Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 32
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I am
delighted to rise in tribute to the Honourable Vivienne Poy, who has graced this
chamber since her appointment in 1998 as Canada's first senator of Asian
In the dozen years she has been here, Senator Poy's quiet
and charming ways almost camouflage her energetic and tireless commitment to
human rights, minority rights and gender equity. Such pursuits grew from her
background: born into war and displacement, and her family's flight from Hong
Kong into China as refugees and, later, migration to Canada. If anyone knows
about the tribulations of immigrants and minorities in Canada, it is Senator
Senator Poy received a PhD for her dissertation on Chinese
Canadian women immigrants, and she has been at the forefront of the Japanese and
Chinese communities in this country. She played a primary role in having May
recognized across Canada as Asian Heritage Month. In addition to her
inspirational volunteerism, Senator Poy has garnered stellar achievements as a
corporate leader, author, historian, public speaker and academic. Indeed, she is
one of the country's most remarkable women.
In recognition of her many achievements, last month
Senator Poy was named one of Canada's Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2010 in the
second annual people's choice award presented by the Canadian Immigrant
magazine in association with the Royal Bank of Canada. More than 200,000 people
voted online for their choice out of hundreds of submissions, that were whittled
down to 75 finalists, and then to 25 winners.
Honourable senators, this is just the latest recognition
of a remarkable woman who, over the years, has received numerous awards and
honours, including several honorary degrees, the Outstanding Asian Canadian
Community Award from the Canadian Multicultural Council and an International
Women's Day Award. Without a doubt, Senator Poy has been an inspiration to young
people, women and new immigrants, and a respected ambassador of this
Honourable senators, please join me in extending warmest
congratulations to Dr. Poy on her Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, on May
31, people around the world joined together to celebrate World No Tobacco Day.
The World Health Organization created this annual event in 1987 to bring global
attention to the negative effects of tobacco.
It might be hard to believe but, in 2008, almost five
million Canadians aged 15 and older were smokers. According to The Lung
Association, tobacco kills about 45,000 Canadians every year. That is more than
the total number of deaths from AIDS, car accidents, suicide, murder, fires and
accidental poisoning combined.
Honourable senators, Canadians and people around the world
need to know that there is no safe tobacco. It does not matter if it is smoked
in a cigarette, a cigar, a pipe or even chewed; it is still not safe; and
"light" cigarettes and "smokeless" tobacco products are not safe either.
Regardless of packaging and form, it is a poison, pure and simple.
I am particularly concerned about the arrival of the
so-called new generation of smokeless flavoured tobacco products. I recently
learned about products in the U.S. that look like breath mints and
breath-freshening strips, both in terms of their packaging and in presentation.
We need to educate people, in particular our children and youth, about the real
dangers that these toxic chemicals pose.
As a society, we are making gains in the fight against
tobacco use and addiction. For instance, I was happy to learn that in my home
province of Newfoundland and Labrador, over 70 municipalities have made their
outdoor recreation and sporting facilities smoke-free. As well, I commend the
College of the North Atlantic for taking action and declaring that all of its
campuses will be smoke-free by September 2010.
We are standing up to tobacco companies and their
incredible marketing machines. To use yet another example from Newfoundland and
Labrador, since January 1 this year, large retail tobacco displays — so-called
power walls — are no longer permitted in the province.
Honourable senators, I am heartened by the progress that
has been made. However, it is clear that we must persist in our efforts to
reduce the tragic grip that tobacco products have on users around the world. On
May 31, we stand up against the dangers of tobacco use and encourage tobacco
users to reclaim their right to a healthy life.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, a few
weeks ago a major deal was announced between Canada's forestry industry and a
consortium of environmental organizations in respect of the boreal forest area
that runs across the middle of Canada. This agreement ended years of conflict
between the two sides and created a process that will ensure the protection of
critical ecosystems and the revitalization of the forest sector. It is a win-win
scenario that marks a distinct advancement over years of bitter struggle.
Some of the same players were involved in the agreement in
British Columbia a few years ago to create the Spirit Bear reserve and to
implement an ecosystem-based land-use plan that will protect the environment,
while permitting sustainable forestry, mining and tourism with First Nations
involvement. This approach is the wave of the future and proves that
environmental protection can go hand in hand with economic development and
Currently, the federal government is seeking to improve
regulatory processes in the Northwest Territories. They could well take a page
from the two agreements described above. Land management will not improve in the
North if the federal government takes a heavy-handed approach that does not
respect Aboriginal rights and the wishes of Northerners. Rather, they need to
take a collaborative approach to address the issue.
Recently, I released Seeking Certainty, New Approaches
to Land Management in the Northwest Territories. This paper, written by
well-known Yellowknife consultant Jamie Bastedo and supported by the Senate
Liberal caucus research fund, outlines the challenges of regulatory reform and
recommends practical solutions. I highly recommend it to the government and urge
they follow its suggestions.
Hon. Bob Runciman: Honourable senators, I rise
today to express my support for Bill C-391, a bill to disband the long-gun
registry, and to comment on the fallacy that all police officers support
continuation of the registry.
On September 21, 1995, I appeared before the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, then considering Bill
C-68, which created the long-gun registry. I was there to present the Ontario
government's opposition to the registry.
At the time, I pointed out that the great tragedy of Bill
C-68 was that it emphasized a politically attractive measure at the expense of
realistic and effective gun control. It might look good on the six o'clock news
but it would not work on the streets, and it would divert money and personnel
from the things that do work.
Boy, did it divert money. From an initial estimate of $2
million, the cost rose to more than $2 billion. Think of what good use those tax
dollars could have done in effecting meaningful gun control and real control of
Senator Mercer: Put on another G8.
Senator Runciman: In 1995, the Ontario government
warned that costs of establishing the registry could exceed $1 billion —
ultimately an underestimate, but dramatically closer than the phony numbers
provided by the government of the day and misguidedly supported by many in
police leadership. I want to stress "police leadership," not rank and file
officers and not all leaders. We hear the same folks continuing to defend this
ill- conceived and ineffective measure and continuing to perpetuate the myth
that their voices represent all police officers across Canada. Of course, that,
like the original $2 million cost estimate, is another fiction.
That myth was shattered very effectively by MP Brent
Rathgeber during a committee hearing on Bill C-391 in the other place on May 13.
In an exchange with Charles Momy, the President of the Canadian Police
Association, MP Rathgeber elicited an admission from Mr. Momy that less than 1
per cent of his association's membership responded to a survey on the long- gun
registry — a survey that Mr. Momy, earlier in the meeting, had implied was an
indicator of the widespread support of the registry among rank-and-file
officers. Also, at an earlier hearing on the bill, three retired police officers
from Winnipeg suggested that frontline officers have been intimidated and
effectively silenced from speaking out on this issue.
Honourable senators, it is truly unfortunate that many of
the same suspects who brought us this misguided program are again attempting to
confuse the public about the effectiveness of the gun registry and its support
in the policing community.
The gun registry is a costly failure and it is time to
shut it down.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, yesterday
the Irish community of Quebec City, Quebec and, indeed, all of Canada laid to
rest a great contributor to the Irish heritage of our country. I am sure that
Madam Suzanne Duplessis would join with me — we were both MPs in the same riding
in Quebec City — in agreeing that Marianna O'Gallagher, who died last week,
deserves, by far, the title of "the greatest Irish Canadian of Quebec City."
Her writings encouraged many to study the history of the
Irish in Canada. Her work in the research and promotion of the Irish culture in
Canada was recognized and respected not only in Quebec and Canada but also in
In addition to being the author of several books on the
subject — Grosse Île: Gateway to Canada, Eyewitness: Grosse Île 1847
and The Shamrock Trail — Ms. O'Gallagher was also the recipient of both
the Ordre national du Quebec in 1988 and the Order of Canada in 2002; and on
several occasions Irish heads of state and foreign officials have visited Grosse
Île in her company.
She left us with a substantial list of contributions
beyond the written word. When I was first elected as a member of Parliament in
the other place in 1977, 33 years ago last week, I was subject to her immediate
lobbying on behalf of the Irish community.
I knew Marianna because she was a teacher where I was both
a student and later in life became chairman of the school board. She came to my
campaign office following the election and, even before I was sworn in as an MP,
started to lobby me — yes, it is an honourable thing to do — on behalf of the
Irish community to create and later promote the Grosse Île committee that she
had formed many years before.
She came to me favouring the concept of giving access to
this sad but important doorway to Canada. She succeeded beyond anyone's dreams,
humanizing Grosse Île's history with victims' personal anecdotes found through
the meticulous historical research for which she was famous.
Thanks to her, not only do we have the access that was
denied before, but today Grosse Île, the Irish Memorial National Historic Site
of Canada, is recognized as one of Canada's greatest landmarks for its
contribution to Irish heritage and to Canada's link with its past.
Time after time, she asked me to visit the site with her
and I mistakenly declined. She was and will remain our best guide to that
chapter of our history.
As a descendant of a family that arrived on Grosse Île
during that period, I always felt strong affection for what she was doing. I
also live around the corner from the family home in Sainte-Foy and held many
political events in the old home that was later transformed into a popular
Two months ago, Ms. O'Gallagher finished her illustrious
career by serving as Grand Marshall at this year's revival of Quebec City's St.
Patrick's Day parade. Yes, you heard me right — Quebec City's St. Patrick's Day
parade. It shows the extent of the involvement of the Irish community in Quebec,
and it was all done in an environment unique to Quebec.
That all happened in cooperation with francophones in the
Quebec City region, who exemplify multilingual and multicultural cooperation in
It was my personal pleasure to know her from my childhood
until her death and to work with other members of her family, who are also
outstanding examples of integration and collaboration among speakers of
different languages in Quebec.
Please join me in thanking Marianna O'Gallagher for her
contribution to our history.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, a great
Canadian passed away on Sunday past in Winnipeg. The Honourable Duff Roblin,
P.C., C.C., was a man for all seasons. He was a businessman, a wing commander in
the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, the premier of my
province for 11 years, a senator from 1978 to 1992, and during part of that
time, served as Leader of the Government in the Senate. He was a devoted husband
to dear Mary and father to Jennifer and Andrew and had four grandchildren. He
was also a tremendous squash player.
Mr. Roblin, as I always called him, was a family friend
since I was 10 years old, beginning when he showed up at our Gimli house and
asked my dad to run for him. My late father was a family doctor who had never
been involved in politics in his entire life and was more concerned with his
patients than with political issues; but Duff, as he was affectionately known,
did not care. He travelled Manitoba as leader of the Conservative Party, looking
for candidates. He found them by asking, "Who is the most respected person in
this area?", and then convincing them to run for his opposition Conservatives.
I know he spent two years coming to our door — my mother
thought he was a drug salesman the first few times — until my father said yes.
With Duff's PC team, they went on to defeat the Liberals, who had held power for
His government, honourable senators, changed the course of
history in Manitoba and was the most progressive government in Manitoba's
history. They revolutionized the education system, brought medicare to Manitoba
— because my dad was the minister at the time — expanded social spending and
strengthened social welfare programs. They built highways and roads; they
brought in water and sewage to the entire province, including my town of Gimli,
Manitoba, which had never had it before. The Roblin government continually
promoted urban development by combining municipalities in the Winnipeg area to
create the City of Winnipeg.
He is probably best and most warmly remembered for "Duff's
ditch," the Red River Floodway which coincidentally was open on Sunday, the day
he died, to help control the flooding in the Winnipeg area at this time. This
floodway was constructed in 1968, and it has saved us billions of dollars in
flood relief over the past decades.
I know all my colleagues from Manitoba in the chamber knew
and loved Duff Roblin as much as I did. My dad always said that Duff brought
Manitoba kicking and screaming into the 20th century. We entered the modern age
and I will never forget the changes as I grew up; they were phenomenal.
When Mr. Roblin left politics in 1967 after successful
elections, he ran for the P.C. Party of Canada and, as we all know, lost to
Robert Stanfield. However, he went on to have an illustrious career in business
in Montreal and Manitoba, always maintaining his passion and interest in the
I came to the Senate two years before Mr. Roblin retired.
However, in those two years, he was my mentor and it was humbling. I was a mere
rookie, and just watching his parliamentary procedure, his debate and the way he
handled himself was such an experience it was almost breathtaking because he was
such an expert and such an incredible gentleman. He mentored me as he had my
Honourable senators, I always kept in touch with Mr.
Roblin — he was always saying "Call me Duff, Janis, call me Duff" — but I do not
know what path the Johnson family would have taken if he had not knocked on our
Gimli door all those many years ago. We have no regrets.
Thank you, and my deepest sympathies to his wonderful
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both
official languages, the revised actuarial report for the Canadian Forces Pension
Plan (regular forces) for the period ending March 31, 2008.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both
official languages, the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Certain
Allegations Respecting Business and Financial Dealings Between Karlheinz
Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, pursuant to
Rule 104, I have the honour to table the first report of the Special Senate
Committee on Anti-terrorism, which deals with expenses incurred by the committee
during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the
Senate, p. 469.)
Hon. Robert W. Peterson presented Bill S-219, An
Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (rural postal services and the
Canada Post Ombudsman).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Peterson, bill placed on the Orders
of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I have the
honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, respecting its
participation at the One Hundred and Twenty- First Assembly and Related Meetings
of the IPU, held in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 19 to 21, 2009.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I have the
honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the One-hundred
Twentieth Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly and Related Meetings, held in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia, from April 5 to 10, 2009.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I have the
honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the Parliamentary
Meeting on the Occasion of the Fifty-fourth Session of the United Nations
Commission on the Status of Women: the Role of Parliaments in Enforcing Gender
Equality and Women's Rights, Fifteen Years After Beijing, held in New York, New
York, United States of America, on March 2, 2010.
Hon. Irving Gerstein: Honourable senators, having
consulted with the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance,
and with his agreement, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I
That, until June 30, 2010, for the purposes of any
study of a bill, the subject-matter of a bill or estimates, the Standing
Senate Committee on National Finance:
(a) have power to sit even though the
Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being
suspended in relation thereto; and
(b) be authorized, pursuant to rule
95(3)(a), to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then
be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
Hon. Doug Finley: Honourable senators, I give
notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Senate condemns last Friday's barbaric
attacks on worshippers at two Ahmadiyya Mosques in Lahore, Pakistan;
That it expresses its condolences to the families of
those injured and killed; and
That it urges the Pakistani authorities to ensure
equal rights for members of minority communities, while ensuring that the
perpetrators of these horrendous attacks are brought to justice.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators,
pursuant to rule 57(2), I give notice that, two days hence:
I shall call the attention of the Senate to the state
of palliative care in Canada.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question
is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The Canadian Press reported last week that, in
order ". . . to monitor social activity and help identify. . . . areas where
misinformation is being presented and repeated as fact," the Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade has engaged a Toronto company, the
Social Media Group, to find questionable online comments.
According to the report:
The firm alerts the government to questionable online
comments and then employees in Foreign Affairs or the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans, who have recently been trained in online posting,
point the authors to information the government considers more accurate.
Honourable senators, we may find irony in the concept of
this or any government trying to correct misinformation. Sometimes, it is the
business of government to produce misinformation. However, it is perfectly fine,
so long as the representatives of the government are identified as being
representatives of the government.
Can the minister confirm that all government
representatives who use government resources while interacting in this way on
social networking sites will identify themselves as government representatives?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
has engaged with a social media firm to monitor social activity and help
identify for DFAIT, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada areas where misinformation on the seal hunt is being
presented and repeated as fact. The firm will not be engaged in any online
posting or discussions on behalf of the Government of Canada.
The monitoring and information correction phase ran from
March 15 to May 21. Designated employees of the Government of Canada will
respond to this misinformation by directing authors to the online content
already publicly available. The designated employees represent each department
and receive training for online posting.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, when those
government employees do that good work in correcting misinformation, do they
identify that they are government employees?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I understand
that the employees do identify themselves as such, but I will confirm that.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, the
people of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia are still waiting for funding to dredge
Sydney Harbour so that a modern marine port can be established.
The Province of Nova Scotia, including the former
Progressive Conservative premier and the current NDP premier, have indicated
they are willing to take part in cost-sharing to begin this project, as long as
the federal government is committed. The municipalities are also committed to
cost-sharing. An environmental assessment was conducted and a company is waiting
to start work.
The already-extended deadline was this past Friday. There
is still no word on funding from Ottawa.
Why is this government not committing to fund this project
so that much-needed infrastructure jobs can be created now?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for the question. As he
indicated in his question, this is a complex and complicated matter that deals
with many levels of government. Many agencies were involved in working on this
Minister Ashfield has been actively engaged in
negotiations with his counterparts in the provincial and municipal governments.
That is all I can report at the moment. I am sure Minister Ashfield will address
the subject when the details have been worked out.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, the leader
used the words "complex" and "complicated." The issue is neither that complex
nor complicated. Sydney Harbour needs to be dredged. The federal government had
money in the budget for the Atlantic Gateway. Two successive provincial
governments agreed and the municipalities agreed. The only people not at the
table are those with the Atlantic Gateway or the Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Budget 2007 provided $2.1 billion between 2007 and 2014
for the new Gateways and Border Crossings Fund. However, the Atlantic Gateway
was not mentioned in the budgets of 2008, 2009 or 2010. I believe that in
December 2009 Minister MacKay said he was confident that they would see further
investments throughout the region in our infrastructure, particularly with a
mind to building this gateway, which was, in his view, a game changer for
Atlantic Canada and for the Atlantic Canadian economy.
What hollow words again from Minister Peter MacKay. He
talks a lot and never delivers.
Why has new ACOA Minister Ashfield not sought funding for
the dredging of Sydney Harbour? If neither he nor former Minister MacKay have
enough political clout to get this done, perhaps the Leader of the Government in
the Senate could use her sway with this government and commit to ensure that the
federal government will provide funding to this much-needed project.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I said the
matter was complex and complicated because many levels of government are
involved and many questions must be considered.
The honourable senator raised the subject of the Atlantic
Gateway in a question with me several weeks ago and I took his question as
notice. It is incorrect to say that the federal government is not seized with
this issue. I will take Senator Mercer's second question as notice only to
remind myself to find out from the department when the answer to our exchange of
a few weeks ago will be forthcoming.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, I appreciate
the leader's follow-up and will remind her again, if need be, in the future.
The importance of the question relates to the deadline as
extended, which was last Friday. That deadline has passed and no commitment has
been made. It is agreed by nearly everyone involved in promoting the Atlantic
Gateway that the simplest part of the gateway is the dredging of Sydney Harbour.
Believe it or not, we now import coal into Cape Breton. It
sounds strange, but that is the way the world has evolved. I never thought I
would say it, but we import coal to generate electricity at the generating
station in Cape Breton.
When a ship loaded with coal arrives in Sydney Harbour, it
is loaded at only 70 per cent capacity. The reason for this is that Sydney
Harbour has not been dredged. However, the fee paid by Nova Scotia Power for
coal to generate power for the good people of Nova Scotia, such as Senator
Oliver and me, is the same rate as if the ship were full.
Dredging Sydney Harbour will help maintain low power rates
in Nova Scotia because ships could be loaded to 100 per cent of their capacity.
Everyone agrees — municipalities, the province and even federal bureaucrats —
that this is the simplest part of the Atlantic Gateway to fix, and also one of
the cheapest. I ask the minister to please put her weight to this issue to see
if it can be done.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am well
aware that coal is imported from Venezuela for the coal-fired electrical plants
in Nova Scotia.
As I indicated, all levels of government have been
involved. I promise the honourable senator that I will seek the delayed answer
that I requested several weeks ago, only because I do not want to be reminded
again in two weeks that I still have not provided an answer to his question.
Hon. Fred J. Dickson: Honourable senators, I am as
much of a Cape Bretoner as Senator Mercer, and I am concerned about the Cape
Breton economy. While Tom Kent was president of the Cape Breton Development
Corporation, the Liberals did a lot of good work in Cape Breton, but many
initiatives did not work out as well. Why did the former Liberal government not
dredge Sydney Harbour? The problem with Sydney Harbour did not arise overnight.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator
Mercer would obviously like to answer the question, but I will take it.
It is a good question. As in many other areas, the
Liberals demand that our government take immediate action when over many years,
the former Liberal government had the opportunity to act and it did not.
However, that does not mean we will follow their past practices. Our government
realizes this is an important issue.
As I promised Senator Mercer, I also promise Senator
Dickson that I will obtain an answer to the question from the minister.
Hon. Richard Neufeld: Honourable senators, my
question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Our government has
been focused on the economy, jobs, and on ensuring that Canada's Economic Action
Plan is rolled out in communities across Canada. Statistics Canada reported that
a record 108,700 jobs were created in April, the largest monthly job gain on
Could the Leader of the Government update all honourable
senators with the latest information from Statistics Canada regarding our
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, it is nice to receive the occasional economic question.
Certainly, our colleagues in the other place are never asked questions about the
economy, so I am happy to comply.
Statistics Canada announced that Canada's economy grew 6.1
per cent in the first quarter of 2010. This represents the strongest quarterly
rate of economic growth in a decade. Consumer spending and business investments
are up. Since last July, Canada's Economic Action Plan has helped create nearly
285,000 new jobs. Standard & Poor's says that in the G7, Canada has best
weathered the financial crisis. The Economist magazine called Canada "an
economic star." The OECD recently said Canada's economy "shines." Both the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International
Monetary Fund predict our economic growth will lead all G7 countries both this
year and next.
While it is encouraging to see Canada's economy on the
right track, the global recovery does remain fragile, and that is why we need to
fully implement Canada's Economic Action Plan. While our plan is helping Canada
lead the way on jobs and growth, Mr. Ignatieff's and the Liberals' plan of
raising job-killing business taxes and the GST would halt our recovery in its
tracks and cause us to lose all those great jobs we so recently gained.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, my
question is for the Leader of the Government. At the end of March, the federal
government ended the ecoENERGY Retrofit program. Many homeowners, service
providers and companies were negatively affected, as honourable senators can
appreciate. In the North — the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut — this
program was very effective and used by people to close out the cold and, in
their own way, save energy and thus ameliorate the global warming situation. The
territorial government will continue to fund their 50 per cent share of the
program, but it cannot replace the money lost from the federal government.
We in the North sometimes do not understand the way things
happen in the South and why governments do the things they do. Recently it was
announced that the federal government would spend $1 billion on security for the
G20 and G8 conferences. I am also aware that the government will have to spend
billions of dollars on prisons because of their approach to dealing with crime.
We in the North are wondering how the government can
justify closing such an effective program, which probably costs just a few
million dollars, while at the same time the government is willing to spend
billions of dollars on the other measures that I spoke about. We do not
understand why the government does these things.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, the government is responsible for programs in a host of
areas. It is not a situation of trade-offs. Certain monies are allocated for
With regard to the ecoENERGY Retrofit program, the
government did not cancel the program. The government put a considerable amount
of money into the program and, as we all know, the program was very popular and
oversubscribed. The ecoENERGY Retrofit program and the Home Renovation Tax
Credit program were valuable, especially as part of the economic stimulus in
order to get the economy going and to create jobs.
The ecoENERGY Retrofit program was very popular. Like the
stimulus package, a certain amount of money was allocated to that program.
Government employees are still accepting and dealing with all the applications
that are still in the pipeline. However, just like the stimulus package, which
will terminate at the end of fiscal year 2010-11, the ecoENERGY Retrofit program
was so popular that it was oversubscribed.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators,
my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday,
Commissioner Oliphant released his report on the allegations regarding financial
and business dealings between Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian
Mulroney. Before I talk about what I feel is unacceptable, I would like to read
an important excerpt from the report. I quote:
I found that the business and financial dealings
between Mr. Schreiber and Mr. Mulroney were inappropriate. I also found that
Mr. Mulroney's failure to disclose those business and financial dealings was
Commissioner Oliphant was generous with his choice of
words, but I have no problem saying that what is also inappropriate is that the
Conservative government, which preaches transparency and accountability, prefers
to avoid getting involved when the time comes to take action.
Could the Leader of the Government tell us whether her
government will take steps to recover the $2.1 million that was paid to Mr.
Mulroney in 1997 as compensation, based on his testimony and good faith?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, the government thanks Mr. Justice Oliphant and all of those
who worked on the Oliphant inquiry in producing the report that was tabled by my
colleague moments ago. The recommendations of the report are with the
appropriate authorities, who will review the recommendations, and of course, the
government will respond to any recommendations that are made by these people.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators,
considering how the leader's government recommends that public monies be spent,
I trust the leader will agree that it is of the utmost importance to recuperate
$2.1 million. Those recuperated funds could help to pay the government's
inappropriate bill for the G8 and G20 summits, its inappropriate cuts to women's
and cultural groups, and to slow down its inappropriate debt.
Will the government follow Commissioner Oliphant's
recommendation to improve conflict of interest regulations for former
parliamentarians, with the intention of preventing taxpayer money from being
spent to compensate lying and unethical parliamentarians?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I did respond to the senator's question. Mr. Justice
Oliphant produced a report and recommendations yesterday. The appropriate
authorities will be reviewing the recommendations and the government will
respond to the recommendations that are made to the government following this
With regard to the honourable senator's other comment, we
did not cut money to the Status of Women Canada programs; we increased it.
With regard to the G8 and G20, I was given a figure
earlier today with regard to the considerable dollar cost of the Kananaskis
summit. It was a considerable amount of money for the G8. This money is spent
based on the best advice of security officials and on the scope and magnitude of
Hosting two major summits back to back is unprecedented.
Some 30 world leaders will be attending. I do not think people understand this.
This involves 30 leaders and thousands of delegates. Each country brings many
hundreds, in fact thousands of officials to travel with them. We are talking
about between 10,000 and 12,000 people. All of these people have to be housed,
fed, transported and, most important, protected.
All of the costs, as I mentioned in answer to a question
the other day, have been budgeted. We budgeted $930 million for the cost of
security for the summit. As we also stated — and as Ward Elcock, the official
responsible for our security, has stated — we will be happy to have these costs
fully scrutinized by the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, we
share the same concern about security at the summit. However, if the cost is as
transparent as the leader pretends it is, we would like to see the figures
before the event takes place, not six months after.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am
surprised by that question, in view of the honourable senator's past position.
The honourable senator would obviously know that security is based on
information the experts tell us we will face. Obviously, we will not know until
after the summits are over whether the amount of money allocated was sufficient
or whether more was needed. The fact is that the government cannot determine in
advance the exact costs for an event that has not taken place.
Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, I have a
supplementary question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Canadians
are interested to know the reason for the great discrepancy between our cost and
the costs for the summits held in the United Kingdom and the United States,
which were, I believe, $20 and $30 million respectively. Here we are talking
about $980 million.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Ward Elcock
answered that question better than I could when he appeared on both major
television networks last week, and, in fact, called into question the published
media reports on the cost of those meetings. As the person in charge of our
security, he would know that better than most of us.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: I am wondering if the Leader
of the Government in the Senate would table the security recommendations on
where to hold the meeting. The reason the previous G8 summit was held in
Kananaskis was because of the location. The bears in the woods did not charge
much for security. No one would recommend the largest city in Canada for the
location of a G8 meeting because the costs go up accordingly. On what advice —
security or otherwise — did the Prime Minister pick Toronto?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the answer
is pretty clear. The G8 summit in Kananaskis was held when Mr. Chrétien was
Prime Minister and cost almost $500 million. I believe, if you take those
dollars and put them into today's terms, they would be pretty well on target
with the current costs.
We had already decided to have the G8 summit in
Huntsville. The G20, as we know, has gained greater prominence, especially since
the G20 countries and our global partners have been instrumental in guiding the
world economy through an economic situation that could have easily taken the
whole world into a serious depression. The G20 has taken on incredible
The G8 summit was being held in Huntsville, and when it
was decided to add the G20 conference, the city of Toronto was chosen precisely
because of the numbers I mentioned a few moments ago. We are talking about
hosting between 10,000 and 12,000 people. Where in the country, other than a
large, major, urban centre, could we accommodate that many people with hotels,
communications and travel? That is why Toronto was chosen.
Senator Downe: The same request came in for the
previous G8 meeting. As honourable senators will remember, in addition to the G8
members, the African leaders were also in attendance. Various interest groups,
organizations and NGOs all wanted to bring as many people as they could. It
became somewhat of a status symbol to have the biggest delegation. We restricted
the size of the delegations to keep costs down. Just because 12,000 people have
requested to attend, does not mean that all 12,000 are needed. Why would the
government allow the conference to get so out of control, particularly on the
Senator LeBreton: This is an important meeting.
Canada is proud to host this meeting. We are, as I indicated in my answer to
Senator Neufeld, seen as a shining light in leading the world in economic
recovery. This is an important meeting for us.
I dare say, when Senator Downe was Chief of Staff to the
former Prime Minister, I would have loved to have seen him go and advise the
Prime Minister to tell certain delegations that they were not allowed to come
because they were bringing too many people. That is rather absurd.
Senator Downe: I did not do it, but the Prime
Minister certainly did it. We restricted the size of the delegations and kept
the costs down.
Senator LeBreton: I dare say that the size of
delegations was restricted because there was not room to accommodate them.
Senator Downe: That is exactly the point. In
picking a location away from a main city there is control over the number of
delegates. Many people stayed in Calgary at the expense of their own delegation
because we said we were not paying the costs. That is how we controlled costs.
I am surprised a Conservative government would let the
costs run up to $1 billion.
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is talking
about the G8 meeting in Kananaskis. Similarly, Huntsville was chosen for the G8
summit and can easily accommodate the numbers. When it was decided to host the
G20, because of its ongoing importance in shepherding the worldwide economy
through these difficult economic times, it was obvious there would be large
numbers of people attending.
We are the host country. We are proud to host the world in
both of these summits. Obviously, the size of the delegations and the importance
of the meetings dictated that only a large metropolitan centre could accommodate
these numbers. That is exactly what we are doing.
This is not money we want to spend. It is money we have to
spend in order to provide security and properly run these important meetings.
Hopefully we will have a situation whereby people will obey the law and the
heavy security will not be put into action. We cannot take that chance, of
course, because the world has changed significantly, and we listen to our
security advisers in order to assess what types of security measures to follow.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government)
tabled the answer to Question No. 2 on the Order Paper—by Senator Downe.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government)
tabled the answer to Question No. 4 on the Order Paper—by Senator Downe.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government)
tabled the answer to Question No. 17 on the Order Paper—by Senator Downe.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government)
tabled the answer to Question No. 19 on the Order Paper—by Senator Downe.
Hon. Patrick Brazeau moved that Bill S-11, An Act
respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands, be read the
He said: Honourable senators, I am proud to speak here
today and to show my support for Bill S-11, An Act respecting the safety of
drinking water on First Nation lands.
This bill is an essential part of a comprehensive approach
that is already helping to resolve some long-standing, disturbing problems
related to the quality of drinking water in many First Nations communities. Bill
S-11 establishes a mechanism to protect health, safety and investments by
creating a federal regulatory framework.
The roots of Bill S-11 lie in the Government of Canada's
response to a series of reports and studies, including one completed by the
Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. This research was inspired by
the chronic problems related to the safety of drinking water in many First
Nations communities. Although each report and study recorded particular
observations, they all identified the lack of a comprehensive regulatory regime
as a significant contributing factor.
In March 2006 the Government of Canada and the Assembly of
First Nations joined forces on a wide-ranging plan of action for drinking water
in First Nations communities. The action plan called for the establishment of an
effective federal regulatory regime and articulated a multifaceted plan to
achieve this goal. The introduction of the safe drinking water for First Nations
bill takes us one step closer. To realize the significance of Bill S-11,
however, I believe colleagues must first appreciate the larger context.
The collaborative Plan of Action for Drinking Water in
First Nations Communities is designed to address each of the specific factors
that conspire to hinder the consistent delivery of safe drinking water.
Officials from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Assembly of First
Nations, in consultation with their counterparts from Environment Canada and
Health Canada, carefully crafted each element of the action plan. This
collaboration, a success in itself, has been essential to the progress made in
the last few years.
The collaborative approach adopted by the parties focuses
on three actions: assess, invest and protect. These actions are both
interconnected and mutually reinforcing.
Impartial assessment of the quality of treatment systems
and drinking water, for instance, provides the information needed to make
appropriate decisions about investments of taxpayer dollars. So, too, does
information about levels of operator expertise and adherence to water and waste
water treatment protocols.
Targeted investments informed by accurate assessments will
help sustain the infrastructure that provides access to safe drinking water in
First Nation communities. Accurate assessment will also protect the investments
of taxpayer dollars required to build and maintain drinking water
Honourable senators, let us consider a few key facts. At
the outset of the action plan, First Nations suffered from a chronic shortage of
qualified system operators. To address the issue, Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada increased its investment in the Circuit Rider Training Program and nearly
doubled the number of qualified instructors in the past four years. Today,
operators with at least level 1 certification are in charge of more than 60 per
cent of all First Nation treatment facilities.
Another example of the action plan's informed investment
involves treatment protocols and technical support. Four years ago, stakeholders
had little concrete guidance on what constituted adequate treatment practices
and procedures, and operators were often left on their own to troubleshoot
technical problems. The action plan saw the Government of Canada set up a
24-hour toll- free hotline and publish the Protocol for Safe Drinking Water
in First Nations Communities.
These actions have had direct impact. In 2006, the number
of drinking water systems deemed at high risk of failure stood at 193. This
number has fallen to 49 and continues to decline. Another statistical indication
of progress is the number of First Nations communities with a combination of
high-risk treatment systems and drinking water advisories. In 2006, 21
communities were in that precarious condition. Thanks to a series of remedial
actions taken by partners, only three remain there today, with steps being
undertaken to remedy the situations of these three communities.
Moreover, the Government of Canada has continued to
monitor the success of the action plan in part to ensure that Canadians are
aware of the impact of public investment on drinking water for First Nations.
The plan calls for an annual progress report. At least four such reports have
been submitted to Parliament to date.
Bill S-11 is the next step in protecting these public
investments and safeguarding access to safe drinking water in First Nation
communities by enabling the establishment of an effective federal regulatory
The first step in the identification of feasible options
for such a regime involves the expert panel. The panel gathered testimony from
representatives of First Nations, the provinces and territories, along with
various experts in water and engineering. The November 2006 expert panel's
report identified three feasible regulatory options, one of which is federal
incorporation by reference of provincial and territorial laws with adaptations
to meet the needs of First Nations communities.
Rather than simply moving ahead with one of the options in
the expert panel's report, the Government of Canada chose a more studied and
cooperative route, having extensively analyzed the option and through continuous
dialogue with First Nations leaders. To understand why this option offers the
best hope for success, one must first consider several authoritative studies and
The first is a report completed by the Commissioner of the
Environment and Sustainable Development. The report details that nearly $4
billion was invested between 1995 and 2008 by the Government of Canada into
First Nation water and waste water systems. The report also describes the First
Nations Water Management Strategy, a joint initiative launched in 2003 by Health
Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. According to the report, the
initiative suffered from an inherent flaw: an absence of clear performance
indicators and accountability mechanisms. This flaw helps explain why, three
years into the First Nations Water Management Strategy, despite sizeable
investments in infrastructure, water quality on-reserve did not improve. Page 5
of the commissioner's report states, in part:
It is it not clear who is ultimately accountable for
the safety of drinking water.
A section on page 11 states:
There is no legislation requiring that drinking water
quality and safety in First Nations communities be monitored.
Finally, this definitive statement appears later in the
Until a regulatory regime comparable with that in
provinces is in place, INAC and Health Canada cannot ensure that First
Nations people living on reserves have continuing access to safe drinking
The commissioner's report made a series of five
recommendations: first, recreate a federal regulatory regime for drinking water
on- reserve; second, clarify design codes and standards; third, ensure
monitoring and follow-up; fourth, create institutions for capacity building;
and, fifth, provide progress reports to Parliament.
As honourable senators likely appreciate, the action plan,
initiated in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, addresses each
one of these recommendations. Significant progress in improving water conditions
on-reserve across Canada has been made. To build on this progress, Budget 2010
extended the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan for two more years,
for an additional $330 million. However, much work remains to be done, of
course, and that is why the legislation before us is so important.
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
prepared another relevant report to Bill S-11. After hearing from a series of
witnesses, the committee published its report in 2007, approximately one year
after the launch of the action plan. The report acknowledges both the underlying
inequity of the current situation and the recent progress made to eliminate the
inequity. An excerpt from the report states:
First Nations people in this country have a right to
expect, as do all Canadians, that their drinking water is safe. Through
sustained investment and dedicated efforts, there has been notable
improvement in the quality of water delivered in First Nations communities.
The Senate committee's report goes on to make a key
That the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development undertake a comprehensive consultation process with First
Nations communities and organizations regarding legislative options, . . .
with a view to collaboratively developing such legislation.
In response to this recommendation, the Government of
Canada initiated an ongoing consultation process, which included engagement
sessions. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada published a discussion paper and
distributed it to interested parties in advance of a series of focused
engagement sessions. Nearly 700 participants, including more than 500
representatives of First Nations, were provided with the opportunity to make
their comments and suggestions on the viable option proposed by the government
of incorporation by reference of existing provincial and territorial regulations
with adaptations to meet the needs of First Nations communities. No other viable
option was put forward.
As we all recognize, engaging the very people in the
creation of a regime to which they will be subject builds public support and
inspires respect for new law. This legislation will enable the government to
work together with First Nations in the development of federal regulations. To
date, Canada has maintained an open dialogue with First Nations in addressing
water issues in First Nations communities.
As part of the overall consultation process, our
government has engaged with First Nations through numerous workshops,
information-sharing sessions, engagement sessions, regional impact analysis, and
continuous dialogue on legislation and a regulatory framework since the 2006
expert panel hearings until the most recent engagement with regional First
Nations chiefs in 2010. We continue to work in close cooperation with regional
First Nation organizations to try to address specific regional issues and
concerns. The consultation process will continue into the future when we
commence regulatory development.
By creating regulations, Bill S-11 will help establish
drinking water and wastewater standards that are similar to off-reserve
What is more, this will provide new opportunities for
First Nations communities and municipalities to work together in areas such as
training and shared systems.
This process would lay a common foundation for assessing
the effectiveness of the operation, design and maintenance of wastewater
treatment systems. In other words, this would make it easier to provide
continuous assessments to protect the quality of drinking water in First Nations
Under Bill S-11, the development of a federal regulatory
regime would engage the people with the greatest knowledge of pertinent issues:
provincial and territorial officials and First Nations. These men and women set
and enforce regulations. They operate and maintain water and wastewater
treatment facilities in First Nations communities. They have the first-hand
experience; they know what works, what does not work and how to make water and
water waste treatment facilities work. This is precisely the kind of insight we
need to craft a new federal regulatory regime.
Representatives of First Nations, Canada and the
appropriate province or territory would work side-by-side to analyze the
components of existing provincial and territorial regimes. They would identify
which elements to incorporate into a federal regime and which to discard. They
would also be free to adapt existing elements and create new ones, if necessary.
This approach to regulatory development will produce a
federal regime that will encourage collaboration between First Nations and
individual provinces and territories. Perhaps they would agree to share
treatment and distribution facilities or hold joint training sessions for
Another advantage of such an approach to regulation-making
is that it would enable the parties to address the particular gaps of existing
provincial and territorial regimes. For instance, few existing regimes address
private wells and septic systems. In rural areas, many people rely on these for
their drinking water, as do a large number of people in First Nation
communities. Regional experts working together on the particular drinking water
challenges that face First Nations in a single province or territory are ideally
positioned to develop a practical, sustainable regime.
Honourable senators, the legislation before us today is an
appropriate response to the numerous reports and studies into the issue. Allow
me to quote again from the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
report, this time from the conclusion, which states:
Legislation to regulate water standards on reserve is
required. No one, including this committee, argues differently. Regulations
are, however, only part of the answer. Sustained investment in the capacity
of First Nations community water systems and of those running the systems is
absolutely essential to ensure First Nations people on reserve enjoy safe
I believe that this quote sums up the issue perfectly, and
Bill S- 11 is a crucial component of a larger approach to address it. This
approach includes significant and sustained investment in First Nations
community water systems. It also includes training programs for systems
operators and the development and dissemination of materials on how to design,
operate and maintain treatment systems.
The approach has already begun to achieve measurable
progress: Fewer treatment facilities at high risk of failure and more trained
and certified operators are in place. Sustainable progress, however, cannot be
achieved unless adequate accountability mechanisms are also in place. This is a
key finding of the reports that I have cited today. Bill S-11 aims to establish
these mechanisms. It aims to fill a regulatory void that contributes
significantly to water problems in many First Nation communities.
Bill S-11 also proposes to extend the cooperation and
goodwill that has begun to correct a fundamental wrong. No longer would First
Nations be denied the legal protections afforded to other Canadians when it
comes to drinking water.
Ultimately, the proposed legislation aims to restore a
sense of justice and equality in this country. It aims to provide residents of
First Nation communities with the regulatory certainty enjoyed by all other
Bill S-11 is one critical element of a comprehensive
solution to a complex problem. The bill proposes having a federal regulatory
system corresponding to the specific needs and specific situation of the First
Nations communities. It also supports the perfectly reasonable approach of
assessment, investment and protection.
I believe that residents of First Nation communities have
every right to expect, as do all Canadians, safe, clean drinking water. Their
health and the safety of their communities depend on it. Any honourable senators
who share my belief must, in good conscience, join me in supporting Bill S-11.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Would the Honourable
Senator Brazeau accept a question?
Senator Brazeau: Yes.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, due to
the urgency of this particular situation, would the honourable senator be
willing to talk to the government side as well as to the opposition about this
It is such a basic need in our First Nation communities
that they have fresh drinking water. With the time that will be required to
draft regulations, unless there is a very good reason to delay this legislation
or to hold it up — not that I am inferring it will be held up — is there a way
of expediting this process?
As sponsor of the bill, would Senator Brazeau take it as
his responsibility to speak to the leader on this side to ensure that we get
this bill through as soon as possible? I think I see heads nodding on the other
side in that some are in concurrence with this request.
Senator Brazeau: I thank the honourable senator for
that important question. My community is one of three communities that are still
in an emergency state in this country.
As the sponsor of the bill, I will absolutely do whatever
I can to try to expedite this legislation. Let us face it: This piece of
legislation is about a health and safety issue. If it was occurring in any
non-Aboriginal community, it would be unacceptable. That is why it is so
important that this bill passes immediately.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Will the honourable senator
accept a further question?
Senator Brazeau: Yes.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, sadly, there
are other communities that are susceptible to the problems having to do with
drinking water. I thank Senator Brazeau for his speech and obvious commitment to
this bill; I am glad that he is its sponsor.
The honourable senator has referred to other reports by
Senate committees. Does he have any familiarity with the reports having to do
with the safety of drinking water and, in particular, with reference to drinking
water on First Nations that have been made by the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources and, in particular, those bills
that have to do with that matter that have been proposed over the past four
years and change by Senator Grafstein.
Senator Brazeau: I thank the honourable senator for
that question. I was not aware of a report from the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. However, I became familiar with
the report that was tabled by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal
Peoples in 2007, which focused on drinking water on reserves.
Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas: Honourable senators,
Senator Brazeau mentioned programs that will be in the communities. There was no
mention as to whether these programs would present equal opportunities for both
men and women.
Senator Brazeau: This is about clean, safe drinking
water, and if one looks at the operators who will have to become certified to
manage the systems, those jobs and opportunities are open to both men and women.
In my own community, a woman manages the system, so that opportunity is there.
More importantly — and this needs to be mentioned — since
2006, broad consultations took place between the Government of Canada, First
Nations organizations, regional organizations, people in the communities and
technical experts, all of whom were both men and women. When we talk about
consultation, it is important that both men and women are consulted. That is
what happened in this case. This process has gone on for four years. We now have
this bill, and hopefully we can move forward with it.
Senator Banks: I understand the alacrity with which
we must deal with the situation. Senator Brazeau is right that it is emergent.
However, I would like to consider this in light of the sponsor's first speech.
Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate.
(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Grant Mitchell moved second reading of Bill
C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing
dangerous climate change.
He said: It is often said by senators, when they stand to
address a given issue or debate a given bill, that they do so with pleasure, and
I am sure they do. In this particular case I do so with pleasure because I am
struck by the magnitude and importance of Bill C- 311, which has been compounded
significantly by virtue of the fact that it has been supported by the majority
of the elected representatives in the House of Commons.
Bill C-311 lays out a number of provisions that will
assist Canadians and the Government of Canada in achieving important obligations
in the fight against climate change. This bill was authored and presented by New
Democratic member of Parliament Bruce Hyer. I have had the pleasure of working
with Mr. Hyer for several weeks, and I am struck with his commitment to this
As I proceed with my comments, the deputy leader will
realize that I, unlike him, am rising above partisan debate and partisan
Senator Cowan: You had better explain that to him,
because they do not know.
Senator Mitchell: They would know, because their
leader wrote the letter with the Bloc and the New Democrats to propose a
coalition prior to their winning a minority government a few years ago. I want
senators to remember that.
Not to be diverted, I have grown to understand, appreciate
and value Mr. Hyer's commitment to this important issue and to doing something
about it. He has a career of working in the wilds of Canada. He understands the
environment intimately and he feels very strongly about this bill, as do I.
Mr. Hyer was not alone in the House of Commons in
supporting this bill. It received a broad level of support from all three
opposition parties representing 60 to 65 per cent of the Canadian population.
That illustrates the thrust behind this bill.
In a specific sense this bill follows on from Bill C-288,
the Kyoto implementation bill that we passed here several years ago. To some
extent it provided a function and a service in the development of policy,
although it has to some extent also been neglected by government. Its
requirement for ongoing planning and reporting by government expires in 2012,
and this bill will pick up where the Kyoto bill, Bill C-288, left off.
This bill does a number of things, honourable senators. I
want to underline, particularly for my colleagues across the way, that this bill
is not aggressive in the way that it has been construed by some, including,
perhaps, their colleagues in the House of Commons. The bill fundamentally
directs the government to plan. That cannot be that big a chore given that the
government must be planning now. It has established and announced targets and
programs. The bill simply brings the planning process out into the public eye.
That is the first step.
The second thing that it does is to require an audit of
how the plans are being implemented and a review of how the plans are
established before they are implemented. The environmental commissioner will be
charged with the responsibility of reviewing the government's five-year plans
leading up to 2050. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
will be responsible for assessing where those plans have gone, what they have
accomplished and whether they are sustaining the trajectory necessary to reach
the 2050 targets and other targets that will ensure that we do our part and meet
our obligation in this fight against climate change.
The bill establishes one irrevocable target while the
other target that it establishes is not irrevocable. Both targets share a
significance to the extent that they are based on science that says that we have
climate change and we cannot allow it to produce temperature increases of
greater than 2 degrees. That target is not a surprise because the Prime Minister
himself has established his commitment to the target of limiting climate change
to 2 degrees. He did that twice. He did it at last year's G8 conference as well
as at Copenhagen. That target is not particularly controversial, given that the
Prime Minister has accepted it.
The bill calls for a target of 80 per cent reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions based on 1990 levels by 2050. The government's own
target is 80 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2050. One could say that
that is a difference of consequence, but when you consider that it is spread
over 40 years, it is of almost negligible difference year by year and could
easily be achieved by a government intent on that second target. If it can
achieve that, it can certainly easily achieve the one of below 25 per cent by
The more controversial target is the 25 per cent reduction
below 1990 levels by 2020. That is seen to be too aggressive. The parliamentary
secretary responsible for this file said that it would be a disaster for our
economy. However, that is not a required target in this bill. The government
does not have to accept that target. It does have to accept the 2050 target but
not the 2020 target by any means.
As soon as the government establishes its first plan for
2015 — and it could do that tomorrow — the second target no longer applies. The
government is given a great deal of flexibility in this bill to establish a
series of targets up to 2050 to increase or moderate the trajectory of those
plans as long as the overall longer-term target of 80 per cent is achieved by
2050. It does all of those things.
It underlines planning; it enhances the planning's
significance and impacts by requiring review by the environmental commissioner
and the post-application implementation review by the national round table; and
it establishes targets as guidelines, as a demonstration of commitment to the
science that is required to be accepted. The government does accept them, as I
said, but those are not unreasonable when you do the analysis of the bill and
you see what the possibilities are.
In fact, it leads me to a conclusion that I do not see why
the government would not have supported this bill, and I will get into that
later. They are planning. The targets are not unreasonable, given what they have
already accepted and said they would do. It would be great politics for them in
accepting this bill, which is seen by the environmental community and many
Canadians as being enlightened in its approach in dealing with climate change,
and there would be little economic downside, if any. In fact, I believe there
will be a great deal of economic upside, and I will talk about that as well.
There is a real urgency to action and to dealing with this
problem. We all see the physical impact of climate change, and I will talk about
the science of that. We all know at some deep level — or maybe not such a deep
level — that it is occurring. Look at what has happened to the fisheries on the
East Coast and the West Coast; look at the drought across the Prairie provinces;
look at the sea level increases in the North — they are having an impact on the
North and everywhere; look at what is happening to the pine beetle and the
forests burning in British Columbia. I do not know if that is the reason in
Quebec, but I would be interested in having a look. The point is that although
someone might say these kinds of impacts are not significant — maybe one or two
are not directly climate related — when you have this preponderance of events
that are out of the ordinary, many of them absolutely unprecedented, occurring
at the same time with all kinds of evidence that temperatures are rising and are
causing the change in the climate in this country and in the world, then you
have to begin to understand that this is occurring.
The IPCC has said that there is about a 90 per cent chance
that it is occurring and that we are causing it, and the IPCC has defended those
miniscule attacks. The old story is if there was a 90 per cent chance that the
plane you were about to get on was going to go down, how would you react? You
would do something about it. We have to do something about it. People can say
that these are unrelated incidents. The science says they are not, but the fact
is they are occurring in a way that is damaging economies profoundly and could
begin to damage economies infinitely in a way that would make any kind of
investment impact, in trying to solve the problem, absolutely miniscule. In
fact, I am not so sure, as I have said, that the investment impact will be
negative at all. It will probably be positive.
The other thing that addresses and enhances the urgency of
this bill and the need to embrace the action it calls for is what is happening
with other nations. Whether or not we think it is occurring — believe me, I do,
and I know we all do — and whether or not we feel that we are at some
disadvantage in that process, the fact is that other nations have accepted that
it is occurring. Other nations are beginning to take action and are undertaking
economic initiatives that will at least leave us behind and at worst damage our
ability to trade with them.
Nowhere is this more profound than in the case of the
American power act, which was presented about three weeks ago by several
senators in the United States. This is not their first draft. This is an
iteration of that power act. Because they have been working at it for so long
and it has come back in evolutionary form, it is getting closer to the
likelihood of being passed. What they have laid out is very interesting, namely,
the cap-and-trade system.
They will sell allocations to those companies that will be
subject to caps. Those companies will have to buy credits and they say that most
of the money will be returned to the consumers. They are taking steps to ensure
that the market for allocations for carbon credits will not be manipulated and
cannot be manipulated. This is an important step. They have pointed to specific
ways to ensure that occurs. They will put a collar on the price, which cannot be
higher or lower than certain limits. Second, they will not allow people to
speculate. Third, you can only buy them or sell them if you are actually under
the cap-and-trade regime. You cannot buy or sell them because you want to
speculate on them. You have to put up real money. You cannot buy or sell on
margin, I would presume, so you can specifically limit how that thing applies
and deal with some of those excesses that people perceive to be a problem or a
potential problem with that kind of a market.
One element of this act that should be very urgent to us
is that they, of course, are calling for border adjustments, and they are
calling for a zero conventional and other oil import regime. They do not want to
be dependent upon imported oil, and we export a lot of oil to them. They are
prepared to put border adjustments, tariffs or penalties by another name, on
products that we would like to export. That will not be just oil and gas by any
means. It will also be manufactured products that have not been manufactured
under a sufficiently rigorous carbon limit regime. Then we would not be able to
sell those products to the United States.
A number of things can be taken from this. One is that
they are progressing in a way that we have to be very conscious of economically,
if we are to continue our trade with the U.S., and two, they are planning. They
are not afraid to present that plan publicly. It presents a public planning
model to us, and, second, a much greater urgency in getting this done. There are
many advantages to plans and reviewing plans. Once they are public, you begin to
harness the energy focus, and commitment of the private sector. You begin to
harness the energy, commitment and focus of the other sectors, the people
working in government and who are responsible for achieving these objectives.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. That is why it is so important to
have objective public measurement, as would be called for in this bill by the
round table on economy and environment.
My next point is that we disagree on many things in the
Senate and in our political process here — and that is great because debate is
wonderful. However, there comes a point in time when we have a chance to agree
on something very important, something that, in many respects, should transcend
specific values some of us might think we hold that do not allow us to embrace
that issue. There comes a point in time that gives us a chance to do something
that has a magnitude and an impact that is broad and significant, that is not
just for tomorrow but is for eons to come. Honourable senators, this is one of
those issues. It has transcendence in its importance for all of us, for our
children and for the world. It also transcends partisan consideration. The fact
is that we all agree to it. I have said it before and I will say it again: the
Prime Minister agrees to the two degree limit; he has accepted an 80 per cent
target that is well within the realm of the 80 per cent target for 2050
presented in this bill; and he is not being forced to do anything by this
planning process that is contrary to what, clearly, he and his Minister of the
Environment must be doing. They are planning now. They have programs and
I want to make the case that we can agree on this, and
that it is important that we agree on this. We have this chance to actually
agree to do the right thing and to support this measure — I can hardly believe I
am saying this — and to see the government gets some credit for doing the right
thing on this very important environmental file.
I thought I would go through the arguments I have heard
against this bill and against the idea of doing whatever it is we have to do
with climate change. Then hopefully I could prevail upon several senators who
are predisposed to vote against it, to vote for it, pass it and really do
The first argument really underlines — and it is not as
explicit any more — the debate and doubt about climate change and taking
dramatic action and that is the problems people have with the science. I have
said it a couple of times and I will repeat it again. There is no one on that
side who does not believe in the science, certainly not my colleague.
The science has been assaulted. Certainly over the last
year it received some hits but, when the specific areas about which the science
was attacked are identified, the conclusion is that they have been dispelled or
explained. One was the number of emails in East Anglia. That has been absolutely
dispelled. Yes, it revealed frustration and yes, some of them should not have
been written the way they were written, but it certainly did not in any way
taint the type of research, science and conclusions the scientists had drawn.
Then there have been a couple of other cases about the
glaciers in the Himalayas. Yes, they are not melting as fast as it was said
somewhere in a thousand pages of the IPCC's fourth report. The fact remains that
glaciers are melting.
Honourable senators, the science is very strong. When we
hear from people who are skeptical we do not ever see actual science that
supports their skepticism. They certainly can nitpick at certain features of the
science that supports climate change, but they cannot find ways to defend their
Some people have moved from pure skepticism that climate
change is occurring, to skepticism that it is occurring but we are not causing
it. My answer to them is — as I have said very often — if we are not causing it
then we have a real problem, because we cannot fix it. The prospects of that
scenario would make anyone hope that, in fact, we are causing it. There is
overwhelming scientific evidence and support.
I note that the national academies of science in all of
the G8 major industrialized nations have clearly endorsed the conclusion that we
are causing climate change, it is occurring faster than we imagined and we
absolutely have to do something about it. Science stands up very well when given
a chance and really underlines and backs up this bill; remembering that this
bill is premised upon the idea of a limit of 2-degrees increase in temperature.
Second, there was some argument or debate about when Bill
C- 311 was originally presented as Bill C-377. That debate was around whether it
gave to much power to the executive and whether you could use a bill of that
nature to essentially extend criminal powers to a realm outside of criminal law.
What was determined by many experts and written into this version of the bill
were some specifications that support specific powers for the executive but not
too the extent that they erode the power of the houses of Parliament to watch
government in that regard. It also has a provision whereby CEPA can be included
under the administration of this act, and it has already passed constitutional
muster in the determination of whether you can apply criminal- like sanctions
under a law that is not the criminal law of Canada. Those constitutional
arguments have been met.
Honourable senators, it is also true that this bill has
been approved by authorities in the House of Commons in meeting the legislative
requirements That is of some consequence because these bills are given great and
rigorous review to ensure that they meet requirements, whether they are, among
other things, a money bill and constitutionally compatible.
Also there is, as a final default, the peace, order and
good government clause, which is not necessarily full support for the argument
that this is constitutional, but it certainly does derive precedent that further
strengthens this case. There is not a problem with the constitutionality of this
Third, the issue of targets has been construed as a
problem for the government. I have talked about it briefly and I will talk about
it again. The relationship between the 2020 target of 25 per cent below 1990
levels and economic "disaster" is well overblown by the parliamentary secretary
who used those words and, in fact, there is very little proof of any economic
disaster occurring from any proposed climate change policies.
Just as an aside, I would like to say something that is
very interesting to me. I cannot really remember seeing cases in any number of
economic policy, government policy, and environmental government policy and
environmental business policy that have hurt businesses or economies. In fact,
good environmental policy absolutely protects and builds economies and
This concern is really dispelled by virtue of the fact
that the government does not have to accept that target. They can accept a much
different target and focus on pacing their achievement over the next 40 years
until 2050. Setting that aside, I do not think targets are a problem at all.
The economics of the bill constitute the core problem for
most people. Again, Parliamentary Secretary Warawa did say that this bill would
create an economic disaster. Essentially he is contradicting the Prime Minister,
who has said that the government accepts the science of the 2-degree limit, so
you cannot have it both ways. However, it is okay, it is all good, because I do
not see even remotely where the economic disaster would occur, unless it is in
the continuation of climate change — climate change that is so far hurting the
economies of the Maritimes and B.C. and probably some of the central provinces,
the Prairie provinces, not to mention the problem with lowering water levels in
the Great Lakes and what that will do to shipping and property values around
them. That is the economic problem.
People say it will wreck the economy and it will be a
disaster, as Warawa said, to do something about climate change. We had to
fundamentally restructure the economy to win the Second World War, as did
Britain. It did not wreck their economy. It did not wreck our economy. It
created some of the strongest industrial economies in the Western world.
Therefore it is not immediately obvious that that scenario would occur at all.
In fact, when we consider the world taking on major environmental initiatives
like acid rain, we find that it is not overwhelmingly costly. What we find is it
is actually done for about one tenth the cost in about one tenth the time, and
in that case it actually created an industrial initiative. It created
Honourable senators, it does not follow that climate
change initiatives will hurt economies. In Britain, 550,000 clean jobs have been
created by a government and by an economy that has doubled the achievement of
its Kyoto commitment, or all but done so and will have by 2012.
The real cost to the markets of reducing one tonne of
carbon in Europe today is about $15 to $20. At that price, we could have
fulfilled our Kyoto commitment if nothing else, and I am not arguing that we
should have done so. Had we done nothing but buy reductions where they are cheap
and easy to do so, it would have cost about $5 billion a year. That is all it
would have cost us. That should say something to the conservative market-driven
mind and that maybe it is not as expensive as we think it is. Maybe once we get
going, we will find that it drives itself. We will find a way to do this through
the creativity, commitment, energy and intelligence of Canadian business and
Canadians generally. I have every confidence that they will find absolutely a
way to do this much more cheaply than the cynics suggest it will cost.
We do have studies on the other side of it, it is very
clear. The most recent one, which is excellent, was sponsored by the TD Bank and
prepared specifically by Dr. Mark Jaccard, a well- known, internationally
renowned environmental scientist from Simon Fraser University. The study
concluded that if we carry on with business as usual until 2050, there will be a
growth of about 2.4 per cent. If we make the move to reduce the rate of climate
change to the 2020 figures, growth would be about 0.1 percentage points less, at
2.3 per cent instead of 2.4 per cent. I do not believe that is exactly the right
conclusion, because economists are conservative and will not overplay the
possibilities. If we are within 0.1 percentage point in growth by doing it
versus not doing it, why would we not do it? Once we get started, we will find
the growth to be even greater. How can it not be greater when one invests in an
If it were not the case, then this government never would
have introduced the stimulus package, which proves that investment stimulates an
economy. To say that we should not invest in a green revolution during the next
Industrial Revolution because it is too expensive is to say that we should not
have invested in the last one. That cost money, too, but, thankfully,
generations before us had the wherewithal to take the new and the unknown and to
invest for the sake of a future that would be different.
My economic argument is that there is no danger. On the
other hand, we have real danger if we do not proceed more quickly. If one wants
to wreck an economy, just continue to allow climate change to spiral. That would
demonstrate the real danger to the economy. If one wants to hurt an economy,
just hold it back and hold back Canadian business when it wants to get going and
it wants to compete but it does not quite know what the rules of the game will
be. While the plan called for in this bill will not be entirely enough to give
business a sense of security about what the rules of the game will be, it will
certainly give direction upon which they could begin to do their planning and
much of their thinking for the future. They might even begin to act more
aggressively than what we see today.
Honourable senators, when you analyze all of the issues
related to this bill, you will readily conclude that much of the concern raised
over this bill to this point really does not apply. This bill will not hurt the
economy. The government is not limited in what it is able to do under this
planning section. In fact, it is probably already planning and I would give it
credit for that because I see some of its announcements that suggest it is so.
Once we see the plans, we will engage in further debate with better
participation and produce better ideas. Once we review and audit their progress
and implementation, then we will have greater motivation for people to do what
needs to be done and to achieve it. The sooner we get started, the better it
will be. For each day of inaction that goes by, we are losing not only on the
climate change side, but also on the economic side with those countries with
which we compete. They are progressing much more rapidly than we are. The U.S.
spends 18 times per capita on clean technologies and renewable energy
technologies than we spend in Canada. How can we compete if we do not get
started? At some point, we will be so far behind that we will not be able to
I ask honourable senators to consider these arguments and
to deem this bill an important piece of proposed legislation. It will give
Canada a chance to do something important and special, leaving a legacy for our
children. We will begin to see its importance and impact just scant years after
we begin to act on it in the things it will cause and the energies it will
Hon. Richard Neufeld: Will the honourable senator
take a question?
Senator Mitchell: Certainly.
Senator Neufeld: I appreciate the honourable
senator's comments about science. Most people believe in the science of climate
change and that we must do something. The government is certainly moving toward
I have one question, depending on the answer. The
honourable senator is from Alberta, which, thank goodness for the rest of us in
Canada, produces most of the oil consumed by or exported from Canada. It
produces high CO2 or GHG emissions and generates much of its
electricity with coal. They have a particularly large problem in Alberta, which
I know about from talking to various energy ministers and because I live right
next door in British Columbia
I want to know whether the honourable senator agrees with
the following in the bill: under Regulations, paragraph 7(1)(b) states:
limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be
released in each province by applying to each province the commitment made
under section 5 and the interim Canadian greenhouse gas emission targets
referred to in section 6;
Subclause 5(a) states:
as a long-term target, to a level that is 80% below
the 1990 level by the year 2050; and
Does the honourable senator know what it would do if it
were applied? Does he have a response to the economic devastation that it would
have on Alberta? Would the honourable senator comment on that? We need to keep
this in perspective.
The bill tends to play around a bit, trying to make other
people look bad and like they are not doing anything. Some of the elements of
this bill are dangerous and we should be thinking seriously about them. It is
not that we should not be doing something about greenhouse gas emissions; we
should. However, when I read those two pieces by themselves, they send shivers
up my spine. Would the senator be comfortable going back to Edmonton and telling
those oil companies and Albertans what will take place?
Senator Mitchell: Absolutely. I have huge respect
for the honourable senator and his work in B.C. as the Minister of Energy, Mines
and Petroleum Resources, where undoubtedly he confronted precisely these kinds
of arguments many times. He forged ahead anyway and today, they are
state-of-the-art, world leaders in B.C. I congratulate the honourable senator
If his argument is that the 80 per cent target will kill
Alberta, then there are two problems. First, it is not all that different from
the 80 per cent target that his government has announced. Spread over 40 years,
the difference will be less than 1 per cent reduction per year. If the
honourable senator thinks that his government or any government will be able to
tweak it to keep it at 1 per cent tolerance level, he is dead wrong. I would be
happy to go to Alberta and say that the Prime Minister of Canada has established
a target that says 80 per cent of 2005 by 2050. I would be happy to do that. The
difference between that and the other target is miniscule. If we get started
earlier, it is even more miniscule.
Second, to some extent, what underlines the honourable
senator's comments — and I know the honourable senator did not mean this — is
this bias against Alberta. Alberta will pull its weight in dealing with climate
change. It will do it for several reasons: first, because they are very good
people; second, because they are resourceful and smart; and, third, because we
do not have to go to a million places to find the carbon. We have to go to six,
seven, eight or nine major coal and oil sands units and that is it.
Once we get the technology — and your government, good for
it, is helping us find the way to do that — we will be able to capture all that
carbon. The real drive, as well, is if we do not get it clean in Alberta, we
will have an awful time selling it to the U.S., where we want to sell it. The
American power program underlines that very thing, where it says "border
adjustments." They are not messing around and we had better not mess around
If you speak to the industry in Alberta, they want to fix
this. They have the resources — the resourcefulness, the commitment, the
intelligence, the technologies and the technical know how — to do it and they
will do it. Alberta will solve its problem and we will be leaders in the
country, just like British Columbia.
Senator Neufeld: Honourable senators, Senator
Mitchell has made some interesting comments. I do not disagree that the
technology is evolving. It is coming and we are applying some of it in British
Columbia. There are much smaller emissions to deal with in British Columbia but
we are starting to deal with them. I agree that the honourable senator is
correct that the industry will solve this problem. However, I talk to the
industry regularly. I did that for eight years as Minister of Energy, Mines and
Petroleum Resources in British Columbia. During those eight years and beyond I
have had many meetings in Calgary, Edmonton and elsewhere in Alberta and
industry representatives told me there was a point where you will harm the
established economic activity. We need to work together. That does not mean that
you arbitrarily set this standard that is in this bill.
I think this standard is a bit too tough. You may say it
is only 1 per cent; I do not totally agree and I do not think the industry will
agree with you. However, the industry will have the technology and the knowledge
and they are doing it now. What they need to find out is exactly what the
targets are at the end of the day. Those targets need to be set with our common
partner south of the border, with which we do most of our trade.
I agree with the honourable senator that we must ensure
that it is clean or the United States will not purchase it, but we have to do
that in concert with the U.S. We cannot arbitrarily walk out with a bill like
this and say that this is what we are doing and we do not care what the United
States is doing. There must be a great deal of cooperation, and that is what
this government is trying to do — work with our major partners.
I remember how our industries reacted to the signing of
the Kyoto Protocol. They said that they could not compete with the American
industries. They have to compete with those industries because the U.S. is our
major trading partner. They must learn to cooperate.
What I am trying to tell the honourable senator is it is
not some little bill that is thrown into the mix; it is part of a much bigger
picture, a huge picture about the economy of all of Canada. We have to work
together with the United States. I think our government is doing a good job.
The honourable senator is smiling. I think that Senator
Mitchell agrees with me that the government is working hard with the U.S.
government to try to come up with some standards. We have the new Copenhagen
Accord, which we should all be looking at. All the countries got together in
Copenhagen and tried to figure something out so we can all move forward.
Everyone agrees that we have to; the process is, how do you do it? The answers
are in the fine print.
I think that is something that we should look at
seriously, not frivolously with something just thrown into the mix that creates
a bit of a stir in the media for a while and then it is gone. Let us look at it
seriously from a global picture and also from a North American picture.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I will take
that as a question, but I do not agree for one moment with what your government
is or is not doing.
I accept a great deal of what you said. I have said yes,
we have to figure it out and ask the questions, but we have been doing that for
15 years. When do you just do it? When do you say, "I will provide some
leadership and we will break through these problems and we will do it"?
Great leaders and great governments seek out challenges
like this; they do not run from them and say we will talk to someone else and
wait until someone does something. Great leaders do not say that if China does
not do it, we will not do it. Great leadership does not do that. Great leaders
stand up and say, this is where we are going; come with me; we are going to
figure out a way to do it; I have some ideas.
What happens here is that it is all behind closed doors
because you are afraid to tell us anything. Nothing is happening, and then you
say we cannot do it arbitrarily. Well, you are not doing it at all.
On the other point about dealing with the United States,
yes, we have to deal with the U.S., but I do not see one iota of understanding
of the issue. The issue is that if we specify, as the Minister of Environment
has so proudly specified, we have 17 per cent of 2005 by 2020, just like the
U.S., then I ask, have you looked at the abatement cost curves. Have you looked
at how much more difficult it is to reduce a ton of carbon in the U.S. than it
is in Canada? If you have, if we both go to 17 per cent, we will reduce about
one half of what they reduce. If we want to reduce exactly what they will
reduce, which is probably what they will require, we will have to pay a lot more
unless we find other, cheaper ways to reduce. I am not sure that you and your
organization are thinking about that.
You say to me that business is evolving. They are working
on it and coming and thinking about it. Okay. How long do they need? When will
they do it? Someone has to put the stake in the sand and say we are going to
lead this; we will make this happen now. We will not wait any longer because the
world and our kids cannot wait.
Senator Neufeld: Honourable senators, the
honourable senator has convinced me that the leadership under the Liberal
government, the non-leadership, under Prime Minister Chrétien and the Paul
Martin government was zero. Every year since Kyoto —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order.
Senator Neufeld: — the emissions in Canada have
been going up, up, up, so your leadership has been lousy on this front.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order!
Senator Cowan: Order. Look at His Honour.
Senator Neufeld: It is a little bit too much. Put
that in your pipe and smoke it.
Senator Mitchell: Are you talking about legalizing
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. I regret to advise
honourable senators that Senator Mitchell's 45 minutes has expired.
Senator Mitchell: May I have five more minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is the honourable senator
asking for five more minutes? Is it agreed? Senator Mitchell, you have five
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I do not
know why the honourable senator is talking about smoking. We are not getting
into that debate, are we? There is some mandatory minimum sentence for that
Regarding your point about Liberal leadership, I am glad
to have the chance to clarify this point. First, the Kyoto Protocol was not
signed until 1997 and it was not ratified until 2005. About three months after
2005, we brought out a package of programs that would reduce 250 million tonnes
a year for five years. Even strong environmental groups said it was good for two
thirds of it —
Senator LeBreton: A bed death conversion.
Senator Mitchell: — and we still had three years to
get there. Do you know what happened? Your government cancelled every one of
them. Imagine where we would be if they had simply kept in place the basic,
great, well-endorsed and well-accepted programs that allowed people back then to
renovate their homes, for example, a program that is cancelled today. Just
imagine how much further along we would be. Do not give me this stuff about
Liberal leadership not being adequate.
Finally, the context was very different. The fisheries
were not dead. The forests in the honourable senator's province were not
burning. The permafrost in the North was not melting; the sea was not rising in
this way. There were not the kinds of random, intense, unprecedented weather
events like New Orleans, for example, and many others around the world. There
were not the floods, the mudslides or all of the other disasters. All of a
sudden, we are in a different context and you had the advantage of that context.
An Hon. Senator: The world was perfect, right?
Senator Mitchell: Therefore, your failure to act is
every bit more negligent.
The Hon. the Speaker: Continuing debate?
Honourable senators, typically, after the first speaker,
who is usually the proponent of the bill, speaks at second reading debate, one
usually goes to the other side and 45 minutes is allowed for the second
honourable senator to speak. I know that Senator Banks seconded this motion.
Senator Comeau: I believe that Senator Neufeld
intends to take the adjournment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is Senator Neufeld speaking
Senator Neufeld: Yes, I take the adjournment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Banks wishes to
participate, and it has been our practice that the 45 minutes for the second
speaker would fall to this side.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Exactly.
The Hon. the Speaker: Therefore, Senator Banks is
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I will speak
briefly and then ask Senator Neufeld to adjourn the debate. I understand I will
have the remainder of my time to speak later.
In the heat of the present argument, I cannot help but
reflect on the irony of Senator Neufeld's predecessors having yelled loudly in
this place about Kyoto that they want a made-in-Canada energy policy. However,
the honourable senator is standing here saying we have to do what the United
States does because it is impractical to do otherwise.
I must also remind honourable senators that every time we
have tried to do something in this country about the environment which has
involved industry, industry has said they will take their ball and go home. That
has happened every single time, without exception, and they have never done so.
When we in this country said to the industry that they
have to remove the sulphur from the natural gas that is coming out, the gas
industry said, "If you make us do that, we will leave. You will watch the trucks
leave tomorrow, and we will do no more exploration. We will shut down the wells
and you will lose thousands of jobs." They removed the sulphur from the gas and
they are still there. Some of them are making more money selling sulphur than
When we said industries have to remove sulphur dioxide
from the emissions that are polluting the Great Lakes, they all said, "If you
make us do that, we will shut down and you will lose thousands of jobs." That
did not happen, but the sulphur dioxide is gone.
When we told the oil industry that they have to take the
lead out of gasoline, they said, "If you make us do that, you will lose
thousands of jobs. We will shut down the refineries and move elsewhere." It did
As a matter of course, industry does not like change yet
we must have that change. As Senator Mitchell has said, we require the
leadership to do it.
I move the adjournment of the debate for the remainder of
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, for
clarity, when one moves the adjournment of the debate for the remainder of their
time, the next person to speak will normally be the person who adjourned the
debate. This does not interfere with Senator Neufeld, who I understand will be
the critic on the bill and who will have 45 minutes as previously agreed.
(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report
of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (budget—study
on national security and defence policies—power to hire staff and to travel),
presented in the Senate on May 27, 2010.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I move the
adoption of this report.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
Hon. Grant Mitchell rose pursuant to notice of
April 27, 2010:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the
online presence and website of the Senate.
He said: Honourable senators, I know this item is less
controversial, so I am happy to be standing here.
Senator Comeau: Do we have to listen to you twice?
Senator Mitchell: That's right.
I want to make some observation about the state of our
utilization of digital communication. That may not be the right word to cover
what I am talking about. If I were under 25, I would know what word to use.
However, to me, "digital" refers to use of websites, television, podcasts and
electronic devices that can assist us. I know that podcasting is being worked on
under another motion.
We are past the verge of a digital communications
breakthrough that provides politicians and houses like the Senate with
outstanding opportunities, not to communicate at the public, but to embrace and
engage the public. We often hear that young Canadians especially are not engaged
in the political process. We emphasize the problem of young people who choose
not to vote; we discuss what that means to the future of community involvement,
involvement in our societies, to our political process and how important it is
to nurture and engender that kind of involvement.
For any of us who have children older than age four, we
know how familiar they are with electronic communications. Teresa and I have
three sons, all of whom live away. One has a television, not because he watches
it but because he wants a bigger screen for his computer. They do not use the
kinds of communications we do.
They see the world differently and they communicate with
that world differently. It has all kinds of implications for how they will
relate to society and their peers, develop relationships and networks, develop
argument, and push issues. We saw the issue of prorogation and how that was
developed, almost exclusively, through Facebook. That will happen no matter what
I have considered this issue, as have many of us. I want
to give honourable senators some idea of my frustration. I am not frustrated
with the staff who works on this. There is good leadership there and they are
struggling with getting the direction they need to gain the resources, et
cetera, to do what we need to do.
Going to the Senate website is an experience in and of
itself. If one were to type in "Senate of Canada," one would expect to get to
the Senate website. However, one does not get routed to the Senate website. You
go to a website that lists the websites and biographies of senators.
Senator Stratton: We know that.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, when we look
at that website today, it includes biographies of senators who are no longer
senators; the website is not updated and no one looks at it. We do not find the
guts of the Senate where one can learn about committee hearings and so on. One
simply finds biographies.
We must navigate out of that website and try to find, one
way or another, a website of sorts for Senate committees. Do honourable senators
know how long a young person will bother to pursue that information? Their
interest lasts about two pages and two seconds before they are gone.
Upon arriving at that committee page, what do we see?
First, we cannot, in any way, shape or form, search the Debates of the Senate.
We cannot type Senator Plett's name, for example, to find out all the things on
which he has spoken, which would be a long list. We cannot type a committee name
to find the committee. We cannot type a topic to find the topic. In the 21st
century, in the Senate of the Government of Canada, we cannot find someone's
name in Debates of the Senate.
If honourable senators eventually find someone or a topic
in the written portion of the website, they are not linked to any recorded or
video statements. It is incomprehensible that we cannot go to a website and
click on a link to see more text or video. This is the 21st century; it is not
1950. The technology is tried and true; it has been used over and over again,
but the Senate cannot do it.
If honourable senators want to find a report, we can look
at the Fortieth Session of Parliament, but what is the Fortieth Session of
Parliament? Does anyone know when the Thirty-seventh Session of Parliament
Senator Banks: It was a good session.
Senator Mitchell: All of us were here, so it was
Honourable senators cannot even find the dates for a
session because they are not listed. If we are looking for a report — this may
have changed, but I do not think it has — the report is listed only as report
No. 1. What is report No. 1? How does it compare to report No. 1 in the
Thirty-ninth Parliament, the Thirty-eighth Parliament or the Thirty-seventh
Parliament? It makes me angry that the Senate is so backward. The potential is
great and an online presence does not have to be particularly expensive.
The Senate of Canada does not have an independent
presence. If honourable senators want to go to the Senate website to find a
committee, we must select "committees" first and then committees for both houses
are shown. Someone may ask, what is the difference? I will not dwell on that.
A young man set up a website called openparliament.ca
because he could not conduct the type of searches he wanted on the House of
Commons website. He created that website for the House of Commons, but he cannot
do it for the Senate because our architecture is so archaic he cannot set up an
external site for that purpose.
I talked about the importance of a search tool. It may
seem like a small issue, but the Senate uses black and white pictures on its
websites. No one uses black and white pictures. That does not interest young
people. There is a marketing sense that the Senate must understand.
I have debated television coverage of the Senate, as have
many others. I believe in my heart of hearts that the Senate must have at least
a podcast of our proceedings. It does not have to be expensive. All of the
problems that we might encounter have been handled by the House of Commons. The
Senate has a different structure to the Order Paper, which entails a lot
of standing. Some have indicated this may offend people. I do not think people
will be offended, but we could organize our proceedings better.
Some people worry about honourable senators not behaving
properly when we are on television. Honourable senators behave perfectly well,
for the most part, when we are on committee television. I think if the public
saw both the Senate and the House of Commons, they would say, "I wish the House
of Commons would behave like the Senate." If honourable senators do not behave
properly, we should fix that behaviour.
Currently, the Senate broadcasts audio to Parliament Hill.
We can broadcast audio to the world for free, but we have decided not to do so.
I do not understand why. People have a right to hear what we do here.
Senator Segal: Hear, hear.
Senator Mitchell: It is not for honourable senators
to decide they do not like what they say or do. We stand and speak to the 105
people that are in this chamber. Even if the public wanted to see what happens
in this chamber, how could they? They cannot find it easily on video or search
the Debates of the Senate.
The old question is: If a senator speaks in the Senate,
does anyone hear? No one does, but there is unbelievably good oratory in this
chamber. For any honourable senator who has been here for any period of time, we
know how important this institution is. If honourable senators sit here, we must
believe in this institution. If we do not believe in it, then we should not be
here. If we do believe in the institution, we should want people to hear what we
I also want a website that allows honourable senators to
do virtual town hall meetings and receive feedback. The Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is trying to do this.
We will receive feedback and solicit input. The Liberal Senate Forum does this.
I have a Kindle; it is an electronic book. It is fantastic
item for those who travel. It can contain 1,000 books. I can borrow a book on
Kindle from the Edmonton library. They give it to me electronically and it
dissolves in three weeks.
I asked staff in the Library of Parliament if they have
looked at Kindle and was told it has various copyright problems. I suggested
they contact the Edmonton library for advice on how to resolve such problems.
Even if only a small number of people want to borrow electronic books, it is
much easier and there are an infinite number available. It is not like the
current situation where the book may be unavailable because someone else is
reading it. To be a state-of-the-art, leading library in the country, the
Library of Parliament should consider Kindle.
The Conservative leader of the Legislative Assembly of
Alberta, Ken Kowalski, is a fine parliamentarian and has done unbelievably good
things for the legislature. He developed a virtual tour of the legislature where
children can go to the website, dress in whatever clothes they want — skater,
geek or whatever — and walk around the historic buildings. Much more can be
done. Someone said we cannot do that because —
Senator Mockler: Can we do the same thing for
Senator Mitchell: We should.
— there is a security risk. How is there a security risk?
People can enter Parliament and take all the pictures they want. How can that
proposal be a security risk? It is simply another excuse not to do something to
bring Parliament to people across Canada.
There is an effort to get Flickr — a photograph exchange —
on our website. The lawyer — a fine person, I am not being critical — indicated
there is a problem; you might be Photoshopped. American President Obama uses
Flickr; the Prime Minister uses YouTube. People can Photoshop you from any
photograph taken anywhere. The argument is ridiculous; they are simply reasons
to do nothing. All we have to do is find reasons to do things and the way to do
it. We need leadership to allow us to do it.
About three weeks ago — and this is coincidental — my high
school has a unit supported by the province and the school board where Terry
Godwaldt, a fantastic young man, is developing a system of virtual meetings and
conferences around the world. They linked schools in Brazil, Alaska, Mexico,
Malawi, New Zealand, et cetera. I called him regarding environmental legislation
and he suggested I participate in one of these activities. I told him I was not
in Edmonton, but in Ottawa. I went to an Ottawa school where I was surrounded by
high school students looking at a screen with eight or nine different classrooms
pictured, including Brazil, Texas, Ohio, Alaska and Mexico. I was able to talk
with those students all over the world. They stand up and ask questions. My high
school is in a rough area in Edmonton where kids need a chance. They can see
kids all over the world and ask them questions.
Kids from all over the world can see me as a senator on
that, but not a single kid in Canada can see me as a senator giving this speech
right now. That has to stop. We can change that.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Will the honourable senator accept
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Segal: I will defer to my colleague across
the way because I am a newbie by comparison to him in terms of membership in
this place. It is kind of like after the Socreds swept into power in British
Columbia. In coffee shops people would ask, "Did you vote for Mr. Bennett?"
Everyone would say, "No, not me, not me." No one voted for him, yet he had a
I have not met a single member of this chamber who, when I
ask about televising, digitalizing, modernizing, stepping up to the plate,
embracing the 20th and perhaps even the 21st century, does not nod their head in
agreement, saying, "Great idea; super; let's move along; it's in committee."
The proposal on televisation is in committee for the third
time. I predict that it will die, and it will die because people on that
committee want it to die.
The officials who sit at the table are great and
distinguished Canadians who work day and night on our behalf. It is their job to
be supportive of whatever decision this place makes and to give technical and
financial advice about what things cost and how they might be done. I would not
for one moment say that they have been a force against this —
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator
Mitchell's time has expired. Is it agreed that he be given five more minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Comeau: No more than five.
Senator Segal: There seems to be a consensus across
the aisle that this is a good thing. People from different political backgrounds
and different regions say that broadcasting the chamber is a good thing, but it
is dead in its tracks. It is not moving.
Could the honourable senator share any perspective on why
we cannot move this very simple file forward? I had the great privilege of
starting this when there were 70 senators on that side and 20 over here. I had
the privilege of starting it when there was a government that was of a different
party affiliation than mine and I was sitting over there, and the same thing
happened. I cannot find any evidence that whoever is in government or who holds
the majority impacts the progress of this issue. I would be interested in any
advice Senator Mitchell might share.
Senator Mitchell: I thank Senator Segal for the
question and for all the work he has done on this file. I have asked myself that
question many times. I do not have an easy answer, but I do speculate about a
couple of possibilities.
People are worried about being on TV, and they need not
be. The odd time you make a mistake here, no one pounces on you. I think some
are confusing this issue with what it is like to be the leader, who gets pounced
on all the time. In fact, broadcasting is not a threatening experience. Once the
cameras are here, people will forget about them. I do not agree that people
misbehave because of cameras, although I think they may sometimes misbehave
because of the press gallery.
Does anyone think about the cameras being on in
committees? No; you forget about them and it becomes natural.
Second, there is generally a resistance to change, which
is not all bad. This is an important institution. As Senator Banks said earlier
today in a different meeting, it is important that we have traditions, and I
agree. There is a reason for slow change rather than precipitous change. We have
had Facebook for many years now.
Finally, I think that the issue is in part a question of
money. Ironically, broadcasting does not have to cost nearly as much money as
people think. I know that some people here resist spending money. We have to get
past that. Some 30 or 35 years ago, the day before we got computers, everyone
was saying that they cost too much money. The next day we all had computers and
faxes and whatever else we needed electronically, which may have cost a lot of
money, but now we would not live without them.
If we can live without digital communication and TV in
here, then we can live without computers, because that is every bit as essential
to the 21st century as computers were in the 1990s and still are.
(On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.)
Leave having been given to revert to Other Business,
Other, Inquiry No. 16.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable
Senator Comeau calling the attention of the Senate to the career of the
Honourable Senator Keon in the Senate and his many contributions in service
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, a
number of you paid tribute to our colleague Senator Keon when he retired.
Without repeating the long list of decorations, distinctions and awards he has
earned in the course of his long and fruitful career, I wish to add a few words
to what has already been said.
Some of the most rewarding times I have had since I joined
the Senate have been the opportunities I have had to work with Dr. Keon on
different committees and subcommittees, including the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
Coupled with his medical knowledge was his burning desire
to move mountains to improve Canadians' physical and mental health. He knew that
stressing the importance of prevention would avoid a world of problems and
alleviate our already overburdened health care system. He was determined to
convince the government to take practical steps to promote prevention rather
than treatment. I am sure that our leaders will continue to turn to him for sage
He was a great comfort to me personally. Words cannot
describe his compassion when life forced me to take a huge step backward and
relearn how to talk, hold a pen and do things children do naturally, like walk.
He knew what I was recovering from, and he would often
find a way to encourage me and congratulate me on my new abilities and the
progress I had made. Knowing that he was there, close by, restored my confidence
and forced me to set my sights high.
I heard about how he had looked after a Liberal senator
who had taken seriously ill during one of our sessions. I said to myself that he
would take good care of me as well. Now he is no longer here. Thank God, after
three years, my major problems are just about gone.
When we think about Dr. Keon, Senator Keon, we will never
forget his smile, which was often more visible in his eyes than on his lips, and
the way he had of being so quiet and so convincing at the same time.
We were very fortunate to work with Wilbert Keon, who was
and always will be a wonderful man.
I have no doubt that in the future, he will achieve many
of the dreams he has cherished for so many years, and I thank him for giving us
the benefit of his knowledge, his wisdom and his generosity.
We will miss him very much. Thank you again, Dr. Keon.
(On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, June 2, 2010, at