- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Privy Council
- Succession to the Crown Bill 2012-13
- Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
- Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
- Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act
- Banking, Trade and Commerce
- QUESTION PERIOD
- The Senate
- Human Resources and Skill Development
- Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
- Public Safety
- Canadian Heritage
- Point of Order
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, there have been consultations among the parties, and it has been agreed that photographers may be allowed on the floor of the Senate for this afternoon's meeting, so that they may photograph the swearing-in of new senators with as little disruption as possible.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk has received certificates from the Registrar General of Canada showing that the following persons, respectively, have been summoned to the Senate:
Douglas John Black
David Mark Wells
Denise Leanne Batters
The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there were senators without, waiting to be introduced:
The following honourable senators were introduced; presented Her Majesty's writs of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk; and were seated:
Hon. Douglas John Black, of Calgary, Alberta, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Bert Brown;
Hon. David Mark Wells, of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall;
Hon. Lynn Beyak, of Dryden, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Bob Runciman;
Hon. Victor Oh, of Mississauga, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Linda Frum; and
Hon. Denise Leanne Batters, of Regina, Saskatchewan, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. David Tkachuk.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that each of the honourable senators named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it is always a privilege and an honour for me to rise in this chamber to mark the swearing-in of notable Canadians taking their seats in the Senate of Canada for the first time.
As Leader of the Government in the Senate, I am proud of the Senate appointments that the Governor General has made on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Harper has carefully selected established business people, respected community leaders and dedicated public servants to serve in Canada's upper chamber, one of whom received the highest number of votes in the most recent Senate election in Alberta. I am honoured to sit among such distinguished Canadians.
Representing the regions, the appointees truly reflect Canada's rich diversity, its distinctive cultural communities, and speak to the special interests and expectations of all Canadians.
Today I invite my fellow senators to join me in welcoming five outstanding Canadians who bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm — because I know most of them — to this chamber. I wish to extend a warm welcome to Denise Batters, Lynn Beyak, Doug Black, Victor Oh and David Wells.
From a very young age, Canada's newest senator from the prairies had an inherent desire to serve Canadians in Parliament, specifically as a senator representing her home province of Saskatchewan. As a young girl, Denise Batters spent her Saturday evenings watching This Week in Parliament and Hockey Night in Canada. These were two things Denise was most passionate about when she was a youngster: becoming a senator, and the New York Islanders — the Islanders?
You have to be a Senators' fan when you are in Ottawa, Denise.
Aside from her passion for politics and hockey, Senator Batters brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this chamber. Appointed Queen's Counsel in 2008, Denise was in private practice in Regina for 12 years.
After leaving private practice, Denise served as Chief of Staff to Saskatchewan's Justice Minister for five years, a post that likely prepared her very well for her new role here in Parliament. Most recently, Senator Batters was Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan.
Although well established in her professional career, Denise is perhaps best known as a champion for mental health and suicide prevention. I recall with a heavy heart the day I learned of the passing of Dave, her dear husband, a former Member of Parliament for Palliser and a much-loved and respected member of our Conservative caucus. Dave, as we know, battled depression and anxiety and sadly took his own life on June 29, 2009. Since that time, Denise has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of mental health issues and to advocate for a national mental health strategy.
Senator, I know that Dave would be very proud of you today for the strength you have shown over the last three and a half years and for the work you have done and will do in his memory to bring awareness to such a crucially important issue — an issue of concern to all of us on both sides of this chamber.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator LeBreton: I am so pleased to welcome you, Denise. I know you will continue your important work and be a great senator.
In recent years, I have toured the country from coast to coast to coast during federal elections. I had the honour of doing that three times with the Prime Minister. I have seen first-hand the dedication and hard work of volunteers and candidates in every region of Canada. From urban centres to rural towns, the Conservative grassroots were out in full force.
In the 2008 and 2011 elections, I was thrilled to see the results of all the hard work, particularly in the northern regions of my home province of Ontario. Previously held by Liberals and New Democrats, these regions now have Conservative representation in the House of Commons. Hard-working Conservative members of Parliament like Greg Rickford in Kenora, Jay Aspin in Nipissing-Timiskaming, and Bryan Hayes in Sault Ste. Marie now advocate on behalf of their unique regions of Ontario with a great deal of commitment and dedication.
Today, northern Ontario has another strong voice in Parliament with the appointment of Dryden resident Lynn Beyak. Senator Beyak is a dedicated community volunteer, accomplished business owner and a steadfast promoter of northwestern Ontario. Lynn and her late husband Tony owned several businesses in the region, including a lodge and two car dealerships. Lynn and I had a little chat about our husbands in the car business. We have a lot in common. Lynn also ventured into real estate and insurance, establishing another successful small business in her community.
Senator Beyak's community involvement has spanned over 30 years. She has lent her time and expertise to many endeavours and initiatives, ranging from volunteering in local classrooms to serving as Vice-chair of the Fort Frances-Rainy River Board of Education and Chair of the Ontario Parent Council. She has also been a member of the Board of Directors for the Trillium Foundation and the Real Estate Council of Ontario.
One of the most important roles Lynn has fulfilled is that of a loving wife to her late husband Tony, mother to Jason and Nick and grandmother to Emily, Avery, Anthony, Charlie and Grace. A widow of 10 years, Lynn was married to Tony for 32 years until his untimely passing. Although Tony is not here with us in this chamber today, he would undoubtedly be proud of Lynn for the public service and dedication she has shown in her community and for her acceptance of this opportunity to represent the region they called home for so many years.
Senator Beyak, I am so looking forward to working with you here in the Senate of Canada, and I know my colleagues are. I know your enthusiasm and commitment will serve this chamber well.
Our government, of course, as you know, is committed to reforming the Senate in order for it to reach its full potential as a democratic institution serving Canadians. We have demonstrated this by our recent reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. This reference will help accelerate the pace of reform and will also lay the foundation for further necessary changes to the Senate. As Minister Uppal has stated, this reference marks progress towards our government's commitment to establish a more democratic, effective and representative Senate of Canada.
As an advocate of Senate reform, I am proud that the Conservative Party of Canada presently has three elected senators, who were selected by the people of Alberta to represent them here in Parliament.
Honourable senators, you will recall that our first elected senator was Stan Waters, who took his seat in this place in 1990 under the banner of the Reform Party and who was appointed by the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. Bert Brown was the next elected Conservative senator, appointed in 2007 by Prime Minister Harper, and he was followed by Betty Unger last year. The newest elected senator from Alberta, Doug Black, takes his seat today.
Senator Black participated in a lively Senate nomination process during the last provincial election in Alberta. A member of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, he was one of 13 people who put their names forward for nomination.
With the help of a dedicated team consisting of family, friends and volunteers, Doug toured Alberta over the course of 10 months, visiting 40 communities and meeting countless Albertans to discuss important issues concerning the resource-rich Western province.
Senator Tkachuk and I can attest to Senator Black's organizational skills because we worked with him way back in the 1970s or early 1980s when he was in Newfoundland and Labrador and was a very key member of many campaigns.
In the end, Doug travelled over 25,000 kilometres and managed to secure a resounding victory with 427,745 votes, more than any other single candidate in any of the four Alberta Senate nominee elections.
A fourth-generation Albertan with a Newfoundland accent — he still has it — Senator Black pursued a successful career in corporate, commercial and energy law prior to his appointment to this place. He was the recipient of the Alberta Award of Excellence for Leadership and Community Service to recognize his many contributions to his province and to his community. Doug has also served as Chairman of the Board of the University of Calgary, Governor Emeritus of the Banff Centre and Chairman of the Board for the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.
I absolutely know that Doug, as the newest elected representative for Albertans here in the Senate of Canada, will be a strong voice not only for the people of his home province but also for our government's commitment to Senate reform. I know I and my colleagues very much look forward to working with you.
Honourable senators, the face of our country is ever changing. I am very proud of the fact that since our government came into office, Prime Minister Harper has appointed talented senators representing a wide variety of cultural communities and special interests from coast to coast to coast.
Having appointed the first senators to represent the Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese and Pakistani communities, our government is committed to ensuring that the Senate reflects the changing face of Canada. Today, we welcome to this chamber a strong advocate for Chinese-Canadians and, in fact, all newcomers to Canada.
Victor Oh immigrated to Canada more than 30 years ago from Singapore. Having concluded that Singapore was not a stable place following the Vietnam War, Victor and his wife, Rosabella, believed that Canada would offer better security and opportunity for their young family.
Victor brought to Canada a strong business background with experience in construction. This proved to be invaluable to a city like Mississauga, which was, at the time, ready and waiting for the sprawling development that we have seen in the Greater Toronto Area over the last 30 years.
The Oh family quickly learned that despite their readiness to integrate into Canadian society, there were challenges that even the most prepared immigrants face. Victor quickly established a wide network of friends to ease the transition.
The experience he gained through his own immigration to Canada has helped him to better understand the difficulties new Canadians face. Victor volunteers a significant amount of his time helping newcomers integrate into our communities and open businesses. Senator Oh is a strong promoter of volunteerism among new Canadians in their communities, and he encourages them to learn or to improve their language skills to better their prospects for integration.
In recognition of his many contributions to his community, Victor has been the recipient of a great number of awards and honours, including the Robert Boyne Memorial Award by the Peel Regional Police Services Board, the prestigious Citation for Citizenship by the Government of Canada in 2008 and a tribute dinner by the Community Living Foundation in Mississauga.
Given his success in business, his dedication to community service and his commitment to helping newcomers to Canada, it really is no wonder that, in 2011, Canadian Immigrant magazine named Victor one of Canada's top 25 immigrants.
As you know, our government has made significant changes to our immigration system designed to improve economic outcomes for newcomers to Canada. Senator Oh shares this vision and in fact recognized the importance of this far before we formed government. Victor, I know you will continue your important work with newcomers to Canada and all Canadians through your new role here in the upper chamber.
Honourable senators, our newest senator from Newfoundland and Labrador is no stranger to Ottawa. David Wells brings an extensive background in regulatory streamlining and policy development to this chamber, which will undoubtedly prove beneficial in our government's ongoing focus on the economy and on allowing business to do what business does best.
Senator Wells has extensive experience in resource development in Canada, having recently served as Deputy CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
David's extensive background in fisheries, mining and oil and gas will be invaluable to this chamber and to the government's wider responsible resource development initiatives.
Senator Wells has also represented Canada on the international stage in trade negotiations in Asia and Europe and has served as a delegate at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.
Community involvement has been an important aspect of David's personal life. He has volunteered his time with local organizations like the Avalon Celtics Minor Hockey Association and the Big Brothers of Canada Mentoring Program, as well as his neighbourhood school council.
On the personal side, our newest Newfoundland and Labrador senator is a licensed sealer's assistant, perhaps one of the only senators in this chamber to have participated in a seal hunt.
David is also a passionate alpine mountaineer, having reached the summit of some of the world's highest peaks. This past July, he summitted Mount Elbrus, in the Russia Caucasus range, the highest peak in Europe. He was the only Canadian on a European-led team of 11 climbers. If Senator Wells can reach the summit of some of the world's highest peaks, I think he will find his transition to the Senate of Canada to be quite painless. His experience, both personal and professional, will be of great benefit to his work on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and, ultimately, for all Canadians.
Honourable senators, please join me in welcoming our newest colleagues to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, first let me welcome and congratulate the new senators to the chamber. I know they will endeavour to serve this place with respect and dignity.
Also, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and welcome everyone back. I am sure that relaxation from our break will make for some lively and spirited debate this session.
Honourable senators, February is Black History Month, a time when Canadians honour and celebrate the legacy of Black Canadians. From coast to coast to coast, the influence of Black Canadians on Canada has been significant. In Nova Scotia, we celebrate the legacy of people like Delmore "Buddy" Daye. Buddy Daye was a local boxing champion and community activist. A staunch supporter of Africville, Buddy became the first African Nova Scotian Sergeant-at-Arms for the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.
We celebrate the contributions of Graham Downey, the first Black city alderman in the history of Halifax, a position he was elected to for over 25 years. A dedicated public servant and proud supporter of the arts and culture in the Black community of Halifax, I was proud to present Alderman Downey with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his service to our community.
We recognize the contributions of Wayne Adams, Member of the Order of Canada, Nova Scotia's first elected Black member of the legislature and the first Black cabinet minister in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is now seen as a leader in environmental stewardship because of the leadership of Wayne Adams, who served as Environment Minister in Premier Savage's government.
Honourable senators, we also celebrate the life of Daurene Lewis, who sadly passed away at the end of January. A pioneer in her community, Dr. Lewis was elected Mayor of Annapolis Royal in 1984, becoming the first Black female mayor in the history of Canada. It is interesting to note that Annapolis Royal, formerly Port Royal, was the capital of Acadia and Nova Scotia for almost 150 years until the founding of Halifax in 1749.
Daurene was an accomplished nurse, educator and successful businesswoman. A recipient of the Order of Canada, she was a role model for many African Nova Scotians, especially when it came to politics. This is quite evident in that she was the first Black woman to run as a candidate in a provincial election. We offer our sincere condolences to her family, many friends and her community where she was so well respected.
Honourable senators, it is through the dedication and perseverance of these people, and many more, that makes Canada what it is today: an inclusive, diverse and prosperous nation of many nationalities, religions, cultures and colours. We celebrate their contribution and that of African Canadians throughout our country. We also look to the future as we encourage all young people to realize the history and contributions of our many cultures in Canada and what a bright future it will be.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to someone for whom I have a great deal of respect: former Senator Laurier LaPierre, who died in December at the age of 83.
Senator LaPierre came to national prominence on the CBC program This Hour has Seven Days, a weekly news and current affairs program that aired on CBC from 1964 to 1966. It is well known that Senator LaPierre irked some people with the passion and emotion he displayed publicly. That same compassionate quality impacted a lot of people in a positive way. Senator LaPierre understood their reality and in many cases he identified with it. For example, there was his reaction while interviewing Steven Truscott, the 14-year-old boy sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an Ontario girl, which once again renewed debate on the death penalty. Sadly, CBC considered Senator LaPierre's visible emotion unprofessional. He shed a tear on camera and soon after the Truscott interview, Senator LaPierre's contract was cancelled.
Patrick Watson, co-host of This Hour has Seven Days said:
Some of the best times I have ever had on camera were spent with Laurier.
I had personally been a great admirer of Senator LaPierre from a distance for a long time, and I was absolutely thrilled when he and I were appointed by Prime Minister Chrétien to the Senate in 2001. He was my seatmate. While we were both learning the rules of the chamber, I also very quickly learned from Senator LaPierre that there were rules to be respected and there were rules to be challenged. He always followed the overarching spirit of the rules, but maybe not their particular intent.
During his time in the Senate he was a great proponent of human rights, especially Aboriginal, gay and lesbian rights. He also spoke out passionately on issues related to bilingualism.
He was a very entertaining seatmate with a great sense of humour. He once rose on a point of order regarding BlackBerrys. He was always irritated by my constant use of my BlackBerry. It was typical of Senator LaPierre to voice his thoughts aloud. We all know the senator was many things, but he was not a shrinking violet. He always spoke out where others would stay silent. On October 22, 2002, he said:
Honourable senators... many people in this august group use that little BlackBerry, blueberry, raspberry, or whatever it is called. They play with it and they get all the information they want. Those of us suffering from arthritis in our hands cannot hold a BlackBerry, a blueberry or a raspberry. The end result is that we are discriminated against because we cannot bring our computers into the chamber.
Senator LaPierre's partner Harvey Slack has always been solicitous of him and his friends. With Harvey, we mourn the loss of a great human being who truly cared about the unity of Canada and the well-being of Canadians.
My friend Laurier, you never made life easy on you. You always tilted at windmills.
You always took a road different from ours for the good of humanity. We will miss you. Rest in peace.
Hon. Michel Rivard: Honourable senators, on January 25, we were very saddened to learn of the death of the Right Honourable Martial Asselin at the age of 88.
I would like to mention some highlights of his career, because it would take much more than three minutes to summarize the remarkable life of this great Quebecer.
This son of La Malbaie was called to the Barreau du Québec in 1951 and practised law in his home region.
He was the mayor of La Malbaie from 1957 to 1963, and he was elected to the House of Commons in 1958 as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Charlevoix. He was re-elected in 1962 and appointed Minister of Forestry in the Diefenbaker cabinet in 1963, just a few months before his defeat at the hands of the Social Credit Party. He was re-elected in 1965 and again in 1968, as one of the few Conservative members to resist the Liberal sweep in Quebec.
That same year, he suffered a tremendous loss when his wife and two of his three children died in a fire that destroyed his residence in La Malbaie. The whole region of Charlevoix mourned his loss.
Showing incredible courage and determination, he pursued his political career and, in September 1972, he was appointed as a Conservative senator for the Stadacona division by Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. In 1979, he was appointed Minister of State for the Canadian International Development Agency and Francophonie, in the government of Joe Clark.
In 1984, when the Progressive Conservative Party regained power in Ottawa, he was appointed Acting Speaker of the Senate.
He was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec in 1990, and he held that position until 1996.
Despite his hectic schedule, he always remained actively involved in his community. He chaired the board of directors of the Domaine Forget, and he regularly participated in many activities organized by the Clermont-La Malbaie-Pointe-au-Pic Lions Club. He drew his boundless energy from the Charlevoix region.
He became an Officer of the Legion of Honour in 1996 and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997.
In 1992, when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was in power, he became one of the few Canadians who could use the title of Right Honourable by appointment.
He was a dedicated and principled man and a model of commitment. He truly loved his hometown of La Malbaie, and he had a major influence on its history.
Therefore, it is with much emotion that, today, I salute this great son of La Malbaie, this distinguished Quebecer and this remarkable Canadian.
In closing, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to his family.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I also wish to welcome our five new senators. You will find us pretty nice on this side. Do not be too nervous or concerned. Just watch me.
Last month, honourable senators, Parks Canada released a proposal to dramatically increase the fee structure for using our country's canal systems, particularly for the Rideau Canal. As the senator for Ottawa/Rideau Canal, I objected strongly. Fees have been frozen since 2008 and the time has come to adjust them incrementally to meet rising costs and to ensure the long-term sustainability of our canals. However, there has been public outcry because Parks Canada presented us with a plan based only on numbers and not on the stake we share in our canals.
From Ottawa to Kingston, the Rideau Canal enhances the quality of life for all sorts of people — boat operators, bed-and-breakfast owners, private campground operators, people who sell everything from groceries to camping supplies. It is a big industry and there can be no mistaking it. Honourable senators, you put all of those together and you have a vibrant tourist industry. Take the season passes away and start charging for each lock and here is what you have. They tried, at first, to impose astronomical fee hikes. They are cutting the industry off at the knees. A couple of weeks ago the Ottawa Citizen's Don Butler did some math for us and it worked out to an increase of about 340 per cent.
Higher rates do not necessarily translate into higher revenue if there are not as many boats going through. Parks Canada could well price our canal systems and several Ontario towns out of business. Parks Canada should have thought of this in the first place, but at least it is responding to the public backlash. Yesterday, Parks Canada posted its latest revisions to its proposals. Mooring fee increases have been reduced and one-day and seasonal passes have been restored. This is progress, but more is needed.
Mayors along the Rideau corridor are working together in the interests of their constituents. They have been saying that small businesses and transit between municipalities would suffer if Parks Canada went ahead with its plans for still-too-high fees and the elimination of widely used one-day passes.
Part of the mandate for Parks Canada is "to serve Canadians, working together to achieve excellence guided by values of confidence, respect and fairness." Parks Canada has not been fair about this. The Rideau Canal represents many wonderful things. Operating with the same technology that was used when it was first opened in 1832, it is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. This means it belongs to the people of Canada. It was never the intention of parks and/or these canal systems to have a user-fee policy all the way through. Parks Canada owes it to Canadians to find a balance between raising revenue and ensuring that the canal remains accessible for all of us to appreciate and enjoy.
Honourable senators, until February 18, the government is accepting public input to its proposal by email. This is not public consultation if it is email. There should be town hall meetings and an open and transparent discussion about this. Email is hardly public consultation, but it is the best we have.
Honourable senators, I encourage you to go on to the Parks Canada website, find out about the proposal and send in your comments.
Hon. Asha Seth: Honourable senators, first, I would like to congratulate the five new senators. Welcome to the Senate.
Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about a very successful trip I made to India this January. Our government is working hard to strengthen ties between Canada and India, which is quickly becoming one of the most important economies in the world.
This January I made it my responsibility to return to India and ensure Canadians were represented at key trade conferences. My trip covered five major urban centres in India and included meetings with the chief ministers of the states of Kerala, Gujarat and Bihar.
I had the privilege to deliver greetings from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Mr. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala, during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations which gather people from across the world to discuss not only culture but trade.
In Gujarat I delivered a greeting from the Prime Minister to Mr. Nerendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit. This event, in particular, is of huge importance as Canada was a key event partner and beneficiary of billions of dollars' worth of trade agreements signed at this conference.
In the city of Patna, Bihar, I held a private meeting with Mr. Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar, and pushed him to make Canada a partner in bilateral trade, energy and international cooperation. Mr. Kumar was excited to see Canadians so eager to strengthen economic and cultural ties.
Finally, I spoke at my alma mater, King George's Medical University, where vice chancellor Dr. D.K. Gupta expressed his strong desire to improve international exchange programs between our two countries that would allow thousands of students to study at our world-class universities and invest millions in these institutions.
This year, as we focus on the economy, I want to ensure we benefit from the relationships created during this trip. The economies of Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat represent trillions of dollars and it is our duty to ensure Canadian companies are able to access these markets.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, first I want to welcome and congratulate the five new senators.
I want to bring to the attention of all senators an issue of great importance to my province of Prince Edward Island.
The province of New Brunswick and its lobster fishers and processors are lobbying the federal government to increase the minimum allowable lobster carapace size to 77 millimetres by 2015. There is no need for such change as officials at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, even as recently as last week, have said that there is absolutely no reason from a conservation perspective to increase the minimum carapace size from 72 millimetres. They say that the overall lobster stock is quite healthy. The current size will ensure biological sustainability and there is no threat to the lobster population.
Island processors have carefully found and developed markets for the unique product of canner lobsters, and an increase to the carapace size will effectively wipe out that part of our lobster fishing industry. The impact on the province will be tremendous. Approximately 80 per cent of all canner lobsters are caught by Island fishers. In fact, 57 per cent of our entire lobster catch is of the canner size. Losing that share would gut the industry as a whole.
Lobster is the backbone of the Prince Edward Island fishing industry. The landed value of our lobster is more than $100 million a year and it brings in about $250 million to the Island economy. The industry employs more than 6,000 people.
In November, the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island passed a unanimous motion that indicates the province will not support any increase in carapace size beyond the agreed-upon 72-millimetre size.
Any increase to the minimum carapace size will do irreparable harm to Island fishers. A recent editorial in our local newspaper The Guardian said:
Canner and market lobsters serve two distinct customers. Clearly, there's a consumer preference for both. We should keep it that way in the interests of not only the consumer but the industry, which can only benefit from a healthy, diversified marketplace.
I urge the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to ensure that there are no further increases to the minimum lobster carapace size. Island fishers, processers and the province as a whole are depending on it.
Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo: Honourable senators, on January 19, 2013, the Vietnamese-Canadian community in the Greater Toronto Area had the privilege of welcoming the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper; the Honourable Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney; and a very large delegation of six ministers, two senators, three parliamentary secretaries and 11 members of Parliament. They all came to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in Toronto.
It was truly an honour for the Vietnamese community to celebrate this important cultural event with the first Canadian Prime Minister to attend a Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival.
On Sunday, February 3, the Vietnamese community was honoured once again to welcome the Honourable Jason Kenney to our Tet celebration in Montreal.
The presence of such parliamentarians confirms that Vietnamese Canadians are active and integrated in this great land. In the coming weeks of celebrations, the community will contribute to Canadian diversity by celebrating our differences and enriching Canada's cultural mosaic.
I invite all Canadians to take part in the Tet celebrations happening across Canada.
On February 10, 2013, the Vietnamese people and other Asian communities will bid farewell to the Year of the Dragon and welcome the Year of the Snake. It is my hope that 2013 will be a year of good health, good fortune and much happiness for honourable senators and their families.
Honourable senators, as we approach the Vietnamese New Year, which will take place on February 10, 2013, I wish you and your families a year filled with prosperity, health and joy.
Bonne année, Happy New Year, Chúc Mừng Nim Mới.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Regulations Amending the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials (Tunisia and Egypt) Regulations.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the text of the United Kingdom Succession to the Crown Bill as of January 30, 2013.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2012 fall report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Canada, pursuant to subsection 23(5) of the Auditor General Act, together with an addendum containing copies of environmental petitions received between January 1 and June 30, 2012.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to subsection 38(3.3) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner's Case Report on Findings in the matter of an investigation into a disclosure of wrongdoing at the Canadian International Development Agency.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-53, Act to assent to alterations in the law touching the Succession to the Throne.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government) introduced Bill S-14, An Act to Amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Irving Gerstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have the power to sit on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:15 p.m. for the purposes of its study of Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that Rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I, too, would like to welcome the five new honourable senators to the Senate.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Madam Leader, last Friday afternoon at 3:30, a time designed to optimize public attention and media coverage, the Minister of State with responsibility for Democratic Reform, the Honourable Tim Uppal, announced that the leader's government had decided to send a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada concerning its proposals for Senate reform.
For the sake of the new honourable senators, allow me to remind the leader that it was our Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee that recommended in a report in June 2007 that this government should take precisely that step. The committee in that report stated:
We are convinced that the only way to ensure that the approach that the Government has taken on Senate reform is indeed constitutional is for the Government to refer Bill S-4 —
That was the bill then before the house.
— as we have amended it to the Supreme Court of Canada on a constitutional reference.
While we on this side are pleased that the government has taken the advice of the committee, which was supported by all members on this side, why did it take the government five and a half years to act on the committee's recommendation to send this constitutional reference to the Supreme Court of Canada?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question. It is like we never left this place, with the same type of questions.
I point out to the honourable senator that Senate reform has been a policy of this party and government for many years. We came into government seven years ago — we were sworn into office seven years ago Wednesday. We brought in Senate reform legislation and did not appoint any senators. Our numbers kept diminishing. We appointed an elected senator in the person of Senator Bert Brown in 2007.
We operated as a government through that period of time without appointing new senators, hopeful that the Parliament of Canada would act. There was even a special Senate committee, chaired by our former colleague, Senator Dan Hays. The Prime Minister appeared as a witness at that committee, which was the first time in history that a sitting prime minister had appeared before a Senate committee. As a result, our efforts to reform the Senate went nowhere.
After the 2008 election, the Prime Minister made it clear that until the issue of Senate reform was resolved, he would exercise his duty and right to fill Senate vacancies for the very reason that we could not have government policies being dictated or interfered with by a chamber whose commitment was to two previous governments.
Therefore, honourable senators, we tried. We believed we were on solid footing. The government has, as the honourable senator has indicated, now made a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. In our view, this reference will help accelerate the process of reform in the Senate and lay the foundation for future reforms.
Several questions have been put to the Supreme Court. Of course, the Province of Quebec has in fact taken it to court. In order to accelerate the process, the government ultimately decided that we would make the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Senator Cowan: I appreciate the rather selective history lesson, but the question was why it took five and a half years to do what the Senate committee recommended five and a half years ago. If the government had done that then, would we not have received the answer by now and the government would know whether or not it was on solid ground? What is wrong with that?
Senator LeBreton: I thought I answered the question by saying that through the various parliaments we put forward several Senate reform proposals. Ultimately, it was quite clear that Bill C-7 in the other place was not advancing quickly enough. The actions of the Province of Quebec also indicated to us that a reference to the Supreme Court was probably the best way to go.
The honourable senator asked why. Well, we have tried various pieces of legislation on Senate reform, but the honourable senator always accuses the government of not listening, and when we listen, he still accuses.
Senator Cowan: No, the leader misunderstood me. I congratulated her. We were pleased on this side that the government had finally taken our advice. Perhaps it should do so more often.
At the time the committee tabled its report, the leader's cabinet colleague Minister Van Loan called the recommendation to refer the matter to the Supreme Court "a real danger to Canadian democracy." He also accused us on this side of "provoking a constitutional crisis."
Does the leader's colleague Minister Van Loan still believe that a reference to the Supreme Court is a danger to democracy and could provoke a constitutional crisis?
Senator Mercer: Does he know what he is talking about?
Senator LeBreton: Minister Van Loan obviously had some great concerns, but if the honourable senator wants to get into a debate with me quoting back some of the things that people on his side have said, including a former prime minister calling backbenchers a bunch of "nobodies," we can get into that battle any time we want.
Senator Day: Okay.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, setting aside for the moment all the joy and happiness opposite on the Supreme Court reference, could I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether she and her colleagues might give some thought, since it may take over two yeas for a decision regarding the Supreme Court reference, to holding a public referendum to allow the people of Canada to vote on reform, status quo or abolition, not because such a vote would be binding but because it would be another indication of the public will? That would then assist the government in its dealing either with the decision from the Supreme Court or with constitutional discussions that might ensue thereafter, the people having been given a chance to speak before the men in suits decide and in a fashion that reflects the public will on this matter.
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Segal for that question. We believe the Senate must change, but it is the NDP and the Bloc that favour abolition. We are proposing something more modest than that. Several questions are contained in the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada, and many are multi-facetted. We believe that this is the prudent course of action to take at the present time and that it does, in fact, have the support of the Canadian public.
Hon. Terry Mercer: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question. In response to Senator Cowan's several questions, the Leader of the Government in the Senate made reference to the legislation that was introduced a number of times in the other place.
Perhaps the minister could explain to us why this legislation was introduced — legislation we were told that this government believes in and that was a priority for this government. Could the leader tell us why it sat on the Order Paper for so long? The government controls the agenda; it has a majority in the other place and a majority here. Why did the legislation sit on the Order Paper over there for so long? It was called for a short debate, and then it sat on the Order Paper for over a year or so, I believe, without being debated once. Could the leader explain that to us, please?
Senator LeBreton: I believe the honourable senator's facts are wrong. It has been called and debated. Obviously, there was not the support for the bill in the other place.
Senator Mercer: You have the majority.
Senator LeBreton: When we put the bill forward, we believed we were on solid constitutional footing because we had advice that indicated that. However, the bill in the other place was moving along at a snail's pace. The actions of the Province of Quebec convinced the government to decide to make the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to expedite this and bring in true Senate reform.
Senator Mercer: I have a supplementary question. It seems to me, honourable senators, that the leader said there was not support for it in the other place.
Senator Cordy: There was not support from the Conservatives.
Senator Mercer: The last time I checked, they had a majority in the other place. If there was not support for it, it indicates to me that the trouble was in the Conservative caucus.
Now the government is referring it to the Supreme Court to get a ruling that will convince the leader's own caucus colleagues that it is a good idea. I do not think it is fair to blame anyone else for slowing it down. The government slowed it down because, by the leader's own admission, there are problems in her caucus.
Senator LeBreton: I said no such thing. I said that in the House of Commons, there were attempts to move the bill forward, and it was the opposition that I was referring to.
With regard to the Conservative caucus, the honourable senator must resist believing idle gossip in the newspapers. I feel very strongly that issue of Senate reform is overwhelmingly supported in the Conservative party caucus.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The unemployment among young people is roughly 14 per cent. It has been consistently that for the last two years. That is twice the national average.
Last week, TD released a new report that shows the rise in youth unemployment in this country will cost nearly $11 billion in lost wages over the next three years. A recent article by Maclean's magazine called young people "the new underclass."
There are many young people out there who are wondering if they will ever get ahead. What, exactly, will this government do to help Canadian youth work to their full potential?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have spoken about this before. Obviously, there are issues in the Canadian job market when we have trades going wanting. They cannot find people to work in trades; we have job shortages all over the country. Obviously, there is work to be done with regard to youth employment. That government has embarked on many measures to retrain and streamline young people into proper educational opportunities in order for them to be fully trained and get a job.
Honourable senators, this requires some work. For example, since 2006, we have invested heavily to help Canada's youth find gainful employment. We assisted 50,000 young people in receiving training through the Youth Employment Strategy in 2011-12. We made a permanent increase to the Canada Summer Jobs Program to the tune of 36,000 youth jobs per year. We provided support for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. We have supported Career Focus to help employees provide recent graduates with internships to provide valuable work experience, which has created 3,000 jobs in that area.
Honourable senators, we all know that our education system must respond to the needs of the job market. At the moment, many businesses, manufacturers, industry — light and heavy — are unable to find people to work simply because they are not trained for those specific jobs. There is work to do, but obviously all the programs that the government participates in with regard to youth are meant to ensure that when they are in school they are put in programs — although this is primarily a provincial responsibility — and are getting an education or learning a trade so that they can get a job at the end of their schooling.
Senator Callbeck: I thank the leader for her response. She listed steps and programs the government has taken, but clearly this is not enough. Nearly 1 million young Canadians are out of work. The lack of jobs is costing them now and will cost them in the future. TD estimates a decrease in their earning power will cost another $13 billion over the next 18 years. For two years now youth unemployment has been at twice the national average.
Why is this government not taking real steps to solve the youth unemployment crisis, and can we expect a real solution in the upcoming budget?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I just outlined real steps the government has taken. Obviously it is working because I just provided the figures of young people who have benefited from these programs.
Governments in this country and our education systems have their work cut out for them because we have industries, light and heavy manufacturers, and many companies across the country in the resource sector who cannot find people to fill available jobs. Clearly, our education system has to adjust to the emerging markets and train our young people, whether it is in science and technology or as mechanics or pipefitters. We have to make sure that when young people are in school they will actually be guided by their guidance counsellors into an education that suits them and the job market.
Senator Callbeck: What is the government doing about that?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I just listed some of the things the government has done. Since the honourable senator wants more information, we invest $10 billion annually in direct support for post-secondary education. We have a strong record of investing in our students. For example, Budget 2011 forgives a portion of federal Canada student loans for new family physicians and nurses who work in underserved rural and remote communities. Budget 2011 increased the amount students can earn through work without their loans being affected, which helped 100,000 students. Part-time students no longer have to pay interest on their student loans while studying, bringing costs in line with full-time students. We increased the income eligibility threshold for part-time student loans and grants so more Canadians can pursue post-secondary education while working. We introduced a new and improved Canada Student Grants Program, and 290,000 students benefited in the 2009-10 school year alone, more than double the case under the old system. Our Repayment Assistance Plan increases flexibility in how and when students repay their loans. Scholarships and bursaries are now tax-free thanks to this government, and we introduced the textbook and tool tax credits, again going back to people who decide to go into the trades for their education.
I hate to remind honourable senators, but the previous Liberal government slashed billions in payments to the provinces in the mid-1990s. We did nothing of the sort. We increased the social transfer payment by 40 per cent to $800 million per year. When the honourable senator asks what we are doing or what we have done, I think the record speaks for itself.
With regard to the upcoming budget, I am sure that the employment opportunities for our young people will absolutely be on the mind of the Minister of Finance. In his consultations around the country, I am sure many good ideas have been suggested to him as to how to address this issue.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I think the point that Senator Callbeck was trying to make is something the leader has addressed to some degree, except she has not connected the dots quite yet. The leader has said there is a problem. Employers are looking for people and cannot get them because the training does not fit. We have heard about the mismatch between jobs and people — people without jobs and jobs without people.
The question is: What is the government doing about it? The leader talked about a number of programs, but she also admits the problem still exists. What can the government do to help with this problem? Granted, delivery of education is the responsibility of the provinces, but the leader pointed out that a lot of federal money already goes into education. Of course, the responsibility for the economy is very much a federal concern as well.
Honourable senators, what will the government do to solve the problem of getting those people into jobs that employers want?
Senator LeBreton: Actually, honourable senators, I listed what the government is doing. This government has done significantly more than the previous government. Obviously, we have young people in this country who have come out of our school systems not properly suited to the jobs that are available. That is an issue for education systems in the country to deal with. However, I just listed in my first answer to Senator Callbeck and then in my last answer that the government is committing significant resources and efforts, including the work we have done in support of trades and apprenticeship programs. Obviously, no problem is 100 per cent solved, but we are working very hard with our provincial and territorial partners and also within the realm of the federal government to address this issue. I put on the record many of the things we have done thus far.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Nexen-CNOOC deal is currently at a standstill as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States determines whether this deal is a threat to U.S. national security. A 2012 report to Congress from the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission reveals that:
`Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,'...
Although it is unclear whether the Chinese state directs all of this activity, the theft of industrial secrets through cyber espionage is apparently Chinese state policy.
I add that the CBC recently discovered that three Conservative MPs, as well as the Canadian Steel Producers Association and the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, wrote to the industry minister and the Prime Minister, expressing their concerns about the Nexen takeover bid by CNOOC. The Canadian Steel Producers Association stated that the approval of the CNOOC acquisition would "disrupt established supply chain relationships," and "the net benefits to Canada would be reduced."
Notably, Conservative MP Harold Albrecht stated:
To allow CNOOC to purchase Nexen would not demonstrate fair trade or free trade... this is an example of the most unfair trade possible...
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain why, despite these relevant and serious concerns on her party's side and also of important players in the Canadian economy, the government decided to proceed with this deal, and on what grounds was this deal approved?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): First, honourable senators, it should come as no shock to anyone that there were many people who held opinions, pro and con, with regard to CNOOC Nexen. That is no surprise. Ultimately, the government is responsible for the decision. The Prime Minister laid that out very clearly when he spent over an hour discussing this with members of the media right below the Senate chamber.
We obviously looked at the deal from the perspective of a net benefit to Canada process, and the decision was ultimately to approve the deal. There are many people who have various views as to whether the government should have done that or not. As the government, we believe it was the right decision. This has been backed up, I would say, by the general broad-based support of the Canadian public and Canadian industry following the announcement.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Maybe I should remind the leader that our government also heavily subsidized other companies, such as Nortel assets and research, and we were dealing with democratic countries. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a process whereby the company is under the supervision of the government.
Related to that, many have critiqued Canada's investment treaty with China, which was tabled in September. Mr. Gus Van Harten, an international law expert and associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, explained that the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, FIPAs, that Canada currently has in force are with countries that do not own major assets in Canada. This FIPA with China is different, due to the level of investment China already has in Canada. He says that Canadian taxpayers will assume "more of the risk and more of the constraints" than their Chinese counterparts to the degree that Chinese investment in Canada outpaces — by many millions — Canadian investments the other way.
Many experts and concerned citizens have noted that this investment treaty with China will not deliver on market access and investor protection which the Prime Minister did not mention in his speech when he commented on the Nexen deal.
Having said that, does the government still intend to proceed with this agreement without debate and public consultation?
Senator LeBreton: First, honourable senators, the government's position has always been very clear: The government would look at these various proposals carefully and conduct due diligence. Our position as a government is not to rubber-stamp every deal, as the Liberals did. They blocked not one deal. Nor is it to block all deals, like the NDP would like to see.
It is in our interests and Canada will remain open for business. That does not mean — and the Prime Minister made this very clear — that Canada is for sale to foreign governments. We have made a clear distinction between free market private investment and entities controlled or influenced by foreign governments. Going forward, foreign government entities will not be permitted to acquire control of Canadian oil sands, in this particular case, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
The fact of the matter is this decision was made and it has been widely accepted and supported by Canadian industry. I would think that that is the best gauge, honourable senators, of the decision of the government and how industries and our competitors around the world reacted. The reaction was very good, which would indicate that the government made the right, proper and balanced decision.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Could I ask the leader to do a bit of homework and give us the names of private Canadian companies that acquired major interests in Chinese companies? How many banks could be majority shareholders in China? How many other industries could take over mining activities in China?
If and when the leader can give us these answers, maybe then we will believe what she has said.
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator talks about giving me homework. That is homework that I will drop in file 13 on my way out the door.
With regard to the Canadian government's position, CNOOC was a unique one. The potash decision in Saskatchewan was another decision. The fact of the matter is, because Canada is a resource-based country, the development of our resources and the proper management of our resources is crucial to the long-term economic prosperity of the country. The government will continue to look at all foreign investment, obviously, in the interests of Canada. I would argue again strenuously that the reaction to CNOOC and Nexen actually was very supportive of what the government did.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answers to four oral questions: the first was raised by Senator Callbeck on March 27, 2012, concerning the power cable project for Prince Edward Island; the second by Senator Jaffer on October 23, 2012, concerning the Kanishka Project; the third by Senator Callbeck on May 9, 2012, concerning tobacco control and First Nations; and the fourth by Senator Cowan on November 8, 2012, concerning the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on March 27, 2012)
On February 16, 2012, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities wrote to the Minister of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs to inform the Government of Prince Edward Island that the proposed transmission line project linking Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick would not be receiving funding under the Green Infrastructure Fund.
The Green Infrastructure Fund is a merit-based fund which targets projects that will improve the quality of the environment and lead to a more sustainable economy over the long term. The Government of Canada received many proposals for funding under the Green Infrastructure Fund for projects across the country. The demand from eligible projects greatly exceeded the funding that was available.
While some project announcements are still to follow, all project funding currently available under the Green Infrastructure Fund is effectively committed. The Province also had the opportunity to identify this particular initiative under the Provincial-Territorial Base Fund, which is the main infrastructure funding source available to Prince Edward Island from the federal government. However, the Province elected not to submit this project for consideration.
In Budget 2011, and reconfirmed in Budget 2012, the federal government committed to work with provinces, territories and stakeholders to develop a long-term plan for public infrastructure that extends beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan in 2014.
Throughout the summer of 2012, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the Minister of State (Transport), as well as Infrastructure Canada officials engaged partners and stakeholders on the broad principles that will help set the direction for a new long-term infrastructure plan.
With the last roundtable having taken place on September 20, Infrastructure Canada is continuing to compile and review what was heard throughout the engagement process, and to consider the key principles that should underpin the next infrastructure plan.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer on October 23, 2012)
The purpose of the Kanishka Project is to strengthen government understanding of terrorism in the Canadian context, how that is changing over time, and how policies and programs can best be used to prevent, detect, deny and respond to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. To this end, the initiative aims to establish a community of academic experts, which will collaborate with Canadian government officials to identify and explore key gaps in our understanding of terrorism in the Canadian context. The intent is that the knowledge gained through this ongoing dialogue between government and academia will inform effective national policies and programs to counter terrorism and violent extremism in Canada.
Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy recognizes that the threat from terrorism can most effectively be countered through collaboration and partnerships, including with the academic community. To that end, Public Safety Canada, in partnership with the various departments and agencies responsible for Canada's counter-terrorism programs and activities, is working with academics to ensure the proposed research is policy-relevant and aligns with the specific needs of government. As an example, government officials created a set of themes for the Kanishka Project, to focus applicants on policy-relevant research, and to support dialogue about what knowledge gaps are important and why. With the steady growth in the number of experts and officials participating in the Project, the themes will be adapted to capture new gaps identified, as well as lessons learned.
In order to increase collaboration and policy-relevant research, the Kanishka Project and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council are jointly funding the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society to foster this collaboration between academic researchers and policy officials.
Selection criteria and review procedures for the Kanishka Project Contribution Program ensure that proposals are reviewed and assessed in an open and fair manner. The Kanishka Project Working Group, chaired by Public Safety Canada, performs assessments of the applications and makes recommendations to the Steering Committee which has decision-making authority to select projects for funding.
Both groups are made up of officials from federal departments and agencies responsible for counter-terrorism and national security. Moreover, in some cases, members have been selected for their expertise and significant experience in research generally and in particular in research on terrorism and counter-terrorism in Canada.
It is the direct and regular involvement of these officials, joined by an even wider community of government partners, that brings the knowledge created by the Kanishka Project into government, to support more effective decision-making and policy development on questions such as: What heightens the risk that violent extremism takes hold and persists in specific groups and not others? Should a terrorist incident occur, how will Canadian society react, and what steps can be taken to address the needs of Canadian communities as regards terrorism? And, how do we measure and improve the effectiveness of counter-terrorism strategy and practice?
The Steering Committee draws on detailed criteria for the selection of research proposals, such as their potential to better support the development and implementation of policies, programs and legislation, to contribute to the communication or exchange of information in one or more of the priority areas identified by officials responsible for the Kanishka Project, and to translate knowledge into action for communities and community-based organizations to contribute to enhanced public safety and national security.
All applicants, successful and unsuccessful, are given the opportunity to receive feedback based on the rationales for the committee's decisions.
Over the five-year life of the Kanishka Project, approximately $6.2M will be available to researchers from a wide variety of disciplines to support a range of activities, including research, workshops, and publications. The closing date of the third call for research proposals for the Kanishka Project Contribution Program was November 30, 2012. Opportunities through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council fall within their regular granting cycle.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck on May 9, 2012)
The Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS) is led by Health Canada in partnership with Public Safety Canada (PSC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
Health Canada is focusing its anti-smoking efforts in core areas of federal responsibility, including through funding for on-reserve First Nations and Inuit communities.
The Government of Canada renewed the FTCS for five years via Budget 2012. A focused federal presence is required to preserve the gains of the past decade and continue the downward trend in smoking prevalence.
Under the renewed Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, Health Canada is introducing a new initiative (approximately $22 million over five years) to assist a targeted number of First Nations and Inuit communities that are willing and able to implement tobacco control measures and interventions, guided by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Projects will be criteria based, proposal driven and results oriented. It is intended that tobacco control activities will be comprehensive and sustainable, and strengthened at community and regional levels through increased integration with existing federally-funded programs and with provincial and territorial governments.
First Nations and Inuit leaders are important partners and play a major role in determining how best to meet the needs of their communities in addressing issues related to tobacco use.
(Response to question raised by Hon. James S. Cowan on November 8, 2012)
Senior officials of the Department of Canadian Heritage met with representatives of the Board of the Canadian Conference of the Arts on two occasions in 2011 to discuss the possible termination of Government of Canada funding and the need for the organization to transition to a sustainable business model.
The Canadian Conference of the Arts received $390,000 in funding in 2011-2012 and $195,000 in 2012-2013, for a total of $585,000 in Government of Canada support.
The Hon. the Speaker: Last December 14, 2012, Senator Tardif rose on a point of order after Question Period to complain about a Senator's Statement made earlier in the sitting by Senator Duffy. In that statement, Senator Duffy claimed that certain remarks made during the previous day's debate on Bill C-300 had been against him personally and had violated the prohibition against "personal, sharp or taxing speeches" contained in rule 6-13(1). In her objection, Senator Tardif denied that any rule had been broken. Further discussion on the point of order was largely focused on what had happened during proceedings on Bill C-300, both in committee and in the Senate, rather than on Senator Duffy's use of a statement to raise a point of order.
In order to assist the Senate, I intend to limit myself to the issue of the proper use of Senators' Statements and Rules 4-2(5) and 4-2(6), which spell out certain limitations with respect to them. First, statements are for matters that senators believe should be brought to the immediate attention of the Senate. Second, a statement should not relate to an order of the day and should relate to a matter that cannot otherwise be brought to the immediate attention of the Senate. Finally, and certainly relevant to this case, matters raised during statements are not subject to debate.
The Senator's Statement subsequently challenged by the point of order of Senator Tardif asserted that the Rules of the Senate prohibiting certain behaviour had been breached. Regardless of any merits to the claim, it would have been more appropriate to raise the alleged breach as a proper point of order and not through a Senator's Statement. Had this been done, which is our established practice, it would have allowed for a review of the claim through exchanges among senators. This, in turn, would have led to a ruling as to whether a breach of order had actually occurred. This is how alleged points of order are routinely raised and resolved in the Senate.
Of course, it is also the case that points of order involving speeches are most usefully raised when the alleged offending remarks are made, so that the breach, if real, can be limited. When this is not done and the complaint is raised as a point of order after the event, it is more difficult to take corrective action since the remarks are already part of the record. In either case, raising the complaint as a point of order allows for a review by the Senate of the alleged breach of its rules or practices. A Senator's Statement does not allow for this, since it cannot be the object of debate. Instead, it is an assertion of an offence without any possibility of an evaluation since debate is not possible under Senators' Statements. This is not a proper use of the Senators' Statements.
I trust that this will help guide the Senate as to how such issues should be dealt with in the future.
Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu moved second reading of Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Criminal Code.
He said: Honourable senators, I am very honoured to speak today on behalf of victims of crime at second reading of Bill C-37, the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act.
This government bill was passed by a strong majority of members in the House of Commons on December 12.
Bill C-37 is a response to requests brought forward by victim advocacy groups in Canada. It addresses two fundamental concerns that victims of crime have. The first has to do with funding for services for victims of crime in the provinces and territories. The second is making criminals more accountable for their victims.
As its name indicates, Bill C-37 would make criminals more accountable towards the victims who suffer untold damage when a crime is committed. A study by the Department of Justice estimated the total cost of crime at nearly $100 billion a year, and most of that cost — $82.5 billion, or 82 per cent — is borne by the victims themselves.
By introducing this bill, the Conservative government is following through on its commitment to focus on holding criminals accountable, to make that a key part of its legislative agenda, and to make it the basis for the rehabilitation process for these criminals. Criminals can be rehabilitated and regain control of their lives by acknowledging the harm done to victims.
Bill C-37 is designed to increase offenders' accountability in the justice system by doubling the mandatory surcharge and ensuring that the surcharge is automatically applied in all cases, without exception.
Asking criminals to contribute financially to victim support services is a reasonable way to hold them accountable for the consequences of their crimes.
Furthermore, this bill is an important step in funding victim support services.
The purpose of the surcharge imposed on criminals under section 737 of the Criminal Code is to provide funding for services for victims of crime. The money that comes from this surcharge will fund all kinds of programs and services in the provinces and territories to help victims of crime so that they too can resume a normal life.
The victim surcharge has been included in the Criminal Code since 1989. However, given that this section of the Criminal Code is not being enforced in the way that it should be, changes have become necessary and unavoidable.
In 1999, the Criminal Code provided for a maximum amount, but often much lower amounts were imposed by the courts.
In the early 1990s, a study conducted by the Department of Justice even revealed that the victim surcharge was rarely being enforced and that judges were forgetting to impose it on criminals, either by mistake or through ignorance. In situations where a jail term was imposed, judges often relied on the undue hardship provision to waive the surcharge. For victims, this merely adds insult to injury.
In 1998, following its review of the victim's role in the criminal justice system, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled a report entitled "Victims' Rights — A voice, not a veto."
Once again, the standing committee at the time noted that judges too often forgot to impose the surcharge. The report also pointed out the importance of investing additional resources to provide adequate services to victims across the country and that an increase in the victim surcharge would be a reasonable way to generate more revenue, particularly given that the maximum surcharge amounts had not increased since 1989.
In 2000, a legislative amendment was made to make the surcharge automatic unless the judge ordered a waiver because of undue hardship to the offender.
Right now, the victim surcharge is therefore supposed to be imposed unless the offender can convince the sentencing judge that it would cause undue hardship. Yet the victim surcharge is rarely ever imposed, even when the offender has the means to pay it.
Another argument in favour of increasing the current mandatory surcharge is the fact that it has not been increased in 12 years.
Bill C-37 will solve a number of these problems.
First, the new surcharge will equal 30 per cent of any fine imposed on the criminal, instead of 15 per cent.
Second, if no fine is imposed on the offender, the surcharge will automatically be $100 in the case of an offence punishable by summary conviction and $200 in the case of an offence punishable by indictment.
Furthermore, if judges feel that the circumstances warrant it and that the offender is in a position to pay, they could order that the offender pay a higher victim surcharge.
Lastly, this bill removes the exception for "undue hardship," an exception deemed unacceptable by victims of crime, who believe that the victim surcharge should be imposed in all cases, without exception.
As a senator and as a government spokesperson for victims of crime, I think that anyone who commits a crime as set out in the Criminal Code has the responsibility to help compensate for the harm committed against a victim or relatives of a victim and should participate actively to support services that are available to their victims. I am certainly not alone in thinking so.
The vast majority of Canadians know someone in their family, circle of friends, neighbourhood or workplace who has been the victim of a crime. These Canadians form a silent majority, and when they learn that criminals could be called on to pay $100 or $200 to fund the victim support services that law-abiding Canadians must contribute to themselves, they will applaud this bill. The amounts that criminals will have to pay pale in comparison to the financial and emotional costs for victims of crime.
Furthermore, monies collected by the provinces and allocated to help victims could be the difference between a victim who regains control of his or her life and a victim who continues to suffer the often unbearable physical and psychological pain deliberately caused by the criminal.
Allow me to outline the significant impact the proposed changes will have on victims of crime across the country. The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code will increase the amount of money for services provided directly to victims of crime in all provinces and territories.
All amounts will continue to be collected and administered by the provincial and territorial governments, as is presently the case. The monies will continue to be deposited in the provinces' and territories' victims assistance funds to fund more programs, assistance and compensation for victims of crime.
The Province of Quebec has accrued more than $40 million in its victims assistance fund as a result of the surcharge, among other things. This fund currently supports 17 resource centres for victims of crime located throughout the province.
I would like to remind you of the importance of increasing the amount of the surcharge. These monies are used to fund services provided directly to victims of crime, such as psychological counselling for post-traumatic shock, pre-trial assistance, support during court proceedings, help with drafting a victim impact statement and compensation programs for victims of crime.
For the reasons I just mentioned, this bill has the support of national victim organizations across Canada, including Victims of Violence, which Families of Persons Assassinated or Disappeared, which I co-founded in Quebec in 2004, Parents of Murdered Children and Other Survivors of Homicide Victims, and BC Bereavement Helpline, which appeared before the Senate in support of this bill.
This bill also received the support of the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Sue O'Sullivan, in October 2012. In keeping with its commitments, the Conservative government will continue to give its unwavering support to the cause of victims of crime.
By proposing these measures, the Government of Canada is taking a leadership role in helping victims of crime and encouraging the provincial and territorial governments to follow its example and modernize their own victim surcharge legislation. These new revenues will allow the provinces that currently do not have any services to begin providing services to victims of crime.
When the bill is passed, it will fulfill another commitment made to victims of crime by the Conservative government in its 2011 election platform and reiterated in the June 3, 2011 Speech from the Throne.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Minister of Justice of Canada, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, for their unwavering commitment to victims of crime in Canada.
Honourable senators, the interests of victims have been too often ignored throughout Canadian history. The time for change has come. Our government will ensure that the voices of victims resonate in this Parliament and that their rights become recognized by law.
Honourable senators, on behalf of all Canadian victims of crime, thank you for supporting this bill, which will be studied by our committee.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu moved third reading of Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants).
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to introduce at third reading Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, also called the Vexatious Complainants Act.
This bill will ensure that all criminals continue to have fair and full access to the grievance procedure. Indeed, despite the fact that most criminals use the grievance procedure in good faith, other prisoners systematically abuse the system by filing frivolous complaints.
This adversely affects rehabilitation efforts while also promoting a climate of non-compliance in our penitentiaries. The Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre, Roxanne James, who introduced this bill, came and presented a realistic picture of Canadian jails. She pointed out that Correctional Service Canada looks after some 15,500 inmates and that about 29,000 grievances are filed each year. This number has been steadily increasing over the past decade or so. Approximately 20 inmates file over 100 grievances a year. In fact, a handful of inmates have submitted between 500 and 600 grievances each.
Ms. James pointed out the burden that this represents for our hard-working front-line correctional officers. These vexatious and frivolous complaints result in unnecessary delays and waste correctional system resources. The proposed amendments will speed up the processing of legitimate complaints and allow inmates acting in good faith to benefit from a fair and equitable grievance system.
Vexatious complaints are a nuisance for other inmates who are undergoing rehabilitation. It is time to put an end to this abusive practice. As you know, vexatious complaints and grievances do not help with the rehabilitation process.
Bill C-293 will allow the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada to prohibit criminals who are constantly lodging vexatious and frivolous complaints and grievances from submitting any more complaints. Once the prohibition comes into effect, the criminal in question will no longer be able to submit any complaints or grievances without the commissioner's consent until the prohibition is lifted, of course. Under the bill, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada will conduct an annual review of the situation and the criminal's behaviour in order to ensure that the prohibition is still justified.
Finally, Bill C-293 will allow the Governor-in-Council to make amendments as needed to the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations in order to provide specific instructions regarding the administration of vexatious complaints.
Honourable senators, Bill C-293 is effective and forceful legislation that will help reduce the abuse of the grievance system by a handful of criminals. The bill will allow the Canadian correctional system to better meet its legal obligations and ensure that criminals have access to a fair, quick grievance process, for the good of our correctional institutions.
In closing, I would like to recognize the efforts of Ms. James, which have made it possible to change the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to show the Canadian public how urgent it is to improve the complaints process in prisons and make it more efficient.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Baker, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 6, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.)