Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 42
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, the Senate community is
marking the passage of a valued employee and colleague. Let me express our
deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Denis Boileau, who died
suddenly yesterday afternoon at the age of 55.
Denis worked for the Senate for over 12 years. He joined Printing Services as
an operator and became supervisor in 2004.
Denis was an outstanding individual and dedicated worker who strove for
quality in all that he did, displaying a fine and gentle sense of humour. With
his positive, can-do attitude, he was able to inspire and bring out the best
from his team to get things done. Senators and Senate staff were impressed with
his professionalism, his dedication to the institution and his client service
orientation. It was no surprise he was honoured almost every year by the Senate
Employee Awards Program, as well as the Environmental Awards Program.
Denis was a committed team player who could always be counted upon to
collaborate unconditionally with all organizational initiatives. For example, he
played a leading role in the Friends of the Senate Program for many years by
training students with physical or intellectual disabilities in skills and
behaviours that will help them find work in the future.
One of them, Patrick Beauregard, eventually found employment with Building
Services and worked under Denis' supervision.
Mr. Boileau is survived by his wife Diane; his sons, Mario and Patrice; his
daughters-in-law, Catherine and Roxanne; and his granddaughters, Mélyka and Zoé.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this most difficult and sad
time. I ask all honourable senators to rise for a moment of silence.
Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, yesterday Ismaili
Muslims around the world celebrated the seventy-fifth birthday of His Highness
Prince Karim Aga Khan. The Aga Khan is the devoted spiritual leader and
forty-ninth imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
As a proud Ismaili Muslim, every morning I wake up knowing that I am a
beneficiary of the Aga Khan's infinite knowledge, wisdom and guidance.
When my family and my community were exiled from Uganda, when we lost
everything and feared for our lives, the Aga Khan protected us. He helped us
rebuild our entire lives and seek refuge in this great country, Canada.
When I was a young woman and I faced societal pressures that told me that
women could only be nurses and teachers and not lawyers or doctors, the Aga Khan
taught me that your gender did not define who you are or which profession to
pursue. He emphasized the importance of educating girls, and he continues to
ensure that young girls around the world are afforded the same opportunities as
Honourable senators, the truth is that we are all beneficiaries of the Aga
Khan's philanthropy. In 1967, the Aga Khan founded the Aga Khan Foundation,
which is one of the largest private development agencies in the world. The Aga
Khan Foundation and the other development agencies that operate in close
conjunction provide long-term solutions to poverty, hunger, illiteracy and other
problems that are plaguing the developing world.
In addition, they also have mandates that include the environment, education,
culture, architecture, micro-finance and rural development.
Traditionally, one receives gifts on one's birthday.
Honourable senators, the greatest gift that we can offer His Highness Prince
Karim Aga Khan is to renew our commitment to building a pluralistic society, one
that is based on the values of justice, equality and tolerance. Together we must
work to improve not only our own lives but also the lives of those who are the
most vulnerable in society.
The Aga Khan has often described his vision of a world where difference is
not seen as weakness but instead as a powerful force for good.
Honourable senators, I want to live in that world. The Aga Khan has given us
all so much. Let us continue to work to make his vision a reality.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a
remarkable Canadian, Tom Kent, who died on November 15 at the age of 89. Before
even coming to Canada after the Second World War, he served our national
interests and our national security by being part of the remarkable crew of
individuals who worked at Bletchley Park to decipher the German enigma code, a
feat essential to the preservation by the Allies of civilization against the
Nazi threat. Both Tom and his wife, Phyllida, a mathematician, were part of that
effort. As a journalist, Tom worked on ensuring that, through strategic
misinformation, the enemy would never know for sure if their codes had been
In Canada, he worked at the Winnipeg Free Press and became its
editor-in-chief before joining Prime Minister Mike Pearson as a senior adviser.
He was instrumental in the launch of not only universal health care on a
national basis, but also the Canada Pension Plan as well. It was he who
negotiated with the officials from Quebec to see a federal government embrace a
confederal solution on pensions and a pension solution for all Canadians.
Tom Kent was the man Prime Minister Pearson selected to launch the war on
poverty, which he did in a host of ways. His retirement from the public service
liberated his editorial skills. He launched Policy Options magazine,
which is still the flagship publication of the Institute for Research on Public
Policy. He was its founding editor and died as a lifetime fellow of the
His work on media and ownership concentration is well known to members of
this place and to all Canadians.
Before, during and after his time in the federal government, Tom's work
stands as a testament to what creativity, humility and collaboration can achieve
in public policy. Even though he spent his entire public service life in this
country supporting the Liberals — for which I forgive him — one need not agree
with his every conclusion to know that he always had the courage to ask the
right questions, and that we are deeply richer as Canadians, in so many ways,
because of Tom Kent's devoted service to his country, our values and its people.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Trevor Holder,
Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport and Minister of Tourism and Parks of the
Province of New Brunswick; and Brian Macdonald, MLA for Fredericton-Silverwood
of the Province of New Brunswick.
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, earlier this month, I
was fortunate to attend the grand opening of Holland College's new Early
Learning Centre. This new facility will allow Early Childhood Care and Education
students at Holland College to train with a team of highly skilled early years
In addition, it will serve as a centre of excellence to support the
professional development of educators and help conduct research on early
learning. The official opening was conducted by the Honourable Margaret Norrie
McCain, who is nationally recognized for her work on behalf of children and
My home province of Prince Edward Island is one of the most successful in the
country in terms of early childhood learning. A recent report by the late Dr. J.
Fraser Mustard and the Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain entitled The Early
Years Study 3, called attention to the province's achievements.
This study placed Prince Edward Island's early childhood education second in
the country. The report grades all provinces on an index, a 15-point scale which
measures the quality of programs and if public funding is being spent
effectively. Quebec ranked first with 10 points; Prince Edward Island followed
closely behind with 9.5.
The Early Years Study 3 and many others like it explain the social,
economic and scientific reasoning for public investments in young children.
Three years ago, the Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain appeared before the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology during
hearings on child care and early learning. She noted that early childhood
learning is vital. She said:
It is Tier 1 in human development, the years zero to 6, the critical
years, the years that robust current neurobiological science tells us lay
the foundation for life trajectories in learning, health and behaviour.
Honourable senators, each of us is well aware that Canadian and global
economies are being driven by a need for knowledge and continuing skills
development. There is a substantial body of research that tells us the
importance of the early years for future health, behaviour and learning. Early
learning and child care are vital for society as a whole. If we are to be
successful as a country, we must give our children and youth the very best start
possible so that they can make the most of their educations and their lives.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to
the sad circumstance of a great Canadian, the Honourable Irwin Cotler, member of
Parliament for the Liberal riding of Mount Royal in Montreal. I paraphrase from
an article which appeared in the National Post yesterday by the
distinguished journalist and professor, Andrew Cohen.
Moscow, December 1978. In the coldest winter in a century, we gather in
our overcoats in a dim corridor of the Hotel Ukrainia; it is safer to meet
in the cavernous halls, we reckon, than in our rooms, which are said to be
We are there to meet Russian Jews desperate to emigrate. The regime has
denied them exit visas. They are known as refuseniks.
In our anguished conversation, they mention the name of a Canadian Jew,
more than once, with deep reverence. "Do you know Irwin Cotler?" they ask
softly. "Have you met him?"
Irwin Cotler was teaching law at McGill University. We all knew him or
knew of him as a champion of human rights. It was Cotler who embraced
dissidents such as the imprisoned Natan Sharansky and would help free him.
Cotler's commitment to Russian Jews is one of many in a dazzling career
as lawyer, teacher, advocate, parliamentarian and cabinet minister. Cotler
is an officer of the Order of Canada. He has received nine honorary degrees
and a bushel of accolades. By any standard, he is an exemplar of excellence
But this is Canada, a big country with a strange and growing streak of
smallness in its politics. And so it is that Irwin Cotler, 71, now faces . .
. the Conservative Party and its politics of smear. . . . the Conservatives
brazenly distributed a flyer to his constituents in 2009 claiming that he
had attended "the anti-Semitic" human rights conference in 2001 in Durban,
South Africa. Didn't you know that Cotler is a closet anti-Semite?
More recently, the Conservatives have made telephone calls in his riding
suggesting that Cotler is planning to retire, which will cause a
The Speaker in the other place, in an incredibly flawed decision, without
reference to numerous parliamentary principles and precedents, ruled yesterday
that this did not breach Mr. Cotler's parliamentary privilege. The Speaker
declared the action "reprehensible" but, amazingly, could not find a breach of
privilege despite the fact that the calls asked for Conservative support in an
imminent by-election, which, of course, is a lie — just another lie.
The Conservative Party immediately hid behind freedom of speech, as if
freedom of speech was enshrined in our Constitution to provide a refuge for the
scoundrels that abuse it. Allowing such practices only furthers the feelings of
cynicism and contempt people feel toward politics and politicians. Mr. Cotler,
of course, deserves much better, as do all Canadians.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, respecting
its participation at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region Twentieth Annual
Summit, held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, from July 16 to 20, 2010.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, respecting
its participation at the National Governors' Association Winter Meeting, held in
Washington, D.C., United States of America, from February 26 to 28, 2011.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, respecting
its participation at the Sixteenth Annual Conference of the McGill Institute for
the Study of Canada, held in Montreal, Quebec, from March 24 to 25, 2011.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of
the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association,
respecting its participation at the 60th Anniversary of the "Groupe sénatorial
France-Canada", held in Paris, France, on November 9, 2011.
Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, I give notice that
at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science, and
Technology be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit with
the Clerk of the Senate the final report relating to its study on the
accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada, before December 31,
2011, if the Senate is not then sitting; and that the report be deemed to
have been tabled in the Senate.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I have the honour
to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Delegation of
the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas, respecting its participation at the 26th
Meeting of the Executive Committee and the 8th Plenary Assembly of the
Organization of American States, held in Asunción, Paraguay, from September 7 to
Hon. Michael Meighen: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two
I will call the attention of the Senate to the unconscionable delay,
despite the resolution of this Chamber passed unanimously on June 18, 2008,
of the awarding of an appropriate theatre decoration for the brave Canadian
flyers and crew who served in Bomber Command during World War II, without
whose efforts, courage and sacrifice the war and its destruction would have
continued for many more years.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This week, the Commissioner of
Lobbying indicated that she would like to see amendments to the Lobbying Act so
that she could obtain the names of all political staff and public service
employees, along with their positions, as well as information on all telephone
conferences organized on issues of public interest by lobbying firms or their
clients. Furthermore, the commissioner would like to be able to impose immediate
sanctions in cases of administrative violations of the act, such as a delay in
handing over communication reports.
Does the government plan on acting on the commissioner's requests?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the Lobbying Act was brought in by this government as a key component of the
Federal Accountability Act, which we introduced when we formed government in
2006. The requirements under the act ensure Canadians have access to more
information about activities between lobbyists and senior government officials;
designated public office-holders are prohibited from registering and lobbying
the government for five years after leaving office; and lobbyists must disclose
their lobbying activities to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying. The
commissioner is an independent Officer of Parliament with, we believe, the
proper tools, rules and autonomy needed to do her job.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: As a self-proclaimed government of
so-called law and order, accountability, transparency and good governance, I
find it strange that the Prime Minister, ministers and Conservative members of
Parliament met over 100 times with lobbyists who spared no expense to actively
campaign for the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board. It appears that the
doors in Conservative offices are left wide open for lobbyists sympathetic to
the government's ideology.
How could the leader's government pretend to be the government of all
Canadians when her caucus refused to meet with grain farmers who visited my
office when they flew to Ottawa to meet with her government at their own
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the Lobbying Act is clear; people who lobby the government for whatever issue
are, by law, required to list that information. This is something new that has
never happened in the past, and I would vehemently refute the claims of Senator
Hervieux-Payette. Senators need only look at the extent of the list of witnesses
who indicated to the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and
Forestry that they wished to be heard. Their view on the Wheat Board, whether it
was for or against, did not factor into the fact that they were willingly and
openly welcomed to make their views known. Therefore, I do not accept the
premise of the honourable senator's remarks at all.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would like to ensure that the leader and I
understand each other. My question was: Why did she not meet with the grain
farmers who were against the legislation and who flew to Ottawa at their own
expense, and with only those who supported this government legislation? I think
if one wants to settle a question, one should hear both sides of the story.
Four people came to visit me. This is not a subject matter that people from
Quebec would come to me on, but I made it a point to meet with them. I was never
visited by any of those who are in favour of the legislation. Those people never
contacted me. Therefore, I am asking, why would the government meet only with
one side of the issue and not all sides?
Senator LeBreton: It is quite a stretch to suggest that the side of
the story of the four people who met with Senator Hervieux-Payette was not
actually presented to the government. The government was very well aware of all
sides of the story. However, this goes back to the intent of the government,
which was stated over and over again, election after election after election.
There was no secret about it. The government was open, honest and upfront about
the fact that it intended to give Western grain producers marketing choice. We
made it clear that that is what we planned to do, and that is exactly what we
intend to do. If farmers want to continue to use the Wheat Board to sell their
wheat, they are free to do so as well.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, if I understood
correctly, the senator opposite said we had not met with any Wheat Board people.
In fact, I personally had nine of them in my office. We met at length with them.
They gave us their side of the story. We had a good dialogue. I had a phone
exchange with one of them as late as this morning.
I am not sure, therefore, what the honourable senator was referring to.
Perhaps the leader could clarify what the honourable senator meant by us not
meeting with the Wheat Board people when I had almost a dozen of them in my
Senator LeBreton: Far be it from me to try to clarify what might be on
Senator Hervieux-Payette's mind.
Honourable senators, the fact is that we have now made the point that she is
quite erroneous in her statements that people never met with the government on
the Wheat Board legislation and that we only heard one side of the story; quite
the contrary, we heard both sides.
In addition, with respect to any group who came to lobby the government, it
is actually part of the public record, thanks to our open and transparent
Lobbying Act under the Federal Accountability Act, which is the first time that
has ever happened in the history of this country.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader
of the Government in the Senate.
A recent Health Canada report found there is virtually no awareness among
Canadians of how much sodium they are consuming and how much they should be
consuming. They are unaware that the most effective way of bringing down dietary
sodium would be to lower consumption of high-sodium products such as processed
foods, not merely by reducing the amount of table salt they use.
This is important, honourable senators, because there is a significant body
of evidence linking high sodium intake to elevated blood pressure, which is the
major cause of cardiovascular disease and a risk factor for stroke and kidney
disease. There is also evidence that suggests that a diet high in sodium is a
risk factor for osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.
Canadians are in the dark and need leadership from this government. Will the
government move quickly to create a sodium education and awareness plan to
inform Canadians how to live healthier by reducing sodium?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
as I stated a few days ago, the government is very serious about the whole issue
of sodium, and we are making every effort to help people reduce their
consumption of salt.
Our approach, as I said in response to the honourable senator's question a
few days ago, is a collaborative one. Joint efforts with provincial and
territorial government, industry and stakeholders will provide Canadians with
the information and the market choices they need to make healthy lifestyle
decisions. This is but one component of what the government is doing on the
overall issue of preventive health and lifestyle choices that we hope will lead
to a reduction in chronic diseases and obesity down the road.
The government promotes healthy living through initiatives such as the
Children's Fitness Tax Credit and Canada's Food Guide. The Minister of Health
has also launched the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign. The honourable senator
will acknowledge that education is the key to understanding the consequences of
the content of food.
I also wish to point out to the honourable senator that Minister Aglukkaq
discussed the issue of healthy lifestyle choices and obesity when she met last
month with the provincial health ministers in Halifax. Earlier this year in
partnership with the provinces and territories, the government launched a
national dialogue on childhood healthy weight, because all of these health
issues, including sodium intake and obesity, are important to the government.
Minister Aglukkaq is working in a collaborative effort with her provincial and
Senator Eggleton: Honourable senators, I am sure the government is
taking it seriously. I also hope that she recognizes that lifestyle choices
affect health care costs, which are enormous in this country, for the provincial
and federal governments; so any preventive actions should be taken.
The Health Canada report I referred to says that people are still not
knowledgeable about what to do about these health issues. I dispute whether
every effort is being made, as serious as the issue may be.
We found out recently that the government has backed away from a proposed
federal-provincial sodium reduction plan, even though this government's own
Health Canada officials had recommended it. The plan would be on a voluntary
basis and would provide clear, measurable targets in all categories of food so
that progress can be measured. If you cannot measure it, how do you know you are
getting anywhere? The plan to reduce the amount of sodium in processed food
would be monitored by an organization independent of the food industry. A senior
official familiar with the federal-provincial discussions is quoted by Postmedia
News as saying:
One can speculate about why the federal government would not agree to
releasing the report — especially after originally agreeing to partner on
reducing sodium consumption in Canada — but the consensus opinion is that
the federal government is not willing to regulate or take a strong approach
with the food industry.
Honourable senators, the evidence is in and the plan is there. Why will the
government not implement a structured voluntary plan to reduce sodium now that
its own officials and the provinces are recommending it? Why not take that
Senator LeBreton: Senator Eggleton, it is true that a report was
forwarded to the minister from officials, but the minister did not feel that it
was the best way to accomplish the results we want to see in overall sodium
reduction. The minister wants to ensure that the plan for sodium reduction does
not encourage companies to opt out all together, in which case we would be back
to square one.
The government supports an approach that includes continued, positive
engagement with industry, provincial and territorial governments, and other
stakeholders, in particular in the health care field.
Senator Eggleton: If the federal government has decided to take a
different approach to the issue, could the leader file with the house a copy of
the plan so that honourable senators can understand fully the goals of the
government with respect to sodium reduction and how it will measure the
Senator LeBreton: I did not say that the government would go it alone.
Rather, I said that the minister is working collaboratively with the provinces,
territories, industry and other stakeholders. I mentioned a moment ago the
initiatives taken to improve the education with regard to obesity. It is in the
interests of all Canadians and provincial, territorial and federal health
officials that they get this right. As I have said to the honourable senator, I
am sure six times now, in the minister's view the best way to deal with this is
to work collaboratively with her provincial counterparts, which she is doing.
Senator Eggleton: That is wonderful. Will the leader please file a
plan — any plan — so that honourable senators might know how the government
intends to proceed on this issue, including a time frame as to when the
government will implement the plan?
Senator LeBreton: I will simply pass on the honourable senator's
concerns to the minister. I believe that she has had very good meetings with her
provincial counterparts. I will ask the minister to provide any further
information that she may have to add to the information I have provided. I will
do my best.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, on a supplementary question,
taking into consideration that the Government of Canada and the provinces will
begin negotiations on the new health transfer over the next few months, could
the minister inquire as to whether the social determinants of health, not only
those raised by my good friend Senator Eggleton but also those such as poverty,
substance abuse, alcoholism and lack of exercise, contribute very much to the
cost of the health care system and, therefore, to the financial burden of the
federal government and the provinces? Could the minister inquire as to whether
officials, when preparing various negotiation options, might give some thought
to including an incentive in the grant structure across the provinces so that
those investing heavily in reducing the negative social determinants of health,
such as poverty and obesity, might continue to do so? Will the provinces that
try be rewarded and those provinces that do not might receive some measure of
incentive to consider it. Could the minister ask whether that issue might be
raised constructively by the Government of Canada in those negotiations?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
Honourable Senator Segal for the question. The incentive idea is certainly
attractive, although I have not had any discussions about it, as the honourable
senator would know. I will take the question as notice and ask for a report from
the Minister of Health on what they might be doing overall with regard to the
negotiations. The honourable senator will recall that Senator Keon, who had to
retire because he had reached the mandatory retirement age, tried often in this
chamber and in committee to impress upon all honourable senators the high cost
of the health care system and how preventive health measures could reduce
drastically those costs. I will be happy to take the question as notice.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, when the Senate Special
Committee on Aging filed its report, the leader was the Minister of State
(Seniors). She responded positively on many issues, in particular to the issue
of elder abuse. The government has embarked on a number of television
advertisements directed at the issue of elder abuse. Perhaps something similar
could be put in place to explain to Canadians the problems created by too much
sodium in their diets. Such an easy answer might go a long way. Would it not be
nice if I could rise here again and thank the leader for a good campaign?
Perhaps she will mention the idea when she makes her other inquiries.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: My question, which might not be as nice as that,
is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In order to bring the deficit
under control, the cut-and-slash Conservatives are destroying the Public Service
of Canada. The Honourable Senator Downe pointed out in late October that job
cuts in Atlantic Canada are the most severe in the entire country. Figures
released by Treasury Board show that Atlantic Canada has lost over 400 federal
public service jobs in the last two years. The rest of the country seems to be
enjoying job growth with over 8,000 new jobs nationwide, 5,000 of which are in
the Ottawa area alone.
Let us take a look at some of the cuts. Veterans Affairs will be facing cuts
of $226 million and as many as 800 jobs could be lost in Charlottetown. Service
Canada is downsizing its 120 current sites in Atlantic Canada to 22. There will
be 60 jobs lost in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; 40 in Sydney, Nova Scotia; and 30 in
Montague, Prince Edward Island. ACOA has announced that 42 jobs will be lost in
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell us why the
cut-and-slash Conservatives decided to turn their backs on job creation in
regions that need it the most?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question and for the compliment on the elder abuse
campaign. Minister Alice Wong is now continuing on with that campaign and it has
actually been very successful. I will pass on Senator Mercer's suggestion with
regard to the public awareness campaign. As I indicated to Senator Eggleton, we
are already conducting public awareness campaigns with regard to obesity and
other health-related issues.
With regard to the so-called cuts to which the honourable senator referred,
at the moment the government is going through an exercise of assessing the needs
of all departments and agencies of government with a view to reducing our
deficit. Our work is not completed. We are still in the process and have not
even finished yet. We will be making recommendations to the Minister of Finance.
The positions that the senator referred to are part of ongoing work within
departments and agencies that are working to streamline their operations.
With regard to Service Canada, they are moving to a technology-based system
rather than a paper-based system. Veterans Affairs is undergoing the same
change. Obviously, as the government goes through all of these changes, there
will be some movement of jobs. As the President of the Treasury Board has said,
most will be through attrition.
In any event, Senator Mercer's question is a little premature because we have
not even completed our work. How he would know the number of jobs to be cut,
when even though I am on the committee and do not know myself, shows he has
powers I did not know he had.
Senator Mercer: There are a number of people around the country who
have underestimated me before, so the leader is in good company.
However, they are not "so-called" cuts. It is not "so-called"
unemployment for the people affected and it is not "so-called" inability to
pay their mortgage or to provide a happy Christmas for their family.
Honourable senators, we know this government likes to keep things nice and
tight. Canada already has a centralized public service, with 41.9 per cent of
the Public Service of Canada is in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. When comparing
Canada to other countries, we find that in the United States 15 per cent of
their public service is in the Washington area; in France, 21.5 per cent is in
the Paris area; and in the U.K., 16.6 per cent is in London.
Could the leader tell us why the government is intent on doing away with
decentralization, which is an important economic development tool for the
regions of the country that need it most, like Atlantic Canada?
Senator LeBreton: Again, I find myself wondering where the honourable
senator is getting information. I have seen no evidence that the government is
moving away from decentralization. I think just the opposite. We are very
cognizant of the importance of the various agencies of government that operate
not only here in the National Capital Region, but all over the country, whether
it is Veterans Affairs in Prince Edward Island or the National Energy Board in
The fact is we are going through an exercise that is necessary. The review
that I am part of is an opportunity to modernize how the government does
business. In times of economic recovery, we do have some tough questions to ask,
such as: Why does this service or program cost as much as it does? Is there some
way to find efficiencies in this program? Are there some savings we can realize?
Those are the types of questions that any prudent and responsible government
should be asking itself.
I would certainly hope that other governments in Canada are asking the same
questions of themselves and it is to be hoped that governments around the world,
as they deal with this global economic condition, will do the same.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
Senator Mercer is getting the information from material tabled by the Leader
of the Government, in September of this year, here in the Senate. That is public
information and I urge senators to check the record.
That information indicated that the Treasury Board, for the three previous
years when the government was expanding federal government employment across
Canada, which was prior to the cuts currently under way for consideration, it
reduced federal government employment in Atlantic Canada by over 400 positions,
relocating many of those positions to Ottawa.
Why, when the government was expanding in Ottawa by thousands of jobs, and
expanding across Canada, were federal government positions being eliminated in
Senator LeBreton: A few minutes ago the government was being accused
of not being accountable and now the honourable senator is using an accountable
answer to ask a question. I am fully aware of the questions placed on the Order
Paper and the detailed answer the government provided to Senator Downe.
As I said earlier, many of the changes in employment and the various agencies
of government is through attrition. There will be some positions that are
removed. As we move to a more streamlined, automated, service-based system, it
is obvious that it will have an effect on public servants.
The process of dealing with the public service is an ongoing one. I was
specifically dealing with the process we are going through right now but, as
indicated by the department in that long answer to Senator Downe, these changes
will continue to take place because it is necessary that this be done. That is
especially so because this government has made a commitment, as we go through
this deficit-reduction period, not to reduce health care and education payments
Senator Downe: Honourable senators, I believe the minister is a little
confused. It was not a written question and it was not a long answer, but it was
a very revealing answer.
The question Atlantic Canadians are asking is why did they suffer a
disproportionate amount of the cuts prior to the reviews currently under way,
where federal government positions are being reduced by the current government?
Why, when the government was expanding, did Atlantic Canada lose positions? Why,
when thousands of positions were being created in Ottawa, were Atlantic
Canadians losing positions? In Prince Edward Island, in the three-year period
covered in that answer, there were 119 federal positions eliminated while
thousands of jobs were created in Canada.
Quite rightly, the government can decide how they will reduce the size of the
public service, but it should not do it with regional bias so that the regions
of Canada suffer and the central area of Ottawa and the National Capital Region
continue to expand.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I would dispute that claim. The
fact is there will be savings found throughout the government with regard to the
public service and with regard to government programs. There is no and there
will be no regional bias. It is quite incorrect to suggest that the government
has a regional bias against any part of the country, and most particularly
against Atlantic Canada.
Senator Downe: Those are not my comments. Those are the facts tabled
by the leader here in September showing the regional bias against Atlantic
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, the federal government has
announced a reduction of $226 million to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada.
Could the minister inquire whether the government will follow the example of
the United States government and the government of the United Kingdom, both of
which have announced that, in their efforts to reduce the deficit, they will not
cut the budgets of their veterans affairs departments, affecting veterans and
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The government has
been very clear. We value our veterans. It is fair to say that the record of the
government with regard to veterans has been stellar. There are no cuts to
veterans' benefits. We are determined to serve our veterans better, and we have
been doing so. That is why we are looking for ways to improve our service
Close to 30 per cent of Veterans Affairs employees are eligible to retire
over the next five years. Consequently, we believe we can manage these changes
through attrition and good human resources planning and staffing. I repeat that
the government has been very clear: There are no cuts of benefits to veterans
and their families.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by
the Honourable Senator Fraser on October 26, 2011, concerning the Treasury
Board, the Auditor General of Canada; and the answer to the oral question asked
by the Honourable Senator Cowan on October 26, 2011, concerning the Treasury
Board, the Auditor General of Canada.
(Response to questions raised by Hon. James S. Cowan and Hon. Joan Fraser
on October 26, 2011)
On November 1, 2011, honourable senators had the opportunity, through the
Senate Committee of the Whole, to hear from and pose questions to two
officials who were members of the Selection Committee for the new Auditor
These individuals responded respectfully and fully to all questions put
to them by the Honourable Senators, including on the issue of the desired
linguistic profile for the Government's nominee.
Given the appearance by these individuals before the Committee, the
Minister respectfully submits that the Government has fully responded to the
questions raised by the Honourable Senators.
Leave having been given to revert to Tabling of Reports of
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, respecting its
participation at the Tenth Fall Meetings of the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from
October 7 to 10, 2011.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, respecting its
participation at the Twentieth Annual Session of the Organization for Security
and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, held in Belgrade, Serbia,
from July 6 to 10, 2011.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I wish to raise a point of order concerning a breach of privilege of
the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Honourable Senator Moore made a
statement earlier that undermined or called into question a ruling by the
Speaker of the House of Commons. Such statements constitute a breach of
privilege of the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is our duty in the Senate
to respect our Speaker as well as the Speaker of the other place. Citation 71(1)
in Beauchesne clearly states that the authority of the rulings made by
the Speakers in both chambers must not be attacked or called into question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I will check the Hansard
for today and report back.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Plett, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Patterson, for the third reading of Bill C-18, An
Act to reorganize the Canadian Wheat Board and to make consequential and
related amendments to certain Acts.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on
behalf of all Canadians, not just those living in Western Canada. I live in
Quebec and, like many consumers, I eat wheat-based products every day, although
I do not eat barley-based products as often. However, it must be pointed out
that wheat is an essential food and that it is part of the diet of all
Canadians, no matter the province they live in.
Bread, pasta, pastries — although not too often — and cereal are part of my
daily diet. Cereals fill a large section in supermarkets. Just like everyone
here, I sometimes have crepes. I make very good ones. My point is that when we
talk about the Canadian Wheat Board, we should also talk about the end products,
what the grain is used for and where the products are found.
I would even like to talk about the fact that Canadian students — who eat as
much Kraft dinner today as they did a few years ago because it is easy on their
budget — are affected by decisions that we believe only concern producers.
I have some statistics about agri-food production in Canada. We should know
that it represents eight per cent of gross domestic product. We are talking
about very significant amounts. We should also know what action has been taken
since the government came to power and what direction we are going in with
respect to governance as it applies to basic commodities. We are talking about
natural resources and, in this case, renewable resources.
Over the past 10 years, agri-food products in Canada have increased by 50 per
cent. For example, I am thinking of the Catelli pasta plant that closed in
Montreal. Today, each of you likely has occasion to buy pasta that, in general,
is imported from Italy but is made with durum wheat from Western Canada. We
cannot say that we really did some brainstorming and created value-added jobs
based on commodities that we produce in Canada, which travel thousands of
kilometres round trip to finally return to us in a different form. It is rather
extraordinary that, as a government, we have not succeeded in creating a policy
that would allow for the processing of our raw materials.
Over the past few years, Canada has dropped from being the third-largest
exporter of manufactured food to the seventh-largest, and it has now been
surpassed by Brazil, China and Argentina. In short, we have fallen four places
and we have been going in the wrong direction since 2005; we are regressing.
I would now like to talk about the world population forecasts, and I would
like to quote from a study that was conducted in co-operation with the federal
government but that was paid for by various stakeholders across the country,
including the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute. This study was published in
February 2011, and the information can be found on the Internet site on which
the report is posted. The report states that the global population is expected
to reach 9 billion in 2050 and, as a result, global food demand is expected to
rise by 70 per cent. Producers who see the direction that the market is taking
have two things to think about: how they can make a profit from raw materials
and how they can make a profit from finished products.
There is some bad news, though: research and development in this area has
fallen by 8 per cent over the past 10 years. When I refer to agri-food, I am
referring to pasta, cereals, pastry and all products that use flour as a raw
material. Canada's situation does not even allow us to compete with any of the
other G7 or G8 countries because we now rank 19th in the world.
Canada is made up of some very vast spaces. This country has an industry that
is significant but it does not necessarily make good decisions. There is little
research and little processing, and we export less than before. I do not think
this is the story we are getting. In the meantime, it seems as though the
Minister of Agriculture should have focused on actions that would have allowed
Since 2008, the minister has been fighting to bring in new legislation, but
he forgot that 12.5 per cent of Canadian workers work in the agri-food sector.
There are many jobs related to this sector and there could be more.
I would like to share some rather sad stories. During question period we
heard about salt and sugar, and that is something I would like to talk about as
well. These two food products are dominated by multinational companies that have
virtually no competition.
When these megacorporations expand their operations across the globe, we know
what happens. For example, we see it in the oil industry. We know that when
there are few players, the multinational corporations — and certainly not
consumers — benefit the most.
Senators must know that flour, which is used in manufacturing all of these
foods, is consumed by the rich and the poor alike. It is part of the diets of
low-income individuals because it has nutritional value in terms of proteins.
Instead of devoting his energy to the Canadian Wheat Board issue, I would
like the Minister of Agriculture to focus on new industries, the 50 per cent
more products Canada is importing.
Earlier, during question period, I spoke of the many visits by corporations
that contacted the government. I made a list. There are some key players
including the Grain Growers of Canada and a multinational called Viterra, as
well as Cargill, which is known in the industry.
When I say 100 meetings with the government, I am talking about two direct
visits to the Prime Minister's Office and more than 50 to the office of the
Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Ritz. One of the Minister of Transport's political
advisors was visited as well. The same goes for the political advisors to the
Prime Minister, Minister Peter Van Loan and Minister Stockwell Day.
Our current negotiators with the European Union were visited by
representatives of the Grain Growers of Canada; Minister of State Rob Merrifield
was also visited. Minister of State Ted Menzies was visited a number of times by
the Grain Growers of Canada, Cargill and Viterra.
Other members of Parliament were also visited: David Anderson, Garry
Breitkreuz, Rob Anders, Kelly Block, my friend Randy Hoback, Larry Miller, and
I do not have the staff to do extensive research, but when I see the number
of visits, I wonder if we were provided with as much information on this as the
government. To my great surprise, not a single member of the Grain Growers of
Canada ever came knocking on my door. I did not see any representatives of
Cargill either, nor did I see anyone from Viterra.
They had a specific target: the government, a government that is so
transparent that it passes on the information to the rest of us. When the
information comes out, we would like it to be the same across the board, for all
the opposition parties to receive the same number of visits, and for all our
assistants to be contacted in the same way.
We did not receive the same information. The government might regret the fact
that we are not major supporters, but that is probably because we were not as
well informed. I look at how this situation evolved, the ruling by a Federal
Court judge and the decision by the Canadian Wheat Board to file an injunction
to prevent the adverse effects of the bill.
Let us not forget one thing: we are talking about a sector of strategic
importance to Canada's future. We are talking about a sector over which we want
to maintain economic control.
I would like to remind honourable senators what a poor farmer trying to
export looks like. As we speak, Senator Ringuette is in Lebanon, trying to help
a potato farmer. After months and months of imprisonment in a country that is
not even the one the potatoes were exported to and where the charges — which we
think are absurd — were laid, do all the wheat farmers now have to pack their
bags too and travel all over the world to sell their wheat?
That seems a little complicated to me. I believe that since we are competing
with Russia and other major international exporters, including the Europeans,
who are heavily subsidized, it is in our best interest to maintain an
organization that, for all practical purposes, serves the interests of the
group. Since I am from Quebec, I can tell you about the UPA, the farmers' union.
On the one hand, this government says it will maintain supply management — for
poultry, eggs and milk — and on the other hand, it wants to liberalize the wheat
If we take a closer look at the issue and focus on the rationale for all
this, I do not think we can have any faith in the government's policy. I repeat:
I did not see any market studies that prove that the farmers in question will
fare any better. More importantly, I did not see the studies conducted by the
government to show how these products can have any added value once the
multinationals get their hands on the commodity.
Based on my review of the file, I conclude that this policy will be very bad
for Canadian consumers. We hope the government will come to its senses, forget
about all the lobbying and reverse its decision, in the interest of Canadians
and Western farmers.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I thought I would join in the
debate with respect to this particular bill, Bill C-18, primarily because of the
number of letters that I have received and the number of farmers and producers
who have come to my office to explain their position to me and to ask me to do
what I could do. What I can do is to join in the debate and go on record
explaining their position and my interpretation of what has transpired.
In essence, I would be content in this matter, and I believe most of the
producers would be content, if they were given an opportunity to express what
they would like to see as the legislation, what they would like to be operating
under. We would all be happy if the vote that was supposed to take place under
the existing legislation had taken place and the farmers and producers had
decided they did not wish to continue, reflecting the words that are being
expressed now by the proponents of the bill. In that case, we would all be
content and probably would not be debating this matter to this extent.
That is not the case, and therefore this is necessary. In fact, it is very
important in our parliamentary system because of what has transpired and, as you
heard in the Honourable Senator Baker's discussion yesterday, because of the
fundamental legal issue that is involved here.
I will begin by congratulating Senator Peterson and all those who have spoken
on this issue who have attempted to objectively outline the issue and have not
relied on subjective matters or tried and true expressions. Each one of these
matters is in its own right different and should be analyzed in that regard.
Honourable senators, I confess to being a fan of market forces and generally
a supporter of market forces to achieve the best results for our economy and for
our people. However, I want to tell you that I am not one who slavishly sticks
to a market economy above all else, and I do believe there is a role for
government to play in relation to balancing market forces. We have all seen that
over many years, in fact centuries.
At one time it was illegal for two or more individuals to get together to
withhold their services to try to raise their salary, until we recognized that
we needed some balance with the rich landholders and corporate entities. We
passed legislation over 100 years ago to allow for collective bargaining and
That was one recognition that market forces by themselves do not work, that
we needed some balancing of the power. Honourable senators, we have seen that in
many other situations along the way in the last 100 years as well. In anti-competitive legislation, when corporations got too large, such that the balance
was lost between the corporate entity, the employer, and the employee, we passed
anti-competitive legislation. That was again a recognition that market forces by
themselves do not work. If a monopoly on one side gets too strong, there is a
loss of the balance and we start to have problems, so we passed legislation. We
have an entire hierarchy in that regard, and any time there is a takeover or
there is too much market concentration, a review panel decides whether this is
good for the country, good for our economy.
In my part of the world, in New Brunswick, we are a small economy and a small
number of producers. Because the producers and the region recognized the
importance of this, we moved towards cooperatives that would help producers work
together and share equipment so they do not all have to buy the same equipment,
and they can share marketing ideas. My colleague, Senator Hervieux-Payette, just
pointed out that a potato farmer — one potato farmer who is an expert producer
of potatoes in one of the best potato producing areas of the world, New
Brunswick and Prince Edward Island — is off trying to be an international
marketer because he is trying to do this all on his own. That is a recipe for
disaster, honourable senators, and that we have seen in this instance.
We support supply management. We support forest product marketing boards in
our province to help the producers of forest products work together to deal with
a concentration of industry from the point of view of buyers. We can see that in
potatoes back home, and we can see it in forest products. When only a few
companies are operating, they can dictate the price and when the delivery is to
take place, and there is no opportunity for individuals to deal or to make a
bargain with the buyer. You have to take what is being offered. However, if you
can guarantee that you will get a supply to a company, the company then has less
risk. The company knows that it will be getting a supply of product, and
therefore there is less risk. Therefore, they can pay less and they can
guarantee they will buy all the product that is coming.
That, Honourable senators, is the concept behind the Canadian Wheat Board. It
is to let the producers do what they do best, while ensuring that those
producers will get a fair price for their product and will have a place to sell
their product. That is what Parts III and IV of the Canadian Wheat Board
legislation provide. The Wheat Board must purchase the wheat that is produced in
Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northern British Columbia, those areas that are
within the jurisdiction of the Wheat Board. If you are a producer there you have
a place to take your product, and they have a mandate to try to bring the best
price possible for that. They will get better prices because they can guarantee
volume to the secondary producers, the companies that buy the wheat to make
spaghetti and other pasta products and so on.
That, honourable senators, was the original concept of the Canadian Wheat
Board. It was initially an agency of the federal government. Then in 1998, at
the request of the producers and at the request of the local people, the Wheat
Board said, "We do not want to be an agency of a department located in Ottawa,
we would like to be more masters of our own fate." In 1998 the government
acquiesced and allowed for the board of directors to be elected by the
producers; the majority of the board would be chosen by the producers.
Honourable senators, that was a very significant development in relation to
the Canadian Wheat Board and a very significant evolution of the Wheat Board. As
we have seen, section 47.1, which was passed at that time, was a very
It is important to keep in mind that the Wheat Board does not cost the
Canadian taxpayers one cent. It does not cost the Canadian taxpayers money
because it is a self-governance, or shared governance, agency that looks after
its own expenses. The government's decision to change this, to change the format
and to change something that is working cannot be because the board is costing
the government too much money. We will take that one out of the mix.
By eliminating the Wheat Board, honourable senators, we are opening up these
individual farmers to be operating at the mercy of the larger multinational
buyers of their product. They are going to have to become like our potato farmer
in New Brunswick. They are going to have to become marketers facing
international marketing issues; they will have to develop all those skills, and
that will result in either fewer sales or somehow a concentration of production
of the farms. Something will have to happen, because the initial transition will
just not be advantageous to the farmer-producer.
As a reminder of what can happen, all we have to do is look at what happened
with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board when oats were arbitrarily removed from
the Canadian Wheat Board. This had an immense impact on the Wheat Board creating
a $10-million deficit in the amount of money that was available to help all
This occurred in 1989. In that same year, we saw the results of a reduction
of U.S. government subsidies for oat production. The U.S. government was
subsidizing oat production in the U.S. to try to compete with the marketing
board's values here in Canada. They reduced that subsidy in the U.S. and, as a
consequence, the price fell out of oats. It led U.S. farmers to drop their oat
acreage by 75 per cent, the lowest since 1865. As a result, we saw an opening
for more Canadian oats. However, since the price was so low, a good number of
farmers in Canada just gave up producing as well. They could not make any money.
The Canadian Wheat Board was no longer there to promote. Not only did the Wheat
Board handle the sales, but they also handled promotion, and they were gone from
that point of view. This led the Canadian share of the U.S. market to decline,
and the Europeans, who were still being heavily subsidized, to capturing most of
I will read a quotation from a brochure that was produced at or around the
time there was a vote going on for Wheat Board directors. I think it is
At the Leslieville, Alberta Pool elevator, oat prices immediately dropped
from the CWB's initial price of $140.90 per tonne in June of 1989, (with a
later final payment of around $45 per tonne from the CWB) to $67.02 . . .
Therefore, from $140 to $67 on the new private market by September of that
By February of 1991 oats had dropped to only $51.34 a tonne. This is a
disaster that played out across the prairies. The background to this
disaster is instructive for farmers contemplating how they will vote in the
current CWB directors' election.
I think that is instructive. When you start playing around with an
established market, a lot of things can happen; and the one who usually suffers
is the farmer, who is your neighbour, and the farmer-producer.
Before making such big changes, we should know what we are doing. I asked the
Wheat Board directors who came to visit me whether the government has done any
economic analysis of this change. They indicated that none had been forthcoming.
Honourable senators, the minister was very clear in 2010. He said:
Until farmers make that change, I am not prepared to work arbitrarily.
They are absolutely right to believe in democracy. I do, too.
That was in 2010. This is 2011.
I wonder if I might have five minutes to finish up, honourable senators.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Day: Thank you.
The point is that we have a marketing scheme that is well developed, works
well, achieves the results we would like to believe are important to us to
maintain security of supply and security of quality of the product, to keep
producers operating and receiving a fair amount, and to let the producers
control that marketing agency. All those elements are there. The minister says
he would not do anything without letting the farmers and the producers have a
say. That was in 2010. This is 2011. They are now making these changes, and the
consequences could be very grave indeed.
I submit to honourable senators that from all that has been said, it is
clear, from a legal point of view, that the minister has flouted the rule of
law. The minister promised to do something that he did not do and will not do.
The producers, on their own, held a vote. It was 62 per cent in favour of
continuing with respect to wheat, and that is being ignored.
Honourable senators, I say the solution to this matter is clearly in the
hands of the government: Do what is in the current act. Let the producers have a
say. If the producers say, "We do not want this any longer; we want to go the
way the Conservative government is suggesting," we here will all be very
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I welcome the opportunity to
have one final say on this bill. I would like to summarize some of the issues as
I see them and then finish with some what I think will be unfortunate
The first issue is what is at stake in this change. My colleague Senator Day
has laid out very well the single most significant advantage of the Canadian
Wheat Board for Western Canadian farmers, and that is leverage. Western Canadian
wheat farmers face what can only be described as a massive multinational
To give an example, one firm, Cargill, has annual revenues, I think,
internationally, worldwide, of $106 billion. One can only imagine how it would
be that a single farmer with a crop worth $80,000 or $90,000 would have any
leverage in the face of a company that has revenues of $106 billion, not to
mention all its resources. That is just one of the three, four, or five major
multinational corporations that farmers will be facing in that kind of
disproportionate magnitude — very, very small against immensely, infinitely
large — so leverage is the key element.
It has often been argued, and it is argued by the other side, that of course
farmers need to have the right to choose to market as they would like to be able
to market. The Canadian Wheat Board, for which the majority of its board has
been elected, has been very responsive to farmers' demands in that regard. In
fact, over the years they have put together a basket of pricing and marketing
mechanisms that directly reflect what might otherwise be available for a farmer
in the open market, except that they also give the farmer in the open market
leverage because they back them in so many different ways.
A farmer selling wheat can do a basis payment contract, a fixed price
contract, a delivery exchange contract, an early payment option, a daily price
contract, or a producer direct sale contract. There are six different ways
farmers can market their wheat that are absolutely reflective of the ways they
might be able to market their wheat within a free market, except that, of
course, the free market will not really be free because it will be smaller
farmers — no matter how big they are, they will be relatively smaller — facing
History tells us there is often a role for government and for collective
action to protect and enhance the interests of different social or economic
groups and farming groups against oligopoly and monopoly. In our history in
Canada, we have had tremendous success in the development of telephone
companies, for example, where there was not sufficient competition to make it
work properly for the consumer. Therefore, government steps in, builds and
nurtures that, until there comes a time — and it happened in the last several
decades — when governments begin to sell off those kinds of assets.
In fact, when I was in the Alberta legislature, I voted to privatize the AGT,
Alberta Government Telephones. It was time. I also voted to privatize liquor in
Alberta. I will chide Senator Plett here, who is the great free-market defender.
However, he does not think we should privatize liquor stores in Alberta. The
next thing you know, as I said to him, he will want to privatize Tim Hortons
because that coffee is so darn good. Let us talk free markets, but the
honourable senator wants to control what you can drink. On the other hand, he
does not want to have any control over the malt that will make that drink. It
seems like an internal contradiction. I do not know how that happened.
We are talking about leverage. The Canadian Wheat Board has given farmers
leverage in the market and the opportunity to reflect that market in the many
different ways they can buy wheat. It sounds perfect to me, but that is not the
way the ideology of the government has seen it, and they have pushed ahead. I
would say — and I do not want to be too aggressive about this — they have
bullied ahead in many different ways. They have bullied ahead: Listen to what
the Prime Minister said with respect to the train that is barrelling down the
railway track and those farmers had better get out of the way, or to what
Minister Ritz said, that sure, it is the birthday of the Canadian Wheat Board,
and he will go over and blow out the candles. Wow.
We talk about the problem of bullying in our society. When the highest levels
are doing it, that sends a message, does it not? It does. It starts at the top.
Not only can the Canadian Wheat Board get price advantage because of
leverage, but they also get economies of scale and supply-chain efficiencies.
There are many of those, and I do not have enough time to go into them in the 12
and a half minutes that I have left. Because they have leverage when it comes to
transportation, because they have leverage when it comes to port delivery,
because they have leverage when it comes to getting rail cars, they have
leverage in getting efficiencies and getting deals from the terminals, from the
train companies, and so on.
In fact, in 2009, I think in one set of efficiencies that came to $23
million. Several years before that, the Canadian Wheat Board was able to
negotiate with the train companies because they had abused the transportation
system. They got a $15-million settlement from CN that went back to the farmers.
How will farmers organize to do that? They will certainly not get help from
the government to do that, and the Canadian Wheat Board advocacy role will be
What I would argue, as I said the other night to some discontentment on the
other side, is that the government is exceptionally good at creating a
One thing I did not mention as an implication of doing away with the Canadian
Wheat Board is that there will be pressure on government resources and revenues
because there will be immense, increasing, enhanced pressure to subsidize
farmers, who will lose price advantage in the wheat market, period. It will
Huge advantages for the farmers will all be lost, with nothing to fill the
void. Farmers will be at the mercy of one of the most powerful oligopolies in
markets today around the world. There they are.
The second issue, and of course the government is sensitive about this idea
that the Canadian Wheat Board will not be there to help the farmers. They say,
"No problem, it will be there." In fact, it is one thing to say it, but just
read the bill. The bill itself is an admission that the government knows the
Canadian Wheat Board will fail because they want to control the board. Why would
they? Why would they care? Because they need to control the contingency fund.
Why would they? Why would they care? Because they want that money to help
them pay for the unravelling of the Canadian Wheat Board. You can imagine, there
will be some layoffs, many, so there might be severance packages. Probably
contracts will be broken, so there will probably be some penalties.
They want to increase that contingency from $60 million — the first time they
have ever allowed that to happen — to $200 million. That is a clear red flag
that they know that the Canadian Wheat Board will fail.
However, the $200 million will give them the chance to roll it down. It will
also give them the money to manage it and keep it going, they think, long enough
to get past any kind of link between the failure of the Canadian Wheat Board and
the implementation of this piece of legislation. That is probably, in their
estimation, to get them past the next election.
As sure as I am standing here the Canadian Wheat Board will fail. I do not
have to guess. The government agrees with me. We actually agree on this. They
are taking steps in their legislation to ensure they can control and handle it.
I wonder if they will privatize the liquor stores in Manitoba if they can keep
the contingency fund.
Secondly, why would we expect that it could survive? The fact is, as I have
said, it will face a huge oligopoly, but it is also true that the Canadian Wheat
Board does not have the physical plant with which to compete in any way, shape
When Air Canada was privatized it took billions of dollars of government
assistance. When CN was privatized it had billions of dollars in capital of
government assistance. Over the 50 years or more of the Canadian Wheat Board,
the Canadian Wheat Board put all of what would have been profit, some of which
could have gone back into developing transportation systems and granaries and
elevators and terminals, back to farmers. They could do that because they had
legislation that required that their competition allow the Canadian Wheat Board
to use their facilities.
That provision, that legislation, is gone. The money that has gone back to
farmers is gone to farmers. There is no physical plant for the Canadian Wheat
Board to be able to compete. In fact, they will be left with begging Cargill and
the others for the use of their transportation systems, their grain elevators
and their terminals.
I cannot imagine why Cargill, with that kind of power, would ever condescend
to assist the Canadian Wheat Board in utilizing those facilities. Why would they
do that? If the government actually thinks they would do that, then this should
not be Mr. Harper's government. This should be Pollyanna's government.
The fact of the matter is, speaking of competition, if you had to know that
there is a competitive disadvantage in doing away with the Canadian Wheat Board,
you do not have to hear me say it. Just read what the U.S. Wheat Associates have
said over and over again. They have said to their negotiators under WTO that the
single greatest advantage it could give them is to do away with organizations
like the Canadian Wheat Board.
It might be that there would be some reason why a government would want to do
that if they thought they would negotiate some advantage in return. I have asked
and asked and asked. What advantage did we get in return? Nothing. We did not
get entrance into the Pacific Rim trade deal. No, we had to risk our supply
management. That will be the next thing. We did not get anything for it.
We have these hard-nosed, ideological negotiators who just gave it away. They
opened their pockets, dumped it on the floor and said, "Take it. We will give
you all the advantage that we can."
I rest my case just on this single point that the government knows it will
fail. They have proven that. They have put their legislative money where their
mouth is, as it were. Structurally, the economic imperatives of this are so
evident, so self-explanatory, that they cannot compete. The Canadian Wheat
Board will die. Now, for the government, it is merely political management. They
will manage it as long as they can to get out past an election, probably, so it
does not hurt them, they think.
The other thing that will be lost is the question of transportation, which
dovetails, as they say, further with the question of competition. We have a
problem with competition in transportation for grain in this country. We have
two major railroads, CN and CP. If you want to send something on CN and CP to
exactly the same point and at the same time, you will find the contract is
different by only pennies. There is no competition.
Fractions of cents, my colleague says. I am going to miss him. He is very
insightful. Fractions of cents.
The fact is that that is because there is insufficient competition. Perhaps
the government could have thought ahead and said what was said to major,
controlling monopolistic cellular companies: If you are going function in our
economy, in that industry, you have to open up your telephone lines to smaller
companies that do not have those resources so that they can compete and create
The government did not bother to put that in this, where short-line railway
companies could have access to CN and CP rails. That would have been an
advantage at least, to give some better competition.
For a government that says it believes in competition, you would think it
would at least do that. Instead it kills the Canadian Wheat Board and does not
do anything about the fact that our farmers will be even more vulnerable to the
lack of competition in the train industry.
Why is that? Farmers will now lose sidings, sidings that gave many
communities and farms access to the external transportation system, which they
will not have. They will lose short-line railroads, which gave them choice. They
will lose access to producer-pay cars, which the Canadian Wheat Board advocated
for and organized for them. They will lose competitive advantage in that way as
The other thing we will lose is the Port of Churchill. I say so often that I
can hardly think of a single thing that the government has ever done right, but
I do agree that they are very good at politics. About 90 per cent of what goes
through the Port of Churchill is Canadian Wheat Board grain. That will not
happen because Cargill has its own facilities and they are not in Churchill.
What will happen is that Churchill will die. The Government has taken $5 million
to Churchill to make a transition, as they say. I wonder if they will reimburse
that from the contingency fund; they probably will. The only transition they
will make is for the failure of the Churchill port to take longer than it
otherwise would have taken, probably until after the next election. Five million
dollars is about $1.25 million a year, probably enough to get it past the next
election. Then Churchill will die.
What will also be lost is the advocacy role of the Canadian Wheat Board,
which had the farmers —
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to advise the honourable senator that
his time has expired.
Senator Mitchell: May I have five minutes?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you. I appreciate it. Merry Christmas.
An Hon. Senator: Churchill is in Manitoba.
Senator Mitchell: Churchill is in Manitoba, yes.
Churchill is in Manitoba, Senator Plett. They probably have government liquor
stores. You bet they do. They create jobs up there.
The advocacy question is that they advocate on the trade issues of farmers.
An unfortunate irony of ironies, there will be more trade issues because there
will be more independent trucks, which more American farmers will see and they
will be provoked to raise trade questions. There will more of that and less
support for farmers to fight it.
There will be less access and coordination of producer-pay cars. That program
will probably die. There will be more problems of railcar allocation and there
will not be a Canadian Wheat Board there to fight it. There will be less
possibility for a group like the Canadian Wheat Board to protect the Canadian
wheat brand. The quality is the next thing that could fail. There are economic
and marketing reasons why that could happen with the big firms.
There will be no one to be an advocate with a focus on research, on where
research should go to improve our products and our products' viability in
The final issue is democracy. That is an underlying issue.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Mitchell: I am sorry, I know they are sensitive about that,
because they talk a lot about democracy. They talk a lot about democracy, but
the proof is in the pudding. There was no vote. The law says there should be a
vote. The only vote was done by the Canadian Wheat Board and 62 per cent said
yes to it. That is the same percentage of Canadians who voted against this
government. That is an interesting coincidence.
That is critical. There is no respect for the democratic process. We are not
saying that we or the government should make the decision about the Canadian
Wheat Board. We are saying the farmers should be allowed to make that decision.
Let us have a plebiscite.
Of course, corollary to that is that the rule of law is critical in our
nation and society, one would think, and this is as key and core to the rule of
law as any issue. Of any law that the government has broken in the last four or
five years, and there have been a number of those, this is a key and fundamental
issue with respect to rule of law. They are playing with fire when they deny the
rule of law in this particular case.
I will finish with a series of predictions. Honourable senators can hold me
accountable, although the government has not had much experience with
accountability, so it will be interesting to see.
The Canadian Wheat Board will die. As they said on Monty Python,
"That parrot is dead." It will die.
Subsidies to farmers will increase because prices will drop.
The transport costs will go up because competitiveness in transport, as
limited as it is, will go down.
Trade cases will expand with the U.S. because the trade will become more
evident to the U.S. It will expand and the trade advantage for Canadian farmers
with the U.S. and internationally will be reduced.
All of this will be the casualty, the collateral damage of a very critical
element of what is happening in politics today. In this case, it is the
convergence of ideology trumping common sense and, in many respects, trumping
democracy. That will be a fundamental, elemental legacy that this government
will leave farmers and all Canadians, as unfortunate, as sad and as tragic as it
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, could I impose upon your
patience to, in a sense, revert to a previous debate on Bill C-13. When I spoke
the other evening, I made a reference to Senator Eaton's family firm, a
reference for which I am not proud and about which I would like to apologize to
her. In the heat of the moment, I said something I should not have, and I
apologize. I am very sorry.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Runciman,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Stewart Olsen, for the second reading of
Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to
amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth
Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I will not have the privilege
of voting on Bill C-10, which I very much regret. I know it would not have made
any difference. Nonetheless, you should know that I would have voted against it.
Senator Comeau: Absolutely, we know that.
Senator Banks: I know you know that, Senator Comeau. Thank you.
I wish to place on the record the reasons for which I would do so. There are
many good provisions in this bill, but they are far outweighed by the bad ones.
I would vote against it because it is not susceptible of mere amendment or
correction. That is because the parts of it having to do with law enforcement
and sentencing are based on a wrong premise. They are based on the premise that
most crime is a problem of law enforcement and that the solution, therefore, to
most crime is more and stronger law enforcement and more and stronger prison
terms. However, that is not the solution to most crimes.
That is like thinking that the solution to most cancers is more and stronger
pain suppression. That is not the solution to most cancers. There are cancers
that we have not yet learned how to treat properly and for which our only
recourse is pain suppression, but that is not true of most forms of cancer.
There are crimes and criminals about which we cannot seem to do anything and for
which we have no recourse other than to imprison. There are people for whom we
must simply throw away the key; but that is not true of most criminals.
The truth, the facts, the results of research and the science in this
question are all counterintuitive. It would seem to us logically and on our
natural intuitive first responses to crime and to criminals that punishment is
the answer. That is a normal human reaction. It seems patently evident that if
we put people in prison then they certainly will not offend against us while
they are in there, and that the longer we keep them there the more likely they
are to learn their lesson and the less likely they are to reoffend.
That is an entirely understandable, intuitive and human reaction.
It also assuages our sense of outrage by the application of a little bit of
revenge, a little retribution.
Revenge and retribution are also entirely human, understandable and intuitive
and sometimes, as in the case of people like Paul Bernardo and the late Clifford
Olson, most of us believe that they should never be released from prison.
However, most people, the vast majority of people in our prisons, are not
like Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo. Most of the people in our prisons will get
out. The longer, harsher sentences only mean that they will stay a little longer
and get out a little later, and our intuitive thought is that staying there a
bit longer will lessen their attraction to a life of crime.
We also have natural reactions when we read or hear that a conviction for a
particular kind of crime has led to a sentence the nature of which we simply
How, we ask, could a judge have possibly arrived at the conclusion that this
is an appropriate sentence for that crime? Usually the short answer to that
question is given when the layers are pulled back and examined and the
circumstances and situations become known, when we hear or read the evidence —
when, in other words, we know the facts.
Most of our public outrage comes without the advantage of knowing those
facts, without hearing that evidence first-hand because we are not there in the
courtroom hearing and seeing what the jury and the judge hear and see. That is
why we have juries and judges, to pay the kind of attention and devote the kind
of time that the rest of us cannot to the consideration of facts and evidence in
Judges are not perfect. Juries are not perfect. However, they are fundamental
to our system of law, and when we abrogate — as this bill seeks to do, and
others before it have done — the discretion of judges and of juries when it
comes to sentencing, we are abrogating justice. We are merely changing the law,
but we are short-changing justice.
If we end up having, in the Criminal Code, a series of tables — for crime A,
the punishment is found in Table 2 — we will not need judges at all when it
comes to sentencing. A clerk can just run his finger down the page, push a
button on a calculator — crime A results in punishment No. 4, and Bob's your
Senator Mitchell: They could get an iPad.
Senator Banks: An iPad would do it very nicely.
Judicial discretion — we do not need that. It is a thing of the past. Just
refer to this handy-dandy chart and calculate your sentence. Common sense,
careful thought and consideration — never mind all that; just enter the code for
the crime in this little machine and it will digitally display the appropriate
sentence in bright, large, easy-to-read LED letters. It is so simple even a
child can use it.
Honourable senators, our intuitive concept of the effect upon crime and
criminals of longer and harsher sentences is wrong. This is not merely an
opinion. It is a demonstrable, provable, mortal fact that it is wrong.
I know the minister said we do not govern by statistics, which is saying we
do not want to pay any attention to the facts, but we should pay attention to
the facts. An examination of statistics — not concepts, ideas, reactions or
theories, but statistical facts — from any jurisdiction will show irrefutably
that longer prison sentences result in higher rates of recidivism. That is a
statistical fact. It is cause and effect, plain and simple.
It is a counterintuitive fact, I recognize, but the fact is that the longer
we keep people in prison, the more likely they are to reoffend when they are
released. There is no evidence to contravene that; it is incontrovertible. That
is not a theory; it is not wishful thinking; it is not Pollyanna-like viewing
through some rose-coloured glasses. It is a simple and incontrovertible fact.
In this country and in other countries, longer prison sentences, very much
including minimum sentences, do not result in less crime; they result in more
crime. We have had evidence presented here, and the committee will hear evidence
on end from our American friends who are saying, "We tried that. It does not
work. Please do not go there."
Longer and harsher prison sentences, and particularly minimum sentences,
result in more efficient crime perpetrated by better-trained, better-connected
and more resentful criminals. Longer, harsher sentences are not the solution to
anything. Longer, harsher sentences are part of the problem.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Banks: I commend your attention, honourable senators, to this
report. Senator Nolin referred to it yesterday in his very kind remarks upon my
retirement. This is one of the best of the best reports — and the Senate has
done many good reports; this is one of the best of them. It is in five volumes.
It is 900 pages long, and it is the result of 18 months of careful study in a
committee of both sides of the house, led by Senator Nolin, the Special
Committee on Illegal Drugs.
During the 18 months or so of making this report, its members, of whom I had
the honour to be one, heard evidence from distinguished penologists from
different countries and jurisdictions in this country, in the United States and
elsewhere in Europe. We learned facts about imprisonment and its effects upon
crime and criminals that most of us had never heard before. We had never heard
anybody present or explain those facts, and they were counterintuitive to what
some of us believed. It removed the scales from our eyes. It showed us that our
intuitive human views of crime and punishment were wrong.
I invite honourable senators to get this report, to read it and to read in it
the testimony given by Tim Boekhout Van Solinge, who is a lecturer and
researcher in criminology; of Neil Boyd, Professor of Criminology; of Francoise
Dubois-Arber of the Swiss Federal Commission for Drug Issues; of Steven Van
Hoogstraten, Director of International Criminal Affairs and Drug Policy; of
Georges Dulex, Head of the Canton of Zurich Criminal Police; of Serge Brochu,
Director of the International Centre for Comparative Criminology; of Professor
Peter Cohen of the University of Amsterdam; of Jean-Michel Coste, Director of
the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions; and many, many other
witnesses before that committee on questions of penology, among other things.
In fact, honourable senators, I invite you to read every eye-opening word of
Senator Nolin's report. All of us learned, including from hearing from what the
United States' Drug Czar told us; what policemen from across the world told us;
what doctors, researchers, statisticians and scientists told us; and what
convicted criminals told us. What they told us was that retributive punishment
does not work; that longer and harsher prison sentences do not work for those
criminals who will be released into society; that the vast majority of people
that we are putting in jail are the low-hanging fruit, while the people who
actually deserve to be imprisoned are not; that longer and harsher sentences are
a guaranteed barrier to reclamation and a guarantor of increased incidence of
Please ask Queen's University Professor Nicholas Bala. Ask Judge John Creuzot
of the Dallas County Court, who, when asked the question, what is wrong with
mandatory minimums, replied:
Nothing, if you don't mind spending a lot of money locking people up and
seeing your crime rate go up. Nothing wrong with it at all.
Ask right-wing Texas Republican Jerry Madden. He said:
It's a very expensive thing to build new prisons . . . but if you don't
build 'em, people will come up with very creative things to do to keep the
community safe, and yet still do the incarceration that's necessary.
Or ask Tracy Valazquez, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute in
Washington. She said:
If passed, C-10 will take Canadian justice policies 180 degrees in the
wrong direction, and Canadian citizens will bear the costs.
Look, please, at the Simon Fraser University report by Alana Cook and Ronald
Roesch, who examined data from other places in the world that have already put
into place some of the things that are proposed in this bill. According to their
report, many of the changes that we have already and wrongly made in the
Criminal Code, and many more that are proposed in the present bill, have the
effect of increasing prison terms. However, two meta-analyses of studies show
that longer prison terms result in criminals being more likely to reoffend upon
Will somebody please explain how that is fighting crime? These things are not
guessing. They are not supposition. They are not looking through bleeding-heart,
rose-coloured glasses. These things are incontrovertible, unquestionable,
demonstrable facts, honourable senators.
The one thing this place has as its great advantage is to be able to deal
with the truth and with facts, notwithstanding what people down the hall say. We
used to do that here a lot, and we should do it in the case of this bill.
Our American cousins, who were unaware of these facts at the time, embarked
down this road — down the road of "We'll show 'em. We'll impose longer and
harsher prison sentences." They went down that intuitive road several years
ago. They have found that it was the wrong road. They have found that it does
not work and are trying to deal with the then unforeseen and disastrous
consequences of having gone down that ill-considered road. They are trying to
repair their system of law enforcement and imprisonment. They have tried that
road, the road that is set out in this bill and its predecessors, and it has
failed them. Despite the indisputable facts and despite the experience of our
neighbours and despite the unquestioned success of other practices, policies and
attitudes in systems other than ours, we are setting off down the same road.
Honourable senators, I request five minutes to finish my remarks.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed,
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, it does not work; it is the wrong
road. The inevitable consequences cannot be characterized any longer as
unforeseen because we are looking them straight in the eye, and yet we are
inexplicably determined to touch that hot stove, that wet paint. Despite the
sign that reads, "Danger Do Not Go Down This Road," we are going down that
road. Protestations that this bill and its ill-advised antecedents are different
from the U.S. road are simply groundless — they are one and the same. This bill
takes us even further down that road. We have already started down it, despite
the best advice from people who know the facts and have the experience,
knowledge and expertise.
We seem bent on doing the wrong thing because it is popular on its surface,
plays well to the madding crowd and caters to an uninformed and ideologically
based view. That is also intuitive, but it is an intuition that seems to be
right. Do not look at the facts too carefully and follow an ideological point of
view that plays well and you will get votes. Never mind that we are proposing a
solution that does not work, the people love it. We have heard the minister say
over and over again that the people voted in the last election for a government
that promised to lead them down that road, and that this government has a
mandate to take the people down that road. The tragedy is that the government is
determined on this course despite knowing better; and the minister does know
better because the evidence and experience of other jurisdictions is irrefutably
plain and true.
Honourable senators, sometimes the right thing is not popular and can be a
hard sell. Sometimes in this place, we have the luxury of a degree of
independence from retail politics. In this place, whether we like it or not, at
least for the moment we do not need votes. Whether we like it or not, the
Constitution of Canada, as it stands and until it is changed, says that we are
not susceptible to being voted out of office. Some may not like that and want
change, but until it is changed, that is the way it is, and that is the way it
has been for 144 years. That is the way it is today as we deal with Bill C-10.
More time and attention than on any other question were spent making sure
that was so during the Confederation debates; and that is why we are here,
honourable senators. In our examination and consideration of this bill, if we
apply the facts, care, science and objectivity, as I have no doubt the committee
will do, then we will see that the bill is wrong in its proposed sentencing
provisions. The very intuitive premise upon which it is based is wrong. It is
our bounden duty, honourable senators, to apply those criteria in our
considerations. We cannot escape that responsibility. I have to believe that
having done so, we will find that the sentencing provisions in this bill are
Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I would like to take a few
moments to speak to the general philosophy of Bill C-10. The principles in the
bill should not be a surprise to anyone in this chamber. As stated earlier this
week, seven of the nine parts of this bill have been discussed in-depth in
either the other place or the Senate over the past five years. It has been said
by some that the bill is being rushed through Parliament. Honourable senators, I
would submit that this allegation does not bear up to scrutiny. There have been
three elections fought on these issues, and there have been countless hours of
parliamentary debate for the past five years on the merits of most parts of this
bill. I want to point out that Canadians are not buying the allegations that the
bill is being rushed through Parliament. No, Canadians are asking why it is
taking so long.
It is no secret that over the years, many Canadians have lost confidence in
the judicial system. Year after year, we have witnessed countless sentences for
violent crimes, drug offences and sexual assaults being brought down by the
courts that bear no relationship to the seriousness of the crime. One only has
to listen to Senator Boisvenu's experience with the judicial system, which
caused so much heartfelt grief to him and his family — truly a travesty of
justice. Unfortunately, the honourable senator's story has become more and more
common over the years as our judicial system, in many cases, has turned its back
on the victims and their rights.
The bill before honourable senators brings in minimum and mandatory
sentencing so that across the country not only will the courts have a consistent
benchmark to consider but they will also have to take into consideration how
serious Canadians view the crimes that criminals commit. Canadians expect to see
some consequences when crimes are found to be premeditated and committed in such
a manner that it has gone against the public good.
This brings me to the matter of incarceration. Yes, there will be longer
incarceration periods for violent, repeat criminals. Yes, there will be longer
incarceration periods for convicted drug traffickers. Yes, there will be longer
incarceration periods for sexual predators. I ask honourable senators: Why
should there not be? Canadians expect criminals to pay a serious consequence for
their actions. The public expects their Parliament to pass laws that ensure our
streets and our homes are safe for our families. Yet at the same time, Canadians
believe and are prepared to pay when there is hope for rehabilitation of the
Earlier this week, we referred to a multitude of programs where the taxpayer
has invested and will invest almost $1 billion to assist in the rehabilitation
of young offenders, to help steer Aboriginal people away from crime, and to
invest in the prevention and treatment of the scourge that drug use is to
It is my hope that with the passage of this bill we can have some effect on
the revolving courthouse door that our present legislation has helped to create.
I would ask all honourable senators to refer to Senator Runciman's speech at
second reading. He said: "The average suspect had a 13-year criminal history and
an average of seven previous convictions."
Think about it, honourable senators. Such a professional criminal has had a
minimum of seven different court proceedings; has utilized, in one manner or
another, a minimum of 14 lawyers; and has involved a minimum of seven judges and
countless support staff. Honourable senators, no wonder our courts are clogged
and not working the way they should. My hope is that in 10 years, this statistic
will change dramatically. I am hoping that that statistic might read like this:
An average suspect, with a 13-year criminal history, will have no more than a
maximum of two convictions.
Not only will this allow the courts to deal with their caseloads, but my hope
is that more and more of those individuals who would commit themselves to a life
of crime will have second thoughts and move elsewhere in our society.
Also, honourable senators, it is important to stress that the bill before us
is the result of countless hours of consultation with the provinces and
territories. Between the two levels of government — the provinces and
territories and federal government — there has been common and consistent
support to make the communities in our country safer. There has also been common
cause from the provinces and territories to further strengthen our justice
I want to take a minute to comment on the next step of the review of this
bill as it goes to committee. I notice that the Leader of the Opposition in the
Senate and others stressed the importance of the review and the fact that it
will be open and that there will be many witnesses. I want to point out and
stress that, of the nine parts of this bill, seven have already been before
either this house or the other place. As a member of that committee, I feel that
we can look back at the testimony given to us as a committee and review many
aspects of it so that we do not have to go through the same process. That is not
to say we are not going to have witnesses, but I feel that we do not have to
repeat what we have already heard.
I want to say this in closing: Yes, the bill does bring in change; and yes,
there is a new culture for change. It brings in accountability to our court
system and sets the benchmark for the consequences and accountability of
criminals who prey on their fellow Canadians. Just as importantly, honourable
senators, it brings in a philosophy that says the rights of the victim come
Honourable senators, I do not believe Canadians want to wait another five
years for this bill to pass. I would ask for your cooperation.
Senator Banks: Will the senator accept a question?
Senator Lang: Yes.
Senator Banks: Thank you, Senator Lang.
Would the senator correct me in case I am reading this bill wrongly? Under
the definition of trafficking contained in this bill, the conviction for which
leaves one susceptible to a prison sentence, if I were to offer a 292 to you
when you have a headache, it seems to me I could be caught trafficking. Never
mind the likelihood of my being arrested and charged for that. We are passing
laws here, not passing suggestions that people who enforce the law might do this
or might do that. We are not passing the discretion for them to do that; we are
passing a law which, if I understand it, includes the definition that I have
just described. Does the senator think that if he offered me a 292 because I had
a headache that he should be susceptible to a prison sentence?
Senator Lang: Honourable senators, I am not a lawyer and will not
pretend to be one. I would make this point in respect of the question of
trafficking: It has to be proven. One has to go through the procedure and
provide the evidence to prove that one has the intent of trafficking. From that
perspective, I think that Senator Banks would be safe and, if he wants a 292, I
have one in the office.
Senator Banks: Well, 292s contain codeine, so I never use them. I am
not a lawyer, either, as the honourable senator well knows since I have put my
legal foot in my illegal mouth many times. However, if I understand the
definition correctly, it is not even necessary, if you offered me a 292, that I
accept it. The fact of your having offered it to me, according to the definition
that I understand to be in the bill, constitutes trafficking, period. I am
wondering whether you think that is justifiable in respect of being susceptible
to a prison sentence.
Senator Lang: Honourable senators, all I can say is that I do not read
that section the same way Senator Banks does, nor do I interpret it the same
way. At the end of the day, common sense does apply, and I would like to think
we would all accept that as well.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I rise today to share my
concerns about the mandatory minimum sentencing provided in Bill C-10. Like so
many Canadians, I am deeply troubled by this legislation and the impact it will
have on the future of our country. In particular, I am concerned about the state
of our correctional system and its ability to cope with the coming tidal wave of
On Prince Edward Island, the youth correctional centre will be renovated to
house female inmates from the island. What impact will this have on our young
offenders' programming or our ability to meet their needs? They will be greatly
diminished, I would suggest. This was done to accommodate the expected increase
in inmates in the Charlottetown and Summerside areas. All this was done without
the needed resources from the government.
I fear that we will soon find ourselves with prisons that are not just
overcrowded, but are bursting at the seams, with offenders being released from
pressure-cooker jails without having received appropriate treatment and being at
greater risk of reoffending. Ultimately, I am afraid that this strictly punitive
approach to addressing crime will not only fail but will backfire at a huge cost
to the provinces and territories.
The Canadian correctional system is in crisis. Our prisons are currently
overcrowded and understaffed. Drugs and disease circulate freely. Mental illness
and addiction are the elephants in the room. Poverty, low levels of education
and histories of abuse are the all-too-common patterns shared by the majority of
offenders. To think the worst is yet to come.
Many of our prisoners are already double-bunked and housed in conditions that
contravene United Nations standards. Others sleep on temporary mattresses on the
floor. The really unlucky ones, in British Columbia, sleep in tents. In fact,
our prisons are beyond overcrowded.
When a Canadian can be put into segregation and still be double-bunked, it is
a sign of a serious problem. These sorts of conditions are known to result in
chronic stress, which, in turn, triggers violence and instability. Furthermore,
according to the Office of the Correctional Investigator, sharing such a
confined space contributes to a higher rate of disease transmission and
infection. Even with increases in spending and the creation of new prison beds
scheduled to take place over the next couple of years, the system is not able to
appropriately house prisoners. With this legislation, the situation will only
One of the most disturbing aspects of Bill C-10 is the emphasis on mandatory
minimum sentencing. This will undoubtedly lead to more people in prison and
Unfortunately, as any criminologist will tell you, prison is not a panacea.
In fact, it is not particularly effective in doing anything other than
protecting the public from dangerous offenders, who make up only 1.5 per cent of
our prison population. For the remaining 98.5 per cent of offenders, jail is not
a permanent home. They will complete their sentences and return to their
communities. Bored, unskilled, drug addicted, mentally ill prisoners who lack
education and employment opportunities need programs. They need treatment,
counseling, and the tools to help them reintegrate into society when their
prison term is complete.
While serving their debt to society in prison is punitive, incarceration
cannot only be about punishment; it must also be about rehabilitation and
reducing recidivism. Without appropriate programs and services to help offenders
reintegrate into society, they will remain at great risk of reoffending.
Moreover, we need to know that they are making progress, that they are learning
to become better citizens, and that when they return to our communities they
will be able to handle the challenges they face. Howard Sapers, the Correctional
Investigator wrote in his most recent report:
From research and experience, we know that when correctional programs are
properly targeted and sequenced, well-implemented and delivered to meet
earliest parole eligibility dates they can reduce recidivism, save money in
the long run and enhance public safety. According to CSC research, on
average, every dollar spent on correctional programming returns four dollars
in saved incarceration costs.
The evidence speaks for itself. Programs and services are not frills or being
soft on crime. These are archaic concepts. No, programs and services are the
backbone of the system and the only hope we have of ensuring that prisoners do
not leave jail at a greater risk of reoffending. Even now while times for access
to these services are too long, many offenders leave prison without even having
participated. Women and Aboriginals in particular need greater access to
programs that better address their particular needs, programming to support the
family structure, and programs that respect their cultural expectations.
With mandatory minimum sentencing provisions in Bill C-10, there will be even
more competition in our jails for these scarce resources. Further to this, I am
particularly concerned about the provision in this bill that would replace the
principle that the correctional services use the least restrictive measures
consistent with the protection of the public, staff members and offenders with
the principle that measures are limited to what is necessary and proportionate.
This change would give prison guards far more power to use force than they
currently possess. It seems to me that this is the government's answer to
overcrowded and understaffed prisons. Rather than deal with violent and mentally
ill prisoners by hiring more skilled workers and increasing access to programs
and services, this government appears to prefer to respond with a more violent,
coercive and intimidating approach.
While increases in the prison population will strain infrastructure and
services, it will also come at an incredible cost to the provinces and
territories, a cost that many have indicated they are unable to pay. In my own
province of Prince Edward Island, we are already seeing increases of up to 30
per cent in the number of inmates being admitted to our jails as a result of
legislation already passed by this government. The numbers are growing faster
than our ability to accommodate them. In order to just keep up, the province
would need to triple its corrections budget. During this time of economic
difficulty, this is incredibly challenging.
In addition to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and
British Columbia have all spoken out against this bill. Quebec's justice
minister, Jean-Marc Fournier, has openly said that Quebec simply will not pay,
while Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty has made it clear that if the federal
government wants to push forward with this legislation it must come up with the
Before this legislation goes any further, I call on the government to hold
meaningful consultations with the provinces and territories. Many of the
proposed mandatory minimum sentences are under two years long, making them a
provincial responsibility. This legislation will therefore have a profound
effect on their correctional systems, and it is irresponsible and inconsiderate
to shut the provinces and territories out of this process. They need to be heard
and they need transitional funding.
Honourable senators, Bill C-10 is the wrong approach to dealing with crime.
For decades the United States took the same approach, emphasizing mandatory
minimums and extensive incarceration at the expense of prevention and
rehabilitation. Today, most states are admitting failure and are now backing
away from this type of legislation. We should too, before it is too late.
Our prisons are already overcrowded, expensive and ineffective. Senator
Tkachuk shared with us last evening how incredibly old some of our institutions
are. Rather than trying to renovate some of these dinosaurs, take an incredible
step forward in leadership, tear one down and build a rehabilitation centre. Be
innovative, resourceful, creative and demand new solutions. Our streets and
communities are the safest they have been in 40 years.
Honourable senators, I shared with you my concerns about Bill C-10, the
impact it will have on the sentencing provisions and on an already strained
system both federally and provincially. I believe these impacts deserve our
careful consideration if we want to ensure that Canadians who are incarcerated
will be rehabilitated and our crime rate will continue to fall.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-10, the government's omnibus crime
bill. It is a very controversial measure, as we have heard, because of its
purpose and the method used by the government to ram it through Parliament.
As we have heard, Bill C-10 incorporates nine measures that were being
studied by Parliament before the spring election. The government combined all
these elements, which were covered by rather lengthy bills, in a brick of a bill
that is more than 100 pages in length, its omnibus crime bill, in order to pass
these measures post-haste.
Honourable senators, Canadians expect Parliament to carefully study all bills
that are introduced. Unfortunately, the government seriously impeded the other
chamber from doing so. As my colleague, Senator Cowan, said in his speech
yesterday, I hope that this chamber will have the time required to scrutinize
this bill in a responsible manner.
Honourable senators, there is an utter absence of evidence-based reasoning
in the Conservative government's entire approach to criminal justice. For years
now, this government has been spreading fear and anxiety about the safety of our
society. Truly, they would have us believe that there is mass chaos in the
streets. I regret to inform the other side that this is not the case. This year,
Statistics Canada reported that police-reported crime, which is statistically
representative of the overall volume of crime, has been in continuous decline
for 20 years through to 2010. In fact, last year, crime was at its lowest level
Looking specifically at violent crime, we are now seeing the lowest levels
since 1999. Last year, the Violent Crime Severity Index was down 6 per cent —
four straight years of decline — and now the largest drop in more than a decade.
Among the specific violent crimes that have declined are attempted murder,
down 14 per cent; homicide, down 10 per cent, and this is a 44-year low;
robbery, down 7 per cent; serious assault, down 5 per cent; and youth crime,
always one of the most worrisome indices, is 11 per cent lower than it was a
Like many of the government's crime bills previously studied in this chamber,
this omnibus bill takes the misguided approach of putting more people in jail
for longer periods. Good public policy is based on evidence. I am in favour of
evidence-based public policy. Honourable senators, this is not evidence-based
Comparable justice policy methodologies were enacted decades ago in
jurisdictions around the world — most notably, the United States, Britain, and
Australia — and have been unequivocally discredited and abandoned. Why? It is
because these policies had a disastrous impact in terms of public safety and
economic and social costs on the states that employed them, bankrupting public
coffers and, indeed, rendering communities less safe.
Policy-makers, judges, and criminologists in those countries who once looked
to Canada as the model of an effective and balanced criminal justice system are
bewildered by our sudden shift to an imprisonment-focused approach.
If one were to approach an average Canadian on the street in Halifax,
Rimouski, Thunder Bay or Lethbridge, or any other corner of this country, and
one asked that Canadian, "Are you in favour of safe streets and communities?"
of course that Canadian would answer "yes." Thus we, as legislators, are
tasked with determining how to achieve that end.
The problem, honourable senators, is that with Bill C-10, neither our streets
nor our communities will be safer. In fact, as you have heard in the remarks of
many of my colleagues yesterday and today, this bill could very well make things
The United States, after several decades with "lock 'em up and throw away
the key" policies, has a recidivism rate reaching as high as 70 per cent in the
state of California. A study by the Pew Center on the States found that state
and federal spending on corrections in the United States has grown 400 per cent
in the past 20 years, from nearly $12 billion to $60 billion.
Honourable senators, when we learn from the mistakes of others, we can avoid
making those same mistakes ourselves.
What is the actual cost of Bill C-10 for Canadians? We do not know. The
government has consistently refused to supply Parliament with a detailed cost
analysis of any of their crime bills, this one included. What we do know is that
the Parliamentary Budget Officer — a Conservative-appointed, independent officer
of Parliament — has stated that this government is responsible for a total
obfuscation of the financial implications for provinces and territories. The
budget officer found that the bill's estimated cost, according to the
Conservatives, was backed up by no methodology and no supporting information.
Honourable senators, when we are saddled with the largest national debt in
our history, and the Minister of Finance has recently admitted that he will not
be able to meet his deficit-reduction targets, how can we contemplate, never
mind afford, this kind of reckless spending on policies that have proven
themselves ineffective and dangerous?
I do not need to remind you how many provincial governments have stated
publicly that they cannot and will not pay for the implementation of this bill.
Every province has its own unique situation, the parameters of which create new
and compelling reasons why the Conservative government's approach to this
legislation, and to justice policy in general, is so very flawed.
In my own home city of Edmonton, the municipal government has serious
concerns with respect to the costs that will be downloaded on to the city when
this legislation is passed. Unfortunately, the federal government has yet to
respond to these concerns in any constructive way. On November 29, Mayor Stephen
Mandel asked the federal government to stop building prison cells in Edmonton
due to the unmanageable costs the municipal government, especially the police
service, would be forced to absorb. As Mayor Mandel said:
We believe we have more than our fair share of prisoners in our city. We
don't want any more. If the federal government wants to expand prisons, do
The mayor is absolutely correct. In addition to our 298-inmate maximum
security prisons, we also sustain the Edmonton Institution for Women, an
Aboriginal-focused institution, a downtown minimum security facility, and
another Aboriginal facility built for women. The government has already
legislated a new 96-bed maximum security facility and 44 more inmate spots at
the Edmonton Institution for Women. Now, with this bill, the number of local
inmates stands to grow further.
As has been pointed out ad nauseam, crime, both petty and serious, has been
falling nationwide for decades. While there is no doubt that many types of
convicts do need to be incarcerated, there is reason to believe that this
Conservative initiative to build more and bigger prisons will, in fact, result
in our community being less safe, all while leaving the economic costs and
social consequences for the local government in Edmonton and other
municipalities to deal with.
We have talked about the cost of these policies, but I would like to delve
further into their failure to enhance public safety. History has proven that
mandatory minimum sentences — and Senator Banks has spoken eloquently to this —
leave fewer tools for prosecutors to use when laying charges and strip judges of
the discretion to take mitigating factors into account during sentencing.
Statistics show that in the jurisdictions where these policies have been in
play, the mentally ill, whose plight was so aptly presented in Senator Cordy's
eloquent and impassioned speech last evening, those struggling with addictions,
the poorly educated, and racial minorities crowd the prison system. The most
marginalized and most vulnerable are already disproportionately represented in
our correctional system, and these "tough on crime" policies will affect these
groups most harshly.
Shawn Atleo, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, stated recently
that Canada's Aboriginal children are more likely to go to jail than to graduate
from high school.
Correctional investigator, Howard Sapers, showed in his 2009 report that the
rate of Aboriginal incarceration is nine times higher than for non-Aboriginals.
In 2007-08, Statistics Canada revealed that Aboriginal people accounted for 22
per cent of our prison population, despite only making up 3 per cent of the
actual population. Persons of Aboriginal descent now account for more than one
in five new admissions to federal corrections institutes. Among female inmates,
this overrepresentation is even more stark. One in every three women inmates is
Bill C-10 does not so much as acknowledge this glaring disproportionality,
let alone offer sentencing solutions that might alleviate it.
The territory of Nunavut has the highest crime rate in the country, according
to Statistics Canada. Recently Nunavut deputy justice minister, Janet Slaughter,
said that while other provinces can expect to see an increase in their prison
population in the area of 15 per cent as a result of Bill C-10, these numbers
would be much higher in her territory.
Where will all these new prisoners go? Nunavut's only prison, the Baffin
Correctional Centre, is already plagued by chronic overcrowding, and a new
40-person facility is set to fill up immediately when it opens in early 2012.
Last year, Nunavut's fire marshal said that the Baffin centre is so overcrowded,
rundown and badly built that sending inmates there amounts to criminal
negligence. The territory cannot deal with the additional burden that Bill C-10
Honourable senators, the root of most crime in Nunavut, as in many other
jurisdictions, is people with addictions, histories of abuse and mental health
problems who need treatment. These issues will not be cured by incarceration.
Iqaluit mayor, Madeleine Redfern, has been pleading with the government to
assist with funding for a permanent addictions treatment centre, but to no
avail. Instead, the Conservative government will hand off the additional burden
of more inmates without the tools or support necessary to address the root
causes of their problems.
Could I ask for five more minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted for
an additional five minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Tardif: Thank you. The government has decided to ignore the
overwhelming evidence and even the growing number of conservatives around the
world who are speaking out against this failed and discredited approach to
criminal justice that characterizes Bill C-10. This is all while data show that
Canadians currently enjoy, for the most part, the greatest level of safety in
our history, with violent and other crime rates in sharp decline.
Honourable senators, no one denies that there is crime that takes place in
Canada, but I stand in favour of crime prevention. I stand shoulder to shoulder
with victims of crime.
I stand in favour of putting more resources into the root causes of crime, to
make things better and safer for every man, woman and child in this country.
Effectively, this means that I cannot stand in favour of Bill C-10.
The government's obsession with punishment is misdirected. If it really wants
to make our communities safer and make the justice system more responsive to
victims of crime, then it needs to abandon the tough-on-crime rhetoric, the
counterproductive mandatory minimum sentences and the costly prison expansion
plan, and instead concentrate on fixing the real problems afflicting our justice
system right now.
Honourable senators, our justice system is already in crisis, and prosecutors
and judges are overworked. According to the Canadian Association of Crown
Counsel, if the government does not provide the additional resources that will
be required as a result of the added pressure the bill will place on the system,
public safety will be seriously compromised.
What additional resources are set out in Bill C-10 to assist our overtaxed
justice system? There are none. The government simply expects prosecutors and
judges to do more with less, while asking the Department of Justice, including
its prosecutors, to reduce its current budget by 10 per cent.
Bill C-10 will result in more court time since offenders facing mandatory
minimum prison sentences tend to choose a trial over pleading guilty in the
provinces and territories that are already so busy that they do not have time
for more trials.
If the justice system is overtaxed, we can expect more recourse to the
Charter to stay proceedings because, under the Charter, litigants have the right
to have their case heard within a reasonable period of time. We can also expect
an increase in plea bargaining since offenders are less likely to plead guilty
to charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences.
I repeat: since the waiting list for court time is long, prosecutors will
have no choice but to charge offenders with crimes that are not punishable by
mandatory minimum sentences.
How can we say that the increasing number of out-of-court settlements caused
by long waiting lists for court time and the fact that offenders plead guilty to
less serious charges improve public safety or help victims of crime?
Honourable senators, clearly such is not the case. According to the President
of the Ontario Crown Attorneys' Association, if the justice system does not
receive financial support, most new criminal laws will be of no use.
Last week Senator Boisvenu spoke at length about Bill C-10 and community
stewardship of the rights of victims. He even implied that members of our caucus
were more concerned with the welfare of criminals than victims. To be quite
frank, honourable senators, I am surprised at my colleague's insinuation,
especially when there are so few improvements for victims of crime in this piece
I am certainly not an expert in this particular area of justice policy, but
the former Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan, certainly is,
and he has been a vocal advocate for victims of crime for decades. He has stated
that this bill will likely make things worse, not better, for victims of crime.
I see my time is up, honourable senators. I will simply say that one cannot
justify bad policy through the repetition of a mantra about a mandate. Safe
streets and safe communities are the shared aspiration of all Canadians and the
common objective of all parliamentarians and parties.
No political party can claim that it alone speaks or cares for the safety of
(On motion of Senator Dyck, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I want to make a few
remarks for the Speaker's consideration with regard to the question of privilege
raised earlier today by Senator Carignan.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is not in order to
be raising that matter now. They should have been made at the time that it was
raised by the Honourable Senator Carignan.
Senator Moore: The Speaker said that he will read Hansard and report.
He gave no one an opportunity to interject.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, when His Honour deems that he has heard enough arguments — it is up to
him — he can end the debate on the point of privilege. Our colleague Senator
Moore did not ask to speak to debate the question of privilege and that is when
he should have done so, not afterward. The point of order is considered debated.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In the Rules of the
Senate, it says one of the rare areas where the Speaker does have discretion
is that the Speaker, on a point of privilege, can make a determination that he
has heard enough debate or enough evidence from honourable senators. He then can
say, "I have heard enough. I will now reserve and come back with my decision at
a later time."
His Honour did indicate that he had heard enough and that he would reserve
and come back at a later date and give a decision, based upon what he had heard,
and he has that right.
Senator Moore: I agree with your comments, but he did not say anything
about having heard enough; he just said, "I will read Hansard and I will give
my decision." He just cut off debate, and that is what he did. There was no
opportunity for me. He made his decision.
I know that is right, but how do I get my remarks before him now? I do not
get to do it if I follow what you are suggesting, and I do not think that is
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: That is the way the
rules are now, honourable senator. We could change the rules, but the Speaker
does have the right to say, "I have heard enough; I will now go back and consult
the record in Hansard and come back to the chamber with the results of my study
He has that right, honourable senator.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of December 8, 2011, moved:
That, in accordance with Subsection 39.(1) of the Public Servants
Disclosure Protection Act, S.C. 2005, c. 46, the Senate approve the
appointment of Mario Dion as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
He said: Honourable senators, I have been informed that the other place has
proceeded to adopt the motion to approve the appointment of Mario Dion. If
honourable senators are ready for the question, we may proceed right now.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to, on division.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 1:30 p.m.)