Download as PDF
Text size:

2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 21

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Acting Speaker

 

THE SENATE

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Mine Ban Treaty

Sixteenth Anniversary

Hon Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I have the pleasure to rise and note that today, December 3, marks the sixteenth anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty here in Ottawa.

This unorthodox, historic and unprecedented process began in 1996, after 75 governments from around the world met in Ottawa to discuss the problems of anti-personnel land mines. After a productive conference, then Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy used his final comments to challenge the governments present that day to return to Ottawa one year later to sign an international treaty banning anti-personnel land mines.

Following that call, the world rose to the challenge and began what is now known as the Ottawa Process. The treaty was drafted through a series of meetings around the world that took place outside of the traditional diplomatic channels.

The Mine Ban Treaty was adopted in Oslo, Norway, in September 1997 and was initially signed by 122 states here in Ottawa. The treaty entered into force less than two years later, more quickly than any treaty of its kind in history.

Canada's work on the Mine Ban Treaty lives on today. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines' annual report, titled Landmine Monitor, as of November 1, 2013, there were 161 state parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. It noted that in 2012 the Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Gambia, Jordan and Uganda formally declared a complete clearance of all known mined areas. This year's report also noted there was a 19 per cent reduction of casualties from 2011, with today's numbers being just 40 per cent of what was reported in 1999.

However, colleagues, the work is far from over. Land mines are one of the most inhumane weapons ever developed. They kill and cripple not only combatants but also thousands of innocent civilians, long after hostilities have ended. This past year there was a total of 3,628 casualties, or an average of 10 per day, and 1,168 of the casualties, or 47 per cent, were children. In many states and areas, numerous casualties go unrecorded; therefore, the true figure is likely significantly higher.

In marking the sixteenth anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty, we reflect on Canada's leadership through the Ottawa Process, while recognizing the tremendous work left to do in eliminating these horrific weapons that indiscriminately kill and injure so many innocent people.

[Translation]

Université de Moncton

One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary

Hon. Paul E. McIntyre: Honourable senators, this year the Université de Moncton is celebrating its 150th year of existence. As a graduate of this institution, I am very pleased to talk about certain aspects of this university with you, including its nature, its role and the importance of its future.

The Université de Moncton was created in 1963 through the merger of three francophone universities in New Brunswick. Today, it is the largest unilingual francophone university outside Quebec. The university has about 6,000 students who are taught by 400 professors in the arts, humanities, social sciences, pure sciences and applied sciences.

The Université de Moncton has three campuses located in the three main francophone regions of New Brunswick: Edmundston in the northwest, Shippagan in the northeast, and Moncton in the southeast part of the province.

The Université de Moncton offers 180 study programs, including 48 at the undergraduate level and six at the doctorate level. The main campus houses eight faculties: administration, arts and social sciences, law, engineering, sciences, education, health sciences and community services, and graduate studies and research.

The Université de Moncton has the only French-language medical school in the Maritimes. The New Brunswick medical training centre opened in 2006, in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Sherbrooke, and awarded its first undergraduate degrees in 2010.

The Université de Moncton serves the needs of the large francophone minority community in New Brunswick. About 33 per cent of the population in the province have French as a mother tongue. Since its creation, the Université de Moncton has awarded over 43,000 degrees and has become the single most important centre for the social, cultural and economic development of New Brunswick's Acadian population, according to the promotional material on its website. The faculty of law at the Université de Moncton is one of only two faculties in Canada to offer a common law program in French and serves French-speaking Canadians living in common law jurisdictions.

The medical training centre enables Acadian doctors to train in the Maritimes, close to home. Graduates who train in francophone regions of New Brunswick have a greater knowledge and understanding of the needs of the francophone Acadian population.

According to its mission statement, the Université de Moncton is known in Acadia and the francophone world for excellence in education, research and its contribution to the development of Acadian society and society in general.

The university's Centre d'études acadiennes Anselme-Chiasson is home to the largest collection of Acadian archives in the world.

Looking to the future, the university has launched a strategic planning process called "Université de Moncton 2020: Dare to dream!" to guide its future development.

(1410)

The process was motivated by the university's mission statement. The Université de Moncton wants to be the best in its class of similar-sized francophone generalist universities. Its graduates and degrees will play a leading role in their communities.

When asked about his political legacy, former premier and senator Louis-J. Robichaud said that the thing he was most proud of was the creation of this institution. According to his biography, he believed that establishing a French-language university was the keystone of his plan for equality. He was right.

The Université de Moncton has transformed Acadia as a whole. Its contribution is immense. Generations of business people and politicians, community leaders and experts in every field were trained there. Despite all of the challenges and controversies, the Université de Moncton is doing well. It is our greatest asset, our greatest resource.

[English]

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, today is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is a wonderful occasion for individuals and groups to recognize the contributions of people with disabilities — I like to put it the other way, the ability to do what we can't do — this year, under the theme "Break Barriers, Open Doors: For An Inclusive Society For All." That means more jobs for those with developmental disabilities and those with physical disabilities.

The UN states that one billion people — one billion people throughout the world — have a form of disability. This represents about 15 per cent of the global population. It also represents a limitless potential. Unfortunately for us all, there are barriers preventing people with disabilities from fully participating in their communities: physical barriers, social barriers, economic barriers, prejudice. They are prevalent and they take many forms.

Tonight I will have the pleasure of participating in the Celebration of People Awards here in Ottawa. This special Citizen Advocacy event is held each year on this date to acknowledge individuals and organizations from the Ottawa area for their commitment to improving accessibility for people with disabilities. The emphasis these days is really about jobs and full employment — that sort of inclusiveness.

I'd like to mention that the Canadian Association for Community Living has an incredible new program just beginning. They had a tremendous reception this morning for breakfast. The program is called Ready, Willing and Able: Tapping the Potential of People with Developmental Disabilities for an Inclusive and Effective Labour Market. This is a fascinating program that is starting to work with employers like Costco Wholesale, Rogers Communications, Canadian Tire, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws. The government is going to play a role. I know the federal government is going to play a role, because they've been lobbied, I think successfully, by Community Living. This is going to be a tremendous program: Ready, Willing and Able.

By recognizing and showcasing the wonderful example set by those who believe in and act on values of diversity and social equality, we can inspire others to do the same. It is an incredible and brave approach based on the assumption that our community — and when I say "our community," I mean Canada — is a caring community and that each of us has the capacity to make a positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

In closing, as long as there are barriers hindering people from living fully, we are all being deprived of the rich experiences and benefits of a truly inclusive society. I encourage you, honourable senators, to reflect on this and to visit the sites of the United Nations and Celebration of People for more information on what is being done and how you can help people with disabilities live as they should, as accepted and engaged members of society. Stay tuned for Ready, Willing and Able.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Hon. Norman E. Doyle: Honourable senators, I want to go on record as commending the Government of Canada on its trade deal with the European Union. In terms of the scope of the agreement, the European markets being opened up are by far our largest free trade arrangement. It affects the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in a very positive way.

Back when Prime Minister Mulroney negotiated the original North American Free Trade Agreement with the Americans, the notion of free trade was a somewhat radical notion. Indeed, it was the main issue in a federal election campaign. The North American Free Trade Agreement utterly transformed our Canadian economy and led to an unprecedented period of economic growth and prosperity in both Canada and the United States.

That's not to say that the transition to the new deal was painless, because it wasn't. Older, inefficient industries that had been artificially protected by tariffs had a very difficult time, but in the end, freer and greater trade more than offset our losses in these sectors.

The effects of the European trade deal will certainly be felt in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. For years, one of the world's greatest seafood markets has been closed to us because of a tariff wall. Having a new market for our seafood products will greatly strengthen our fishing industry. However, all progress comes on condition. While the harvesting sector of the fishery will see many new market opportunities open up, the processing sector will likely take a small hit. In particular, the province will have to phase out, over five years, its minimum processing requirement, which has artificially guaranteed some work to fish plant workers in many small, rural communities. In this regard, I'm pleased that the federal and provincial governments have cost shared a $400-million transition fund to help the industry make the most of its future opportunities and to mitigate the impact on those who will lose seasonal employment in the processing sector.

Honourable senators, freer trade is no longer a radical notion. Properly done, it is a widely accepted method of stimulating international and domestic economic growth. The Government of Canada has been very active in this policy area, and the deal with the European Union is but one in the latest string of trade deals designed to keep Canada strong, prosperous and free.

Closure of Sydney Veterans Affairs Office

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, on November 9, I was privileged to attend a rally in Sydney, Cape Breton, in support of our veterans, which was attended by 3,000 to 4,000 people. I would like to commend the many people who attended the rally in support of the Cape Breton military and RCMP veterans. The rally was organized by local veterans and volunteers to provide the community with the opportunity to come together and voice their displeasure with the decision to close the Sydney Veterans Affairs office. I would like to publicly thank them for their work.

The show of support for Cape Breton military and RCMP veterans was very encouraging and very moving. To watch the veterans walking or riding in their wheelchairs along George Street, surrounded by thousands of people, was very emotional. These are veterans who fought for justice and fairness around the world on behalf of all Canadians. They should not have to fight for fairness on their return home.

With the closing of the Sydney office, 4,200 military and RCMP veterans and their families will be left without support. Now veterans are told by this government to call a 1-800 number, or log on to a website, or get an app for their iPhone, or travel to Halifax if they require assistance.

Veterans showed up in force on November 9 to march in protest against the closures. Representatives from the 28 Cape Breton Royal Legion branches, the Cape Breton Naval Veterans Association, the Cape Breton chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping; the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada, the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, the Cape Breton Highlanders Association and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Veterans' Association were all there.

Each and every person who attended the rally took time out of their weekend to show their support for the veterans and I was honoured to be part of this support. But, honourable senators, the veterans need more than community support — they need this government to listen to them and to the people of Nova Scotia.

I would like to quote veteran Mel Birmingham of Southside Boularderie, who wrote in the Cape Breton Post:

Our veterans who served on the front lines don't deserve to be served by a phone line. They deserve face-to-face, personal service from those best qualified to help them with their concerns and questions about pensions, health care and other services to make their civilian lives better after serving their country.

(1420)

Minister Fantino announced last Thursday that the Sydney office will close on January 31, 2014. The 13 full-time and 4 part- time employees in the Veterans Affairs office will be gone. The minister, in what he is calling a compromise, plans to add one Veterans Affairs caseworker to Service Canada locations.

To quote Ron Clarke, a 73-year-old veteran and organizer of the rally, this is a "totally ridiculous" idea. He also stated, "We do not need a ticket to get in a lineup."

Honourable senators, surely Minister Fantino can meet with the veterans in Cape Breton. Surely our veterans deserve respect and our help when they return after serving our country.

[Translation]

Incident on Parliament Hill

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I would like to sincerely apologize to every one of you for an incident I was responsible for on Parliament Hill this morning.

[English]

On my way to work this morning, I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the barrier near the East Block with my car. I am very thankful that no one was injured, or worse, by my not being more attentive to the level of fatigue that I have been experiencing.

The events of the suicides of last week, plus this being the twentieth anniversary of Rwanda, and every day I'm living the twentieth anniversary and reviewing that period of command, has made me very weak in my ability to sleep, even though I take medication. So I simply ran out of steam and fell asleep and crashed my car on the Hill.

I hope it brings no dishonour to you or to this institution by my not being more attentive to my physical condition and taking such a risk.

Thank you.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Aboriginal Healing Foundation—2013 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, together with the Auditors' Report, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Implementation Coordinating Committee—2011-12 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a document entitled: Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, for the period of April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012.

Nisga'a Final Agreement—2010-11 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Report of the Nisga'a Final Agreement: Implementation Report for 2010-11.

State of Inuit Culture and Society in the Nunavut Settlement Area—2010-11 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Report on the State of Inuit Culture and Society for the fiscal year 2010-11.

The Senate

Statutes Repeal Act—Notice of Motion to Resolve that the Act and the Provisions of Other Acts not be Repealed

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

That, pursuant to section 3 of the Statutes Repeal Act, S.C., 2008, c. 20, the Senate resolve that the 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:

-subsection 1(3) and sections 5, 9, 13 to 15, 18 to 23 and 26 to 28;

3. An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, S.C. 2003, c. 26:

-sections 4 and 5, subsection 13(3), section 21, subsections 26(1) to (3), sections 30, 32, 34, 36 with respect to section 81 of the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, and sections 42 and 43;

4. An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms) and the Firearms Act, S.C. 2003, c. 8:

-sections 23, 26 to 35 and 37;

5. An Act to implement the Agreement on Internal Trade, S.C. 1996, c. 17:

-sections 17 and 18;

6. Canada Grain Act, R.S., c. G-10:

-paragraphs (d) and (e) of the definition "elevator" in section 2, and subsections 55(2) and (3);

7. Canada Marine Act, S.C. 1998, c. 10:

-sections 140, 178 and 185;

8. Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act, S.C. 1998, c. 32;

9. Contraventions Act, S.C. 1992, c. 47:

-paragraph 8(1)(d), sections 9, 10, 12 to 16, subsections 17(1) to (3), sections 18, 19, subsection 21(1), sections 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, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 16 of the schedule, and section 85;

10. Firearms Act, S.C. 1995, c. 39:

-sections 37 to 53;

11. Marine Liability Act, S.C. 2001, c. 6:

-section 45;

12. Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, S.C. 2000, c. 12:

-sections 89, 90, subsections 107(1) and (3) and section 109;

13. Preclearance Act, S.C. 1999, c. 20:

-section 37;

14. Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, S.C. 1999, c. 34:

-sections 155, 157, 158 and subsections 161(1) and (4);

15. Yukon Act, S.C. 2002, c. 7:

-sections 70 to 75, 77, subsection 117(2), sections 167, 168, 210, 211, 221, 227, 233 and 283.

(1430)

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Study on Social Inclusion and Cohesion—Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Request a Government Response to the Twenty-sixth Report of the Committee Tabled During the First Session of the Forty-first Parliament

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the Government to the Twenty-sixth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled: In From the Margins, Part II: Reducing Barriers to Social Inclusion and Social Cohesion, tabled in the Senate on June 18, 2013, during the First Session of the Forty-first Parliament, and adopted on June 21, 2013, with the Minister of Employment and Social Development being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report.

[Translation]

Transport and Communications

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study the Challenges Faced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on the challenges faced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in relation to the changing environment of broadcasting and communications; and

That the committee report to the Senate from time to time, with a final report no later than June 30, 2015 and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Prime Minister's Office

Payment of Funds to Senator Duffy—Involvement of Benjamin Perrin—Correspondence

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

On May 21, May 28 and May 29, I asked your predecessor, the former Leader of the Government in the Senate, questions about the role played by Benjamin Perrin of the Prime Minister's Office with respect to the $90,000 gift from Nigel Wright to Senator Duffy. Senator LeBreton said on May 29 — and I remind you that she was speaking on behalf of the government — of Mr. Perrin:

He was not consulted, and if he was not consulted how could he participate in any decision to write the cheque?

On the same day, Senator LeBreton also said:

It is also our understanding that there are no documents or advice with regard to Mr. Wright's decision.

She went on to accuse me of engaging in a fishing expedition and conspiracy theories.

Well, that was then, this is now. We now know from Corporal Horton's ITO that there were in fact thousands of documents concerning this transaction. And over the weekend, we learned that after first claiming that all of Benjamin Perrin's emails had been erased, the Prime Minister's Office now belatedly acknowledges the fact that they do exist, and they've been turned over to the RCMP.

So my question is: Why did the government through its former Senate leader tell this chamber that Benjamin Perrin had no role in the transaction between Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy and that there were no documents?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): I wish to thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question, and above all, tell him how happy I am that he could be with us today after having been away for a few days because he was sick. I see that his illness did not stop him from following the news and learning, as we did on Sunday, that emails exist and have been handed over.

I believe that officials have apologized for the error, both to the RCMP and to the Prime Minister's Office. We have fully and freely complied with all requests for assistance, including by turning over all the documents that have been requested in this case. Now that the Privy Council Office has confirmed that copies of Mr. Perrin's emails do in fact exist, those emails will also be made available to the RCMP to assist it in its ongoing investigation.

The RCMP indicated that the Prime Minister's Office had cooperated and, more specifically, that the legal advisors in the Prime Minister's Office had received clear orders from the Prime Minister to cooperate fully with the investigation and provide any assistance or documentation the RCMP requested. Current and former employees of the Prime Minister's Office whose emails seemed relevant all provided privacy waivers with regard to the content of their emails through their legal counsel.

The Prime Minister's Office also waived solicitor-client privilege for those emails, according to the RCMP's November 20, 2013, search warrant.

As a result, honourable senators, I think that the Prime Minister's Office has cooperated fully in these investigations.

[English]

Senator Cowan: I appreciate your recitation of all those lines but, Senator Carignan, do you really think that Canadians believe that for months on end no one in the Prime Minister's Office and no one in the Privy Council Office knew that those emails had not been erased? This wasn't an incident that was raised once; it has been repeatedly raised. I find it impossible to believe that no one in the Prime Minister's Office or the Privy Council Office ever thought that there might be a chance that those emails would still exist. I suggest to you that Canadians have great difficulty in accepting that explanation and that apology by the Privy Council Office, and I'd welcome your comments on that.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Listen, senator, I am not asking you to agree or to accept the apology. Officials apologized to the RCMP and the Prime Minister's Office for the error. I think that the person or people involved realized that they made a mistake and forwarded the documents in question as soon as they were located and identified, which shows that the Prime Minister's Office has cooperated fully in this matter.

National Defence

Suicide Prevention

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I admit that I am pleased to see that, since you were appointed, we have been speaking a lot more French, and because I find it difficult to speak to a francophone in English, I will try to use my French, which has been affected by too many years in Ottawa.

I want to talk about suicides of members of the Canadian Armed Forces. While you look for your notes, I just want to ask some specific questions.

Last week, I attended the Military and Veteran Health Research Forum, where the Department of National Defence presented statistics that were incomplete, but that they ventured to say were "not so bad." That is what they said, "it is not so bad," because the percentages are comparable to those for the civilian population.

I believe it is possible to compare the situation in the Armed Forces to that of civilians. If so many people are committing suicide even if we take into account selection and training of members and the nature of the beast, then surely there must be a problem.

However, when we look at the statistics — and my question will focus on that — they do not include suicides of reservists or veterans, who are now under the responsibility of the Department of Veterans Affairs, because it does not have a way to keep track of that.

(1440)

For the good of the people who serve and those who want to help them, does the government have some real figures about the suicide rate so that we can determine whether this is a problem among wounded veterans within the Armed Forces?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator Dallaire, I am pleased to see you here in the flesh and glad that you were not injured in your little accident. If we want to prevent suicide, we also have to prevent accidents. When you are falling asleep at the wheel, think of me. Think of your questions and my answers. That may be a good trick to keep yourself awake.

In recent years, the Armed Forces have made great strides in treating members of the military who suffer from mental health problems after a deployment.

We currently have about 378 mental health professionals who work full-time helping members cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, and we are looking to hire more. If we compare ourselves to our NATO allies, the Canadian Armed Forces have the highest ratio of mental health professionals to soldiers.

The Armed Forces provide mental health care at 38 clinics and primary care detachments and 26 mental health clinics across Canada, and this treatment is available throughout the soldier's career. The Canadian Armed Forces take mental health problems and suicide among members of the military very seriously.

You mentioned a forum you attended and said that people were saying the statistics were "not so bad." Even in the civilian population, we take suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder very seriously.

That is why the Canadian Armed Forces are working diligently to identify members at risk of developing mental health problems. There are many types of help provided, including treatment, consultation and support based on other needs that are identified.

The issue of suicide has been addressed with the motion regarding suicide prevention in general. We worked with Senator Dawson to draw up a motion a few years ago. We take this issue very seriously.

Senator Dallaire: I am on medication to prevent nightmares. I certainly have no intention of dreaming about your government when I am driving.

Five years ago, one of the 12 officers who accompanied me to Rwanda committed suicide. It took more than two years for the investigation to conclude that the suicide was the result of trauma and, ultimately, the officer's injury during the operations. Since 2008, there are 74 cases that have been investigated and have yet to be concluded. That means that people cannot benefit from support programs.

Why is the department dragging its feet on reviewing these suicides in order to determine the cause? It would reduce the number of suicides, which is already too high, and the investigations would bring peace of mind to the affected families because they would know the exact cause of the tragedy.

Senator Carignan: Senator Dallaire, it is true that investigations are conducted when a member of the Canadian Forces commits suicide, unlike in civilian society, where coroner's inquests or police investigations are not always carried out.

Every time a member of the Canadian Armed Forces commits suicide, an internal board of inquiry is convened to examine the motivating factors. In the weeks following the incident, health professionals conduct a technical suicide review process. The Canadian Armed Forces expect those boards of inquiry to do a good job.

In 2011 and 2012, they reviewed the board of inquiry process to make it as effective as possible so that findings could be known.

Senator Dallaire: Can we look forward to outcomes that will affect the care given to other injured soldiers so that we can prevent suicides?

We already know that quantitative data related to suicide are not accurate. There is not enough information about reservists, who are located all over, or about veterans, who come under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The data cover only those who are in active service or who are basically near those places. These numbers are not limited, that is to say that there is no limit to a number because of what went on in the past and because there were operations.

For example, in Vietnam, the Americans lost 58,300 soldiers during operations. Twenty-two years later, in 1997, when I asked them for help with our program, there had been over 102,000 suicides directly related to operations in Vietnam.

They know that a qualitative analysis is needed in addition to a quantitative one. What makes a person attempt suicide? What makes him stumble?

Second, why do others succeed? Those who attempt suicide can give us so much information, but the Department of National Defence has never funded a study to do a qualitative analysis that could provide quantitative information.

I myself tried to commit suicide four times. I would talk to those people to try to help them and their families. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate promise me that he will talk to the Minister of Defence about the qualitative aspect of inquiries into what motivates suicides? The number of suicides will keep going up.

Senator Carignan: I can tell you that the minister is already aware of the issue of suicide in the Armed Forces. The forces are putting energy and resources into ensuring that people at risk or in need get access to the professionals and the help they need to get through the tough times related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

[English]

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Leader, in the United States Armed Forces, they're experiencing alarmingly increasing numbers of suicides of personnel involved in the operation of the unmanned drones. They are aiming these weapons; they're watching the destruction of human life; and it's bringing it home for some of them. I believe some of them are operating these pieces of equipment in the United States, and it's bringing on suicide. I'm wondering if our armed forces are looking at that, if they're considering it, and what we're doing about it to prepare our people who may be involved in the operation of such equipment.

(1450)

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: It goes without saying that we are focusing on prevention and on treating our Canadian Armed Forces members. Of all the NATO countries, the Canadian Armed Forces have one of the highest numbers of professionals dedicated to treatment and counselling to prevent suicide. I say this because we are also looking at what other countries are doing.

I can assure you once again that the Canadian Armed Forces take the problem of suicide very seriously. That is why we are investing so many resources in that regard.

[English]

Senator Moore: I'm sure they do take it seriously. When I was on the National Security and Defence Committee, we visited bases and heard of these situations. Maybe you can check with the minister, but I would like to know that our professional people are abreast of and aware of the situation that's happening in the United States among their armed forces personnel who are dealing with these armed, unmanned weapons and whether or not we are setting up a section or some kind of a discipline to look after that and to prepare our personnel for what they might see and how they can deal with it. There have been situations in the U.S. I've read of where somebody in the command has tried to pass off that what they saw being destroyed was a dog when, in fact, it was infant children, and it just has destroyed the morale of the people who operate some of this equipment. I just want to know that we're heads up on this and looking at it, because it may well happen to our people.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: As I explained earlier in response to Senator Dallaire's question, we have 378 mental health professionals dedicated to prevention and treatment in the Canadian Armed Forces. Of course, when I say "professionals," I mean competent, highly-trained individuals with all the education and information they need to intervene appropriately.

[English]

Senator Moore: One supplementary question: I'm not questioning their qualifications. I'm sure they're very good, leader. I just want them to be aware, if they are not, and maybe you can bring it to the attention of the appropriate authority that this is something we should be looking at. Thank you.

Health

Suicide Prevention

Hon. Dennis Dawson: The Leader of the Government in the Senate talked about the motion. As you know, a year later, we passed a private member's bill calling on the government to prepare a suicide prevention plan.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate give us a progress report or ensure that such a report exists so that we can know where things stand with regard to the suicide prevention plan? This problem exists not only in the army, but also among Aboriginal Canadians and several other groups in Canada. We called for an action plan, but we have not had any news on such a plan.

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): I will bring your question to the attention of the Minister of Health, so that we can provide you with a more complete answer on the concrete action our government is taking, particularly in the area of health and suicide prevention.

National Defence

Suicide Prevention

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, following along the same lines, three suicides in a little over a week of military personnel is certainly an indication that something is wrong and that something is not working the way that it should be. I know that the minister said there would be an investigation but, looking more closely, there are now currently over 70 investigations of suicides within the military. So again, something is not working.

I know you said in response to an earlier question that there are enough health care professionals in the military dealing with this, but something is wrong. What is the plan? If we're looking at over 70 investigations, it seems that there should be speed in dealing with this so that we can have a plan. I understand that we need a long-term plan, but I think it's important that we look at the immediate concern. What will this government commit to doing immediately to ensure that our military personnel are getting the help that they need?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): As I mentioned in my answer to Senator Dallaire's question, the government is taking practical measures. A total of 378 mental health professionals work full-time in providing treatment and counselling to prevent suicide. Of all the NATO countries, Canada has the highest number of mental health professionals who treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Practical measures are being taken, and I do not want your question to suggest that nothing is being done. Practical measures are also being taken in civilian society in general to prevent suicide.

I took Senator Dawson's question as notice because I want to provide him with the most complete answer possible. This is a concern that we share, and that was also the case when we adopted this motion a year ago. I would like to give the Senate the most complete answer possible from the minister.

Money has been invested. For example, the government invested $5.2 million in 2012 through the Economic Action Plan to support research on how to treat depression. The government also invested $75 million in the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy. Practical measures are being taken within civilian society and within the Canadian Armed Forces.

[English]

Senator Cordy: Thank you for itemizing all those things that are being done, but clearly something is not working if we have three suicides in a little over a week. If there are already investigations on 70 suicides in the military, then clearly something is not working.

You said there are 370 full-time professionals. Are these professionals on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for the military personnel?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Clinics have been opened and are available. You said that something is not working because there are 70 suicide investigations. There are 70 investigations because people have committed suicide. If 70 investigations have been opened, then it is because there have been 70 suicides. Every time a member of the Canadian Armed Forces commits suicide, a board of inquiry is convened to investigate the suicide and try to identify what happened in that particular case so that we can prevent these situations from occurring.

I am here to answer on behalf of the government. In another context, I could talk to you about suicide as a senator or as an individual and not in my capacity as the Leader of the Government. The rate of suicide among police officers in particular is higher than in civilian society in general given that they have access to a weapon. These people therefore have quicker access to a suicide method than ordinary citizens do, which increases the rate of suicide among police officers.

There are all sorts of factors and contexts that we could discuss. However, since I am here to answer questions as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I would like to focus my answers on your questions about the practical measures that are being taken, particularly within the Canadian Armed Forces and as part of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

(1500)

[English]

Senator Cordy: In response to the question you answered that there are clinics, but my question was this: Are they open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day?

I know that when our Social Affairs Committee was doing our study on mental health and mental illness we actually heard from one city in Canada and the witnesses. They said they had a suicide helpline, but it was only open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday, which would be good if you would plan your crisis for Monday to Friday between nine o'clock and five o'clock. When you spoke about the clinics, is that service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the military personnel?

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a response to the oral question raised in the Senate on October 29, 2013, by the Honourable Wilfred P. Moore, concerning Fisheries and Oceans, Hamilton Declaration.

Fisheries and Oceans

Hamilton Declaration

(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilfred P. Moore on October 29, 2013)

Canada supports global efforts to identify ecologically and biologically significant areas and favours an approach that takes advantage of existing mechanisms to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, as opposed to creating new costly governance structures.

Canada has not received an invitation to participate in the negotiation of the "Hamilton Declaration"; and, from the information we have been able to glean on this initiative it is not evident that Canada has direct interests in the Sargasso Sea area. We are not aware of authorized fishing in that area.

Further, it is not clear what the value is for an international oversight body for the Sargasso Sea, which would be established through the proposed "Hamilton Declaration". There are a number of existing international bodies that can implement conservation and management measures in the region, including the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization and International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in relation to fisheries issues, the International Maritime Organization in relation to shipping issues, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in relation to global trade of certain species.

Canada is already a member of these organizations, and supports their efforts. As members, countries can and have submitted proposals to these organizations to further strengthen conservation measures to safeguard the Sargasso Sea ecosystem. In this regard, participation in the "Hamilton Declaration" does not seem necessary in order to implement conservation measures.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer moved second reading of Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Criminal Code (mental health treatment).

She said: Honourable senators, I am going to be speaking in more detail when we come back in February, and I would like to adjourn for the rest of my time.

(On motion of Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Study on Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey

Second Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled, Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond, tabled in the Senate on November 28, 2013.

Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis, for Hon. Senator Andreychuk, moved the adoption of the report.

She said: Honourable senators, I want to use my time today to talk about the relationship Canada is developing with our ally and partner, Turkey.

I want to point out to this chamber that Canada is expanding its diplomatic relations and trade with the Republic of Turkey, and I remind senators that Turkey plays an important role in the region and in the world.

Our attention has been focused on Turkey as of late, as evidenced by our increased interactions with the country and our awareness of its contribution to the world economy and international security. During the last parliamentary session, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade drafted a report on our relationship, entitled, Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond. This report, which was first tabled on June 20, 2013, followed on the testimony of several witnesses who appeared before the committee and a fact- finding mission that was conducted in Turkey in March 2013. The report was tabled shortly before we adjourned for the summer, so I did not get a chance to speak to it.

I am very excited to rise today to remind this chamber of how important this report is as we pursue friendly relations with the Republic of Turkey.

Mandated to study the economic and political developments in the Republic of Turkey and its regional and global influences, the Committee tabled an excellent report that accurately portrays Turkey as a modern country and that highlights the relationship between our two countries.

Canada and Turkey enjoy a deep friendship and have for years. Canada appointed Major General Victor Odlum as its first ambassador to the Republic of Turkey in 1947. The first Turkish Ambassador presented his credentials to Ottawa in March 1944.

Since establishing official diplomatic relations by opening embassies in our respective capitals, we have increased our presence in Turkey by opening a Canadian consulate in Istanbul, the country's economic capital.

Canada manages its diplomatic relations with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan from its mission in Ankara, and our ambassador in Turkey is also ambassador to those countries. For its part, Turkey opened a consulate general in Toronto in December 2010.

Since the post-war era, the respect and trust between our two countries have allowed our economic and diplomatic ties to flourish. Numerous bilateral ministerial visits have taken place over the years, which is evidence of our close cooperation and the special ties we have. Take, for example, the recent visit by our Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable John Baird, who met with the Turkish President in September. During his time in Turkey, the minister took the opportunity to make our consulate in Istanbul a consulate general.

(1510)

On that occasion, he declared that this symbolic gesture attests to the importance Canada attaches to its relations with Turkey and highlights the important work in Istanbul, one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

As all of you know, honourable senators, Canada and Turkey have excellent bilateral relations, and we are both members of such prestigious international organizations as OSCE, the UN, the G20 and NATO.

Turkey has been an important and reliable partner, especially in recent years, when a difficult, uncertain situation prevailed in our ally's backyard. Turkey played a key role in stabilizing the crisis that brought upheaval to the Middle East and North Africa known as the Arab spring. I would like to acknowledge the incredible efforts being made by Turkey to provide refuge to Syrians fleeing the war in their own country.

In October 2013, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported with dismay that the Syrians' situation was deteriorating. Approximately 6.8 million Syrians have been affected by the conflict and 2.2 million have sought refuge outside Syria. Turkey and the United Nations Refugee Agency estimate that more than 500,000 Syrian refugees are currently living in Turkey, which is more than 20 per cent of all Syrian refugees who have fled to surrounding countries.

Turkey's exemplary efforts deserve to be recognized here, as they were by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Honourable Jason Kenney, during his visit to Syrian refugee camps in Turkey in January 2013. For the past few years, Turkey has been a real source of inspiration for neighbouring peoples and governments. Islamic Arab countries have drawn on the example of Turkey to modernize their political and economic system.

Turkey has embarked on a major liberalization of its economy in recent decades. Its efforts have been successful. Turkey's GDP made a giant leap from $231 billion U.S. in 2002 to $770 billion U.S. in 2011, a spectacular increase of 220 per cent in nine years. The strength of the thriving Turkish economy is evident in the sustained growth of certain industries that clearly show its vitality and momentum — a dynamic strength that goes beyond the five main components of gross domestic product. For example, I would point to the strength of the transportation industry. Turkey's geographical location, as the hub between Europe and Asia, gives it a significant advantage in that sector.

Turkish Airlines is a leader in air travel. One of the world's major air carriers, Turkish Airlines serves over 200 destinations in 99 countries and offers many weekly flights between Canada and Turkey. Recently, Turkish Airlines garnered numerous World Airline Awards from the Skytrax organization. It is no coincidence that Turkey is an attractive market to such companies as Bombardier, which is growing its business in the country in both the airline and railway industries.

Turkey's trade potential for Canada extends to several sectors, including agriculture and agri-food. According to 2012 data, Canada exports approximately $138 million worth of agricultural and agri-food products to Turkey, which represents only 2 per cent of Turkey's total imports in this sector. As you can see, there are countless business opportunities for Canadian companies that can and should be explored. This is particularly important since some believe that in 10 or 15 years Turkey will be a net importer of agricultural and agri-food products.

I believe our government fully realizes the potential of this sector in Turkey, since the Minister of Agriculture and Agri- Food, Gerry Ritz, has already visited and announced in May that agreements had been reached to give Canadian exporters better access to the Turkish market.

During our fact-finding mission, committee members were informed on several occasions that the mining sector also held promising business opportunities for Canadian companies. Given that Canada and its mining companies are world leaders in the sector, it is only logical that Canada and its companies should be involved in mining development in Turkey. Tellingly, the value of the mining sector in Turkey has more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2010, reaching $7.7 billion.

Following this introduction, I would like to discuss in detail the recommendations contained in the report. The committee recommended, first and foremost, that the Canadian government maintain its ongoing engagement with the government of the Republic of Turkey. Not surprisingly, I agree with this suggestion, since it is well known that bilateral relations at the highest political levels build meaningful ties not just between states, but also between their peoples.

I am very pleased that the number of bilateral visits between our two countries has gradually increased over the past few years. Many Canadian ministers have visited Turkey in recent years, and even in the last month. New ties are being forged while others are being strengthened. I can only hope to see a growing number of meetings between our two countries.

In addition, the committee urged the government to consider Turkey as a strategic trade priority and accelerate negotiations with the government of Turkey to conclude a free-trade agreement. Regardless of the size of such an agreement, the mutual benefits would undoubtedly be quite significant.

As I mentioned earlier, many trade sectors offer business opportunities for our companies. Although Turkey is our 34th largest global trading partner, there is definite potential for growth. Trade and investment activities between our two countries have been expanding in recent years, and the implementation of measures to promote trade can unlock the full potential of what each partner has to offer the other.

Also in terms of trade and entrepreneurship, the committee's third recommendation to the Government of Canada is that it facilitate partnerships between Turkish and Canadian businesses, including financing collaborations in third countries. It was also brought to the attention of committee members that partnerships between foreign and Turkish businesses are a way for the former to penetrate the Turkish market. These partnerships will be even more useful for our businesses when they invest in third countries, especially those where there is already a Turkish presence.

We were given the example of the energy sector in Azerbaijan and in Libya, where there are business opportunities for Canadian and Turkish businesses. Our relations with our Turkish allies must not be restricted to political and economic considerations and should extend to different areas of activity where there are challenges, such as education.

Therefore, the report's fourth recommendation concerns the need to increase international student exchanges and to enter into a youth mobility agreement.

(1520)

Education plays a key role in our relations with our many partners.

Exposing international students to the realities of Canada makes it possible to create strong personal ties and makes it easier to develop long-term relationships between international students and our country. Fewer than 3,000 Turkish students were going to school in Canada in 2011. As you can see, honourable senators, there is room for improvement.

The fifth recommendation in the report extends beyond our ties with Turkey. We recommended that the government develop a foreign policy strategy that features a Canada brand and profiles Canada's advantages, notably in technology and education.

As part of its study mandate, the committee frequently heard witnesses talk about the importance of marketing Canada honestly but adapting the country's image to the characteristics of the target country.

Finally, our Senate committee suggested that the Government of Canada consider memoranda of understanding with the Government of the Republic of Turkey in the areas of science and technology, mining and energy. These are fields where Canada's technical advice and expertise about governance and the regulatory environment would be a valuable asset to Turkey, which is seeking to enhance its research and development capacity.

The fact of the matter is that there is tremendous potential for political and economic cooperation between Canada and Turkey. We already enjoy an excellent relationship with Turkey, and this report proposes that we expand and strengthen those ties. The recommendations contained in this report propose a road map, which I agree with, for enhancing our partnership with our ally, Turkey.

In closing, I would like to thank my honourable colleagues who participated in this study and the committee staff members for all their hard work and for writing the report, which I hope will resonate with the government.

Honourable senators, thank you very much for your close attention.

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Committee Authorized to Study the Ability of Individuals to Establish a Registered Disability Savings Plan

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Gerstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C.:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be authorized to examine and report on the ability of individuals to establish a registered disability savings plan (RDSP), with particular emphasis on legal representation and the ability of individuals to enter into a contract; and

That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than March 31, 2014, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

The Senate

Motion to Recognize May as National Vision Health Month—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Asha Seth, pursuant to notice of November 26, 2013, moved:

That because vision loss can happen to anyone at any age and as a result thousands of people across Canada are needlessly losing their sight each year, and because many Canadians are not aware that seventy-five per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated, the Senate recognize the month of May as "National Vision Health Month," to educate Canadians about their vision health and help eliminate avoidable sight loss across the country.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on my motion to recognize the month of May as national vision health month." This proposal is a cost-effective strategy to educate Canadians about the importance of vision health. With the passage of this motion, the month of May will become a yearly platform for the promotion of vision health prevention. It will give us an opportunity to encourage practices that save sight and that can help to prevent vision loss for thousands of vulnerable Canadians. It will also allow parliamentarians, non-profit organizations, educators and stakeholders to organize around the month of May to inform Canadians on the well-established methods of eye- disease prevention and the latest technological advances in this field.

As a physician with more than 40 years of experience, I can tell you that one ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, particularly where eye disease is concerned. As you learned from my inquiry on this topic last session, vision loss can happen to anyone, at any age, but what many people don't realize is that 75 per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated if detected early.

We are given our eyes for life, but unless we take care of them, we could be at risk of losing a lifetime of sight and so much more. Contrary to popular belief, eye disease is not a natural part of aging. Eye disease, at any age, is a medical problem that needs attention. If caught early enough, eye disease can often be treated effectively, and, if preventive steps are taken, it may even be possible to avoid it altogether.

That is what this national vision health month will aim to do; it will aim to empower Canadians with knowledge about their vision health so that one day we may eliminate avoidable sight loss across the country.

Unless we do something about it, the financial and personal costs of vision loss are only going to rise rapidly in the future, making our health care system even more overburdened and taking a greater toll on Canadians. The economic costs and human suffering caused by vision loss are enormous burdens in Canada — far ahead of most other diseases. The figures show that the real financial cost of vision loss in Canada is estimated to be $15.8 billion and growing. That's nearly 2 per cent of Canada's GDP.

As I have said before, this breaks down to $500 for every Canadian, or nearly $20,000 for every Canadian with vision loss. These costs will only grow worse as the baby boom generation grows older and becomes more vulnerable to eye disease and vision loss.

For decades we have allowed the rates of blindness and vision loss in our country to rise and ignorance on the topic to grow. That is why now we must lead the charge to increase awareness and promote the prevention, research and treatment of vision loss in Canada to help eliminate preventable blindness and vision loss in this country.

(1530)

The earlier an eye disease is detected, the greater the chance of preventing or minimizing associated vision loss through treatment.

I am reminded of the story of Carol Mondesir from Toronto. At age 70, after a long and successful career as a management consultant and motivational speaker, Carol began to realize that her vision was deteriorating. She quickly sought the help of an ophthalmologist, who diagnosed her eye condition as age-related macular degeneration. The doctor quickly treated her with three injections of ranibizumab, a medicine that helps to slow down the loss of sight and often improves vision by stopping the cause of AMD.

Thanks to this quick intervention, Carol stopped the deterioration process and has not required additional injections since 2010. Instead, she has been able to continue living a confident and productive life. Carol now runs a support group for blind and partially sighted people.

That is why it's so critical to get your eyes examined regularly.

Today, a whole range of eye problems can be treated successfully without total vision loss, thanks to cutting-edge technology and research. A parade of innovations and new technologies is marching into the field of vision health care at an escalating rate. New discoveries in such areas as stem cell science, nanotechnology and ocular imaging promise the continuation of this trend.

For example, the Panoramic 200 device is an instrument capable of scanning the back of the eye to produce an ultra-wide field, high-resolution map that can show up to 80 per cent of the retina in one image and help your doctor diagnose, analyze and monitor ocular pathology that may be present in the periphery of the eye and that could otherwise go undetected using traditional examination techniques and equipment.

Honourable senators, observing national vision health month in May will give an opportunity to showcase the advancements in technology that are revolutionizing vision health care and that allow doctors to fight the growing vision loss epidemic in Canada. The recognition of May as national vision health month will create awareness of the rising number of blind and partially sighted people in Canada, which currently stands at nearly one million. This number can no longer be ignored.

National vision health month will highlight the problem of vision loss among vulnerable populations and visible minorities. Women, children, Aboriginal peoples, new Canadians and the elderly will have a voice, in us, every year.

National vision health month will promote the expansion of Canadian research in vision health, which is often forgotten and neglected. Most importantly, national vision health month will educate. It will teach all Canadians about the importance of preventative eye care and treatment.

Throughout the month of May, we will call on all Canadians to do one simple thing that could save their sight: get an eye examination by a Doctor of Optometry. If we are successful in diffusing that message, then national vision health month will save the sight of millions of Canadians, young and old, rich and poor.

Today I have my sunglasses here with me because even in the winter we must protect our eyes against the sun. Wearing glasses with UV protection is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent eye disease. I encourage you to always wear them, every season.

Vision loss affects everyone, and I can assure you that every person in this room is vulnerable to vision loss. Are you aware of how your eating, drinking and smoking habits could be putting you and your loved ones at risk of blindness? Are you aware of how new discoveries in ocular health could one day save your vision? Are you aware that every year, tens of thousands of Canadians lose their vision forever, when it could have been saved?

Should we not be the voice of reason? Shouldn't we be calling out to Canadians to take action for their eyes? The answer is yes, we should, and we will.

I think that you will agree with me that this is an issue where we can stand united as one to support our citizens. By recognizing May as our national vision health month, we commit to our fight against vision loss. We are saying, "No, we will not allow our citizens to live with blindness; we will not allow ignorance to prevail on this disease; we will not let more Canadians go blind unnecessarily."

The English writer, philosopher and poet Jonathan Swift once said, "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." In this chamber, we must realize that vision loss has been an invisible epidemic in this country for too long, and it falls on us to shine the light on this horrible problem that threatens to destroy the lives of so many of us.

With your support, with your help, we will make this a reality. We will make a real difference for Canadians. Let's take the first step: Join me in recognizing the month of May as national vision health month.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Seth, will you accept a question?

Senator Seth: Yes.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Thank you for your excellent remarks.

As you know, last year this chamber dealt with cosmetic contacts, which was a major problem in eye care. These were contacts that were sold at convenience stores and other places, and they had designs on them, colours, particularly aimed at young people. They have been removed now.

It seems to me the second major problem, which we haven't addressed, is selling contacts and glasses online. As you know, you can get a prescription and send it off, but the fitting and the professional service that are available in an office with a trained professional as opposed to picking them up at the post office is a world of difference. Do you have any concerns about that?

Senator Seth: Yes. Thank you for asking that. It is a very important question.

The contact lenses prescribed by a physician, an ophthalmologist, usually when you go and buy those, they are prescribed. The ones you get online are of concern to us because when the manufacturers make them, we are not aware of their practices. In fact, the major problem we are facing is they are very cheap contact lenses, and youngsters can go and buy them online. They are not regulated, and that's the concern there. I think we have to do something about this, I agree with you.

Senator Downe: Thank you for that. After we had a debate last year, I wrote the then Minister of Health about this issue of online sales. The federal government seemed less than enthusiastic about taking any action. I hope you and others who share this concern can join in putting pressure on the Minister of Health to get this oversight corrected. It's a major concern.

You see the advertisements on television and on social media. Prices are very cheap compared to what you have to pay at a so- called brick-and-mortar store, and the reason for that is exactly the reason you articulated: They're very low quality, made very cheaply, not made to last and could have a major impact on somebody's eyesight in the long term. Most of these are marketed for young people because of the cost considerations, but the damage could be many years down the road and would be in addition to the health care costs that you indicated in your remarks. I hope you will join others in expressing this concern to the Minister of Health.

(1540)

Senator Seth: Yes. I accept that, and I think we will look into it. We have discussed the same subject in our committee.

Senator Downe: Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Continuing debate.

Are honourable senators ready for the question?

(On motion of Senator Martin, for Senator Eaton, debate adjourned.)

Conflict of Interest for Senators

Committee Authorized to Refer Papers and Documents Received During First Session of Forty-first Parliament and Intersessional Authority to Committee

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, pursuant to notice of November 26, 2013, moved:

That the papers and documents received and/or produced by the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators during the First Session of the Forty-first Parliament, and Intersessional Authority be referred to the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators.

She said: Honourable senators, I think the motion speaks for itself. It is to allow the papers and evidence taken previously to be applied to this session. I think there should be no debate about it.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: 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.)

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Motion to Instruct Committee to Hear Witness—Vote Deferred

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition), pursuant to notice of November 28, 2013, moved:

That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration that, before the end of 2013, it hear from Mr. Michael Runia, Managing Partner, Ontario at Deloitte LLP in relation to the audit report on Senator Duffy's expenses.

She said: I think if colleagues check rule 6-11, they will see I have the right to reserve my speaking time to a later moment, and that is what I propose to do now.

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Colleagues, I'm sure that I speak for many of us, if not all of us, when I say how deeply troubled I am by the allegations raised in the affidavit of RCMP Corporal Greg Horton that attempts were made to interfere with the forensic audit that the Senate ordered of Senator Duffy's expense claims.

We've just spent several weeks considering motions by the government to suspend three of our members without pay. We were told by the government leader that this unprecedented step was required, in his words, "in order to protect the dignity and reputation of the Senate, and public trust and confidence in Parliament."

If allegations of inappropriate expense claims threatened the dignity and reputation of the Senate and public trust and confidence in Parliament, how much more so do allegations of attempted secret interference directed by the Prime Minister's Office with a Senate-ordered forensic audit into those very expense claims?

Colleagues, it may be helpful if I take a few minutes to summarize some of the statements from the RCMP affidavit that present cause for these concerns.

Let me begin by reading from page 37 of the Horton affidavit. These exchanges took place on March 1, and the chronology is important to our understanding of this situation, colleagues.

The March 1 exchanges begin with an email from Nigel Wright to Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, who was of course then a member of the steering committee of Internal Economy, which was in charge of the audit into Senator Duffy's expense claims.

Mr. Wright said this on March 1:

Thanks Carolyn. I agree that the auditor (it's not really an audit) should report. But the report can be — if Kanata were a primary residence, here is how much would be owed. It shouldn't —

— "it" being the report from the auditors —

— conclude that "Kanata is the primary residence", and it doesn't need to conclude that because Mike has committed to repay the money as if that were the case. I could use your help getting them to understand and making it happen.

Corporal Horton then noted:

Nigel Wright forwarded the above e-mail exchange to Chris Woodcock and Patrick Rogers and advised that he would be asking for Senator Gerstein's assistance in the matter.

As I'm sure all of us know by now, Chris Woodcock and Patrick Rogers both worked in the Prime Minister's office.

So, colleagues, we have the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff telling one of the two Conservative senators on the steering committee of Internal Economy what he wanted the Deloitte report to conclude and what he wanted the report not to conclude.

He asked Senator Stewart Olsen for her help getting Deloitte "to understand and making it happen."

Then, of course, Mr. Wright went further, enlisting not only Senator Stewart Olsen's help with Deloitte, but also that of Senator Gerstein.

Continuing with the affidavit, Corporal Horton wrote:

Also on March 1, Janice Payne —

— that's Senator Duffy's lawyer —

— e-mailed Benjamin Perrin —

— who was a lawyer in the Prime Minister's Office —

— for an update on Senator Duffy being withdrawn from the Deloitte audit. Mr. Perrin inquired with Nigel Wright, who wrote:

No we do not have an update for her on the Deloitte audit.

— "her" being Janice Payne —

Chris and Patrick and I are trying to make this happen.... Today I asked Sen. Gerstein to actually work through senior contacts at Deloitte and with Sen. LeBreton.... the outcome we are pushing for is for Deloitte to report publicly that IF Kanata were the primary residence then the amount owing would be the $90 thousand figure and that since Sen. Duffy has committed to repay this amount then Deloitte's work in determining primary residence is no longer needed....

Now, Deloitte, as we know, has a long-standing relationship with the Conservative Party of Canada. The firm is the auditor for the Conservative Fund, run by Senator Gerstein for the Conservative Party. As such, Senator Gerstein deals regularly with Deloitte and particularly with Michael Runia. Mr. Runia is the managing partner in the audit practice at Deloitte for the Ontario region, which is the whole of Ontario, excluding Toronto; in other words, it includes Ottawa. Indeed, Mr. Runia's involvement with the Conservative Party is such that he made a presentation at the recent Conservative Party convention in Calgary.

So in the email that I've just read to you, Nigel Wright said that he spoke to Senator Gerstein and asked him "... to actually work through senior contacts at Deloitte.. " to push for certain findings, and especially that certain findings not be made in the Deloitte report. Based on what transpired subsequently, it seems those senior contacts included Mr. Runia.

On March 5, there were further references to Mr. Wright wanting things "checked with Irving" — presumably Senator Gerstein. In an email, Mr. Wright said that he would support an approach that would have Senator Duffy voluntarily repay the housing allowance paid to him since his appointment "... IF I can be satisfied that Deloitte will accept the proposal."

This brings us to March 8. Let me read to you from Corporal Horton's affidavit:

On March 8, during e-mail correspondence pertaining to Deloitte's mandate from the Senate, Patrick Rogers stated:

Senator Gerstein has just called. He agrees with our understanding of the situation and his Deloitte contact agrees.

That Deloitte contact is Michael Runia.

The stage we're at now is waiting for the Senator's contact to get the actual Deloitte auditor on the file to agree. The Senator —

— Senator Gerstein —

— will call back once we have Deloitte locked in.

(1550)

So, colleagues, unless Senator Gerstein was engaging in a "deception" on those he was dealing with in the PMO, he had called his senior contact at Deloitte, Mr. Runia, the managing partner for the Ontario region, who agreed with the PMO plan and was going then to set about getting the actual Deloitte auditor on the file to agree, so the Conservatives would have, to use his phrase, "Deloitte locked in."

Colleagues, did anyone in this chamber ever imagine that this is how the independent forensic audit we ordered into Senator Duffy's expense claims would be conducted — with secret conversations with a senior Deloitte partner who would then seek to get the actual auditors "locked in" to the PMO plan for the outcome of the audit?

The next entry in the RCMP affidavit is from March 20 and includes an email from Mr. Wright to Chris Woodcock setting out the PMO's objective. Colleagues, the references are to discussions among Janice Payne, the lawyer for Senator Duffy; Benjamin Perrin, the lawyer for the Prime Minister's office; Arthur Hamilton, the lawyer for the Conservative Party; and Senator Tkachuk. Ms. Payne had emailed each of these individuals seeking confirmation that the audit would be called off upon repayment. Here is what Mr. Wright said in his email about this:

Very dangerous tactic by her.

— "her" being Janice Payne —

Also, I wonder if she is paying attention, because Ben will have explained to her several times that it is not "the audit being called off, but rather Deloitte not having to come to a conclusion on primary vs secondary residence.... the assumption that Kanata is the primary residence, an assumption made valid by Sen. Duffy's decision not to contest that point...."

Now, colleagues, we reach a critical point for purposes of the motion before us. This is at page 39 of the Horton affidavit. Corporal Horton wrote:

On March 21, Patrick Rogers advised Nigel Wright and others that he heard from Senator Gerstein with an update on his inquiries from Deloitte. He advised that:

I'm quoting directly now from an email from Patrick Rogers, an employee in the Prime Minister's Office, to Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, and this is reporting on what Patrick Rogers says he heard from Senator Gerstein as a result of Senator Gerstein's contact with Mr. Runia and Mr. Runia's contact with his fellow partners at Deloitte. This is from Patrick Rogers to Nigel Wright:

Any repayments will not change Deloitte's conclusions because they were asked to opine on residency. However, they can't reach a conclusion on residency because Duffy's lawyer has not provided them anything. This is despite their attempts [to] use "public information" about Duffy's residency. Their report will state that Duffy's lawyer did not provide information when requested. They were asked to complete the work by the end of March and plan to.

Colleagues, how was Senator Gerstein able to provide this information to the Prime Minister's Office? How did he know any of this — the effect of the repayment on Deloitte's conclusions, their ability to reach conclusions on residency, the reasons for their inability to reach those conclusions, and then what their report will state?

Last week, of course, our Internal Economy Committee heard from several of the Deloitte auditors. Mr. Gary Timm, according to the engagement letter between Internal Economy and Deloitte, was to serve as lead client service partner. He told our Internal Economy Committee last week that Mr. Runia contacted him by telephone on one occasion. This is what Mr. Timm told the Internal Economy Committee last week about that conversation:

Mr. Timm: He contacted me on one occasion, one phone call. The call was, he wanted to know if Senator Duffy were to repay, how much would that be? I told him I can't divulge or disclose any confidential information. He understood my reply. I directed him to public information where he, if he wanted to find out what the total entitlements that a senator could have for living allowances was. It was a short call and it ended there.

That was Mr. Timm's testimony last week.

Colleagues, how then did Senator Gerstein learn the information that he passed on to the Prime Minister's Office? Of course the information sought by Mr. Wright and others at the PMO, what they asked Senator Gerstein to obtain from his senior contact at Deloitte, was not how much Senator Duffy owed. By March 1, the date that Mr. Wright asked Senator Gerstein to "work through senior contacts at Deloitte," they knew — the PMO knew — that the amount owed was $90,000. The PMO knew that on February 26, or at the latest on February 27, and that's in the RCMP affidavit at page 35.

It strains credulity to believe that this would be the information they would ask Senator Gerstein to use his senior contact at Deloitte to obtain. Why bring out your big guns — why take steps that you knew had to breach the critical ethical wall of the audit — for information which you already have, especially when the emails are very clear that there is other information that you really want to know? In fact, of course, it is the other information that Senator Gerstein did obtain, according to the email of March 21.

Colleagues, while the auditors who appeared last Thursday were adamant that the contact from Mr. Runia had no effect on their conclusions, in fact, we know that the information reported by Senator Gerstein did have an impact on the audit. Patrick Rogers' email to Nigel Wright and others on the report he received from Senator Gerstein said, as I read a moment ago and will read again, that Deloitte

... can't reach a conclusion on residency because Duffy's lawyer has not provided them anything.

Colleagues, as demonstrated in the email I read a few moments ago, the PMO's objective was specifically to avoid Deloitte coming to a conclusion on Senator Duffy's primary versus secondary residence. So it's troubling to see that after Mr. Rogers reported on his conversation with Senator Gerstein, he wrote:

... I would propose that the Senator —

— and this is Senator Duffy —

— continue to not engage with Deloitte. I believe that we should make arrangements for repayment knowing that Deloitte will not say one way or another on his residency.

Of course Senator Duffy did not "engage with Deloitte." Neither he nor his lawyer cooperated with the audit at all. In other words, colleagues, this advance knowledge of what the Deloitte report would or would not contain apparently had a very significant impact on the conduct of the audit. It resulted in the PMO directing Senator Duffy not to cooperate with the audit, the forensic audit that we in this chamber ordered be done.

Surely everyone in this chamber shares my shock and outrage at this, if indeed it is true. We must therefore determine whether or not it happened, and the first step to doing that is to call Mr. Runia to appear before our Internal Economy Committee to answer our questions.

Senator Comeau disagreed. He said that the RCMP is investigating and we should leave it to them.

Colleagues, neither Mr. Runia nor Senator Gerstein are under investigation by the RCMP, so far as I know. Indeed, Prime Minister Harper has been adamant in the other place that the only people in this affair who are under investigation by the RCMP are Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy. So why should the fact that the RCMP are investigating Mr. Wright and Senator Duffy stop us from getting to the bottom of allegations involving Senator Gerstein and Michael Runia, allegations which directly and profoundly impugn the integrity of the whole process that we ordered, the process, to use the government leader's words, which we set in place "in order to protect the dignity and reputation of the Senate and public trust and confidence in Parliament"?

What reputation do we have if the Prime Minister's Office can direct a Conservative senator to "work through senior contacts" at the auditing firm and use their long-standing relationship to get the auditors on the file "locked in" with the PMO plan? How can the public have any trust and confidence in Parliament? Colleagues, these allegations strike at the heart of my trust and confidence in the integrity of this institution. This is, quite simply, a bridge too far.

(1600)

And of course, the fact of the ongoing RCMP investigations did not prevent the majority in this chamber from suspending Senator Duffy and Senators Brazeau and Wallin. We were told repeatedly by the government leader at the time that there would be no impact on those investigations — and, of course, there we knew that the RCMP was investigating the very senators we were being asked to suspend. So how can it then be that an RCMP investigation of other people prevents us from calling Mr. Runia, who is not under any investigation, to testify? There is no logic behind that argument.

Colleagues, the allegations of interference with the forensic audit that we ordered are very serious, and they're deeply troubling. If the Prime Minister's Office controlled the auditors into Senator Duffy's expense claims, what was the point of having the audit? Independence is key — the independence of the audit process and, frankly, the independence and integrity of this chamber.

We must ascertain whether there is any merit to these allegations. Clearly, calling Mr. Timm, Mr. Dent and Mr. Stewart of Deloitte did not enable us to get to the bottom of this. The next logical step is to call Mr. Runia.

Colleagues, if I were in Mr. Runia's shoes — or indeed in Senator Gerstein's, for that matter — I would welcome an opportunity to clear the air and explain away the cloud of suspicion that is hanging over their heads.

If we fail to do everything in our power to ascertain exactly what transpired here, then, colleagues, we are ourselves complicit in this whole sordid affair, in what is looking to be a massive cover-up — a deception orchestrated by the Prime Minister's most senior and trusted advisers.

I urge you to support the motion of my colleague Senator Fraser.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Would Senator Cowan take a question?

Senator Cowan: Absolutely.

Senator Plett: Senator Cowan, thank you for that speech. As you mentioned at the outset, we were dealing with a very troubling issue a month or so ago, and ironically you and I were at least in part on the same side on that particular issue.

When I delivered my remarks in regard to the issue, and clearly stated how concerned I was about what we were doing and voiced my disagreement with that, one of my main arguments was that although there wasn't an RCMP investigation going on at that time there was potential of an RCMP investigation, which was one of my reasons for wanting to hold off and for saying let's let the RCMP do their work, if there is work to be done.

You say there isn't an RCMP investigation going on in regard to Senator Gerstein or, in fact, Mr. Runia either, but there is certainly the potential of that investigation happening. Senator Gerstein has stated publicly that he has already been questioned by the RCMP in regard to the issues that are surrounding us. So I would suggest, sir, that in fact there is an RCMP investigation going on.

When I made my comments a month ago I enjoyed being cheered, and so on and so forth. I don't know that it was my proudest moment when I got a standing ovation from the members opposite, but I did and I accepted it. I took from that that at least, sir, you agreed with most of my comments that I made. I said at that time: Let's wait. Let's show that we are the chamber of sober second thought. Let's let the RCMP do their work, and once they have determined whether there is an investigation or not, then we can do ours.

I share with you your concern about trust and confidence in this institution. I think we are certainly all in agreement with that. We possibly have differences of opinion as to how to achieve that. But I ask you, Senator Cowan: When I at least clearly felt that to a large extent we were making the same argument a month ago, how can you today say let's just go into this gung-ho? Let's start questioning people. Let's question Mr. Runia, and possibly after that question Senator Gerstein, before the RCMP can do their work. So I suggest there is the potential of an RCMP investigation and, indeed, there is already one happening. Why would we not want to wait until that has run its course?

Senator Cowan: Thank you, Senator Plett. I think the situations are entirely different. I think you and I did agree that it was inappropriate to proceed as we did with respect to the suspension because there was an ongoing police investigation of those three senators. As I said in my speech, and as you quite correctly quoted, so far as we know there is no police investigation going on with respect to Senator Gerstein or Mr. Runia. The Internal Economy Committee did say that we need to get to the bottom of it. We need to find out whether the audit that all of us supported was carried out, as we wanted it to be and as we publicly believed it to be, completely independently.

When the report came back I think all of us thanked Deloitte for the work they did, although perhaps not those who were the subject of the audit reports. None of us had any idea at that time — well, none but one of us — that anybody had made any contact with the auditors.

We now know that Senator Gerstein called his contact at Deloitte, who, in turn, contacted the auditors who were on the file. We didn't know that, or at least I didn't know of it, until we read that in the report that was filed by Corporal Horton. Therefore I think we deserve an explanation from Senator Gerstein. We deserve an explanation from Mr. Runia as to exactly what was asked for and what was provided. I say that because, on the face of it, there clearly was action taken as a result of information that somehow got to the Prime Minister's Office.

I think, as senators who supported the motion and who supported the independence and believed in the independence of the audit, we're entitled to that information and we're entitled to those answers. I think the difference between the two situations — the suspensions that we faced a few weeks ago and now — is that there was an active police investigation going on with respect to those three senators. You will remember that your leader assured us all that taking the action that we took would have absolutely no impact on those investigations. I hope he's right. I said that at the time and I hope he's right today. We'll see.

However, there is no such concern now because there is no ongoing investigation of the actions of either Senator Gerstein or Mr. Runia. But I think that we are entitled to demand — this motion speaks solely with respect to Mr. Runia — why would he call the auditors in charge of the audit and say: How much money does Mike Duffy owe? Why would he ask that when we know, from the evidence that's contained in the RCMP affidavit, that at the time that question was asked the Prime Minister's Office already knew how much money was involved, namely $90,000? They already knew that. So it really is hard for me to believe, Senator Plett, that they would enlist the support of Senator Gerstein to talk to Mr. Runia, to talk to the auditors, to ask for information that they already had.

There may be an explanation for that. I'd like to hear what Mr. Runia has to say about that. But I think that, as an institution, we should be concerned about the allegations that are out there, and the simple way to get to the bottom of it is to invite Mr. Runia to come and explain to us who asked him, precisely what he was asked to do, precisely what questions he asked, what information he received and what information he transmitted back to Senator Gerstein.

Senator Plett: Supplemental, please.

You are probably correct in your answer. However, Senator Gerstein has been questioned by the RCMP. We don't know what they have been questioning him about, but we certainly know that he has been questioned by the RCMP. We don't know the answers; we don't know the questions. So how can you stand here and say there are definitely no similarities and that there is no investigation? Senator Gerstein has been questioned by the RCMP.

Senator Cowan: I take the word of your Prime Minister, our Prime Minister, who says that the only two people under investigation are Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

[Translation]

(1610)

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator Cowan, I would like to correct something regarding the three situations we dealt with recently.

When some senators were found to have clearly violated the rules of the Senate, for two weeks there were calls for them to be sanctioned for having broken the rules. For two weeks you kept saying that suspending them for having broken the rules of the Senate might interfere with the RCMP's investigation. You are saying that these two situations are very different.

In this case, it is very clear that an RCMP investigation is under way. Everything you just quoted is from an RCMP affidavit from an investigation. Furthermore, on November 28, 2013, a member from the other side quoted certain emails that you referred to and asked the RCMP in a letter — as though it were not perfectly clear that an RCMP investigation was under way — to investigate again in order to ensure that an investigation would take place.

I cannot believe that, for two weeks, you were worried about the risk of interfering with an RCMP investigation in the cases of Senator Duffy, Senator Wallin and Senator Brazeau, but in this case, you do not see it.

Furthermore, I am concerned: did you discuss this with Justin Trudeau or were you instructed by Justin Trudeau to move this motion?

[English]

Senator Cowan: No, I can answer that question. Very definitely I have not discussed this matter with Mr. Trudeau, nor would I think it appropriate to do so. The question here is, and I'll repeat exactly what I have said: You stood in your place and repeatedly argued at great length and persuaded the majority of senators in this room that there was absolutely no danger. You based it on your own extensive legal research. You said there was absolutely no danger in our proceeding to suspend those three senators — that it would not in any way jeopardize the ongoing police investigations, which we knew were taking place with respect to those three senators. We raised concerns on this side. You dismissed those concerns and persuaded a majority of our colleagues in this place to support your position. I accept that; and I hope you're right, Senator Carignan. I said at the time that I hope you're right.

The Prime Minister's current position, which he's maintained for some time, is that there are only two people under investigation: Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright. No one else is under police investigation. That's what he says. I accept that. We know, and we didn't know then as we didn't know until a week ago, that for some reason the Prime Minister's Office asked Senator Gerstein to make a call to his contact at Deloitte and that that contact made a call to the auditors who were managing the independent audit that we all agreed ought to be carried out. I see no reason why Mr. Runia would not want to come and explain what he was asked to do, what he did and what he reported back. I see no reason for that testimony to jeopardize any police investigation because, to our knowledge, there is no police investigation.

I don't think the concerns I expressed at the time about the action you were asking us to take with respect to those three senators is at all relevant to the point here — the motion to ask Mr. Runia to come and provide the information we didn't know about then but we know about now. We have no reason to believe that there is any kind of police investigation with respect to him.

Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, I rise on a question of privilege. I am the senator who gave notice of this motion and who moved it a few moments ago. I wish to assure all honourable senators that it would never have crossed my mind, nor did it cross my mind, to consult with the leader of my party. Had he intended to give me orders to do this, I think I would have pushed back. In fact, this notice of motion and the motion arising therefrom arose within the Senate. I consulted Senator Furey about the wording of the motion; but I don't think you'll find that Senator Furey takes orders from anybody he doesn't like or doesn't want to take orders from — either way. I wish to assure colleagues that there was no interference from outside the Senate in this matter of any kind.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Does any other senator want to address the question of privilege put by Senator Fraser? It's an important matter that is up to the chamber to decide, so I need to hear that. I want to make up my mind on the question of privilege, so I want to hear from other honourable senators first. Hearing no other comments on the question of privilege, I will reflect on the question. In the meantime, we will proceed with debate.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: I asked the question. The reason is clear: on November 28, 2013, a member of the other place wrote a letter asking for an additional investigation, as though there were not enough. If they had spoken to one another beforehand, it would have been clear that an RCMP investigation might overlap, or that this could lead to an RCMP investigation that might interfere with the ongoing investigation.

The Internal Economy Committee justified the motion to hear the three Deloitte auditors by saying they needed to ensure that there was no interference in the investigation or in the report and that no changes were made to the report. The three experts who testified were very clear: this did not interfere in their report and the report was in no way modified. The audit process and the decision-making process in the Senate were followed. When you proposed this motion to hear the three experts, those of us on this side immediately agreed to hear them so that we could ensure that the integrity of the decision-making process was not affected.

Are you not stooping to partisanship by trying to get testimony from someone who may have heard something, when the three experts very clearly stated that there was no interference? Do you not think that shows some serious partisanship?

[English]

Senator Cowan: You're entitled to your view of the situation, Senator Carignan. I read to you the testimony of Mr. Timm. He said:

He wanted to know, if Senator Duffy were to repay, how much would that be.

On the face of it, that's a pretty reasonable question, except if that was the question asked, why was it asked then? As I've shown you, and as the Horton affidavit makes clear, days in advance of that the Prime Minister's Office also knew precisely, or closely, that the amount of money to be repaid was $90,000. Nigel Wright didn't need to ask Senator Gerstein to call Mr. Runia to call Mr. Timm to find out that number. They already had it. So, knowing that, there's something wrong somewhere. Something simply doesn't add up. It doesn't make any sense to me that Mr. Wright would ask Senator Gerstein to call Mr. Runia to call Mr. Timm to find out information which they already had. That makes no sense.

(1620)

So either there was something else that Mr. Runia asked Mr. Timm, or there was something else that Senator Gerstein asked Mr. Runia. Everybody can't be right here.

These are allegations, and that's why we need to get to the bottom of it. They're serious allegations. They go right to the integrity of the independence of this institution. They go to the independence and the integrity of the audit that this chamber ordered, and that's why we need to get to the bottom of it.

If the report back to Mr. Wright was, "I've checked with my contacts at Deloitte who have checked with the auditors, and the amount that Senator Duffy would have to pay back is $90,000," I think you'd say it's odd that they would have set that chain of events in motion to get information they already had, but so what? It may have been inappropriate to make those calls.

What the Prime Minister's Office understood from Senator Gerstein was a whole lot more. Indeed, it wasn't how much money needed to be paid back. It was what Deloitte was going to do and, just as importantly, what they were not going to do because it's clear that the plan was that if Senator Duffy didn't cooperate with the audit, the auditors would not be able to come to a determination as to whether Kanata or Prince Edward Island was his primary residence. As is clear from those emails, the desired result from what the PMO wanted to see in that audit report was not that Kanata was Senator Duffy's primary residence, but if Kanata was the primary residence, then this is the amount of money that would flow.

That's what was reported back. The Prime Minister's Office, in those emails, makes it clear that what they heard from Senator Gerstein — and presumably what he had heard from Deloitte — was not that it's $90,000, but this is what the report will say and, just as importantly, this is what the report will not say. That's why they talked about getting Deloitte "locked in," and then, as a result of that, they would tell Senator Duffy not to cooperate with the auditors so the auditors would not be able to make that determination, and they would make the repayment and the whole thing would be done. Very clearly, that was the plan, and no one is denying that was the plan.

But the fact of the matter is, so far as we can tell from the allegations contained in the Horton affidavit, there was an attempt by the Prime Minister's Office to find out what was going to be in that report, and they didn't do that by speaking to the chair of the committee, Senator Tkachuk. They didn't come to the committee itself. They chose to use the back door of getting Senator Gerstein to talk to Mr. Runia to talk to the Deloitte auditors. That fact was never disclosed. I'm sure it was never disclosed to Senator Tkachuk.

So there's something wrong here. There was an attempt to influence the result of the audit, and as we all know, it had the desired effect. Somehow, information got into the hands of the Prime Minister's Office, which should not have. It should have been kept in the body, inside that wall that was constructed by Deloitte until Deloitte reported to the steering committee of Internal Economy. That's the process that was set in place.

We now know that there were contacts outside. We should all be concerned about that, and I think the proper way to get to the bottom of it is to invite Mr. Runia to come and tell us. Is he going to say, "Yes, that's right; I had a call from Senator Gerstein that they wanted me to find out from Deloitte how much money Senator Duffy had to pay back, so I called my contacts, and that's what they told him, and that's all I reported back to Senator Gerstein"? Where did the rest of the information come from? We don't know.

There are a lot of questions out there, Senator Carignan, and I think that we, as a chamber, have a responsibility to get to the bottom of it.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: We are still on the unlimited time of Senator Cowan. Senator Carignan has the floor for questions.

In order, I have Senator White, then Senator Tkachuk. If there are any other senators who want to ask questions, make sure I can see you.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator Cowan, I have the utmost respect for you, but the more I listen to you trying to justify Senator Fraser's motion, the more I believe that this would make for an interesting discussion in a pub on Sparks Street some evening.

This is far from an attempt to influence a report that was requested by the Senate. All of the questions you are asking, the assumptions you are making and the rumours you are trying to spread would make for an interesting discussion over a beer in a pub. That is why I am asking that you withdraw this motion.

[English]

Senator Cowan: With respect, Senator Carignan, I'd be happy to discuss it over a beer in a pub on Sparks Street, but what I've stated to you and what I've read to you are documents contained in the sworn affidavit of Sergeant Horton. This isn't cocktail party gossip that I'm telling you about. I've quoted to you from the sworn affidavit of Corporal Horton, so I think that you trivialize it to suggest that it is simply cocktail party gossip.

Hon. David Tkachuk: Of course, I was chair of the audit committee and have a bit of an interest in ensuring the integrity of the audit, Senator Cowan.

All of those emails that you read into the record, which I have read as well from the police undertaking, intermittently quote the constitutional question of residency and the question of primary residency, some of the issues that we're all confused about here, actually.

So those emails that you quoted in your speech today, were they referring to the constitutional question of residency — in other words, was Senator Duffy a legitimate senator — or were they referring to the question of primary residence?

Senator Cowan: I agree that there is a lot of confusion about those things. The focus of the investigation and the work of your committee was not so much as to whether Senator Duffy was entitled under the Constitution to be a senator from Prince Edward Island and met the residency requirements set in the Constitution — I commended your efforts at the time and I do so again today — the work of the committee, of the auditors, was directed to the issue of whether they could determine that Senator Duffy's primary residence was Kanata or Prince Edward Island. If they determined that his primary residence was Prince Edward Island, then he would have been entitled to claim a housing allowance and per diems when he was at his secondary residence in Ottawa, in Kanata.

But what the auditors said resulted from their attempts to rely on public information, which in turn was because there was no cooperation either from Senator Duffy or his lawyers. Senator Duffy and his lawyers did not provide the information that I think all the rest of us provided with respect to our tax returns, drivers' licences, health cards and voting records to help your committee determine, which I think you did readily with respect to 90-plus of us anyway, that if we claimed for a secondary residence in the Ottawa region, we did maintain a primary residence in the other province.

(1630)

It seems to me a fair reading of the emails here. If we remember what the focus of the work of Deloitte was at the time, it was to determine not whether Senator Duffy was entitled to sit in the Senate; it was whether he was entitled to claim secondary residence status for the home that he maintained in Ottawa.

I think you will recall that at one point, in one of the press releases that your committee sent out, you said that you and Senator Furey had asked for a legal opinion with respect to his residency. I took that to mean that it was the constitutional component. It was not the primary-secondary residence issue, which was the subject of the Deloitte audit. I think what Deloitte was saying is that because they had not been able to get this information, they could not come to a conclusion as to primary- secondary residence. I think the references in those emails were to that concept of residence and not the concept of residence in the Constitution.

Senator Tkachuk: Just so it is clear, we asked the auditors to undertake an examination of his living expense allowance claims, including an assessment of his primary and secondary residence status, and that was it. It would have been very easy for someone to say in an email — you know, I don't know what other people were thinking. That's the difficulty about all these things. It was very clear that we did not want a report on the constitutional question of his, and had made it public and had made it clear to the auditors — actually, at the one meeting we had with them on the report stage, we made it very clear that we didn't want — they started getting into that. We said, "Look it, focus on primary residence and secondary residence."

If you look at those emails, I think some of those people were confused about exactly what we were reporting on, so there could have been a lot of mistakes or a lot of errors made in those emails about something that we didn't really have anything to do with.

Senator Cowan: Yes. I accept that, Senator Tkachuk, and I absolutely agree that you made it clear, quite properly, that you were looking at the primary-secondary residence and didn't want the auditors or the committee to stray into the other part. I understand that.

What we're talking about here, the whole context of the discussion of the email traffic was with respect to the repayment of monies, and the repayment of monies had nothing to do with the constitutional entitlement to sit in the Senate. The repayment of monies was with respect to housing allowances and per diems and that sort of thing, which had to do with primary-secondary residence. I don't think there would have been any confusion. I can't speak, obviously, for the people who either wrote or received the emails. I wasn't, fortunately, part of that traffic.

An Hon. Senator: Thankfully, neither was I.

Senator Cowan: Well, that's good.

I think if you looked at it, it would be pretty clear that they were not so much concerned at that point with whether Senator Duffy met the requirements of the Constitution. They were concerned about repayment of monies to the Senate and that repayment was related to housing claims and not to the constitutional residency requirements.

Hon. Don Meredith: Senator Cowan, given all that we've debated the last two months on this issue regarding our three colleagues and on which this chamber voted, you know my position and where I stood on the process whereby we arrived at those suspensions. I'm just trying to get to the bottom line as to what you hope to attain by requesting Mr. Runia to appear before the committee, in light of the fact that we've got so much work here to move forward with. In the interest of Canadians, I'm just trying to ascertain the time spent on this issue.

Can you elaborate the results you would hope to attain by having him come before the committee? I have a follow-up question as well.

Senator Cowan: I would have thought that the time it would take Mr. Runia to come and say exactly what it was, what question he was asked to ask, what question he asked and what answer he got would take much less time than we've spent this afternoon on this debate.

We need to know the answer to that question. There are very few questions. It's not a fishing expedition. We've been told there was a single conversation. That's what we've been told.

So how long would it take? If you were asking the questions, how long would it take you to ask, "Mr. Runia, were you asked to call your partners at Deloitte? Who asked you? What were you asked? What inquiries were you asked to make? Did you make the call? Who did you speak to? What did you ask that person? What did they tell you, and what did you then pass on to the person who asked you the question?" That's it.

I shouldn't think it's a time-consuming matter at all, but it is a very serious issue, Senator Meredith, and we need to get to the bottom of it.

Senator Meredith: Senator, I agree with that in terms of processes and answers given by witnesses that we call to appear before our committees, but I'm curious as to whether those answers will suffice or will drag on into more investigations.

You eloquently stated that Mr. Runia is not under investigation right now by the RCMP. I'm curious as to where that goes, because, personally, and I think my colleagues would concur, we'd like to not just brush this forward or let it be covered up in any way; we want to get to the bottom of it. However, in terms of the interest and the work that we do in this august chamber here on behalf of Canadians, it's important that we move forward with the issues at hand, the bills that are before us.

Not to say that it is not critical that the answers be given to you, but I'm curious as to whether those answers, once given, will be sufficient and will not lead into some other investigation or call for further investigation.

Senator Cowan: Senator Meredith, the simple answer is that it depends on the answers to the questions. I think I know what questions would need to be asked. We need the answers to those questions, and only when we have the answers will we know whether that's the end of it. If the answer is simply, "Yes, I had a call from Senator Gerstein and he asked me to find out from Deloitte how much money Senator Duffy owed; I called them, they told me where I could find the information and I passed that back to Senator Gerstein," well, that's it. Nobody is going to be able to say, "Well, I listened in on the conversation and I know that's not what took place."

As I said to you, I don't think the answer that Mr. Timm gave at the committee, can be the reason why the Prime Minister's Office set this chain of events in place. It just can't be. There has to be more to it than that.

As an institution, those of us who believe in this need to get to the bottom of it. The only way to do it, or the first way to begin to get to the bottom of it, is to ask Mr. Runia for an explanation for something that on the face of it, I'm sure you will agree, is unusual to have taken place. It begs an explanation, and Mr. Runia is the one who can give it.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Mitchell, is it a question?

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Yes, two questions.

The first question, Senator Cowan, concerns the apparent contradiction in Senator Carignan's argument. On the one hand, he is quick to point out that his side was happy, too quick to accept that the first tranche of auditors from Deloitte should appear before the Internal Economy Committee. That didn't seem to raise any alarms in his mind about possible interference with the RCMP investigation, whether or not there is one.

On the other hand, now he's arguing that calling the person who was involved in the other half of the conversation — Mr. Runia — from the same firm, same audit process, same conversation process, would somehow confront or be a problem for the RCMP investigation.

I haven't heard anything in the thread of Senator Carignan's argument that would somehow square those two things, but I'm wondering whether you might have.

Senator Cowan: No, I would not. I certainly would not want to put words in Senator Carignan's mouth. I expect he will speak in debate, and perhaps that question should be put to him when he speaks.

(1640)

Senator Mitchell: One other consideration is that it's clear that this process of the conversation with the auditors was all a part of — it seems to be clear, to me, at least — the process of writing the report, as it was going on as the committee in camera was writing the report. It was parallel to consultations that certain members of the committee were apparently having with the Prime Minister's Office staff.

How can it be consistent with the practice, tradition, Rules of the Senate and the in camera process of writing reports that any member of any committee would take a report that is still in the in camera process and consult with somebody in the Prime Minister's Office, for example, outside that process? How could that be?

Senator Cowan: Well, certainly, it's unusual in my experience, which is the same as your experience.

I was intrigued the other day to read in The Hill Times a report of an interview with our former colleague Senator Murray, whose experience goes back a long way. He obviously wasn't a part of these proceedings in the Senate or in its committee, but his experience, which goes back many years, was that he had never seen anything of that type. Obviously, governments are anxious to get their legislation and their way through parliament, and they can understand, perhaps, sometimes when their party doesn't have a majority in the Senate, why it's sometimes difficult to get things through as quickly as they would like. But once they get the majority in both houses, I think the experience of all governments has been that there is an increased impatience and they expect that their colleagues in the Senate will support what the government wants done.

As he reported, he constantly had to explain to his leaders in the other place that the Senate doesn't work that way. So there hadn't been, in his experience, which is much greater than ours, that level of involvement and that detail of involvement in the affairs of the Senate or, more particularly, in the committee.

It's very troubling that that would take place. I hope that, whatever the outcome of these proceedings and this affair, all of us will learn a lesson so that we will resist any attempt by colleagues in the other place to impose their wishes on us. We will continue to do what we are supposed to do, and that is to provide a reasoned review of legislation and to do our own thing in our own way and to function as a truly independent chamber.

There are very deeply troubling aspects to all of this, and we're just simply trying to deal with one small aspect of it by this motion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are there other questions for Senator Cowan? On debate, Senator White.

Hon. Vernon White: Honourable senators, I rise today to ask that you not support the motion put forward by the Honourable Senator Fraser, calling for instruction to be given to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration that, before the end of 2013, it hear from Mr. Michael Runia, Managing Partner for Deloitte, in relation to the audit report on Senator Duffy's expenses.

Honourable senators, while I appreciate the motion brought forward, I want to raise a concern I had when it was raised in the Standing Committee on Internal Economy previously.

The suggestion that Mr. Runia be heard by this committee appears to come from information found within the information obtained, filed by an investigator with the RCMP as a result of an ongoing criminal investigation.

I accept that there are or may be concerns or potential concerns raised in the information to obtain, but my focus is not on whether or not the committee should hear from Mr. Runia, but rather that this should not occur in the midst of the criminal investigation presently being conducted.

In essence, while there may be information that the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration would like to hear, or maybe some believe it needs to hear, I would argue that potential witnesses, including Mr. Runia, are as well potential witnesses in the ongoing criminal investigation. I believe the work of the RCMP in their investigation must be allowed to continue without any appearance of interference. To question potential witnesses identified through the criminal investigation before the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration might be perceived as interference with the criminal investigation.

As a result, I would recommend against this motion at this time. It might be that this could be revisited at a later point, but, as stated, we should allow the RCMP to do their job without real or perceived interference.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: On debate, Senator Furey.

Hon. George J. Furey: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Colleagues, I rise today to ask you to support the motion.

On Thursday, November 28, the Internal Economy Committee heard from the Deloitte auditors in relation to the allegations of interference in the RCMP affidavit by Corporal Horton. We heard that a Michael Runia interfered with the Senate audit by calling the lead auditor, Mr. Timm.

I asked at committee that Mr. Runia be invited to the committee to explain why it was he did this. The Conservative majority on the committee promptly declared the hearing ended, the committee satisfied, and the committee's work on this matter finished. I objected to that result, as did all my Liberal colleagues.

The committee's work is not finished. We have not heard from Mr. Runia, the person who interfered with an audit ordered by this chamber. It is an insult to common sense for the committee to declare itself satisfied after we were directly told that Michael Runia made a phone call to auditor Gary Timm. This is not normal conduct. This is wrong conduct, and Deloitte told us this on November 28. They were so concerned with this conduct that they brought their top forensic chief from Toronto to explain how they caucused on this particular interference.

We were told by Gary Timm that there are strict regulatory processes for documenting in writing every phone call on the audit, but this particular call was mysteriously not documented.

We were told by Mr. Timm that the auditors consulted on Runia's call and decided among themselves not to inform their client, the Internal Economy Committee.

None of these facts alone need trouble you as much as the fact that the PMO knew the Deloitte plan would not opine on Senator Duffy's residence. They knew this on March 21, 2013, a month before the auditors presented their full report to the Senate.

It would not have troubled me if the audit had not produced the result that the emails now tell us the PMO wanted. If they had produced the result the PMO did not want, I would have less concern with this interference. I would be still concerned with it, but I would be less concerned, but that is not what happened.

On page 37 of the Corporal Horton's ITO, the following statements are made:

... Janice Payne e-mailed Benjamin Perrin for an update on Senator Duffy being withdrawn from the Deloitte audit. Mr. Perrin inquired with Nigel Wright, who wrote:

"No we do not have an update for her on the Deloitte audit.... Chris and Patrick and I are trying to make this happen.... Today I asked Sen. Gerstein to actually work through senior contacts at Deloitte and with Sen. LeBreton.... the outcome we are pushing for is for Deloitte to report publicly that IF Kanata were the primary residence then the amount owing would be the $90 thousand figure and that since Sen. Duffy has committed to repay this amount then Deloitte's work in determining primary residence is no longer needed.... The nub of what I said to Mike is that his expenses would have to be repaid, so his choice was between having that plus a finding that they were inappropriate or that without such a finding. That is what we are working towards...."

Again, on page 38, of this document, Nigel Wright wrote on March 5:

"I would like this checked with Irving.... I would support taking the approach below IF I can be satisfied that Deloitte will accept the proposal. I do not trust that Sen. Tkachuk has ascertained that with Deloitte before making the suggestion to Sen. Duffy...."

(1650)

Further down:

On March 8, during e-mail correspondence pertaining to Deloitte's mandate from the Senate, Patrick Rogers stated:

"Senator Gerstein has just called. He agrees with our understanding of the situation and his Deloitte contact agrees. The stage we're at now is waiting for the Senator's contact to get the actual Deloitte auditor on the file to agree. The Senator will call back once we have Deloitte locked in."

The PMO wanted Deloitte to stop the audit. This is clear from the emails. That wasn't a possibility, so the PMO wanted the next best alternative. They allegedly interfered with the audit and wanted the auditors to not reach a conclusion on Senator Duffy's primary residence. Had they reached such a conclusion, colleagues, they would have had to conclude as well, as your committee unanimously did, that Senator Duffy's expenses were improperly claimed.

One of the rules laid down by CICA is that the auditor is supposed to determine, before they issue an engagement letter to their client, whether they have criteria with which to conduct their audit. Deloitte gave us an engagement letter. They made no mention therein of an absence of criteria for conducting the audit, for deciding what is or is not a primary residence.

Yet they now say that it was impossible to opine because of the absence of criteria. If criteria were absent, they were required to tell us that in their engagement letter. They did not do so.

What is strange and troubling about all of this is that in August, the auditors were able to reach conclusions regarding Senator Wallin's primary residence and therefore found, rightly so, that her NCR living expense claims were appropriate.

On page 31 of Deloitte's audit of Senator Wallin they state:

... we conclude that her primary residence was more than 100km from the NCR. As such, the NCR living allowances claimed by Senator Wallin appear to be appropriate in keeping with Senate practice.

Colleagues, from June to August, nothing, absolutely nothing changed. The rules, the policies, they were all the same.

Why were the auditors able to use criteria to determine the validity of Senator Wallin's primary residence while they were professing their inability to use the same criteria to determine Senator Duffy's primary residence? If there were no criteria for Senator Duffy, there should have been no criteria for Senator Wallin. But as we all know in this chamber, there always were criteria. We, as senators, know perfectly well there were criteria. Ninety-five per cent of us abided by them. Ninety-five per cent of us signed an annual document abiding by those criteria.

We, the Senate, cannot now stand by and not inquire further in into this matter. We cannot stand by and say we may interfere with an RCMP investigation. This is nothing short of a specious argument. We are not alleging that there is any criminality here. We merely want to know why Mr. Runia took it upon himself to interfere with our audit.

Mr. Timm told us he received a call from Mr. Runia, which he said he kept brief, as brief as possible. It was right that he did this, but Mr. Timm cannot answer the all-important question for us, which is why did Mr. Runia make the call. Only Mr. Runia can tell us that.

The public will not let this matter rest. During the Watergate era, Nixon was quite successful in resisting disclosure of the tape recordings that would lead to his resignation, but through his obstruction, the people of the United States were slowly but surely coming to the realization that the obstruction proved the reality.

If we do not do our duty here today, it will not be only the PMO to which negative public attitude of obstruction and cover-up adheres, it will be the Senate of Canada itself.

Never before has a central scandal in the country been in the Senate itself. The normal rules of partisan behaviour do not apply here today. We must look to our own house.

Colleagues, do not make the survival of the Senate any harder by endorsing what is manifestly an outrage. Deloitte's evidence on November 28 raised a very significant question that we have every right to ask. We said in May that the audit was wrong when we first saw it, and we didn't know back then of the PMO's interference. Now we see that there may have been other reasons impacting Senator Duffy's audit. It is impossible to stop a right and proper investigation of this matter.

This investigation is precisely a Senate task and not a police task. Why was the Deloitte audit interfered with? This is not in itself a criminal matter for the RCMP, and it is improper to try and classify it as such and use this as an excuse to shut down a proper review by this chamber or one of its committees.

We have been through this before, colleagues. When Senator Lavigne misused his office budget, we on this side were in a majority. We did not shut that investigation down. We did not pretend that this was a matter for the police. We duly and properly carried out our own internal investigation with witnesses under oath, and the truth came out. The police investigation was not interfered with while we did proper Senate work.

It has been asserted that our attempts to find the truth will interfere with the police investigation. Such boilerplate statements risk the contempt of Canadians, separate and apart from the contempt of senators. Our investigation of interference with our audit is a parliamentary matter. Senators know perfectly well from the Lavigne precedent that what is said or done here in Parliament does not have to affect in any way what happens in a police investigation or at a trial.

It has also been asserted that the police can investigate this if they want to. That is a wrong and an inappropriate response. The police investigation presently under way can proceed and conclude without anything necessarily being asked about the Deloitte audit. This shocking and inappropriate conduct would then go unchallenged and uninvestigated. We, the Senate, must inquire into it if we are to keep the trust of the Canadian people. It is our function to determine whether our external audit was interfered with. It is our function to determine all aspects of the sufficiency of our audit. And when we get word that there has in fact been interference and that interference was neither documented nor were we informed of it, that is a matter for this chamber.

If we are telling Canadians not to abolish this institution, if we are telling them that this institution is essential to the functioning of the public work of our country, we cannot stand here on December 3, 2013, and tell Canadians that partisanship has so eroded our independence that we no longer care about the truth, that we no longer care about why an audit paid for with public funds was interfered with and that we no longer care about that most fundamental aspect of our role in this place, our very independence.

Colleagues, we must support this motion. We must hearken back to the role of the Senate. We must show Canadians that in this place the partisanship of the other place is replaced by the duty to reflect, the duty to make the right decisions for our regions and our country. If we do not do this now, then our institution will have failed and those who sought to interfere will have succeeded, with your help.

Thank you, colleagues.

(1700)

Senator Tkachuk: Will the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Furey: Yes.

Senator Tkachuk: In the case of Senator Wallin, I don't think they ascertained her primary residence. What they did do was come to a conclusion that her secondary residence was in Ottawa, and therefore she could claim, because she was staying in a hotel.

Senator Furey: There was some confusion in August about that, Senator Tkachuk, but I reread the report. Let me read from page 31. This is the Deloitte report on Senator Wallin: "... we conclude that her primary residence was more than 100km from the NCR."

Senator Tkachuk: I think they concluded that her primary residence was over a hundred kilometres from the NCR because she was staying in a hotel while she lived in Ottawa. So I think the conclusion was that whatever hotel she was staying at was not her primary residence.

I don't know if we can ask for more time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Ask your question.

Senator Tkachuk: I want to ask one more question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Furey, your time is up. Do you need more time?

Senator Furey: Sure, please.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is more time granted to Senator Furey?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Furey: In response to that, Senator Tkachuk, they used the same criteria that you and I argued with them about: travel pattern, amount of time. Certainly, in my opinion, they came to the right conclusion with respect to Senator Wallin. But you will recall we argued strenuously in committee that the idea of finding out where your primary residence is for the purpose of collecting money while in Ottawa is a very simple matter, and 95 per cent of us got it right.

Senator Tkachuk: I just want to say, Senator Furey, we all have the same objectives in mind. We all want to ensure that the audit was reasonably done and properly done. As far as I'm concerned, there is an investigation going on by the police. And so we may disagree on the methods, but I think in the end, we all want the same result.

I would like also to point out that the auditors reached the same conclusion on Senator Brazeau and Senator Harb as they did on Senator Duffy.

Senator Furey: Yes, and you'll recall, Senator Tkachuk, that those conclusions were reached at the exact same time as they reached their conclusions on Senator Duffy.

Senator Tkachuk: But I think also, Senator Furey, without giving out too much confidential information, we all agreed that we thought that those conclusions were wrong. We sat there in the room, members of both committees, having a discussion about this very matter, and we came to the conclusion that they didn't know what they were talking about and that we knew what their primary residences were. And we went ahead and proceeded on that basis. We came to the right conclusion.

Senator Furey: I can't disagree with you. We were arguing — you and I were on the same side, arguing the same points.

Senator Tkachuk: Yes.

Senator Furey: This chamber, as you will recall — the second time that Senator Duffy's report came to our committee, the committee unanimously agreed with us and disagreed with Deloitte. This chamber adopted that report, unanimously agreeing with us and disagreeing with Deloitte.

But the issue here, Senator Tkachuk, is more one of this: Look, we call in our auditors. They tell us that they were interfered with. It's impossible for us to say — we cannot go to and ask the person who interfered what he was interfering with and why was he interfering. We have to do that. We're duty-bound to do that, and that's what this motion is all about.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: On debate. Senator Fraser.

Senator Fraser: Colleagues, there's no way I can match the eloquence of Senator Cowan and Senator Furey in support of this motion, but as the mover of the motion, I think I owe the chamber some explanation of my reasoning.

I adopt as my own, unhesitatingly, all of the arguments put forward by Senator Cowan and Senator Furey, but there are just a couple of other things I would like to add.

I had faith, and I expressed that faith repeatedly in this chamber, both this fall and last spring — I had faith that the work of the Internal Economy Committee had been well done and had been based on a truly professional, unbiased series of reports from the auditors. I agreed with the Internal Economy Committee and with the other members of it that, in one respect, we differed strongly with Deloitte, and that was on the matter of whether or not there were criteria to determine what a primary and secondary residence were for expense purposes. We all agreed that we disagreed with Deloitte on that point, but on no other point.

We took on faith the quality of their work, and it was on that basis that I supported the motions in this chamber for repayment of expenses, with interest. And I still think that on the basis of what I then knew, I was right to do so. And who knows — maybe once we know more, I would do so all over again.

But my faith has been shaken, colleagues — truly shaken — by what we learned through the sworn affidavit of Corporal Horton. We learned quite a number of things.

I did not know, for example, that Mr. Michael Runia of Deloitte was such a key player in the long-term I gather, auditing of the Conservative Fund. To the best of my knowledge, nobody on our side of the chamber knew that. It was a little bit of a surprise to discover that Deloitte was both the auditor for the Conservative Fund and the supposedly unbiased forensic auditor of our four colleagues here.

I would have thought that it would have been appropriate for Deloitte to make a formal disclosure of that to all of us, through Internal Economy. They seemed to think it was not a problem. Last week, I believe it was Mr. Timm — anyway, one of the auditors from Deloitte who appeared before Internal Economy — said: "Well, it wasn't really a problem," because they, the people doing the forensic audit, did not report to Mr. Runia, and he was in fact in a completely separate branch. He did regular auditing and they did forensic work, and so there was no conflict of interest.

An arguable position, I suppose, until the day when Mr. Runia called them, crossing that jurisdictional line.

It remains unclear what happened in that phone call — who was trying to achieve what. Mr. Runia told the RCMP in his interview with them, and I'm quoting now from page 62:

... that Senator Gerstein did call him and asked what would be the result if Senator Duffy repaid the money. His response was that he believed the auditors would still report, and note the repayment in their findings.

This was not, of course, what we gather the PMO wanted, but that's what Mr. Runia told the police.

However, as you've heard, Mr. Timm told Internal Economy that Mr. Runia didn't ask him that at all. Mr. Runia asked him: "How much does Senator Duffy owe?" As has been demonstrated, everybody already knew the answer to that question; I think everybody in the country knew the answer to that question.

So something went on there.

And then the auditors didn't tell us about this phone call, as Senator Furey has pointed out they should have done.

(1710)

I'm not an accountant, but I have been checking the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, which is quite a long document, and I'll just read you a couple of very brief excerpts.

The rules require that "... members... avoid conflicts of interest in all client relationships." Several pages further on, they say:

... where a previously unidentified conflict... arises or is discovered in the course of an existing engagement or engagements... the member or firm informs all affected clients of the existence of the conflict and the techniques that will be used to manage it;

No such notification, no such information, was received. Why not?

It seemed to me, listening to Messrs. Timm, Stewart and Dent last week, that they did desire to do a good and professional audit. It also seemed to me that, on a couple of points, they were extremely uncomfortable.

Mr. Runia is one of the hinges in this matter. With so many unanswered questions, it is our duty to the Senate and to the people of Canada to hear from him. He may have excellent answers to the questions, but the questions are there and they are serious. It is our duty, for the protection of the integrity of this institution, to find out what the answers are to those questions. Therefore, colleagues, I do urge you to support this motion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Continuing debate.

An Hon. Senator: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those in favour of the motion please say "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those who are against the motion, please say "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

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

And two honourable senators having risen:

Hon. Jim Munson: Mr. Speaker, to give the government a chance to reflect upon what has been said today, I wish to defer the vote.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The vote will be deferred until tomorrow at 5:30, and I will report to the chamber on the question of privilege raised by Senator Fraser.

(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.)