Debates
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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 29

Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Edna Elias, who has been appointed as the next Commissioner of Nunavut. Ms. Elias is originally from Kugluktuk and is a distinguished educator and linguist. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Patterson.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

The Hon. the Speaker: I also wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of Mr. John Edzerza, Minister of the Environment for Yukon and Member of the Legislative Assembly. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Lang.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Citizenship Act

Sixty-fourth Anniversary

Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, I was born and raised in Montreal, thousands of kilometres away from Great Britain. But according to my original birth certificate, I am a British subject.

Like me and others in this chamber, millions of men and women are officially British even though they were born and raised in cities, towns or farms in our country. There was a time when no Canadian legislation recognized Canadian citizenship.

Now, for young Canadians who proudly wave their flag and proclaim that they are Canadian all over the world, the grey area that once surrounded our citizenship must seem rather odd.

This month, we celebrate the 64th anniversary of a huge step our country took to fill this legal void. In May 1946, the House of Commons and the Senate passed the Canadian Citizenship Act. That was the first time in the history of our country that legislation clearly defined the conditions of Canadian citizenship.

Paul Martin Sr., who was Secretary of State of Canada at the time, was the architect and force behind this legislation. The idea came to him after he visited the Canadian war cemetery in Dieppe. He was struck by the accomplishments of hundreds of young Canadians on this beach on another continent.

[English]

Although profound, Martin's experience was not wholly unique. Throughout the just-concluded war, education programs and awareness campaigns nurtured in Canadians, both newly arrived and native-born, a growing awareness of their shared identity and collective responsibility in building a stronger, freer, fairer, more unified country.

The Canadian Citizenship Act would further infuse in all Canadians the transformational power of a shared identity. According to Martin, citizenship means more than the right to vote, to hold and transfer property and to move freely under the protection of the state. "Citizenship," he said, "is the right to full partnership in the fortunes and future of the nation."

Writer Andrew Cohen echoes this truth. He rightly identifies the Citizenship Act as perhaps our country's most potent instrument in nation building — a key "part of a process of national self-definition that would. . ." over time, ". . . lead to a native-born Governor General, a new national flag, a reworded national anthem and a renewed constitution."

The Canadian Citizenship Act exerted this power because, in Martin's view, it was "pressed forward by the best sort of nationalist feeling," a feeling that inspired Canadians to create a citizenship not based on blood and tribe but on rights and obligations; a citizenship that embraces and includes rather than rejects and excludes; a citizenship that has endured and deepened in our country for the past 64 years.

Air Force Appreciation Day

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, recently we heard a lot about the Canadian Navy and quite rightly as the navy is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary this year. Honourable senators will recall that last year we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of aviation in Canada.

Today, honourable senators, I draw your attention to Air Force Appreciation Day on Parliament Hill. A reception will take place on May 25, the first Tuesday following our break. I hope that all honourable senators will join me in helping to thank the men and women in uniform, in particular the sky-blue uniform of the Canadian Air Force.

Honourable senators, the Royal Canadian Air Force was officially formed on April 1, 1924. Canadian aircrews had served previously as part of the British Army, Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy Air Service during World War I. That was also known as the Fleet Air Arm. During the Second World War, the Canadian Air Force grew to be the fourth largest of the Allied air forces, having at its peak an enrolment of over 200,000 personnel, which can be compared to today's total air force numbers of only 14,500. It was through great effort, perseverance and bravery that the Canadian Air Force was able to develop into the proud organization that it is today.

Today, the Royal Canadian Air Force is known as the Canadian Air Forces Air Command, which is an important and integral part of the Canadian Armed Forces. It provides many important services, including search-and-rescue operations, military security and NATO training missions. The Canadian Air Force is also actively involved internationally, transporting Canadian personnel, equipment and humanitarian supplies to many places throughout the world, including NATO and NORAD missions. The Canadian Air Force has also taken on additional responsibilities recently in Afghanistan with the creation of Air Wing Kandahar. The CAF was a critical part of the success of the recent Canadian Forces mission to Haiti.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, which is more commonly known as the Snowbirds. This year's show season officially began yesterday and will continue with 56 performances throughout Canada and the United States. Honourable senators will be interested to know that 2010 is a notable year for the Snowbirds for another reason: Following an organizational restructure, Lieutenant Colonel Maryse Carmichael took over as Commanding Officer of the squadron, the first woman to do so in the 40-year history of the Snowbirds.

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It is my hope that honourable senators will take the time to visit on Tuesday, May 25, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in room 256-S, to thank the men and women of the Canadian Air Force for the tremendous work that they do to preserve our security.

National Securities Regulation

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, yesterday during Question Period, Senator Hervieux-Payette asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate about our plans for a national securities commission. She said in part:

. . . the Prime Minister is stubbornly going ahead with his plan to create a single commission even though it is neither sensible nor in the interests of the provinces, including Quebec, which wants nothing to do with it. In light of growing opposition on the part of Quebec business leaders, can the minister tell us when her government, specifically her Prime Minister, will reconsider this proposal, which is neither desired nor desirable . . .

This is a rather rich position for someone to take who was a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in 2006 when that committee issued its report on consumer protection in the financial services sector. It is a rich position for the senator who was a member at a time when her side had a majority in both the committee and the Senate, and the person chairing the Banking Committee was a Liberal. Other Liberal members from Quebec on that committee were Senators Biron, Goldstein and Massicotte. Our own Senator Angus from Quebec was Deputy Chair at the time.

In that report, the committee recommended:

The federal government take a leadership role and invite provincial/territorial governments and Canada's securities commissions to meet expeditiously with a view to establishing a common securities regulator no later than June 30, 2007. In the interim, efforts to harmonize securities regulation should be accelerated.

The good senator, in her supplementary question yesterday, continued to attack something she had already recommended by asking:

When will the leader's government table a study that will demonstrate, beyond any reasonable doubt, that we need that regulator and it is not for political purposes?

The answer is that the study was tabled in June 2006 by a committee of which the honourable senator was an active member. As to the question of using the issue for political purposes, I think it is pretty clear, in light of what I have said, who exactly is doing that.

Senate Services

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, today I rise to thank honourable senators for all of the courtesies you have extended to me in the past nine years that I have been a senator. I thank you for your support and friendship.

I would also like to thank all the Senate staff — from the people who make our place of work very comfortable, to the parliamentary restaurant staff and to the people in this chamber and outside who have had the patience to teach me on a regular basis.

To the IT Senate staff, thank you for always having the patience to teach me and for putting up with all my requests to upgrade my office software. You have made it possible for my staff and me to keep working on different projects.

Honourable senators, when the call comes to serve your country as a senator, first you are thrilled and then the reality hits you. I have never stayed on my own. From my mother's home, I went to my in-laws' home, so I have had to learn a whole set of new skills to live alone in Ottawa.

I thank Géraldine Lavoie, my French teacher, and Linda Clifford and Ralph Dashney, for all of your help.

I want to thank especially the men and women at the Senate Protective Services. These people have gone beyond the call of duty for me. They have taught me how to drive in the snow and how to dress for this weather; they have shared food with me and given me ultimatums to either leave the Senate or stay the night in the office during inclement weather. They have also driven my guests in their cars back to my guests' hotels in severe weather. Most of all, they have been my family in Ottawa and like other families, I have given them many things to worry about. I am in the habit of coming to work at different hours, as we all do. Just after I became a senator in 2001, I had a significant amount of paper I needed to transfer to the office, and so I had this brainwave to park the car on O'Connor Street and leave my boxes near the door on Wellington Street.

I had many boxes, and I ran to the car, took a box and ran back and threw it near the door with a loud bang. When I returned with the fifth box, men from the Senate Protective Service surrounded me, wondering what was going on. I do not know who was more shocked, the Senate Protective Service men or me. All they said, as calmly as they could, was that I did not have to make so much noise; I could have asked for help. Yes, I have given the people who protect us some challenges.

Today, I especially want to thank Gilles Duguay, the Director General, and his staff at the Parliamentary Precinct Services. Some time ago, I was leaving the Centre Block with my son and grandson when I had an unpleasant experience that has yet to be resolved. Mr. Duguay has listened to me, advocated for me and, more especially, shared my pain. My grandson saw his grandmother not being treated well in her place of work. To this day, Ayaan asks me why the policewoman was so rude to me.

The Senate Protective Service staff helped Ayaan forget the incident by giving him his own identification card and being gentle to him. Ayaan wears this card with pride when he comes to visit me in Ottawa.

I thank both Gilles Duguay and Senator Furey for their assistance in trying to resolve this issue. To all the people who work for the Senate Protective Service and the Parliamentary Precinct Services, I thank you for helping me make Ottawa my home away from home.

Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and Commissioner of Nunavut

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, two impressive appointments were announced in Ottawa this week. On Tuesday, May 11, Mr. George Tuccaro was named Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and introduced by Prime Minister Harper in Ottawa; and on Wednesday, Ms. Edna Elias, my honoured guest in this chamber today, was named Commissioner of Nunavut.

I have been privileged to have known both George Tuccaro and Edna Elias for many years and I wish to commend the Prime Minister not only for the wisdom of these excellent appointments, but also for announcing that he considers the territorial commissioners akin to provincial lieutenant governors. This is another step forward in the constitutional evolution of the territories.

George Tuccaro is a much beloved, long-time CBC announcer, a raconteur with a rich sense of humour. He has compassion for his fellow citizens and pride in his Metis heritage. Mr. Tuccaro worked for CBC Radio in Yellowknife as an announcer for many years. He hosted "Trail's End," CBC Radio's popular, drive- home afternoon program based in Yellowknife in the early 1990s, where he was fondly known for signing off his program each day with the memorable phrase:

And remember to check the date on your bacon!

Ms. Elias, who grew up in Kugluktuk, formerly Coppermine, first came to my attention in the early 1980s as a young graduate of the teacher education program. Edna accepted a job teaching in far away Arctic Bay on the north coast of Baffin Island, and years later, she returned home to teach in Kugluktuk and soon became the principal of the school. In her capacity as teacher and principal, Edna encouraged the teaching of Inuinnaqtun at the school. Later, I worked with Ms. Elias when she was Director of the Language Bureau for the Department of Culture and Communications in the Government of the Northwest Territories. She is known as a champion of the Inuinnaqtun language, the dialect of Inuit from the Kitikmeot region.

As our MP for Nunavut, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, said upon Ms. Elias' appointment:

Her commitment to preserve and promote Inuinnaqtun in Nunavut over the years shows her sincere dedication to Nunavummiut.

In welcoming Ms. Elias to the chamber today, I wish to commend the Prime Minister for his excellent choices for these important positions and for the respect he has shown for the emerging status of the territories. I see this as yet another step in developing the governance pillar of our government's Northern Strategy.

I look forward to working with Commissioners Tuccaro and Elias in the continuing political and economic development of the North, and I look forward to working with the Prime Minister and his government, a government that sees the potential of the North to contribute enormously to the creation of wealth and enhancement of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

In closing, I also pay tribute to Commissioner Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, who recently retired as commissioner. She carried out her duties with devotion and passion. Ms. Hanson brought to her work a lifetime of experience as a social worker, broadcaster, community activist, actress and mother.

I also want to honour just retired NWT commissioner and former cabinet colleague and friend, Tony Whitford, who had a lifetime of experience in all walks of life, including as MLA and cabinet minister in the Government of the Northwest Territories. His humour and goodwill brought dignity and humanity to the office of the commissioner.

Hockey

Hon. Bert Brown: Honourable senators, hockey games are getting more exciting every day. On the other side of this house, we have Senator Mahovlich, certainly a great hockey player indeed. It should be noted that the other place has a member of Parliament named Ken Dryden, who is also a great goalie. On this side, it must be noted with pride that we have the great coach, Jacques Demers, who won the Stanley Cup.


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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Study on User Fees Proposal

Health Canada's Proposal to Parliament for User Fees and Service Standards for Human Drugs and Medical Devices Programs—Fourth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which was referred the document "Health Canada's Proposal to Parliament for User Fees and Service Standards for Human Drugs and Medical Devices Programs", has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Tuesday, April 13, 2010, examined the proposed new user fee and, in accordance with section 5 of the User Fees Act, recommends that it be approved.

Respectfully submitted,

KELVIN KENNETH OGILVIE
Deputy Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

(On motion of Senator Ogilvie, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)


QUESTION PERIOD

Public Safety

Airline Passenger Lists

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, the Ottawa Citizen reported that our Assistant Privacy Commissioner, Chantal Bernier, had expressed concerns about the new American Secure Flight program, which would require Canadian airlines to give personal information about passengers who simply fly over the United States to other destinations, for instance, to the Caribbean. This information on Canadian passengers will be given to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Our Canadian privacy laws will not apply.

In 2007, the leader's government expressed concern to the American administration that information collected under this program could be disclosed and used for purposes other than aviation security, such as for law enforcement and immigration. Presumably, there are also U.S. laws regarding countries that passengers may be visiting, such as Cuba.

As recently as January 2010, the CBC reported that the United States had indicated it was prepared to waive the Secure Flight requirement to provide information for over-flights if Canada created an equivalent security screening system. The CBC story noted that discussions were taking place between the two countries about this proposal. These discussions appear to have failed, and air carriers will be providing the requested information to the U.S. government.

Why was the government unable to obtain the exemption to protect the privacy of Canadians — privacy which is protected by Canadian privacy laws — and why did these discussions break down?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I read the report to which the honourable senator refers but I do not have details on the validity of the news story and I do not know the status of the negotiations with regard to passenger lists. If the honourable senator will allow, I will take the question as notice, given it is rather complicated and complex and there are many issues at stake here.

Senator Cowan: I appreciate the leader doing that. This is an important issue and I look forward to her response.

When doing so, I wonder if the leader could check the provisions of the Public Safety Act, which were passed by this Parliament following 9/11 and which addressed specifically this possibility of over-flights. The government proposal, adopted by Parliament, specifically provided for protections and restrictions on the types of information that could be provided and the use to which foreign governments and agencies of foreign governments could put that material.

This issue has not come up unexpectedly; it was anticipated and protections were built into the provisions of the Public Safety Act. I ask the leader in inquiring about this matter to address those concerns as well.

Senator LeBreton: I will do so. I am sure the answer will be forthcoming quickly. I am quite pleased with the timeliness and how my colleagues in cabinet have been responding to Senate questions. I hope to have this response for the honourable senator shortly.

Treasury Board

Public Service Commission Appointments

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, it seems the rules behind the tendering and advertising process for hiring federal employees are lost on this Conservative government. It has been reported that Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation has hired Conservatives for several positions after Minister MacKay appointed a fellow Tory from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, to his Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation. These positions have been filled by former employees and unsuccessful candidates associated with the Conservative Party.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain why these jobs were not advertised and why the government is not following its own rules for lobbying and hiring practices?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. I am not familiar with the set of circumstances the honourable senator has outlined, but I can assure him that the government takes the Accountability Act and the hiring and appointment of individuals seriously. They go through a process of screening and interviewing.

I am not familiar with the particular case the honourable senator mentioned, but I will be happy to obtain more details.

Senator Comeau: Send Frank Graves.

Senator Mercer: I thank the leader for that undertaking.

It is rather curious that Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation hired former MacKay staffer, Allan Murphy, who ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in Cape Breton—Canso in the last federal election and it hired Mr. Murphy "to work as director of government relations and advocacy in Ottawa, working out of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's downtown Ottawa office."

However, in November of last year, Canada's top bureaucrat, Wayne Wouters, the Clerk of the Privy Council, sent a note to everyone that read:

The Government believes that accountability and the public interest are best served when its relationship with these organizations is conducted via candid and direct communications between corporate officers and responsible Ministers and their officials, and that the use of consultant lobbyists for this purpose is unnecessary and an inappropriate use of public funds.

When the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Reform Alliance came together, Peter MacKay was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and was considered to be quite influential in those days. Now that the Conservatives have been in power for some time, it appears that Mr. MacKay does not seem to have as much influence as Nova Scotia had hoped he would.

(1400)

Mr. MacKay is hiring lobbyists for Crown corporations. He is responsible to lobby the government of which he is a member. It is confusing to us all.

Why is the minister breaking the government's own rules by hiring lobbyists to promote Crown corporations?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this is a strange question. The honourable senator is accusing Minister Peter MacKay of personally interfering in the hiring at Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation and, in the next breath, he says Mr. MacKay has no power.

Senator Comeau: Suck and blow.

Senator LeBreton: The quotation that Senator Mercer read from Wayne Wouters, the Clerk of the Privy Council, is accurate. These are the guidelines that the government follows. The senator makes the assumption that because Allan Murphy, a resident and native of Cape Breton, ran as a candidate in an election he should be disqualified. All appointments and hirings are of qualified individuals; these individuals would not be hired if they were not qualified.

I do not have all the details, but I know Allan Murphy personally. He is a very qualified individual, a proud Nova Scotian who ran a newspaper. He and his wife Helen have a wonderful family. I am glad to hear he has this position. He will do a very good job. I thank the honourable senator for informing me.

Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, I am glad that the leader is happy that some of her Conservative friends have new jobs.

However, rules have been broken. There was no advertising. Treasury Board guidelines bar Crown corporations from hiring outside lobbyists to promote their agencies to the government.

The rules say government agencies cannot hire lobbyists, but now ACOA has hired one whose specific role is director of government relations and advocacy working from their office in Ottawa. The government is now breaking Treasury Board guidelines as well as its own ethics guidelines.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not know how the honourable senator is mixing up the fact that Allan Murphy has this job with the government hiring a lobbyist. The government rigorously follows a clear set of guidelines. That was why we established the Commissioner of Lobbying. If Senator Mercer believes he has a legitimate concern, he can make it known to the Commissioner of Lobbying.

Human Resources and Skills Development

Enabling Accessibility Fund

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, to quote the Government of Canada:

As part of a $45-million, three-year commitment to expand opportunities for people with disabilities, the Enabling Accessibility Fund supports community-based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, reduce barriers, and enable Canadians, regardless of physical ability, to participate in and contribute to their community and the economy. Approved projects will have strong ties to and support from their communities.

These are worthwhile goals as I think all honourable senators would agree. Yesterday, it was wonderful that Senators Kochhar and Munson spent the day in a wheelchair. I am sure they will tell us that having spent one day in a wheelchair was indeed challenging.

Unfortunately, it appears that in order to get funding for these projects, applicants are not assessed on their strong ties to the community, but rather on their strong ties to the Conservative Party. Statistics show that the minister responsible for Canadians with disabilities approved 67 per cent of all funding from the second round of the Enabling Accessibility Fund to be disbursed to Conservative ridings.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.

Senator Cordy: It is appalling that this government is playing politics with Canada's disabled. Why does this government continue to put politics before people?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Senator Cordy is flat out wrong.

Senator Comeau: As usual.

Senator LeBreton: I regret that a wonderful program such as the Enabling Accessibility Fund, introduced by this government, would be attacked, and that anyone would be accused of politicizing the fact that some people have unfortunately found themselves to be part of this community.

On March 11, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We are proud to have participated in its development.

The Registered Disability Savings Plan, which our government introduced, helps parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a child with a disability. The Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network presented the Prime Minister with a lifetime membership last year for instituting this plan.

Budget 2007 created the Enabling Accessibility Fund. This year's budget proposes to extend the fund with an additional $45 million over three years. Canada's Economic Action Plan contained $75 million for social housing for those with disabilities and $20 million per year for two years to make federally-owned buildings more accessible.

The Working Income Tax Benefit has an extra supplement for persons with disabilities. We have increased the number of eligible expenses under the Medical Expenses Tax Credit. There are also labour market agreements for persons with disabilities to help them prepare for or return to work.

Funds are distributed to those who are in need. There is absolutely no basis for the senator's accusations that funds were distributed according to a political litmus test.

Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, I wish that I were wrong. However, in the second round of funding, $3,926,913 went to Conservative ridings, $574,922 went to Liberal ridings and $888,913 went to NDP ridings. The facts speak for themselves.

The leader speaks about how much the government cares for those with disabilities. We should all care about those with disabilities. It is unfortunate that Minister Finley's constituency office is not accessible to those with disabilities. The minister receives funding to operate her constituency office and receives an extra $17,000 each year because she has a large riding.

Honourable senators, in response to a question from Senator Munson on April 16, 2008, regarding the Enabling Accessibility Fund, Senator LeBreton said, as reported in the Debates of the Senate at page 1149:

It is important that the government put money into facilities across the country. We should not discriminate against disabled people just because the facility would be located in a riding of any member of Parliament, whether they are Liberal, Conservative or NDP, for that matter.

That is a wonderful sentiment.

I just spoke about the second round of funding, but Senator Munson was asking about the first round of funding on that day. In the first round of funding, $35.8 million was disbursed under the program, of which $33.9 million went to Conservative ridings. That means 94.5 per cent of the entire program went to ridings held by Conservatives. In the second round, as I said earlier, $3 million — almost $4 million — went to Conservative ridings and that was 67 per cent of the funding.

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Honourable senators, Canadians with disabilities deserve better. Canadians with disabilities should not have their eligibility for funding dependent on whether or not their MP is a Conservative. All Canadians with disabilities deserve our help, no matter where they live. Where one lives and how one votes should not be a factor.

Why does this government continue to put the needs of the Conservative Party ahead of the needs of Canada's disabled?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the money that the government gives out through the Enabling Accessibility Fund goes to people who apply for it and who are in need. It does not matter where they live; that does not enter into the criteria at all.

One cannot put the map of Canada over every project. I hate to tell Senator Cordy this, but it is just like the Olympic flag relay. The honourable senator accused us of only going through Conservative ridings. Look at the map of Canada, honourable senators. One could not carry the flag anywhere in the country unless one went through Conservative ridings, because the whole country is represented by Conservative ridings.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator LeBreton: If one looks at the map and wanted to run around only in Liberal ridings, one would have been running around in downtown Toronto and downtown Montreal.

It is ridiculous in the extreme to suggest that any government would ever consider where a facility or the need was on the basis of who represented the riding. That is not even a factor and the senator should know better.

[Translation]

Environment

Climate Change

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Madam Leader, yesterday the United Nations Secretary- General was here in the Senate gallery. He honoured our country by his presence.

Ban Ki-moon drew the Canadian government's attention to its failure to act on climate change. He said:

I urge Canada to comply with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol. You can strengthen your mitigation targets for the future.

Such inaction is unworthy of the government of a country about to host the G8 and the G20.

Why is this government not showing more leadership on the climate change front?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, of course we very much welcomed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's visit to Canada. Obviously, in terms of the environment, the government's position is clear. We support the Copenhagen Accord. For the first time, a climate change agreement includes all of the major emitters. That reinforced something we have said all along. We cannot deal with the issue of climate change when the major emitters are not at the table.

With regard to the Secretary-General's suggestion that climate change be put on the agenda of the G8 and the G20, the Prime Minister already stated at a media conference in Europe that obviously climate change will be discussed. However, the primary focus of the G8 will be maternal and children's health. A primary focus of both meetings will be — and must be — the restoration of the economy and the creation of jobs.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Madam Leader, Ban Ki-moon also said:

Climate change is also something we cannot neglect because of this financial crisis.

When will the government implement meaningful economic recovery measures to support green technologies and fight climate change?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: With regard to the comments of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, these comments are not new. They are consistent with comments he and his predecessor have made before.

Obviously these comments were made in Copenhagen and we all know what happened there. It was only due to the major emitters finally agreeing to come to the table that there was any kind of agreement at all. The Secretary-General is entitled to his views, and honourable senators opposite seem to think that is the way to go.

Our government has two tracks. We believe, as our Minister of the Environment has done in the Copenhagen agreement and in working with our partners to the south in terms of our environmental policy, we have already made a major announcement with regard to emissions of automobiles.

At the same time, as the host country and as a major player in dealing with the state of the economy resulting from the worldwide economic downturn — as we have stated strongly from the beginning — we will not take our eyes off the real priority for Canadians and that is the economy, jobs, and the livelihoods of people in this country.

Agriculture

Assistance for Alberta Cattle Farmers

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it is with a great degree of anxiety that I ask this question today of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I do not know whether or not she has heard overnight what has been happening in southwestern Alberta, very close to the mountains. Thousands of cattle are being killed by the cold weather and by other animals.

Cardston County in southern Alberta has declared itself a disaster area. The declaration allows the county to seek a quick financial solution to help affected cattlemen recover at least some equity. It has been partly because the weather in our mountains has pounded down and brought out the animals which, at the earliest moment, go after the small cattle.

Something must be done quickly, and I urge our colleague to speak with her Cabinet colleagues to assist the cattlemen and the whole area around the town of Cardston, not far from Lethbridge. That is where people live and that is how they live. It would be very helpful if the Government of Canada would move swiftly.

(1420)

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the agricultural sector goes through periods where natural elements create difficult times and difficult circumstances for our farmers. Through the years, it seems they all have had their share of burdens to carry, whether it is the beef, wheat, oilseeds, pork or other sectors. However, in this particular case, as Senator Fairbairn knows, programs that provide help are run by Agriculture Canada, and I am sure there are provincial programs as well.

I will make the concerns of Senator Fairbairn known to my colleague the Honourable Gerry Ritz, the Minister of Agriculture, of whom I am very proud. We hear glowing reports about him from various people throughout the agriculture sector. He works extremely hard, meets directly with farmers all across the country, and as a result, the needs of our agriculture industry are well met. I will also see if any government program would be applicable to this circumstance.

Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I thank the minister for her comments. In all my years, I have never seen or heard of anything as overwhelming as that which has taken place in the last 48 hours. Basically nothing can be done through waiting. A great number of these animals are dead and those left are close to following the same path.

Senator LeBreton: I am not up to speed on the specifics. However, having been raised on a farm, I know full well the catastrophic damage that can be done by an event like this or when a sudden disease appears and a whole herd is wiped out. I will immediately bring this to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present delayed answers to two oral questions: the first was raised by the Honourable Senator Segal on March 31, 2010, concerning Foreign Affairs, military participation overseas; the second raised by the Honourable Senators Chaput and Peterson on April 20, 2010, concerning Transport, Canada Post office closures and bilingual services.

Foreign Affairs

Military Participation Overseas

(Response to question raised by Hon. Hugh Segal on March 31, 2010)

No military combat mission will take place without a formal debate and vote in Parliament. We followed this principle in the Afghan situation and will follow it in any potential Canadian military combat engagements in the future.

Transport

Canada Post Office Closures—Bilingual Services

(Response to question raised by Hon. Maria Chaput on April 20, 2010)

Canada Post is not closing the St. Boniface location, but is considering relocating the Post Office to another location less than 500 metres away in the neighbourhood. If relocation takes place, Canada Post would continue to respect its obligations in regards to the Official Languages Act and continue to provide bilingual service at the post- office.

(Response to question raised by Hon. Robert W. Peterson on April 20, 2010)

On September 12, 2009, the Government of Canada announced the establishment of the Canadian Postal Service Charter expecting that Canada Post will continue to provide postal services Canadians can count on, maintain rural service, and protect Canadians' mail. The provision of postal services to rural regions of the country is an integral part of Canada Post's universal service. The Service Charter stipulates that Canada Post will maintain service in rural Canada and upholds the moratorium on the closure of rural post offices.

As a result, the moratorium on the closure of rural post offices has been maintained. Canada Post believes its rural post offices are an essential part of the company's network — a network that has greater reach than any other retailer in Canada and greater depth and breadth than that of any other logistics or delivery company.

[English]

Point of Order

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise on a point of order following comments made during Senators' Statements by Senator Tkachuk. Let me remind my honourable colleague that rule 22(4) states:

When "Senators' Statements" has been called, Senators may, without notice, raise matters they consider need to be brought to the urgent attention of the Senate. . . . In making such statements, a Senator shall not anticipate consideration of any Order of the Day and shall be bound by the usual rules governing the propriety of debate. Matters raised during this period shall not be subject to debate.

Senator Hervieux-Payette asked a perfectly legitimate question yesterday of the Leader of the Government during Question Period. Senator Tkachuk's statements today were of a partisan nature. Since Senators' Statements are not subject to debate, it is unfair for comments of this nature to be made knowing that no one will be able to comment on or debate the matter during Senators' Statements.

Let me remind honourable senators of a ruling given by our Speaker on May 12, 2009, in which His Honour stated, as reported in the Debates of the Senate at page 810:

[I] . . . urge all honourable senators to reflect on the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Let us preserve the useful exchange of ideas that has been the tradition and indeed the distinguishing feature of this institution. We can contribute to this goal by avoiding deliberately provocative remarks, thus better serving all honourable senators.

Senator Tkachuk: Name one provocative comment.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): The rule, honourable senators, if I recall, and I do not have it before me, is that we shall not anticipate during Senators' Statements issues that are to be raised under the Order Paper. We have the Order Paper before us. My understanding is that the issue of a national regulatory body is not on our Order Paper, so it was perfectly legitimate for Senator Hervieux-Payette to raise a question yesterday during Question Period and it was perfectly legitimate for Senator Tkachuk to raise the issue today under Senators' Statements.

With regard to making partisan comments during Senators' Statements, we might want to visit the partisan statements made by the other side on a regular basis. We have gone through this issue before. The rules do not forbid making partisan and political statements during Senators' Statements. If that were the case, we would be up and down on points of order on a regular basis addressing statements made by the other side.

This issue has been raised previously with the Speaker, and the rules do not state that political statements cannot be made.

Honourable senators, I do not think this is a valid point of order, and we should proceed to business.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, it might be useful to put the relevant rule on the record, which I believe is rule 22(4). The margin notes describe it as "Criteria for `Senators' Statements'." I shall read it:

When "Senators' Statements" has been called, Senators may, without notice, raise matters they consider need to be brought to the urgent attention of the Senate. In particular, Senators' statements should relate to matters which are of public consequence and for which the rules and practices of the Senate provide no immediate means of bringing the matters to the attention of the Senate.

That is a critical point.

In making such statements, a Senator shall not anticipate consideration of any Order of the Day and shall be bound by the usual rules governing the propriety of debate. Matters raised during this period shall not be subject to debate.

Honourable senators, that rule basically says there is a rubric within the business of the Senate where senators can rise and make statements describing events or calling the attention of the Senate to particular events, but all the other rules of no sharp or taxing speeches will still prevail.

The important aspect of this rule, honourable senators, is the words: "Matters raised during this period shall not be subject to debate." In other words, the rubric is supposed to be used for information purposes, not a subject matter which of itself and its nature attracts a question, a response or even attracts a need to open a debate on it.

Honourable senators, I have some concern about the use and misuse of Senators' Statements. Sometimes, statements are used because senators know that the matter therein cannot and will not be debated. His Honour has, on more than one occasion, cautioned great diligence in the use of the particular rubric. Clearly, the purpose of Senators' Statements is not to raise matters which invite the ire or the anger, distress or consternation of any individual senator because it is not the intention of the rubric to attract debate, contention or controversy. It is primarily for your information. Quite frankly, originally it was used to inform about the lives of great Canadians who may have passed away, senators' tributes, and that sort of thing. In other words, it is supposed to be a positive statement, and never a negative one.

The Hon. the Speaker: I thank honourable senators for their contribution to this question. I will take the matter under advisement and report.


(1430)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mockler, for the second reading of Bill S-10, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I think it is important to go over a bit of history. Bill S-10 proposes to amend the CDSA, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. That law was adopted by this chamber in 1996.

When we received the bill in 1995, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs took the bill and studied it for three months. We heard from a vast array of experts and witnesses. At one point, the chair of the committee, the Honourable Senator Carstairs, decided to have an in camera meeting to determine what the feeling was around the table on both sides. Much to her surprise, she discovered that everyone, on both sides, was against the bill, Liberals and Conservatives alike. I was not surprised as I was new in the chamber and curious, so I had talked with colleagues from both sides. I can talk about that in camera meeting now because it is almost public. During that in camera meeting we decided that it was not appropriate for the committee to vote down the bill because we did not have enough information to do so.

I recommend that honourable senators read our report. It was Bill C-8 at the time, so it would be easy to go into the records and find the document. It is a rather long report in which we explained our frustrations. We also explained why we did not have enough information to vote the bill down. We recommended a joint committee of both houses to examine the subject matter of drug policy in Canada outside the constraints of a bill such as timing and pushing by the government. Therefore, we decided to recommend the creation of a joint committee.

An election followed immediately. It was 1997. The government decided on an election, so we waited until early 1998, at which time we tried to canvass colleagues in the other place to try to find an appetite for such a joint committee. We found much appetite and interest in many colleagues from all parties, including the Reform Party. I will refrain from naming individuals because they are members of the government now. They told me at the time, "Go for it, but we do not want to be part of it. Maybe we should refrain from being part of it in the House of Commons, but why not do so yourself in the Senate?"

I decided to take the challenge and I proposed to my colleagues the creation of a special committee of the Senate to examine the issue. It lasted for two and a half years. We heard from almost 240 witnesses from all across the country and from foreign countries as well. We concluded that the public policy in Canada was not proper. We listened to speeches and read documentation from the then government, and from previous governments, who all elaborated on drug strategies. They made great speeches on substance abuse, but the real strategy was not elaborate.

The main strategy was the law, and the law was a failure. Why? For reference, we studied the year 1999. For young Canadians between the ages of 12 and 18 in that year, we discovered that 70 per cent of them had used cannabis at least once in their lives. That was quite shocking information because those were our grandchildren, sons, daughters or nephews; it was my children and everyone else's children. It was shocking information for my colleagues in the committee to discover.

We convinced ourselves that the best policy would be for any government, not only federal but provincial as well, to put their differences aside and try to find a public policy that would aim to reduce the harm caused by the abuse of those substances, as that was the real problem. The rest is history. That report is still a popular document of the Senate.

Without naming countries, I must tell you that I was invited to discuss the matter with various governments abroad. Some decided to take the appropriate steps to move in a different direction with their own public policy. I will refer to some of those changes later.

I am often asked why I decided to tackle that subject. At the time, in 1995, my eldest son was 15 years of age and my other son was 14. My concern was those two individuals. The media was becoming interested in the subject and the fact that senators were also interested in the subject was almost laughable. As a result, my sons were asking me questions and I was not able to give them any answers. I had many questions myself. That is why that special committee was very dear to me and became dear to all colleagues who sat on it. It was important.

[Translation]

Senator Wallace gave us a clear explanation of the purpose of the bill, which is mainly to crack down on major traffickers and organized crime. The theory whereby we must deter small time traffickers and work our way up to major traffickers may look good on paper.

[English]

The theory was quite simple: If you looked after the various traffickers and if you are smart enough and have invested enough money in the police and enforcement, you will be able to climb up the ladder. That is the theory, but it does not work that way in reality.

[Translation]

The problem goes much deeper than that and the solution is much more complex. In reality, even if we incarcerate a trafficker, the drugs will still be available. We are simply creating a job for another trafficker.

(1440)

Someone else will step in and take over the clientele of the jailed trafficker and will even go so far as to provide information to the police in order to take control of the market that is now available.

Unfortunately, this thriving market is responsible — and not just in Canada — for the majority of homicides, and controlling it is fundamentally different from controlling other markets. The participants in this trade, and this is why this market is so unique, cannot turn to the police or the courts when there are arrears on payments or a breach of contract. Everyone has to enforce their own laws in order to protect their rights, and therein lies the danger. It is survival of the fittest.

How can anyone believe that those targeted by the bill, the big traffickers and organized crime, will be deterred from continuing in the drug trade by minimum sentences? These people already accept the risk of being caught. Even worse, they know they could be killed by new competitors. Today, there are more drugs on the market than in the 1970s, even in proportion to the population.

Prohibition has left its mark. Banning a substance only raises its price. That is the very simple dynamic of this market. In order for you to fully understand this, I will give you a very simple example: Coca-Cola. Everyone is familiar with this product. Imagine for a moment, for the purposes of this demonstration, that it would be possible for us to ban it, that is, to ban the production, sale and, therefore, the trafficking of Coca-Cola in Canada. What would happen? Do you think that those who like Coca-Cola would stop drinking it? Not at all. They would try to find a supply of it to satisfy their needs. What would happen? A black market would emerge. Clients would not stop trying to obtain the product, which would probably be of a lower quality.

You can see where I am going. The problem is not the substance. When you listen to speeches, stop being blinded by worry. Ah, drugs! You picture heroin addicts lying on the ground. Yes, drugs are dangerous, and yes, drug use has horrible consequences, but do not cloud the issue. That is why it is so important that we be thorough in the work we are asked to do. Do not confuse the effects of the substances with the effects of prohibiting those substances.

I mentioned Coca-Cola, but the same thing could happen with tobacco. The same thing is happening with tobacco. Yesterday, Senator Segal talked about contraband tobacco. Prohibit a product and there will be a black market for that product, just as there will be people who are drawn to the profits from that black market. There will be people who want to replace those who are currently making a profit, and the law of the jungle will take hold of that market. The problem is not cigarettes, even though they are dangerous; it is not Coca-Cola, even though some studies show that it is hazardous to health, and it is not cannabis. Studies show that cannabis has a relatively minor impact on health. We need to face facts: the problem is not the substance; it is the prohibition of that substance.

A few weeks ago, I made a statement in which I talked about a landmark study that had just been released by two professors in British Columbia, Professors Wood and Kerr.

[English]

They reviewed all the analyses and all the reports, namely, 15 international studies examining the effect of prohibition on drugs, drug use and drug abuse. What was their conclusion? Prohibition does not work. Prohibition causes even more problems. That is an important point for the committee to look into.

Honourable senators, I told you about the 70 per cent of young Canadians between the ages of 12 and 18. Some of you may remember a movie released in 2007 called Traffic. For those who are curious about that business, I implore you to try to rent that movie, sit down with some popcorn, and watch it. You will be astonished to see how it works. Michael Douglas is good in that movie. He portrays the drug situation in the U.S., and he suddenly discovers that his own daughter is part of the network.

May I have five more minutes, honourable senators?

[Translation]

Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Honourable senators, do you agree to give Senator Nolin five more minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Nolin: Thank you, honourable senators.

[English]

I am torn. I do not agree with the bill, not at all. Honourable senators, read the summary of my report and you will see why. However, I want both this chamber and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to look at it.

Let us say that I am almighty and I am able to convince you to vote it down; it will not go to committee. I will not recommend that you vote for the bill, so I will abstain, for one reason: I want the committee to look at the bill.

Honourable senators, I am no longer part of that committee. However, I will tell you a secret: I asked not to be part of that committee. Let me give you some advice in the few minutes that I have remaining.

First, regarding the Kerr-Wood report, honourable senators heard from Professor Kerr when we were studying Bill C-15. You need to hear from both Professor Kerr and Professor Wood. You must bring them to Ottawa, because they will bring their research papers. They conducted interviews all over the world and came to a very important conclusion: prohibition does not work.

Honourable senators, I recommend that you read the Bill C-8 report. I think the committee should go back to what your ancestors did with the mother law in 1996. Senator Baker was in the other chamber at that time, so he will be able to convince himself again how thorough we can make a study of a bill.

Third, look into the New Zealand experiment. In 1998, the Government of New Zealand created a committee similar to the one we have here in the Senate. They came to the same conclusion. They changed their laws and adopted regulations for how to deal with substance abuse. I think honourable senators should look into the New Zealand experiment.

I recommend that honourable senators examine also the California experiment. Many of you will know that, in California, there is a proposal to legalize cannabis for tax purposes. It would be interesting for the committee to hear from legislators from California. I do not think the legislators have a good reason; I think they are missing the point. There is a lot of money involved in that business, but it should be a health issue, not a fiscal issue.

Honourable senators, I think the committee should travel. Do not look into this important issue exclusively in Ottawa. Many Canadians are aware that such a bill is coming back and they are following our proceedings. It is important that honourable senators seek the interests and opinions of all Canadians, not just Canadians living in Ottawa. This subject is too important to focus on only one area of the country.

(1450)

Honourable senators will discover that when we began our study in 1995, the support for a change in public policy, that is, legalization or decriminalization, was roughly 35 per cent. Do you know what that number is today? It is 70 per cent. Ninety per cent of Canadians support the medical use of cannabis. One of the consequences of Bill S-10 is it will affect millions of Canadians who use cannabis daily for medical purposes. I do not, and probably you do not, want to affect them.

The minister told us in committee that it was not his aim, nor that of the government, to affect those people. That is why we have to consider the indirect consequences of such a bill.

I will abstain and suggest that the bill should be sent to committee.

Hon. George Baker: Would the honourable senator permit a question?

Senator Nolin: I am ready to answer and to take all the time necessary to answer your questions, as long as you agree that this subject is important.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

[English]

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): We have a longstanding understanding on both sides of the chamber that for the purposes of wrapping up a speech we will allow an extra five minutes. We have followed that courtesy for many years. We have resisted every attempt to keep on adding five minutes. I am not about to undertake any changes to that at this time.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, Senator Nolin has done a great deal of work on this subject.

Senator Baker: My question is to the honourable senator, if we are finished with that point of order.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, I must advise you that the honourable senator's time has expired.

[English]

Senator Baker: On a point of order, I think it is the custom in this place that when five minutes is permitted, as both sides had suggested, that the five minutes would be permitted for the purposes of questioning; and further, I think you will find that the custom in this place is that when a senator asks a question and is recognized for the asking of the question, unless the honourable senator has in some way violated a custom of this place to stretch out a question, that the honourable senator be allowed to put the question and a reasonable period of time within the five minutes be provided for the answer. That is my point of order.

Senator Comeau: I would suggest that that is not a point of order. The Speaker may wish to take it under advisement. On the issue of extending time, I made my point earlier. I can discuss with my colleagues on the other side and with non-aligned senators whether we wish to change the practice of extending the extra five minutes. My colleague Senator Tardif, myself, the leader on the other side and all non-aligned senators can discuss the issue further. However, at this time I am not prepared, on behalf of my side, to suggest that we extend by five minutes. Therefore, I would suggest that this is not a point of order.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: I believe that the five additional minutes have been exhausted.

[English]

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, Senator Baker raised a point of order. Senator Comeau spoke to the point of order, and I wish to speak to the point of order. She said the time is up.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: I do not think it is a point of order, because there was an earlier agreement.

Senator Cools: I wish to speak on the point of order. Her Honour said the time is up.

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: No, I said that it is not a point of order.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, the debate is closed.

[English]

Senator Cools: No, I move the adjournment of the debate.

[Translation]

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I move the adjournment of the debate.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Board of Directors Gender Parity Bill

Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-206, An Act to establish gender parity on the board of directors of certain corporations, financial institutions and parent Crown corporations.

Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I rise today to state my support for Bill S-206, the Board of Directors Gender Parity Act, proposed by Senator Hervieux-Payette.

I agree that there must be more women on the boards of leading corporations and I agree it is time to make it mandatory. Here are my reasons why.

I take the long view of the role of women in Canadian society. Against the backdrop of that long view, this bill is a predictable and practical necessity, not an aberration or annoyance. Neither has the sky fallen yet, nor will this bill cause it to fall. After all, as we are fond of pointing out, women hold up half the sky.

Over the last 100 years and more, women in Canada have sought full participation and engagement in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural life of the country. The distance we have travelled can be illustrated in many ways. In 1900, the National Council of Women produced Women of Canada: Their Life and Work. The Council had asked that the federal government allocate space for women to participate in the Canadian presentation at the Paris International Exhibition of 1900. The federal government declined, citing no room. The minister in charge also opined that "the separate classification of women's work was no compliment to women, but the reverse."

Instead, the federal government funded the National Council of Women to prepare a survey on the status of women in Canada in 1900. At the other end of that century, of course, we have the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. In fact, on September 28 of this year, we will mark the fortieth anniversary of its release. Here is the fourth and final underlying principle that the commission adopted:

. . . in certain areas women will for an interim period require special treatment to overcome the adverse effects of discriminatory practices. We consider such measures to be justified in a limited range of circumstances, and we anticipate that they should quickly lead to actual equality which would make their continuance unnecessary. The needs and capacities of women have not always been understood. Discrimination against women has in many instances been unintentional and special treatment will no longer be required if a positive effort to remove it is made for the short period.

(1500)

The royal commission, of course, had the advantage of being able to look back over the century. The view that prevailed in 1900 was what was in the interests of the whole would be in the interests of women; that women should be treated the same as men and, by 1970, this had been proving to be an illusion. Simply put, the long view shows us that the status quo favours those in power.

Over the last 100 years or more, changes in women's equality have never been given. They have had to be taken, made to happen, through unrelenting political pressure by women and supportive men. The list of changes in Canada that prove my point is long: access to training and higher education; access to the professions; standing for election; voting; appointment to the Senate; access to workplaces; family law reform; rights for status Indian women; child care; poverty of older women; poverty of female-led families; shelters and transition houses; equity in pay and benefits; Criminal Code reform with respect to rape; and constitutional change. It is my experience that power and resources are never willingly shared by those who hold them.

Interestingly, another one of the seminal changes over the last century has been the creation and development of the corporation itself. While the corporate vehicle itself was born of change and innovation, and has itself been a force for change and innovation, diversity has come slowly across this sector, even in the face of some outstanding pathfinders. This is so at every level: hiring, pay and benefits; advancement into management and executive ranks; board appointments; and board leadership positions.

Canada has used various strategies to increase employment equity since World War II. It is worth noting this history, focusing primarily on the federal level, since it is instructive in considering whether legislated gender parity on boards is needed.

In the 1950s and 1960s, new employment statutes in most Canadian jurisdictions prohibited racial and religious discrimination and prescribed equal pay for women. The 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights captured the overall values of the time but it had limited force. The Canadian Human Rights Act was passed in 1977. Equal opportunity programs multiplied. In the end, however, the consensus was that they did not result in any significant improvement in the employment of the disadvantaged group members in the Canadian workforce. By the late 1970s, the federal government launched a voluntary affirmative action program aimed at federal contractors and Crown corporations.

By 1983, the federal government had implemented affirmative action for Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities and women across all departments. In the face of slow progress, the federal government appointed the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, which recommended in 1984 that all federally regulated employers be required by legislation to implement employment equity.

Interestingly, that commission examined the employment practices of 11 designated Crown and government-owned corporations, representing a broad range of Canadian enterprises: Petro-Canada; Air Canada; Canadian National Railway Company; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Canada Post Corporation; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Atomic Energy of Canada Limited; Export Development Corporation; Teleglobe of Canada Limited; the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited; and the Federal Business Development Bank. All of the corporations agreed that without legislation and a reporting requirement, substantial change was unlikely.

By 1985, section 15(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which came into force on April 17, 1985 — 25 years ago — made clear that positive programs designed to remedy discrimination were constitutionally valid. I think it is a disservice and, indeed, an intentional mischief to charge that section 15(2) and provisions like it require that vulnerable groups be "preferred" or "given special treatment." The precise purpose of such provisions is to remove historic and discriminatory barriers that prevent those who are qualified from competing in fair competition, but they must still compete.

By way of example, loud voices in Canada used to argue that women could not do the jobs of police, firefighters, pilots, or combat personnel because women could not meet the job requirements. When those job requirements were challenged as discriminatory and changed to be non-discriminatory but still appropriate, women started to successfully compete for these positions. We now rely on, and celebrate, women who serve in these roles. It would be foolish to assert that employment equity — the removal of discriminatory barriers — has advanced token women who would not be there except for special treatment.

By 1986 — again almost 25 years ago — the federal government passed the first Employment Equity Act, which included a two-year transitional provision. It was expanded in 1995.

Parliamentary committees were also active in this period, especially in the 1981 Special Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped, and the 1994 Special Committee on Participation of Visible Minorities in Canadian Society.

I was very encouraged to learn what Ms. Maria Barrados, President of the Public Service Commission, said at her appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance in April. She noted that the employment equity legislation has proven effective in bringing visible minorities, Aboriginals and women into the civil service at general workforce levels.

In 1986, in the federal civil service, men had 58 per cent of the jobs and women had 42 per cent. She said that now women have 55 per cent, more than their share of the broader workforce, and men 45 per cent. She noted, however, that the picture is not so positive for visible minority women.

Ms. Barrados also made clear that men hold the majority of executive positions — 57 per cent for men and 43 per cent for women — and in 1986 it was 95 per cent for men and 5 per cent for women, so there has been a change. I observe, of course, that these numbers suggest as the pool of men shrinks overall they maintain leadership positions and, from my perspective, the glass ceiling is becoming thicker; in fact, it feels like plate glass.

The history of employment equity is instructive for what we must do to increase the number of women on corporate boards. First, the time has passed when it can be argued that time alone will do the job. Starting from virtually no representation, the rate of increase is very slow.

According to the Conference Board of Canada's May 2002 report: Not Just the Right Thing . . . But the "Bright" Thing, momentum to appoint women to boards has stalled since the end of the last round of major governance reform in 1998. The 2009 Catalyst Census shows that women now hold 14 per cent of board seats, up 1 per cent from 2007.

When the Norwegian government first made its case for the quota in 2002, after a period when compliance was voluntary, the number of women on boards was less than 7 per cent and had been growing less than 1 per cent for a decade. Here is the kicker: As Hilde Tonne, Executive Vice-President of Communications at Telenor in Oslo, had observed, it would have taken 200 years to reach 40 per cent.

This would particularly be the case for public companies. The 2009 Catalyst census shows that nearly half of public companies have no women on the board of directors. When all types of companies are included, more than 40 per cent have no women directors at all. That is the rate of increase over several decades when issues relating to human rights in employment and diversity have had a very high profile in Canada in places of employment, public policy and the media.

(1510)

The second thing that the history of employment equity teaches is that, while legislation is essential, we must look at not only how many women there are, but also at what roles they play. Engagement in more senior roles takes even longer. After more than 25 years of employment equity at the federal level, 43 per cent of executive positions are held by women. Less than one fifth of companies have three or more women on their boards and, overall, the number of women in board leadership positions lags their representation on boards.

If we pause and think about the situation in Parliament, and particularly in the Senate, we have a further example of the need of mandated affirmative action. The Prime Minister, when he appointed 18 senators, had the opportunity of appointing 18 women, thereby bringing the Conservative caucus up to gender parity and making the whole Senate closer to a goal of gender parity.

In the Senate, women now comprise almost one third of its members and one third is widely held to be the minimum critical mass needed to influence work in this setting.

I would like to take special note of the situation of federal Crown corporations, however. Given the existence of federal employment equity requirements, it makes sense that, as the Catalyst survey shows, Crown corporations have the highest representation of women on their boards and the highest percentage of corporate officers who are women. This is commendable and I cannot help but observe that, at a very practical level, this shows that putting more women on boards and in board leadership positions is eminently doable.

I would also like to commend the honourable senator for having wise regard for the experience of other countries which have moved to require increased gender representation on boards. As an example, early research on Norway's experience suggests that it is wise to limit any one director to four directorships. The honourable senator has stated that she will introduce a bill for that purpose. This respects the widely held view that directors cannot serve well on more than three or four modern corporation boards at any one time. In Norway, which has a population of only 4.8 million, and which placed no limit on the number of directorships a woman could hold, it is suggested that firms were forced to recruit women board members that were younger and had different career experiences than the existing directors, which in turn had an effect on shareholder value.

Canada does not face the same large demand/small supply problem. We are a much bigger country. Bill S-206 is not as broad as the Norwegian legislation and we have excellent transitional resources available. These include Women in the Lead/Femmes de Tête, a database of over 900 Canadian women qualified for board appointment.

Bill S-206 also suggests a transitional period of three years. It is my personal experience on boards that most have a two- or three- year appointment cycle, with a third of the board positions being renewed in each period.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: The honourable senator's time has expired. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to grant an additional five minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[English]

Senator Nancy Ruth: This means the whole board will be appointed over a six- or nine-year cycle. I recommend that when this bill is reviewed in committee, consideration be given to the length of the transitional period, as it would make for a better practice if they did that.

I look forward to the day when women have critical mass and 50 per cent on corporate boards, on executives and other committees, just as I look forward to it in Parliament. It is my experience that women bring different experiences, perspectives, ways of work and ways of problem-solving. Given the fundamental roles played by corporations in the modern world — well beyond the historical central ones of spreading risk and leveraging capital — I agree with Betty-Ann Heggie, the former Senior VP at PotashCorp, that boards with more women will be more stakeholder-oriented, more worldwide-oriented — perhaps, at least for people — which will create a longer-term advantage.

Bill S-206 addresses a long-standing and indefensible barrier to women and diversity, and it promotes better governance and increased corporate engagement with communities affected by its decisions.

I therefore strongly support this bill.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Would the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Nancy Ruth: Yes.

Senator Cordy: I will take this opportunity to thank the honourable senator so much for all the work she has done on behalf of women around the country and, indeed, internationally. She was the first feminist philanthropist in Canada, but it is not just with her money that she speaks. She certainly, as we all know, voices her opinions on the importance of equality for women.

I am a graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University. I know that the honourable senator has funded the chair for women's studies there and I thank her for that.

I was interested in the honourable senator's comment about how we hear all the time that the glass ceiling is going away or that it is gone or getting thinner. Her comment that the glass ceiling is getting thicker struck a chord with me. She then gave the example that, while we have more women in the public civil service the executive positions are still being held by men. Could the honourable senator expand on that a little for us?

Senator Nancy Ruth: We are lucky; we are appointed. But if we were not, we would have to win an election and take the power. No one who has power likes sharing it, and that is probably sometimes true for me, as well. It is always difficult. Power needs to be taken, but legislating access to power is a pretty good thing in terms of those who are discriminated against in this country.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, that this bill be read the second time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Tardif, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.)

(1520)

[English]

Supreme Court Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tardif, seconded by the Honourable Senator Rivest, for the second reading of Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages).

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, it is with a strong sense of concern and discomfort that I rise to speak to Bill C-232. I rise cautiously because of my propensity in the general scheme of life to always advance the linguistic rights of minority francophones everywhere in Canada and to strengthen the French fact that is at the heart of the confederal partnership that is Canada itself.

[Translation]

That said, we all have the obligation to be consistent with the concerns and aspirations we have already mentioned. In Quebec, we have a wonderful expression to describe that obligation, which means to be consistent with oneself.

[English]

Every law that comes before us must be examined for intent, likely outcome and enforceability. Implementation matters. The intent of a Supreme Court that more perfectly embodies the operation of and principle of bilingualism, which all federal government operations and processes are to reflect, is in no way problematic as an intent or purpose. The compliance of the Supreme Court as an operational part of the judicial system under federal control is neither in question here nor was it in question prior to the introduction in the other place of Bill C-232.

The Official Languages Act and the Supreme Court of Canada Act are the governing authorities. Bill C-232 does not purport to close a gap in reality or an operational gap that has diminished the rights of those individuals, corporations, associations or governments who appear before the Supreme Court on appeal through learned counsel. It does not purport to otherwise suggest that the competent translation by existing translators at the Supreme Court of legal language to English or French is in some way inadequate or dilutive of the intended meaning, nuance or intent of the speaker of the other language before the court or on the bench.

[Translation]

This is a sincere and legitimate attempt to promote an individual linguistic standard, applicable to all Supreme Court judges, that does not directly address the fact that the Supreme Court, Canada's highest court, is already bilingual. Bill C-232 would impose an individual standard on every potential candidate to the Supreme Court, and would rule out many potential candidates across the country.

[English]

Some things are better achieved by evolution as opposed to legislation. Canada's first native-born Governor General, Vincent Massey, however distinguished, did not speak any French. For some decades now, it would be unacceptable to have a Governor General who did not speak both languages competently and effectively. No law passed by this place or any other place mandates this reality. By my count today, we have five of nine judges on the Supreme Court who are bilingual. This is without the benefit of Bill C-232.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, every time we introduce new legislation we must ask ourselves some serious questions: how will we put this legislation into effect? Will it have adverse effects that might be contrary to the purpose of the legislation or of the institution concerned? Will it discredit the administration of justice? Is there a better way to achieve the end goal?

After much thought, I find the answer to each of these four questions raises a number of problems that we must address.

[English]

First, the only way to put this law into effect would be to test potential candidates orally and in writing in order to establish the legal and linguistic capacity in both official languages for each potential candidate. That being said, I ask honourable senators this: Who or what body will determine the successful pass of such an exam? Who will administer it? Who will be the final judge of the legal linguistic competence before any candidate can be confirmed as even eligible to stand? Will candidates have the right to appeal the decision of a bureaucrat or testing panel? Would this testing procedure conform to the Constitution? Would such a testing procedure diminish the equality rights of the qualified Canadians for such a specialized nomination?

[Translation]

Second, regarding the adverse effects, if the purpose of the bill were to provide assurances that the legal traditions of anglophones and francophones are equally represented, and that more than the three judges from Quebec know the Quebec Civil Code, that would be another story, but apparently that is not the purpose at all. The bill strives for linguistic perfection and perfect bilingualism within a context of very specific knowledge and vast experience in the laws and case law of Canada and the relevant English-speaking countries, as applied to appeals before the Supreme Court. There is an implicit calculation here that I do not agree with.

The implication of the bill is that lawyers — seeing this is an appeal court, not a lower-level trial court — and the people they represent would be better served and more effectively heard if all the lawyers were not only legal experts but also perfectly bilingual in terms of using and understanding legal language and terminology. Neither the Commissioner of Official Languages, whom I respect highly, nor Chantal Hébert, a journalist of the highest calibre and absolute integrity, has used this argument in support of the bill. This is not a question of the law, in the purest sense of the word. This is about a sea change that would enhance the flow of questions and comments in French and English in the court.

It is not at all clear who would really benefit from this because interpretation can actually give lawyers time to think about the questions that judges ask in either of our official languages. That kind of pause can be extremely useful to parties in court. The downside is that this would introduce a new criterion into the judge selection process: linguistic ability. Currently, that process consists only of an assessment of the candidate's background and prior experience, as well as a parliamentary committee discussion like the one about Justice Rothstein. Is it acceptable if a candidate's legal skills are superior to his or her language skills? Is it acceptable if the language skills are superior to the legal skills? Simply asking the question has an adverse effect that could muddy the selection process.

[English]

Third, would the administration of justice be brought into disrepute? I do not think that Bill C-232 would bring the justice system to a position of ridicule. However, there is another risk that is possibly far more serious. This bill would certainly bring the Official Languages Act to a certain level of ridicule, and this threat bothers me greatly. I got into politics as a candidate for a chap called Stanfield, from the province of Nova Scotia. He supported Pierre Trudeau on the Official Languages Act at great political cost. I was there when that great right to sign or authorize a candidate was used to tell Mr. Jones that his bigoted anti-French, anti- minority views were not acceptable in the candidacy of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada — period. I had the great privilege of knocking door-to-door in the riding of Ottawa Centre as a Progressive Conservative candidate in 1972.

(1530)

I also had the great privilege of having doors slammed in my face in Tory polls when I responded in the affirmative to this question: Are you that young Tory candidate who supports Stanfield on bilingualism? My response was "yes." The door was slammed in my face. I take this issue deeply seriously and desperately personally.

The bill, I think, would bring the Official Languages Act — although that is no one's intent — into disrepute. With all due respect, I submit that the attempt to pass this law, perhaps as quickly as possible, could well create even more concern with regard to our contemplative and restorative role in the Senate. Advancing a principle to a statutory level, when enforcement is virtually impossible, runs the risk of creating a complete contradiction over the intent of the principle itself. Bill C-232 would undoubtedly put us into this difficult situation.

Is there a better way to do this? I would argue that there probably is a better way to reflect on the bilingual nature of the Supreme Court, the way in which it now operates and whether that can be in some way improved. To do this, we need to know, a priori, whether there is actually a problem now.

Do members of the francophone bar who appear before the court feel their rights and options are limited by the way this bilingual institution now operates? What can we learn from bilingual courts in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario about this dynamic?

While I am usually on the "action this day" side of the ledger when linguistic rights are threatened, it is not clear to me that there is evidence that any rights of appellants or counsel are being threatened in any way.

Honourable senators, this bill proposes, with the best of intentions, a "wouldn't it be nice" option. I submit respectfully that legislating a "wouldn't it be nice" option is an unconstructive way to proceed on an institution of such vital importance. There is no in-depth procedural or analytical study behind the bill before us, whatever the constructive intent of its proposer in the other place.

As a Tory true to the partnership built by Macdonald and Cartier, I am an enthusiastic supporter of any bill or law that strengthens that partnership — makes it real, institutionally and at street level. This bill not only fails that test, but would also profoundly operate in the opposite direction.

I urge honourable senators not to support the bill at this time.

[Translation]

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Would Senator Segal accept a question?

Senator Segal: It would be my pleasure.

Senator Tardif: The bill does not talk about perfect bilingualism, but the ability to understand both official languages. That is a very important distinction.

We are spending a lot of time talking about the rights of justices, but we are not talking much about the rights of the lawyer pleading the case before the highest court in the country. If we are talking about real equality, about justice and equality for all citizens, how can you say that real equality is respected when — as an example — a French-speaking lawyer must plead through the filter of an interpreter, when an English-speaking lawyer does not have to do that?

How can you explain this concept of real equality that is supported by interpretations and rulings from the Supreme Court, such as the Beaulac and Desrochers cases?

Senator Segal: I agree that it is not a question of perfect bilingualism; however, the problem remains. Who would determine if a judge or candidate was bilingual enough? Who would judge the judges' language skills? Would it be a written or an oral test? And who would administer it? With all due respect, I feel that this presents a serious challenge.

We currently have five out of nine Supreme Court justices who, for practical purposes, are bilingual. I have an issue with those who say that lawyers are not able to argue their cases in the language of their choice. The level of translation at the Supreme Court is amongst the highest in the world for both French and English.

Might some people prefer to work without the screen of translation? Of course, but I do not believe that this provides a basis for changing a law, for imposing a quasi-constitutional requirement and reducing the government's ability, no matter which party is governing, to choose the best justices, which includes their language skills, from all the regions. We should not exclude people because they are not almost perfectly bilingual.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I must inform you that the time for Senator Segal's speech has expired. Do you seek leave to continue for five additional minutes?

Senator Segal: May I have five more minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[English]

Hon. Joan Fraser: I am always touched and a little bit torn when we place our faith totally in the capacity of interpreters to do our work for us. Let me say again, as I have said so often, how profoundly I respect the work of those who interpret our words.

When I was younger — very young, naive — I actually thought that would be a wonderful way to build a career. I realized quickly that I would never, on God's green earth, be able to do what they do, so I turned my attentions elsewhere.

However, there are limits to what interpreters can be expected to do. I wonder, Senator Segal, if you recall something that happened the other day in this chamber. Senator Carstairs was speaking on the faint-hope bill, and Senator Boisvenu, after her remarks, rose to put a question to her. Senator Boisvenu put his question in French, and Senator Carstairs, of course, answered in English. She was relying on the interpretation service, which serves us all so well.

Senator Boisvenu's question was, under the existing parole system — the faint-hope system, and whatnot:

[Translation]

Is the judicial system not lying to Canadians?

And he repeated, two or three times:

Is the justice not lying to Canadians? Is the justice not lying?

[English]

Senator Carstairs heard the interpreter giving an accurate translation of what he had said: Is not justice lying? However, that, as you know, is a slightly unusual formulation in English. Senator Carstairs interpreted it to mean: Is not the justice lying? — which she took to mean the judge. She thought he was asking not whether the judicial system is lying, but is the judge lying.

She answered: No, of course the judge is not lying; whereupon Senator Boisvenu said again:

[Translation]

But is the justice not lying under the current system?

[English]

Senator Carstairs stood up again and said: No, the judge is not lying.

Being a bit of a busybody, I took it upon myself to rush over to both senators after the fact. I can tell you that my understanding of what had happened, as I have just recounted it, was confirmed by them.

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Could we not consider that just one small example of how, wonderful though the interpreters are, it is even more crucial that we have people in an arena as essential to the Canadian fabric as the Supreme Court of Canada who can actually understand the language and not rely on interpretation, which, even when completely accurate — as it was in this case — can be misleading?

Senator Segal: Honourable senators, Senator Fraser's excellence with words and nuances as a distinguished journalist and editor of The Gazette for many years makes me reflect on the meaning of her question even more profoundly.

Those events happen in life. They happen here in the Red Chamber, without any negative intent. They probably happen in the other place. They might, on occasion, happen in the Supreme Court of Canada. I have had the privilege of watching some pleadings available on CPAC and elsewhere. It has not been my experience in watching the senior counsel, francophone or anglophone, who are appearing on a matter of appeal before the Supreme Court to ever let any lack of clarity in what a judge might have meant in his or her question pass without seeking precise clarification as to his or her meaning. Further, in what I have seen, it is the practice of judges, in English or French, to engage single counsel who might say something similarly nuanced, again, with no negative intent to "bold down" directly and ask whether that was what the honourable counsel meant. That is usually clarified in the dynamic of an appeal process where there are two sides to the case.

Accepting the honourable senator's premise, here is where she and I might disagree: with respect, I do not think there is a legislative answer to the problem the honourable senator raises. It is a real problem, but I do not think there is a legislative answer to it.

(On motion of Senator Nolin, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Study on Federal Government's Responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples

Third Report of Aboriginal Peoples Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples entitled: First Nations Elections: The Choice is Inherently Theirs, tabled in the Senate on May 12, 2010.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I move, seconded by Senator Champagne:

That the report be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development being identified as Minister responsible for responding.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Does Senator St. Germain's motion also require a response to the report or will we vote on two separate motions?

The Hon. the Speaker: It is included in the motion. If you wish, I can read the entire motion.

Senator Robichaud: No, thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

[English]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Budget—Study on Issues Related to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Generally—Third Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, (budget—study on foreign relations in general), presented in the Senate on May 6, 2010.

Hon. A. Raynell Andeychuk moved the adoption of the report.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Budget—Study on Rise of China, India and Russia in the Global Economy and the Implications for Canadian Policy—Fourth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, (budget—study on Russia, China and India), presented in the Senate on May 6, 2010.

Hon. A. Raynell Andeychuk moved the adoption of the report.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Study on Issues Relating to Federal Government's Current and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans

Second Report of Fisheries and Oceans Committee and Request for Government Response Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Smith, P.C., that the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans entitled Controlling Canada's Arctic Waters: Role of the Canadian Coast Guard, tabled in the Senate on April 15, 2010, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of the Environment, and, the Minister of Natural Resources being identified as ministers responsible for responding to the report.

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, I would like to address this motion with respect to the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on the role of the Canadian Coast Guard.

I wish to propose a friendly amendment to the motion, which I have discussed with Senator Rompkey, chair of the committee. It aims to clearly identify the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the minister responsible for responding to this report, in collaboration with other departments.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: If I may, honourable senators, I move:

That the motion be amended by replacing all the words following the words "the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans" with the following: "being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the Ministers of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities; of Foreign Affairs; of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; of National Defence; of Public Safety; of the Environment; and of Natural Resources."

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question on the motion in amendment?

[Translation]

Hon. Fernand Robichaud: I would like to know what effect this amendment will have on the motion presently before us. Does this mean that we will receive just one report with the amendment or, with the present motion, will we receive a number of reports from the departments mentioned in this motion? Is that the purpose of the amendment?

(1550)

[English]

Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, the purpose of the amendment is to identify the department and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the lead department responsible for responding, in consultation with the five or six other departments named. It was felt that the motion without amendment would require individual responses from the five or six departments without clearly identifying a lead. The lead, appropriately, should be the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who has responsibility for the Coast Guard. That department would be required to coordinate with the other departments.

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourables senators, we had some consultations, and upon reflection, what this amendment proposes is the way that the government response has come back in the past. I do not know why I did not check that in the first place. After another 30 years around this chamber, I will be okay.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion in amendment agreed to.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion as amended?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, as amended.)

Health Human Resources Policies

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Keon calling the attention of the Senate to health human resources policies in Canada.

Hon. Fred J. Dickson: Honourable senators, I am honoured to rise in this chamber to speak to Senator Keon's inquiry and to offer my unqualified support to work with you toward implementing solutions to health care concerns raised in the inquiry.

Dr. Keon called the attention of senators to the need for a new approach to health human resources policies and practices in Canada to address the biggest health problem in Canada — health disparities. The problem of disparities arises because Canada invests too little in prevention and in addressing the root cause of many chronic diseases.

I suggest that all honourable senators take the time to read again and reflect on the thoughtful insights of the Honourable Senator Keon on the weaknesses of the health care system and what steps may be taken to make the system better. The honourable senator said:

. . . the biggest health problem in Canada is health disparities. There is no greater moral imperative than to reduce these disparities.

He went on to say:

Just as important, health care has to get better.

Honourable Senator Keon described the last decade as one that will be remembered as a lost opportunity. The challenge of the next decade, honourable senators, as the Honourable Senator Keon passes the health care torch to us is to assure Canadians and our friend Dr. Keon that, although we cannot undo our past errors, the next decade shall focus on the regeneration of the health care system.

Honourable senators all know that Senator Keon commands the highest respect among his professional colleagues. He is about to take his leave from this historic chamber. Senator Keon leaves behind a memorable career in this chamber, filled with historic accomplishments, particularly in the area of progressive health policy recommendations.

Equally, in his medical professional life before he was called to the Senate, Dr. Keon was most accomplished. There was never any doubt in my mind as to his professional policy expertise. After listening to the statements of honourable senators as to Dr. Keon's unselfish contributions in the interests of his profession, his patients, the community and the people of Canada, it is with great pride and sincerity that I join all honourable senators in wishing him and his wife, Ann, many years of happiness as he sets out to achieve new goals. Senator Keon will depart this chamber, but his legacy will live on.

As I mentioned, I have been intrigued by much of the work that Senator Keon has done over the years, both in this chamber and beyond. I have been especially captivated by his work on the 2002 Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology report, The Health of Canadians: The Federal Role. This report had six recommendations that Senator Keon called to the attention of the Senate in the area of health human resources. The first, accelerate collaborative work in health and human resources, Dr. Keon stressed when he spoke on April 22 during his inquiry. The others are: increase the supply of health professionals and make action plans public by December 2005; report regularly on progress; accelerate integration of internationally-trained health care graduates; increase the supply of health care professionals in Aboriginal and official languages minority communities; reduce the financial burden of students in health education programs.

It should be noted that despite the obstacles of our federation, many of these recommendations have been implemented to some degree. Honourable senators, governments within their areas of responsibility need to rethink and redesign how health care is delivered. That we are still rising in this chamber to debate the sustainability of our health care system nearly ten years after this report speaks volumes. We have increased the number of doctors and nurses. We have nurse practitioners doing some of the tasks of family doctors. However, we still have issues with disparity. Most businesses would fail if all they did was hire more staff without taking a much-needed look at the way they do business.

Senator Keon stressed in his statement on April 22 that over the past decade, health care human resources costs have risen 60 per cent, but we have not solved the problems of access, quality or workplace morale. He makes the point that money alone is not the issue and numbers are not the answer. There should be more emphasis on how the delivery system is designed and how the workplace is organized.

Honourable senators, Senator Keon is correct. This is where health human resource policies and planning can have their greatest impact.

I again bring to your attention the first recommendation of The Health of Canadians report, which was the creation of a national health care council. The council's mandate was to be, in part: ". . . the production of an annual report on the state of the health care system and the health status of Canadians." The Health Council of Canada issued two relevant reports to this inquiry in April 2009, entitled: Teams in Action: Primary Health Care Teams for Canadians, and Getting It Right: Case Studies of Effective Management of Chronic Disease Using Primary Health Care Teams.

The Health Council of Canada's plan is to identify and analyze high-performing health care systems. It is reviewing the factors that help and hinder implementation of collaborative primary health care teams. The latter report's main goal was to identify how applied primary health care research can be translated into pragmatic action. The four case studies of Canadian examples, now ongoing, are: Alberta Health Services — Calgary's Zone, a large urban program in Western Canada; Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, a well-established program covering several small to mid-sized urban centres in Northern Ontario; Colchester East Hants Health Authority in Truro, Nova Scotia, a specialized rural program in Atlantic Canada; and the North End Community Health Centre in Halifax, an urban program transforming the delivery of primary health care in Atlantic Canada.

The Health Council of Canada has determined from their case studies that system-level changes are needed to support efficient and effective care. The council has urged governments, since governments are committed to and increasingly interested in team-based primary health care, to consider improvements in Canada's approach, our capacity and, most of all, the design of primary health care teams to ensure success.

(1600)

The four case studies demonstrate that it is possible to design and implement effective teams based on new approaches to health care. The recipe for success includes, but is not limited to, effective communication, patient-centred programs, clinical engagement, community involvement and empowerment, community outreach, and strong support from senior leadership.

Primary health care teams working collaboratively allow doctors to focus on medical diagnosis and management while other health care professionals, such as nurses, dieticians and social workers, provide other services and work with patients to help them improve their health habits and the way they manage their conditions. In doing so, these teams help educate patients about their conditions, allowing the patient a better understanding of how to more successfully manage their situation by improving lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

As a result, patients who have access to team-based care are less likely to suffer from recurring complications and use the health care system less often. Teams can also be an effective way to provide primary health care services to rural, remote and underserviced areas.

Honourable senators, we currently spend billions of dollars on a system that is trying to fix the problems which we so often do little to prevent. We know that smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and a lack of exercise are the major risk factors for serious heart disease. I am not proud to say that Atlantic Canadians have the highest risk in the country of dying from this disease.

In Nova Scotia, a project called ANCHOR, which stands for A Novel Approach to Cardiovascular Health by Optimizing Risk Management, began in 2006 and is another fine example of team- based care. Its focus is to study ways to help change the mindset of patients with these underlying conditions and to steer people at risk toward healthy behaviour.

This project involves the assessment of adult patients in Sydney and Halifax for the risk of developing heart disease. At each site a team consisting of family physicians, nurses and dieticians work with each patient to set goals for making healthier choices, develop individual action plans, and measure their progress.

During the year, participants receive one-to-one counselling, telephone support, group education sessions and referrals to extended team members — exercise specialists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, et cetera — as well as advice as to other community resources that are there to help them achieve their goals.

Primary results of this approach are very promising. A significant percentage of participants have been able to reduce their risk of developing heart disease by making positive changes in their lifestyle and using medication appropriately.

Beginning in the 1990s, a number of federal initiatives and projects have focused on creating and enhancing collaborative care team arrangements. In 2003, the First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal declared:

. . . the core building blocks of an effective primary health care system are improved continuity and coordination of care, early detection and action, better information on needs and outcomes, and new and stronger incentives to ensure that new approaches to care are swiftly adopted and here to stay.

I hope that those first ministers are reflecting on whether or not they achieved what they set out as the basic principles — in other words, action. I doubt it.

In 2004, as part of the 10-year plan to strengthen health care, the federal government and all the provinces and territories committed to ensuring that 50 per cent of Canadians have access to multi-disciplinary teams for primary health care by 2011.

It is worth noting that the Canadian Medical Association issued a discussion paper in 2007 entitled Putting Patients First: Patient- Centred Collaborative Care. It concluded that a health care system that supports effective teamwork can improve the quality of patient care, enhance patient safety and reduce workload issues that cause burnout among health care professionals.

Using teams is seen as a promising way to help strengthen health care in Canada, but health care does not stand alone. There are many factors that contribute to the need for health care and the overall health and welfare of Canadians. The success of any health care system is in direct correlation with the level of education its users have. In other words, the more educated a community is, the healthier it is. It is important to look at health care from all angles of the socio-economic spectrum. The more education and information patients have, the less frequently they use the system.

Primary health care teams are one way to help this process and reduce health care costs in the future.

Although all Canadians have health care coverage, our system is not perfect. Indeed, its very sustainability is still in question. The door for health care debate is now wide open. We all understand just how sensitive it will be, but if we do not take action now, then who will and when?

David Brooks, in his recent article on poverty rates and life expectancy in The New York Times, said:

Bad policy can decimate the social fabric, but good policy can only modestly improve it.

What Mr. Brooks fails to take into account is that no policy at all is, in itself, bad policy.

If every generation dedicated itself to achieving even a modest improvement, eventually we might achieve something profound.

Honourable senators, let us now make our modest improvement. In the words "we care" of our Legionnaires on the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, let us all demonstrate by our actions that we care about the public health care system.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Wednesday, May 26, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, May 26, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.)