reflect the flexibility that I would be
prepared to support. There has to be a point here where we draw a line.
As the sponsor of the bill, when the report of the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs was presented yesterday, I spoke and
indicated I had reservations around those amendments when we were in committee.
When looked at from a practical point of view, to move this forward, considering
the urgency to get this bill into legislation, I and others who would have a
thought on that felt we would show flexibility, and, as long as it did not
detract from the overall intent and operation of the bill, that we would agree
to those amendments. We did, and I think that worked well.
However, with all due respect, having been down that trail and having
discussed these issues of trying to provide for the future and what it may hold,
I believe we have done that effectively at this point with the amendments that
Senator Fraser included in her report, and that would be as far as I would be
prepared to support. I would have to oppose the proposed amendment.
Senator Banks: May I ask a question?
Senator Wallace: Yes, sir.
Senator Banks: As the honourable senator well knows, the amendment
that was made by the committee, talking about different kinds of documents,
added the following: "Or an employee identity card that bears the employee's
photograph and signature, or any similar document." I would ask the honourable
senator whether he thinks that those words, all of which rely on the word "document," can reasonably be counted upon to describe the means by which we
will establish our personal identity, let me take an arbitrary number, five
years hence? In other words, does the word "document" along with the words "or any similar document" include, and would it be seen by the courts to
include, a chip in my ear, for example?
Senator Wallace: Is the honourable senator asking me for a legal
Senator Banks: No, just a comfort.
Senator Wallace: When we look at trying to enforce any of this
legislation and interpret it, we do have to deal with something that is
tangible. I agree that we could think about a number of different ways that
information could be transferred and have a debate whether or not they were
covered. When you look at the Criminal Code and these types of issues, the
history has been that reference to "document" is entirely appropriate, and
there is strong case law dealing with what constitutes a document. Therefore, I
would rely upon that going forward.
I would point out one other thing, honourable senators. Honourable Senator
Banks was present at the last meeting when we introduced this amendment that
would provide for a review period in five years.
This crime is new. We all have an idea of how the bill will work, and we know
what we want it to do. However, time will tell how we will work through it. It
was an excellent suggestion to have a review period. I am sure that in five
years' time there will be other issues for discussion. I would say to honourable
senators that the word "document" is appropriate. If the bill is accepted into
law, we will see how it functions over five years and then deal with amendments
at that time.
Senator Banks: Senator Wallace, my second question is almost the same.
I hope you will understand that my intent with this amendment is to strengthen
the bill and make it more applicable and more bulletproof. Although my question
is rhetorical, this technology is neither theoretical nor happening in five
years: Today, I can look into a machine at an airport that reads my eyes. Is
that a document?
Senator Wallace: We can go back and forth with that question but I
would like to make a fundamental point. For those who are not as familiar with
the bill as perhaps Senator Banks, Senator Joyal and I are, there is a new
offence created if someone is in possession of an "identity document."
Essentially, that document is a government-issued document. There are serious
consequences for anyone in possession of an identity document that refers to
another person. Obviously, there would have to be a lawful excuse as to why that
document is in their possession.
I am not sure whether Senator Banks heard the evidence provided at committee
when Department of Justice officials were forceful in saying that because of the
consequences of what would constitute an identity document, they were
restrictive in the definition of it. They did not want to leave any ambiguity as
to what could constitute an identity document, since the consequences for
someone in possession of someone else's identity documents would be serious.
That definition is in contrast to the definition of "identity information,"
which is in proposed section 402.1 of the bill. There is identity information
and there is an identity document.
The definition of "identity information" has more breadth to it. In the
case of government-issued identity documents, the Department of Justice felt
strongly that it should be definitive and there should be no ambiguity — as
little grey as possible around what constitutes that type of document.
I understand what Senator Banks is saying. His intention makes a lot of
sense. However, I suggest that it would be more appropriate in, and is reflected
in, the definition of "identity information," as opposed to "identity
document." We are introducing a new offence and if this bill is accepted into
law, we should be cautious in not creating ambiguity around what an identity
document could be. The language includes any other document, apparatus and
information storage device. What is an information storage device? Those are the
kinds of things that lawyers tend to get into.
We need clarity, in particular with the introduction of this new offence. I
strongly recommend that we limit ourselves to the definition of "identity
document" as it stands in the bill.
Hon. Bert Brown: Honourable senators, I have a question for Senator
Wallace. I want to point out that the scanner in an airport reads the eyes for
the identification of a document that holds your entire life history and whether
you have committed any crimes. A document exists, but it is not on the iris of
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Will Senator Wallace take another question?
Senator Wallace: Certainly.
Senator Moore: I believe it was in 2006 that I attended a Canada-U.S.
meeting in Philadelphia. One of the issues discussed was identity theft. Two
people on the panel were state legislators, from Ohio, I believe, one of whom
related the story of her mother suffering an identity theft. That state brought
in legislation and they referred to existing similar legislation in other states
at the time.
In the course of the study of this bill, did the committee canvass existing
identity theft legislation in other jurisdictions, including some of the states
in the United States?
Senator Wallace: No witnesses before the committee provided such
information concerning jurisdictions beyond Canada. I am thinking back to the
evidence we received from Justice officials. There is no question in my mind
that other legislation was well canvassed. There was a great awareness in
crafting the language in this bill of what the rest of the world was doing, was
taking that into consideration. Specifically, we did not hear evidence presented
by third parties as to what was taking place in the United States. However, I
felt comfortable that we were not operating in a fish bowl in terms of the
preparatory work behind the bill.
Senator Moore: I thought that evidence might have been provided by
witnesses from those jurisdictions and that there might be provisions that could
be used readily by us to solve some of these issues.
Senator Wallace: I respectfully suggest that the bill I propose does
the job effectively.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Will the senator allow another exchange
on Senator Joyal's amendments?
Senator Wallace: Yes.
Senator Grafstein: Section 25(2) of the Criminal Code, which was
passed after some discussion in the House of Commons but mostly in the Senate,
provides that every police officer who commits an act or offence or directs the
commission of another person, et cetera, under section 25.1(9), (a) or (b)
of the Criminal Code, shall file, as soon as feasible after the commission of
the act, a written report with the appropriate officials describing the acts or
omissions. It deals with break-ins and drugs, et cetera.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I apologize for
interrupting but Senator Wallace's time has expired. Does the honourable senator
ask for an extension?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Five minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Grafstein: Essentially, my understanding is that the section
creates the new approach to policing, which is to provide surveillance of police
activities that might be covert or improper otherwise, under the law. Senator
Joyal's amendment is not a new notion. This motion was debated here and accepted
by both houses. It is not in any way, shape or form to demean, undermine or
question police activity or interfere with police activity. Rather, it is to
provide proper oversight of police activity. There is nothing new in that
The reason why I support Senator Joyal's amendment is that the honourable
senator's amendment makes the Criminal Code consistent. If certain acts are
illegal otherwise, such as breaking and entering or taking drugs, for the
purposes of covert surveillance in pursuant of an officer's appropriate and
proper duties, then he has a reporting mechanism to report to a senior officer.
This in no way, shape or form opens up or diminishes appropriate police
activity. Quite the contrary, it makes the Criminal Code more consistent.
Instead of having some set of acts where the police committing illegal acts have
to report, these are other illegal acts that, in effect, require the police to
As we have heard from Senator Moore and Senator Banks, this is a new field.
We are now into technology that we do not even know. It is better, I would
think, at the outset to put a reporting mechanism in place, which does not
impede police investigation in any way, to provide proper civilian oversight.
Would it not be more consistent for the Criminal Code to do that rather than
to have a set of provisions of unlawful acts on the one hand and then have
unlawful acts on the other hand with proper reporting mechanisms? I think it is
inconsistent the other way. It makes the Criminal Code more uncertain to have
some set of activities reportable, and others that are equally unlawful prima
facie without proper surveillance. His amendment makes the Criminal Code more
coherent. Do you not agree?
Senator Wallace: Senator Grafstein is correct that consistency is
important, especially involving matters as significant as the Criminal Code. I
agree with him on that point.
Part of the difficulty is we are talking about amendments to the Criminal
Code. Frankly, to appreciate some of these thoughts, one must have an in-depth
understanding of how the code works. That is an obvious statement.
What I would say to the honourable senator is that from his comments, I would
tend to assume that he feels that the code now has this section 25 reporting for
anything that could otherwise constitute a criminal act.
Senator Grafstein: No.
Senator Wallace: As I said earlier, if any one of us walked the street
carrying a gun it would be an offence. It is not, however, for police officers.
It is not for police officers because there is an exemption in the Criminal Code
that enables them to carry their firearms.
Again, I would say that is akin to what we are talking about here. Law
enforcement officials carrying out undercover, covert operations — and I am sure
all of us realize it is necessary — are required at times to have false
documentation to maintain this covert identity. It is in our interest; it is
part of what they have to do. In much the same way as the ability of law
enforcement officials to carry firearms without having to file a report every
day or once a year, there is an exemption. I think this is very much akin to
The other thing I would say to the honourable senator, thinking back to
Senator Joyal's presentation, is he describes the need to have consistency, and
that there is no concern here really about the police; it is just a matter of
administrative consistency and these reports should be filed. However, I did
listen with interest and Senator Joyal did speak about the need; we have the
police, we have the law enforcement officials but we need to have a
counterweight in the system. It cannot all be on that side of the table; we
cannot be subject to dictatorial and arbitrary actions, I believe Senator Joyal
said, on the part of police officials.
My sense is that the amendment could be based upon that assumption, if the
amendment were to prove that there is a concern about how law enforcement
officials would conduct themselves in a dictatorial or arbitrary way. We all
have our own assumptions when considering these things.
When we are going to draw analogies that we are going to have consistency —
as the honourable senator suggested that we have consistency throughout the code
in how these issues are reported — I would say the type of consistency he is
describing is not how the Criminal Code works today. What I am proposing is
consistent with the types of exemptions that the code recognizes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Wallace's time is
exhausted. We are at that point, unless other senators wish to participate in
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, this government bill originated in the Senate. Therefore, I think that
we should do our due diligence and take the time to consider the technical
amendments that have been presented today.
It has been a long day and I think we need to take the time to read these
amendments and reflect on them. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: I will put the motion formally.
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Tardif, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Munson, that further debate on this matter be considered at the next
sitting of the Senate.
Would those honourable senators in favour of the motion please say "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Would those honourable senators opposed to the
motion please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "nays" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I think under rule 67(1), I have
the right to ask for a deferral of this vote so we can seek more clarity.
Senator Stratton: You are going to which rule?
Senator Munson: Rule 67(1), which states that either whip can bring
this to the attention of the house. In terms of the clarity of these amendments
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, as far as the Rules are
concerned, what we have here is a motion to adjourn the debate. That is not
debatable. The powers that the Rules of the Senate give the whips to
defer timing of votes are on motions that are debatable.
Senator Stratton: Believe me, he is the expert on the Rules.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, to make it clear, rule
After a standing vote has been requested, pursuant to rule 65(3), on a
motion which is debatable. . . ."
We are dealing with a motion that is not debatable. It is an adjournment
Senator Stratton: Is there agreement on a half-hour bell?
Senator Mercer: A 44-hour bell.
Senator Stratton: A half-hour bell?
Senator Munson: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: If it is agreed, honourable senators, it is a
30-minute bell. Therefore, the vote will be taken at 5:50 p.m.
Do I have permission, honourable senators, to leave the chair?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Dickson, for the second reading of Bill C-4, An Act
respecting not-for-profit corporations and certain other corporations.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise to speak at the
second reading of Bill C-4, An Act respecting not-for-profit corporations and
certain other corporations. I would like to commend my colleague and fellow Nova
Scotian Senator Oliver for his thoughtful comments regarding this bill.
As we have heard, the not-for-profit sector in Canada has been regulated by
legislation entitled the Canada Corporations Act, which dates back to 1917.
As an aside, coincidentally, this is the same year as the Halifax Explosion
that, unfortunately, provided the newly-formed Canadian National Institute for
the Blind, a volunteer organization, as well as physicians of the day, with a
training ground for the treatment of eye injures. Approximately 600 people
suffered eye injures because of the implosion of glass in the windows of houses
from which some citizens watched as the ships IMO and Mont-Blanc
Honourable senators, on Monday of this week, we had a good reminder of how
important not-for-profit organizations are, when Statistics Canada published its
newest report on the volunteer sector entitled the Canada Survey of Giving,
Volunteering and Participating. According to the report, volunteering has
been on the rise to the tune of two billion volunteer hours in 2007, which works
out to be the equivalent to one million full-time jobs. On average, volunteers
volunteer 166 hours of work per year, the equivalent of a month at a full-time
job. As well, almost 13 million people volunteered their time in 2007, which is
close to half the population of Canada over the age of 15 years.
On the financial side of the not-for-profit world, Canadians donated over $10
billion in 2007 for an average of about $437 per donation, which I believe is
absolutely amazing. As Senator Oliver mentioned, this activity comprises a
significant portion of the services provided in our robust Canadian society.
Given these significant numbers, it is high time that our laws governing the
not-for-profit sector be updated. This particular bill has been tabled in
Parliament four times since 2004. Bill C-4 is the result of consultations
initiated by the previous Liberal government in the form of the Voluntary Sector
Task Force in 1999.
In 2000 and 2002, Industry Canada held consultations with the goal of
reforming the not-for-profit sector. The results of these consultations came in
the form of a paper that was entitled Reform of the Canada Corporations Act:
The Federal Not-for-Profit Framework Law.
Bill C-21 was a first attempt to pass these reforms and appeared in 2004. It
was reintroduced in 2008 as Bill C-62. Here we are in 2009 with Bill C-4 —
essentially the same legislation introduced five years ago. The bill is an
attempt to provide a modern framework of legislation under which not-for-profit
organizations can operate in the year 2009.
As the government states, the objective of this bill is to ". . . promote
accountability, transparency and good corporate governance for the not for
profit sector. . . ." while allowing these volunteer groups to spend less time
and money on paperwork and more time on . . . what they do best — helping
deliver valuable services and programs to Canadians in need."
Bill C-4 divides not-for-profits into two types: soliciting and
non-soliciting corporations. Incidentally, this is the only major change from
the legislation introduced in 2004 and is a result of the first study of the
bill. Not-for-profit organizations asked for more clarity from the government in
the definition of these entities and this change was the result.
A soliciting corporation is one that has received funding from the public or
government of more than $10,000 over the past year. A non-soliciting corporation
is any other not-for-profit.
The proposed Canada not-for-profit corporations act, or Bill C-4, would
implement many new rules for the not-for-profit sector. Following are some of
the provisions of the bill. Improved accountability is one. Under this
provision, financial statements would be required as well as audits, depending
on the size of the corporation.
Member rights is another provision. Members of not-for-profits would have
access to corporate records, including those to record the activities of boards
and committees. Membership lists would be created and open to members, and there
would be remedies to members to enforce and uphold their rights.
Communication provisions are other important provisions. Not-for-profits will
have flexible provisions, including electronic communications to enhance member
Another provision is the rights and responsibilities of directors and
officers. Senator Oliver explained this area fully in his second reading speech.
Bill C-4 will essentially introduce standards of care that will clarify duties
of directors and reduce uncertainty. The "due diligence" defence is available
to protect directors from litigation.
The streamlined incorporation process provision gives volunteering
individuals the capacity to create corporations, and amend corporation articles
and by-laws, thus decreasing institutional burdens.
Honourable senators, in closing, these points are only the basics of the
bill. We will, of course, look more deeply into Bill C-4 in committee and I look
forward to that study as soon as possible.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: I will speak only briefly. I am attentive to
votes taking place in the house. As an independent, I was in a committee. I went
to my office but the bell does not ring in my office. There was no communication
for me to know there was a vote. I was right there, downstairs.
However, for the future people who may be enjoying my office soon, it would
be good for them to know about that situation. Had I been here, I would have
voted with the government.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Baker, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-211,
An Act to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, in co-operation with the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and protect
Canada's watersheds that will constitute sources of drinking water in the
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?