Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 130
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, this weekend the Vietnam
Human Rights Network, with the collaboration of the Vietnamese community in
Montreal and other community-based organizations, planned a successful
celebration in honour of the sixty-fourth anniversary of International Human
Rights Day. Members of Parliament Irwin Cotler, Hoang Mai, Anne Minh Thu Quach
and I had the great pleasure of joining Vietnamese communities from across
Canada and the United States to celebrate this event. It was truly a great
opportunity for people from different walks of life to show solidarity and
support to the Vietnamese people who struggle for basic human rights and justice
in Vietnam. At this yearly event, we discussed in Vietnamese, English and French
how Vietnam's human rates record still remains unacceptable. We discussed how
the government in Hanoi constantly suppresses all forms of political dissent and
religious freedom, using extreme and repressive measures.
In these last few months, many Vietnamese independent writers, bloggers,
musicians and rights activists peacefully questioned their government's
policies, exposed corruption or called for democratic alternatives. As a result,
they were sentenced to harsh prison terms, ranging from four to 12 years, for
violating the so-called national security policies or other draconian laws.
According to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Vietnam is one
of the top 10 countries holding the most journalists behind bars.
For these reasons, the Vietnam Human Rights Network has been giving, since
2002, annual recognition to human rights and democracy activists who have made
their mark in the march toward freedom, human rights and democracy for the
Vietnamese people. This year, they recognized the outstanding work and
sacrifices of three Vietnamese women: Pham Thanh Nghien, Ta Phong Tan and Huynh
These awards recognize the unfailing dedication of these three women to
truth, justice and freedom. They inspire us to take action and speak out against
corruption and human rights violations in Vietnam.
That is why I encourage all Canadians to become involved in the fight for
democracy and human rights in Vietnam. The "Million Hearts, One Voice" petition,
started by Truc Ho, a musician and composer, with the assistance of Vietnamese
living abroad, represents substantial support for democracy in Vietnam.
Therefore, it will be an honour to present this petition in the near future,
and it is out of concern for human rights that I will be introducing motions to
condemn the abuse of power and the repression of citizens in Vietnam and around
Honourable senators, Canada has always stressed the importance of justice,
freedom and truth. We know that these values are necessary when we observe the
repression of human rights, especially among women. Cases of injustice, such as
the death of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian who was tortured,
and the attempted assassination of the young school girl, Malala Yousafzai,
truly show the importance of respect for democratic values around the world.
That is why I am proud that the promotion and protection of human rights is a
pillar of our Conservative government's foreign policy.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, as we near the end of
the year and Christmastime celebrations, we remember and thank people who played
an important role in our lives. Today, I want to thank Senator Lynch-Staunton.
Honourable senators, we lost a strong leader and defender of democracy last
summer, our former colleague the Honourable John Lynch-Staunton. Senator
Lynch-Staunton served Canadians in public office for more than 30 years,
including as a city councillor in Montreal from 1960 to 1974, as a senator from
1990 to 2005 and as a municipal councillor in Stanstead, Quebec, from 2009.
I rise today to acknowledge Senator John Lynch-Staunton. When I arrived in
the Senate almost 11 years ago, he and I came from different backgrounds. From
time to time, we had the opportunity to discuss our different points of view. I
have to admit today that we were rarely able to convince the other of our
argument, but I always valued those frank discussions. One year, Speaker Dan
Hays invited Senator Lynch-Staunton and me to accompany him to Bhopal, India.
Before the trip, I gave all of my colleagues a copy of a book written by
Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro called Five Past Midnight in Bhopal.
The book sets out the events of December 3, 1984, when a terrifying cloud of
toxic gas escaped from an American pesticide plant in the heart of Bhopal,
killing between 16,000 and 30,000 people and injuring 500,000 more. When we
arrived in Bhopal, I was delighted to discover that Senator Lynch-Staunton had
actually read the book. We both attempted to go to see the places where the
affected people were living. We encountered a lot of resistance from the Indian
government, but, due to Senator Lynch-Staunton's persistence, we were able to
visit one evening with the people who had suffered as a result of this terrible
tragedy. We visited a number of places and spoke with many people, and I saw
another side of Senator Lynch-Staunton, one that only made me admire him more.
Today, honourable senators, I want to reach out to his wife, his five
children and his nine grandchildren. I want to let them know that Senator
Lynch-Staunton holds a special place in Canadians' hearts and minds, especially
my own. Although we came from different backgrounds and had different opinions,
we were able to reach out to one another to find common ground and work together
to serve as senators. Senator Lynch-Staunton taught me that you do not have to
be partisan on issues that affect humanity. We can always find a way to work
together. It is a lesson I will never forget.
Hon. Ghislain Maltais: Honourable senators, the vast majority of
Canadians will take time over the upcoming holidays to review the events of this
past year. They will also consider what kind of country we live in and to whom
we owe a debt of gratitude.
We must remember that hundreds — and even thousands — of Canadians in the
Armed Forces will not be home for Christmas or New Year's. They will be all over
the world, wherever Canada has asked them to serve their country.
We cannot forget that these individuals and those who came before them have
made it possible for us to be here in this Senate and to enact legislation to
benefit all Canadians. Over the last century, they have helped protect hard-won
freedom, sometimes at the cost of their own life.
We must take time to honour them. I would like to salute some individuals
from my senatorial district of Shawinigan, from the Shawinigan regiment, who
will not be spending Christmas with their families and children. These
individuals include Captain Valérie Bourassa, Sergeant Frédéric Pagé, Corporal
Félix-Antoine Bernier, Corporal François Roussel and, of course, Warrant
Officer Dominique Plourde, from Trois-Rivières.
These people freely chose to serve Canada, but also to set an example of
sacrifice for us all. We know that these missions in Afghanistan are not very
safe. That is why we must pay tribute to the work they are doing to bring peace
to that country.
Today, Canadians should take a moment to think about them and their families,
knowing that they will never be alone as long as our thoughts are with them.
Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, he is young, bright,
talented, athletic, respectful, strong in faith, and modest with his wealth and
fame. Several years ago, just before he signed his huge contract with Sony, in
concert with Usher, he lived in Winnipeg with his father, Jeremy. I used to take
him go-cart racing, paint-balling and waltzing through the Winnipeg malls, where
he perfected his Heisman Trophy football pose. While strolling through the
malls, he would slip into the display windows of the men's and women's clothing
stores and pose like the mannequins. Within a few minutes, young ladies would
freeze in their tracks and remark how realistic he looked, like a recently
discovered rock star seen on YouTube. As we were leaving the malls, he would
have a long line of giggling young ladies, too shy to ask for his autograph or
Honourable senators, on Friday, November 23, I was his guest with my wife,
Maygan, to attend his performance at Scotiabank Place. We met with him and his
father just before his evening's performance to give him a hug and wish him the
best, and to present his father with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. Needless
to say, he was very touched and said that although he was proud of receiving his
medal a few minutes before, this medal to his father and the one we would
present to his mother, Pattie, in the near future meant a great deal more.
Although over the past two years he has become the hottest rock star on the
planet, he remains respectful and humble and maintains a strong faith in the
Honourable senators, I would be proud to have a son like him, but I will
settle for him calling me "Uncle Rod." He is my hero; and his name is Justin
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, the recent and further steps by
the Government of Sri Lanka to impeach their Chief Justice should concern all
Commonwealth citizens and governments. Clear Commonwealth values around the rule
of law and democracy as expressed in the Harare Declaration and the Latimer
House Principles embraced by all Commonwealth heads of government in 1991 and
2003 are being violated by this present and unconstitutional impeachment effort.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma was in contact with the Sri
Lankan Foreign Minister on this issue on December 10. We appreciate that contact
Today, President Rajapaksa announced that he would appoint an independent
panel to review the findings of the parliamentary report. There is much to
review in terms of the questionable way in which the investigation was handled,
the lack of time for defence preparation by Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake
and the total disregard for the international norms of trying a judge for
Sri Lanka is the designated host of the upcoming 2013 Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting. In the lead-up to CHOGM, the initiation by Sri Lanka of a
credible accountability process for the civil war ending in 2009 will be vital.
The present situation regarding the Chief Justice does not inspire confidence
that transparency, openness and accountability are abundant in Sri Lanka.
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Legal Education
Association, and the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association put out a
joint statement, which read, in part:
By virtue of its membership of the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka is committed
to the shared fundamental values and principles, at the core of which is a
shared belief in and adherence to democratic principles including an
independent and impartial judiciary.
In the end, every member state of the Commonwealth makes its own sovereign
decisions, but membership in the Commonwealth is not permanent or unconditional
for any member. It is tied to a basic respect for the core Commonwealth
principles and values. The consistent and serious violation of these could well
result in a country's membership being questioned.
Justice C.G. Weeramantry, former Senior Vice-President of the International
Court of Justice in The Hague and the senior retired judge in Sri Lanka, said
There can be no democracy in a country unless the rule of law prevails at
every level, from the humblest to the most exalted citizen.
My good friend and former President of the International Commission of
Jurists, the Honourable Michael Kirby, from Australia, said:
A judge without independence is a charade wrapped in a farce inside an
It is not appropriate for any Commonwealth body to ever look the other way.
The impeachment of a chief justice for political reasons is a deeply serious
matter that requires careful and diligent review by Commonwealth bodies well
before Commonwealth heads of government meet in Sri Lanka next year. Responding
to the rule of law is not a "wouldn't-it-be-nice" aspirational goal. It is,
along with democracy, human rights and development, fundamental to what
membership in the Commonwealth is about.
Hon. David P. Smith, Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, presented the following report:
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
has the honour to present its
Following the entry into force of the revised Rules of the Senate
on September 17, 2012, your committee has, pursuant to rule 12-7(2)(a),
continued to consider the Rules and now recommends as follows:
1. That rule 13-2 be deleted and current rules 13-3 to 13-7
renumbered as 13-2 to 13-6 respectively;
(a) rule 16-1 be amended by the addition of the new subsection
(8) as follows:
"Message on Royal Assent
16-1. (8) At any time during the sitting, the
Leader or Deputy Leader of the Government may, if there are any
bills awaiting Royal Assent, state that a message from the Crown
concerning Royal Assent is expected. After this announcement no
motion to adjourn the Senate shall be received and the rules
regarding the ordinary time of adjournment or suspension, or any
prior order regarding adjournment shall be suspended until the
message has been received or either the Leader or Deputy Leader
of the Government indicates the message is no longer expected.
If the Senate completes the business for the day before the
message is received, the sitting shall be suspended to the call
of the Speaker, with the bells to ring for five minutes before
the sitting resumes."; and
(b) rule 16-1(8) be added to the lists of exceptions for rules
3-3(1), 3-4 and 5-13(1); and
3. That all cross references in the Rules, including the lists of
exceptions, be updated accordingly.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Smith, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled: Iran in
Focus: Current Issues for Canadian Foreign Policy.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Human Rights, pursuant to article 19 of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child, entitled: Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect
for Rights in the Digital Age.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Jaffer, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation respecting its participation at the Parliamentary Forum on the
Margins of the Summit of the Americas, held in Cartagena, Colombia, from April
10 to 13, 2012.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next
sitting of the Senate, I will move, seconded by Senator Mercer:
That the Senate of Canada celebrate and recognize that January 24, 2013
is the 75th anniversary of the Corps of Commissioners, Nova Scotia Division.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
We learned last week that the First Nations reserve of Kashechewan near James
Bay had declared a state of emergency on November 23. It was forced to do so
because it was running out of fuel and because the homes of 21 families were
deemed unfit to face the harsh winters in Northern Ontario. This type of
situation is becoming more and more common and has become an annual occurrence,
as we know, on a number of reserves.
This community was facing a two-month gap in fuel supplies until the ice road
was solid enough to bring in the required shipments. They were forced late last
month to shut down the band office, two schools, the power generation centre,
the health clinic and the fire hall because they could not be heated and
operated safely. Unfortunately, a request for fuel to be flown in to operate the
medical facility and the schools, which was made to Aboriginal Affairs via
conference call, was denied by the government. In addition to the fuel
shortages, the basements of the 21 homes had been flooded last spring, leaving
their electric heating systems destroyed.
A statement on housing issued by the community again stated that "requests
for assistance were rejected." I now understand that, since this declaration of
emergency on November 23, the government has responded, belatedly, to avert a
Canadians are entitled to know why the earlier requests, which were
responsibly presented to the government in a timely manner, were not dealt with
in a similarly timely manner. Why did the government wait so long to deal with
this dire state of affairs?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank the honourable senator for the question. The health and safety of the
residents of Kashechewan are obviously of great concern to the government. Given
the urgent nature of the situation, we immediately released funds to conduct
renovations on 21 housing units. Also, in contrast to what the honourable
senator just said, we delivered thousands of litres of fuel to the community by
air days before the emergency was declared. We will continue to monitor the
situation closely and work in partnership with this First Nation.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The holiday season should be a joyous, compassionate time, but for 26 First
Nation families in London, Ontario, the new year may bring homelessness. The
Native Inter-Tribal Housing Cooperative, home to 58 families and more than 200
people, is teetering on the brink as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
is set to end its subsidy for many of the units in 2013.
An independent analysis by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, the
national voice for the Canadian cooperative housing movement and the more than
one quarter of a million Canadians who live in them, indicates that the Native
Inter-Tribal Housing Cooperative will not be viable without that assistance. The
co-op does not receive a large amount of money from CMHC, only $257,000, to
support 30 of its units. By comparison, the drivers here on the Hill, who are
working overtime, received $600,000 in overtime pay during the same period.
The Minister responsible for CMHC, Diane Finley, can intervene and ensure
that the families have roofs over their heads come the new year. The question
is: Will she?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I will take that question as notice. I know that there has been some action
taken on this file.
Senator Munson: I appreciate that. I hope that means that the leader
will talk to someone in cabinet to have this resolved before the new year comes.
The CMHC has callously said that, once the mortgages are paid, the co-op no
longer qualifies for a subsidy. However, they do not account for the maintenance
or repair costs for the units, which date back to the 1980s, nor for the taxes
and utilities. If the co-op is left to cover these costs on its own, it may be
driven into bankruptcy.
From an article in The London Free Press earlier this week, we learned
of a 62-year-old resident of Langarth Street, Mr. Lawrence Summers, who has
lived at the co-op for 25 years and now faces the prospect of having to move.
Mr. Summers is about to see his rent skyrocket from $330 to $600 per month. Mr.
Summers, who lives on a disability income of $1,274 a month, said:
I don't know what I will do. Where else can I get a home? If I lose my
subsidy, I am not sure where I will go.
Honourable senators, what will Mr. Summers do? Where else can he get a home?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I just received a note with
regard to the Native Inter-Tribal Housing Co-Operative in London. CMHC did
provide a mortgage subsidy for the duration of the mortgage on that property.
Through the Economic Action Plan, additional funding was provided for
With regard to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's support for
cooperatives, we provided significant funding to support over 600,000 households
in subsidized housing, including cooperatives. Canada Mortgage and Housing
provides access to low-interest-rate mortgages for social housing cooperatives.
These mortgages are closed in exchange for lower-than-private-sector rates.
Through the Economic Action Plan, we invested in over 1,300 social housing
renovation projects, with a combined investment creating and renovating over
16,500 low-income housing units.
Honourable senators, despite what the honourable senator claims, there has
been great progress made by our government in this area.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, I do not know about "great", but
progress has been made. I am talking specifically about the particular situation
of this housing cooperative. No Canadian should be left without a roof over his
or her head.
The leader said that she would take the question as notice. I hope that
specific attention will be paid to the people who live in the Native
Inter-Tribal Housing Cooperative.
Senator LeBreton: If there is more information on that particular
cooperative, I will be happy to share it with honourable senators.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is
directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week it was
revealed that 37 per cent of Employment Insurance appeals are not being heard
within the government's own 30-day standard. It seems to me that this situation
will get worse because at present the work on EI appeals is done by 1,000
part-time members of an EI Board of Referees, which works out to the equivalent
of about 100 full-time people.
However, last June the government brought in a new Social Security Tribunal
to replace this Board of Referees and three other existing tribunals. That will
happen in 2014. This means that the number of people looking after EI appeals
will be reduced to 39 full-time members.
My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is this: With fewer
people to hear appeals, how can this government expect to ever catch up on its
own 30-day standard?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
clearly the current appeals process for Employment Insurance is expensive and
extremely slow. As I reported before in response to a question from the
honourable senator, we are combining several tribunals and boards of appeal
within HRSDC into one organizational structure. The new social security tribunal
will provide a fair, fast and accessible appeals process for Canadians while
eliminating duplication and overlap in the administrative process.
This has been the problem. There has been so much overlap between the various
groups that the government felt combining the efforts of all of them would
eliminate duplication, streamline the process, fix what was obviously not a good
situation and make it fairer, faster and more accessible.
Senator Callbeck: With all due respect, honourable senators, I do not
know how the government will make it faster and more accessible. The fact of the
matter is there are 1,000 part-time people, which works out to be the equivalent
of about 100 full-time people. That will be reduced to 39. How will that be
faster and more accessible to the people waiting for claims?
Senator LeBreton: The situation before with all of the overlap and
duplication obviously did not work.
The minister and the government looked at a way to speed up the process,
provide more access and fix the process from its current situation into a fairer
one. This is why these changes were made, honourable senators. I believe that
streamlining the process into one organization will surely improve the
situation. I would appeal to the honourable senator, before jumping to
conclusions that we cannot do it and that it cannot be done, that this new
process will achieve the results we desire.
Senator Callbeck: I cannot for the life of me understand how it will
achieve the results. As I said, 37 per cent of people with Employment Insurance
appeals are not getting heard in the standard period of time. What I see the
government doing will make the situation worse.
The leader talks about overlap and duplication. I would like to know what she
is talking about.
Senator LeBreton: I am talking about what the honourable senator asked
in her question regarding the process being slow and burdensome.
The other point that should be made on the new social security tribunal is
that these will be new full-time positions. These will be people working on
these files full-time, not part-time. They will be fully involved in the files
they are dealing with, and that will surely improve the system.
Senator Callbeck: The leader says 39 full-time people, but they are
replacing 1,000 part-time, or the equivalent of 100 people. It is going from 100
down to 39. I cannot see how that will speed this up at all.
As I asked before — and maybe the minister would like to take this question
as notice — I want to know what overlap and duplication the leader is talking
One of the reasons I think there is a delay right now is that there are
supposed to be 1,000 part-time people on the Employment Insurance Board of
Referees and there are only 700. That is one of the reasons these people have to
wait. Changes will come into effect in 2014, and the way I read it, this will
make the situation much worse than it is right now.
I would like to know what overlap and duplication the leader is talking
Senator LeBreton: First, people are working on a part-time basis on an
EI board of referees; it is part-time. The honourable senator claims that she
does not see how this will work. However, I believe that with full-time people
fully engaged in the EI files and working under one organization, the goal is to
provide fairer, faster service and access. We had lots of good advice that this
would certainly improve the situation.
I would suggest to the honourable senator that she believes it will not work;
I believe it will. Let us wait to see. There have been many times here in the
Senate Chamber since I have been the Leader of the Government in the Senate when
I have been told that things would not work, this was wrong and that was wrong,
only to find out that it did work and it was the right decision. Of course, I
never get any follow-up questions when it is. The honourable senator has an
opinion; I have an opinion. Let us see who is right at the end of the day.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, to follow up, each board of
referees is made up of a union person, a management person and a chair. It is
based in the community. People in the community would often know or understand
the job situation the person would be in. For example, in Nova Scotia I remember
there were Westray people who said that job conditions were not safe. They quit
their jobs and went to the board of referees to say that it was a justified
reason for leaving their jobs. The people on the board would be fully cognizant
of the Westray Mine and have a better understanding of it. However, now we have
an Ottawa-based tribunal. We are replacing 1,000 people with 37 tribunal
members who will deal with Employment Insurance. Last year, 26,000 EI appeals
I am curious. One person will be dealing with this. They will be based in
Ottawa. How will communication be done between the person who is appealing and
the member of the tribunal?
Senator LeBreton: As I pointed out to Senator Callbeck, we are
combining several tribunals. We will maintain the expertise of the previous
This whole exercise was to help people because, as Senator Callbeck pointed
out and as I acknowledged, it was a slow, expensive process, and people waited a
long time. The purpose of this social security tribunal and having full-time
people fully engaged in the file — and I would suggest that this body be given a
chance — is to have a fairer, faster process where people have access to it.
That is the reason for this change. Both the government and the minister believe
these changes will improve the situation. We would certainly not be doing things
to make the situation worse than it is now, which is not very good.
Senator Cordy: One looks at being fair. Certainly, if there was a
union rep, a management rep and a chairperson, I think people coming before the
boards of referees felt they were getting a fair hearing.
However, the leader talked about access, and that was my question. What is
the access? How will a claimant who appeals not receiving the EI benefits deal
with the tribunal person who is based in Ottawa? What is the process?
Senator LeBreton: Again, honourable senators, the expertise of the
various boards and tribunals will be kept intact.
The process now is not working; it is cumbersome and slow. There is overlap,
and people are not getting speedy access. They do not have their cases looked at
in an efficient and accessible way. This tribunal is being set up to address
those concerns. We have every reason to believe, and the minister believes, that
this is the best way to go in order to more properly serve EI claimants and
their appeals in a fairer, faster way.
Senator Cordy: The leader still has not answered my question. My
question is related to access. How will the claimants have access? Will it be
face to face with the tribunal member who is based in Ottawa, which is what they
had with the board of referees? Will it be someone phoning in to Ottawa to a
tribunal member? Will it be by email or online? That is my question. The boards
of referees had face-to-face contact with the claimant who was appealing the
decision for them not to receive Employment Insurance. Will claimants have
face-to-face contact where they can explain why they believe they should be
receiving benefits, or will they be doing it at the end of a phone line or in
front of a computer? That is my question.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, since we are combining the
expertise of the existing boards of referees and the tribunals, I understand —
although I will clarify this, honourable senators — that all of those options
are a possibility: those who wish the face-to-face option, those who wish to
deal over the phone, and those who wish to deal through email. My understanding
is that none of the access points will change.
Senator Cordy: If it is to be face to face, which is a choice the
leader said claimants will have, will the tribunal member come to the locality
where the claimant is living? Someone who is unemployed and not receiving
benefits, because that was the decision made by the department, I do not think
will have enough money to fly from Halifax to Ottawa to have a face-to-face
meeting with a member of the tribunal. If it is face to face, which is what the
leader just said, will the member of the tribunal fly to the community in which
the claimant lives?
Senator LeBreton: Obviously, honourable senators, the government is
attempting to make this a fairer —
Senator Mercer: No compassion.
Senator LeBreton: — more accessible process for EI claimants and
appeals. Obviously, the government will not make it more difficult for a person
to have fairer access to the tribunal. That is my understanding. I will
certainly come back, honourable senators, and correct it if I am incorrect. My
understanding is that all of the expertise that was there under the old system
is simply being modernized and brought under one tribunal, because there have
been many complaints, as the senator well knows, about the long, drawn-out
process and the duplication — people telling their story over and over again.
The government is bringing in this new system to eliminate all that slow,
duplicative work and to serve these people in a more timely manner.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, last week, the government announced the elimination of special
employment insurance benefits for migrant workers who are employed under the
Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Foreign workers do not have access to regular
employment insurance benefits. However, since 2002, they have been able to claim
special maternity, compassionate care and sickness benefits.
Foreign workers pay employment insurance premiums. They have contributed
millions of dollars to this social protection fund. Yet now they will no longer
be able to receive benefits.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us why the government has
decided to deprive foreign workers of these benefits and why these workers will
still have to pay into the employment insurance system even though they will no
longer have access to EI?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, these people are temporary
foreign workers. They are in the country on a temporary basis for specific jobs.
They leave the country. The Employment Insurance system is meant to assist
people living in Canada who are looking for jobs to replace the jobs that they
have lost. Temporary foreign workers are temporary foreign workers. They are not
part of the Canadian workforce per se. Therefore, Employment Insurance benefits
cannot be paid to people who are not here actively seeking employment, because
they are temporary foreign workers and they obviously are not here on a
Senator Tardif: If that is the case and they are to be barred from
receiving any benefits from the EI system, why should they be forced to pay into
Senator LeBreton: On the whole issue of temporary foreign workers,
obviously, before bringing temporary foreign workers in, the object is to ensure
that there are not Canadians who can fill these jobs.
The issue has not changed; they are temporary foreign workers. They come here
on a short-term basis to fill specific jobs and then they leave. The Employment
Insurance system is designed for Canadians who need it. One of the stipulations
of people who receive Employment Insurance is that they have to prove that they
are actively seeking a job. They can hardly do that if they are living in
Senator Tardif: The minister has not responded to the question. Why
are temporary foreign workers being forced to pay into the EI system if they are
being denied any benefits? Are we creating a second class of labourers here? It
is well-known that temporary foreign workers are vulnerable to exploitation and
abuse because of their lack of status, their isolation and their lack of access
to information as to their rights.
Senator Mercer: It is a human rights issue.
Senator Tardif: The government is putting in place policies to
increase the number of temporary foreign workers. They are becoming a hidden
pillar of our economy. The number of migrant workers admitted in Canada has
grown by 40 per cent since 2006. We now have almost 450,000 migrant workers in
Canada, and those are 2011 statistics.
If the government is eliminating the few special benefits that they were able
to receive, for which they have paid EI, why are they taking away these
benefits? That is not the Canadian way, honourable senators. Why is the
government not treating migrant workers with the same basic fairness that every
Senator LeBreton: Different companies bring in temporary foreign
workers — hopefully after they have satisfied themselves that there are no
Canadians to fill these positions. The companies that bring them in apply all of
the normal procedures when they are here. However, the Employment Insurance
system is meant to benefit Canadians as they seek another job. Temporary foreign
workers, in the country on a temporary basis for a specific job, are obviously
not, then, when the job ends, actively seeking employment. They go back to their
home country. Therefore, they are not actively seeking employment and are not
eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I think we are
talking about different things. We understand that a person who comes to Canada
on a temporary basis is not looking for work. That person came to Canada to fill
a position that no Canadian could fill.
We are talking here about sick leave, maternity leave and compassionate care
leave, for example, if a child or spouse becomes ill. In such cases, these
special EI benefits are available to Canadians and were available to foreign
workers. We are not talking about giving foreign workers compensation because
they have lost their job. We are talking about giving them access to the special
employment insurance benefits that they have contributed to.
We would like an answer to this question because, to date, the Leader of the
Government in the Senate has provided an answer only with regard to people who
lose their jobs. But that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about
three types of special employment insurance benefits for which these people paid
premiums. We are talking about half a million people. It therefore seems
important to me that the Leader of the Government tell us why we would make
these people pay into the system when they will never have the right to claim
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, temporary foreign workers who
are in Canada are eligible while they are in Canada. However, the Employment
Insurance program will not pay Employment Insurance benefits to people who are
not in Canada actively seeking a job. I do not know what is so difficult about
Senator Cordy: Why do they pay?
Senator LeBreton: They are brought here by companies and they are
subjected to the rules of employment with those companies. As long as they are
in Canada, they are well treated. They have access to Canadian programs.
They are temporary foreign workers. When they are no longer in the country,
and therefore their temporary foreign worker status is validated because they
have gone back home, they are not eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
Employment Insurance benefits are meant for Canadians who need them.
Senator Mercer: Then why do they pay for it?
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Madam Leader, there is a problem here,
because you do not seem to understand that we are not talking about people
seeking Employment Insurance because they have lost their job and are looking
for another one. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about
some benefits that Canadians are enjoying because they are paying their
Employment Insurance premiums. These foreign workers are paying the same
Employment Insurance premiums as Canadian workers. The only benefits available
to them are for maternity, sickness and compassionate leave. I think they should
remain entitled to that.
I urge the leader to ask the minister and provide us with the answer
Senator LeBreton: Again, honourable senators, temporary foreign
workers are properly named; they are temporary foreign workers. They come to
this country on a temporary basis. Even in this country, if an employer breaks a
contract with a temporary foreign worker, while in Canada the worker has access
to all the Canadian programs.
However, Employment Insurance benefits cannot be paid to temporary foreign
workers who are no longer here actively seeking a job and who have gone back to
their own homes.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the answer to
the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Jaffer on October 2, 2012,
concerning Foreign Affairs, rights of women and girls.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on October 2,
Women's rights continue to be an important part of Canada's foreign
policy. As Minister Baird recently stated when he spoke to the issue at the
Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, he has made it a personal priority to
advocate for the participation of women at all levels of society, especially
in conflict-affected and fragile states and as new democratic governments
During Minister Baird's visit to Libya last year, he made a point of
meeting with women's rights activists to hear their views on how they could
help a new Libya emerge, one that respects freedom, democracy, human rights
and the rule of law. Canada also provided funding to the International
Commission of Inquiry on Libya, whose mandate includes investigating
violence against women and children during the conflict.
Canada is engaging with the new government in Egypt to encourage the
protection and promotion of human rights for all Egyptians, including women.
We believe that it will be important for women to participate actively in
the ongoing transition to democracy and for their rights to be protected in
the new constitution.
Minister Baird also met with the Afghan Women's Network last year to hear
their concerns about the challenges facing women in Afghanistan. Canada
actively supported the network's participation at the 2011 International
Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn. Furthermore, Minister Baird led the G8
Foreign Minsters' discussion of women in international peace and security
earlier this year.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has contributed to the training of
African women peacekeepers, supported women's participation in peace
processes, and helped women victims of violence to seek justice through the
courts and truth commissions.
Canada introduced its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security
in 2010. The Action Plan provides added focus and cohesiveness to
long-standing Canadian activities to promote the participation of women in
peace and security matters and democratic transitions, and recognize the
differing experiences and contributions of women, men, girls and boys in
conflict-affected and fragile states.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eaton, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Rivard, for the third reading of Bill C-44, An Act
to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act and to make
consequential amendments to the Income Tax Act and the Income Tax
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today at
third reading to Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the
Employment Insurance Act and to make consequential amendments to the Income Tax
Act and the Income Tax Regulations.
The bill provides additional support to parents who fall ill while on
parental leave. It provides an Employment Insurance special benefit for parents
of critically ill children and it makes amendments to the Canada Labour Code to
provide unpaid leave guarantees for parents of missing or murdered children as
the result of a suspected Criminal Code offence.
I and my Liberal colleagues support Bill C-44 and the assistance it will
provide for some Canadian parents dealing with traumatic family circumstances.
Parents going through the emotional pain of having a critically ill child, or a
child who is missing or dies as a result of a suspected criminal offence,
certainly should not have the trauma compounded by further financial burden.
Although I support this bill, I believe this is a missed opportunity. Bill
C-44 could have been more inclusive by supporting a greater number of Canadian
families suffering through unimaginable hardships. I spoke at second reading
about the shortcomings of Bill C-44 in regard to helping parents of critically
ill children who work at part-time jobs and do not meet the required number of
600 insurable hours the previous year. This issue was brought up at committee.
When determining the 600-hour criterion, no factors were considered beyond this
being the criterion for other special EI benefit programs.
The government should have taken a closer look at the Canadian workforce to
understand the realities of working families and to design the program to best
serve those families in need. I believe the requirements should be 420 hours,
which would be in line with the average number of hours a Canadian parent
working part-time accumulates in a year.
Unfortunately, we know that less than half of unemployed Canadians qualify
for Employment Insurance benefits. If they are not entitled to Employment
Insurance benefits, they will not be entitled to special EI benefits to care for
a critically ill child.
I also believe that the leave of absence allowance for a parent of a
critically ill child should have been extended in this bill from 37 to 52 weeks,
as many illnesses and treatments exceed 37 weeks. This extension to 52 weeks
would be in alignment with the amount of time and support provided to a parent
of a missing or murdered child as granted under this bill.
Additional support could also have been provided for parents of a critically
ill child who may die as a result of the illness. The bill provides that parent
benefits would expire on the last day of the week in which the child dies.
The committee brought forward an observation to the bill that states:
However, your committee heard that parents grieving the loss of a child
should be permitted the same timeframe to return to work regardless of
whether that loss was the result of illness or a criminal act. Your
committee notes that parents would be required to return to work 14 days
after the day on which a child is found following their disappearance but
parents of a child who has passed away as a result of a critical illness
would be required to return to work at the end of the week during which the
child died. Your committee acknowledges that bereavement leave is offered by
many employers but notes that not all employers offer this type of leave.
Consequently, your committee suggests that the leave be harmonized for all
parents who have suffered the loss of a child regardless of whether it was
result of a crime or because of illness.
I would hope that the minister would consider harmonizing the time available
to parents who have lost a child to murder with that available to parents who
have lost a child to a critical illness for whom the employment bereavement
benefits are not in place.
The committee heard some excellent testimony from Sue O'Sullivan, the Federal
Ombudsman from the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. She
presented a compelling argument that clauses in the bill should be more
inclusive. She stated at the committee:
While we support both of these measures, it is apparent that the new
provisions for unpaid leave and the income support program do not address
the circumstances of many victims of crime and could be more inclusive of
their visibility and reach. Therefore, our office will be asking the
committee to consider amending and broadening the reach of unpaid leave and
income support in order to be more inclusive of the needs of victims of
She further stated:
. . . Widening the reach of the Canada Labour Code amendments to be more
inclusive of victims of crime to include, for instance, leave for spouses
and siblings, and removing the age limit of 18 years of age. . . .
Honourable senators, I believe that we would all agree that the parent of a
missing or murdered 19-year-old child would be no less traumatized than the
parent of a 17-year-old child.
The committee in its report to the Senate recognized this testimony in its
In addition, your committee notes the testimony of the Office of the
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime that consideration should be given in
the future to expand the grant offered to parents who have lost a child as a
result of a crime to additional family members, such as a spouse, an adult
child, or other siblings.
This observation would then include missing and murdered Aboriginal women
who, as we know, are six times more likely to be victims of violence. I would
like to thank Senator Dyck for her interventions at committee about the
challenges faced by families of the far too many missing and murdered Aboriginal
women. Again, I would hope that the government would move to make these changes
in future legislation.
Part of Bill C-44 is actually a clarification of the rules, as opposed to new
legislation. In 2002, Parliament passed Bill C-49, brought forward by the
Liberal government of the day. It removed the obstacles to allow for parents to
claim sickness benefits while on parental leave. Bill C-49 removed the
anti-stacking provisions in the act to allow for the claiming of sickness
benefits while on parental leave.
Unfortunately, the bureaucracy continued to interpret the act in a way that
denied parents these benefits for almost 10 years. It was not until a ruling by
an Employment Insurance umpire in 2011 when sickness benefits were granted to a
woman on parental leave. The umpire ruled that the legislative changes brought
in by the Liberal government in 2002 were intended to make sickness benefits
available to parents who became ill immediately before, during or after
receiving parental benefits. It is worth noting that the Conservative government
did not appeal this decision. Bill C-44 does not bring forth anything new
regarding the extension of the sickness benefits to parents in receipt of
parental benefits, but as Minister Finley said at committee, it will provide
clarification to the current rules and correct this injustice.
This clarification is needed more now that this government saw fit in its
omnibus Bill C-38 to eliminate the regional Employment Insurance boards of
referees and umpires and to replace them with an Ottawa-based tribunal. The
parents who were forced to resort to appealing their sickness benefits cases
before an EI board of referees and then to an EI umpire will be forced to appeal
their case before an Ottawa-based tribunal, which will be charged with hearing
Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits. Of the
74 members of the tribunal, only 37 will be dedicated to deal with Employment
Insurance disputes. Last year, nearly 26,000 Employment Insurance appeals were
heard, and there will be only 37 tribunal members based in Ottawa to hear their
appeals. There will no longer be an Employment Insurance umpire for further
In conclusion, I wish to reaffirm my support for Bill C-44, and I would like
to thank Senator Eaton for her work on this bill and her openness to accepting
observations on the legislation to reflect what committee members heard from
witnesses. By working together, we can help to make things better for Canadians,
and of course that is our job as the chamber of sober second thought. Thank you
to Senator Eaton.
It is unfortunate that the government did not take the opportunity to
strengthen the bill with amendments proposed in the House of Commons. However,
it is my hope that the observations put forward by the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology will be considered by this government
in the future.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I concur with previous
speeches on the value of Bill C-44 to address some aspects of the plight of
parents of critically ill or missing and murdered children. I congratulate
Senator Boisvenu for his important and tireless work in this area and Senator
Eaton in her work as the sponsor of Bill C-44.
As noted by Senator Eaton, observations were advanced by Senator Cordy and
me, which were agreed to by the committee as a whole. I thank the committee
members for their support.
Unfortunately, there has been an oversight in the observations on Bill C-44
tabled by the committee. Although mention of the missing and murdered Aboriginal
women was to be included, it was not, much to my dismay. I will read into the
record excerpts from the transcripts of the December 6 Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology meeting that deal with my request for
an observation to include the plight of the families of missing and murdered
Senator Dyck: Sue O'Sullivan, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of
Crime, and maybe one other witness, talked about whether adult children
ought to be considered at some point. Because Aboriginal women are six times
more likely to be victims of violence and made missing or murdered, I am
wondering whether we could add as an observation that at some point in time
we should consider the same type of provisions being made available to the
families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, so for the parents of
those women who have been made missing or killed as a victim of crime.
I am thinking specifically of a family from Onion Lake that started the
whole awareness in Saskatchewan. She is a teacher. Her daughter was missing
for four years. They found the body and she is still waiting for the trial
six or seven years later. Meanwhile, she does not have provisions like this
that allow her a length of time away from work or any other compensation.
If we can add that as an observation, that would be widely accepted and
received with gratitude by the Aboriginal community. . . .
The Chair: To ensure that I get the sense of this, you are
reflecting the witnesses' urging that in the future consideration be given
to expanding the age limits for consideration within these benefits and that
we note particularly the plea with regard to the Aboriginal women's
Senator Dyck: Yes, "missing and murdered Aboriginal women" would
be the wording. It is exactly the same words, "leave related to death or
disappearance of adult children, in those particular from Canada's
Aboriginal communities." . . .
Senator Cordy: That could probably fit in with the kinds of things
I was saying. I said sibling and spouse. I think adult children could fit in
there, but in addition I think it is important to talk about Aboriginal
women. . . .
The Chair: Senator Eaton, is that acceptable as an observation?
Senator Eaton: I think that is fine.
Honourable senators, it is unfortunate that families of missing and murdered
Aboriginal women were not mentioned in the observations, so I have taken this
opportunity to put on the record that they should have been mentioned to meet
the full intent and the full spirit of the suggested observations. I am saddened
by the error of omission. I thought there was a small glimmer of hope for the
families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. We missed an opportunity to
make a small but significant gesture to acknowledge that Aboriginal women are
more likely to be victims of crime and that their families deserve provisions
similar to other families whose children have gone missing or been murdered.
One small sentence would have made a world of difference. I regret that the
observations on Bill C-44 did not state that "the committee notes particularly
the need for similar provisions for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal
women." If such a sentence had been included, it would have been received with
heartfelt gratitude by Aboriginal communities. It would have shown them that we
have heard their cries for help.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? Are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)
Hon. JoAnne L. Buth moved third reading of Bill C-45, A second Act to
implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29,
2012 and other measures.
She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak one final time to Bill
C-45, the proposed jobs and growth act 2012, legislation to implement key
measures from Economic Action Plan 2012. As we are now at third reading, I would
call on all honourable senators to ensure the final passage of these key
measures to help create good jobs and ensure long-term prosperity from coast to
coast to coast. This is so very important as we continue to deal with the global
Because of our Conservative government's actions, the OECD and IMF predict
our economy will be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next
Only recently, IMF director Christine Lagarde told The Globe and Mail
Canada is . . . faring relatively well because of its fundamentals . . .
and the way in which it has been properly supervised and regulated and
organized over the course of the last few years. . . . Canada is doing a lot
better than other advanced economies.
In a fast-paced and uncertain global economy where we face increasing
competition from emerging markets like China and India, we must move quickly to
implement vital economic reform. That is why I would like to take this
opportunity to thank my fellow parliamentarians in the house and the Senate for
their swift and efficient consideration of this important legislation.
While our colleagues in the other place shared the responsibility of studying
this comprehensive bill among no fewer than 10 committees in addition to the
Finance Committee, I am very pleased that we reached an agreement to undertake a
similar course of study in the Senate.
I would like to extend my thanks to the honourable senators who sit on the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce; the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications; the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples; and the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and
These committees heard from 135 witnesses over a total of 61 hours of study.
Thanks to their diligence and the leadership of their committee chairs, we are
one step closer to building a strong economy with the potential for jobs and
growth, while supporting families and communities with tangible measures to make
Canadians' lives a little easier. This legislation will ensure Canada remains on
the right track, and it is worthy of our support.
Indeed, only a few days ago, Standard & Poor's, the noted credit rating
agency, reaffirmed Canada's triple-A credit rating, praising "the effectiveness,
stability and predictability of [our] policymaking and political institutions,
the resilience of [our] economy and the strength of [our] monetary and fiscal
It is clear we must stay the course with our plan for jobs and growth, widely
considered to be a model for the world. It is for that reason that I thank my
colleagues in the other place and in the Senate for their careful consideration
and debate of Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012, and I urge all
honourable senators to vote in favour of the bill.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to first
congratulate Senator Buth on her sponsorship of this particular budget
implementation bill, No. 2. As well, I would like to thank all of the members of
the Finance Committee, in addition to the other committees that Senator Buth
mentioned that have all taken a look at different parts of Bill C-45, the budget
I am hopeful, honourable senators, that we will hear from representatives of
each of those other five committees that looked into different aspects of this
bill. It is true that representatives of those committees came to the Finance
Committee and told us what they had observed and heard in the clauses that had
been referred to them. We thank them for doing that, but first-hand knowledge
passed on to you would certainly be desirable, and I do hope they will take the
opportunity to bring that information to this chamber.
I may make reference to some of the information they passed on, but I
certainly cannot go into depth on the items that they studied, which we learned
about only very briefly.
Let me remind honourable senators of what we are dealing with here. This is
Bill C-45. It is 414 pages in length, with 516 clauses, and there are 60
different statutes that are amended in this piece of legislation. Honourable
senators, that is what my honourable colleague Senator Buth said she was so
pleased we dealt with so swiftly and expeditiously.
Honourable senators, we had no choice but to move this through because the
government, the elected executive, being the Prime Minister and cabinet, and the
minister responsible, being the Minister of Finance, decided that the best way
to get this through was to put pressure on Parliament, which is charged with
overseeing the legislation, to move it through quickly by tying it into a
finance bill. That is why we moved it through swiftly, and that is why we put up
these defensive mechanisms, looking at how we could do the very minimum, at
least, that is expected of us as parliamentarians and senators. That is why we
did the pre-study. That is why we cooperated in that, so that we could not be
looked upon as an irreverent, rubber-stamping institution attached to that other
Honourable senators, I take no great pride in saying that we moved this
particular bill through quickly, for those reasons.
There are four parts to this bill, and Part I deals with amendments to the
Income Tax Act and related regulations. That this is finance is clear from the
fact that it was tied into a ways and means motion in the other place. We do not
have that process here, but it is required of all finance-type legislation that
they start it with a ways and means motion that changes into a bill as it goes
That is the same for Part II, honourable senators. Part II is measures with
respect to sales tax, and there are quite a few different ones there. That was
part of the ways and means.
The Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act is a fairly short part of this
bill. We recognize that as being an appropriate type of legislation that could
be grouped with the other two parts that I have just referred to.
The problem arises, honourable senators, when we get to those other matters
that are included in Part IV, and there are 24 different divisions in Part IV. I
will try to highlight of some of the items in here, but in the time available I
cannot possibly touch on all of them.
For some of them that I would like to touch on, I made certain observations
and members of our committee made certain observations. During our discussion, I
will try to reflect on those observations so that you will have a bit of a
flavour for what is there. I invite any honourable senator to pick up on any of
these points and expand on them because each one of them is worth more than what
we can do here now.
Honourable senators, Bill C-45 continues in the same vein as many of its
predecessors. I am not restricting that to this particular government. Many
predecessor governments have adopted this process as well. It seems to work
quickly for them; they get it all done, in this instance before the Christmas
break, and they do not have to worry about it. The normal trend, if this is
followed, is that the bills get continually bigger and bigger, and, as was
pointed out in the past, pretty soon we will have one bill per year. We will
have the omnibus bill for 2013. We will all come in and pass it in two weeks,
and someone will stand up and say, "That is great. We got that through in a
hurry. Let us go home."
Honourable senators, this is yet another example of including a massive —
borrowing an honourable senator's adjective here — bill that simply did not
allow the time needed for adequate study.
The government knows this because we have made the point so many times.
However, they continue to gain political points by bundling in provisions which
we all support. There are items in this particular bill that we support. We
would like to talk about those and maybe improve them a little bit, but
generally we support them. However, there are many others we could not possibly
support. Therefore, you bundle this all together and do not allow a separate
vote and you get what comes out the other end.
Referring to Bill C-45, this particular bill, the Public Service Alliance of
Canada appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance said:
Many of these proposed legislative changes will have a drastic impact on
Canadians. They should not be rushed through Parliament in one large bill
that does not allow the careful consideration, public scrutiny and debate.
I happen to agree wholeheartedly with the Public Service Alliance of Canada
on that particular matter.
Before I get into the detail of some of the items in here, it is important
for us to be aware of recurring themes. One of those is seeing provisions where
power is taken away from arm's length independent boards, tribunals,
organizations and given to a minister. We have seen that in the past with fewer
and fewer independent boards and tribunals, more and more discretion to the
minister: "Trust me, I have a big department here; we can handle all that work
Another recurring theme, honourable senators, is an unfortunate result of
this approach to legislation. We are seeing more and more legislation coming
forward amending what we did in a previous omnibus bill. We are starting to see
more and more correcting of mistakes and omissions.
For example, there are mistakes in Bill C-38 which we just saw in the spring.
Someone is rushing to get this announcement out, put something in that bill, but
the bill is not fully thought out. That is when we get these unintended
consequences. There are amendments to the Fisheries Act regarding the passage of
fish, for example, in Bill C-38. That had to be rectified. Poor drafting of
transition provisions in the new environmental assessment law had to be
rectified, as well as ambiguity around the ministerial approval process for
certain investments by public investment pools. These initiatives were announced
with great fanfare but had not been fully thought out, and the result is we see
them back here again. We are studying them again with other pieces of
legislation. Those are a few of the examples we are seeing.
I will refer to another recurring event, and that is a lack of consultation.
We are hearing that more and more. Why is that? It is because whoever put this
package together took little bits from here and there and did not take the time
Honourable senators, First Nation chiefs say they are not being consulted on
the issue of navigable waters and that the government has a duty to consult
them. The Minister of Transport can approve natural resource projects affecting
167 lakes, rivers and oceans but will have no responsibility to consult with the
First Nation chiefs.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo expressed his frustration by
We are gathered here because there is anger, and there is frustration and
it is real. That which our people are faced with every single day is life
and death. Together we can accomplish a greater day for our people.
"Together" is the active word, honourable senators, and that is a group of
chiefs that demonstrated outside the Parliament just last week.
Today in the paper is another First Nation announcement. Attawapiskat Chief
Theresa Spence announced her hunger strike on Parliament Hill on Monday. She has
begun a hunger strike for the very same reason, that their rights are being trod
upon and changed without any consultation with them. We are seeing that not just
with the First Nations but in many different areas.
Honourable senators, I would suggest that it would be advantageous for the
government to remove all of these non-budgetary matters from these types of
bills. First, it would allow for quicker study and passage of the budget
implementation bill itself. Second, since the non-budgetary measures would
receive more careful consideration, the government could get it right the first
time and we would not have to continually revisit legislation in order to fix
Honourable senators, it is easy enough to look to the summary of this bill
and clearly see what does not belong. For example, Division 4 contains
amendments to the Canada Shipping Act; Division 8, amendments to the Indian Act;
Division 16, amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; Division
19, amendments to the Canada Grain Act; Division 21, technical amendments to the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and I could go on. There are many more
divisions here, but I hope that will give you a flavour for what is here.
I would like to speak a little bit about the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance and the work we have been able to accomplish by developing one
way of handling this kind of action by the government — the pre-study. It is not
universally accepted that we should be doing a pre-study. I recognize and I have
heard from both sides of chamber on this issue in the years I have been here why
that is contrary to the fundamental purpose and raison d'être of this
institution, but we have no choice. We have to at least know what is in the bill
before we can vote on it, and the only way we can do that with a bill that just
arrived a few days ago is to do a pre-study.
Our committee, as we heard from Senator Buth, held 12 meetings, sat for 21
hours and heard from 65 witnesses. That was the Finance Committee, and then
there were the other five committees. We began our study hearing from
departmental officials on each clause contained in the bill as it was helpful
for our committee and the committee members to hear from officials explaining
exactly what each clause does or hopes to achieve and what legislation is being
Following hearings with the officials, we then invited different
stakeholders, groups or organizations to come in and talk a bit about how the
different clauses or divisions of the bill affect them and whether they were
consulted, of course, and what input they had. Some were consulted, but many
were not. This allows us to gain a better perspective on how the legislation
will affect Canadians, because that surely is one of our roles.
Another one is to understand the legislation clearly enough to determine
whether there are any unforeseen or likely to be any unforeseen or unexpected
The committee heard from non-government witnesses — and maybe we can focus on
this a bit — on a range of topics such as changes to rules surrounding
Registered Disability Savings Plans. There were many diverse subjects, including
the Shipping Act.
Due to the wide range of subjects contained in the bill, I will not be able
to touch on everything for honourable senators, but I will outline some of the
committee's findings. One of the ones I would like to talk about is the
Registered Disability Savings Plan.
The committee heard testimony from several witnesses on the changes to the
Registered Disability Savings Plan. We just introduced this a short while ago,
and here we are back again to fix up what was passed previously. Honourable
senators may recall having seen Registered Disability Savings Plan provisions in
Bill C-38, which was just passed in the spring. While the initiative is a
commendable one — do not get me wrong on that — what we are hearing is that
there are areas that need to be examined in order to make it more inclusive.
For example, Brendon Pooran, a lawyer from the Canadian Association for
Community Living, told us:
I recognize that we are not here to discuss Bill C-38 that was already
passed back in June, but I have a quick comment on that bill. We do not
believe that the expansion of the definition of "plan holder" of an RDSP
fully addresses the systemic exclusion of adults with intellectual
disabilities in terms of benefiting from an RDSP.
The government seems to be taking the approach of only addressing issues that
arise with the Registered Disability Savings Plan instead of really taking the
time to research, consult and study exactly how this vehicle can and should
function. That was an independent comment and criticism of a very worthwhile
program that is being haphazardly introduced, honourable senators.
The next one I would like to talk about is the SR&ED, the Scientific Research
and Experimental Development Program. We heard a lot of positive comments about
this program, which has been in existence for many years. The committee heard
from witnesses who talked about the impact of the changes to this program being
proposed in this legislation.
There are four main changes to the SR&ED Program. SR&ED is not a nice acronym
for a program to help people with economic development, but I will continue to
use that acronym, honourable senators, because it seems to have been adopted.
The general SR&ED investment tax credit rate will be reduced from 20 per cent to
15 per cent. Why now? Why 20 per cent to 15 per cent? There is a proxy program
where, instead of having to detail every expenditure and everything that is done
in terms of expenditure and overhead, one can take a percentage of the salaries
and apply that to the program. That is going down 10 per cent, from 65 per cent
to 55 per cent. The answer is well yes, but one could always keep a detailed
record. Yes, one could, but it has worked well in the past. What is the abuse?
Capital is being removed from the base of the expenditures eligible for the
tax credit. Capital is tremendously important in fundamental research to buy the
equipment necessary to build experimental devices. That is gone. They cannot
claim it at all, honourable senators.
The bill removes — and I do not understand this either — the profit element
from arm's-length, third-party contracts for the purpose of calculation of the
tax credit. If a company is doing research and they need the help of an arm's
length, independent contractor — not their husband, wife or brother — to do
something they cannot, they take out the profit portion, which they estimate to
be 20 per cent. That 20 per cent estimate is questionable. In any event, only 80
per cent of that cost can go into the credit claim. The credit claim is now
going down to 15 per cent, as I indicated to honourable senators.
One of the primary concerns about the amendment is that it has the potential
to hurt Canada's competitiveness in research and development. Martin Lavoie of
the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, which represents 10,000 manufacturers
and exporters, claimed that Canada can expect its international ranking, in
terms of competitiveness and ability to attract foreign investment, to drop from
thirteenth to seventeenth, while developing countries such as India, Turkey and
Brazil will offer a more advantageous research and development tax credit.
Research in Motion, the makers of the BlackBerry devices on many of our
desks, reported to the House of Commons Finance Committee that they expect to
lose about $15 million as a result of these changes. This is a company that can
little afford to lose that amount of money when it is struggling for survival.
We heard from many other companies. Anchor Concrete Products Limited, in
Kingston, Ontario, is complaining about these changes. Acadian Seaplants
Limited, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia wrote that their company was built on the
backs of the SR&ED Program, and now we are changing it.
We heard from Briggs & Little Woolen Mills in Harvey, New Brunswick, just
near Fredericton, that if our government will not support research and
development here in this country, a country that does will be taking away the
jobs that we have in New Brunswick.
Humble Manufacturing in Burnaby, British Columbia, and Friesens Corporation
from Manitoba are saying the same thing: This is not a good thing to be doing,
at this time especially. However, it is there. It is in this legislation that
honourable senators will be asked to vote on.
We have heard a lot about pooled registered pension plans. We saw that in
Bill C-38 back in the spring. Now we are seeing more amendments to it, but
nothing has happened. We heard some people saying it is a great program because
the plan will be to bring the administrative costs down. Employers are not
required to go into this, and the alternative recommendation of a second Canada
Pension Plan, mandatory for both sides, setting the amounts that will be paid
in, is a much better program and, if put together, the administrative costs
would both be down.
The other thing with the pooled registered pension plan is that it uses up
the registered retirement savings plan amount that one is entitled to use.
People who use part of this for a pool cannot continue their own registered
retirement savings program.
Why would we be talking about this pooled registered pension plan? It will
not get off the ground. It is not a desirable program and will not help with the
identified problem that many people will be retiring without adequate funds to
look after themselves and their families in retirement. That is unfortunate, but
that is in there. The government announced this vehicle with great fanfare.
However, we have heard some significant testimony that the vehicle is not likely
to have the desired results.
Honourable senators, there are programs in the income tax amendments in Part
1 that are there to "close loopholes" for tax avoidance. Senator Downe would be
interested in seeing what this government is doing. Instead of going after
people who already owe money to the government, they are trying to close
loopholes for future activity.
Part 1 has a number of different provisions, including various arrangements,
retirement compensation arrangements, employee profit-sharing rules,
partnerships, transfer pricing, secondary adjustments, thin capitalization and
foreign affiliate dumping. I may talk a little bit about foreign affiliate
dumping. We did have witnesses speak about foreign affiliate dumping, and they
said it is an attempt by a Canadian company to move a lot of the profit over to
a foreign affiliate and dump the profit off there, where there is no tax.
We heard witnesses from the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Mining Association
of Canada. They understand that if there is a problem the government is trying
to deal with, that is great, but do not throw out the baby with the bathwater,
which is an expression that is often used. We have a wonderful program through
the Toronto Stock Exchange to raise funds for projects where the mining might be
taking place anywhere in the world. In fact, I have met with several mining
companies in Mongolia, and Toronto is the centre of mining internationally.
The Mining Association of Canada and the Toronto Stock Exchange say that in
terms of these foreign affiliate rules, there was an exception for legitimate
business practices that they thought would be in the rules. They accepted the
government's recommendation to tighten up the rules to avoid this dumping of
profits offshore, but they thought they had that exception; there was an
agreement there. However, when the rules were published, that was no longer
there. That is the kind of consultation they have been receiving. They are now
scrambling because this could be a very serious matter for the Toronto Stock
Exchange as well as the mining industry.
There is another point about bridge institutions. We agree with a number of
these initiatives, honourable senators. Facilitating central clearing of
derivatives is a good idea. If anyone has seen Bonfire of the Vanities
and a number of those motion pictures and books of a few years ago, derivatives
are unregulated and causing a lot of problems and a lot of failure in big
corporations where they have invested in derivatives. There needs to be some
regulation of that. This is an international initiative that is there and I
From the fisheries point of view, in order to correct the mistakes in Bill
C-38, this division makes technical changes to obstructing the passage of fish.
One would have thought that if six months ago this legislation had been thought
out, that would have been in there, but here we are correcting it.
Let me talk a bit about the Windsor-Detroit bridge. This piece of
legislation, honourable senators, exempts from any lawsuits the Fisheries Act,
the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Species at Risk Act, section 6 of the
International Bridges and Tunnels Act, the Port Authorities Operations
Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Within the region of
the bridge in Windsor, one cannot bring a lawsuit for a period of time under any
of these pieces of legislation.
I recall when there was a proposal to build or expand the airports in the
Toronto region. I can remember the hue and cry. It was huge. Lawyers were saying
that it was unprecedented. If the company builds it right, then we do not need
these exemptions. Lawyers and judges can handle this kind of thing.
We now have a situation where we are hearing nothing about this because it is
buried away in this otherwise positive initiative of getting on with the
building of this bridge from Windsor to Detroit. I know the resistance has been
there, but this is overkill, in my submission, not well thought out and a
terrible precedent. That, honourable senators, is in the bill.
We have IMF reform; the Canada Pension Plan Triennial Review and some changes
there; and the Indian Act land designation. Part of the reason why the First
Nation chiefs are opposing this measure is because they were not consulted on
this particular process and it is an interference with their own governance. One
does not interfere with an entity's own governance without some discussion. What
was wrong with the governance they had and the way they handled matters? They
had a process, and we are saying, "We know better, and here it is." I can
understand why they are opposing this.
Then there is the judges' salaries legislation, honourable senators. Judges'
salaries at one time were tied in with parliamentarians' salaries, or vice
versa. That is no longer the case. That is gone. That is not changed here, but
now we have the problem of every year or so dealing with parliamentarians and no
one wants to say, "Oh, my gosh, I need more money."
The judges are in the same situation. They do not want to have to come to
parliamentarians and say, "Please increase our salaries." There is an attempt to
make that arm's length and create a body for doing that and this is reflective
of that. I remind honourable senators that there was a time when we had an
independent body and we had parliamentarians' and judges' salaries tied to one
another, although not the same salaries. That was a few years ago.
Honourable senators, there are so many different elements: Merchant Seamen
Compensation Board; Canada Labour Code; Customs Act; the Hazardous Materials
Information Review Commission. That is the Hazardous Materials Information
Review material — gone. The minister can handle that; not to worry. The
commission that did that kind of work was at arm's length and it will now be
done from the minister's office. Part of this was the protection of trade
secrets and intellectual property and that commission knew how to do that. Now
that will all fall under the Minister of Health, and that big body of people
will be handling the intellectual property of companies that wish to manufacture
products that could, potentially, have public impact. We recognize there should
be some control, but the control was fine the way it was. Why move it over to
the minister? That is a question we have to talk about.
Senator Mitchell: Did they get anything right in that budget?
Senator Day: A recurring theme, which I mentioned earlier, is "goes to
the minister." That is one of those "goes to the minister," honourable senators.
Agreement on Internal Trade — there are some good initiatives on internal
trade, but we are wondering why it is in this bill. Why internal trade? They
have been working on this since 2009. Some of these initiatives were agreed to
in 2009. They now find their way into 2012, in the fall, in the second budget
implementation. To implement enforceable dispute resolutions, that is absolutely
fine. Why does it have to be tied to a finance bill? That is the question. I do
not have an answer.
The EI tax credit for small businesses — I cannot say there is an extension,
because we voted a year ago to give a $1,000 tax credit. The question is now
whether there should be another $1,000 tax credit. However, the base has moved
up, not to where it was when the first $1,000 was there but where it was at the
end of the first $1,000, the new base. Therefore, you have to look at the new
base. Many people will get a chance to use it; it is automatic. People will get
a chance to take advantage of it because there is an increase in the employment
tax. There is an increase in the employer's and the employee's Employment
Insurance premium that they have to pay. This will not create more work, even
though we are being told and the public is being told that this initiative will
create more employment. What it might do is preserve some employment. That is
important, but it will not create new employment, because there is an increase
in the Employment Insurance premium. That will just come out of this $1,000 for
one year. After that, they will be paying for it. That is a program that has not
been well explained but is there.
Electronic Travel Authorization is in here. That is a great initiative.
The CMHC age limits was an interesting subject, honourable senators. Members
of the board of directors do not have to be under the age of 70 to serve on the
board of directors of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. I was wondering
if we could see a similar type of initiative for members of the Senate in terms
of eligible age, but there was no answer from the government.
Senator Mercer: There never is.
Senator Day: As for gutting the Navigable Waters Protection Act,
honourable senators, I took a look at Schedule 2 to see my beautiful rivers in
the Miramichi and the Kennebecasis River. When I was appointed here, I chose the
watersheds of two rivers as the name of the designation of my area, Saint
John-Kennebecasis. They are two beautiful rivers in southern New Brunswick.
The Saint John River is still part of the Navigable Waters Protection Act,
from Mactaquac down. That is about a third of the Saint John River, maybe even
less than that. The Kennebecasis River is not there at all. I invite honourable
senators to take a look at how the federal government is withdrawing from
activity with respect to navigable waters and navigation in rivers that you
would fully expect to still be there, but that are not. The schedule is there
for you to look at them, honourable senators.
The Canada Grain Act is amended in a number of places. I found that quite
interesting. There will be lots of comment about doing away with the Wheat Board
out West and how much that cost and saved, and how much less the farmers are
paying now that the Wheat Board is gone. All of these amendments that would have
saved the Wheat Board a lot of money are coming along just after the Wheat Board
was disbanded. These are the Canada Grain Act amendments, honourable senators.
International aircraft financing is a really good thing to find in here. I
support it. Air Canada supports it. Basically, it allows for financing outside
of Canada. They could not do that before. However, again, why do we have to wait
for this particular Budget Implementation Act to find this matter? That is the
question I put to you, honourable senators.
Foreign affiliate dumping is one that I talked about earlier, honourable
senators. I could talk about a lot of the other ones.
Basically, what I have talked about are the first three parts of this bill.
The fourth part is by far the longest. It has 24 different divisions. We could
talk at length about those various divisions, but I do not want to use your time
to deal with something that should be in a separate piece of legislation.
I have talked, for several years, about how these finance bills should not be
tied in with omnibus bills. It is unfair, undemocratic and, quite frankly,
unacceptable. The trend is not to withdraw this practice. Rather, the practice
is getting worse, honourable senators. What do we do? Pre-study is one of those
defensive steps that we have taken. We could split the bill, like this bill was
split in the House of Commons to take out parliamentarians' pensions. We could
consider doing that with respect to Part 4.
We could study this bill, as we have indicated, like any other bill, and just
ignore the hue and cry that this is a finance bill and has to get back within a
few days of coming here. We could ignore that and say, "You sent us this bill;
we will study it."
We could study the bill afterwards. We did that about a year ago. We passed
the bill and then we studied it, because we said, "We cannot just pass the bill
and then ignore it." We studied it afterwards and had a number of
recommendations that are, at least, part of the public record.
We could send it back. Right now, we could stand up here and pass a motion to
send this bill back and have it sent to us when it is in proper order.
We could amend, honourable senators, to delete certain portions of this bill.
Senator Mercer: Let us do that, too.
Senator Day: We are not a chamber of confidence here, but the public
has confidence that we will do a proper job here. If they do not have
confidence, then we should not be here. We have to think about that, honourable
senators. This is a chamber where we are older than the other chamber and we are
less partisan in our approach.
Senator Robichaud: Really?
Senator Day: We have more experience outside of Parliament. Most of us
are not professional politicians here; we bring those experiences from outside.
Let us do the job that is expected of us.
There are good parts of this bill. I want to reiterate that: There are good
parts of this bill. However, there are also parts that are unacceptable, and
that is, in large part, Part 4. There are many portions that need further work.
Honourable senators, if we had the opportunity to review Part 4, we could
submit upwards of 3,000 amendments like the other chamber did, but I am
suggesting to you that that is not the way to go. It is not realistic, and it is
not manageable. We must act. I am asking you: How should we act to avoid this?
This is not an acceptable thing. This is not something that we want to see
happen again, honourable senators.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill C-45 be not now read a third time, but that it be amended, on
pages 175 to 414, by deleting Part 4 and schedules 1 and 2.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it was moved by the
Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator Mercer:
That Bill C-45 be not now read a third time, but that it be amended on
pages 175 to 414, by deleting Part 4 and schedules 1 and 2.
On debate on the amendment?
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: I have a question for the Chair of the Finance
Committee, Senator Day.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to inform you that the Honourable
Senator Day's 45 minutes are up. We are now considering the amendment. Would
Senator Day like to request an additional five minutes?
Senator Day: Yes, I would actually like to request an extra 15
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators, that Senator
Day be granted five more minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Robichaud: I would have voted in favour of 15 more minutes,
but the majority rules.
When the senator gave his speech at second reading, he told us that there
were different ways of dealing with an omnibus bill. I believe he may have even
mentioned this again in his speech today.
The proposed amendment involves deleting the part of the bill that does not
deal with budgetary measures.
Do you think it that it will be easier for you to pass this amendment than an
amendment that would split the bill and separate the budget measures from the
Senator Day: I would like to thank Senator Robichaud for that
question. It is always difficult to decide what to do, but I was convinced that
something had to be done. If I understand our rules correctly, in order to
divide the bill, another motion would have had to be moved in the Senate before
third reading, in other words, at committee stage.
I have been thinking about this since we received the bill two days ago. I
decided that, this time — and I will not take the same approach as Mr. Harper
with the decision concerning Nexen in Western Canada — the best way to deal with
Part 4 of this bill was to propose this amendment. However, this does not mean
that, if the government keeps doing the same thing, we cannot work together to
find another way of splitting the bill the next time.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, we have had the opportunity to discuss the time that could be
allocated to the debate on this bill, but since I have been unable to come to an
agreement with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, pursuant to rule 7-2, not more than a further six hours of debate
be allocated for consideration at third reading stage of Bill C-45, A second
Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on
March 29, 2012 and other measures.
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais moved that Bill C-36, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (elder abuse), be read the third time.
He said: Honourable senators, last March the Government of Canada announced
that it was introducing a bill to ensure that sentencing for crimes committed
against seniors in our country would reflect the significant impact that crime
has on the personal lives of these victims.
Bill C-36, which we are about to pass, contains the elements required to add
to the aggravating factors that judges can consider when sentencing offenders.
And we truly hope that these provisions will help deter potential criminals from
attacking our vulnerable seniors.
The Harper government has promised many times to implement measures to
protect communities across Canada. The amendments to the Criminal Code that were
passed last spring are a splendid example that we are very proud of.
Today, we want to ensure that people who commit crimes against our seniors
receive the punishment they deserve. Violence against seniors in Canada, or
anywhere for that matter, must not be tolerated.
With the passage of Bill C-36, Canadians will be more aware of the serious
problem of elder abuse, and they will have the information and the support
needed to take action and help prevent this kind of abuse.
Under the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code, evidence that an offence
had a significant impact on the victim, considering their age and other personal
circumstances such as their health and financial situation will be considered an
aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes. The Criminal Code already
contains six aggravating circumstances; this will be the seventh.
I would like to point out that the impact of a crime on an elderly person is
not always tied solely to the chronological age of the victim. Although a
general assumption of vulnerability among children is appropriate based on
chronological age alone, that is not the case with seniors. That is why it is
impossible to determine exactly when an older person should be considered
vulnerable under criminal law.
Not all individuals 65 and over are equally vulnerable. Much depends on the
individual's personality and life experience, as well as factors such as
physical and mental health, whether a support system in the form of a loving
family and friends exists, and whether the person's finances are secure and
sufficient for his or her future well-being.
We took this important point into account when drafting these amendments,
because the impact of a crime on an older person depends more on the unique
characteristics of that person regarded as a whole, when viewed by a properly
There are many 70-year-old Canadians who are in great shape and would be able
to handle the situation. At the same time, there could be many 55-year-old
victims, people who might be physically disabled, either by illness or by a
disability, which we see as an additional aggravating factor to which the
amendments are referring.
Thus, in order to ensure that the proposed Criminal Code amendment achieves
its objective, the bill deliberately does not set a chronological age as a
I would like to point out that the Criminal Code currently contains
provisions that address some forms of elder abuse, but I would like to take a
few moments to describe how the amendment before us today goes beyond the
By way of example, I would like to draw your attention to the Standing up for
Victims of White Collar Crime Act, which came into effect on November 1, 2011.
In this act, the legislator added to the aggravating factors the fact that the
offence committed had had a significant impact on the victim given his or her
personal circumstances, including age, health and financial situation. This
aggravating factor was proposed in response to large-scale economic crimes that
had devastating consequences for vulnerable victims, particularly seniors, who
had fallen prey to crafty fraudsters who earned their trust.
The Criminal Code also lists other aggravating factors that address some of
the circumstances often present in cases of elder abuse.
For instance, the Criminal Code provides that where an offence was motivated
by bias, prejudice or hate based, for instance, on age or mental or physical
disability, it shall be considered by judges to be an aggravating factor for
sentencing purposes. These aggravating factors therefore apply in cases where
crimes were motivated by hate toward an identifiable group, such as seniors.
Other aggravating factors currently in the Criminal Code that would also
apply in some elder abuse cases include the fact that the offender abused a
position of trust or authority in relation to the victim, or abused the
offender's spouse or common-law partner.
These aggravating factors apply not only where the abuse was committed by a
family member, but also where the abuse was committed, for example, by a
caregiver in a nursing home who was in a position of trust and authority over
In addition to the aggravating factors I have mentioned, the Criminal Code
provides a range of specific offences that equally apply to protect Canadians,
regardless of whether the victim is male or female, able-bodied or disabled,
young or old.
For example, the offence of assault applies equally to all Canadians to
protect against physical abuse. Mental cruelty is captured by offences such as
intimidation or uttering threats and financial abuse is captured by theft or
In some instances, an offence is applied to a specific relationship that may
be relevant to elder abuse cases. One such example is the offence of the failure
of an individual to provide the necessities of life to a person under his or her
charge. This is section 215. This offence is commonly among the charges in elder
By way of comparison to what I just mentioned, the proposed aggravating
factor in Bill C-36 would recognize that the impact of crime on a victim may be
exacerbated by a combination of the person's age, health and personal
There is another obvious reason why Canada needs this bill now.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2010, there were 4.8 million Canadians
aged 65 years or older. In 25 years, by about 2036, that number should double to
10.4 million. In 2051, one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65. These
figures clearly show that the population is aging.
The number of seniors likely to be victims of abuse will increase as the baby
boomers become dependent on other people, family members for example, to look
We are not dreaming in technicolour. We know full well that these new
Criminal Code provisions will not solve all the problems of elder abuse.
This bill will not end elder abuse, but we hope it will protect elders better
and give true support to people who can take action on behalf of the most
vulnerable members of our communities.
Throughout the committee's study, our colleague, Senator Pierre-Hugues
Boisvenu, talked about how the statistics show a worrisome increase in crimes
against seniors. He made an important point. Between 1999 and 2006, there was a
38 per cent increase in home invasions. Although this type of crime is very
upsetting for seniors, it is not considered a violent crime if the victims are
not physically assaulted.
Canadians can no longer tolerate incidents such as the one where an elderly
woman was attacked in the Montreal metro by a young man who had attacked others
the same day and who later was sentenced to serve two years less a day in the
I also remember a segment that aired last September on the television program
JE about an 80-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who was sexually assaulted by
an 81-year-old man in a seniors' home in the Saguenay. What is disgraceful and
unacceptable is the fact that the home's managers tried to cover everything up
before calling in the police.
As you can see, we still have a long way to go.
Here are some other good reasons to give judges new benchmarks on what
sentences to impose on people who abuse seniors.
By all accounts, education and prevention do not seem to be enough to
eliminate this crime.
At the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, we
heard from stakeholders from all sectors who told us how important it is to
combine prevention and criminalization, and we listened to them.
That is why, I would remind honourable senators, the government is tackling
violence against seniors in multiple ways, including through its elder abuse
awareness campaign and the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which includes some
highly structured awareness projects.
An annual budget of $45 million has already been allocated to these various
The New Horizons for Seniors Program is designed to help ensure that seniors
enjoy a good quality of life in their communities. The program was expanded in
2007 to include elder abuse awareness activities.
The program provides support to organizations to help them develop national
or regional education and awareness activities to reduce the incidence of elder
abuse, including financial abuse.
I would remind honourable senators of the awareness campaign entitled "Elder
Abuse — It's Time to Face the Reality" aimed at teaching people to recognize the
signs and symptoms of violence against seniors. As part of the campaign, ads
were broadcast on television and on the radio.
Although this initiative ended in March 2011, information on support services
for seniors is still publicly available.
As I mentioned earlier, many crimes committed against seniors are perpetrated
by family members. The Government of Canada's Family Violence Initiative aims to
tackle this problem by promoting public awareness of the risk factors associated
with family violence.
There is no universal definition of elder abuse. And as I mentioned earlier,
it is even difficult to determine at what age someone becomes a senior.
The definition developed by the World Health Organization in 2002 often
serves as a reference. The WHO defines elder abuse as a single or repeated act,
or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is
an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
We must consider this part of the definition carefully, since approximately
two-thirds of elder abuse is perpetrated by someone known to the victim, either
a family member or a friend.
The relationship between the victim and the abuser in the majority of cases
of elder abuse explains why the abuse often is not reported. In fact, it is
estimated that only half of violent incidents involving seniors are reported to
We must never underestimate the true extent of family violence against
seniors. Certainly, those around them must never turn a blind eye because they
feel that voicing their concerns would have no real effect legally.
I do not believe that I am exaggerating when I say that we have all heard
similar comments about the fact that some abusers get lenient sentences.
The best means of dealing effectively with this type of abuse is to ensure
that the aggravating circumstances contained in the Criminal Code effectively
cover situations of elder abuse in order for harsher sentences to be handed down
in such cases. Parliament does not want to leave any doubt as to its intentions.
Therefore, the wording of the proposed amendment before us today is similar
to one of the aggravating circumstances added to the Criminal Code last year
Section 380.1 states that the following must henceforth be considered an
aggravating circumstance: the fact that the offence had a significant impact on
the victims given their personal circumstances including their age, health and
When this bill was being considered in the other place, there was talk of
deleting the word "significant" before the word "impact".
Some members were of the opinion that the proposed aggravating circumstance
should automatically apply if the victim is an elderly person, regardless of the
magnitude of the impact the offence had on the victim. The government was
opposed to this suggestion.
Everyone agrees that all offences have consequences for their victims.
Removing this word from the bill would mean that the aggravating factor would
apply even in cases where the offence had a minimal impact on the victim.
For example, the offence of assault covers various acts, from simply touching
someone to more violent acts. In all cases, even less serious cases, the impact
of the offence on a victim may be the same whether the victim is young or old.
This bill targets cases where the impact of the crime on the victim is
particularly serious, not only because of their age but also because of their
This bill complements other government initiatives in the fight against elder
However, the federal government cannot combat elder abuse alone, because many
important aspects of this fight fall under the sole jurisdiction of the
provinces and territories.
For example, a number of provinces and territories have passed legislation to
fight elder abuse in care facilities. These measures include the obligation to
report abuse that takes place in health care facilities for seniors.
This example shows once again that an effective strategy to counter elder
abuse requires the participation of all levels of government in different areas.
Bill C-36 will ensure that these crimes are targeted and that their
perpetrators receive just punishments as a deterrent to reoffending.
Older members of our society, those who have contributed to building our
great country, should not have to live in fear for their personal or financial
security. After all, they have given to Canada and they have a right to be
treated with respect and to live in a safe environment.
Once passed into law, this amendment will ensure that the courts in different
parts of Canada have a national standard for sentencing, instead of the
piecemeal approach that is now being taken. The courts will have to take victims
By amending the Criminal Code to add a reference to elder abuse, our
government is showing leadership and taking responsibility for putting an end to
elder abuse. But legislation alone is not enough.
It is now up to professionals, practitioners, decision-makers, the public,
families and seniors to work with various agencies, organizations and networks
to ensure that this legislation has the desired effect.
I urge honourable senators to unanimously support Bill C-36 so that we will
have an additional tool that I feel is essential in the fight against elder
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would like to reverse the order of Government Business on the Orders
of the Day so that we study the fourteenth report of the Standing Senate
Committee on National Finance, Supplementary Estimates (B) 2012-2013, and
then proceed to second reading of Bill C-50.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourteenth report of the
Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, (Supplementary Estimates (B),
2012-2013), tabled in the Senate on December 11, 2012.
Hon. Joseph A. Day moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I can be a bit briefer on this one than I was
on the last one. That is because the rules give me only 15 minutes on this one
instead of 45. I thank the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate for
dealing with this report prior to the bill.
Honourable senators, this is the report that the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance has developed as a result of our work on the Supplementary
Supplementary Estimates (B) has in it a schedule of some funds that the
federal government would like to have, and that appears in Bill C-50 which is
the next bill we will be dealing with. In effect, honourable senators, this is
like a pre-study of the supply bill that will be coming up next. By allowing us
to deal with the study we have already done on the supplementary estimates, the
bill then can proceed in an unusual manner for this chamber. The bill will
proceed from second reading directly to third reading, because we have already
dealt with the work that would normally go on in committee if, after second
reading, we sent the bill to committee to study it and come back with our report
and then into third reading. It was important that we deal with the report prior
to making the decision on whether to go from second to third reading, or from
second to committee and then to third reading.
I would propose to honourable senators that, since we have had an opportunity
to deal with the report, it would be appropriate for us to move Bill C-50, when
we deal with that next, directly to third reading once we finish with second
Honourable senators, I will give a summary of the report that is before you,
or was before you yesterday. I assume it is back in your offices now, but I will
explain briefly what is in here. We met with six federal departments and one
agency to review these estimates.
This is a request for expenditures and does not deal — at least not in great
length — with the policy behind the expenditures. However, we wanted to know
what the money was going to be used for. Why are the departments here before us
asking for further funds? The amount of $2.5 billion is being asked for. Why in
supplementary estimates? Why not in the Main Estimates? Why was everything not
included in the Main Estimates so we could consider the whole year ahead?
Some of the initiatives here are reflective of what was in the budget. The
budget initiatives are policy decisions that were made, and we were preparing
and dealing with the Main Estimates at the same time as the budget. Therefore,
some of the initiatives could not be reflected in dollar figures and worked up
into a program quickly enough for the Main Estimates that we dealt with in May
or June after the budget; therefore we get those in supplementary estimates.
Supplementary Estimates (A) was dealt with in the May-June time frame.
Supplementary Estimates (B) is now being dealt with before Christmas, and
honourable senators should expect one more, which was confirmed by Treasury
Board. That will be before the year end, to pick up all of the initiatives that
the government may wish to implement before fiscal year-end but could not have
been costed out earlier on.
Honourable senators, I would like, on your behalf, to thank Treasury Board.
The Treasury Board Secretariat is critical for the Finance Committee in
understanding and dealing with the supplementary estimates and all of the
estimates, for that matter, the estimate process.
Bill Matthews, Sally Thornton and Marcia Santiago are the three individuals
from Treasury Board Secretariat with whom we have worked on a number of
occasions now. We find it helpful because we can go back to issues. There is
continuity that we tend not to get with most witnesses.
In addition to Treasury Board Secretariat, we met with Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development Canada. The steering committee got together and looked at
the departments that were asking for the most money and then we asked for those
departments to come to talk to us. That seemed to be a reasonable approach. Then
the Department of Health came before us as well. We had National Defence. I will
say a little bit more about each one of these. Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
also came before us, and finally the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
As I indicated to honourable senators, these particular supplementary
estimates are asking for voted appropriation and those are the ones that you
will be voting on, $2.5 billion. There is an estimate, for information purposes
only, of further statutory expenditure of $0.3 billion. That makes a total of
$2.8 billion budgetary expenditures, part of which you will be voting for and
part of which is statutory. There are no non-budgetary, which would be loans
that we might make to international associations, student loans and that kind of
thing. There is no further request there.
Let me tell honourable senators about some of the areas where quite a bit of
money is being requested. There is $162 million in funding to continue support
for the implementation of First Nation Water and Wastewater Action Plan; $91.4
million for industrial research assistance for small- and medium-sized
enterprises; $75 million for the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund. We
have looked into infrastructure programs in the past. There are quite a few
different programs and the money that has been approved has not all been used,
for various reasons. That is an important one to stay on top of because it is so
important for our provinces and our communities. Hopefully, we will continue to
keep a watchful eye on that particular area.
Total estimates to date are $257 billion, including $251 in the Main
Estimates, $2.3 billion in Supplementary Estimates (A) and $2.8 billion in these
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, as basically the employer for the
public service, looks after certain across-the-department expenses. $83 million
is requested for transfer to departments and agencies for salary adjustments.
Treasury Board looks after that; they confirm that these are, indeed, according
to the laws that we have set and then they come and ask for Parliament to
release the funds and allow them to transfer those funds to the departments.
There is $1.9 million for modernization of human resources services in
across-the-board departments and agencies.
The report has more detail in relation to Treasury Board, but that is
sufficient to point out the highlights of that department.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada — where is their money
going? Virtually all of the funds are significant amounts of money to try to
resolve ongoing issues. The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement has
been ongoing for many years and will continue to be ongoing. There are $125
million in these supplementary estimates on that one; $124 million in another
aspect of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. That is $250
million in these supplementary estimates. There is $45 million for development
of systems and support to ensure readiness for First Nations education
There is another program for our colleagues from the northern part of Canada,
$2.5 million in the Nutrition North Canada program. We asked some questions
In relation to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement, honourable
senators, there are 35,000 applicants to be compensated under that program. That
is compared to an estimate when this program was created of 15,000. More
important, 4,000 are processed each year. That is the department that we got set
up to handle this, 4,000 a year, and there are 35,000 applicants. You can
imagine if you were an applicant, if you were a First Nation person who has or
believes you have a claim under that terrible part of our history of the
residential schools settlement program, you could be waiting a long time, maybe
upwards of 10 years, to have your application dealt with under the current
system that has been set up. We would encourage Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development to try to get this moving a bit more quickly.
Nutrition North Canada is a program designed to help with the extraordinary
cost of food in the North. We have learned that under this program prices have
decreased approximately 8 per cent for a typical product basket in the North.
Honourable senators also questioned the $500,000 reduction for the project
for Aboriginal youth. This is a mobile travelling training studio for
audiovisual projects and the department said it would get more information on
this issue as to why half a million dollars was being removed from that program.
For the Department of Health, honourable senators, a number of programs
relate to the same programs under residential schools for native Canadians.
Honourable senators, we have $226.4 million for the provision of
supplementary health benefits to eligible First Nation and Inuit. The officials
from the department explained to us why they needed $226 million more in this
particular category for health care. It was indicated to us that, in addition to
the existing clients, there are 23,000 new claimants resulting from the recent
creation of a Mi'kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are also
20,000 new clients arising from Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act. That
was a result of a court case that required the government to reverse its policy.
These are Indian women who have left the reserve or are required to leave the
reserve and therefore their children and their children's children were not
entitled to health care because of that gender inequality rule that was reversed
by a court case. The law that we have passed reflects the order of the judge to
rectify that. That brings in 24,000 new clients under health care. Honourable
senators can see how the prices can escalate.
The Department of Finance Canada is requesting $10 million for the Toronto
Waterfront Revitalization Initiative, which has been going on for some time now.
There is another $10 million going into that. The rest of the funds are outlined
there but are typical administrative funds that are being requested.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform the
honourable senator that his time has expired.
Senator Day: May I have five more minutes, honourable senators? I
could easily finish. Thank you.
The Quebec government is having $733 million paid to them to help adjust to
the harmonized sales tax. Honourable senators will recall that British Columbia
received a payment, and now they will be paying that back because they decided
not to continue. Quebec is moving forward and will be receiving a total of $2.2
billion to go into a harmonized sales tax regime. I will repeat that: $2.2
billion. That is a significant amount of administrative money, we said; it is
probably a little more than administrative. The honourable senator from Quebec
indicates that they deserve it, but I am sure other provinces are saying the
That figure is calculated such that it is 1.5 points from the GST, the Goods
and Services Tax, in the province that is attributed to this in the formula to
determine how much would go to the province. I was hopeful that British Columbia
would change its mind because I think that harmonized sales tax makes it so much
easier for business development and for individuals who are buying things. The
next step would be to just post a sign saying "HST off; X per cent is included,"
so that one would see the final price. That would be another step in the right
direction, in my view, honourable senators.
In response to questions regarding the $13-million statutory reduction to
Nova Scotia, there was an interesting explanation. One rule is that because of
the reduction in equalization percentages, no province would receive less than
the amount it received prior to the change in the rules. Therefore, there would
be an amount that would go to some provinces that had not had an increase in
other economic activity. Nova Scotia is also subject to a special payment by
virtue of offshore and the reduction in equalization to compensate for the
offshore revenue that they generate. It all sorted out to a $13.5-million
reduction for Nova Scotia as a result of that.
Honourable senators, those are some of the points. I had intended to speak on
the Department of National Defence and my concern and the concern of many
members on the Finance Committee regarding the issue of re-profiling money. The
Department of Defence says, "We cannot spend that money on tanks this year; we
would like to re-profile it to operations." We said, "That is fine; we
understand that. However, we hope that you are not doing that too extensively."
However, they have to come to us to do that — moving it from capital to
The problem is that they said they would not have to come back to us. They
will spend the money in operations, but they would not have to come back to
Parliament and ask for the money again to put into capital next year. That
seemed to be very strange. They have assured us that they will come to talk to
us again about that once they have a chance to sort it out.
Those are a few of the highlights, honourable senators, of this particular
There is a wonderful summary at the end of the report. The House of Commons
is trying to change this financial reporting to make it much friendlier and to
deal with the crazy situation of comparing accrued accounting and cash
accounting in different documents. That is what we are doing. In Public
Accounts, No. 1 is accrued, No. 2 is cash. The budget is accrued accounting and
the Main Estimates is cash accounting.
Senator Stratton: Enough!
Senator Day: That has to be sorted out. We are expecting more from the
federal government in that regard by the end of March. The House of Commons
committee equivalent to our Finance Committee has been working on that
Senator Stratton: Committees are waiting.
Senator Day: We will keep you informed on that as time progresses.
Senator Stratton: I am sure you will.
Senator Day: I hope honourable senators find the work of the Finance
Committee helpful and we can adopt this report. Thank you.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I would like to say a
few words on this report from the Finance Committee on Supplementary Estimates
(B). This is on the section dealing with the Department of National Defence and
some of their spending practices. Senator Day has just referred to that.
It was during testimony from the DND officials that the issue of re-profiling
funds was raised during questions from senators from both sides of the chamber.
It came to the attention of the committee that, as it stands now, DND can take
money that has already been set out for certain projects in the Main Estimates,
receive approval for those funds, and then re-profile that money for different
projects or even for current expenditures.
That idea alone does not seem right. However, an even bigger issue seems to
be that if the money that was originally set out for a specific project is spent
on a different project, the original allocation still remains in the books; DND
does not have to come to Parliament and ask for more money. That simply does not
Let us use an example, because this is sort of difficult to understand. This
is as I understand it. Let us say the Department of National Defence wants to
buy a new tank. They get approval for $100 million to buy it. For whatever
reason, that project is delayed, but the funds have already been approved. DND
can re-profile some or all of that $100 million for another project or for
Let us say they decide to take $50 million and apply it to something else. A
year later, the tank purchase goes through for the original $100 million, yet
half the money was spent elsewhere. Despite some excellent questions from
senators on the committee, we could not get a concrete or satisfactory answer
from our witnesses about where the money comes from to fulfill the $100-million
commitment after half of it has already been spent.
One of the senators asked: "How can you take money from capital, use it for
current operations, still have the capital project in place, and suggest that
you will not have to refill the bucket at some point?"
That question was never really answered. It was not made clear at all how
that original capital project would now be paid for without needing more money.
Our witnesses agreed to submit a written answer to the questions posed, but I am
really not overly hopeful that their response will make this issue any clearer
than it was in committee.
Honourable senators, I firmly believe that this is something we should look
into in further detail. In fact, I would like to see the National Finance
Committee conduct a study on this very issue. I would welcome the opportunity to
investigate the matter in more detail.
Honourable senators, those are my comments on the spending practices of the
Department of National Defence.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? Are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the
Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, that this
report be adopted now.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Day, report adopted.)
Hon. Larry W. Smith moved second reading of Bill C-50, An Act for
granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public
administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2013.
He said: Honourable senators, I will try to be brief and summarize some of
the facts that our chair alluded to earlier.
The bill before you today, Appropriation Act No. 4, 2012-13, provides for the
release of supply for Supplementary Estimates (B), 2012-13 and now seeks
Parliament's approval to spend $2.5 billion in voted expenditures. These
expenditures were provided for within the planned spending set out by the
Minister of Finance in his March 2012 budget.
Supplementary Estimates (B), 2012-13 were tabled in the Senate on November 8,
2012, and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. These
are the secondary supplementary estimates for the fiscal year that ends on March
31, 2013. The first, Supplementary Estimates (A), was approved in June 2012.
The Supplementary Estimates (B), 2012-13 provide information on budgetary
spending of $2.5 billion in voted expenditures and $0.3 billion in statutory
spending. The $2.5 billion in voted expenditures requires the approval of
Parliament and relates to the following major budgetary items: $242.4 million
for the overall federal costs of contract policing services provided by the RCMP
for all contract jurisdictions; $226.4 billion to maintain the provision of
supplementary health benefits to eligible First Nations and Inuit;
$205.6 million for the Canadian Forces Service Income Security Insurance Plan
as a result of the Federal Court decision on the Manuge class action law
suit against National Defence;
$184.2 million for the Canadian Wheat Board's transitional costs such as
pension, post-employment benefits, severance, legacy costs and penalties
associated with contract changes as it becomes a voluntary grain marketing
organization August 1, 2012;
$181.5 million for mental health and emotional support services for the
administration and research required to support the federal government's
obligations under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, Health
and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
$180 million for disaster financial assistance agreements; $162.1 million to
continue to support the implementation of Canada's Economic Action Plan for
First Nations drinking water supply and waste water treatment;
$124 million for awards to claimants resulting from the independent
assessment process in alternative dispute settlement resolution related to the
Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement;
$122 million to meet the government's commitments to the Gas Tax Fund to
support environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure projects that
contribute to cleaner air and cleaner water, and reduce greenhouse gas
$114.6 million to meet the government's commitments to provincial-territorial
infrastructure-based funding program to help restore the fiscal balance while
enhancing Canada's public infrastructure;
The supplementary estimates also include an increase of $0.3 billion in
budgetary statutory spending items that were previously authorized by
Parliament. Adjustments to projected statutory spending are provided for
information purposes only and are mainly attributable to the following forecast
changes: $733 million in payments to the provinces regarding sales tax
Finally, $679.7 million for the additional fiscal equalization payment total
transfer protection Part 1, a decrease of $1.166 million for the revised
forecast of interest of unmatured debt, which reflects provisions to forecasted
interest rates by private sector economists.
The Appropriation Act No. 4, 2012-13 seeks Parliament's approval to spend a
total of $2.5 billion in voted expenditures.
Honourable senators, should you require additional information, I am sure our
chair and I, to the best of our ability, will provide you with same. I completed
that speech in 4 minutes and 30 seconds, thank you very much.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate,
Honourable Senator Day?
Senator Stratton: You'd have to match that.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: I just happen to have a bit of additional
Honourable senators, there are just two points I want to make. I accept my
honourable colleague's summary of this particular bill and the amount of $2.5
When honourable senators look at the bill, because this may stand out and one
may wonder about it, one will see a good number of entries for $1. There are
quite a few of them. The $1 is there because when re-profiling takes place we
have already approved the money but the government department would like to move
it from one department to another or from one vote to another, from capital —
and I talked about that earlier — to operations. That is re-profiling and it
requires our approval. That $1 is in there just so that the wording can be put
in for the re-profiling. When honourable senators see this, I think it is
important to understand that re-profiling.
The second point is there are two schedules. Schedule No. 2 is for two years.
Everything in Schedule No. 1 is for one year, but there are certain departments
where we approve for two years, and that is in the back of the bill, honourable
senators. There is Schedule No. 2, and that Schedule No. 2 is not for very many
departments; in this instance there are few, indeed. One is for the Department
of the Environment; the other for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The
question is, why? Certain programs, like Parks Canada which is another one in
there, sometimes go over more than one year, so it makes sense to have a
two-year approval for certain departments.
Finally, honourable senators, because we have looked at and just adopted the
report on the study of the supplementary estimates, I would point out that forms
the study of the schedule that appears here. Before we finish third reading, we
all may wish to compare this schedule to ensure that it is identical to what has
been studied by your committee. Only once in the last 10 years have we found an
error in that regard. However, we will continue to make that comparison.
Should honourable senators see fit to adopt Bill C-50 at second reading, I
would be prepared to support it going to third reading, rather than going to
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read a second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Carignan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for
third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Mockler:
That, pursuant to section 3 of the Statutes Repeal Act, S.C. 2008,
c. 20, the Senate resolve that the following Act and the provisions of the
other Acts listed below, which have not come into force in the period since
their adoption, not be repealed:
1. Agricultural Marketing Programs Act, S.C. 1997, c. 20:
-sections 44 and 45;
2. An Act to amend the Canada Grain Act and the Agriculture and
Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act and to repeal the Grain
Futures Act, S.C. 1998, c. 22:
-sections 1(1) and (3), 2 to 5, 6(1) and (2), 7, 9, 10, 13 to 16,
18 to 23, 24(2) and (3), and 26 to 28;
3. An Act to implement the Agreement on Internal Trade, S.C.
1996, c. 17:
-sections 17 and 18;
4. Budget Implementation Act, 1998, S.C. 1998, c. 21:
-sections 131 and 132;
5. Canada Grain Act, R.S.C 1985, c. G-10:
-paragraphs (d) and (e) of the definition
"elevator" in section 2, and subsections 55(2) and (3);
6. Canada Marine Act, S.C. 1998, c. 10:
-sections 140, 178, 185 and 201;
7. Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act,
S.C. 1998, c. 32;
8. Contraventions Act, S.C. 1992, c. 47:
-sections 8(1)(d), 9, 10, 12 to 16, 17(1) to (3), 18, 19, 21(1),
22, 23, 25, 26, 28 to 38, 40, 41, 44 to 47, 50 to 53, 56, 57, 60 to
62, 84 with respect to sections 1, 2.1, 2.2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7.1, 9 to
12, 14 and 16 of the Schedule, and section 85;
9. Firearms Act, S.C. 1995, c. 39:
-paragraph 24(2)(d), sections 39, 42 to 46, 48 and 53;
10. Marine Liability Act, S.C. 2001, c. 6:
11. Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, S.C. 2000,
-sections 89, 90, 107(1) and (3), and 109;
12. Preclearance Act, S.C. 1999, c. 20:
13. Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, S.C. 1999, c.
-sections 155, 157, 158, and 161(1) and (4);
14. Yukon Act, S.C. 2002, c. 7:
-sections 70 to 75, 77, 117(2), 167, 168, 210, 211, 221, 227, 233
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, this debate is a bittersweet
occasion, if I may say so. The "sweet" part is, of course, that the reason we
are having this debate is the fine work done a few years ago by our former
colleague Senator Tommy Banks. It was thanks to him that the bill leading to the
presentation of this motion was passed. It constituted a significant improvement
in the way this country handles legislation and, indeed, respects the
Senator Banks, as those who were here at the time will recall, had stumbled
upon the fact that a significant number of bills, or portions of bills, even
having been passed by Parliament and given Royal Assent, never go into force. He
told Parliament in, I think, 2006 that he had found 56 such pieces of
legislation. In that particular speech he quoted Lord Birkenhead, an eminent
British jurist who said:
Parliament enacts legislation in the expectation that it will come into
operation. This is so even when Parliament does not itself fix the date on
which that shall happen.
It would be hard to put the case more clearly and simply that, in fact, when
we pass a law we expect it to take effect.
Senator Banks, having discovered that this was not always the case, worked
for some years to get a private member's bill passed, the fruits of which are
before us today, as they will be once a year, into the future. His bill said
that if a law has been passed and given Royal Assent but not put into force for
10 years, it shall lapse unless one of the houses of Parliament passes a
resolution saying that no, it should not lapse, that its lapse should be
deferred for at least another year. However, Parliament must make that decision.
This is appropriate. It is almost a contempt of the public to have our
statute books cluttered up with pieces of legislation that have never been put
into effect, and it is certainly a contempt of what parliamentarians thought
they were doing when they passed the law.
Once a year, early in the year, the government has to table a list of those
laws, or portions of laws, that have been on the books for 10 years but are not
yet in force, and by the end of that year either a chamber of Parliament says
that, in the case of this particular bill, we will allow it to stay on the books
rather than lapsing, or it will lapse.
That is what we are doing today. We are looking at the ones the government
has proposed we continue, rather than allowing them to lapse. This is a really
good thing. Furthermore, in some cases, it is a very good thing that we allow
those laws to stand on the books, even if they are not in force.
I can think of no better example than the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban
Treaty Implementation Act, which is No. 7 on the list proposed in the motion
that Senator Wallace spoke to Monday evening and that is before us today.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, as Senator
Wallace told us, has not been put into force because the actual treaty is not in
force. However, Canada believes it should be, lives in the hope that one day the
world will do what it should and the treaty will be in force; and, as long as we
have this implementation act on the books, the day the treaty comes into force
we will stand ready to do our part. We are not, as a country, prepared to say,
"Let it lapse: The whole thing was a hopeless pipe dream."
There are really good things about this process. However, the "bitter" bit is
that there are also things that I think need some attention and improvement in
One is that this list that is published early in the year is simply that: a
list. No reasons are given for the failure to bring a particular law or section
of a law into force or the decision not to do so.
That makes it very difficult to know whether the decision or failure in
question was a good thing or a bad thing. Parliamentarians should know why
something is happening if they are expected to vote on it.
The second not-so-good thing is that the motions come to us very late in the
year. Notice of this motion was given only last week. As I said, Senator Wallace
spoke to it on behalf of the government only on Monday night.
I worked with Senator Wallace for some years on the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I know how conscientious he is, how
thoroughly he understands the law and legal texts, what a fine eye he has for
matters of detail and a what demon for work he is. It is asking, however, a
great deal of any senator, however brilliant, to grasp and be able to convey to
this chamber, in one short speech, the ramifications of laws ranging from
agricultural marketing, to the Canada Marine Act, to pensions, to customs
pre-clearance and to firearms.
In other words, rather like the omnibus bills we were discussing earlier
today in this chamber, motions concerning the implementation of Senator Banks'
bill are also omnibus affairs.
Senator Munson: Ominous?
Senator Fraser: Omnibus. The kind that would have wheels, if one were
It would be relatively simple for us to live up to, and for the government to
live up to, the spirit of what Senator Banks was so laudably attempting to do if
we were given more information, both early in the year when the list is tabled
and, more specifically, closer to the time when the motion is going to be
presented to us. The departments know why a given law or portion of a law is not
in force. It would be "parliamentarily" correct, in my view, for a statement of
explanation to be circulated to all senators some time before the motion is
presented. In that way, senators would have an opportunity to study the matter
and to look into the laws in question.
Senator Wallace can maybe advocate this. He cannot make the decisions. If he
could, I am sure everything would be perfect.
I have had the opportunity only to do some quick research on one element of
this motion, and that is No. 9 on the list, which concerns the Firearms Act and
which says that paragraph 24(2)(d) and sections 39, 42 to 46, 48 and 53
will lapse unless this motion perpetuates them. Why? Why are they not in force?
Why should we not let them lapse?
When I look at them they seem largely to be in connection with the import and
export of prohibited or restricted firearms. This is a serious subject on which
Canada has signed international agreements. It beats me why neither this
government nor its predecessors brought those sections into force. I have not
been able to ascertain that. It does strike me that they would be, on the face
of it, desirable.
Senator Wallace did tell us on Monday:
Given the government's ongoing review of the current firearms legislative
framework, the Minister of Public Safety has requested that the repeal of
those provisions be deferred to allow the government sufficient time to
examine the potential impacts of that repeal.
I think 10 years, actually 11, strikes me as a good long time to examine the
I am also particularly intrigued by the reference to the government's ongoing
review of the current firearms legislative framework. I thought we had done
that. I thought we had disposed of the long-gun registry. I was not aware that
there were other reviews of the legislative framework in train except for the
regulations concerning gun shows and firearms marking at the border, which do
not strike me as core parts of the whole legislative framework. It would have
been nice for us to know the context in which we are contemplating this ongoing
review and how the sections listed in No. 9 fit into that. It would have been
very nice. It is not an agreeable matter for parliamentarians to be asked to
vote on something they do not understand and cannot understand. In the case of
this government's approach to the Firearms Act, there has been so much confusion
or opacity about so many elements of it.
I was encouraged the other day to see that the Prime Minister agrees that
there should be perhaps a revision of the membership of the Firearms Advisory
Committee, which at the moment consists only of people who believe their job is
to represent the gun community to the government. There are, of course, other
people who are concerned with firearms legislation.
I am not standing here to say that I am sure that something nefarious lurks
in the weeds and is coming our way. I hope that is not the case. I hope that the
new constitution of the Firearms Advisory Committee will provide broad and
proper consultation of all the concerned elements of Canadian society since it
appears we are going to have a revised legislative framework. However, in the
meantime, I do not know why I am being asked to vote on this particular measure.
That is the only item I have had any time to look at. There are 13 others.
Senator Lang may understand the reference to the Yukon Act, but I am not sure
very many of the rest of us do. Senator Wallace did give us a bit of an
explanation, which was helpful, but I reiterate that it would have been far more
helpful if we had had advance notice so that all senators could have been able
to study not just a list but an explanation of what the list contains and why it
contains it. That would be a true service to the parliamentary system, to
parliamentarians and to the spirit in which we all so enthusiastically supported
Senator Banks' bill.
That said, honourable senators, I believe we should support this motion as
presented. When in doubt, I would argue in this case, do not leave it out. Keep
things on the books unless you know why you are killing them, but at least now
we know what it is we are keeping on the books. We still do not know why, in
many cases, but we know what, and that is a good step in the right direction.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the
Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded by Honourable Senator Mockler:
That, pursuant to the section 3 of the Statutes Repeal Act, S.C. 2008, c.
20, the Senate resolve that the following Act and the provisions of other
Acts listed below —
Shall I dispense?
Some Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, December 13, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.)