Debates
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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 91

Thursday, June 14, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker



THE SENATE

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Mr. Phil Lind

Congratulations on Induction into American Cable Hall of Fame

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I am honoured to rise today to pay tribute to one of Canada's leading cable, broadcasting and telecommunications pioneers, Mr. Phil Lind of Toronto.

On May 21, Phil Lind of Rogers Communications was inducted into the prestigious American Cable Hall of Fame, along with other notable honourees, including TV personality Larry King. Since 1998 only 90 men and women have been inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame, and Phil Lind is only the third Canadian to join this impressive group.

I attended a private reception in Toronto last week in recognition of this great honour. The name Phil Lind is synonymous with success. He is a visionary and an innovative Canadian businessman. For some four decades, he was the late Ted Rogers' business partner and helped make Rogers Communications one of Canada's top telecommunications companies.

When Phil Lind joined Ted Rogers in 1969 they had two small radio stations and 1,500 cable subscribers. Today Rogers Communications has more than 30,000 employees serving more than 9 million customers, 56 publications, 55 radio stations and 20 TV stations across Canada, in addition to being the owner of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre.

Phil was not inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame for his business accomplishments in Canada. Rather, he was inducted for his tireless efforts in Rogers' expansion into the U.S. market. In 1980, after Rogers acquired the two largest cable systems in Canada, the CRTC basically told Rogers that would be the last acquisition it would approve for some time. Therefore, the only way Rogers could grow was if it turned its attention to the United States.

In 1981 Rogers started to operate in the U.S. cable market, winning franchises in Orange County, California, Minneapolis and Portland and purchasing the cable systems in San Antonio. At this point, Rogers was the world's third largest cable company.

As Phil said at the Toronto reception:

Without this venture into the U.S., we would not have been able to become the company that we are today.

At dinner Phil talked about his relationship with Ted Rogers and how, as he said:

We were joined at the hip in terms of growing the Rogers company . . . Growth was my key mission.

Honourable senators, it is clear that Phil and Ted fulfilled their mission.

I have always been impressed with what Phil did to promote diversity. He was a driving force who championed the development of multilingual, multicultural and specialty programming and services in Canada. Despite a massive stroke years ago, Phil never slowed down and is still determined to make Rogers Communications Canada's number one telecommunications company.

Honourable senators, I hope you will join me in paying tribute to Phil Lind on his richly deserved induction into the American Cable Hall of Fame.

The Honourable Donald H. Oliver

Congratulations on Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from York University

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, following our honourable colleague, I rise today to pay tribute to him, the Honourable Senator Donald H. Oliver.

On Tuesday afternoon, Senator Oliver received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from York University in Toronto. This is his fourth honorary degree.

York University honoured Donald Oliver for being a committed leader devoted to building safe, culturally vibrant and economically prosperous communities with a passion for life and justice.

The citation at the convocation ceremony said, in part:

Senator Donald H. Oliver has devoted his lifetime to the championship of visible minorities and to combating discrimination in its many, overt and subtle forms. Senator Oliver has provided policy leadership in government and the business sector while

concurrently broadening public discourse and challenging politicians, managers, citizens, students and future leaders to engage with the full sense of the term diversity and the broadest sense of ethical obligations to others.

. . . Raising both awareness and funds, he was the motive force behind the Conference Board of Canada's comprehensive and transformative report of the barriers to the advancement of visible minorities in Canada's public and private sectors.

Honourable senators, allow me to share with you some of our colleague's exceptional achievements in a career that spans five decades.

He graduated from Acadia University with a B.A. cum laude in history in 1960. In 1964, he graduated with a law degree from Dalhousie University as a Sir James Dunn Scholar. He was the third Black Nova Scotian to receive a law degree.

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Senator Oliver practised law for 25 years as a civil litigation lawyer in Halifax with Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales.

Donald Oliver is a widely respected community leader who has served on the board of more than 25 charitable organizations, including as chairman and life director of the Neptune Theatre Foundation, lifetime honorary governor of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, chairman of the Halifax Children's Aid Society and Atlantic chairman of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews.

He played a key role in establishing the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Black Culture in Nova Scotia in 1983, for which he became the founding president and first chairman.

In 1990, he was summoned to the Senate on the recommendation of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and thus became the first Black man in Canadian history to be appointed to this chamber. Twenty years later, he became the first visible minority appointed Speaker pro tempore of the Senate.

Senator Oliver has chaired more than six standing committees, including Transport and Communication, National Finance, Agriculture and Forestry. He played a leadership role as chair of the Legal and Constitutional Committee in 2006 when Prime Minister Harper introduced the Federal Accountability Act.

One of Senator Oliver's career highlights came in 2005, when he spearheaded the largest, most comprehensive study ever conducted in Canada on barriers to the advancement of visible minorities in the workforce.

Honourable senators, I will end by saying that I am reminded of a quote: Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Don, you are indeed a trailblazer. Congratulations.

Please join me, honourable senators, in congratulating Senator Oliver on receiving an honorary doctorate from York University.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland and Labrador, who is accompanied by his deputy minister, Alastair O'Reilly, and his director of communications, Brad Power.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Yukon

Severe Flooding

Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I rise today to bring to your attention the events in Yukon during the past week. I realize that my region seems remote to some and does not usually make the national news. That is why, honourable senators, I want to make you aware that this past week, the region of Yukon experienced major flooding, resulting in damage in the multi-millions of dollars. It will take weeks, if not months, for this to be fully rectified and repaired. For many of you, it will bring back memories of the floods in the past number of years in Quebec and Manitoba.

Honourable senators, the seriousness of this situation cannot be overstated. An official with the Yukon Department of Environment explained the flooding as a "perfect storm." The winter snowpack was 50 per cent deeper than normal. Combined with a late spring and a rainfall exceeding 70 millimetres, this caused river levels to rise and flood all highways, with the exception of one, and wreaking havoc.

Most notably, the Alaska Highway, the main route from Alaska to the continental United States, and the South Klondike Highway, which is Yukon's lifeline to the Alaskan Panhandle, were both washed out. This resulted in halting the delivery of supplies and necessities to many of our communities and commerce, in many cases, came to a shuddering halt.

By Sunday of this past week, most grocery store shelves in our capital city of Whitehorse were bare and food was airlifted into our community. Not only were highways flooded, but many homes near the rivers have been lost or suffered significant damage. I say this because there is a human element to these events, and I want to emphasize the devastation that a natural disaster inflicts on the residents.

After a long and stressful week, the situation is slowly turning around. Flood waters are receding, trucks are delivering food and fuel, and grocery stores will soon be restocked. Throughout this entire ordeal, the people of Yukon have banded together, putting up friends and families who needed to evacuate their homes. River levels appear to be returning to normal, and those affected by the flood should be able to return to their homes in the near future.

I want to conclude by giving kudos to the Yukon government, the Department of Public Works and the Emergency Management division, who have remained on top of the

situation at all times and are working tirelessly along the highways and affected areas.

Mrs. Elizabeth Lee

Congratulations on Eighty-Seventh Birthday

Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, I would like to take a moment today to pay tribute to a very special lady.

Today, June 14, 2012, Mrs. Elizabeth Lee of Riverhead, St. Mary's Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, is celebrating her eighty-seventh birthday. "Mrs. Elizabeth," as she is affectionately called, is well known and respected by all who have had the privilege to be in her company.

Mrs. Elizabeth has made a significant contribution to the Royal Canadian Legion, Dermot Lee Memorial, Branch 62, in Riverhead, St. Mary's Bay. 2012 will be her twenty-fifth year as a member of the legion executive. She has held many positions on various committees since 1986. She was also president from 1992 to 1994.

She still holds the office of immediate past president and is chairperson of the Seniors Committee. The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 62, is very proud to say they have an 87-year-old lady who continues to volunteer her services to the community.

Mrs. Lee has been an inspiration to all members of the executive of Branch 62 over the years and has always been looked upon with the utmost of respect. Her husband, the late Dermot Lee, was the founding president of the branch in 1968.

Comrade Elizabeth Lee has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies' Auxiliary, Branch 62, for 41 years. She and her husband Dermot Lee were the first presidents, he of the legion and she of the Ladies' Auxiliary, when Branch 62 first opened its doors in 1968.

Mrs. Elizabeth received her lifetime membership in the Ladies' Auxiliary in 1990 and continues to take an active role in the legion and in her community. She attends every Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Command Ladies' Auxiliary biennial convention, where she willingly lends her expertise and knowledge.

At the branch she is a truly great asset to the members. She attends all the annual general meetings and helps in guiding and directing memberships. She is ever so gracious in her approach to situations within the organization and the community. She is an active leader in Remembrance Day celebrations, where she is a visible participant in wreath-laying ceremonies.

Mrs. Elizabeth is always eager to speak with the youth of the community and is active in the school environment in delivering meaningful conversations to youth on their role in world peace and freedom.

It was indeed a great privilege for me, on the evening of Saturday, June 9, to be present at Branch 62 in Riverhead, to attend a large community gathering held to celebrate Mrs. Elizabeth's birthday.

At this event, I had the honour to present Mrs. Elizabeth with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation, for her lifetime of service to her community, her province and her country. Our world is a much better place because of the presence of Mrs. Elizabeth Lee.

Mrs. Elizabeth is an inspiration to all of us, a humble and sincere person who has given above and beyond the call of duty for her entire life. She is a true and living example of giving from the heart.

I ask my fellow senators to join with me in wishing Mrs. Elizabeth Lee a very happy eighty-seventh birthday today.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the Speaker's gallery of Mr. Eugene Goodrich, a distinguished Canadian and recipient of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is a guest of the Honourable Senator Stewart Olsen.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Public Sector Integrity Commissioner

2011-12 Annual Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to section 38 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2011-12 annual report of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada.

National Flag of Canada Bill

Eleventh Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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

ELEVENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-288, An Act respecting the National Flag of Canada, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, May

16, 2012, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

KELVIN K. OGILVIE,
Chair

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

(On motion of Senator Wallin, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

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[English]

Purple Day Bill

Twelfth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Presented

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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

TWELFTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-278, An Act respecting a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, April 26, 2012, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

KELVIN K. OGILVIE
Chair

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

(On motion of Senator Mercer, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[Translation]

The Estimates, 2012-13

Supplementary Estimates (A)—Eleventh Report of National Finance Committee Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Day, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.)

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Thirteenth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser for the Honourable Bob Runciman, chair of the committee, tabled the following report:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

THIRTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, May 15, 2012, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
For the Honourable Bob Runciman, Chair of the Committee

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

(On motion of Senator Boisvenu, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

[English]

Bill to Amend—Fourteenth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser, for Senator Runciman, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

FOURTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (prize fights), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, April 26, 2012, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendment:

Clause 1, page 1:

Replace line 14 with the following:

"of the International Olympic Committee or the International Paralympic Committee and,".

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
For the Honourable Bob Runciman, Chair of the Committee

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

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

[Translation]

Adjournment

Motion Adopted

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

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Monday, June 18, 2012, at 6 p.m., and that rule 13(1) be suspended in relation thereto.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted for the motion to be moved now?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association

Parliamentary Mission to the Republic of Cyprus, April 19-26, 2012—Report Tabled

Hon. Grant Mitchell: 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 in the parliamentary mission to the Republic of Cyprus, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union and the United Kingdom, held in Nicosia, Republic of Cyprus, and London, United Kingdom, from April 19 to 26, 2012.

[English]

Canada-China Legislative Association
Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group

Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, January 23-27, 2011—Report Tabled

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, held in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, from January 23 to 27, 2011.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the Governor General's gallery of the participants in an International Executive Training Program for Commonwealth Parliamentary Staff organized by the World Bank Institute and McGill University.

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

[Translation]

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I shall call the attention of the Senate to how the allegations of sexual harassment and harassment generally can be better handled in the RCMP.

[English]

Importance of Asia to Canada's Future Prosperity

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, I give notice that on June 20, 2012:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the importance of Asia to Canada's future prosperity.


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QUESTION PERIOD

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Food Inspection Agency—Container Regulations—Stakeholder Consultations

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

In Budget 2012, the government indicated that it will repeal regulations under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency related to container standards. According to the wording in the budget, the rationale behind this move is to enable industry to take advantage of new packaging formats and technologies while removing an unnecessary barrier for the importation of new products from international markets.

While this change may help some industries to modernize, it seems that for other industries these changes are not necessary and in fact will do more harm than good. Potato producers in Prince Edward Island and across Canada, for example, are already able to take advantage of new packaging technologies without these changes. Further, they are actually afraid that the repeal of these regulations could lead to volatility in the market, destabilizing the potato industry and leaving potato producers facing an uncertain economic future.

Did the government consult with Canadian potato producers about these changes? If not, why not?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. I will take it as notice. This matter has also been raised with me by Senator Nolin. Changes are being made for the purpose of standardizing movement across borders. I undertake to ask for a written response from the Department of Agriculture on what impact studies or other documentation they have to support this change in the regulations.

Senator Hubley: I thank the minister for the answer.

I would like to share with honourable senators some of the facts that have been brought forward from the Canadian Potato Council.

Fact No. 1: The Canadian Potato Council and the Canadian potato producers, the council represents, were not consulted to provide input on the significance of the repeal of standard container regulations to our industry.

Fact No. 2: The import and interprovincial trade of potatoes already occurs in Canada.

Fact No. 3: The repeal of the standard container regulations will destabilize the Canadian potato industry.

Fact No. 4: The potato industry is already able to take advantage of new packaging formats and technologies.

Fact No. 5: Standard container regulations provide benefit to packagers and shippers, retailers and consumers.

Fact No. 6: Provincial potato markets will become unbalanced, resulting in economic hardship for producers and unstable prices for consumers.

Whom did the minister consult with, when, and where did that consultation take place?

To repeat, has the government considered the implications of these changes on various industries? Are there plans to work with potato producers and others in order to mitigate the negative impact that the repeal of these regulations could have on their industries and livelihoods?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question. As I mentioned, Senator Nolin has raised these matters with me and I have already undertaken to get further information.

The government is very interested in jobs, the economy, opening markets and getting involved with many other countries on the trade side. Therefore, everything we do as a government is intended to enhance market availability for all of our products.

As I indicated to Senator Nolin, I will seek further information from the Department of Agriculture on the processes that resulted in this action.

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Canadian Heritage

Canada Periodical Fund

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, a few weeks ago, Senator Chaput and I asked questions in this chamber about the Canada Periodical Fund. We were told, both orally and in writing, that cuts had not been made to the overall program. I understand that funding for the program was maintained, but that was not the question.

Rather, the question pertains to the new formula being used by this program, which penalizes newspapers serving a specific readership that is scattered across a large geographic area, for example, Le Franco in Alberta, La Liberté in Manitoba and Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse in Nova Scotia. These newspapers have experienced major cuts under this formula. I am bringing this up again because the Minister of Canadian Heritage has still not responded to the requests for meetings from the editors of these newspapers.

Could the leader tell us why the minister is refusing to address the real problem, which is a funding formula that penalizes newspapers serving minority francophone communities?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the senator for the question. As she indicated, we did table a written response to her questions to me of a few weeks ago. Official languages minority publications have special eligibility exemptions under the Canada Periodical Fund. This is has not changed. Publications are receiving more support than ever before under this program created by our government.

Our goal when we strengthened this program, as I believe I mentioned when I responded to this before, was to make it clear that we supported magazines providing readers with more quality stories and opinions and in the magazines of their choice. The government's policy has not changed on minority language publications, and the answer that I provided to the honourable senator stands.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question. Some newspapers could potentially receive more funding. I do not know anything about that. However, what I do know is that French-language publications in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia may have to close their doors because of the changes that the Conservative government has made to their method of funding. These newspapers are pillars of the francophone minority communities they serve. The government has a responsibility to implement measures to support the development of these communities under the Official Languages Act.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage at least meet with the managers of the affected newspapers to discuss their concerns? How much longer is it going to take him to respond to the requests made by these newspapers?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I of course can speak for the government but not for individual ministers. I will make the honourable senator's concerns known to Minister Moore. That is all I can do at the moment.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: This measure is raising concerns even among the ranks of the Conservative government. In a letter addressed to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore, the Conservative member for Saint-Boniface, Shelly Glover, indicated that she is deeply concerned. She wrote, "I am afraid that, if targeted action to help newspapers like La Liberté is not taken, some publications will be forced to shut down. I can assure you that the death of a French-language newspaper that is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary — especially if that death is caused by Conservatives — will leave an indelible black mark on our government . . ."

What does the Conservative government plan to do to address this situation?

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[English]

Senator LeBreton: Thank you. Of course, I did read the article that the honourable senator referred to, which concerned my colleague, Shelly Glover. I cannot specifically provide an answer, but as I indicated a moment ago, I will draw the issues that the honourable senator has raised here in the Senate to the attention of Minister Moore so that he is aware of her concerns.

National Defence

Closure of General Jean V. Allard Commemorative Library in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The Commissioner of Official Languages has just published a report stating that the Department of National Defence has violated Canada's Official Languages Act by closing a library at a Quebec recruitment school that was serving the minority English-language community in the region south of Montreal.

The department decided to shut down the General Jean Victor Allard Commemorative Library in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec due to budget cuts on September 30, 2010.

The department made no public consultations or announcement of the decision. As a result, it eliminated public access to the library that first opened in 1971 at the Saint-Jean Garrison.

The report by Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser, in response to several separate complaints:

. . . concluded that the department "failed to meet its obligations" under a federal law that requires the government and federal institutions to take positive measures to protect the vitality of English and French-speaking minorities communities in Canada.

In his report, Commissioner Fraser also said that:

According to the users we met, the General Jean V. Allard Commemorative Library was an essential resource, a cultural and historical treasure that contributed to the personal and professional development of its users. . . . Anglophone internal users, in particular, emphasized how invaluable it was for them to be able to access all sorts of documents in English, in a community that is overwhelmingly Francophone.

Honourable senators, this government, through its Department of National Defence, has violated the law that guarantees that English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians living in a minority context will be fully protected. Why has the government allowed that?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator.

I have not personally seen the report of the Official Languages Commissioner. I do not know whether it has been tabled officially. I only heard about this a few moments before coming into the Senate sitting. The Department of National Defence has advised that they have just received the report of the Official Languages Commissioner, Mr. Graham Fraser.

I will have to take the honourable senator's as notice in order to allow the Department of National Defence to provide a response to his question.

Senator De Bané: Can we count on the Leader of the Government in the Senate to personally, after reviewing that report and how much that library is really very important to the English-speaking community living in that area, make her own

endeavours and representations to the Minister of National Defence to maintain this resource, those books, to the benefit of the English-speaking minority?

I am sure that she carries a lot of weight, and if she spoke to the minister, he would listen to her. The English-speaking minority in Quebec is waiting for her encouragement and support.

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator. I can commit to him only that I will ensure that the Department of National Defence is aware of his great concern. Of course, I expect that they will provide a written response to his concerns. Beyond that, it is up to the Department of National Defence and the government as a whole, not me as an individual. However, I do appreciate the honourable senator's concerns and his confidence in me.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the answer to an oral question raised by Senator Tardif on May 10, 2012, concerning the National Archival Development Program; and the answer to an oral question raised by Senator Chaput on May 10, 2012, concerning the National Film Board.

Canadian Heritage

National Archival Development Program

(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on May 10, 2012)

Our Government recognizes the importance of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the many services it provides, as it plays an essential role in preserving Canada's documentary heritage.

As a Departmental agency, Library and Archives operates at arm's-length from the Government under the direction of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. As such, it is responsible for its operational decisions, including the implementation of Budget 2012 decisions.

Library and Archives Canada is doing its part to support the Government of Canada's efforts to reduce the deficit and return to balanced budgets in the medium term. LAC has had to make some difficult choices. Going forward, LAC will be focussing on its core mandate, which will have priority in the allocation of resources. In this way, LAC expects to consolidate its efforts and better serve Canadians.

At the same time, LAC is moving forward with its Modernization initiative in an effort to seek efficiencies and adapt its services and technology to better serve Canadians' needs, while continuing to deliver on its mandate. Through this initiative, Library and Archives Canada is increasing its digital services and programming to improve and expand access to Canada's documentary and cultural heritage for all Canadians, regardless of their interest, profession or location.

National Film Board and Canada Periodical Fund

(Response to question raised by Hon. Maria Chaput on May 10, 2012)

Francophone projects arising from the West will continue to be produced by the National Film Board (NFB) as per usual. First of all, production budgets are not targeted by Budget reductions. Secondly, projects will continue to be supervised and supported by the line producer. Finally, additional resources, namely in executive production or production management, are always dedicated to large scale projects. It should also be noted that the NFB maintained a coordinator position whose mandate is to review all production projects from francophone creators and producers from Ontario and from the West.

The NFB made sure that its decision would not impede the number or the quality of francophone productions from Ontario and the West while preserving production budgets as well as making sure those projects are still supervised by NFB professionals.

The National Film Board operates at arm's-length from the Government and is responsible for its day-to-day operations, including the implementation of Budget 2012 decisions.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 27(1), I would like to inform the Senate that when we proceed to Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, followed by other government business, as indicated on the Order Paper.

[English]

The Estimates, 2012-13

Supplementary Estimates (A)—Eleventh Report of National Finance Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Supplementary Estimates (A) 2012-2013), presented in the Senate earlier this day.

Hon. Joseph A. Day moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, this is the eleventh report of our committee, but it is the first report with respect to Supplementary Estimates (A). I would first of all like to thank the Library of

Parliament representatives on the Finance Committee, Sylvain Fleury and Édison Roy-César for working diligently in getting this report prepared for us with very short notice.

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Honourable senators will know that when the supplementary estimates are referred to us, we study them, do the report and try to get the report back here so that honourable senators can be informed of what is in the supplementary estimates before being called upon to vote at third reading on the bill that flows from the supplementary estimates.

This is the report that is just being delivered to honourable senators now. I will touch on a few of the highlights.

I do want to thank and let the Leader of the Government in the Senate and all honourable senators know that we very much appreciate the sensitivity with respect to the time requested to deal with the report so that honourable senators could be informed before being called upon to vote. We will be called upon to vote on Bill C-41 at third reading once this report has been adopted. I appreciate very much that we have had the opportunity to change the business so that honourable senators can be informed about what they are voting on.

The committee studied the supplementary estimates, and the report reflects that study. We met with five different government departments and discussed their appropriation requests for the coming fiscal year.

I point out that these are supplementary estimates. Over the last few days, we did deal with the Main Estimates, the main request for funds for the year that needs to be voted on. Those that are not statutory provisions come in the form of estimates and require a vote. We call it a supply bill or alternatively an appropriation bill.

This is the first additional request for funds. The reason for this is not that the government made a mistake but rather that all of the requests could not be put into place in time for the first request for funds. The Main Estimates are prepared late in the year and then very early in the new year before the budget comes out. Therefore, there are items in the Main Estimates that honourable senators will know may not be proceeded with as a result of the budget.

Those changes will be sorted out in Supplementary Estimates (A), (B) and (C). Supplementary Estimates (A) are typically in June; (B) would be typically in the early fall; and (C) at the end of the fiscal year in February or March. In this cycle, it would be February or March of 2013.

This being Supplementary Estimates (A), we will have some changes as a result of the budget, but the government directive was that Supplementary Estimates (A) should not have any of the reductions. Upon hearing from government officials, it was felt that all the decisions were not made, and the government did not want it coming out piecemeal. Therefore, we will probably see in Supplementary Estimates (B) the various reductions as a result of the budget that we saw in March of this year.

Honourable senators will see on page 2 of the report that voted appropriations amount to $2.1 billion. That is in addition to the $65 billion that honourable senators have already voted on. These are added onto that to determine what the voted appropriations are thus far for this year.

The statutory expenditures are given here as information. They are, in all of our supply bills, only for information purposes; they are not here for you to vote on. Honourable senators are only voting on the appropriations of $2.1 billion.

There are no non-budgetary matters. Budgetary matters are matters that change the bottom line. They are money spent in various ways. A loan is a non-budgetary item. It changes the fiscal situation. However, the money will be coming back in, so we do not vote on that as a non-budgetary item. It will be coming back at some time, according to the terms of the loan. If it goes bad as we saw with some of the student loans and they are not paid back, we will have to see those brought in as budgetary items to forgive certain loans. That is how that is accounted for in this report and in the Main Estimates.

One item I wanted to bring to the attention of honourable senators — and I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate was asked a question on this recently in this chamber — is in relation to the payment of severance to employees who continue to work. The explanation is on the bottom of page 3 and on page 4.

Severance was a negotiated item for all public servants, and the government has now negotiated an end to that practice. However, all of the severance that had been accumulated was deemed to have been vested in those public servants up to the time of the new collective agreement. The question is whether we pay out that vested amount now or when the person leaves. That is a matter of negotiation between the deputy head and the union. Some of them are being paid out now. That does not mean they are leaving. In fact, they are continuing, but that accumulated and vested amount of severance that they acquired by virtue of their employment in the past can now be taken now or later.

We asked about the outstanding liability in relation to this matter, because it is a contingent liability and is not an insignificant amount. Roughly $6 billion will be paid by the government to continuing employees or employees who retired or have decided to leave. That accumulated severance will amount to roughly $6 billion over time. Some may elect to take it now; others may elect to take it at the time they leave. Why would they wait and take it at the time they leave? The amount is determined by the last two months of salary. If the salary goes up significantly by the time they leave in three, four, ten or twenty years, that amount could significantly increase over what they would take now. That is why some are taking it now and some are not.

An amount of $850 million is set aside this year for those who opt to take it. Last year, I think it was over $1 billion, so honourable senators can see that a significant liability is slowly being reduced.

I will discuss some of the other highlights. Honourable senators can see the various departments that appeared before the committee. We talked about the work being done on the Parliamentary Precinct. Some very interesting questions came out of that discussion. We are told that it will carry on over many years, and each five-year plan has a number of contracts and objectives.

Treasury Board and Public Works are satisfied; they are watching this very closely. They were pleased to inform us that some of the contracts have come in under budget and some on budget. In dealing with a large series of contracts or a project over a long period of time, there is always a concern that things may slip a bit. I think that is why the contracts are based on a project-by-project basis as opposed to contracting for the entire work that is anticipated.

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The Parliamentary Precinct requests in the Supplementary Estimates (A) is for $242 million. That is only because certain contracts were not in place when the Main Estimates were done. Supplementary estimates are to pick up those items that were not finalized and had not received approval from cabinet before the estimates came out.

The Department of Transport talked to us about work they are doing at the Port of Churchill and the Champlain and Cartier bridges. They are all projects that need work.

With VIA Rail there is a pension problem, like there is with so many public pension plans. We hear about it day after day. There is a pension problem with respect to VIA Rail Canada and its employees. To satisfy the pension problem for just one year, $68 million is required. We have to do something, honourable senators, about these pension plan problems that keep cropping up.

Regarding self-government financial transfer agreements to the native bands, there are some outstanding liabilities in relation to negotiations with the various First Nations; that is outlined in here. We had a long discussion with respect to those issues. These are land claim settlements. We asked about contingent liabilities for land settlements, and there are some pretty significant outstanding amounts. We see here the year-to-year amounts being claimed.

There was one figure, honourable senators, that I wanted to bring to your attention, which is at line 138. That requires a change from $3.8 million to $3.8 billion as an outstanding and contingent liability issue.

Apart from that, honourable senators, the facts and the issues are here. I have just highlighted them, but I am pleased that you all have the report. If there are any questions, my deputy chair, Senator L. Smith, or I would be pleased to answer them for you if we can.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, I have a question. On page 5 of the honourable senator's report, he gives a summary of the additional advertising funding requests.

Can he advise or does he know if the $1.3 million requested by the Department of Canadian Heritage for promotion of the War 1812 is in addition to the $28 million that was already allocated for that anniversary celebration?

Senator Day: The $1.3 million in advertising next to the last bullet is in addition to earlier allocated funds. I spoke earlier, when I was speaking about the Main Estimates, of the importance of keeping an eye on this kind of project by reason of recent history. This $1.3 million for advertising here would be with respect to contracts that had not been finalized at the time of the Main Estimates, honourable senators. This is exclusively for advertising.

The earlier appropriation was for other types of promotional activities as well.

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

Hon. Senators: Question!

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2012-13

Third Reading

Hon. Larry W. Smith moved third reading of Bill C-40, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2013.

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

Hon. Senators: Question!

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Tardif: On division.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division.)

Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2012-13

Third Reading

Hon. Larry W. Smith moved third reading of Bill C-41, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2013.

The Hon. the Speaker: On debate?

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I just have one point to make on this particular bill, which flows from Supplementary Estimates (A) that I have just spoken on.

Honourable senators will know that one of the things we do at the Finance Committee is compare the schedules that appear in the Main Estimates to ensure that they are the same and that those schedules are reflected in the bill itself. In going through that exercise, I noticed that Supplementary Estimates (A) that was circulated did not have a schedule in it in the English version. I then obtained another printed copy that had the schedule in it.

This particular document, which is entitled Supplementary Estimates (A), I would propose giving to our table officers to let them do what they might to let the printers know that there is no schedule in this one, so we could not perform our normal task en anglais but we could en français, which we did. I have found the schedule to be the same, and I have found other copies of Supplementary Estimates (A) that contained the schedule in both English and French.

With that one qualifier, honourable senators, I find the process has been followed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed that the table take a copy for editing purposes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Tardif: On division.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division.)

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Bill

Second Reading

Hon. David Tkachuk moved second reading of Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts.

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased today to speak in support of Bill C-25, which will implement the federal framework for pooled registered pension plans.

Our government understands the importance of a secure and dignified retirement for those who have spent their lives building a better and more prosperous Canada. It is something we have spent a lot of time working on over the past number of years as we face the challenges presented by changing demographics.

When we came to office in 2006, we hit the ground running with a commitment to ensure the long-term strength of Canada's retirement income system, and we have delivered concrete results on that commitment. Our retirement income system is recognized around the world as a model that succeeds in reducing poverty among seniors and in providing high levels of replacement income to retired workers.

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Canada's retirement income system is based on three pillars. The first of these is the Old Age Security program, which is paid out of general revenues and provides a basic monthly pension to most elderly Canadians. It is the single largest federal government program.

Further support is provided to low-income seniors through the Guaranteed Income Supplement, widely referred to as the GIS. Just last year, we announced a new GIS top-up benefit for Canada's most vulnerable seniors. As a result, more than 680,000 low-income seniors are now receiving an additional benefit of $600 for a single person and $840 for a couple.

More recently, we acted to ensure that OAS remains sustainable over the long term. We did so because the OAS program was designed for a different time. Today, Canadians are living longer and healthier lives, and there are fewer workers to take their place when they retire. Canada has changed and Old Age Security must change with it to remain sustainable and to reflect demographic realities while serving its intended purpose. This is why the age of eligibility for the OAS and the GIS will be gradually increased from 65 to 67, starting in April 2023, with a full implementation by January 2029. This will not affect anyone who is 54 years old or older as of this past March.

To improve flexibility and choice for those wishing to work longer, we will provide the option to defer receipt of the OAS for up to five years and to receive a higher pension as a result. These changes are in keeping with international best practices, as many OECD members have already raised the eligibility age for their public pensions and social security programs.

The second pillar is the Canada Pension Plan and, in Quebec, the Quebec Pension Plan, which provide a basic level of earnings-replacement for retired workers. They are financed by contributions from workers and employees, and they provide approximately $44 billion per year in benefits to 6.5 million individuals. The CPP and the QPP are in good shape and are sustainable at current contribution rates for the next 75 years.

The third pillar is individual savings through tax-assisted opportunities, including registered pension plans, RRSPs and registered retirement income funds. We are now allowing couples to split pension income for tax purposes, a considerable savings for many seniors.

There is the Tax-Free Savings Account which may be used for any saving purposes, including retirement. The Tax-Free Savings Account provides greater incentives for low- and modest-income individuals, since neither TFSA investment income nor withdrawals affect eligibility for income-tested benefits and credits, such as the GIS. It is here in the third pillar in Canada's retirement income system where a gap exists.

Honourable senators, I would like to take this opportunity to outline how our government identified this gap and, more importantly, how the introduction of the Pooled Registered Pension Plan, as it has become known, addresses this gap.

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, concerns related to retirement income adequacy and pension coverage began to emerge. In response, our government established a joint federal-provincial research working group in May 2009. The working group conducted an in-depth examination of retirement income adequacy in Canada. It concluded that, overall, the Canadian retirement income system is performing well, providing Canadians with an adequate standard of living upon retirement.

However, the report also found that some modest- and middle-income households may be at risk of having insufficient savings once they retire. One concern was the declining participation in employer-sponsored pension programs. Canadians are not taking full advantage of other retirement tools, such as RRSPs. For example, there is currently $600 billion in unused RRSP room and, while aggregate pension plan and RRSP participation rates

for middle- and higher-income earners are high, a significant portion of Canadians are not saving enough.

Our government recognizes the importance of ensuring that all Canadians have adequate income for their retirement. The report by the working group sent a clear signal that a gap exists on the voluntary side of Canada's retirement system. With this information in hand, we took action to fill that gap.

In June 2010, after looking at various proposals and consultations, the federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to develop options to improve Canada's retirement income system. One of these options was to expand the CPP.

Ottawa cannot change the CPP unless two thirds of the participating provinces, representing two thirds of the population, agree and there is not sufficient consensus for that to happen. Indeed, some provinces strongly objected to the idea of expanding the CPP and the Quebec Pension Plan, as this would require higher contributions from employees, employers and the self-employed.

Canada's economic recovery is still fragile and, with ongoing debt crisis in Europe, this is simply not the time to impose an added payroll tax on small- and medium-sized businesses. It is clear that it is not only our government that feels this way.

According to calculations done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, for every one percentage point increase in CPP premiums beyond the current 9.9 per cent rate, it would cost 220,000 person-years of employment and force wages down roughly 2.5 per cent in the long run.

It seems obvious that expanding the CPP is not the prudent choice. It is for this reason that the 2010 meetings of Finance Ministers gave priority to proceeding with the PRPP framework.

Simply put, the introduction of this program is an effective and appropriate way to target those modest- and middle-income Canadians who may not be saving enough for retirement and, in particular, those who did not have access to a workplace pension plan.

Honourable senators will recall that the Senate Banking Committee also looked at our system of retirement savings and, in October 2010 a report entitled "Canadians Saving For Their Future: A Secure Retirement" recommended that:

The federal government work with the provinces and territories to establish a Canada-wide voluntary plan to encourage adequate retirement savings by Canadians and to enable them to benefit from the lower fees and shared risk that may result from membership in a group.

Honourable senators, this bill will represent a vital improvement to Canada's retirement income system. It will provide a low-cost, large-scale, easily accessible, privately administered pension option to employees, with or without a participating employer, as well as to the self-employed. This is particularly noteworthy as 6 out of 10 Canadians do not have access to a workplace pension plan. Many will now have access to a low-cost pension plan for the very first time.

By pooling pension savings, the cost of administering the pension funds will be spread over a large group of people. Plan members will benefit from lower management costs than are typically associated with the average mutual fund, leaving more money in their pockets for their retirement. It also marks a significant gain for small- and medium-sized businesses that, until now, have experienced significant barriers to being able to offer a pension plan for their employees.

One of these barriers is liability. Under the PRPP framework, the fiduciary responsibilities related to pension fund management will be shifted from the employer to a licensed third-party administrator.

The second barrier has been that of running the plan. Under the PRPP, the administrative yoke of the employer will be reduced, with most of this burden shifted to the third-party administrator. In fact, many from the business community have already commented on how the reduced administrative burden will encourage employers to offer a PRPP.

According to the Chamber of Commerce:

. . . PRPPs — with the simple and straightforward rules and processes — would give many businesses the flexibility and tools they need to help their employees save for retirement.

Most importantly, PRPPs will promote greater pension coverage among Canadians. To achieve this, PRPPs are designed with a number of features. One of these features is automatic enrollment. Therefore, where an employer offers a program, all employees will be enrolled in the plan unless they decide to opt out. This will target disengaged savers and will encourage those who would otherwise have decided against contributing to a pension.

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Another feature is that contribution by members will be locked in. This means that contributions made by employees will be used for what the program intended: retirement savings. The bottom line is that it will help more Canadians to save for their retirement and to realize their retirement goals.

The Chamber of Commerce stated:

PRPPs can give many businesses, individuals and the self-employed additional retirement options. Millions of Canadians who lack adequate retirement savings will benefit.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business agreed and stated:

We believe that, if properly implemented by provinces, PRPPs have the potential to expand the retirement savings options for thousands of Canadian small businesses and their employees.

Honourable senators, the well-being and prosperity of Canadians are of utmost importance to all of us. For this reason, we have ensured and will continue to ensure that older Canadians have the support they need to enjoy the quality of life they work so hard for when they retire. This program is simple and is the latest example of this continued effort. The retirement income system has been recognized by experts in the OECD as a model that reduces poverty among seniors and provides generous levels of replacement income to its retired workers. The

introduction of the Pooled Registered Pension Plans will only build on this well-earned reputation.

I encourage honourable senators to stand and support the swift passage of Bill C-25, which provides the federal framework. The provinces will be introducing similar legislation for workers in provincially regulated industries. The sooner this framework is in place, the sooner more Canadians can take advantage of a PRPP to save for their retirement.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Bill C-25, but I do not agree with the rosy picture that was just painted by the honourable senator with respect to the condition of the pension systems in this country.

Our pension system is stressed. It is estimated that roughly 5 million Canadians — one third of the workforce — are not building enough of a private nest egg to avoid a significant drop in their standard of living when they retire. Many Canadians are worried about this. They are worried about their retirement security, pension affordability, contribution and benefit levels, and whether they will be able to retire when they want to. According to HSBC Insurance, a survey showed that only 17 per cent of Canadians aged 30 to 70 years feel that they are financially prepared to retire; and 83 per cent of Canadians do not know how much income to expect once they stop working.

Pensions affect everyone: the employees, the employers, the taxpayers, governments and non-working Canadians as well. If many seniors' living standards fall, and some slide toward the poverty line, the impact for Canadians in the country as a whole will be staggering. A review by the Government of Ontario correctly stated that this will lead to more cash-strapped elderly and a rising bill for society, including declining markets for goods and services purchased by seniors. If they have less money, they will purchase less. It also means declining tax revenues and increasing public welfare costs that the provinces will have to pick up, by and large.

We need to renovate our pension system. We have to nurture where the system is working — and parts of it are working — and repair where it is failing. We need to bring solutions to ensure that our aging population can live in dignity and respect. Reporter Steven Chase of The Globe and Mail pointed out:

It's a problem . . . that some have called a defining issue for this generation.

Jim Leech, from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, said:

As Tommy Douglas and national medicare defined public debate in the 60s, the natural gas pipeline and C.D. Howe in the 50s and Brian Mulroney and free trade in the 80s, pension reform could be defining issue of the first decade of this century.

Honourable senators, our pension system is defined with two objectives in mind: to prevent poverty among the elderly and to prevent a significant fall in the living standards of workers upon their retirement. To achieve these goals, as in many other countries, the Canadian pension system comprises both private and public elements, as Senator Tkachuk pointed out. With the publicly financed OAS and GIS, Canada has gone a long way in lifting seniors out of poverty. It has resulted in the lowest incidence of poverty amongst seniors in all developed countries.

However, this has not lifted all Canadians out of poverty. In fact, poverty is on the rise for seniors, especially for single women living in big cities, immigrant seniors who do not qualify for GIS, and seniors with dependents. We must be vigilant and make the necessary changes to improve these important programs. Putting off the OAS from age 65 to 67 years certainly will not help those seniors when they reach that age. These people more and more will fall towards poverty because many on a low income or who cannot work past 65 years of age will find themselves with less to keep them out of poverty.

Achieving the second objective seems to be more difficult. Success is usually measured by reference to a suitable but much debated replacement rate: the substitution of retirement income for wages from employment. The CPP and the QPP are a good start to achieve this. Both are contributory earnings-related social insurance programs that provide a monthly taxable benefit to retired contributors, averaging $4,900 for women and $6,500 for men. Even when you put that together with OAS and GIS, you are still talking about a lot of people struggling to meet the poverty line.

Relevant to many OECD countries, Canada's current public retirement income programs are quite modest, so they put a lot of strain on the private portion of the Canada pension system. As a result, workplace pension plans and other forms of private savings play an important role in providing retirement income security. It must be all of those combined.

If a person has a defined benefit plan, as honourable senators have, they are generally doing all right. The pension benefit is predetermined, is not subject to investment performance and is the obligation of the employer. However, not too many people have these plans any longer. In fact, very few of them exist in the private sector, with more in the public sector.

Defined contribution plans are becoming more numerous these days. They work in much the same way as an RRSP works. Individuals are responsible for doing their own investing, and they depend entirely on the market value of funds in their account at the time of retirement. If the markets have been bad, and all honourable senators witnessed the savings lost as a result of declining markets during the recession, retirement lifestyle could be less than if the markets boom.

These Canadians may be the more fortunate ones because at least they have a workplace pension plan. However, studies have shown that participation by Canadian workers in workplace plans is at an all-time low of 23 per cent. The remaining 77 per cent of Canadians with no pension coverage rely on growth in Registered Retirement Savings Plans or perhaps home equity or non-sheltered savings to supplement public pension benefits. However, most Canadians have not managed to set aside nearly enough for, let us say, 20 years of non-working life, and some may live well beyond that.

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According to Statistics Canada, the median amount in RRSPs for those taxpayers nearing retirement is about $60,000. That is what Statistics Canada says. That is only enough to buy an annuity of approximately $3,000 a year during retirement, which is hardly enough.

As the proportion of Canadian workers enrolled in workplace pension plans declines, down to 23 per cent, and as older people

come to represent an increasing segment of the Canadian population, each of these economic effects is likely to change significantly, and not for the better. This is why we need to act now. Immediate steps must be taken in the short term if pension security adequacy and coverage are to be attainable for the long term.

The Conservative government through Bill C-25 is proposing the pooled registered pension plan, PRPPs, as the solution to increase workplace pension plans. More specifically, the federal government has indicated to provincial counterparts that it is only interested in pursuing a PRPP option at this time. Unfortunately, PRPPs are not the panacea to the pension predicament we have today. It is one tool, a flawed tool I might add, in the already-crowded tool box.

First, PRPPs are, in theory, meant to lower costs by pooling the pensions of many into large funds, but because PRPPs are nothing but locked in RRSPs — they are the same thing, locked in RRSPs — Canadians would face a number of problems if they join such plans.

Here is what some of these problems might be. First, like RRSPs, if the fund administrators do not invest properly and the return on investments is low because of market conditions, then Canadians — not the employer and not the administrators — will have to suffer the financial consequences because they bear 100 per cent of the investment risk.

Second, there is no ability for participants to vote with their feet. Under this bill, it is the employer that selects the pooled plan offering from private sector providers, not the employees. If the employees participating are unhappy with the pooled plan, they cannot transfer their money to another plan.

Senator D. Smith: Shocking.

Senator Eggleton: Third, because the employers do not have to contribute a penny, nor do they have to pay for any of the administration of the plan, there is very little incentive to monitor the effectiveness. Why should they monitor the effectiveness of the program? They have no skin in the game since they do not bear any of the costs.

At best, an employee is left with exercising his or her right to cease contributions and pray that the monies contributed will not be frittered away by management fees and poor investment results before finally, somewhere in their life, it is no longer locked in.

The fourth problem is there is no ability to make up for bad years by making additional tax-deductible contributions. If the market goes down, your equity goes down and your pension fund goes down. Can you make it up later? No.

Fifth, there is no ability to pool risk.

Sixth, it is currently unclear, and maybe this will be worked out in committee, whether homemakers or seasonal workers would be able to contribute unless they receive employment income directly.

I should also point out that Australia adopted their version of PRPPs over a decade ago, and a recent study commissioned by the Australian government shows that the only ones who truly benefited were the financial services industry. The report shows that while total assets in the system have grown through contributions, net earnings from investments were relatively low. We should get that evidence before the committee. The principal reason for the lower-than-anticipated earnings is the high cost in fees restraining the growth of the fund.

I accept and applaud that reducing cost is a laudable goal, and Senator Tkachuk said that is one of the objectives here. However, every piece of real world, quantifiable data available suggests that PRPPs will almost certainly fall short of that goal.

A much better approach would be to improve the current Canada Pension Plan, which is well managed by a board that charges much lower fees than will be charged by these entities that would be administering PRPPs, or bring into existence a supplemental Canada Pension Plan.

Honourable senators, in summary, I have doubts that Bill C-25 and this PRPP system will be of much benefit to Canadians. At a time when Canadians need a loaf of bread to help them, they are being offered crumbs. Let us see what the committee can do with this. Let us have some hearings and determine what other people have to say, and then consider it further in this house when it comes back for third reading.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will the honourable senator accept a question?

Senator Eggleton: Of course.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: I listened intently to what the honourable senator was saying, and I am not sure I understood correctly. The honourable senator has to agree that there must be some personal responsibility for one's life instead of being fully dependent on the state. We have OAS, and attached to the OAS we have the GAINS supplement available to those who need it. Then we have CPP and RRSPs. This is another tool in the tool box, so to speak. I am not sure I understand the honourable senator correctly, but if he is suggesting that the answer is defined benefit pensions for everyone, I hope that is not what I heard because I do not want my grandchildren to live in Greece a few years from now.

Senator Eggleton: I do not think the honourable senator heard that coming from my lips.

I quite clearly indicated that there are a variety of ways we help people to prepare for pensions. Yes, there is a lot of their own responsibility, but I think we have some tools that can help them even more in a supplemental way, in a voluntary way, tools that can be far more meaningful than this.

This will not produce very much. As I said, at a time that Canadians need a little bit more, we are offering them crumbs. Whether those crumbs are worth it or not, we will see when we go through the committee hearings of this bill.

I think the honourable senator misunderstood what I was saying. I am telling honourable senators that there are many more ways we can help Canadians.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: I am intrigued by this proposal. I concur at the base level with Senator Eggleton, who raises serious questions and has serious suspicions about how effective this program will be. I would take it a step further and say I think this

program is little more than a spin against a problem that the Conservatives have rightly identified. It will do absolutely nothing new — I await for the committee to convince us otherwise — that does not already exist in the marketplace and is working about as well as could be expected at this point. This will not enhance whatever is already in the marketplace.

I agree with the Conservatives that there is a problem. They say there is a problem and they acknowledge the problem with pensions. I agree. I think only 30 per cent of Canadians have any kind of structured pension plan, and not all are defined contribution plans; in fact, many of them are just group RRSPs administered in one way or another by their company, but they are not defined contribution.

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That aside, 70 per cent of Canadians have no real pension plan at all, so they depend upon their own savings to create support for their retirement.

Let us consider the magnitude of that problem. If you had $1 million today and you could put that in the bank at today's interest rate, secure Government of Canada bonds, which is what our pensions will essentially be secured by, you would get about $35,000 as year. You can augment that a little by an insurance program, one of these institutional programs from which, when you die, you get no capital at all. You can augment that to some extent. Nevertheless, if you had $1 million, you are looking at $35,000 or $40,000 a year. How many people have a million dollars? How many people have any idea about how to get a million dollars by the time they get to retirement age? There are not very many. It is a huge problem.

With respect to defined contribution plans, some of which now are still corporate, there is the problem of the corporation going bankrupt, such as Nortel, and no one in this government defending the interest, for example, of those pension holders who lost huge amounts of money.

To exacerbate the problem, before they even started to attend to the problem, the government did two things. This government, among other things, reversed its field on income trusts. Many Canadians got decent income through income trusts, which were hammered by a government that said it would not do that. The government broke its promise: promises made, promises broken.

Second, they then reversed field on the OAS and made that kind of support more difficult to get.

Let us look at these PRPPs for what they really are. They really are a group RRSP. You can get a group RRSP now very easily in the market. Every major insurance company, bank and financial institution practically is happy to provide a group RRSP. How would a PRPP be different from that? If it were, if it offered some advantages, I suppose it would be worth pursuing. However, I have listened to Senator Tkachuk and I have listened to the minister, to the government, and there is no advantage, in my estimation, over group RRSPs. Let me count the ways that they have been established and let me argue against each and every one.

The first one I heard today was automatic enrolment — group RRSPs, automatic enrolment. Your employer says, "I will insist on you having it and I will match some of the money to make you more inclined to do it," then he goes to the bank, the bank sets up the program and it is automatically enrolled. It is no different. There is no advantage in this whatsoever.

Second, it is locked in, as if that is an advantage. Locked in is the most paternalistic thing you could do to someone who is saving money. This is coming from Conservatives who do not want governments intervening in people's lives. If I put it in my own RRSP or my group RRSP, my fees will be lower, as low as the PRPP, and I will not be locked in. If I find I have terminal cancer at 45 and I want to buy a Maserati, I can do it; or if my wife suddenly becomes ill and I need to go into our savings, I can do it in my own RRSP or in a group RRSP. I cannot do it in a locked-in RRSP. It is unbelievably paternalistic that you would, one, do it and, two, say it is an advantage. It is fundamentally a disadvantage.

Third, you say you will shift the liability. This is really dangerous. In fact, that argument is very dangerous. That is on the verge of misleading people in a significant way. Now what you are doing is comparing a defined benefit pension plan, whose disadvantage is that the employer can go broke and the pension plan can go broke with it — ergo, the employer's liability becomes the employee's liability, the pension subscriber's liability, like Nortel — and saying this will be solved by a group RRSP-type PRPP for which there will not be any employer liability. It is fundamentally different. There is no employer liability now in a group RRSP. There is no employer liability now on my personal RRSP. You are very misleading when you say that this is an advantage over existing pension plans. Wrong.

The type of pension niche that this will fit into will be small and medium-sized businesses where they do not have defined contribution plans anyway. That comparison is absolutely fundamentally wrong and very misleading.

Then the argument goes on that this will lower fees. Tell me how it will lower fees. First, they will invest in the same markets that everyone else invests in. We are not creating a new market, are we? We are not creating a new lower-risk market or some new kind of investment vehicle that somehow will magically make more money. No, we have stock, bonds and GICs. What else have we got?

I phoned a bank and I asked, "If I wanted to set up a group RRSP, what would the fee structure be?" They said that setting up and administering the group RRSP is free. There is no cost if you go to the bank to do it. Then, if you look at what you invest in, you invest in GICs and bonds, there is no overt fee on GICs and bonds. There is a spread, but that spread is not going away. That is a hidden fee, in a sense, but every bond you ever buy, the Government of Canada benefits from those spreads when they sell bonds. That is how the bond market works.

Then the third category would be stocks, mutual funds. You can go to the bank now and get a mutual fund with a fee that is less than 1 per cent. I defy you to find any PRPP administration that will be able to do that kind of investing with any kind of competence for less than 1 per cent. Right now, the services you are touting actually exist in the market and are efficient and private-sector driven.

The government's commitment to lower fees is very suspect. I will tell you how. OMERS said they would be happy to administer these PRPPs, but the banks and insurance companies rose up and said, "Wait a minute. You have an unfair advantage because you

do not pay taxes, so of course you can charge lower fees." You know what the government said? "Oh, we cannot have that. If OMERS administers one of these PRPP group RRSPs, we will set up a facsimile kind of tax or increase costs so that they will not have a competitive advantage," so where is your commitment to lower fees? It is nonsense; it does not exist.

Oh, yes, there is also the possibility, someone said, that we might get a centralized national pension administrator to administer these. That would streamline the process; it would cut the costs. Good luck. When you tried to get a centralized securities commission, which province said that was okay? What constitutional amendment did you get to get that through? Are you going to do that to get this? It will not happen, and there will not be lower fees.

Then they say there will be economies of scale that will get lower fees. There are billions and billions of dollars today in mutual funds and group RRSPs, you name it. If economies of scale have not reduced the fees yet, they will not reduce the fees in PRPPs. You might get bigger lumps of money if you actually made it mandatory, but you are not. Senator Tkachuk made that very clear today. It will not be mandatory; it would be almost politically impossible to do that. Go to Australia. They made it mandatory. They have billions, over a trillion dollars in their PRPPs. Fees have not gone down because there is tons of competition in that market today. There are tons and tons and tons of actors, and there are billions of dollars. There are economies of scale, and if it is not low now it will not be low, unless you do something magical, which you are not doing. In fact, you are dumping all over OMERS, who could perhaps lower fees.

Then they say better returns. If you got better returns, as I say, that would be great. It is the same market, so why would there be better returns? I do not know how that will differ. Maybe some of these PRPPs will hire the genius investors of the century and get better returns, but who knows? It is all risk.

The second place that the government misleads in a very dangerous way, and I heard them say it, is that there will be fiduciary responsibility. That is going to be the difference. You know what? Every mutual fund, every bank clerk, every lawyer — and I am looking at a great one over there, Senator Wallace — every single broker and financial adviser, anyone who touches your money or comes anywhere near it has fiduciary responsibility now. How will that be different with PRPPs? Fiduciary responsibility does not guarantee better returns. It does not even guarantee this, but it establishes a great deal of hope that you will not be ripped off by someone who is administering your money, and they will go to jail for it. It exists now. It will not be different with this program.

Do not tell me that it will have the advantage of automatic enrolment because group RRSPs already do. Do not tell me that locked in is an advantage, because it is horribly paternalistic. Do not tell me it will shift liability, because group RRSPs already do that. Do not tell me it will lower fees because group RRSPs and RRSPs have got them about as low as they are going to get, and banks do it for free now anyway. Do not tell me you will get better returns unless you change the whole market structure of the investment industry in the world. It will not happen.

(1520)

What if there is extra RRSP room? That would be only a superficial advantage, because I think 20 per cent of Canadians actually use their RRSPs and most of do not maximize them. As Senator Tkachuk pointed out, $600 billion of excess room exists.

If one expanded that it might help some people to go from $18,000 or $20,000 or $5,000 a year, whatever their room was, to a little bit more. The honourable senator is not talking about doing that, so that is no advantage.

One might make it a little bit more accessible to homemakers, as Senator Eggleton suggested, where partners to a homemaker could invest on their behalf, et cetera. However, make no mistake about whether this is giving anybody extra access to investment room in a tax-supported way.

If I have $18,000 worth of RRSP room and I put it into this PRPP, I do not have any money to put into my own RRSP. I am just shifting from one RRSP to another. I get no more tax reduction, no more room to put in tax-deducted investments.

My point is that this will do nothing. I will support it to get to committee, but in the end it is just spin. The government has not thought it through or considered what really needs to be done, some other things one might do to really help fix this problem.

In fact, we are left with income trusts that have been cancelled and with OASs that have been extended. We are not helping business or individuals or filling the gap for the 70 per cent of people who do not have pensions and already have group RRSPs or RRSPs. I just do not see what the government is doing, except spinning to make themselves feel better that we are doing something to help people plan, save and invest for their future. I do not think they are, not one little bit.

I think they need to go back to the drawing board and do something real for Canadians and for their future so they can retire with some dignity. They will not be able to do it with this government.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Adopted, on division.

(Motion agreed to, on division, and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

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

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

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act

Bill to Amend—Third Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee Presented

Leave having been given to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or Special Committees:

Hon. Irving Gerstein, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, presented the following report:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use), has, in obedience to the order of reference of June 11, 2012, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

IRVING R. GERSTEIN
Chair

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

(On motion of Senator Runciman, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Korean War

Notice of Inquiry

Leave having been given to revert to Notices of Inquiries:

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to:

(a) the importance of the Korean War, the third bloodiest war in Canadian history but often called "The Forgotten War"; and

(b) Canada's contribution to the three-year war on the Korean Peninsula, including the 26,791 Canadians who came to the aid of South Korea, 516 of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice, and the 7,000 Canadian peacekeepers who arrived following the signing of the Korea Armistice Agreement in Panmunjom 59 years ago this July 27.

[Translation]

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin moved second reading of Bill C-23, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

He said: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-23, an Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Jordan.

The Government of Canada's ambitious plan to enhance trade reflects the fundament role international trade plays in the economic success of our country.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement is part of the government's efforts to help Canadian businesses gain better access to foreign markets and create jobs for Canadian workers here at home.

In less than six years, Canada has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Jordan, Panama and Peru, member states of the European Free Trade Association — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — and, more recently, Honduras.

The agreements concluded with Colombia, Peru and the European Free Trade Association are already in effect.

Legislation to implement the agreements with Jordan and Panama is currently before Parliament, and the agreement with Honduras is currently undergoing a legal review before it is signed.

What is more, negotiations are under way with a number of other countries, including some of the world's largest economies such as India, the European Union and, more recently, Japan.

[English]

The government continues to seek out other opportunities to strengthen Canada's trade and economic relationships with key partners, including the nine members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The Minister of International Trade noted in early May, at the conclusion of a week-long visit to Australia and New Zealand, that Canada's interest as a Pacific nation in joining the TPP is consistent with our active and growing presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Deepening our trade and investment ties in the Asia-Pacific region will bring prosperity-generating benefits to working Canadians, and our shared values and commitment to free and open trade will make Canada a highly valued and natural partner in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, we are living in a time when the global economy is fiercely competitive, and it is essential that we

conclude free trade agreements like the one with Jordan in order to increase our access to global markets.

(1530)

The free trade agreement with Jordan is good for Canadians. It is based on our already strong ties to the dynamic Jordanian market and it will allow Canadians to take advantage of current and future opportunities in this growing market.

The Jordanian market has good economic potential, as indicated by the recent increase in import-export trade between Canada and Jordan. In 2011, the value of Canadian goods exported to Jordan totalled $70.1 million, more than double the 2003 value of $30.8 million.

Canadian imports of Jordanian goods totalled $18.7 million in 2011, compared to $5.8 million in 2003. Once the free trade agreement is ratified, more than 99 per cent of Canadian exports to Jordan will have immediate duty-free access to Jordan's market.

A small number of tariffs will be progressively eliminated over a period of three to five years. Greater access to the Jordanian market will increase business opportunities for Canadian exports in various sectors including wood, construction equipment and materials, and agricultural and agri-food products such as pulse crops, frozen potato products, beef, animal feed and various prepared foods.

However, a free trade agreement must do more than eliminate customs tariffs to be effective. It should also address non-tariff barriers that can prevent a trade relationship from achieving its full potential. This free trade agreement contains new measures to ensure greater transparency, promote compliance with international standards and establish mechanisms to resolve certain trade irritants in an efficient manner.

[English]

The Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement also serves as a complement to the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, or FIPA, which Canada also signed with Jordan in 2009, and which came into force on December 14 of that same year. The FIPA establishes clear rules for investment between our two countries.

Canadian investors are particularly interested in opportunities in Jordan's resource extraction, nuclear energy, telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. This FIPA provides Canadian and Jordanian investors with the predictability and certainty they need when investing in one another's markets.

I am sure honourable senators will agree that this free trade agreement and the 2009 FIPA with Jordan represent a major step forward in the growing economic partnership between Canada and Jordan, and will help to further deepen and strengthen the commercial and economic relationship between our two countries.

[Translation]

But this agreement is important for other reasons too. It reflects the government's view that strengthened trade agreements need not be bad for labour standards or the environment.

I am pleased to note, honourable senators, that the government has also signed parallel agreements on labour cooperation and the environment as part of the negotiation of a series of agreements with Jordan. The agreement on labour cooperation includes a provision to ensure that both parties comply with the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

[English]

It commits both countries to respect the core labour standards set out by the International Labour Organization. These standards help eliminate child labour, forced labour and workplace discrimination, and they respect freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The Labour Cooperation Agreement also commits both countries to providing acceptable minimum employment standards and compensation for occupational injuries and illnesses. It obliges Jordan to ensure that migrant workers benefit from the same legal protections as nationals when it comes to working conditions.

[Translation]

The agreement on the environment commits both countries to pursuing high levels of environmental protection and improving their environmental protection policies. Under the agreement on the environment, both countries will ensure that effective environmental assessment procedures are implemented along with penalties for violations of environmental protection laws.

Our governments are also encouraging businesses to adopt best practices with respect to corporate social responsibility and to promote public awareness and engagement. The free trade agreement with Jordan is a reflection of Canada's support for an Arab state that shares Canada's desire to promote peace and security in the Middle East.

Honourable senators, the Arab Spring opened the door to pro-democracy reforms in several Arab countries. The May 2011 G8 summit in Deauville adopted the Declaration of the G8 on the Arab Spring, which launched the Deauville Partnership, a political and economic response to the historic events that were taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

One of the goals of this partnership is to increase trade between countries in transition — including Jordan — and members of the G8 and to promote greater regional economic integration.

The implementation of the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, the first agreement of its kind between Canada and an Arab country, marks an important step in our efforts. This agreement is also a concrete expression of Canada's commitment to increasing peace and security in the region, while also improving economic conditions.

I would remind honourable senators — especially those with a good memory for historical events — that in 1949, on behalf of Canada, Lester B. Pearson signed the Washington Treaty, which laid the foundation for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In article 2 of the treaty, Canada negotiated the inclusion of a section referring to the importance of the allies' economic potential in their quest for stability and security.

Thus, this is not the first time Canada has used treaty negotiations as an opportunity to promote the economic

development of its partners in order to ensure greater security for all.

[English]

Honourable senators, we are living in challenging times. In order to ensure that Canada's economy continues to grow and Canadians are able to compete in the global marketplace, trade barriers are being eliminated through new free trade agreements. Protectionism is not the answer.

By passing Bill C-23, implementing the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, we can help encourage other countries, including developing nations, to reject protectionism and embrace free and open trade. By passing this legislation, we are also helping Canadian workers and Canadian businesses to compete internationally, and Canadians to prosper.

[Translation]

Canada's exporters and investors are among the best in the world, and our government is determined to help them take advantage of the opportunities that are available beyond our borders.

That is why our government has created a pro-trade plan based on our global commerce strategy, why it has been so committed to our bilateral trade program and why it has sought to strengthen Canada's trade relationships by negotiating the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, for example.

(1540)

The opportunities are there, honourable senators. Canadians are ready to take advantage of them, and we must help them do so. That is why I hope, honourable senators, that you will join me in supporting Bill C-23 at second reading.

Thank you for your attention. I am now ready to answer your questions.

(On motion of Senator Downe, debate adjourned.)

Firearms Act

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Authorized to Study Proposed Firearms Information Regulations

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of June 13, 2012, moved:

That the proposed Firearms Information Regulations (Non-Restricted Firearms), tabled in the Senate on June 13, 2012, be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, pursuant to subsection 118(3) of the Firearms Act (S.C. 1995, c. 39).

(Motion agreed to.)

[English]

Fisheries Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Mac Harb moved second reading of Bill S-210, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (commercial seal fishing).

He said: Honourable senators, if His Honour were to ask he would find, in the spirit of cooperation, that there is an agreement that I will speak for a few minutes today and then take the adjournment for the rest of my time, if it is agreed by the Senate.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I am very proud to speak today to open debate on Bill S-210, which would amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit the commercial fishing for seals in Canadian fisheries waters and to disallow the issuance of commercial licences for seal fishing. Exceptions are made for commercial fishing that is carried out under a licence issued to an aboriginal organization or carried out by certain persons exercising harvesting rights under a claims agreement.

[English]

Honourable senators, I wish to start by first thanking the seconder of this bill, specifically Senator Cools, who has spent many hours waiting for me to pass this bill. I want to thank her for her diligence and her support of free speech. I also want to thank Senator Campbell and Senator Poy for agreeing to allow free speech.

Given the heavy government agenda, including the budget bill and the fact that the Senate is set to adjourn shortly, I have asked for and now received the Senate's support to provide the necessary time for this bill so it can be properly and fairly debated.

When I continue my remarks on Bill S-210, I will focus on the following issues: The status of the commercial seal hunt and the fact that there are no viable markets for commercially hunted seal products; the fact that our primary and secondary trading partners, the United States and the EU, as well as many other countries around the world, have banned the importation of commercial seal products; the fact that the majority of Canadians want an end to the commercial seal hunt; the fact that, out of 14,000 issued commercial seal fishing licences, only an estimated 225 sealers took part in the 2011 commercial hunt, highlighting the de facto end of the hunt.

Honourable senators, I will also talk about the government's need to be frank with commercial sealers and to help them move beyond the clinically dead seal hunt. I will be pointing out the fact that the sealers need to know the truth and the government must stop telling them that all will be fine, new markets are around the corner and that the EU market will reopen once the challenge to the WTO is successful. We know that the World Trade Organization challenge will not result in force-feeding Europe seal products. The challenge will not bring back the market. Europe, like the United States, has said "no, thanks."

Honourable senators, these are desperate times for sealers, who need actual and tangible government assistance and not the lip service they have been getting thus far. I will explain clearly that

the sealers' licence buyout is the most effective and fair way to provide that tangible help to these hard-working Canadians and their communities.

I will also be speaking about cod and seals, which are happy neighbours but both are victims of human activities. Cod and seals have swum side by side in the same ocean for thousands of years, long before humans began to fish or hunt. They are not the problem — humans are.

Science shows that seals and cod are not enemies and it is the relationship with forage fish such as herring, capelin and mackerel that have impacted cod stock recoveries. Science will show that it was government inaction and misguided action on the fishery that was responsible for the depletion of the cod stocks and its continuing struggle to recover. The seals are not responsible. The government continues to abandon its responsibility as a steward of Canada's oceans and its resources.

Finally, I will be speaking of Canada's Inuit and First Nations hunters in their economic suffering. When the European Union drafted its ban on seal products, it included an important exemption for Inuit and First Nations' seal products but the government chose to ignore the opportunities this presented.

Canadians are asking these questions: Why not use this exemption for Inuit and First Nations to promote economic development in these struggling communities? Why not facilitate the processing plants, training, certification, labeling processes and marketing initiatives, which are concrete actions that could generate real jobs and real export opportunities for our First Nations? The government should be helping these hunters and not using them as a decoy to defend the unviable commercial seal hunt.

As you can see, honourable senators, there are many serious issues that we need to debate to find real solutions to some very real problems. Instead of working against animal welfare groups and environmental organizations, let us join hands with them to share ideas and resources and find answers that will actually help the communities in Atlantic Canada and in Canada's North. Answers will ensure that Canada fulfills its national and international commitment to sustain marine biodiversity and to ensure we have healthy, safe and prosperous oceans now and in the future.

(On motion of Senator Harb, debate adjourned.)

(1550)

[Translation]

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

First Report of Committee—Report of Committee of the Whole—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the first report of the Committee of the Whole (First report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (Revised Rules of the Senate), with amendments), presented in the Senate on June 13, 2012.

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak about the Committee of the Whole's report on the revised Rules of the Senate.

Honourable senators will recall that the Rules Committee's first report was tabled in the Senate on November 16, 2011, and remained on the Order Paper for several months. At the Speaker's suggestion, the Senate sent the Rules Committee's report to a Committee of the Whole on May 17, 2012.

The Committee of the Whole has now finished its work, and I would like to thank all the honourable senators for their interest and participation. The process was well structured and productive.

Over the course of its three meetings, which were held on May 29, June 5 and June 12, the Committee of the Whole passed a certain number of amendments to the Rules Committee's report. The Committee of the Whole is now recommending that the Senate adopt these amendments and that it also adopt the Rules Committee's report, as amended. If the report of the Committee of the Whole is adopted, the revised Rules will come into effect on September 17, 2012.

[English]

Honourable senators, I will summarize the amendments the Committee of the Whole has proposed, following the sequential order of the report under consideration.

The first amendment in the report of the Committee of the Whole would change the date the revised rules would take effect. It would now be September 17, 2012.

The second amendment deals with the length of bells for appealing a Speaker's ruling. It would be one hour, unless there were leave for a shorter period.

The third amendment deals with the specific wording of the question that strangers withdraw. The wording was restored to its current formulation.

The fourth amendment deals with the organization of Government Business, reflecting current provisions in the rules.

The fifth and sixth amendments, taken together, would ensure that, under the revised rules, the Senate will follow its current practices with respect to the ringing of bells. The interesting idea of a 30-minute bell for votes on certain motions, which the Rules Committee had suggested, was, after reflection, not retained.

The seventh amendment clarifies the role of the Committee of Selection with respect to standing joint committees, indicating that it recommends the number of members to the Senate.

Amendments 8 to 11 provide provisions for dealing with questions of privilege that arise after the time for giving written notice of such matters. If a question of privilege arose after the time for giving notice, the matter could be raised and considered during the sitting. The Speaker would, however, be authorized to direct that further consideration be deferred to the time for considering questions of privilege raised with notice.

The Committee of the Whole sought to propose a structure that allows senators to raise these important matters in a timely way, while also facilitating the orderly conduct of business.

Honourable senators, amendments 11 to 15 then make provisions relating to leaves of absence and suspensions. As honourable senators know, Chapter Fifteen of the revised rules deals with these matters, so these changes are within the scope of that chapter. They also ensure that the revised rules contain the amendments made to the current rules when the Senate adopted the Rules Committee's second report on December 16, 2011.

The final amendment, number 16, grants authority to update all cross-references in the Rules Committee's report, including the appendices and the lists of exceptions, in light of the amendments proposed by the Committee of the Whole. This will be done by reference to the concordance that the Rules Committee provided in its report.

Honourable senators, this has been a useful process, and I thank the Speaker for suggesting reference to the Committee of the Whole. The Senate has exercised its power by determining how such an important proposal will be dealt with and asking the Committee of the Whole to review it. As a result of this work, we have been able to reflect upon the changes and to make the adjustments I have outlined here.

Let me underscore, honourable senators, that the Committee of the Whole has recommended adoption of the Rules Committee's first report with the amendments that I have just reviewed. I now commend that recommendation to you.

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the draft Rules were examined and revised many times. The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament and the Rules Subcommittee did an exceptional job reviewing the different versions.

I am very proud of the work that has been done, the in-depth examination of the Rules, and the communication that took place among the senators to ensure that, today, the Senate Rules are more modern, consistent and respectful of Senate traditions.

As Senators Fraser and Stratton and I explained during our testimony, we tried to draft a French version that was a close reflection of reality and not a translation from English to French. We went over it with a fine-toothed comb. As the saying goes, if at first you do not succeed, try, try again.

At the revision stage, when rereading the text, we sometimes found minor flaws, but those minor flaws are not really a problem because the Clerk has the authority to correct flaws and typographical errors. So there is no problem when it comes to typos.

However, we have identified a mistake in the French version at rule 4-11(3) that is not a typographical error, and it changes the meaning of the rule. It says:

Il est irrégulier, au cours des affaires courantes et de la période des questions de faire un rappel au Règlement ou de soulever une question de privilège.

The English says:

[English]

During Routine Proceedings and Question Period, it shall not be in order to raise any point of order or question of privilege.

[Translation]

Thus, raising a question of privilege or a point of order during Question Period is prohibited.

The French version says that it is "irrégulier," which does not mean "prohibited" or "out of order." This is an important nuance.

(1600)

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would like to propose a motion in amendment to this report that would read as follows:

That the report be not now adopted, but that it be amended

(a) by adding the following new recommendation number 4:

"4. Replace the French text of rule 4-11(3), at page 42 of the First Appendix of the report (page 458 of the Journals of the Senate), with the following:

"Rappels au Règlement et questions de privilège non permis au cours des affaires courantes et la période des questions

4-11. (3) Les rappels au Règlement et les questions de privilège sont irrecevables au cours des affaires courantes et de la période des questions."; and

(b) by renumbering current recommendations 4 to 16 in the report as recommendations 5 to 17.

The renumbering accounts for the addition of the new recommendation.

That is my proposal, and in accordance with the rules, I believe my time is up.

Hon. Joan Fraser: I have a question for Senator Carignan. I did not understand. Does your motion specify that this is an amendment to the French version?

Senator Carignan: Yes.

Senator Fraser: Okay, thank you.

(On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)

[English]

National Finance

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Tax Consequences of Various Public and Private Advocacy Activities Undertaken by Charitable and Non-charitable Entities—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cowan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Tardif:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report on the tax consequences of various public and private advocacy activities undertaken by charitable and non-charitable entities in Canada and abroad;

That, in conducting such a study, the Committee take particular note of:

(a) Charitable entities that receive funding from foreign sources;

(b) Corporate entities that claim business deductions against Canadian taxes owing for their advocacy activities, both in Canada and abroad; and

(c) Educational entities that utilize their charitable status to advocate on behalf of the interests of private entities; and

That the Committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than June 30, 2013, and retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I will speak in favour of this motion by Senator Cowan. I like him a lot and he is right on this motion. We need to have an inquiry into these allegations by Senator Eaton and others about perfectly legitimate charities in our country. I have five reasons to support this and to argue why we need to do it. I may come up with more as I get going, but I am starting with these basic five.

Before I start, I think all honourable senators understand how important the charitable sector on many different levels. It is enormously important financially.

I was at an interesting presentation last night — which I will talk about later in my comments — where the point was made that the charitable sector accounts for a greater proportion of the GDP than the retail and auto sectors, and probably rivals the traditional oil and gas sector in its impact on its share of the GDP.

It is not insignificant. It is not insignificant as it reflects a point that was made last night by a member of a group which studies the impact and evolution of Christian and other moral religious issues on 21st century life. They made the point that charitable giving is a reflection of fundamental Canadian values shared by many; that is loving and helping one's neighbour.

Honourable senators, this debate is very important on many different levels, but certainly at the levels of the economy and the spirit and values of Canadians. It is also important at the level of the work and the good that is done by charities to develop our society better, to assist the vulnerable, to make for a better environment, and — in that way and others — to make for a better economy.

All of these things add up to make charitable giving and the manner in which this issue is addressed exceptionally important.

There are reasons why we should refer to committee and study this particular issue, because it has been raised in such an aggressive and unfortunate way by ministers of the Crown and by Senators in this house.

The first thing is that the arguments that have been used in this debate by the government are not clear and need to be clarified. They started with a great flurry with the argument that we cannot have international foundations funding public policy debate in Canada because that costs the taxpayers money. It was quickly dispelled, however, that it does not cost taxpayers money because international foundations do not pay taxes in Canada — in fact they do not pay taxes at all — so they do not have any way of costing taxpayers money in that respect.

International corporations that want to develop in Canada and hire lawyers and environmental consultants to make the case in an environmental review process get to write off those expenses, and that cost taxpayers money. However, that argument morphed and frittered away because, of course, the argument did not make sense. It does not cost the taxpayers money.

They then moved to the idea that it is just that no charitable organization getting taxpayers' assistance in that way should be able to participate in the public policy debate. Of course, that sounded good to the Conservatives who made that argument at one level, but I do not think that it was what they meant, although it is not clear.

They did not want to include right-wing, socially conservative groups that might do all kinds of public policy work on abortion, gay marriage or the things they call family values. That would not be included in this attack, of course, so that was not clear. They would not want to lump the Fraser Institute in there, even though all it does is public policy debate. They do nothing else but try to influence public policy.

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One can see the contradiction in that their own Prime Minister took the Government of Canada to court, I think it was, to get more freedom for third parties to advertise in the public policy process.

All of these things kind of made their argument about charities not being involved in the public policy process cloudy. Gun control groups probably got funding from international charities, too. We could go on. That made that argument kind of cloudy. After those two arguments, honourable senators might be shaking their heads and wondering why they doing are this. They are doing this because there is one kind of group they do not like because they disagree with that kind of group. I will get to that later.

Then Senator Wallace made a good argument. This one actually probably makes some sense. He said, "Well, there should be more openness." However, even he said he appreciates there should be some privacy with respect to giving, because many

donors do not want people to know. There is even a contradiction there.

However, no one I have spoken to in the environmental sector has said they are opposed to openness. Go and look at their annual reports. They are quite open.

The Fraser Institute is not so open. It is disingenuous actually because it says 9 per cent of their donations come from international regions, but they do not say what percentage of their actual money comes in. Nine per cent of their donors are international. That could be 99 per cent of the money they get.

We are left with this kind of cloudy argument in a very important area that has had serious consequences and is beginning to have even more serious consequences on that sector. That is the first argument for why we need to study it. We need to get clear what the government actually means.

While their arguments are cloudy, their public policy impact and initiatives are precise. They are not very open or transparent. The CRA attack was very surreptitious and disingenuous. There is anecdotal evidence that groups that have opposed the government on certain areas have actually been specifically and repeatedly audited, which raises a serious implication. I am not saying — this is all anecdotal. However, it needs to be investigated to see whether that is occurring.

I am just asking the question, Senator Tkachuk — just asking the question.

I will move on.

Another reason is that they have created a chill, and the chill that they will acknowledge — and I am sure is the one they wanted to create — was that they have suppressed the enthusiasm of certain groups for doing what they should be able to do. Those are environmental groups.

The other point that is even more disconcerting in many ways is that there is beginning to be seen a chill. It is anecdotal, but people are beginning to say and see that there is a chill on people giving to charities. In fact, one honourable senator said, "Maybe we will just put our money away and invest it for 10 years until the government sorts this out and settles it down." When one starts to attack some institutions and some charities, one starts to perhaps paint all charities and starts to limit the motivation and enthusiasm of many Canadians to give money.

Last night I was at a group called Cardus, and there was a powerful presentation by a man called Michael Van Pelt. It was an intelligent presentation. One of the elements of his talk about charities and charitable giving was philosophical, practical and really worth reading. I do not agree with much of his ideological perspective — and he was not pronounced in it — but I did really appreciate the thoughtfulness with which he presented.

He made the point that we have relatively low rates of giving as Canadians, and a relatively small proportion of Canadians actually give. The average donation annually can be relatively small.

His point was that there are unintended consequences to public policy initiatives. I am not sure he was talking about this one. I hope it is unintended that the government is beginning to possibly suppress people's enthusiasm for giving money. He is saying we need a redoubled effort to encourage and develop a culture of and value in giving.

Anything that would take a step against that — anything like this — needs to be investigated. We want to clarify that, open it up and ensure that Canadians understand that the governments from its pulpit — I would say bully pulpit — has tremendous power to influence people's attitudes about something like this and it needs to be addressed in an open, public way.

To emphasize an earlier point, the third thing is that we know the government really wants to get at the environmental groups that do something they disagree with. However, it sends a message of concern and doubt to other thoughtful charities. As I said, the Fraser Institute might be next in line or it might be family values groups or churches because they become involved in public policy, too. That is a lot of what they do. There is nothing wrong with that. It is excellent that they should. I am not afraid of debate. I am not sure why this government is.

There are a lot of administrations and boards of charitable organizations wondering, "Who exactly do they mean? Is it just that the government wants to pick on charities that they disagree with, or is the government more principled?" That is to say do they have a principle that they do not think charities should be participating in public policy debate, and therefore all charities should not participate in public policy debate? That is another question that needs to be addressed. We need to clarify the application of this policy.

The honourable senators started it. Some of them did; perhaps not the honourable senator himself.

We have to clarify this for those groups that are unsure whether they are being attacked. The environmental groups know they are being attacked, but the fundamental Christian groups and others do not know and should be concerned, and probably they are.

The third one is that not only were the arguments cloudy, but in the absence of strong arguments, we got strong rhetoric. I do not know that I have ever heard a minister of the Crown, or that I could ever imagine a minister of the Crown at that elevated level, using this kind of rhetoric to slam a perfectly legitimate body — or anybody — in our society.

Minister Oliver actually compared environmental groups to terrorists. It was interesting that Captain Trevor Greene, very seriously wounded in Afghanistan, was in the media stating that it really diminished the work of the men and women who fought real terrorists. That was the first thing.

Then we heard Minister Kent say that sweeping — what is the word they used? A drive-by slur? There was money laundering going on amongst these groups. Can you imagine that a minister of the Crown would say that about an organization? It is a perfectly legitimate one that has been audited a number of times by CRA, doing its contribution to the people of Canada and supported by Canadians who work voluntarily and hard, and for much less money than most Canadians do. He did that.

Then we go to Senator Eaton, who topped it off, I must say:

There is political manipulation. There is influence peddling. There are millions of dollars crossing borders masquerading as charitable foundations into bank accounts

of sometimes phantom charities that do nothing more than act as a fiscal clearing house.

Can one imagine? They dole out money to other charities without disclosing what that money is for.

Then arrest them! If that is what honourable senators believe, arrest them. Name names and arrest them. They are breaking the law. Money laundering is a serious matter. If one is going to say that, one had better be prepared to do something about it. Prove it or give these groups a chance to defend themselves.

Is that not a legitimate, fundamental Canadian value of fairness that if one is to slag them, why not give them a similar forum and let them defend themselves? What are honourable senators afraid of? Bullies do that. Bullies do not want to face up to the other argument.

What is it about public debate that this government is afraid of? Why can it not stand toe to toe, debate to debate? They have at least 1,500 communications staff. That is $100 million a year. They have the bully pulpit of the Prime Minister. They have billions of dollars backing whatever they want to do. They have a majority to close debate and slam omnibus bills through, and this government is afraid to stand and debate and allow a few Canadians to have a say, and to have a little help in having that say, on public policy issues that affect my kids, their kids and our grandchildren.

What is it about this government? What kind of government has been created? It is unbelievable.

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It is not just about slamming some people you disagree with, as heinous as that is —

An Hon. Senator: Heinous?

Senator Mitchell: Yes, "heinous" is the word.

Could I have another five minutes, please?

The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator is asking for another five minutes.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes!

Some Hon. Senators: No!

Senator Mitchell: It is much bigger than that. It is really and truly a question of freedom of speech. It is a question of democratic values. Is it not interesting how much we hear this government talk about how we send our men and women across the world to Afghanistan and to places like that to fight for our democratic values and rights? Is it not a betrayal that the moment some groups say they disagree with the government and say that in the public policy, perfectly legitimate debate, the government turns around and starts to bully them and slam them, and put them down and cut their funding?

It is not just this case. There is a pattern here. We can talk about the pattern with cutting KAIROS and cutting any funding to groups that want to support women's equality — again, because they are not all that fussy about it. It is not as though this is an isolated case. We have a Prime Minister who says that he will not fund any groups that disagree with government policy. That is, by any other word, bullying. It is picking on weaker groups.

Honourable senators, this is not the kind of government that I ever imagined I would see in this country. It is a government that bullies. It is a government that puts down democratic rights. It is a government that puts down freedom of speech. It is a government that wants to prioritize democratic rights and values. It is okay to speak out and be funded by whatever amount of money one has to support development, but it is not okay to have the other side of that argument and to say that maybe there are reasons why we have to do that development differently. Or to say, "Would you listen to me as a Canadian about some of the concerns that I have?"

Do you know what, honourable senators? That is the democratic process. That is what we are supposed to be here to protect and that is why we are sending people all over the world — our men and women in uniform — to protect, fight and die for our country and, in many cases, to come back with lives that have been damaged irreparably. Even at that, this government is not putting up enough money to support them.

These are some of the arguments for why we need to have an open public inquiry through the National Finance Committee to look into these questions, to clear the air, and to establish some fairness and justice in this process. I cannot for the life of me think why this government, when the Prime Minister stands up so often and wraps himself in the democrat process — and in openness and transparency — would not jump at this chance for some openness, transparency, fairness and justice for Canadians who are working very hard to make this country a better place.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Mitchell: I would like to adjourn the debate.

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Would the honourable senator entertain a question?

Senator Mitchell: Certainly.

Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, Senator Mitchell addressed the concerns in this inquiry about foreign-funded charitable activities as trying to suppress public policy discussion.

Did the honourable senator not hear the point made by Senator Wallace and myself that the present laws in Canada prohibit political activity and that the concern is about putting lawful limits on political activity? He did not address that in his speech.

Senator Mitchell: No. There is a limit to which they are able to engage in political activity. That is not the place where the government morphed its argument. It was morphed from political activity, which is really public policy debate — which is fine — into partisan activity. The government slurred them by saying that somehow they are doing partisan activity. However, it is not partisan, because the government does not agree with it; they are just different views. It is partisan if they gave us money or if they used their staff to campaign for the New Democrats during work hours, but they do not. How do I know? The CRA audits them. The honourable senator knows that. The CRA audits them legitimately and they are sensitive about that.

There is nothing wrong with political activity up to a certain level, and we know that; that is defined in the act. If the

honourable senator wants to clarify that point, why do we not have an open public inquiry in front of the National Finance Committee so that we can ask and have those questions answered?

I am not saying that they should be able to do 100 per cent, but I bet that the Fraser Institute does way more than 10 per cent and they get charitable deductions. I bet that, during the heat of some of those significant, socially conservative debates about socially conservative issues, many of those right-wing groups that honourable senators fund happily through others and through their charitable giving were doing way more than 10 per cent of their time and their focus on public policy debate.

If the honourable senator wants to talk about political debate, I am absolutely happy to do it. Let us put it in front of a committee, get some witnesses and do some detailed analysis of it.

Hon. Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I would like to direct a question to the honourable senator who stands in his place and —

The Hon. the Speaker: Order, please.

I regret to advise honourable senators that Senator Mitchell's time and his extended five minutes have been exhausted.

Is it agreed, honourable senators, that debate on this motion will continue to stand adjourned in the name of Senator Lang?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Lang, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Powers and Responsibilities of the Officers of Parliament and their Reporting Relationships to the Two Houses—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded by the Honourable Senator Di Nino,

That the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration be authorized to examine and report on the powers and responsibilities of the officers of parliament, and their reporting relationships to the two houses; and

That the committee present its final report no later than March 31, 2013.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I listened with great interest to what Senator Comeau had to say about this motion.

Senator Comeau raised some very interesting issues. Unfortunately, I have not had the time to study them completely, and I would like to adjourn the debate in my name for the time I have left.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Trinidad and Tobago

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Don Meredith rose pursuant to notice of June 11, 2012:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to:

(a) the importance of relations between Trinidad & Tobago and Canada over the past 50 years.

(b) the contributions that people of Trinidadian & Tobagan descent have made to Canadian society.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize a momentous occasion for the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

It was in 1962 that this nation and my home island of Jamaica were the first British islands in the Caribbean to become independent nations. During that year of independence, both of these nations established diplomatic relations with Canada. Since then Trinidad and Tobago went on a step further and became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. This testifies to the leadership role this nation plays in the region until this very day.

Affectionately known as "T&T," these twin islands of over 1.2 million residents have become a regional and international centre for arts and culture. This cultural impact can be felt in all the great artistic fields, especially literature, music and their carnival celebrations, which, I am sure, some honourable senators have taken in.

In fact, two Trinidadian authors, V.S. Naipaul and Derek Walcott, have been honoured with the Nobel Prize in Literature, one of the highest international awards for writing. Being honoured among these luminaries reflects the deep artistic soul of Trinidad and Tobago.

This soul carries through into the music and carnival celebrations of T&T, which is the birthplace of the steel pan, considered the only instrument invented and accepted widely in the 20th century. Inspired by the rhythms of the steel pan, calypso, soca, chutney and parang are musical genres that reflect the deep roots of the African and Indian communities that make Trinidad and Tobago one of the most culturally diverse and unique countries in the world.

On the field of play, they have produced some of the best international cricket players. My father-in-law loves cricket — in fact, I almost bought him a bat the other day. In 2006 Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest country to ever qualify for the FIFA World Cup when their national team, known locally as the Soca Warriors, qualified for the tournament for the first time.

In business, Trinidad and Tobago, a country rich in natural resources, has become a major producer of petroleum and natural gas products, 70 per cent of which is exported to the United States.

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With one of the highest rates of mineral extraction in the world, Trinidad and Tobago's economy is the largest, most diversified and most industrialized in the Caribbean, making it one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the region.

As evidence of this progress, honourable senators, last year it was removed from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's list of developing nations for the first time in its history. With its lush rain forests, beaches and air travel infrastructure, including the headquarters of Caribbean Airlines, Trinidad and Tobago continues to grow as an international tourist destination. T&T is the home of the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, as well as the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of the Southern Caribbean and the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago. Its national economy is ultimately supported and sustained by top-notch post-secondary institutions that produce the leaders and professionals of tomorrow.

Over the past 50 years, Canada has been a major partner of Caribbean nations, especially in the areas of capacity building and trade. In fact, in recent years, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago has grown to over $615 million. Trinidad and Tobago's imports of Canadian goods, which include mineral ores, machinery, paper products, copper, electrical equipment and vegetables, have reached over $273.6 million in recent years. Meanwhile, Canada's imports from Trinidad and Tobago include organic chemicals, iron and steel and inorganic chemicals, and have reached over $341.5 million.

Internationally, honourable senators, Trinidad and Tobago's exports also include oil and gas, machinery, transport equipment, mineral fuels, lubricants, food products, beverages and tobacco, reaching a total of $16.92 billion.

Canada continues to invest in the economy of Trinidad and Tobago, especially in the energy and financial sectors, which are set to grow and continue to strengthen the Caribbean economy. Canada is able to maintain a strong, multi-faceted relationship with T&T by partnering on issues of mutual need, especially the energy sector, and by developing a trade relationship that honours the diversity and strength of both the Canadian economy and the economy of Trinidad and Tobago. By developing a relationship, honourable senators, that relies on diverse imports and exports, Canada is able to support its own economy while giving Trinidad and Tobago a firm base upon which to continue the great industrial development that has made it one of the shining lights in the Caribbean. This will help to spur on the manufacturing sector, which has seen immense growth over the last several years and increase the power that Trinidad and Tobago is able to exert as a growing economic powerhouse on the world stage.

I am honoured to say that in my capacity as senator over the last year I have been helping to strengthen the free trade agreement between Canada and the Caribbean community. This agreement will go a long way in creating jobs and increasing investments between Canada and Caribbean nations like Trinidad and Tobago.

In terms of security, Canada has formed a strong partnership with Trinidad and Tobago by helping to train the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, one of the largest defence forces in the Caribbean. T&T has been a proud member of Canada's Military Training and Assistance Program since the mid 1970s, which has resulted in a number of Canadian officers going to Trinidad and Tobago to help its military to develop strategies to deal with disaster management protocols and basic security functions. These security arrangements will only continue to be strengthened into the future.

Beyond trade, capacity building and language, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago are linked at the most fundamental level. They are both parliamentary democracies, with a bicameral system consisting of an elected house and an appointed Senate, based on the Westminster parliamentary system.

Within the Caribbean community, Trinidad and Tobago also has a regional mandate as the seat of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Here in Canada, a big source of pride is a diverse and talented group of Trinidadians and Tobagans who have chosen to make Canada their home. Trinidadian and Tobagan Canadians, led by Amanda Marshall and Keshia Chante, have dramatically affect the face of the Canadian music industry, while athletes like Stephen Ames, Jamaal Magloire and Randy Samuel have made the country proud of their play on the field.

Some of Canada's most visible and influential positions are held by Trinidadian and Tobagan immigrants, as illustrated by the contributions of CBC reporter Ian Hanomansing and Member of Parliament Hedy Fry.

In our gallery today is another Trinidadian who has played an important part in Canada and in his homeland, His Excellency, Philip Buxo, High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Canada. Prior to his appointment to his current post, His Excellency spent four years as the director of CARICOM Region Energy and Infrastructure Division at SNC-Lavalin, Canada's leading engineering and construction company. He has worked with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Export Development Canada to spearhead development initiatives in the Caribbean.

Honourable senators, in celebration of 50 years of relationship, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnson, Governor General of Canada, and Canadian officials made a recent state visit to Trinidad and Tobago, testifying to the long-standing relationship our countries have enjoyed. During the visit, Minister Diane Ablonczy made security cooperation announcements. The Governor General addressed the bright minds and faculty at the University of the West Indies and witnessed the signing of a technical framework agreement that will allow Canadian companies to access commercial opportunities in the Trinidadian health sector.

Honourable senators, despite the warm friendship that our countries share at the highest level, the greatest tie that binds us together is over 65,000 Trinidadian and Tobagans who now call Canada home and make contributions to this country, men and women like members of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Ottawa, under the leadership of the President Ingrid John-Baptiste, who is also in the gallery.

Honourable senators, please join me in celebrating Trinidad and Tobago's fiftieth anniversary of independence and diplomatic

ties with Canada. May the next 50 years be marked with great prosperity and blessings for both countries. Thank you.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I would like to make a few brief remarks on this. Some of those 65,000 Trinidadian Canadians that Senator Meredith talks about are members of my family. He may not know that, but, some 25 years ago, my son Frank married a wonderful lady by the name of Mercedez Souza De Castro. She has been my daughter-in-law for the past 25 years and I have two wonderful now young adult grandchildren.

I have experienced some of those human qualities that my colleague Senator Meredith talked about. By extension, the family is much greater than just my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren, who are part Trinidadian. As is the case in Italian families, we embrace and become larger and just take over more of the world.

I just wanted to agree with Senator Meredith that they have brought, at least in my life, some great joy and great value. To you, my friend, I say, Amen.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?

(On motion of Senator Carignan, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Canadian Foreign Policy regarding Iran

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government), for Senator Andreychuk, pursuant to notice of May 29, 2012, moved:

That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Thursday, February 2, 2012, the date of presentation of the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on the Canadian foreign policy regarding Iran, its implications, and other related matters be extended from June 30, 2012 to October 31, 2012.

(Motion agreed to.)

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[English]

The Senate

Motion to Urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Grant Clemency to Hamid Ghassemi-Shall and to Adhere to its International Human Rights Obligations—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Art Eggleton, pursuant to notice of June 11, 2012, moved:

That the Senate urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to grant clemency to Hamid Ghassemi-Shall on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, call for his release and return to his family and spouse in Canada, and urge Iran to reverse its current course and to adhere to its international human rights obligations.

He said: Honourable senators, Senator Frum asked me to second this motion, which I am pleased to do. In the normal course of events, the proposer would speak first and the seconder would speak after. However, Senator Frum could not be here today to move her motion, and I cannot be here on Monday when she does that.

Honourable senators, earlier this year Senator Frum launched a series of remarks that were made by a number of us on both sides of the chamber with respect to the terrible human rights abuses that occur at the hands of the regime in Iran. We talked at that time individually about different prisoners who were being held. The person that I talked about on February 15 was Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, a Toronto businessman; and I had met his wife. I knew of the situation at Evin Prison in Iran where he was being held and made representation at that time through the regular diplomatic circles. He is still there.

Mr. Ghassemi-Shall left Iran in 1979 during the Iranian revolution and came to Canada. He went back many times over some 29 years and had no problem going in and out of the country. Suddenly in 2008, he went to visit an ailing mother in Iran, and they arrested him. They tried to suggest that he was involved in sketchy espionage-related offences, allegations he denied because they have no substance at all.

His brother is a resident of Iran. He served as a naval officer but was against the government in Iran, which I guess had become known. The regime in Iran does not tolerate opposition sentiments, and so the brother was arrested and interrogated. Unfortunately, some 20 months into his imprisonment he died, probably as a result of torture. Certainly, he underwent a lot of that.

Mr. Ghassemi-Shall, the Toronto businessman, was sentenced to death by an Iranian court in 2009. He did not even have the opportunity for a proper defence. He is a Canadian citizen, but because he is also an Iranian, the regime would not recognize him as Canadian and would not allow the Canadian consular services to go anywhere near him. He continues to wait under a death sentence in Evin Prison.

Senator Frum put this motion forward because every now and then stories come out about mass executions that are about to occur; and God forbid Mr. Ghassemi-Shall would be one of them. The honourable senator put this motion forward so that the Senate may express to the government of Iran that we want him freed. We want him to come back to Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Eggleton: I understand that a similar motion was adopted in the House of Commons. This motion would become honourable senators' expression of support for his release. I strongly support Senator Frum's motion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that debate be adjourned in the name of the Honourable Senator Frum?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Eggleton, for Senator Frum, debate adjourned.)

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Committee Authorized to Meet during Sittings of the Senate

Hon. Irving Gerstein, pursuant to notice of June 13, 2012, moved:

That, until June 29, 2012, for the purposes of its consideration of any item of government business, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have the power to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being suspended in relation thereto.

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I have a question. The motion says ". . . for the purposes of its consideration of any item of government . . ." I thought the motion was to deal with Bill C-25 and Bill C-11. Why is the committee not sticking to those two pieces of government business?

Senator Gerstein: Could the honourable senator kindly repeat the question? I did not hear him.

Senator Moore: Certainly. I thought the committee was looking for extended sitting hours for the purpose of studying Bill C-25 and Bill C-11. However, the motion says ". . . for any item of government business . . ." I do not know why we are not sticking to the two bills that will be before the committee.

Senator Gerstein: The committee is also dealing with the review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, as the honourable senator knows; and there are other items that will come before the committee. The honourable senator is absolutely right when he says that Bill C-25 and Bill C-11 will come before the committee.

Senator Moore: With regard to the proceeds of crime review, the committee will deal with that when the honourable senator makes his other motion later, which we totally support. I suggest that this motion should stick to the two bills.

Senator Gerstein: I outlined at the committee today what will be dealt with.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the Honourable Senator Moore proposing an amendment, or is he prepared to go with the language as proposed by the mover?

Senator Moore: I have heard that we should leave it as is because we will be dealing with the proceeds of crime review. Well, I know that; it is Motion No. 98, which will be dealt with on Monday. I do not know why this motion is not limited to Bill C-25 and Bill C-11.

I move that this motion read:

. . . for the purposes of its consideration of Bill C-25 and Bill C-11 . . .

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, it was my understanding as well that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce was asking for extended hours to consider Bill C-25 and Bill C-11. It was on that understanding that I thought the request was being made.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Gerstein or Senator Carignan.

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[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we agree to have Bills C-11 and C-25 — the two main bills — examined by the Banking Committee over the next few days.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: As the mover of the original motion, is the Honourable Senator Gerstein or his seconder prepared to have the motion amended to read:

That until June 29, 2012, for the purposes of its consideration of Bill C-25 and Bill C-11 of government business, that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have the power to sit, even though the Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being suspended in relation thereto.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Honourable senators, given the way the mandate is currently worded, I do not believe that it needs to be amended in order to examine the bills. We therefore object to an amendment to the committee's mandate.

The purpose of this motion is to ensure that we are able to examine Bills C-11 and C-25. We do not see how adding to or amending the existing mandate would change anything.

[English]

Senator Moore: It is there in black and white. This says "any item of government business." That is quite a stretch from limiting it to two bills. We are not dealing with the matter of the review of the proceeds of crime. We will deal with that; we have all agreed to that.

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question? Is there further debate?

Senator Tardif: I find it rather unfortunate, Your Honour, that at this time we are not agreeing on the parameters of this. "Any item of government business" does include many other things that could be brought forward. I do not see what the problem would be in specifying the motion is with respect to Bill C-11 and Bill C-25. I just do not understand what the problem is. If that was the intent of asking for extended hours, then there is no problem in specifying that.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: I believe that that is the usual wording, even though the plan is to send only Bills C-11 and C-25 to the Banking Committee. The committee may need to meet to make incidental or administrative decisions. We want to ensure that the committee has all the tools and the authority it needs to successfully do its work until the end of the session. The wording is "until June 29, 2012." We think that is enough of a limitation.

In any case, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce is given its mandate by the Senate. So, every time we send a bill to the Banking Committee, it has to be agreed to by the Senate.

Senator Tardif: Then the request should be made at that time.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: As I understand it, honourable senators, Bill C-25 is before this chamber now. Bill C-11 has not yet come to the Senate, so under the rules, it is hard to make rules and provisions for something that is not yet here. Part of the broader language would accommodate something that is yet to come.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, that strikes me as an even more unusual procedure.

[Translation]

If I understood correctly, Senator Carignan said that this motion is written in the usual form. That is not my impression. My impression is that when a committee seeks permission to sit when the Senate is sitting, in spite of the Rules of the Senate, the motion must clearly specify what the committee is studying. I really do not see why that cannot be done in this case.

Senator Carignan: Honourable senators, I think the mandate or proposal is quite clear. The goal, as we all know, is to ensure that Bill C-25, which has just been referred to the Banking Committee, and Bill C-11, which has not yet gone to the Banking Committee, can be dealt with in the most efficient way possible, especially given that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce was unfortunately unable to do a preliminary examination of Bill C-11 as we had hoped. I think we at least need to make it clear that we can grant the committee the necessary powers immediately so that it can work efficiently when it does receive the bill. I think that is the right thing to do.

In any case, with the work that lies ahead for the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce regarding Bill C-25 and Bill C-11, I do not expect any other bills to be referred to that committee between now and the end of the session.

Senator Tardif: I move adjournment of the debate for the time being.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by Honourable Senator Tardif, seconded by Honourable Senator Fraser, that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those in favour of the motion to adjourn please say "yea"?

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those opposed please say "nay"?

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I think the "nays" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Call in the senators. There will be 30-minute bell, honourable senators.

(1720)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am advised that, should I seek it from the house, I would discover that there is unanimous consent to annul this vote.

Is there unanimous consent, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: So ordered.

Honourable senators, the question then before the house is the motion of the Honourable Senator Gerstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wallin. We are on debate.

I recognize the Honourable Senator Carignan.

[Translation]

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, during the break, we agreed on an amendment to the motion which, I believe, demonstrates willingness on both sides and a commitment to ensuring the committee is effective.

I move that the motion be amended as follows:

That, until June 29, 2012, for the purposes of its consideration of Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts, and Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, should this latter bill be referred to the committee, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have the power to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being suspended in relation thereto.

[English]

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion, as amended, agreed to.)

(1730)

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Fausto Solaro del Borgo and Mr. Daniel Kelly, who are members of the Government Council of the Order of Malta.

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

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

National Security and Defence

Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Services and Benefits for Members and Veterans of Armed Forces and Current and Former Members of the RCMP, Commemorative Activities and Charter

Hon. Donald Neil Plett, pursuant to notice of June 13, 2012, moved:

That, notwithstanding the order of the Senate adopted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, the date for the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence in relation to its study on the services and benefits provided to members of the Canadian Forces, to veterans, and to members and former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their families be extended from June 17, 2012 to June 28, 2013.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Monday, June 18, 2012, at 6 p.m.)