Debates
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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 13

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Afghanistan—Fallen Soldier

Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we proceed, I would ask honourable senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of Master Corporal Francis Roy, whose tragic death occurred while serving his country in Afghanistan.

Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.

Distinguished Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of our former colleague, the Honourable Nick Taylor, and his wife. Also in the gallery we have the Honourable Vim Kochhar.

On behalf of all honourable senators to our former colleagues, we welcome you to the gallery of the Senate.


SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Tributes

The Late Honourable Jack Layton

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a fellow parliamentarian, the late Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition in the other place, who passed away last month at the age of 61. His untimely death shocked and saddened Canadians, and his life of public service has since been honoured and remembered.

Less than five months ago, on May 2, we all witnessed a new era in Canadian politics as the results of the federal election rolled in. Not only did our Conservative government win a majority of seats in the House of Commons, but Jack Layton led the New Democratic Party to a place they had never been before, the Official Opposition in the House of Commons. The NDP experienced unprecedented success in the province of Quebec, where voters embraced Mr. Layton's campaign of hope and turned their backs on 20 years of the Bloc Québécois. Watching the new leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition that night, I am sure most people never suspected that his personal triumph would be snatched away so suddenly and so sadly. Once again, we are reminded how truly fragile life is.

Parliament Hill is a small community in many ways, and over the years I had many opportunities to exchange pleasantries with Jack Layton. We would often talk about his father, the Honourable Robert Layton, a fine parliamentarian whom I knew as a minister in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and long-time chair of the Conservative caucus. Jack was rightly proud of his father. It is a cruel irony that both father and son would fight prostate cancer, a disease which affects over 25,000 men each year in Canada.

I would often ask him about his mother, Doris. A few years ago, I made a comment in the media — I think it was on Mike Duffy Live — about an issue that I do not recall at the moment, and I commented that Jack's father, Bob, would not approve. His mother was listening and, needless to say, was understandably upset with me and let me and the media know. I would often ask Jack if his mom had forgiven me, and he would laugh and assure me that she had. I feel particularly sad for Doris. Mothers should not have to bury their children, and she should know that the thoughts of all honourable senators are with her at this difficult time.

Honourable senators, the outpouring of emotion across Canada in the days following his death is a testament to the connection that people of all backgrounds felt with Jack Layton, not only as a newly re-elected leader of the official opposition, but as a man waging a fierce personal battle against cancer. Election campaigns are gruelling, and his determination to carry on with vigour and optimism drew the admiration of people of all political stripes. The Prime Minister has characterized this as gallant, a very appropriate description, in my view.

I know that all honourable senators wish to extend their sincere condolences to his beloved partner, Olivia Chow, and their family, his mother and the members of the NDP caucus on their great loss.

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, on August 22, Canadians awoke to learn of the death early that morning of Jack Layton. The outpouring of grief and emotion spoke volumes about the kind of person Jack Layton was, and it spoke eloquently about the kind of country that Canada is.

There have been many wonderful tributes from his friends, family and colleagues, people from across the political spectrum, who spoke movingly about personal recollections, friendships and profound convictions. I was honoured to attend the service at Roy Thomson Hall, together with colleagues from both sides of this chamber, and to listen to the heartfelt, often impassioned eulogies delivered by his family and close friends.

The thousands of grieving Canadians across the country had never met Jack Layton. However they were moved, I believe, by the loss of someone who was profoundly dedicated to public service, who believed in the power of the many to come together to build a better world and the power of each of us to make a difference as individuals.

A word that has often been used to describe him is "optimistic." Fundamentally, I believe that this optimism was a belief in Canadians and a conviction that the Canadian democratic system can allow us — all of us, not just a privileged few — to rise to be the best that we can be.

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Jack Layton knew that one cannot bring people together by dividing them, by pitting one group against the other, or by marginalizing or excluding people. Bob Rae spoke in the other place of Mr. Layton's love of making a deal and his determination to work together with others to find a compromise, even when, as Mr. Rae wryly noted, others had discovered there was no deal to be done.

I did not agree with many of Mr. Layton's policy ideas and positions, but I did agree unreservedly with his conviction that politics — true public service — demands serious, honest, respectful debate, listening, exchanging ideas, and an openness to be persuaded, perhaps especially, by those representing contrary views.

The Senate, of course, is not an elected body, at least not yet. As a result, we are not bound by the electoral cycle to the same extent as the other place. We have an opportunity to take a less partisan approach as we debate the important issues of the day. Historically and traditionally, some of our best work has been done when members of different parties came together to work in the best interests of Canadians. Does this involve compromise? Of course it does. Everyone has to put a little water in their wine at certain times and at certain points. Have Canadians benefited from that effort? Without question, the answer is yes.

I suspect that if Jack Layton could select only one legacy, it would be that we temper our partisan politics — not cast it out, because he, like many of us, was passionate about his party — so that we are not blinded by partisan concerns when addressing challenges facing the country. He knew that it is through respectful debate, the exchange of ideas, and the sharing and analysis of evidence marshalled in support of those ideas that we best serve Canadians and come together to build a better Canada and a better world.

Tributes

The Honourable Vim Kochhar

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I received a notice from the Leader of the Government who requests, pursuant to rule 22(10), that the time provided for consideration of Senators' Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Kochhar, who retired from the Senate on September 21, 2011.

I remind honourable senators that pursuant to our rules, each senator will be allowed only three minutes and to speak only once.

If it is agreed that we continue our tribute to Senator Kochhar under Senators' Statements, we will have 30 minutes and any time remaining after tributes will be used for other statements.

Is that agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, today we bid farewell to our colleague Senator Vim Kochhar. He has represented the great province of Ontario in this place for over a year and a half, an all too brief period in my view and, I am sure, that of many others. However, he has done so with great enthusiasm and I know that all honourable senators will agree that Senator Kochhar has made a significant impact on the Senate of Canada during this time.

Vim Kochhar is well known and respected all across our country for his tireless work advancing the cause of persons with disabilities. This noble cause has been at the heart of most everything he has done for almost 30 years. He is the creator of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, which spearheaded the Terry Fox Hall of Fame and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre — the only residential training centre in Canada for people who are deaf-blind. He is the chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation, assisting and encouraging countless numbers of our athletes to compete in Paralympic sports. Senator Kochhar is also a very successful businessman as the president and founder of the Vimal Group of Companies in Toronto.

In addition to his business and charitable background, Senator Kochhar also came to this chamber with considerable political experience, mainly with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. He ran for the party's nomination in the riding of St. Paul's in Toronto in 1984 and, although he was not successful, he did contribute to the success of the person who ultimately won the nomination, the Honourable Barbara McDougall, and, of course, served in her campaign as her fundraising chair.

On January 29, 2010, Vim Kochhar was appointed to the Senate of Canada by our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. As a senator, our colleague has contributed to the work of this chamber and Senate committees, most notably as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. His vast experience working with persons with disabilities has also informed his work here and, as all honourable senators are aware, he has famously championed the annual Rolling Rampage event on Parliament Hill. As the first Indian-born Canadian appointed to the Senate, he has also been a strong advocate for Canada's South Asian community.

Honourable senators, I cannot imagine a person as energetic and as involved as Senator Kochhar settling into a quiet retirement. I cannot believe he would ever do that and I am certain that that will not be the case.

On behalf of all Conservative senators, I wish nothing but the best to Senator Kochhar and his family, and I extend our best wishes for his continued good health and happiness. We will miss you greatly, Senator Kochhar.

Hon. Jim Munson: Good afternoon, honourable senators, and to our guest of honour, my good friend Senator Vim Kochhar. I hope you had a happy birthday last week, Senator Vim, as I like to call you. You have realized so many accomplishments throughout your life, particularly in the interests of people with physical disabilities, and there is much to celebrate. The only drawback is that you are now 75 and at this ridiculous mandatory age of retirement for this place. I find this age discriminatory. If there will be term limits and one comes to this place at the age of 73, why should Senator Vim not be allowed to stay until 81 or 82? Age is just a number. That is all it is. I just turned 65 this year.

It is hard to believe it has not been two years since you first took your seat in this chamber. Of course, your reputation preceded your arrival. Most of us know about all of your wonderful commitments, as Senator LeBreton talked about, to the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons.

If we had not met here, I think we would have met somewhere else in some of the disability causes that we are involved in. Rather than guarding our work supporting people with disabilities, we worked together, Senator Vim, and we had a lot of fun. In fact, most days, the only thing that separated us was this aisle in front of me.

Earlier in our friendship, when Vim asked me if I would participate in something called the Rolling Rampage, I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought for a moment: Is the senator starting a rock band before he retires at 75, or was this a seniors' motorcycle gang heading down the highway and he was looking for adventure or whatever would come his way? The senator found it in Rolling Rampage.

In fact, Rolling Rampage is a unique and wonderful athletic event. It is a race for physically disabled athletes, incredible athletes from all over the world, who race in wheelchairs. Imagine racing 10 kilometres in only 23 minutes. Witnessing this kind of athletic power affected me profoundly. As I watched these athletes, I did not see their disabilities; I saw their abilities. I saw men and women with amazing strength, stamina and ability doing something few people in the world can do. Moments after that race was over, Senator Kochhar, I was thinking of the tens of thousands of Canadians who were not in the limelight and who are in wheelchairs. It was as if I had gained a deeper appreciation for their everyday courage and ability to get on with life.

I am grateful to you, senator, for giving me that and other opportunities to learn and be inspired.

Please join me, honourable senators, in saluting Senator Kochhar for his contributions, not only to the physically disabled community, but also to Canadian society as a whole, a man who came to this country from India so long ago, a man who worked hard, a man who dreamed of doing good things and did, a man who gave back, and a man who may be leaving this place but will not be leaving the causes that he cares so much about.

Hon. Don Meredith: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a friend. It has been eight months since I have been installed in this place, and it has been a pleasure to serve alongside Senator Vim Kochhar as one of the senators for Ontario.

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Senator Kochhar has opened his door to me to provide me with advice, as I am a young man in this place. His passion for the disabled and disadvantaged in society has truly been remarkable. In fact, over the summer, at a Simcoe Day event, I met with a young lady in a wheelchair who spoke highly of Senator Kochhar and the great work that he has done to improve the quality of life for many disabled Canadians.

I conclude my remarks today with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, who stated:

A man has not started to live until he can leave the confines of his own individualistic thinking to the broader concerns of humanity.

Honourable senators, please join me in wishing Senator Kochhar and his family much success as he rolls into the next chapter of his life.

Roll on, my friend, roll on.

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it is with great affection that I speak of our colleague Senator Vim Kochhar. I met and became friends with Senator Kochhar in 1999, shortly after I had represented the Canadian government at the Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Watching those athletes was very inspiring. Upon returning to Canada, I learned that, due to lack of funding, we may not be able to send a team to the next games and I promised to do whatever I could to help.

I sent fundraising letters to everyone I could think of. Senator Kochhar's Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons made a large donation. This went a long way toward enabling a Canadian team to compete in the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Senator Kochhar has been a true friend of the Paralympics ever since. He has never stopped his endeavours in this regard, and I am sure that he never will.

I extend my sincerest gratitude to you, Vim, and to your beloved soulmate Dorothy Price.

All in this chamber will miss you. I cherish our friendship and look forward to seeing what your next mission will be. I know it will be an exciting one. You can count on me to march along with you hand in hand, as we have done for years.

We wish you all the best, and we love you.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, I also rise today to pay tribute to my good friend and our colleague, Senator Vim Kochhar.

Named to the Senate on January 29, 2010 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Senator Kochhar has been a member of this chamber for just a short time, but during that time he has accomplished much and has greatly enriched this chamber.

Senator Kochhar told this chamber of his experience, at the young age of 12 years, of witnessing Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. He and I have discussed this experience at length, and he expressed how it has been etched in his mind. While this was a horrifying experience to witness, especially for such a young boy, Senator Kochhar chose to take Gandhi's teaching and moral strength to heart.

Some 50 years later, Senator Kochhar spoke at the installation of the life-sized bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the pathway to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in my city, Winnipeg. Mahatma Gandhi once stated, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Senator Kochhar has done just that.

In his time as a member of this chamber, Senator Kochhar has enriched us all with his tireless commitment to human rights and advocacy for disabled persons. Senator Kochhar has also accomplished much in his life outside of this chamber. He was instrumental in creating the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons and is the chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation. Senator Kochhar was also chosen by India Abroad as one of the 30 most influential Canadians of Indian origin.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to work with Senator Kochhar in his role as a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and I look forward to continuing this work with him as we move toward the opening of the museum.

With only 972 Canadians having been named to the Senate since Confederation, it is without a doubt that Senator Kochhar has left his footprint on the Canadian Parliament and on Canada as a whole.

One of my fondest memories of the time I have known you, Vim, is of meeting Dorothy when you visited Winnipeg a few weeks ago. Vim and Dorothy, it has been a pleasure to get to know both of you. I wish you both well in whatever you decide to pursue in the future.

Honourable senators, please join me in wishing Vim the best in his future endeavours as he journeys into the next chapter of his life.

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a fine Canadian who has devoted three decades of his life to improving the lives of countless people and changing the way Canadians think about disability through acts of service and empowerment.

Honourable Senator Kochhar, on a personal level, I feel privileged to have served with you for your entire Senate tenure, January 29, 2010 to September 21, 2011. Please know that you leave an indelible mark in my heart, and most likely in the hearts of all honourable senators.

I recall the day you poked me in the back from your seat directly behind me at that time to invite me to sit on the Canadian Paralympic Foundation Board, which you chair. As your good friend Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario David Onley has said to me, "No one can say no to Vim. Vim doesn't take no for an answer."

I, too, said yes.

Tenacious, unwavering, passionate; these are qualities that explain how one man has done so much, raising millions of dollars to assist individuals with physical challenges to live fuller lives and raise awareness of their achievements and contributions to society, as is the goal of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, of which Vim Kochhar has been the founding chair since 1987.

Only a visionary, a leader with absolute resolve and conviction, would be able to bring Rolling Rampage, a competition for elite wheelchair athletes from around the world that attracted thousands of participants and spectators to the Hill this past April.

Dear senator and friend, I have learned from you the true meaning of service through action. I am inspired to believe that by working hard it is indeed possible to achieve what may at first seem impossible.

Senator Kochar, we stood side by side at the inaugural G20 Speakers' Consultation in this very chamber, an initiative of the Honourable Noël Kinsella. We have broken bread together and have shared conversation with our spouses Dorothy and Doug in my hometown of Vancouver, where your son also resides. Steve is a fine man who is living proof of your strength of character and love.

Loving father, devoted husband, lifelong servant leader, champion of the physically disabled, honourable colleague and friend, Senator Vim Kochhar, thank you for all that you have done. Thank you for your service. As the first Canadian of South Asian descent in the Senate of Canada, thank you for your friendship. May God bless you and your family always.

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Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure and respect that I rise to pay tribute to Senator Vim Kochhar. I have come to know Vim in our short time together in the Senate and I only wish he were staying longer.

Senator Kochhar and I share a respect for high performance athletes, the challenges they face and the character they build as they pursue their goals. Becoming the best in the world in any field is not easy, but when it comes to athletes with disabilities, it is even more difficult. Most of us would be hard pressed just to face the challenges of everyday life, let alone doing the training required to excel in a chosen sport.

I cannot think of anyone who has championed more passionately for athletes with disabilities than Senator Kochhar. In doing so, he has raised their profiles and helped open the eyes of Canadians to the very special qualities of these wonderful athletes. His fundraising efforts are directly linked to Canadian athletes' performances at the Paralympics. There is no doubt that Canada's para-athletes are among the best in the world. More important, they serve as inspirational role models for all of us.

Senator Kochhar, there is no doubt that you have helped change the way Canadians think about disabilities. I can tell you that some of us now know what it is like to be disabled, especially after spending a day in a wheelchair as you encouraged us parliamentarians to do.

I congratulate you on moving the Rolling Rampage event to Parliament Hill and we look forward to seeing you back for the event next year. Thankfully we will all be here for the excitement and not fighting another election. I have no doubt that with your continued energy and enthusiasm, Canada's Rolling Rampage will become an international classic.

I have been very proud to have had you as a colleague here in the Senate, and I will miss you. As I said before, I really wish you were staying longer. I have a hard time believing you are 75 years old.

In closing, thank you for all you have done and I wish you continued success in the future. Your dream of Canadians recognizing a Paralympic gold as equal to an Olympic gold will come true. You and I already know that they are equal.

Hon. Stephen Greene: Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Hope, George Burns, Dionne Warwick, Rodney Dangerfield, Barbra Streisand, Brian Mulroney and even Mahatma Gandhi — is this a "best of" list that you would locate on the internet, or a who's who list of the 20th century? No, these are the people to be found on Senator Kochhar's Rolodex. Okay, maybe not Mahatma Gandhi, but he did meet him, sort of. There are many other famous people who dot the landscape of Senator Kochhar's life, most of these in the service of charity.

I have had the privilege of meeting many outstanding people since I joined the Senate, and some of these people are on the other side of the aisle. None are as amazing to me as Senator Vim Kochhar, whom I have come to view as my friend or, as I like to say, "Senator Vim-and-Vigour Kochhar" because he certainly has enough energy for two people, "Vim and Vigour."

I know for a fact that he is up at 5:30 or 6:00 every morning to follow a strict exercise regimen, then he works all day on his committee work, such as the Banking Committee, or chamber work or office work, then he is ready for whatever evening receptions are being held around the Hill until 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening, sometimes attending two or three of these; and then he goes back to his office to do more work.

This does not sound like a man who is ready to retire. In fact, it sounds like a man with lots more to contribute; but retire he must, as Senator Kochhar was appointed at the age of 73 and a half, and now, since he is now 75, he must leave this place.

Indeed, despite his short time here, the ability of Senator Kochhar to contribute to the richness of this place has been observed by all of us. The example of Senator Kochhar has made me realize that the 75-years age limit should be reconsidered in the context of term limits. I am convinced that Senator Kochhar has the energy to perform at a high level — at least until he is 76.

Senator Kochhar's outstanding contributions to Canada include the millions of dollars he has raised for charities. Rolling Rampage, a wheelchair race around Parliament Hill that highlights the athleticism of disabled people, is one of these. This annual event does wonderful service to both Parliament Hill and the competitors and it allows everyone to see the cooperation of government and citizens at its very best. I will be honoured to be part of Rolling Rampage in the future and to work with our honourable colleague.

I will miss Senator Kochhar. He is the first senator for whom I have risen to pay tribute. Senator Kochhar, I wish you well in your future endeavours, but please do not stray too far from this place.

[Translation]

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to bid farewell today to a senator who I am sure will one day be told that his time in the Senate was too short.

[English]

When I told Senator Kochhar that I would say a few words today in his honour he said, "in French, my friend, in French."

[Translation]

Senator Kochhar and I have two things in common. We have been seatmates and we were sworn in on the same day. We share the same passion for making the world a better place by giving our best for those who do not have a voice: victims, children, disabled persons and the less fortunate. Senator Kochhar's mission impresses me and always has. I wish him many more years and good health so that he can continue to give his best to Canada and to this cause.

Thank you, Senator Kochhar, for having such a profound, though brief, impact on my life.

Honourable senators, join me in wishing him well as he returns to his family and encouraging him to continue to give his best.

Senator, the world and Canada need you.

[English]

Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I first met Vim Kochhar 21 years ago. I knocked on his door during an Ontario election and was ever so politely asked, "Why should I vote for you?" Since then Vim and I have had an interesting and delightful relationship, full of hugs and laughter.

It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with Senator Vim Kochhar, particularly on the Human Rights Committee. At Senator Kochhar's urging and with his expertise, the committee will soon report on the federal sport programs and the disabled.

Senator Kochhar brings energy and good will to everything he does. It is no wonder that he founded the Rolling Rampage. He is the original Rolling Rampage, taking on challenge after challenge and achieving success after success. With his ready smile and engaging manner, Senator Kochhar makes things look easy. Underneath his ease with people is a tremendous amount of hard work and risk taking in aid of a very big goal — to change the way Canadians think about disability and disabled people.

Some 1.2 million Canadians live with some form of disability. It touches many more through family, friends, workplaces and communities. Senator Kochhar's focus is on ability. He is a leader in helping us all to see the ability in everyone. He wants to make it possible for everyone to have access to quality of life and full opportunity, a broad goal that senators support and work for every day for all Canadians.

Honourable senators, Senator Kochhar may have left the Senate, but I have no doubt that he will continue to play a very active and public role. He is an active board member for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, an important initiative for Canada and the world, and I very much hope that the Senate hears more about it. I know that we will continue to hear from the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons.

Senator Kochhar, keep on rolling with all the vitality, intensity and momentum that we have come to know, and why not!

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I rise today to bid farewell to my friend and colleague Senator Vim Kochhar.

Senator Kochhar has been a motivational force among us. I have seen his passion first-hand on the Human Rights Committee, where he has fought for the rights of the physically disabled in sports and otherwise. I have seen it exemplified in his role as Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation and in his creation of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons. Through his tireless dedication, this foundation has enhanced awareness and enriched the lives of individuals with physical challenges for the past 24 years, raising over $21 million.

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On a personal note, I can relate to Senator Kochhar, as we both immigrated to this country many years ago. He is the first person of Indian origin in the Senate of Canada, much like I am the first person of Pakistani descent. In fact, I remember when I first arrived at the Senate it was Senator Kochhar who took me under his wing. We were on the same floor, and I would often follow him around in fear of getting lost. His vibrant energy always brightened my day, and I thank him for not leading me astray!

The senator once said:

We need to concentrate on things that really matter, like character, compassion and community. Above all, we need to build awareness and keep promoting the message of inclusion.

I believe that we should do our utmost to continue in his legacy.

Senator Kochhar, your passion, your willingness to help others, and your warm and generous nature will be missed by us all.

Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to be here today to pay tribute to my dear friend and colleague Senator Vim Kochhar.

Vim and I were appointed to the Senate in January 2010. When we first arrived, Vim was my seatmate and we became good friends. We have shared many opinions and many stories, some political and some not.

We all know of Vim's commitment to people with disabilities. He always believed that persons with disabilities could lead independent and productive lives and that their achievements were equal to those of individuals without disabilities. Not only did he believe this, he lived it, actively participating and leading to ensure his beliefs became reality. He has been recognized many times over for his achievements.

Never one to sit idly by, Vim has pursued other interests, playing a significant role in other organizations, including Scouts Canada, Rotary and, of course, politics.

Vim was a young man of just 18 years of age in the 1950s when he left his home in India and everything familiar to him to travel to the United States to follow his dreams. Well, it just shows how unique Vim is.

Vim is an engineer by profession and he spent the early years of his career building "buildings." In fact, Vim was the project manager of the design and construction of Newfoundland's medical school in the early 1970s. While I was studying in the halls of Memorial University, Vim was right across the road making sure that that medical school was completed "on time" and "on budget."

Yes, Vim has many talents and he has had many achievements. Together, they have brought him to the Senate of Canada. I have been fortunate to have had a wonderful colleague who has become a dear, dear friend. We will surely miss him.

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am pleased to be here today to pay tribute to our colleague Vim Kochhar, who recently left the Senate but who continues to be involved in many organizations that make a difference in people's lives every day.

Partisanship aside, I believe that what I will remember about our colleague is his devotion to Canada, a country that he chose and that he helped to flourish, particularly by bringing hope to people with physical disabilities.

[English]

Vim is someone who has worked hard all his life. He quickly learned the value of hard work by picking peaches to pay for his time at university. His academic experience, as well as his life experience, made him a person that anyone would be lucky to count as a colleague.

[Translation]

We are lucky that the Canadian bureaucracy moved faster than the American bureaucracy in accepting Vim as a citizen when he was looking for a home.

Vim immediately became a citizen who was extremely involved in his community, particularly in working with people with disabilities. Vim always knew how to help people with disabilities to reach new heights despite the fact that he did not have a disability himself. He devoted over 25 years of his life to this cause completely altruistically. Without a doubt, he is an example to us all.

Vim was an expert in each of the fields in which he worked. Whether it was in business, engineering or social organizations, he always distinguished himself by his ability to quickly improve any environment that was fortunate enough to have him.

Today, we are saying goodbye to Vim as a Senate colleague but I am certain that we will continue to reap the benefits of his commitment wherever he goes.

[English]

Vim, again, it was an honour to serve as your colleague in the Senate. I wish you all the best in your future projects, which I am sure will bring joy not only to you but also to many others.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I will be brief because everything has been said about this great man. I rise today because after close to 30 years on Parliament Hill, in the other place and in this place, one tends to notice outstanding people. I noticed the outstanding characteristics of Senator Kochhar, the respect that he brought, his dedication and his hard work, just to name a few.

Honourable senators, it is not often that we get people of the quality of Senator Kochhar.

As you go forward, my friend, carry on your great work. To paraphrase an American president, there are no great men; there are only ordinary men — ordinary men who rise to great occasions. You have done that. God bless you and carry on!

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, Vim has asked me to read his message to you today. Before I do that, allow me to make some comments of my own.

For nearly a quarter of a century, I have had the privilege of knowing this extraordinary Canadian and calling him my friend. He is focused. Those of you who know him know he is stubborn. He is persistent to a fault, he is generous, but primarily he is a man who gets things done. His successes as a professional businessman pale in comparison to his enormous contributions to various community and public causes, including the Rotary Club, the Canadian Helen Keller Centre for the deaf-blind, the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, the Paralympics, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Scouts Canada, the Senate of Canada, and many more.

Over the years I have witnessed the dedication, the passion, the commitment, and, yes, the results. When he sets his sights on a project, he is like a bulldozer — either join him or get out of the way — and he is not yet finished!

Honourable senators, Vim's exemplary leadership is legendary. He has earned the respect and admiration of Canadians, including those at the highest level of society. He often says that Canada is the best country in the world. I agree with him. Yes, we live in the best country of the world, and it is because of people like Vim Kochhar, a true Canadian.

Vim, your hero Mahatma Gandhi would be very proud of you. My dear friend, to you, Dorothy and your family, I extend good wishes. Vim, we have many miles yet to walk together. I look forward to it.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Di Nino: The following words are Vim's message to all of us here at the Senate today.

Honourable senators, the past 18 months and 18 days' journey through the Senate of Canada has been an incredible and memorable journey.

I am moved by all the wonderful remarks made by honourable senators today. It seems a little strange sitting in the balcony, but I am comforted to know I have so many friends on both sides of the aisle, some of whom I have known for over 30 years.

(1450)

I am not ready to be put out to pasture yet. This is my fourth retirement. For me, it has been like turning a page in my life's journey. I will now be able to refocus and rededicate more time and energy to changing the way Canadians think about disability.

It has been a great honour and privilege to have had the opportunity to serve with you in the greatest country in the world.

The first time I retired was in 1972, after spending 12 years in the construction industry in many countries building hotels, hospitals and medical schools. My last act before retiring was to move the historic Campbell House, built in 1822 in Toronto for then Chief Justice William Campbell, to its present location at Queen Street and University Avenue in Toronto.

The second time I semi-retired was in 1985, from a very profitable manufacturing and retailing furniture company, to devote most of my time to the promotion of the disability movement in Canada. It was an incredibly satisfying experience to have lit a torch 27 years ago for the disability movement and to have kept it lit all of these years.

During this time, I had the privilege of founding the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, Rotary Cheshire Homes and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre for the deaf and blind, serving on the boards of Variety Village, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and serving as president of a Rotary Club and president of Scouts Canada for the GTR. I am presently Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation, to promote Paralympic athletes.

My fourth career started December 2009 when I received a call from Prime Minister Harper to serve in the Senate. The Senate has given me an opportunity to continue my work in the disability movement, including organizing a very successful Rolling Rampage on the Hill on April 14 of this year, during the federal election campaign. The six honourable senators who participated will tell you that it was an amazing experience to watch the world's best wheelchair athletes race around Parliament Hill. Thousands of schoolchildren from the Ottawa area came out, had relay races and witnessed the race.

The Senate is more than just legislative work. It is the people on both sides of the aisle whom you learn to respect and admire for their amazing contributions to Canada.

I will miss all of you and my Executive Assistant Denise Boudreau for her support and advice. She was always there to make my work easy and enjoyable. I also want to thank Phil Trinh for guiding me in my committee work.

You cannot have a successful retirement without the support and love of family and friends. Today my immediate family are here with me in the gallery: Dorothy, Sarah, Adam, Steven and Adam and three grandsons, Joshua, Benjamin and Noah, who I know will carry my torch into the future. I truly feel blessed and fortunate to have so many family and friends sharing this day.

As an aside, I guess Noah has gone to sleep because I cannot hear him anymore.

Honourable senators, my goodbye does not mean my disappearance. I will continue to cherish your friendship as I turn to the next chapter of my life. My 44 years in Canada have made me a very proud Canadian. Canada has been very good to me and I will continue to serve Canada as long as I live.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Privacy Commissioner

Access to Information Act and Privacy Act—2010-11 Annual Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010-11 annual report of the Privacy Commissioner, pursuant to section 72 of the Access to Information Act and section 72 of the Privacy Act.

[English]

Public Sector Integrity Commissioner

Access to Information Act and Privacy Act—2010-11 Annual Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010-11 annual reports of the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada, pursuant to section 72 of the Access to Information Act and section 72 of the Privacy Act.

Commissioner of Lobbying

Access to Information Act and Privacy Act—2010-11 Annual Reports Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010-11 annual reports of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada, pursuant to section 72 of the Access to Information Act and section 72 of the Privacy Act.

[Translation]

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Yukon Land Claims and Self-Government Agreements—2007-09 Biennial Report Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of the 2007-09 biennial report on the implementation of the land claims and self-government agreements concluded in the Yukon.

Public Safety

User Fee Proposal Tabled and Referred to Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to section 4 of the User Fees Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a proposal from the Parole Board of Canada to increase the pardon application user fee.

After consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs was chosen to study this document.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: With reference to the report having been tabled by the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, pursuant to rule 28(3.1), this document is deemed referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

2008-09 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2008-09 Annual Report of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

Government Response to 2008-09 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government response to the 2008-09 Annual Report of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

[Translation]

2009-10 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2009-10 Annual Report of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

Government Response to the 2009-10 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the 2009-10 Annual Report of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

[English]

Study on Current State and Future of Forest Sector

Second Report of Agriculture and Forestry Committee Tabled with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the order of reference adopted on June 15, 2011 and to the order adopted by the Senate on June 23, 2011, the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry deposited with the Clerk of the Senate, on July 5, 2011, its second report entitled: The Canadian Forest Sector: A Future Based on Innovation.

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

[Translation]

The Right Honourable David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Address to Members of the Senate and the House of Commons—Motion to Print as an Appendix Adopted

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(i), I move:

That the Address of The Right Honourable David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to Members of both Houses of Parliament, delivered Thursday, September 22, 2011, together with the introductory speech by the Right Honourable the Prime Minister of Canada and the speeches delivered by the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons, be printed as an appendix to the Debates of the Senate of this day and form part of the permanent records of this House.

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

Hon Senators: Agreed.

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

(Motion agreed to.)

(For text of speeches, see Appendix "A", p. 255.)

(1500)

Business of the Senate

Notice of Motion to Change Commencement Time on Wednesdays and Thursdays and to Effect Wednesday Adjournments

Hon. Claude Carignan, (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, during the remainder of the current session,

(a) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday or a Thursday, it shall sit at 1:30 p.m. notwithstanding rule 5(1)(a);

(b) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday, it stand adjourned at the later of 4 p.m. or the end of Government Business, but no later than the time otherwise provided in the Rules, unless it has been suspended for the purpose of taking a deferred vote or has earlier adjourned;

(c) when the Senate sits past 4 p.m. on a Wednesday, committees scheduled to meet be authorized to do so, even if the Senate is then sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being suspended in relation thereto; and

(d) when a vote is deferred until 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings, if required, immediately prior to any adjournment but no later than the time provided in paragraph (b), to suspend the sitting until 5:30 p.m. for the taking of the deferred vote, and that committees be authorized to meet during the period that the sitting is suspended.

(1500)

[English]

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources have the power to sit at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 27, 2011, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that Rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Would the honourable senator tell us why this motion is necessary?

Senator Angus: The Minister of Natural Resources is appearing before the committee on important matters at five o'clock today.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


QUESTION PERIOD

Public Safety

Reports on Correctional System

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The government has introduced in the other place an omnibus crime bill that I understand is over one hundred pages long, and it has been announced with much fanfare that there is more legislation to follow. Canadian taxpayers are becoming increasingly aware that this law-making spree is going to cost billions of dollars in increased prison costs.

In 2007, long before this current group of crime bills, federal-provincial-territorial ministers commissioned a study to look at Canada's corrections system to see how it was changing, what pressures it was facing and, in their words, "whether a new approach to corrections is needed." That report was entitled The Changing Face of Corrections, and it was received by the leader's government in 2009, but it has been buried since then; it has never been released to the public. It would seem to me that it is highly relevant to parliamentarians in examining the government's crime bills to have a copy of that report.

Will the leader's government finally table the report, make it public to the taxpayers who paid for it and who will be called upon to pay the billions of dollars for her government's crime agenda?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I will take the honourable senator's specific request as notice. However, I would like to point out that Canadians definitively gave our government a strong and clear mandate to continue making our streets and communities safer. Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Bill, will help us do just that. By moving quickly to reintroduce comprehensive law and order legislation, our government is fulfilling our commitment to take action to protect families and to hold criminals accountable for their crimes.

As Sharon Rosenfeldt, the President of Victims of Violence, whom we all know very well, wrote on September 8:

. . . we do commend the federal government's efforts and initiatives to protect our communities from crime. The legislation passed to date and, including the upcoming omnibus crime legislation to be introduced this fall, has been requested by crime victims for many years.

I do believe, honourable senators, that Bill C-10 in the other place addresses serious issues that Canadians overwhelmingly support us on. We made it very clear when we ran in the election, which was forced upon us by the honourable senator's party and the other party in the other place, that we would be aggressively pursuing this agenda and we made the commitment at the time to deal with this measure within 100 sitting days of Parliament.

Senator Cowan: We will have ample opportunity to discuss the merits or otherwise of the specifics of the ominous bill. We certainly look forward to that.

My question had to do not with the omnibus bill or any of the other pieces of legislation that the leader talked about. It was a specific question about a report that has been in the hands of the leader's government for several years. I was simply asking if that report could be tabled in this place so we could have a look at it.

I have a supplementary question. In October 2010, almost a year ago, I asked a question about another study, this one by the Department of Justice, which looked at the impact of the so-called Truth in Sentencing Act. That study was also done in 2009 and it has also never been made available to the public. At that time, I asked the leader whether the final report was available, and I asked her government to table it. The exchange that the leader and I had at the time reads as follows:

I take it, then, that the leader will try to ascertain the status of that report and report to us when it is available, and if she is not prepared to table it, she will indicate why not; is that correct?

Senator LeBreton: That is right.

It is now one year later, and we have not received an answer or an explanation. The leader's government continues to table more and more crime legislation that will cost Canadian taxpayers billions and billions of dollars, with untold social impacts, and she keeps refusing to release studies in the government's possession on the true impact of what this government is foisting on Canadians.

I ask the leader again: Will her government release these studies so that parliamentarians and Canadians can properly examine the bills it has introduced?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, my answer is the same as my first response; I will take that particular request and question as notice.

The honourable senator seems to be focused on the costs of our crime bill. From what I can tell, there is no indication or acknowledgment from the honourable senator's side about the tremendous cost to victims of crime in this country.

(1510)

Human Resources and Skills Development

Unemployment Levels

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Today we find ourselves teetering on the edge of what may or may not be another global recession. Europe is in crisis. In the U.S., a burgeoning debt and a massive operating deficit have sent the markets haywire. Everywhere we see red flags.

Across Canada, unemployment is at unsustainable levels. In Abbotsford, it is above 8 per cent. In Windsor, Toronto and Montreal, it is the same or higher. In Saint John, they are struggling. In places like Peterborough, Ontario, they have reached a crisis point with 11 per cent unemployment.

As I mentioned, global economic indicators suggest things may get worse before they get better. To imagine that Canada would remain immune to further damage in this worldwide economic context is naive at best.

I ask the Leader of the Government this: Has her government recognized that this issue is one of the real priorities of Canadians? What is the government's plan today and in the coming weeks and months to address the impact of the degenerating global economy on Canadian jobs?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, if you listened to the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister as recently as last Thursday, they addressed some of these issues, and the Prime Minister addressed some of these issues when we hosted the Right Honourable David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

First, no government would not be sympathetic with Canadians who have lost their jobs. There is no doubt that the focus of the government this fall will be, quite rightly, on jobs and the economy.

I do believe, Senator Tardif, that we should acknowledge the fact that Canada's economy created nearly 600,000 new jobs since July 2009, the strongest job growth in the G7. As I just acknowledged a moment ago, those are impressive figures, but still, in all, too many Canadians are still looking for work.

We are not immune to the turbulence that is facing the global economy, especially in Europe and the United States. That is why we are working to implement the budget and its job-creating measures, such as the hiring credit for small businesses. I wish to assure honourable senators that this government is focused on what matters to Canadians, namely, creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

The IMF, as the honourable senator would know, has forecasted that Canada will have the strongest overall economic growth among the G7 over the next two years. This is yet another example of our global economic leadership, which includes the World Economic Forum ranking Canada's financial system as the soundest in the world for the fourth consecutive year, and Moody's renewing our triple-A credit rating due to our economic resiliency.

Although we are facing challenging times, I do believe that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the government clearly recognize the dangers and are working hard to bring policies to bear in Canada that will see us through this difficult time, just as we did in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: I have a supplementary question. I believe that Canadians expect a lot more than rhetorical answers. They expect the government to use an approach that is pragmatic, sound and, above all, sincere when it addresses the problems facing our country. Every week, the government seems to be eliminating more services and jobs. The risk that comes with these austerity measures has been documented many times. Experts the world over have issued countless warnings.

That being said, I must ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate again: what is the plan? When will we see this plan to create jobs for Canadians?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I mentioned one initiative in my last answer with regard to the hiring credit for small business. Minister Flaherty has made it clear that if Canada's economy were threatened, as it was before, we would do whatever was necessary to protect our economy, Canadian jobs and Canadian families.

The honourable senator may dismiss the reporting of major global economic forums as trivia — I do not know what her exact word was. However, the fact is that we are in a global economy and we do have a stellar record, to which these organizations point. You do not get those kinds of plaudits from these organizations for doing nothing.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Wheat Board

Hon. Robert W. Peterson: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On June 15 of this year, I asked if the government would allow producers to make an open and democratic choice on whether or not they prefer a single desk to sell their wheat as currently provided in legislation. The leader answered that Canadians from all over the country, and Western Canadians in particular, gave the government a strong mandate to deliver on these promises. I believe that strong mandate referred to was 39.7 per cent. The Canadian Wheat Board carried out its own plebiscite of Western farmers and the results were that 62 per cent voted in favour of retaining a single desk to sell their wheat.

In my book, 62 per cent trumps 39.7 per cent. By any standard of fairness and justice, this result cries out for further consideration. Will the government commit, at the very least, to carrying out an economic impact analysis on the proposed legislation to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): As Minister Ritz said succinctly, no expensive survey can trump the individual rights of farmers to market their own grain. We ran in the last election on a definitive platform of giving our Western farmers marketing choice. They would have the option of going directly to market or marketing through the Wheat Board. It is not a question of eliminating the Wheat Board. It is giving marketing choice.

The honourable senator mentioned a figure of 39.7 per cent. I daresay if he looks specifically at the vote that our government received from the Western provinces, it is significantly higher than 39.7 per cent, but that is another matter.

Canadian farmers feed the world, and they deserve the freedom, like there is in every other jurisdiction, to make their own business decisions. That is why, honourable senators, we are respecting this freedom of marketing choice and that is why we will proceed with plans to do just that and give marketing choice to Western farmers.

Senator Peterson: Honourable senators, it is difficult to comprehend the reluctance to deal with the majority wishes of farmers in Western Canada. The perception is that this government seems to care more about the interests of multinational grain companies than about its own farmers. Which one is it?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the fact is the plebiscite that the honourable senator referred to was run with a specific question and did not give the farmers a choice. They were asked one specific question. Having said that, we clearly ran in the last election on the platform of giving grain producers in the West marketing choice. We clearly won a mandate to do so, and that is exactly what we intend to do.

(1520)

Senator Peterson: That is the beauty of the plebiscite. The question was very simple. Do you want a single desk to sell your wheat, yes or no? You cannot beat that.

Senator LeBreton: There are questions about the plebiscite regarding who was asked the question. In the election we specifically promised farmers that we would give them marketing choice. If they want to use the Canadian Wheat Board, that is their choice, but we want to give those farmers who do not want the single-desk marketing of the Canadian Wheat Board the option to sell their grain directly into the market. Why would we not want to give Western farmers the same rights as Ontario grain producers have? I do not understand the division.

Human Resources and Skills Development

Access to Service Canada

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last month, employees at 98 Service Canada Employment Insurance processing centres were advised that their locations were going to be closed. That means that it will go from 120 locations to 22.

One of the locations that will be closed is in Montague, Prince Edward Island. It is the only processing centre in my province. It seems that the Conservative government is shifting well-paid jobs out of rural areas with high unemployment rates. For example, Montague has an unemployment rate of roughly 12 per cent, which is about twice the national average.

Why has the government decided to eliminate 30 processing jobs in Montague, and what criteria did the government use to determine which centres would be closed?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I know that I will read all about this in The Guardian, because everything that Senator Callbeck asks is in it. I should read The Guardian in the morning in order to know what question Senator Callbeck is going to ask.

Many Service Canada offices were set up to meet specific needs. Service Canada is providing a tremendous service throughout the country, and it is my understanding that there are to be no major closures of Service Canada offices. However, I will specifically ask about Montague, Prince Edward Island.

Senator Callbeck: I look forward to learning why the Montague Service Canada office is going to be closed.

I asked another specific question to which I would like to have the answer. I would like to know what criteria the government used to determine which processing centres will be closed.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, as I just indicated, I do not have specific details on every Service Canada centre across the country, so I will take the question as notice.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

Planning of Commemorative Events

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, in 2008 we celebrated the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. The federal government was fully involved in those celebrations, and the citizens are grateful for that. The provincial and municipal levels of government also took part in an ambitious plan that truly changed the nature of some places in our community, even the St. Lawrence River.

In 2009, there was a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. No one except a few extremists went to the celebrations. No one recognized that hundreds, nearly thousands of French-Canadians, the Canadians of the time, were killed and injured in that battle, and that French and British soldiers were injured. Politicians did everything they could to avoid it. And I feel that was an incredible show of immaturity by our country, which was unable to recognize a fundamental part of our history. The British make some excellent films about their defeats. I would recommend them; they are very interesting.

I looked at certain parts of the Conservative Party platform during the last election, such as the impact of future commemorative events. Next year will mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which was a significant war.

I would like to read from the platform something that I noticed about 2017:

[English]

. . . in 2017, we will lead Canadians in the greatest birthday celebration in our nation's history — the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Well, 2017 will also be the one-hundredth anniversary of when the youth of this nation went across the pond, fought, bled, died and won a stunning victory at Vimy Ridge, an event which turned this colony into a nation state. We won our spurs and were recognized as a nation state.

We will have the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of Canada and the one-hundredth anniversary of Vimy Ridge, and we will celebrate with a birthday party.

The government has now been in power for five years and will probably remain in power for another four years. The year 2017 is coming up. What is the government's plan? Will we have a party? Will we build centennial rinks across the country? What significant plan does the government have to bring this country together?

I will offer another option for the leader's consideration. What will we start after 2017? What is our new vision, our new prospect? Does the government have a significant plan for how to maximize these incredible milestones rather than having a bunch of birthday cakes and centennial parks across the country?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, one of the things that I, as part of this government, am most proud of is our commitment to the history of our country and the acknowledgment of the many milestones in Canadian history.

The honourable senator mentioned the one-hundredth anniversary of the First World War. Senator Duffy wrote not long ago about Canada's coming of age under the Conservative prime ministership of Sir Robert Borden.

The government has done many things, including preparing instructions and guidebooks for new citizens and celebrating the four-hundredth anniversary of Quebec City. There will be celebrations of the anniversary of the War of 1812, which in many ways, followed by the Selkirk settlers moving throughout the West, was when Canada started the process of establishing ourselves as a country independent from our neighbours to the south.

Honourable senators, rest assured that this government is fully involved in celebrating all of our great milestones. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable James Moore, is seized of this. I can assure honourable senators that, be it the War of 1812 or the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, which will be celebrated next year as well, all of these events will be properly marked and catalogued as milestones in Canadian history.

I regret that for many years history seemed to have been pushed onto the back burner, but that will certainly not happen under our government.

[Translation]

Senator Dallaire: Thank you for the rundown of past activities. We cannot deny what has been done in the past, but we should be looking to the future.

There is nothing for 2017 in the budget. The budget covers five years, which brings us to 2016.

(1530)

If the government wants to do something major, it should surely have a spending budget in order to do something significant. Perhaps a four-lane highway, from one side of the country to the other, would be a start, but nothing has been indicated.

Furthermore, in 2010, we missed a chance to commemorate the Battle of Quebec of 1775. We defended Canada there and General Montgomery was killed at the gates of Quebec City. Fort Saint-Jean was besieged for 43 days and we prevented the American forces from taking Canada. If not for that, we would be Americans today.

We missed celebrating the battle of 1775 in 2010, but we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs is responsible for commemorations. I would think that he should already have a major proposal well underway. A government that has been in power for so long should realize that planning something to bring this country together to celebrate such an important date cannot be done overnight. It takes time to develop a project like that.

Could the leader give us a little more information, rather than simply telling us:

[English]

"I come from Ottawa and I am here to help you." That response did not necessarily ever make me very warm when I was serving, but maybe the leader could give us a more tangible reference to what is going on.

Senator LeBreton: Senator Dallaire talks about things in the past, and the War of 1812 was in the past, but the celebration of it is in the future. I can assure the honourable senator that this government is fully involved in recognizing all major historical milestones in Canada's history. Fortunately, we are more cognizant of this than perhaps some governments in the past were. I can assure him that all of these events, which give us an opportunity to promote our great country and celebrate its great history and its great triumphs, will not be planned at the last moment.

I can assure honourable senators that this government is looking well into the future, and I would also like to assure senators that plans will not be made at the last moment. A lot of detail will be put into all planning.

Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question.

If the leader does not mind, I would like something a little more tangible, for example, a sort of situation report on what has been done so far and what sort of preliminary planning is ongoing. This is a major event in our history that could be maximized, and I think that, if they are working on it, they could tell us what really is going on or how much effort is being put into it. There is no need to amend the platform, but there could be recognition of the one-hundredth anniversary of Vimy Ridge being that same year also.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am very much aware of Vimy Ridge, and I can assure you that this government will not overlook such an important date.

In answer to Senator Dallaire's question, when we are in a position to inform Parliament and inform the public of our plans, he will be the first to know.

[Translation]

Human Resources and Skills Development

Access to Service Canada in Both Official Languages

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question to the one posed by my colleague, Senator Callbeck, about Service Canada.

The leader replied that she would get back to her regarding the criteria related to Service Canada's mandate. I would like to make sure that these criteria will include the services that respect both official languages for minorities.

Some people in the Atlantic region already have concerns about services in French for francophone minorities.

Could the leader assure us that the rights of francophone minorities will not be affected with respect to these services, especially in the Atlantic region?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Service Canada is providing a tremendous service across the country. There is no doubt about it. Each year we get fewer and fewer complaints because of the great work Service Canada is doing. The current EI processing model is paper-based and outdated. The government and Minister Finley, who is responsible for Service Canada, simply wish to modernize a system that is already working well. No Service Canada office or centre will close as a result of this modernization, and there will be no impact on front-line or in-person services offered, including services in both of our official languages.

Answers to Order Paper Questions Tabled

Industry—Foreign Investment

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 1 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

National Revenue—Tax Evasion

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 3 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

Veterans Affairs—Veterans' Funeral and Burial Expenses

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 4 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

National Revenue—Committee Report Recommendations

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 5 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

Industry Do Not Call List

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 6 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

Veterans Affairs—New Veterans Charter

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 12 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

Offices of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council—Act of Settlement

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 13 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

Veterans Affairs—New Veterans Charter

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 15 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

Natural Resources—Climate Change on Prince Edward Island

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 17 on the Order Paper by Senator Downe.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present delayed answers to seven oral questions. The first was raised by Senator Callbeck on June 7, 2011, concerning Fisheries and Oceans, lighthouses; the second by Senator Pépin on June 8, 2011, concerning Veterans Affairs, the Last Post Fund; the third by Senator Hubley on June 8, 2011, concerning health, Indian and Northern Affairs; the fourth by Senator Jaffer, on June 15, 2011, concerning National Defence, the rights of women in Afghanistan; the fifth by Senator Downe, on June 16, 2011, concerning Treasury Board, the federal public service; the sixth by Senator Jaffer, on June 16, 2011, concerning Aboriginal Affairs, matrimonial real property on reserves; the seventh by Senator Mercer, on June 23, 2011, concerning Agriculture and Agri-Food, supply management.

Fisheries and Oceans

Lighthouses

(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on June 7, 2011.)

The Government of Canada recognizes the historic value of lighthouses within coastal communities and is fully supportive of the principles of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act which seeks to preserve and protect lighthouses for the benefit of future generations. The Act provides important opportunities for community-based interests to acquire ownership of lighthouses and exercise direct control over the future of their local heritage.

The administration of the Act is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment. Although the Act contains no specific source of supplementary funding for community groups interested in assuming ownership of heritage lighthouses, Fisheries and Oceans Canada maintains an annual budget of approximately $1 million to improve the condition of surplus assets prior to divestiture. Beginning this year and until 2015, it is anticipated that much of this funding will be allocated towards facilitating transfers of ownership for surplus lighthouses that meet the criteria for heritage designation under the Act.

Veterans Affairs

Last Post Fund

(Response to question raised by Hon. Lucie Pépin on June 8, 2011.)

Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to giving Veterans and their families the care, services and financial support they deserve.

Funeral and burial assistance is provided to Veterans who die of a service-related disability and to Veterans with service eligibility who cannot afford a dignified funeral and burial, regardless of military rank or decoration.

The maximum funeral services rate payable to qualified applicants by the Funeral and Burial Program is $3600. In addition, Veterans Affairs Canada pays for the full cost of burial, including a grave marker.

The department continues to listen to stakeholders' concerns as it explores options for program improvements in a fiscally prudent manner.

Indian and Northern Affairs

Budget 2011—Public Safety

(Response to question raised by Hon. Elizabeth Hubley on June 8, 2011.)

Our Government recognizes mental health and addictions are priority issues for First Nations and Inuit communities. Our Government is working with key partners to support communities to improve access to effective mental health and addictions services.

For example, Health Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami established a First Nations and Inuit Mental Wellness Advisory Committee. Consisting of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal experts, including provinces and territories, the group developed a strategic action plan to improve the mental wellness outcomes of First Nations and Inuit. An Inuit-specific mental wellness plan, called "Alianait", has also been developed. These plans guide the Government of Canada's actions to address the challenges of mental health and addictions in the Aboriginal population, and have been used to guide recent significant investments in youth suicide prevention, addictions treatment, and mental health and emotional supports for former students of residential schools and their families.

Alcohol, drug and solvent abuse remain a problem in some First Nations and Inuit communities, and our Government is taking a number of steps to support communities to deal with these serious issues. As part of the National Anti-Drug Strategy, Health Canada is investing $30.5M over five years (2008-13), with $9.1M ongoing, to increase access to and improve the quality of addictions services for First Nations and Inuit. This funding is strengthening services being provided under the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program and the National Youth Solvent Abuse Program, which include 58 treatment centres, as well as drug and alcohol prevention in over 550 First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada.

Our Government is also supporting former students and their families throughout the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, by providing access to mental health and emotional supports. Budget 2010 announced $65.9M over two years for Health Canada's Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program to respond to the increased demand for services resulting from the Independent Assessment Process and Truth and Reconciliation Commission events. The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program provides access to community based elders and traditional healers, Aboriginal community-based mental health workers (many of whom speak Aboriginal languages), and psychologists and social workers who provide counselling. These resources are available to eligible former students and their families as they participate in all phases of the settlement agreement — the Common Experience Payments, the Independent Assessment Process, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and commemoration events.

In 2010, our Government renewed the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy with a further investment of $75M over 5 years, supporting prevention projects in approximately 150 First Nations and Inuit communities, as well as crisis response and knowledge development activities.

Through Health Canada, the Government of Canada also funds the Brighter Futures/Building Healthy Communities programs to reduce risk factors, promote protective factors, and improve health outcomes of First Nations and Inuit. Brighter Futures/Building Healthy Communities provides funds to all communities for activities supporting improved mental health, child development, parenting skills, and healthy babies. In addition, they provide funds to address mental health crises.

Foreign Affairs

Gender-specific Training in Afghanistan

(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on June 15, 2011.)

In November 2010, Canada announced its new engagement in Afghanistan. This renewed engagement builds on Canada's significant experience and investments in Afghanistan to date, supports Afghan-developed priorities, and sustains progress in key areas essential to Afghanistan's future.

The Canadian Forces' contribution to Canada's Whole-of-Government engagement in Afghanistan focuses on helping to increase the stability and security of the country, and establish the conditions enabling further improvements to development and governance. This will not only support the promotion of women rights and gender equality, but also allow Afghan women to continue to establish their role in the Afghan society. Canada will stay committed to gender equality through its renewed engagement in Afghanistan, and to the advancement of the provisions of Resolution 1325; and human and women rights will remain one of the priorities of the new Canadian mission.

The Canadian Forces' new engagement in Afghanistan will support, and take place within, the broader NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. This international mission — placed under the International Security Assistance Force chain of command — supports the Government of Afghanistan, and contributes to the development of the Afghan National Security Forces as an effective and professional security force. Canada will not only direct its training efforts until 2014 to the NATO Training Mission's priorities, but is also contributing Canadian general officers to the mission's leadership.

The broad NATO training agenda in Afghanistan is designed to support the development of a sustainable Afghan security capability, and includes not only activities targeted at core security and military capacities, but also intends to raise the Afghan National Security Forces' awareness of issues crucial to the development of professional security forces. As such, the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan supports training activities focused on gender issues, and contributes to improving the situation of Afghan women. NATO's efforts on this front support, and are consistent with, Afghan and international documents — including the Constitution of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Development Strategy and the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan — and their provisions on gender and human rights.

The Mission strives to address gender issues and improve gender equality through various initiatives and efforts:

  • increasing the number of women in the Afghan National Security Forces by supporting their recruitment and training;
     
  • developing a work environment more conducive to the integration of women, such as by supporting the opening of a kindergarten at the National Police Academy of Afghanistan;
     
  • contributing to the development of Afghan National Security Forces female leaders, officers and mentors through its support for leadership courses and women officers' schools;
     
  • training multi-national engagement teams to raise the awareness of gender issues in the Afghan society and fostering teams' better understanding and ability to address gender-related security concerns and concerns of the women serving within the Afghan National Security Forces;
     
  • supporting the professionalization of the Afghan forces and their awareness of gender issues through contribution to training curricula and activities;
     
  • supporting the development and the inclusion of training on human rights, gender issues and gender integration for the Afghan National Police; and
     
  • sponsoring a number of seminars to increase Afghan National Security Forces members' awareness of gender issues, as well as symposia and other related initiatives giving a voice to Afghan female leaders.

Canada's objective remains to help Afghans rebuild Afghanistan into a viable country that is better governed, more stable and secure, and no longer a safe haven for terrorists.

Treasury Board

Public Service Cuts

(Response to question raised by Hon. Percy E. Downe on June 16, 2011.)

The attached table provides a snapshot of the number of employees in the federal public service in each region as of March 31 for the years 2009-2011.

Public Sector Employment by Region (2009-2011)
March 31st, 2009 March 31st, 2010 March 31st, 2011
Newfoundland 5,597 5,489 5,222
Prince Edward Island 3,376 3,381 3,257
Nova Scotia 12,078 12,088 11,844
New Brunswick 8,374 8,565 8,672
Quebec (excluding NCR) 32,423 33,446 33,043
NCR - Quebec 25,917 26,782 27,051
Ontario (excluding NCR) 39,566 40,851 40,764
NCR - Ontario 84,764 88,158 89,306
Manitoba 11,894 11,950 11,614
Saskatchewan 6,661 6,683 6,597
Alberta 15,990 16,519 16,228
British Columbia 24,819 26,035 25,650
Yukon 427 425 441
Northwest Territories 739 767 746
Nunavut 238 253 277
Outside Canada 1,507 1,563 1,640
Total 274,370 282,955 282,352

Definition of Public Service Employment

1. The Federal Public Service workforce includes employees who work for departments and others portions of the Federal Public Administration named in Schedule I, IV and V to the Financial Administration Act. Schedules I and IV list departments and organizations for whom Treasury Board is the employer, and Schedule V lists separate agencies.

2. The workforce includes employees of all employment tenures (indeterminate, specified term, casual and students).

3. The workforce includes Governor-in-council, Order-in-council appointees and federal judges.

4. The workforce does not include Ministers' exempt staff.

5. The workforce includes active staff only; does not include employees on leave without pay.

6. The workforce does not include employees locally engaged outside Canada.

7. The workforce does not include self-employed consultants as well as the employees of firms doing business under contract with a public sector entity.

8. The workforce does not include Royal Canadian Mounted Police temporary civilian members.

9. The workforce does not include employees of the following separate agencies listed under Schedule V because their employee information is not available in the Regional Pay System: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the National Capital Commission, Canada Investment and Savings, the Canadian Forces Non-Public Funds, and the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

10. The workforce is based on effective assignment of employee. If the employee is in an acting position, then information related to the employee's acting assignment is used; otherwise information related to the employee's substantive assignment is used.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Matrimonial Real Property on Reserves

(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on June 16, 2011.)

In developing the proposed on-reserve matrimonial real property legislation introduced in the last session of Parliament, the government undertook a four-phase consultation process starting in 2005 and ending in 2007, involving the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, some individual First Nation communities, and provinces and territories. The $8 million extensive national consultation process included 103 sessions in 76 sites across the country, followed by a consensus-building phase and engagement on draft legislation. During the consultation process, all First Nations were invited to contribute, although some chose not to participate.

The results of the consultation process, and the numerous studies and information sessions that preceded it, informed the development of the draft legislation. The draft bill was shared with national Aboriginal organizations for further input before the bill was introduced for the first time in March 2008.

The proposed legislation responds to recommendations of several House and Senate standing committees, and the results of the national consultations, and it includes a provisional federal regime to provide rights and protections on reserves, as well as a mechanism to recognize First Nations' community-specific matrimonial real property laws. Currently, the government has no legal authority to recognize any on-reserve matrimonial real property laws developed by First Nations outside the jurisdiction of a self-government agreement or the First Nations Land Management Act.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that people living on reserves have matrimonial real property rights and protections similar to other Canadians during a relationship, when a relationship ends, or on death of a spouse or common-law partner. As stated in the Speech from the Throne, the Government will introduce legislation to address this important issue. We will continue to work with First Nations, Aboriginal groups and parliamentarians to ensure that First Nation people on reserves have access to equitable distribution of real property assets in the event of death, divorce or separation.

The lack of federal legislation in this area has impacted and will continue to impact families and entire communities and it is important that we move forward on this matter. The Government has heard the views expressed by First Nations, First Nation organizations and stakeholders regarding proposed federal on-reserve matrimonial real property legislation and further consultations are not necessary.

It is the Government of Canada's position that it is unacceptable that some Canadian citizens are deprived of their rights and protections because of where they live. The Minister looks forward to the Senator's support when this legislation is again before this Chamber.

To underscore the level of discussion and consultation on this matter the attached appendix offers a comprehensive list of research, activities, policy development and consultations the Government has undertaken respecting on-reserve matrimonial real property.

(For Appendix, see Appendix B, p. 261.)

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Global Food Supply

(Response to question raised by Hon. Terry M. Mercer on June 23, 2011.)

The dairy, poultry, and egg sectors operate under supply management in Canada, representing about 21 per cent of Canadian agricultural farm production. Supply management provides Canadians with access to a constant supply of high-quality dairy, poultry, and egg products at fair prices.

The Government of Canada strongly supports supply management and continues to defend its interests domestically, in trade negotiations, and in international forums. The Government works closely with stakeholders in order to address issues pertaining to its success.

  • Detailed and up-to-date market information, including production, consumption, trade, prices, and product trends, is made available at all levels of the dairy, poultry, and egg industries. This information is used by all industry stakeholders and by government to make sound policy decisions, to perform economic analysis, and to further develop markets. Policy developments in different countries are also monitored.
     
  • The tariff rate quotas for supply-managed products are closely monitored to ensure the integrity of the system. As an example in dairy, the rising imports and use of milk protein ingredients threatened the supply management system, and this resulted in the establishment of a new tariff rate quota for milk protein isolates (Chapter 35) in September 2008. World dairy prices are also closely monitored.
     
  • In the poultry industry, the Chicken Imports Working Group — an industry and federal government committee — examines Canada's poultry import situation and evaluates options that would ensure the integrity of the chicken and turkey supply management systems while maximizing the benefits for the entire Canadian poultry sector.
     
  • The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Dairy Commission, is also holding discussions with the sector to create a national pooling system aimed at mitigating and sharing the risk associated with the long-term viability of the dairy industry across the country.

The Government also supports the industry by investing in scientific research and on-farm food safety aspects.

  • The Government of Canada supported the establishment of the Canadian Poultry Research Council. This council addresses sector priorities and challenges concerning poultry health, food safety and quality, and production practices. The dairy sector received federal government funding along with a partnership with industries and universities to create a cluster of scientific and technical expertise to study the health benefits of dairy products and ways to improve animal productivity through animal health and breeding. Canada also supports the Canadian Quality Milk food safety program, which helps producers proactively strengthen on-farm food safety programs.

Furthermore, the Government of Canada has also demonstrated its willingness to defend supply management through the implementation of its trade policies.

  • The federal government is ready to implement the World Trade Organization's (WTO) special safeguard measures if necessary. These can be temporarily applied to imports in order to deal with special circumstances.
     
  • At the WTO, our government is seeking an ambitious outcome to the Doha Round. During these negotiations, Canada will continue to vigorously defend the interests of supply management and oppose any cuts in over-quota tariffs or tariff quota expansion for dairy and poultry products. During bilateral free trade agreement negotiations, Canada's approach was to exclude supply-managed products from any tariff reductions.

(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, September 28, at 2 p.m.)

Appendix A

(See p. 244.)

Address
of The Right Honourable David Cameron
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
to both Houses of Parliament in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa
on
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The Right Honourable David Cameron was welcomed
by the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,
by the Honourable Noël Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate,
and by the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons

Hon. Andrew Scheer (Speaker of the House of Commons): I call upon the right hon. Prime Minister to take the podium.

[Translation]

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Thank you, dear colleagues, Mr. Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Speaker of the House of Commons, Senators and Members of Parliament, Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court of Canada, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen,

[English]

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege for all of us to welcome to our Parliament today the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Right Hon. David Cameron.

On a person note, David, I have seen you recently and often — many times, in fact — both as Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister in Great Britain, and around the world, but it is a special pleasure to meet you here in Canada, where you are joining a distinguished register of British prime ministers who have addressed this chamber.

[Translation]

For instance, most recently in 2001, the Right Hon. Tony Blair addressed this House.

[English]

The great Margaret Thatcher spoke in this place on two occasions. Perhaps most famously, it was right here in 1941, during some of the darkest days of the Second World War, that Sir Winston Churchill made his famous "some chicken, some neck" speech that did so much to rally spirits on both sides of the Atlantic.

Prime Minister, another of your predecessors, Sir Anthony Eden, called appearing before this House an almost daunting experience for the visitor. Let me assure you that he found, as you will, that in the tradition we inherited from your own country, the Commons treats its visitors much better than we do each other.

[Translation]

Once again, we welcome you and we look forward to hearing you speak in just a few minutes.

[English]

First I ask the indulgence of this House to refer briefly to those security matters and economic matters that have brought Prime Minister Cameron and myself together, usually with other world leaders, no less than seven times during the last 16 months. They are matters, I must say, in which Prime Minister Cameron's leadership has been decisive and matters that will continue to demand his firmness of purpose, such as in Libya.

[Translation]

In particular, I am referring to the role played by our two countries, with the assistance of Canada's other mother country, France, in the efforts we have devoted to helping the people of Libya build a better future. Those efforts were driven by certain fundamental convictions.

[English]

We believe, for instance, that "the state was made for man and not man for the state", as the Right Hon. Harold Macmillan observed in this very chamber.

We also believe that when we help others to be free, it is our own liberty that we also secure. Those ancient rights of democracy and the rule of law that our two countries share are also the common aspirations of millions of people around the world. They are clearly the aspirations of the Libyan people themselves, and our mutual hope is that they will someday enjoy them in all their fullness.

[Translation]

Of course, we cannot forget the very serious problems that are facing the global economy and that bring us together as G20 partners.

[English]

Neither of us will be accused of exaggeration if we acknowledge that the most immediate test confronting all of us is to avoid the devastating consequences of a return to global recession, yet without key countries taking systemically appropriate and coordinated economic measures, without resistance to protectionism and acceptance of more flexible exchange rates, without fiscal consolidation and, above all else, without a will to address growing uncertainty to decisively tackle what are in some cases dangerous and unsustainable levels of national indebtedness — without actions on these matters, the world will not avoid such consequences.

[Translation]

I would therefore like to commend the leadership shown by Prime Minister Cameron on the economic issues of the day.

(1740)

[English]

First, the strong guidance Prime Minister Cameron has offered to our G20 partners and his determined advocacy for fiscal discipline.

Second, his consequential handling of the difficult fiscal choices confronting the British economy. Truly among our G20 partners, Prime Minister Cameron has been a leader by example.

Prime Minister, here in Canada we have followed your progress carefully and I can safely say that, where it matters most, your thinking parallels that of our own government. To be precise, while deficit reduction is not an end in itself, the G20 fiscal targets agreed to in Toronto last year remain an essential element for rebuilding the economic health of industrialized nations.

[Translation]

Like you, Prime Minister, we are targeting those objectives with a clear plan to stimulate job creation and economic growth. Later this year, G20 leaders will meet in Cannes.

[English]

And, I dare say, when we get there in Cannes, we will have much to occupy us at the G20.

Hon. members, without further ado, it does give me great pleasure to introduce a man of immense resolve and principled action, a great friend of mine and a great friend of Canada, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Right Honourable David Cameron.

Right Hon. David Cameron (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland): Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker of the Senate, Prime Minister, hon. members of the Senate and hon. members of the House of Commons, thank you for that incredibly warm welcome. As you said, Stephen, this does remind me of home. It is just a little bit bigger and a lot better behaved.

[Translation]

I thank you for the great honour you have bestowed upon me by inviting me to speak before this historic Parliament.

[English]

Perhaps I should have proceeded that with the warning Winston Churchill gave during one of his wartime broadcasts when he said:

[Translation]

"Be on your guard, because I am going to speak in French."

[English]

Let me begin in this place by paying tribute to Jack Layton. I offer sincere condolences to Olivia and his family. His energy and his optimism were above politics, and I know he will be missed by all those who serve here.

One of the things I am finding about this job is that whichever country I visit, members of the royal family have got there first. I think the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or Will and Kate as you call them here, have set the bar pretty high this time, but it is a symbol of the importance of the relationship between our two countries and the long-standing affection that our people show toward one another that the young royal couple chose Canada as the destination for their first ever overseas visit and that the people here gave them such a warm reception. Sadly, I will not be landing a helicopter in a lake or wearing a stetson, and I am sure Prime Minister Harper will be disappointed that he will not be able to challenge me at rodeo either.

As the author Brian Lee Crowley has set out, there is a strong argument that the 21st century could well be the Canadian century.

In the last few years, Canada has got every major decision right. Look at the facts. Not a single Canadian bank fell or faltered during the global banking crisis. Canada got to grips with its deficit and was running surpluses and paying down the debt before the recession, fixing the roof while the sun was still shining. Your economic leadership has helped the Canadian economy to weather the global storms far better than many of your international competitors.

The way in which you have integrated people from many different backgrounds into a mature democracy is, I believe, a model from which we can all learn, and Canada is now preparing for a better future. Alberta is the jurisdiction with the best educational results of any English-speaking jurisdiction in the world.

From BlackBerry to Canadarm, the robot arm used on 90 space shuttle missions, yours is a home of innovation and technology. In fact, BlackBerry presented Her Majesty the Queen with one of its smart phones when she visited last year, but, unsurprisingly, Her Majesty had one already.

Canada displays moral clarity and political leadership. Canadian servicemen and women have made extraordinary sacrifices in the defence of liberty and democracy, yet while some countries do a little and talk a lot, Canada is self-effacing and self-sacrificing in its contribution to the fight for a better world, so it is a privilege for me to come here today and to honour what you have done.

It is also a great pleasure to be standing here with my colleague and friend, Prime Minister Harper. I have seen at first hand over the last 16 months his outstanding leadership, not least at my first G8 and G20 summits in Muskoka and Toronto last year. Then, as now, the focus of much of our efforts was on the two issues that concern our people most: keeping them safe and getting them jobs.

This evening I want to focus my remarks on how we can work together to address some of the issues of the global economy, but let me first say something about security.

We have all suffered from Islamic extremism and violence. I have just come from the United Nations, where I argued that the events we have seen this year in North Africa and the Middle East offer a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy and, vitally, security, but only if we work together to seize the opportunity and to support the Arab people as they seek to fulfill aspirations for a job, a voice and a stake in their society.

(1745)

Our two countries have always been prepared to bear the burden and pay the price to make our world safer and to defend our way of life.

The Peace Tower in this building commemorates the 67,000 Canadian lives lost in the First World War alone. Britain owes an incredible debt to the Canadian armed forces, and I want to pay tribute to them today.

Through two world wars, Canada was there. At Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Ypres, Canada was there. At the Somme, when our forces together suffered the worse losses in history, Canada was there. In fact, it was after the Somme that Lloyd George wrote:

The Canadians...played a part of such distinction that thenceforward they were marked out as storm troops. . . . Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst.

In our darkest hour in World War II, Canadian naval forces helped to keep the sea lanes open during the Battle of the Atlantic, running convoys across the Atlantic week after week, braving mines, submarines and blacked-out silent ships, all of which proved absolutely fundamental to our ability to survive as an independent country.

On Juno Beach, it was the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the Royal Canadian Navy that achieved such a remarkable triumph on the first day of those vital Normandy landings and which on D-Day got further inland than any of the five other invasion forces.

Today Canada is as vital and influential a military partner as it has ever been. As partners and founder members of NATO, our forces have been proud to serve alongside each other in international operations from Bosnia to Sierra Leone, and most recently from Afghanistan to Libya.

In Afghanistan, it is Canadian and British forces that have fought alongside each other in the south, in the very toughest part of the country, where few other nations would follow.

Today, Canadian personnel are engaged in vital work training the Afghan National Security Forces.

In Libya, it was a Canadian general, Charles Bouchard, who commanded the NATO operation, and brave Canadian pilots who played such a vital role in protecting civilians and helping the Libyan people to liberate themselves.

Amidst all this, I believe there could not be a more fitting tribute to the brilliance of Canadian forces and our pride at standing side by side with them than the recent renaming of the maritime command and air command as the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Prime Minister Harper and I will always ensure that Britain and Canada keep our defences strong, but we also understand the impact we can have to punch above our weight in the world to help achieve freedom, democracy and security. It is not just about military might alone, but about diplomacy, aid, culture, the promotion of our values. Britain is pleased to support the Muskoka initiative on maternal and child health launched under Prime Minister Harper's leadership at the G8 last year, and we are investing in programs to save the lives of 50,000 women in pregnancy and child birth and to stop a quarter of a million newborn babies dying needlessly.

Of course at a time when finances are tight, people question whether we should keep our aid commitments. I say yes. We need to be able to protect military power to protect our security and defend our values, but it is even better to mend the broken states and to act to stop problems before they come to our door, whether that is waves of illegal migration, the spread of diseases or new threats to our national security.

(1750)

Take Afghanistan: If we had put a fraction of our current military spending on Afghanistan into helping Afghanistan develop 15 or 20 years ago, just think of what we might have been able to avoid over the last decade.

Or take Pakistan: Let another generation of Pakistani children enter life without a proper education or the prospects of a job and a head full of extremist propaganda and what are the risk in terms of mass migration, radicalization and even terrorism?

Britain and Canada have never turned away from the world, so it is right that we have met our aid commitments and I hope you will continue to join me in working with our international development partners, not just for the good of the developing world but for the safety and the security of us all.

Just as Britain and Canada have worked together for the world's security, so we must now work together on the biggest challenge this year: securing strong and sustainable growth in the global economy.

It is important that we are clear about the facts. We are not quite staring down the barrel, but the pattern is clear. The recovery out of the recession for the advanced economies will be difficult. Growth in Europe has stalled. Growth in America has stalled.

The effects of the Japanese earthquake, high oil and food prices have created a drag on growth, but fundamentally we are still suffering from the aftershocks of the world financial bust and economic collapse in 2008. That means families in Britain and Canada are facing a tough time.

I believe that Prime Minister Harper and I share the same analysis of what is wrong and what needs to be put right.

The world is recovering from a once in 70 years financial crisis and is suffering from debts not seen in decades. This is not a traditional cyclical recession, it is a debt crisis. When the fundamental problem is the level of debt and the fear of those levels, then the usual economic prescriptions cannot be applied. It is not simply a question of using conventional fiscal and monetary levers to stimulate growth until confidence and normal economic activity returns.

When households have borrowed too much, when banks are shrinking their balance sheets and rebuilding their capital and when governments are accumulating huge stocks of debt, the power of those traditional levers is limited.

The economic situation is much more dangerous and the solution for most countries cannot be simply to borrow more. Why? Because if the government does not have the room to borrow more in order to cut taxes or increase spending, people and markets start worrying about whether a government can actually pay back its debt. When this happens, confidence ebbs away and interest rates will rise, hitting people with mortgages and hitting companies that want to borrow to invest. We can see this happening right now in some European countries.

Of course there is a crucial role for monetary policy to help support economies in the short term and of course those that have room can use fiscal levers to do the same. Yes, demand matters but boosting it by undermining financial stability is self-defeating and damages the confidence on which economic growth depends.

A long-term solution must tackle the fundamental problem. We must address the problem of excessive debt. Let me say it again, it is a debt crisis.

Only when we properly recognize this can we begin to address banks which are too weak to pass on lower interest rates to businesses and households and consumers and businesses whose fear of debt mean then they do not want to borrow to spend.

Recovering from a debt crisis is both different and more difficult than recovering from a cyclical recession.

Ultimately, there are only three ways to deal with the overhang of debt: rescheduling them, writing them off or paying them back. Highly indebted households and governments cannot simply spend their way out of a debt crisis.

(1755)

The more they spend, the more the debts will rise and the more the fundamental problem will grow. Instead, we need to confront the problems directly. I believe we need to do three things: get to grips with the debt and restore credibility and confidence; make it easier to do business and create jobs by freeing up our economies; and, in a global crisis, working together across the world coordinating our action, including boosting world trade, starting with the Doha round.

Let me briefly take each in turn.

First and foremost, we need to deal directly with our debts. In Britain, we have learned from Canada's own experience when you were able to take action to pay down debt. When our government took office in Britain in May 2010, we inherited the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history. We faced the risk of rising interest rates, falling confidence and even questions about our credit worthiness as a country.

So we have taken some really tough decisions to rescue our public finances and we have begun to implement them. How fast we need to go will depend on circumstances. With a deficit that was forecast to be the highest in the G20 and ballooning debt, the U.K. has had to act quickly.

Britain's experience contained an invaluable lesson: it is possible to earn credibility and get ahead of the markets through decisive action. But, by its nature, a global crisis cannot be solved by countries acting alone. In a global economy, we need every country in the world to show leadership to address its problems. With others, we continue to argue that we need to increase global demand by rebalancing where surplus countries spend more helping deficit countries to increase their exports and grow faster. Of course this is vital and it will help the deficit countries to grow and to repay debt, but more spending by surplus countries will not on its own deal with the debts.

That brings me to the eurozone. I was an advisor in the treasury at a time when our currencies were fixed through the exchange rate mechanism in Europe. It failed, and it taught me that different countries sometimes need very different economic policies. So I do not support Britain joining the euro and I never will. However, Britain has a strong interest in the success of the eurozone, as we all do, because the problems in the eurozone are now so big that they have begun to threaten the stability of the world economy. Why? It is because the euro area is one of the largest markets in world and the euro is the second largest currency. While these problems are not being solved, while they grow, businesses do not invest and confidence is sapped in the euro area itself and increasingly worldwide.

Eurozone countries must act swiftly to resolve the crisis. They must implement what they have agreed. They must demonstrate they have the political will to do what is necessary to ensure the stability of the system. One way or another, they have to find a fundamental and lasting solution to the heart of the problem: the high level of indebtedness in many euro countries. And, whatever course they take, Europe's banks need to be made strong enough so they can help support the recovery, not put it at risk.

At the same time, we cannot put off the fundamental problem of the lack of competitiveness in many euro area countries. Endlessly putting off what needs to be done does not help. In fact, it makes the problem worse and it lengthens the shudder of uncertainty that looms over the world economy.

When we cannot cut taxes or increase spending to boost demand and when interest rates are already low, what is left to government is to take those simple, straightforward steps to boost the potential for growth. And we should remember that in the long term it is not fiscal policy that makes economies grow. It is making us more productive that is essential for our future long-term prosperity. That means making it easier to set up a new company, to employ people, to invest and to grow a business. This may sound simple but that does not mean it is easy to do. You quickly find you come up against all sorts of barriers, obstacles and regulations.

(1800)

In Britain we are determined to address this. We are creating the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G20, cutting the time it takes to set up a business and reducing tax costs and regulatory burdens for new businesses. We are putting up every regulation on the Internet so people can clearly see what they are and which ones we can get rid of. We have issued a one-in one-out rule for regulation so that any minister who wants to bring in a new regulation has to get rid of an existing one first.

We are prioritizing science and infrastructure, reforming our education system and introducing new apprenticeships to help improve the skills of our young people. I am delighted that we are following in the footsteps of Prime Minister Harper in hosting the new WorldSkills summit in London next month, which will see 1,000 young people from over 50 countries competing to be the best of the best in 46 different skills, from robotics to web design.

I have argued that we need to get to grips with the overhang of debt in our national economies, that we need to make them more competitive, and also, that a global crisis cannot be solved by countries acting alone.

There are those who argue that international action requires new global institutions. I do not agree. It is not new institutions, it is political will we need and opportunities like the G20 to develop a consensus. We can have all the meetings, subcommittees and processes in the world, but if there is no political will, we will never tackle these problems and secure the strong, sustainable, balanced growth we need. That is why the political will of leaders at the G20 summit this November is so important.

Nothing sums this up better than the failure to get a global trade deal. I believe we have to re-fight the argument for free trade all over again. For me, there is nowhere better to do it than right here in Canada, a country built on trade.

The truth is, trade is the biggest wealth creator we have ever known and it is the biggest stimulus we could give our economies right now. A completed trade round could add $170 billion to the world economy, and yet, too many people still seem to believe that trade is a sort of zero-sum game. They talk about it quite literally as if one country's success is another country's failure. They think if our exports grow, then someone else's have to shrink; that somehow if we import low-cost goods from China, we are failing; as if all the benefits of China's exports go to China alone, when we actually benefit too, from choice, from competition, from low prices in our shops. The whole point about trade is that we are baking a bigger cake and everyone can benefit from it.

I come here to Canada to stand up for free trade, to promote more trade and more investment between our two countries, and with other countries around the world.

At the G20 in Cannes, we need to agree to a credible plan to take to the WTO ministerial in December as a basis for concluding the Doha development round. If we cannot get a deal involving everyone, then we need to look at other ways in which to drive forward with the trade liberalization that our world needs, ensuring the continued work of the WTO, preventing any collapse back into protectionism which would be disastrous, but going forward, perhaps with a coalition of the willing, where countries like Britain and Canada who want to can forge ahead with more ambitious deals and others can join later if they choose. Let us set an example to the world by concluding early next year the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Europe and Canada which will deliver a huge boost in jobs for those on both sides.

Let me conclude by saying this. The relationship between Britain and Canada is deep and strong. At the Chateau Laurier Hotel in 1954, with the Second World War still in mind, Winston Churchill put it like this:

We have surmounted all the perils and endured all the agonies of the past. We shall provide against and thus prevail over the dangers and problems of the future, withhold no sacrifice, grudge no toil, seek no sordid gain, fear no foe.

(1805)

Let us in this new century look to the future, secure in our joint values and seeking new opportunities. We are two nations but under one Queen and united by one set of values. So let us fear no foe as we work together for a safer and better world.

Thank you.

[Applause]

[Translation]

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Speaker of the Senate): Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, honourable senators and members of the House of Commons, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of all here present today, I wish to thank you, Mr. Prime Minister for your thoughtful and generous address to this joint session of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada.

As you have said, Mr. Prime Minister, Canada and the United Kingdom share a long history of friendship and solidarity.

Mr. Prime Minister, your current visit to our Parliament reaffirms the special relation existing between our two countries.

[English]

While the Thames River locates the Parliament of Westminster, the juncture of the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers locate the Parliament of Canada. For a long time, as you have indicated, these rivers carried timber to the ships bound for Great Britain, and those earliest commercial relations that have blossomed over the century.

Today, the United Kingdom is Canada's most important trading partner in the European Union. It is also our second largest source of, and destination for, foreign direct investment in the world.

(1810)

[Translation]

The exchange of goods across the Atlantic also extends to human capital. Every year, thousands of young Canadians travel to the United Kingdom to study at your many prestigious universities. Likewise, each year Canadian schools have the pleasure of welcoming eager young minds from the United Kingdom. As with our economic exchanges, the flow of human capital between our countries strengthens and enriches the ties between our peoples.

[English]

The common values, as you have mentioned, Mr. Prime Minister, that our countries promote are also apparent on the international stage. Working together in the Commonwealth, NATO and at the United Nations, our countries stand up for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These values have guarded our participation in the contact group on Libya, and, of course, these are the values that our countries continue to promote in Afghanistan.

Canadians have the deepest respect and admiration for the efforts and the sacrifices that the brave men and women in your armed forces have made in pursuit of these principles.

On a lighter note, Prime Minister Cameron, you and Prime Minister Harper have a unique commonality in that you each have acquired new feline assistance in your respective official residences. We understand that the furry occupant of 10 Downing Street is called Larry. For our part, Canadians recently came up with the name Stanley for the furry resident at 24 Sussex Drive. Perhaps Larry and Stanley are even related.

Prime Minister Cameron, it has been an honour to have heard your words today. So, on behalf of all those gathered here and those who have been watching at home, allow me to thank you for your presence in our Parliament and to wish you fruitful and successful discussions during your stay here in Canada.

[Applause]

Hon. Andrew Scheer (Speaker of the House of Commons): Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister Cameron, Prime Minister Harper, all hon. senators and members of the House of Commons, and distinguished guests:

Your presence in this House of Commons, Prime Minister Cameron, is a historic and memorable event, just as your visit to Canada is an occasion of great significance. On behalf of all the members of the House of Commons, and indeed on behalf of all Canadians from coast to coast whom we represent, I offer you our warmest welcome and our thanks at having made the journey to address us here today.

[Translation]

By giving a speech before our Parliament, you are joining the ranks of prominent British prime ministers who honoured Canadian parliamentarians with their wise words and their informed ideas. It is interesting to note that their visits often coincided with periods of global upheaval, such as the second world war, the cold war and the global recession.

[English]

Global developments have once against placed challenges, economic and military, before both our countries. While there may be no reprieve from the threat of uncertainty, it is heartening to know that in difficult times Canada and the United Kingdom stand together, shoulder to shoulder, as friends and allies.

What Prime Minister Thatcher said in her first address to our Parliament is as true today as it was nearly 30 years ago. She said:

[Our countries] are linked in so many important ways. We believe in the same high and honourable ideals. We stand ready to defend our free and independent way of life. We agree on the great purposes which we must pursue in the wider world.

Indeed, the common bonds that underpin the great partnership between our two countries are so numerous. Beyond ancestry and heritage, beyond trade and tourism, our two countries share a common belief in the foundational principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These principles have been central to our shared history and guide our common world view.

(1815)

[Translation]

Mr. Prime Minister, your presence with us here today is something that my colleagues and I will remember for a long time. I would like to thank you sincerely for visiting and invite you to come back at any time.

[English]

Thank you so much for your visit here today.

[Applause]

Appendix B

(see p. 253.)

APPENDIX

On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property

The following is a comprehensive list of research, activities, policy development and consultations the Government of Canada has undertaken in relation to the on-reserve matrimonial real property issue.

Policies and Legislation

Under the 1995 Federal Aboriginal Self-Government Policy, the federal government began developing guidelines to assist federal negotiators in ensuring that on-reserve matrimonial interests or rights are addressed in self-government negotiations involving reserve land management — thereby ensuring the legislative gap is not overlooked.

In 1999, the First Nations Land Management Act received Royal Assent. Under this law, signatory First Nations enact land codes which permit them to opt out of the lands provisions of the Indian Act. As part of their land codes, First Nations Land Management Act First Nations must develop laws to address the use and occupation of land and the division of on-reserve matrimonial interests or rights in land within 12 months of ratification of their land codes.

Special Representatives / Advisors

In 2000, Mavis Erickson was appointed by the Honourable Robert Nault, then Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, as a Special Representative to obtain a factual understanding of issues having a negative impact on the protection of First Nation women's rights and to recommend possible legislative and/or policy solutions. In January 2001, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada received the Special Representative's report, which emphasized that the division of on-reserve matrimonial real property was foremost among reported issues. However, no solutions to this issue were proposed at the time.

In 2002, under contract to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Wendy Cornet produced a discussion paper analyzing the policy and legal issues concerning this issue. This paper can be found on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's website (www.ainc-inac.gc.ca).

Focus Groups, Presentations and Information Sessions, 2002-2004

To supplement the research on matrimonial real property, in 2002, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada held two focus group discussions with First Nation women community members, Chiefs and lawyers. Focus group participants stressed that there is a need to address on-reserve matrimonial real property issues, particularly through interim measures; respect self-government and section 35 rights; provide information to all stakeholders, especially on-reserve residents, prior to any consultations; raise community awareness and encourage involvement; provide plain language materials on current status of law; protect women and children in urgent situations or situations of family violence; consider the interests of children; and consider the effect of marriage or divorce on membership, which further affects residency rights.

Between 2002 and 2004, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada held presentations and information sessions across Canada to raise awareness of the issue. Audiences included First Nation communities, Aboriginal women's organizations, Aboriginal leadership, and law schools.

Additionally, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada produced and distributed plain language documents concerning on-reserve matrimonial interests or rights.

In February 2003, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada published: "After Marriage Breakdown: Information on the On-Reserve Matrimonial Home".

On September 15, 2003, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada released: "Towards Resolving the Division of On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property following Relationship Breakdown: A Review of Tribunal, Ombudsman and Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms".

On September 15, 2003, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada released: "Urban Aboriginal Women in British Columbia and the Impacts of the Matrimonial Real Property Regime".

In September 2003, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada released: "The Division of Matrimonial Real Property on American Indian Reservations".

In 2004, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada published: "Information on Spousal Rights to the Family Home on Reserves".

The above-noted documents may be found on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's website (www.ainc-inac.gc.ca).

Parliamentary Committees, 2003-2005

In June 2003, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Senate Committee) was authorized to study legal issues affecting on-reserve matrimonial real property during marriage or common-law relationship breakdown. In November 2003, the Senate Committee tabled an interim report making preliminary recommendations ranging from immediate amendments to the Indian Act to undertaking consultations to find long-term solutions. The Senate Committee resumed its study in February 2004, but the study had not concluded when Parliament dissolved in May 2004.

In December 2004, the Honorable Andy Scott, then Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, wrote to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (Standing Committee) to ask that they provide advice "as to how the federal Crown can best address the longstanding issue of on-reserve matrimonial real property." The Minister requested in his letter that the Standing Committee engage First Nation leaders as well as Members of Parliament in the development of solutions (including potential legislation) and also to provide Aboriginal women and other stakeholders with further opportunity to express their views.

The Standing Committee heard evidence from a number of stakeholders, including the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women's Association of Canada, First Nations under the First Nations Land Management Act and self-government agreements, Chiefs, academics and legal experts. The Standing Committee presented its report Walking Arm-in-Arm to Resolve the Issue of On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property, including recommendations, on June 8, 2005.

The Senate and Standing Committees recommended that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada work with and provide funding to the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations to: consult with Aboriginal people and provincial/territorial governments to find a legislative solution to the issue; draft federal legislation to address on-reserve matrimonial real property in the short-term; and develop substantive federal legislation for First Nations which have not created their own laws within the timeframe set out in the interim legislation.

Consultations, 2005

Preliminary consultations were held by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in July 2005, and included both the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. These discussions focussed on the recommendations made by the Senate and Standing Committees, and on determining next steps to move the issue toward a legislative solution.

During these consultations, both organizations indicated their interest in working with the federal government. The Native Women's Association of Canada supported the development of a legislative solution, but stressed the need for consultations to be undertaken before legislation was developed. The Assembly of First Nations situated the legislative gap as an issue that should be resolved in the larger context of recognizing the inherent jurisdiction of First Nation governments over family law, reserve land management and the administration of justice and human rights.

The federal government agreed that further consultations with First Nation organizations and communities were needed to determine an enduring legislative framework to address the legislative gap. In its response to the report of the Standing Committee, entitled Walking Arm-in-Arm to Resolve the Issue of On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property, the Minister indicated that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada would continue to engage and inform stakeholders by conducting information sessions.

Information Sessions, 2006

Prior to the announcement of a national consultation process in June 2006, two additional information sessions were held, including a meeting with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Women's Council in January 2006 and a meeting with the Advisory Council of Treaty Six Women in Edmonton in March 2006.

Parliamentary Committee, 2006

In June 2006, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women presented a report in the House of Commons recommending that national consultations be undertaken in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women's Association of Canada. The September 2006 Government Response outlined the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development's plans, as described below.

Nation-wide Consultations, 2006-2007

Following recommendations made by the Senate and Standing Committees, on June 20, 2006, the Honourable Jim Prentice, then Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, announced national consultations on the issue of on-reserve matrimonial real property, as well as the appointment of a Ministerial Representative, Wendy Grant-John, to facilitate the process.

The planning phase of the consultation process took place from June 20, 2006 to September 28, 2006. During this time, the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women's Association of Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Ministerial Representative undertook joint discussions and individual planning activities to prepare for a national consultation process. The Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women's Association of Canada were each provided with $2.7 million to participate in the consultation process. The Assembly of First Nations attended planning phase meetings as observers until they received a full mandate to participate in July, 2006.

The government then held comprehensive nation-wide consultations, which were launched on September 29, 2006, by former Minister Prentice, with Beverley Jacobs, then President of the Native Women's Association of Canada, Phil Fontaine, then National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and the Ministerial Representative.

Consultations took place across Canada, with participation from male and female First Nation members, non-members, Status and Non-Status Indians and urban Aboriginal people. In total, 91 consultation sessions were held with Aboriginal groups, providing a total of 138 consultation days at 64 different locations across Canada. In addition, 12 consultation sessions were held with provincial and territorial governments, bringing the total number of consultation sessions to 103.

The Native Women's Association of Canada facilitated approximately 30 sessions, primarily off reserves and with Aboriginal women and groups. In addition, they conducted confidential surveys, personal interviews and accepted written submissions.

Through facilitation of 9 regional sessions, the Assembly of First Nations invited participation from each of its 633 constituent First Nations.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada held 52 sessions with First Nation groups outside of the Assembly of First Nations and Native Women's Association of Canada sessions. The department also received written input through its website and by mail.

Throughout the planning and consultation phases, a joint Assembly of First Nations/Indian and Northern Affairs Canada/ Native Women's Association of Canada Working Group, facilitated by the Ministerial Representative, convened 19 meetings, during which participant organizations planned the process, updated each other on activities, and discussed issues of concern arising from consultations. In addition to facilitating each working group meeting, the Ministerial Representative attended over 80 meetings across Canada to raise awareness, seek expert information and discuss the on-reserve matrimonial real property issue and consultation process with First Nations.

The consultation process provided the opportunity for First Nations and other relevant stakeholders to engage in efforts to determine a solution to the legislative gap.

Participants were presented with, but not limited to, three options for consideration:

1. Incorporation of provincial/territorial matrimonial real property laws on reserves through amendments to the Indian Act or stand-alone federal legislation;

2. Option 1 (above), combined with recognition of a First Nation jurisdiction with regard to matrimonial real property; and

3. Substantive federal matrimonial real property law combined with the recognition of a First Nation jurisdiction with regard to matrimonial real property.

Most participants were more concerned about addressing related issues rather than specific mechanisms that could be used to resolve these issues. Suggestions by participants during the consultation sessions included the following:

1. Include a mechanism by which First Nations can develop and implement their own laws respecting matrimonial interests or rights;

2. Create a balance between the authority of Chiefs and Councils over this issue and First Nation community involvement in related decision making processes;

3. Reject legislative models involving incorporation of provincial laws relating to matrimonial real property;

4. Ensure that First Nation organizations are actively involved in the policy-making process;

5. Incorporate First Nation cultural, social and legal traditions into any solution;

6. Develop a solution to immediately address the legislative gap for this complex issue, and build on this by enabling a future review of the legislation; and,

7. Ensure that the best interests of children are placed first and foremost in the development of a solution.

Consultations were followed by an intensive consensus-building phase from February 1, 2007 to February 21, 2007, with nine full days of meetings with participation from the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Ministerial Representative and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. While achieving consensus on a legislative model proved to be a challenge, some shared principles emerged as priorities. These included:

1. The urgent need to remedy this situation;

2. The need to balance individual and collective rights of First Nations communities;

3. The need for First Nations to develop their own laws to address this issue;

4. Legislative models involving incorporation of provincial/territorial matrimonial real property laws on reserves are not acceptable; and,

5. The principles of non-alienation of reserve land and the preservation of First Nations' collective interests in their lands must be protected.

Based primarily on what she heard during the consultation and consensus-building phases, the Ministerial Representative released her report on March 9, 2007. Among other items, the Ministerial Representative recommended a legislative solution that would: provide basic protections for individual residents on reserves during and after the breakdown of the conjugal relationship; balance individual human rights and the collective rights of First Nation communities; include a mechanism for First Nations to exercise law-making responsibility in this area; and, be backed by a strong implementation framework. The Minister tabled the report in the House of Commons on April 20, 2007 and it was tabled in the Senate on April 26, 2007.

Engagement on Draft Legislative Proposal, 2007

The Ministerial Representative's recommendations provided the basis for the development of a draft legislative proposal which, over the summer and fall of 2007, the federal government shared and discussed with the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the Ministerial Representative, provinces/ territories and the First Nations Land Advisory Board.

In total, 13 engagement meetings were held with provincial/ territorial governments, and 14 meetings were held with Aboriginal groups (i.e., the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Land Advisory Board, and the Ministerial Representative).

All of the partners involved in this engagement process had opportunities to share their views and concerns about the legislative proposal. Several technical changes were made as a result of engagement with provincial/territorial governments. The following changes were made to the draft bill as a result of engagement with Aboriginal organizations.

1. Restructuring of the Bill

At the request of the Ministerial Representative, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, the proposed legislation was restructured to better focus its elements on interests and protections related to the family home and spouses as opposed to real property. New concepts and definitions were created to better define matrimonial interests and the family home.

2. Change of Title of the Bill

The change of title for the proposed legislation from "Matrimonial Real Property or Immovables Act" to "Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act" was suggested by the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. They were concerned that the expression "real property" would be misleading in the context of reserves. The more appropriate expression of "family homes and structures" and "interests or rights" is now used throughout the proposed legislation.

3. Definition of Family Home

As proposed by the Ministerial Representative, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, the definition of "family home" was drafted to distinguish the family home from the land on which it is located. The definition also clarifies that the family home only includes the portion of the structure used for residential purposes.

4. Title to First Nation Land

Because the Bill addresses, to some extent, interests or rights in reserve lands, section 5 clearly states that it is not intended to affect the title to the lands or to change the status of reserve lands, as proposed by the Ministerial Representative.

5. Greater Balancing of Individual and Collective Rights

The proposed legislative approach is based on a careful balance between individual rights (specifically the need for spouses and common-law partners on reserves to have access to rights and remedies similar to the provincial and territorial family law remedies that exist off reserves), and the collective interest of First Nation members in their reserve lands.

As proposed by the Ministerial Representative and the Assembly of First Nations, provisions were added to ensure that First Nation councils can make court representations where the collective rights are engaged. Notice of applications for orders under the Bill, except emergency protection and confidentiality orders, must be sent to the First Nation council, so they can make representations to the court on the cultural, social and/or legal aspects respecting the application.

6. Publication of a List of First Nation Matrimonial Real Property Laws

Clause 16(6) requires that the Minister maintain and publish a list of First Nations whose laws are in force to permit the public to know which First Nations have enacted their own law. This provision was recommended by the Native Women's Association of Canada.

7. Interests of the Child

At the request of the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, taking into account the interest of a First Nation child to maintain a connection with the First Nation was added as an important consideration for the court in making an order for exclusive occupation of the family home.

8. Inclusion of a Preamble

A preamble has been added to set out the considerations that gave rise to the need for the bill and the principles that underlie the provisional federal rules.

9. Enforcement of Compensation Orders

Based on input provided by the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and the Ministerial Representative, section 89 of the Indian Act, (which restricts seizure of property on reserves), will not be amended. To deal with enforcement on reserves, the proposed legislation includes provisions for First Nations to enforce court orders. Further, if the council cannot or does not enforce the order within a reasonable period of time, a court may require payment of the specified amount into the court directly.

10. Improvements to Valuation Provisions

Entitlement is based on the value of the family home and on the appreciation of or improvements to structures or land. Non-members, however, will not benefit from the value of the land or the appreciation of the land — this was a significant point for the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and the Ministerial Representative.

11. Application of the Bill to First Nations operating under the First Nation Land Management Act

The First Nations Land Advisory Board was consulted on the application of the proposed legislation to First Nations to whom the First Nations Land Management Act applies, and their views have been addressed in the revised version of the legislative proposal. The provisional federal rules will not apply to First Nations currently operating under their own land code, and First Nations that are developing their land code will be exempt from the provisional federal rules for three years. The provisional federal rules will apply to all new First Nations Land Management Act First Nations until they enact their own laws.

Introduction of On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property Legislation

In February 2008, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Land Advisory Board, the Ministerial Representative and provincial/territorial governments received copies of a revised legislative proposal, which incorporated feedback from the 2007 engagement discussions.

In late February 2008, the above-noted organizations received advance notice of the federal government's intention to introduce the proposed legislation.

On March 4, 2008, the proposed Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act was first introduced in the House of Commons as Bill C-47. As a result of the dissolution of Parliament on September 7, 2008, Bill C-47 died on the Order Paper and was subsequently reintroduced as Bill C-8 in February 2009, but it too died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued.

On March 31, 2010, the Government of Canada introduced Bill S-4 in the Senate.

In the spring of 2010, during review of Bill S-4 by the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, the Committee heard from more than 30 witnesses, and in response adopted 12 amendments, which further strengthened the legislation. The bill received first reading in the House of Commons on September 22, 2010, but died on the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved on March 26, 2011.