- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Fisheries and Oceans
- Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
- Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association
- Second Part of the 2014 Ordinary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Mission to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, to the Holy See and Italy, the next country to hold the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, April 7-16, 2014—Report Tabled
- Inter-Parliamentary Union
- Meetings of the Bureau of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Committee on United Nations Affairs, May 19, 2014—Report Tabled
- Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Finance and the Two Hundred and Sixty-Ninth (extraordinary) Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Executive Committee, June 29-July 1, 2014—Report Tabled
- Parliamentary Meeting of the Twentieth International AIDS Conference, July 19-24, 2014—Report Tabled
- Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
- QUESTION PERIOD
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Criminal Code
- Pope John Paul II Day Bill
- Study on Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey
- Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
- The Senate
- Disparities in First Nations Education
- Appendix - Senators Lists
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators may remember that I recently stood in this chamber and spoke of the great accomplishments of Bruno Bobak and his wife, Molly Lamb Bobak, two great New Brunswick artists who recently died.
Today it is with great sadness that I stand in this chamber to inform you of the death of another great New Brunswick artist, Frederick Joseph Ross, who died on August 19 of this year at the age of 87, following a period of failing health. Fred Ross lived and had his studio in Saint John, New Brunswick, but was world-renowned for his portraits and murals. His work has been displayed at the National Gallery in Ottawa, and he was the first New Brunswicker to have an exhibit in the art gallery of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 1993, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick, held a retrospective of Mr. Ross' work entitled The Art of Fred Ross: A Timeless Humanism, which was widely acclaimed and helped to establish him as one of the most significant contemporary artists in Canada.
Fred Ross was born in 1927 in Saint John, New Brunswick. His artistic journey and love for art began at the Saint John Vocational School. Later he continued his studies in Mexico, returning to Saint John in 1949. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, he held the position of Supervisor of Art at the Saint John Vocational School, during which time he became a mentor to countless young artists with whom he shared his love and passion for art. He was an inspiration to his students during that time period.
In 1970, he resigned as head of the art department to focus exclusively on his paintings. Fred Ross was also known for his tremendous generosity and his sense of duty. He never hesitated to donate some of his pieces of art to help community organizations with fundraising activities.
During his career, Mr. Ross received numerous honours, including the Order of Canada — he was invested in 2004 — for his contribution to the social realist tradition reflecting his vision of Atlantic Canada and its people. He was also inducted into the Order of New Brunswick in 2008 for his "numerous achievements and immense contribution to New Brunswick's cultural identity and to the province and Canada's art world."
Although Fred Ross is no longer with us, his work will continue to inspire generations of art lovers for years to come.
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, 700 million women alive today were married as children; 120 million girls are subject to sexual violence worldwide; and nearly 50 per cent of all adolescent girls think a husband is justified in hitting his partner.
Honourable senators, I was stunned by these figures, presented at last week's IPU and Parliament of Bangladesh's regional seminar on "Ending the cycle of violence against girls in Asia-Pacific." I attended the seminar in my role as IPU Global Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, along with representatives from 12 Asia-Pacific countries, as well as major international organizations such as the UN, CARE and WHO.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations that spares no country. According to a 2013 WHO global study, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence. Some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced violence by a partner in their lifetime.
The three most prevalent forms of violence against girls in the Asia-Pacific are child marriage, sexual violence and domestic violence. Gender sex selection is also an issue. In India, there are villages where there are no women because of gender-based sex selection.
As parliamentarians, we recognize that legislation is a critical first step in an effective response to violence against women and girls but that it cannot stand on its own. It must be followed by effective implementation.
The seminar produced a set of conclusions identifying priorities in legislation implementation, policy and actions for parliamentarians. Among other things, MPs were called upon to avoid placing the burden of proof on victims, provide easily accessible gender-sensitive support to women and girls and put an end to impunity by ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable.
Honourable senators, in my remarks, I stressed the importance of engaging men and boys. Preventing violence against women and girls requires a fundamental shift in culture and attitudes of both women and men. I was shocked to hear that in some nations, gang rape was used as a way to strengthen male bonding. We know that men who experience violence are more likely to perpetrate violence. Male MPs, in particular, were targeted to speak out against gender inequality and violence in their home countries.
Honourable senators, the hope is that this seminar sends a strong message on the commitment of parliaments in Asia-Pacific on ending all forms of violence against women and girls. However, parliamentarians acknowledge that this is a global issue and one that requires attention in the post-2015 development agenda.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I rise today to celebrate the message of the HeforShe campaign that was launched last week by Emma Watson at the United Nations. I wholeheartedly accept this challenge for men to actively participate in women's issues.
Whether you stand in front of the UN, your class, your team, your colleagues, your family or your friends, standing up and saying "no" to sexism unfortunately all too often requires strength of character and integrity.
The campaign is about recognizing the ways in which language shapes and is shaped by social attitudes and stereotypes. It's about identifying double standards and finding ways to work together to level the playing field, and it's about leading by example for our children and refusing to be bystanders among our peers.
The HeforShe campaign gives voice to the fact that the successful engagement of women's issues must involve empowering men to speak out, as Ms. Watson and so many other courageous women have done and encourage men to do.
We must diligently seek opportunities to reject norms that are harmful to the integrity of women and to inspire conversation about what equality amongst men and women really means.
I look forward to the day when campaigns like HeForShe are obsolete and unnecessary, the day when men and women alike move in society with equal opportunity, fully uninhibited by gender stereotypes and stigmas. A Canada like that would be a sight to see.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to Section 4 of the User Fees Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Proposal to Parliament for User Fees and Service Standard for Aquaculture Licences under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations.
After consultation with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the designated committee chosen to study this document is the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 12-8(2), this document is deemed referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Pursuant to rule 12-22(5), if that committee does not report within 20 sitting days following the day it has received the order of reference, it shall be deemed to have recommended approval of the user fee.
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 when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 2 p.m.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association regarding its Visit to Washington, D.C., U.S.A., from January 13 to 15, 2014.
Hon. Michel Rivard: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation respecting its participation in the second part of the 2014 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its parliamentary mission to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, to the Holy See and Italy, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, held in Strasbourg and Paris, France, and at the Holy See and in Rome, Italy, from April 7 to 16, 2014.
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the Meetings of the Bureau of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on United Nations Affairs, held in New York, New York, on May 19, 2014.
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the Meeting of the Sub-committee on Finance and the Two Hundred and Sixty-ninth (extraordinary) Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Executive Committee, held in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 29 to July 1, 2014.
Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the Parliamentary Meeting of the Twentieth International AIDS Conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, from July 19 to 24, 2014.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association regarding the Bilateral Visit to Jamaica, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, held in Kingston, Jamaica; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; and Bridgetown, Barbados, from April 3 to 10, 2013.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Colleagues, the Canada Revenue Agency has been undertaking a plethora of audits into a wide range of respected environmental groups — this is where they began — such as Tides Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Environmental Defence group. The CRA project has since moved — not beyond that; they're still doing that — to encompass social justice groups, development and human rights charities, charities receiving donations from labour groups, freedom of expression organizations and any number of left-leaning think-tanks.
The one thing that seems to be coincidental about all of these audits is that they are of groups that are some of the Conservative government's fiercest critics. Let me quote from a letter by 400 academics in response to an audit of the widely accepted Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which I'll refer to as CCPA. The letter states:
The CCPA is not a political organization, nor does it engage in political or partisan activities. The fact that it has criticized government policy on a number of issues does not make it a partisan organization promoting a narrow agenda. Rather, it is engaging in serious, unbiased academic research. It may reach a different set of conclusions from those of the government, but then, this is allowed in a free-thinking, democratic country. On the contrary, we would argue, that such dissent should be encouraged and not stifled by such actions of the CRA.
Indeed, if there is bias, the bias seems to be mostly in the CRA's decision to audit the CCPA and apparently no other think tanks, whose policy conclusions are friendlier toward current government policies.
Why is the CRA focusing only on its critics, those NGOs and think-tanks that are its critics, for audits, which, in a sense, is tantamount almost now, in this strange coincidence, to pointed harassment of these groups?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): As the honourable senator well knows, the agency's audits are carried out independently of the government and are not subject to political interference.
The rules governing the political activities of charitable organizations have been well established for a long time. In 2012 alone, tax receipts were issued for $12.24 billion in donations to some 86,000 charitable organizations.
The Canada Revenue Agency is legally responsible for ensuring that the charitable donations made by generous Canadians are used for charitable purposes. Naturally, our government is committed to ensuring that our tax system is fair to all Canadians.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, let me just pursue the interesting coincidence further. On the one hand, it seems that the critics are getting audited, but, on the other hand, noticeably absent from the CRA's audit list are established right-leaning think-tanks — imagine that — such as the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the Fraser Institute, the Montreal Economic Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
It's no surprise — or maybe it is — that somehow Mr. Harper has lauded these organizations in the past and in fact he's even on record as saying he's a disciple of the Fraser Institute. Is it just a coincidence that the Prime Minister has publicly lauded these groups and that somehow they are then left off the CRA's audit list?
An Hon. Senator: Coincidence.
Senator Carignan: Honourable senator, as I said, the agency works independently, without any political interference with respect to the audits it conducts.
I would like to remind you about the Canadian Bar Association's National Charity Law Symposium, which was held in May 2014. At that time, the director general of CRA's Charities Directorate said the following:
We recognize the need to be as transparent and accountable as possible about how we administer our program.
She also said:
As I have made clear in the past, the process for identifying which charities will be audited (for any reason) is handled by the Directorate itself and is not subject to political direction.
Senator, I think that you are falsely accusing the government of interference and that you should apologize for making such accusations.
Senator Mitchell: Speaking of the Canadian Bar Association — it's interesting you should raise that — according to a lawyer, Mark Blumberg, a well-renowned, well-known charity law specialist, the CRA often audits charitable organizations based on complaints it receives. In fact, the CRA has confirmed that that is the case.
Tides Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence Canada all have one thing in common, at least, and that is they were all the subject of separate, formal complaints in 2012 by an organization registered as EthicalOil, which was founded by none other than — wait for it — Ezra Levant. Now, is that a coincidence?
They've complained about the Suzuki Foundation, the Environmental Defence group and the Tides Canada foundation, and all of those groups have been audited by the CRA. CRA says it is within their policy mandate and their framework at least to audit people based on innuendo and aspersion.
Has the government become so Machiavellian that it actually reacts to rumour, innuendo and aspersion cast by the ideological enemies of certain NGOs as selection criteria for who gets audited?
Senator Carignan: As I said, the agency works independently of the government. It is not subject to any political interference. The rules governing the political activities of charitable organizations have been in place for a long time. In 2012, tax receipts were issued for $12.24 billion in donations to 86,000 charitable organizations. The Canada Revenue Agency is doing its job.
Senator Mitchell: The other founder of EthicalOil, in addition to Ezra Levant, who, of course, has distinguished himself, is Mr. Velshi. Since founding EthicalOil, Mr. Velshi has gone on to work as director of issues management for the Prime Minister of Canada. That would be in the Prime Minister's Office. Again, an interesting coincidence? I think not.
Can you confirm that Mr. Velshi has had no involvement in the submission of these formal complaints via EthicalOil, or directly in some other way, while he has been in the employment of the Prime Minister in the Prime Minister's very own office?
Senator Carignan: Senator, I don't know how else to say it. I don't think there is a problem with the translation. I think the message is fairly straightforward. However, I will repeat that there is absolutely no political interference by the Government of Canada. The Canada Revenue Agency is taking action, and it is responsible for enforcing the rules.
I think honourable senators know full well that CRA audits occur at arm's length from the government and are conducted free of any political interference — just in case the translation is not working very well.
Senator Mitchell: What I know full well is this: There are many coincidences involving the audits of these groups, certain groups, and the lack of audits of other groups. The coincidence has to do with one thing: whether the group is a friend of the government or not. That is the coincidence. That is what I know full well. That is what I want you to understand.
I would like to go on a bit further. Perhaps, at a policy level, a government would be at least concerned to some extent that there seems to be this profound coincidence between just disagreeing with government — isn't that a horrible thing to do in a democracy, imagine that — and getting audited in a way that is now becoming almost harassment in its consistency with certain kinds of groups.
Would the leader consider just mentioning to the Prime Minister that perhaps what they need is to at least go into the CRA and review the CRA's selection criteria — not interfere in who they choose — to make sure there isn't a priority placed upon those groups that disagree with the government over those groups that seem to support the government?
Senator Tkachuk: That's a great story, Senator Mitchell.
Senator Carignan: My staff is confirming, on my BlackBerry, that the translation is working properly. Although you were accusing us of interference, I think I convinced you that there is none. Now you want us to interfere. I trust I was able to convince you that there is no such interference.
Hon. Jim Munson: Yesterday, Mr. Leader, I was asking you questions about the situation in Hong Kong. I'd like to continue that questioning. It's not getting any better in Hong Kong. On the National Day I think there were 100,000 people on the streets, and now the protesters threaten to storm some government buildings on Thursday.
Mr. Leader, some Western countries, including the U.K., the U.S., Australia and Italy, have issued travel advisories for Hong Kong in light of the current situation. Has Canada or will Canada do the same?
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Honourable senator, as I said yesterday, we are concerned about the increasing tensions in Hong Kong. Canada supports the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong. We reaffirm our support for universal suffrage in the 2017 election of the Chief Executive and the 2020 election of legislative council members.
As I said yesterday, our people are in direct contact with our government representatives in Hong Kong and local representatives to make sure we understand what is going on and what is at stake and to keep us apprised of the latest developments.
Senator Munson: Thank you, but the question is: Has Canada issued a travel advisory for Canadians not to go to Hong Kong or will it do so?
Senator Carignan: Senator Munson, I can check. To my knowledge, the answer is no, but I don't know whether that could have been done in the past few hours. To my knowledge, the answer is no.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, I know through experience that China censors the media, social media and even its citizens. In Hong Kong these days, as we were told by Martin Lee, a pro-democracy activist who was once a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, that self-censorship and all kinds of things have been going on for the past couple of years. Newspapers and television stations in Hong Kong are simply not telling all the stories that happen in China.
They've now set their sights on foreign diplomats. In a letter sent to consular officials, the Chinese government advised:
To ensure the safety of all consular personnel and foreign nationals living in Hong Kong, we hope all Consulates-General in Hong Kong will strictly abide by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and relevant local laws and regulations of Hong Kong, restrain the behaviors of its consular staffs, and advise its nationals living in Hong Kong to stay away from the sites of assembly and "Occupy Central", so as to avoid violating the law and affecting their own safety and interests.
Have Canadian officials received this communique?
Senator Carignan: I can contact the office to see if it was received and get back to you about it.
Hon. Vernon White moved third reading of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco).
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak in favour of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco). As you know, this proposed legislation will fulfill the government's 2011 election policy platform commitment to combat and reduce the problem of trafficking in contraband tobacco by introducing legislation to establish mandatory jail time for repeat offenders of trafficking in contraband tobacco.
Presently, there is no offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco in the Criminal Code. This bill creates a new offence dealing with contraband tobacco in the code. Indeed, the bill prohibits the possession for the purpose of sale, offer for sale, transportation, delivery or distribution of a tobacco product or raw leaf tobacco that is not packaged, unless it is stamped. The offence cross-references the Excise Act, 2001 to ensure that the terms "tobacco product", "raw leaf tobacco", "packaged" and "stamped" have the same meanings and definitions as in section 2 of that act. In essence, this would allow investigations by provincial, municipal, regional and First Nations police when it comes to contraband tobacco.
The penalty for a first offence would be a maximum imprisonment of five years on indictment and a maximum imprisonment of six months on summary conviction. Repeat offenders convicted of this new offence would be sentenced to a minimum of 90 days on a second conviction and a minimum of two years less a day on subsequent convictions in cases involving 10,000 cigarettes or more, 10 kilograms or more of any tobacco product, or 10 kilograms or more of raw leaf tobacco product.
The bill also proposes to amend the definition of "Attorney General" in the Criminal Code so as to give the Attorney General of Canada concurrent jurisdiction with the provinces to prosecute this new offence.
Overall, the proposals represent a tailored approach to the imposition of mandatory minimum penalties for serious contraband tobacco activities. The bill proposes minimum penalties only in cases where there are certain aggravating factors present.
The unlawful production, distribution and sale of cigarettes in Canada have reached significant levels in recent years, creating challenges for public health officials, law enforcement officers, tax authorities, policy makers and the public. Contraband tobacco is a threat to the public safety of Canadians, our communities and our economy. It fuels the growth of organized criminal networks, contributing to the increased availability of illegal drugs and guns in our communities.
While I expect this to discourage the smoking of contraband tobacco, it is also meant to address the more general problem that has become the trafficking in contraband tobacco. As most of you will recall, in addition to introducing this bill in the last session of Parliament, the government advanced its efforts to combat the trafficking and cross-border smuggling of contraband tobacco by announcing the establishment of a 50-officer RCMP Anti-Contraband Tobacco Force.
This Anti-Contraband Tobacco Force will target organized crime groups engaged in the production and distribution of contraband tobacco. Its goal is to have a measurable impact on reducing the contraband market and on combating organized criminal networks. This will align with the RCMP's Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy, which focuses on reducing the availability of and demand for contraband tobacco and the involvement of organized crime, and will build on existing federal enforcement measures.
This bill is not just about combating the trafficking in contraband and organized crime. We know that there are significant threats to the health of Canadians in smoking tobacco. Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart, liver and lungs. What is particularly troubling is that young people are smoking contraband cigarettes in alarming numbers. Cheap prices, easy access and no age-checks mean that youth, who shouldn't be smoking at all — and nor should others, for that matter — are having no trouble getting tobacco through the contraband market.
Criminals are selling contraband tobacco to teens and the proof is all over our high schools. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, a study was conducted on the proliferation of contraband tobacco at high schools in Ontario and Quebec. Hundreds of sites were surveyed and the results were extremely worrisome. Nearly one-third of the cigarettes found at Ontario high schools and over 40 percent of those found at Quebec high schools were contraband products. I believe that one of the main reasons for the high smoking rates among youth is that contraband tobacco vendors and distributors don't bother checking for identification, as they just don't care, making it easy for young people to purchase contraband tobaccos. Because contraband cigarettes are cheaper than regular cigarettes, they are more affordable for teenagers.
As this bill proposes mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment, it also raises issues relating to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I will take a few moments to address considerations under section 12 of the charter, which is most commonly referenced when dealing with mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment.
As honourable senators know, this section provides that "Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment." This section provides protection against certain forms of punishment so excessive that they would outrage our society's sense of decency.
It is no simple task to demonstrate a violation of section 12 of the charter. The person alleging such a breach of this section of the charter must demonstrate that the particular section containing the penalty requires the imposition of a punishment that is so grossly disproportionate for the offender that Canadians would find the punishment abhorrent or intolerable.
The mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment proposed in this bill address a phenomenon with significantly negative implications for the safety and health of Canadians. They are narrowly tailored, in particular in terms of second offence and more, so as to apply only to repeat offenders of the new contraband tobacco offence and in cases involving high volumes of contraband tobacco. They do not apply to instances of simple possession of contraband tobacco, or to repeat offenders who are involved in small quantities or to persons who have only been convicted of the Excise Act, 2001 offence of selling contraband tobacco.
These measures are a reasonable, meaningful and rational response to a serious problem that exists in Canada. I would submit that the proposed mandatory minimum penalties contained in this bill meet the requirements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Government of Canada recognizes that contraband tobacco smuggling has become a serious problem. Canadians want to be protected from the violence that is associated with these contraband tobacco smuggling operations and from the organized crime associated with contraband tobacco activities.
Protecting society from criminals is a responsibility that this government takes seriously. This bill is part of the government's continued commitment to take steps to protect Canadians and make our streets and communities safer. Canadians want laws that impose penalties that properly reflect the serious nature of crimes, such as trafficking in contraband tobacco. This bill is such a proposed law.
(On motion of Senator Cordy, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, for the third reading of Bill C-266, An Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day.
Hon. Norman E. Doyle: Honourable senators, I want to say a few words in support of Bill C-266, the purpose of which is to have April 2 of each year known as Pope John Paul II Day.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis is the sponsor of the bill. I congratulate her for that. She will also be speaking in this debate today. This bill comes to us from MP Wladyslaw Lizon who introduced it, and it passed almost unanimously about a year ago on June 12, 2013, in the House of Commons. It is not a controversial bill. It simply provides recognition for an individual who did a tremendous service to mankind because of his involvement in breaking the iron grip of Communism in his state of Poland and indeed throughout much of Eastern Europe.
The late great Pope John Paul II was a larger than life individual who had a profound influence on the course of world events during this his lifetime, and I should point out that the purpose of the bill is not to declare April 2 as Pope Day or Vatican Day. It is to recognize the contribution of the uniquely talented individual who happened to be pope at a certain crucial time in the history of our modern world.
If I could borrow a metaphor from our friends in the sports community, Pope John Paul II was a game changer. A game changer is someone who understands the game well, but who also has the courage, the strength of purpose and the skill to set new standards for the conduct of the game.
In the case of the papacy, a game changer could be someone who facilitates significant changes in church governance or it could be a pope who brings about major changes in the role of the church on the world stage. In my humble opinion, Pope John Paul II falls into the latter category.
With my colleagues' indulgence, I will elaborate and outline a few things about his personal life, which helps to explain how he was able to do what he did to eradicate Communism in his native Poland. He studied philosophy and began learning a dozen foreign languages, a talent that would serve him well in later life. After they invaded and occupied Poland in 1939, the Nazis closed the university and Wojtyla had to work as a labourer and a messenger to avoid being deported to Germany. His father died of a heart attack in 1941, so he was on his own from there on in. In 1942, he enrolled in an underground seminary to study for the priesthood. After an armed uprising by the Poles of Warsaw in 1944, the Germans began to round up all the young men in Kraków. The young seminarian barely escaped being arrested with more than 8,000 men and boys who were picked up during the raid. He had to stay in hiding until the Germans abandoned the city.
However, during the German occupation, he helped a number of Polish Jews avoid capture and deportation to the Nazi death camps. Needless to say, he must have been made of stern stuff, even back then. After all, illegally studying to be a priest in Nazi occupied Poland, while holding down a day job as a cover and always staying one step ahead of the secret police, was not for the faint of heart or the weak of faith.
During this period, he continued to write and publish in the form of newspaper articles and, at the age of 38, became the youngest bishop in Poland and was a leading figure among the young Polish intellectuals of his day. In 1964, he became Archbishop of Kraków and in 1967 — Canada's centennial year — he became a cardinal. In 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and became the youngest pope in 132 years. Until then, of course, most of us on this side of the Atlantic didn't even know that this remarkable man existed.
All of what I have said so far provides a good background to his life, but it's not the chief reason that we honour him. We would get to know him because Pope John Paul II became one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting a total of 129 countries during more than 26 years of his pontificate, but in 1997 there would be a game changer. Life changed dramatically for him when he travelled to his native Poland where he was received by adoring crowds. The Communist authorities were hoping his message would be openly political and that he might cause a riot. However, he kept his message pastoral and inspirational. Indeed, there wasn't much the secret police could do about a crowd chanting, in Polish, "We want God!" Karl Marx, after all, certainly did not write a contingency plan for such an occasion. As the great C. S. Lewis once remarked, "no clever arrangement of rotten eggs can ever make a good omelette."
John Paul II was a pope. Yet, because he was pope, the Communist authorities could not touch him. That's why we say we are not honouring the pope or the Vatican. We are honouring someone who was able to do these other things because he was pope. Within a year, as a result of that, the Solidarity Union was formed and for Communism in Poland, and indeed throughout most of Eastern Europe, the writing, so to speak, was on the wall. Even Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, has credited John Paul II as being crucial to the downfall of the communist system. U.S. President Ronald Reagan might have said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," but it was Pope John Paul II who weakened the very foundation of the Berlin and other walls the communists had built to keep their citizens imprisoned.
Pope John Paul II also reached out to other Christian denominations and to other faiths as well. He became the first pope to visit England where he met the Queen, the head of the Anglican Church. He also had a great relationship and friendship with Buddhism's fourteenth Dalai Lama. In 2000, he became the first pope to visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and in 2001 he became the first Pope to visit and to pray in a mosque in Damascus, Syria. In his travels, he spoke to the hearts of local dictators in South America and Haiti, and he helped to make it impossible for them to carry on in the usual manner. Simply put, Pope John Paul II was not only the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, but he was also a force for good during the world events of his life and times.
The greatness of an individual is measured in many ways. We look at the greatness of Albert Einstein because of his great mind, his contribution to science and his theory of relativity. He was a game-changer, and we honour him in a variety of ways, and well we should. We honour the greatness of Martin Luther King, not because he was a great Baptist preacher but because he was a great man. His hard work was instrumental, pivotal and vital in bringing an end to the terrible racial problems in the United States. He was a game-changer if there ever was one. We honour him, and well we should. Mother Teresa was a great woman — a game-changer. Think of the great deaf and blind Helen Keller: author, presidential award winner and National Women's Hall of Famer. Our founding fathers were game-changers also. Why wouldn't they be? They formed and built a country.
Like Pope John Paul II, these are people who are so great that they make all of us proud. When we hear of what they did, we have the inspiration that they provide for us, and we want to do similar things. Many of us will never reach that high, but we do have the light that they lit, and it's up to us to follow in their footsteps if we can. They have given us their shoulders to stand on.
How fortunate we are to have such great men and women in our midst, and how fortunate we are to get the chance to honour them, regardless of race, colour or religious affiliation. We ignore all that and go forward to give them a special place in our democratic institutions, and so it should be. Why? Well, I can't help but think that by doing so we inspire other people, young people especially, who thirst for inspiration and role models and who look for us to do our little bit to set apart and to honour those who are great and who are game-changers.
Therefore, I'm of the opinion that we should consider the whole life of Pope John Paul II. I am convinced that the world is a much better place because he was the person that he was.
In closing, Pope John Paul II was a unique individual. His faith was the seed sewn under the heel of the Nazi jackboot, a seed that flourished even in the stony soil of communism. He proved that you really can't stop an idea whose time has come.
Honourable senators, it gives me great pleasure to support this bill.
Hon. Betty Unger: Honourable senators, I, too, would like to add my voice in support of Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II belonged to the whole world, but in a special way, he also belonged to Canadians. He came not only as a pope and head of state for the Vatican but also as a pastor, brother and humble man. Only three years after surviving a near-fatal assassination attempt on his life in 1981, Pope John Paul II came to Canada and undertook an exhaustive 11-day tour, giving over 30 major speeches.
On September 9, 1984, he visited Canada for the first time, and during this incredible 11-day, 15,000-kilometre cross-country tour, millions of people turned out to greet him, at times enduring periods of the least hospitable weather Canada in September can offer. From his first stop in Quebec City, he visited Trois-Rivières, Montreal, St. John's, Moncton, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg-St. Boniface, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Vancouver and Ottawa-Hull, as well as several notable shrines: Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal and the Martyrs' Shrine in Midland.
Just outside of Quebec, the Pope's first scheduled stop was to visit a hospital that takes of care of physically- and mentally-challenged children. A number of the children were in the lobby as the welcoming party, along with their family members and staff. A media tour adviser, who was non-Catholic, stated: "Seeing the joy on the faces of those children when the Pope came to greet them is something I will never forget."
While in Toronto, Pope John Paul II spoke of Canada's multicultural heritage. In fact, he made a point of emphasizing the country's ethnic and cultural diversity. In English and French, Pope John Paul II spoke of themes he strongly supported: solidarity and justice, peace, the place of youth, the elderly and the dignity of the human person. He passionately reminded us of the centrality of God in our lives and in society.
Upon his arrival at the Namao airfield just north of Edmonton, the Pope was met by a number of dignitaries, including Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, Premier Peter Lougheed and Chief Jim Omeasoo of the Samson Band. He was cheered by 100,000 people along the way to St. Joseph's Basilica, where he led an interfaith service of over 1,100 clergy. On the Monday, the Pope celebrated mass attended by 125,000 people — a day that was cold, rainy and extremely windy. He closed by blessing the people and then commented: "Canada is a big country; it's almost a continent. It is sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy," — and, after a long pause, with a big smile — "sometimes windy."
While in Edmonton, social justice was on his mind as he pleaded for the wealthier northern regions of the Americas to be attentive to the needs of those living in poverty in South America.
But upon his departure from Canada in 1984, there was a deep sadness in his heart. Due to severe foggy weather, his plane, after circling many times, was unable to land in Fort Simpson, where crowds had gathered to meet him. Instead, his and several other planes were diverted to Yellowknife. According to former Premier Nick Sibbeston, there were 3,000 people waiting below who were most appreciative of the fact that a world leader of Pope John Paul II's prominence would travel to their community to visit with them. These people included many Aboriginal people who had travelled great distances by water and land. Then, once they reached Fort Simpson, they had to camp in cold rainy weather conditions. To the great disappointment and sadness of all, the long-awaited visit was not possible.
During his time at the airport in Yellowknife, the Pope met and shook hands with many people, including Senator Dennis Patterson and many others who hurried to the airport as word of his arrival quickly spread. Speaking via a radio connection from the Yellowknife airport tower, he addressed the crowd in Fort Simpson, greeting the people of Northern Canada, rendering respectful homage to First Nations in this vast region of North America.
Before his plane departed from Canada, a promise was made. Mr. Stephen Kakfwi, who was President of the Dene Nation when the papal visit was organized and also part of a delegation which had travelled to the Vatican earlier that year to invite John Paul to visit them in Fort Simpson, told me that Pope John Paul II, in his final remarks before leaving Ottawa, said, "Perhaps providence will allow me a second opportunity."
The Pope had promised to return, and he did so quietly, making the trip on Sunday, September 20, 1987, to the great joy of the Aboriginal communities who had reassembled in Fort Simpson. It was inspiring to have witnessed him devote a single trip to fulfill his promise to First Nations of Canada, and his visit was a pointed challenge to Canadian society to heal its long, troubled relationship with First Nations.
Mindful of Aboriginal people's rich roots in Canada, he challenged them to remain true to their vocational witness of promoting the religious, cultural and social values that will uphold their human dignity and ensure their future well-being. He said:
Your sense of sharing, your understanding of human community rooted in the family, the highly valued relationship between your elders and your young people, your spiritual view of creation which calls for responsible care and protection of the environment — all of these traditional aspects of your way of life need to be revered and cherished.
From the beginning of Pope John Paul's papal ministry, he insisted on meeting young people and enjoyed tremendous popularity with them. In June 2002, Toronto hosted the seventeenth International World Youth Day, and several hundred thousand young people from 172 nations descended upon the city. More than 350,000 people packed Exhibition Park for the opening ceremony with Pope John Paul.
The following evening, more than half a million people took part in the outdoor Stations of the Cross, and by the CBC's estimate, the worldwide television audience that night was more than a billion people in 160 countries. The Saturday evening vigil drew more than 600,000 people, and the concluding papal mass on Sunday gathered together approximately 800,000 people.
But perhaps one of the most profound lessons that Pope John Paul taught us is that life is sacred, and that was no matter how painful his life had become. Where the old and the infirm are too often put away in homes and forgotten, the Pope was a powerful reminder that age and suffering are part of being human and that the sick, the disabled and the dying still have great value. Rather than hide his infirmities, including Parkinson's disease, which led to his inability to walk and finally an inability to speak, he chose to let the world see what he was going through.
In the final act of his life, the athlete was immobilized, the strong voice was silenced, and the hand that had written several books and numerous encyclicals could write no more. Though broken and bent and at the end of his earthly pilgrimage, Pope John Paul II crossed the threshold of history standing as tall as a giant.
Thank you, honourable colleagues, and I hope you will support Bill C-266.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, as the sponsor of this bill, I am pleased to be here in this chamber to speak to Bill C-266, which seeks to designate April 2 as Pope John Paul II Day.
John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyla, was elected pope in 1978 and served until his passing in April 2005. During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II travelled around the world. He visited 129 countries and met with people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds, across all age groups. He left a legacy that will last well beyond our time, and his accomplishments are undeniable and extend beyond the realm of religion. He is recognized throughout the world as a leader whose influence extends well beyond the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1986, he became the first pope to visit a synagogue when he visited the Great Synagogue of Rome. He was the first pope in history to visit Jerusalem and pray at the Wailing Wall. He worked tirelessly to improve relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism. Pope John Paul II was also the first Catholic pope to enter and pray in a mosque.
Our country is proud of being a multicultural and multidenominational nation, and Pope John Paul II's dedication to building bridges with other religions reflects the values that Canadians hold dear.
You may ask yourself, how did a pope of the Roman Catholic Church and a head of state of Vatican City become the source of a legacy that has inspired many people of different faiths, cultures and beliefs across the world? I would say that it began with his childhood.
Pope John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojtyla in 1920 in a small town in Poland. Before his 21st birthday, he had already lost his mother, father and brother. He therefore had to learn to deal with grief and loss at a very young age.
He was 19 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. During the war, he began his studies in Krakow but was forced to interrupt them for a year of compulsory labour for the state. He later returned to his studies while working in a quarry and then at a factory. He was just a labourer at the time.
In 1942, during the Second World War, he felt the calling to be a priest and he entered a seminary to begin his studies. He was ordained on November 1, 1946. Much of his life as a priest was lived under communist rule. He rose through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Poland.
He refused to compromise the teachings and the work of the church by acquiescing to the demands of the communist government.
As an archbishop and then a cardinal, he opposed Communism and government repression, but because of his position it was impossible for him to take part in the anti-government movement. As a representative of the Church, he promoted the ideals of peace and liberty.
In 1978, he became the first non-Italian Pope in more than 400 years. During his pontificate, John Paul II travelled around the world, visiting more than 100 countries to spread his message of faith and peace.
While working on strengthening the foundation on which the Church was built, Pope John Paul II built bridges and formed alliances with other religions. He also connected with young people, knowing full well that they could bring about positive change. He also fought for the rights and freedoms of all.
John Paul II was instrumental in bringing down Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. What he had witnessed and survived living in Poland encouraged him to fight Communism through his position as a world leader.
In June 1979, Pope John Paul II returned to his native Poland. This was the first time a supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church went to a communist country.
In a homily he gave in Warsaw before more than one million people, he told the crowd, "Be not afraid."
It was like a call to action, and it inspired many people who fiercely opposed the communist government in power. His speech assured them that they were not alone and gave them the courage to demand change. That visit and that speech sparked the creation of the Solidarity movement in 1980, which led to freedom and human rights for the people of the Pope's strife-torn country of birth.
Many people consider Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland and the relatively peaceful transition from Communism to democracy in Poland to be a pivotal moment in history.
The ensuing chain of events eventually led to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev publicly acknowledged the role that Pope John Paul II had played in the fall of Communism, saying:
What has happened in Eastern Europe in recent years would not have been possible without the presence of this Pope. . . .
Pope John Paul II continued his work outside Poland and Eastern Europe. He stood up for human rights and freedom and advocated for peace throughout the world. He urged countries at war to negotiate, find common ground, and engage in peaceful cooperation.
By designating April 2 as Pope John Paul II Day, we will encourage Canadians to reflect on everything this great man did. It took a great deal of courage to fight Communism and stand up for the people in Poland and other European countries and all the other people who needed someone to defend their rights.
The respect, admiration and affection that Canadians from different faiths, cultures and ages have for Pope John Paul II justify the designation of a day to remember him and his work. Such a day will also reinforce Canadians' belief in democracy and peace.
I ask you to join me in supporting this bill to designate a special day in honour of Pope John Paul II.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: I wonder if the honourable senator would accept a question.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: With pleasure.
Senator Day: Senator, I've got to tell you, I'm a bit uneasy about not this particular motion but a number of motions that we're seeing along the same idea. Let me preface my question by assuring this chamber and all honourable senators that I have absolutely the most admiration one could have for Pope John Paul II and the tremendous work that he did during his lifetime.
Having heard from Senators Doyle and Unger prior to you, I adopt wholeheartedly the historical facts that they have given this chamber. But what concerns me is that we're seeing a number of motions coming forward creating a day for this and a day for that. Yesterday we had a debate on creating not only a day but a week for a particular matter. It's Item No. 69 on our Order Paper today, so it continues to be there, that the second week in May will be international maternal, newborn and child health week. That's a week. Then there was one recently where there was a motion to create a day for hunting, fishing and drinking, as I recall. Perhaps I've got that a little wrong.
Is there a committee that sits down and determines how many days there are left in a year so we can use one of these? What are the parameters for choosing a particular individual?
We heard several names mentioned. Senator Doyle mentioned Helen Keller, Martin Luther King and the Founding Fathers. I don't know if the Senate has considered all of those days. Is there one for each founding father or do we put them all together? There are questions like that that I think we need answered in order to understand. What were the parameters that helped you choose this particular day, or a day, for this particular individual?
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I want to thank you for taking the time to ask your question. I'd say that Karol Wojtyla had such a strong personality and did so many things that even if he had not been pope, he'd be deserving of a day in his honour because of the work he did over the course of his life.
I'm not the one who decides which individual to choose, whether we are talking about bills on religion or another topic. Furthermore, this is a private member's bill from the House of Commons, and the purpose of this bill is to honour this individual and everything he accomplished.
When the time came to vote on the National Fiddling Day Act, you voted for that bill, however that very day, you against the bill about the Pope. I was shocked, because that detracts from the merits of the individual we want to commemorate.
I'd like you to approve it, even if you truly believe it is unthinkable. I'd like you to make that effort, because the Poles who live in Canada are awaiting this day. I'm counting on your support.
Senator Day: If I understand your response, senator, you're saying that you yourself decided that John Paul II deserved a day in his honour.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: It was the House of Commons that made the decision, and it was passed unanimously.
Senator Day: I'm assuming you were the one who has adopted this and brought it. You are, because you brought the motion. Can you tell me, if I vote for this as you would like me to, what should I anticipate would flow from a positive vote in this chamber on that particular matter?
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: It might not have much of an impact in the Senate, but for the House of Commons, where the bill was passed by a majority, and for the Poles living in our country who are now full-fledged Canadians, I think we would really make them happy because they have such great admiration for the person who became pope and did so much to help Poland by making Communism disappear from Poland. That means a lot to them.
(On motion of Senator Cordy, debate adjourned.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Government response to the committee's second report, entitled Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond), tabled in the Senate on September 30, 2014.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk moved the adoption of the report.
She said: Honourable senators, this is a report we filed, the Canada-Turkey report, and we received a response from the Government of Canada. We carefully considered the report from the government, and this is our further response to the minister.
We believe that we have a good dialogue with the minister, and the importance of our relationship with Turkey is being underscored in this letter. We thought it was important for the Senate and for our committee that it be tabled here for public knowledge. I simply move the acceptance of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator White, seconded by the Honourable Senator Frum, for the adoption of the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (amendments to the Rules of the Senate), presented in the Senate on June 11, 2014;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Cowan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, that the report not now be adopted, but that it be amended by:
1. Replacing paragraph 1.(j) with the following:
"That an item of Other Business that is not a Commons Public Bill be not further adjourned; or";
2. Replacing the main heading before new rule 6-13 with the following:
"Terminating Debate on an Item of Other Business that is not a Commons Public Bill";
3. Replacing the sub heading before new rule 6-13 with the following:
"Notice of motion that item of Other Business that is not a Commons Public Bill be not further adjourned";
4. In paragraph 2.6-13 (1), adding immediately following the words "Other Business", the words "that is not a Commons Public Bill";
5. In the first clause of Paragraph 2.6-13 (3), adding immediately following the words "Other Business", the words "that is not a Commons Public Bill";
6. In the first clause of paragraph 2.6-13 (5), adding immediately following the words "Other Business", the words "that is not a Commons Public Bill"
7. In paragraph 2.6-13 (7) (c), adding immediately following the words "Other Business" the words "that is not a Commons Public Bill";
8. And replacing the last line of paragraph 2.6-13(7) with the following:
"This process shall continue until the conclusion of debate on the item of Other Business that is not a Commons Public Bill".
And on the subamendment of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, that the amendment be not now adopted but that it be amended by adding immediately after paragraph 8 the following:
9. And that the rule changes contained in this report take effect from the date that the Senate begins regularly to provide live audio-visual broadcasting of its daily proceedings.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Mr. Speaker, one of the issues of the debate on this is now broadcasting. Since I had the pleasure 37 years ago to make the first speech in the House of Commons — I was 12 — and since the debate about the rules and broadcasting do have some link, I have to admit that Senator Mitchell's proposal to amend biases my interest, but I'm not ready to address it yet. I will do so next Tuesday, if the chamber permits. I'd like to have it stand in my name since Senator Fraser isn't here.
(On motion of Senator Dawson, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Downe, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput:
That the Senate call upon the Members of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada to join the Senate in its efforts to increase transparency by acknowledging the longstanding request of current and former Auditors General of Canada to examine the accounts of both Houses of Parliament, and thereby inviting the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House of Commons expenses, including Members' expenses, and
That the audits of the House of Commons and the Senate be conducted concurrently, and the results for both Chambers of Parliament be published at the same time.
Hon. Elizabeth (Beth) Marshall: Honourable senators, I'd like to rise to speak to motion number 55. I've put my comments into three areas because I wanted to speak first about the role of the Auditor General, since the motion itself is focused toward the Auditor General doing some work. I wanted to talk about the independence of the Auditor General of Canada. Then I was going to move on and speak to our involvement in issues that relate to the House of Commons. My third comment would relate to what I consider the practicalities of the motion.
I want to start off by speaking about the Auditor General of Canada and his independence, because I think that is very important in the context of the motion. I'm emphasizing the word "independence" because that's where the value of the Auditor General lies; he's an independent officer of Parliament.
If you look at the Auditor General Act, most of the responsibilities of that position are defined in very broad terms, which give him discretion as to how he will carry out his mandate. There is some direction given in the legislation, in the act, because it tells him in broad parameters what his role is. For example, he's required to annually audit the Public Accounts of Canada, but how he does this is left entirely up to his discretion.
The Auditor General Act also outlines broad parameters of reporting by the Auditor General. Specifically, he's required to report annually, but that's it. He's also allowed to provide three additional reports a year to Parliament, but this also is entirely at his discretion.
When he conducts legislative audits of Crown agencies or government departments, it is he who decides what audits he's going to carry out. He determines when he's going to carry out the work, and he also determines how he's going to carry it out. Then he decides when and how he's going to report his audits.
All these general parameters contribute to the independence of the Auditor General. If you go down through this act, which is a fairly lengthy act, you will see the term "may." Every section you go through says "he may do this" or "he may do that." There are some sections in there that say "he shall do this" or "he shall do that," but most of them are "may." So it gives him a lot of independence as to how he does his work.
When we invited the Auditor General into the Senate to conduct a comprehensive audit, there was no direction given to him whatsoever as to how the audit would be conducted. We simply invited him in and it was he who informed us that he was accepting our invitation, and then it was he who decided how the audit would be carried out and reported.
If you go back to last year and look at the motion that we approved in 2013, it's very straightforward. It reads simply:
That the Senate invite the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of Senate expenses, including senators' expenses.
That's it. It's a basic invitation.
There is no direction given by the Senate on how or when the audit is to be conducted or the timelines, and there's no direction on how and when the report will be released. That all reflects the independence of the Auditor General. We issued the invitation and, if he was going to accept it, he would decide the details, including how and when the audit will be conducted, how it's going to be reported, and the timelines of the audit. That's normally how he carries out audits under his legislation. That is how the audit of the Senate is actually unfolding.
So when you look at motion 55 that's before us now, the first thing you see is the word "inviting." It looks similar to the wording used in the motion that we passed in 2013. You look at it and you think, "Oh, yes, it's similar," but the motion that we approved in 2013 leaves the motion open. It awaits a response from the Auditor General. It's just the initial invitation.
However, motion 55 goes much further. This motion is more than an invitation because it invites the Auditor General to conduct an audit, but it also continues on to direct the Auditor General on how he should conduct that audit, which is concurrently, and it doesn't stop there. It also directs the Auditor General on how to report the audit. That is, he is to report the audit of the House of Commons and the Senate at the same time. This direction on how the audits are to be conducted and how the audits are to be reported in my opinion infringes on the independence of the Auditor General.
I'd also like to comment on the nature of the invitation. While the motion is inviting the Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive audit, when you read it, it's really a little bit stronger than an invitation because it proceeds to tell the Auditor General to conduct the two audits concurrently and report them at the same time. When I read the motion, I read into it that it was exerting a little bit of extra pressure on the Auditor General to accept the invitation. By providing direction on the audit, it implies that the Auditor General is going to accept the invitation. Therefore, I didn't really like the wording of the invitation. I guess that's the best way I can summarize it.
There was some previous discussion here in the Senate chamber about whether we should be involved in issues that relate to the House of Commons; that the Senate looks after its own affairs and the House of Commons looks after its own affairs. There was some debate as to whether there should be this crossover or this interference. In my opinion, we shouldn't be interfering in the affairs of the House of Commons and their Board of Internal Economy.
The accountability of both the Senate and House of Commons is a current and controversial issue. We, the Senate, invited the Auditor General in last year, and that was our choice. He came in and is doing the audit.
The House of Commons, on the other hand, is pursuing another avenue, and in my opinion that's their prerogative. Last year the House of Commons instructed their Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to conduct an open and public study with the view to replace the Board of Internal Economy with an independent oversight body with the purpose of having full transparency and accountability regarding the House of Commons' spending. So the order of reference instructed the committee at that time to invite the Auditor General of Canada and others to participate fully in the study, and a study was carried out.
That committee held a number of meetings. They held about half a dozen meetings, and they heard evidence from a number of individuals, and the transcripts are on the website if you are interested in looking at them. They had, I would say, 15 witnesses. As you would expect, the first witness, or very early on, was the Auditor General of Canada. He was invited to give his views.
The testimony of all the witnesses is very interesting, because everyone brought a different perspective to the issue with regard to accountability and transparency and what the House of Commons should be doing.
Now, the Auditor General, in his testimony, suggested — and this is interesting — that the committee should consider whether the legislated mandate of the Auditor General should be amended to include comprehensive audits of the House of Commons. Just to make it very clear to the Senate, the Auditor General indicated — and this is going much further than what we have done — that he would welcome a clear, statutory mandate as the auditor of the House of Commons.
What he is saying is pursuing this issue a little further, or perhaps I would call it a great deal further than what we are currently doing. We have invited the Auditor General to do one audit, but the Auditor General is now presenting to the House of Commons that they should enshrine in legislation that the Auditor General be the auditor of the House of Commons.
The committee had about half a dozen hearings, and they had about 15 witnesses. They had testimony from two former Speakers, the Auditor General, and I think they had the Privacy Commissioner. They interviewed a representative of the House of Lords, I believe, and they interviewed I think the former Law Clerk of the House of Commons. Some of the witnesses had very interesting and worthwhile recommendations. The committee released a report, and the report itself was interesting, but all parties have representatives on the committee that was studying the topic. So the report was released, but the New Democratic Party submitted a dissenting opinion; the Liberal Party offered a supplementary opinion; the members of the Bloc Québécois, the member of the Green Party, and the independent member submitted a dissenting opinion. Clearly, the House of Commons realizes that accountability and transparency are issues to be addressed, but at this stage they have not reached a consensus, so they have a lot more work to do.
In my opinion, it's not our responsibility or right to impose upon them our solution that the Auditor General go in and audit them. They're aware that they have issues to address in transparency and accountability, and they themselves have to work through it. I'm quite confident that in this current environment they will.
Now, my third comment relates to the areas of practicalities of the audit and what's being recommended in the motion. As we all know, the audit of the Senate began last summer. Actually, it began a little bit before the summer; it was probably late spring of 2013 that the Auditor General was planning for the audit of the Senate.
We have been told for the last number of months that there will be a spring report, so that will be the spring of 2015. If that date is correct, and it seems to be because that date has been on the website and hasn't changed for a while, the audit will have taken almost two years to complete.
When an audit is done, the results are useful only if you get them on a timely basis; so the longer we wait to receive the results, the less useful they will be. If we tie our audit to the audit of the House of Commons, then we will be waiting a little while longer.
As an individual senator, I'm anxious to see the results of the audit. We're all being audited individually, and we must remember that the Auditor General is auditing about 120 senators. That's my calculation, that about 120 senators are being audited. It commenced in 2013, and we're going to get the results in 2015.
If we supported this motion, and there are 300-plus MPs to be audited, along with the 120 senators, and if the two reports were to be released at the same time, we would be waiting quite a while before we see the reports on the Senate.
As an individual senator, and with all due respect to the members of the House of Commons, I have no desire to tie the results of my audit to the audit of 300-plus members in the House of Commons.
I did find the motion very interesting, and I did want to thank Senator Downe for raising the issue. Given my background, I found it very interesting, especially given that the research I did in connection with the motion made me aware of what was happening over on the Commons side. The motion itself is actually a very novel course of action because the topic is of interest to me.
I won't be supporting the motion, but again I would like to thank Senator Downe for putting the motion on the Order Paper.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Would the honourable senator entertain a question?
Senator Marshall: Yes.
Senator Joyal: I listened carefully to your presentation, especially the first part of your three-part speech, and you referred to the motion that was adopted in the chamber last year. The question I had in mind is that when the Senate voted that motion, in your opinion, did the Senate at the same time waive the individual privilege of each senator and the privilege of the Senate per se when we voted that motion?
Senator Marshall: That's a very good question, and I have thought about that a lot, because it has also been raised. I don't think we did, but I think when you talk to some of the senators, there is a feeling that we may have done that. For me, it relates to my background. I had no concerns at all about the motion or the waiving of privilege, but I know that some senators did have concerns in that regard.
Senator Joyal: I don't know how much time is left to the honourable senator.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Marshall, are you asking for more time?
Senator Marshall: Yes, by all means.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Five minutes is granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Joyal: I concur with you on your answer; in my opinion as a senator, I don't think this chamber waived its privilege, nor that of individual senators, when we voted on that motion.
I think there is one aspect in the present audit, the way the audit is conducted, which is puzzling. The impression I got is that when the Auditor General performs an audit of the administration, it's a performance audit. They check value for money. I don't have the Auditor General Act in my hands, but I read that very clearly.
I certainly won't pretend to have a long experience, but, when I was sitting in the other chamber, I was vice-chair of the Public Accounts Committee for two years, at the time that James Macdonell was the Auditor General, a name that might sound familiar to you because he was an outstanding Auditor General. At that time, it was quite clear that there was a distinction between a performance audit and a forensic audit, and, in the present conduct of the audit, the perception I got is that we are almost on a forensic audit. We are no longer on a performance audit. On a performance audit, there is a selection of expenses at random, and there is a check to see if the paper, the explanation and all of the documentation is available. However, it's not a forensic audit. It's a performance audit, which is essentially to check the value for money. In other words, if you incur an expense for buying a ticket, was the ticket bought? Was the ticket used? Was there a receipt and so forth? So it is clear.
When there is a forensic audit, we're turned the other way around. We presume that the expense is suspect, and we have to go a step further. That is what is puzzling me in the present audit. I have the perception that the audit is not as clear as a forensic audit.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Joyal, I understand that you would like to share your opinion, but given how little time Senator Marshall has left, do you have a question for her? I would like you to ask your question, so that someone can then ask another one.
Senator Joyal: Very simply, in your opinion, is it a performance audit, or is it a forensic audit? With what kind of process are we being audited?
Senator Marshall: I would call it a legislative audit, and, actually, I think that that's how the Auditor General refers to it on his website. I wouldn't consider it a performance audit, and it's certainly not a forensic audit. I think that what is throwing people or what people are concerned about is that the Auditor General is — I mean, this is something the Auditor General has to speak to, so I'm sort of straying into his territory — auditing every cent or every dollar. That's his prerogative, but I wouldn't consider it a forensic audit. I would consider it a detailed legislative audit, and he's auditing for compliance with existing rules within the Senate. That is nothing unusual. I think the area that people are concerned about is that it's 100 per cent rather than the sample that you referred to. You referred to a sample, and, usually, that's how you do an audit. However, this audit is looking at it 100 per cent. I have my own theory as to why he's looking at it 100 per cent, but I think that that's something he should speak to himself. I wouldn't consider it a performance audit. I wouldn't consider it a forensic audit. I would consider it a legislative audit.
Hon. George Baker: As to the motion put on March 14, 2014, with the report, as the honourable senator said, a year after that, one can understand why the mover of the motion said that the audits take place concurrently. That was in March. We could use the same personnel. If you remove that section, all this motion does is to say that the Senate calls upon members of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada to join the Senate in its efforts to increase transparency by acknowledging the long-standing request of current and former Auditors General of Canada to examine the accounts of both houses. By voting against this, we're saying we don't agree with the former Auditors General that they want to audit the House of Commons. We're saying that we don't encourage the House of Commons to invite in the Auditor General. If you vote against the main substance of the motion, then you're negativing the intent of the motion, and it's only to encourage. With the extraction of the second portion of the concurrency of the audits, does the honourable senator then support the motion?
Senator Marshall: No, Senator Baker, I wouldn't support it then. I think that the House of Commons has to deal with its own issues, and they had a study. They went through a big process of having a study. They issued a report. They were very conscientious in the work they did. I think that this issue of transparency and accountability, for the House of Commons, is a very current issue, and I think that the House of Commons itself has to decide. One thing I would like to say, which I probably shouldn't say but will, is that, once the audit of the Senate is complete, I think that all eyes will turn toward the House of Commons. I think that they themselves should be masters of their own ship. I have the utmost confidence that they will take command and do the right thing.
(On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Dyck, calling the attention of the Senate to the disparities in educational attainments of First Nations people, inequitable funding of on-reserve schools and insufficient funding for postsecondary education.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, Senator Hubley would like to speak to this inquiry. I therefore move that the debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate, in Senator Hubley's name.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Robichaud, you are at Item No. 10?
Senator Robichaud: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I don't believe you can do that.
Senator Robichaud: Why not?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Because the inquiry has already been adjourned in your name, which means that you can't adjourn it a second time.
Senator Robichaud: Mr. Speaker, I'm not adjourning it in my name. I want the debate to be adjourned in Senator Hubley's name.
(On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Hubley, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, October 2, 2014, at 1:30 p.m.)