Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology
Issue 36 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 9, 1999
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, to
which was referred Bill C-66, to amend the National Housing Act and the Canada
Mortgage and Housing Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act;
and Bill C-64, to establish an indemnification program for travelling
exhibitions, met this day at 3:55 p.m. to give consideration to the bills.
Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, I see a quorum.
Colleagues, we have a rather heavier agenda today than we had foreseen. We have
two government bills, Bill C-66 and Bill C-64, and I had intended to proceed
immediately to clause-by-clause study of Bill C-66 today. However, a request
was made through our colleague, Senator Chalifoux, to hear the witnesses from
the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, who have some views on this bill.
In view of the importance of this organization, the importance of the bill, and
the significance of the views they want to express, I felt that I should accede
to that request. They are here today and we will hear from them.
You will also recall that last time we met, we made it clear to the government
that they could have the last word as witnesses. Thus, the officials from CMHC
are here. After we have heard from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, I will
turn to the officials from CMHC.
Then, if it is your wish, we will do clause-by-clause study of Bill C-66.
After that, we will be hearing witnesses from the government on Bill C-64.
First, we have some housekeeping to do in regard to the budget of our
Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. You will recall that the subcommittee elected
a new chairman, our colleague, Senator Balfour, who is here today, and that the
Senate gave the committee a reference that renewed its general mandate to
monitor and to inquire into matters that affect veterans. This committee, in
turn, sent the reference to our subcommittee.
The subcommittee intends to go in the fall to Charlottetown, which is, as you
know, where the Department of Veterans Affairs is located. They have put in a
budget, which is before you, in the amount of $17,500 for this purpose. The
Chair would entertain a motion to adopt the budget of the subcommittee.
The chairman of the subcommittee is here if there are any questions.
May I have a motion for the adoption of that budget?
Senator Gill: I so move, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: If there are no questions for the Chair of the subcommittee, is it
your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: The budget is adopted. I wish to thank Senator Balfour.
Let us now turn to Bill C-66. Our witnesses are from the Congress of Aboriginal
Peoples. Their president, Harry W. Daniels, whom you see before you, is no
stranger to parliamentary committees. He is accompanied by Frank Palmater,
Vice-President; and Lorraine Rochon, the Chief of Staff.
I understand that you have a brief opening statement, Mr. Daniels.
Mr. Harry W. Daniels, President, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples: Mr. Chairman,
first, I must apologize for disrupting your schedule. We are very appreciative
of the time you have allowed us.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is a national advocacy organization designed
to serve and protect the interests of its aboriginal constituents -- namely, Métis,
Indians registered and unregistered, and treaty and non-treaty persons of
aboriginal ancestry living off reserve. They number more than 800,000 people
and constitute the largest group of aboriginal citizens in this country.
We have had an opportunity to review Bill C-66 and I must tell you, senators,
that we have grave concerns with this bill. It does not make merely cosmetic
changes to the National Housing Act, but substantive changes. For example, it
will open up the possibility of insuring housing loans on reserve without the
need for a DIAND guarantee. We welcome this change, which is not a cosmetic
change. It promises to have a major and substantive impact on aboriginal
Similarly, the bill removes impediments to renovation loans for urban
homeowners, which is a substantive change too, and one with which we agree.
We also endorse the expansion of CMHC's research mandate to include housing
finance and affordability. I know this will have a major impact on the type of
research projects that CMHC will be funding. As a matter of fact, we have some
ideas on housing affordability that we would like to share with CMHC at the
These positive aspects of the bill pale in comparison with the negative impact
that some of its provisions will have on aboriginal people. For instance, the
bill repeals section 95 of the National Housing Act. Section 95 is the
legislative basis for the Urban Native Housing Program, other non-profit
housing programs, and a good part of the Rural and Native Housing, or R N H,
portfolio. What will happen to the non-profit housing program once this
provision is repealed?
The bill provides for a new proposed section that will give sweeping powers to
CMHC to make loans and contributions to housing projects and to set the terms
and conditions of those loans and contributions. How will this provision impact
the existing aboriginal housing portfolio? Will CMHC begin to seize what it
considers to be surplus revenues of aboriginal housing corporations? As I read
the proposed section, that will be a possibility.
After this bill is enacted, the National Housing Act will say virtually nothing
about social housing. We do not agree that CMHC should abandon its social
Also, the bill removes any reference to aboriginal people in the National
Housing Act. My understand is that we are to be considered "persons."
The aboriginal peoples of Canada are distinct peoples, as set out in section 35
of the Constitution. The federal government agrees with this. Yet, where is
there any recognition of Indian, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Canada in
We are just as concerned with what the bill does not do as with what it does.
Bill C-66 purports to be a major revision of the National Housing Act. In fact,
it is the first in decades. It would have provided the federal government with
a golden opportunity to act on the promises it has been making to aboriginal
people in the Liberal Red Book and in "Gathering Strength."
In "Gathering Strength," the government admits that "...one of
the most important element of people's sense of wellbeing is access to good
Where are the housing programs for aboriginal people off reserve? I would like
to know what CMHC plans do about the housing shortage for aboriginal people off
reserve in Ottawa alone, where there are over 800 people on the waiting list.
Over 400 Indian and Métis seniors are waiting for social housing units
and the situation is even more serious out west. We find this unacceptable.
In "Gathering Strength," the federal government committed itself to
self-government for aboriginal people. It states in that document that:
The federal government is prepared to consider a variety of approaches to
self-government, including self-government institutions, devolution of programs
and services, and public government.
Why, then, is Bill C-66 silent about self-government? Why cannot CMHC devolve
responsibility for aboriginal housing programs to aboriginal people?
When HRDC removed itself from direct delivery of training programs, it did not
devolve aboriginal training programs to the provinces, but to aboriginal
organizations. Why cannot CMHC do the same for aboriginal housing programs?
In "Gathering Strength," the federal government promised to build a
new relationship with aboriginal peoples. In that document, the Government of
Canada states that it "agrees with the underlying view that policy
development and implementation and the delivery of programs and services should
reflect the new relationship."
How does this bill establish a new relationship with aboriginal people? It
removes all reference to aboriginal people in the National Housing Act. It does
not involve us in the policy development process or in program delivery. It
ignores our very existence as distinct peoples. It fails to recognize any
federal responsibility for aboriginal people.
If this is what the federal government means by a new relationship, then do not
ask me or my organization to support this bill. However, I believe that it is
possible to save this bill by making a few key amendments.
First, we suggest that a clause enabling CMHC to enter into social housing
agreements with representatives and agencies of the aboriginal peoples of
Canada be added to the bill. This would create an aboriginal equivalent to
section 99 of the National Housing Act, which authorizes social housing
agreements with the provinces.
Second, we suggest that a notwithstanding clause be added to the bill to ensure
that existing social housing agreements and non-profit housing arrangements
will not be affected by the repeal of section 95 and the introduction of the
proposed new section.
Third, those parts of the bill that deal with CMHC's board of governors should
be amended to guarantee that at least one of the eight directors will be an
aboriginal person. This would give a clear signal that CMHC is serious about
involving aboriginal people in the policy development and decision-making
Fourth, CMHC should be obliged to table any terms and conditions made under the
revised National Housing Act in Parliament. This would serve to open them to
Before I thank you, Mr. Chairman, I want to table with the committee a
documentary that I produced, which was shown on Rogers television, entitled,
Nobody's Indians. It sets out in detail the deplorable housing conditions of
Indians living in the bush in the three northern Ontario communities of Pickle
Lake, Sioux Lookout, and Red Lake. These people, who have left the reserve, live
under trees and in garbage dumps.
I am in the process of editing Nobody's Indians II, depicting the situation in
downtown Vancouver and places like Toronto and Montreal, which is also
deplorable. If we are not involved in any changes regarding housing we will
lose everything. This issue involves all aboriginal people off reserve.
We also have a copy of A Question of Fairness, which was produced by our
organization, and I will provide you with more copies if I can, Mr. Chairman.
Senators will find that if the National Housing Act is to be changed to the
exclusion of aboriginal peoples, then we will have a very serious problem in
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Daniels. Did you or your organization appear before
the House of Commons committee that studied this bill?
Mr. Daniels: I confess we did not, Mr. Chairman, for a number of reasons. We do
not have a lot of staff to take care of things and we did not hear about this
issue until last spring. I was made aware of it recently by Senator Chalifoux
and others. I am glad that we have had this time to speak to you. Had we done
it before, we might have had some impact.
The Chairman: Do you know if any of the other aboriginal organizations appeared
before the Commons committee?
Mr. Daniels: No.
The Chairman: Were you consulted on the bill?
Mr. Daniels: No, I was not.
Senator Cohen: Mr. Daniels, thank you for your presentation. It was succinct and
to the point.
When the minister appeared before this committee, I asked him why, when they are
doing a major revision of the National Housing Act, and when there is a housing
crisis in Canada, they did not address that issue. That is the major issue,
after creating a playing field level in the part of the bill that deals with
insurance. The minister was non-committal. He said they had spent "X"
number of dollars and he told me what they have done. However, I did not even
realize that the issue was as great as it is in the aboriginal community. I
thank you for bringing this to our attention today because I think the concern
about social housing and the abdication of the government's responsibility to do
something about this sooner rather than later is very valid. I wanted to make
that point and be on the record as saying that as a committee, we have already
asked the minister about it. We will include your recommendations too, which
are very good.
Mr. Daniels: We are very concerned about this. We have proposed to CMHC that
they make other changes in social housing for aboriginal people.
The situation is not good. If we had more people and more time, we would have
been on top of this. We are a very small organization representing a lot of
people, but we are underfunded. Those are not excuses; those are facts. Any
support we can get in making noise about the National Housing Act being changed
to the exclusion of our constituents would be greatly appreciated.
Senator Cohen: Your suggestion for having someone from the aboriginal community
sit on the board of directors is also very valid. Some of the criticism of this
bill has been that the people who sit on the board should be more
representative of those Canadians who need social housing. Thank you for
emphasizing that for us once more.
Senator Wilson: Just to echo Senator Cohen's support, you have brought something
very important to our attention.
With respect to appointing an aboriginal person to the board of governors, you
would perhaps be in a much stronger position if the aboriginal community came
up with a nomination. Do you have any suggestions as to how that might work?
Mr. Daniels: That is a very good suggestion. I think most of you understand that
79 per cent of all aboriginal people in Canada live off reserve. Of the 480,000
Indians who are entitled to live on reserve, 53 per cent do not. Only 220,000
Indians live on reserve. There are currently about 40,000 Inuit, and they have
nothing to do with reserve lands.
We must find someone to sit on the board who knows the ins and outs of this
issue. I do not care who it is. Maybe we could elect or appoint someone. When
social housing policy is being developed, we would like someone on that board
who can speak for our people and to their situation. It should be a person well
respected by all three communities -- Indians, Inuit, and Métis.
Senator Wilson: I would urge you to give a little more thought to that because
you might get good support for this proposal, in which case, who should that
person be? The aboriginal community is no more homogenous than the dominant
community. I do not know how that could be done so that the person would be
accountable to the aboriginal community and feel supported, but I am sure if you
give it more thought, you can come up with something.
Mr. Daniels: I agree. It is a point well taken. It should be someone who knows
what they are doing and what they are talking about. We can find people like
that. I am sure the three national organizations can get together, talk about
it, and come up with someone. We will find a formula if it comes to pass that
this recommendation is made to CMHC, supported by this group.
The Chairman: Mr. Daniels, the idea of devolving housing to the provinces has
been kicking around for quite a while. Have you discussed with the government,
either the political leadership or the public service, the general proposition
that they ought to devolve social housing to aboriginal organizations?
Mr. Daniels: Yes, we have discussed that with the premiers at two meetings now,
as something they might support. Instead of them getting the responsibility for
social housing, our people and organizations should get it. We should run those
kinds of things.
The Chairman: Are you suggesting that the initiative would have to come from the
provinces rather than from the federal government?
Mr. Daniels: How many provinces are left?
Mr. Frank Palmater, Vice-President, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples: Three
provinces have yet to sign the transfer agreement.
Mr. Daniels: We have intervened at various times, but no one seems to listen.
The Chairman: I do not know the answer, but it is an interesting question. You
make the point that when HRDC removed itself from direct delivery of training
programs, it did not devolve aboriginal training programs to the provinces but
to aboriginal organizations. You then ask why the CMHC cannot do the same for
aboriginal housing programs. When I ask that question of officials, I am sure
the answer I will get is that this is a policy question.
At what stage are your discussions?
Mr. Daniels: We have approached Minister Gagliano and others at housing meetings
in Toronto and Vancouver, but we have not met with a great deal of success or
Senator Chalifoux: The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs is
conducting a study on aboriginal housing. An action plan, not just a study,
will be available by the end of September.
The Chairman: How would it happen? Would if be up to the provinces, to whom the
social housing programs have been devolved already, to further devolve them to
the aboriginal organizations, or would the federal government do this?
Mr. Palmater: It could happen if the agreements that the federal government
signed with the provinces contained that provision.
In the three remaining provinces, if the provision were put into the agreement,
a section in each agreement could say that whatever benefits this signatory
would benefit everyone who signs on.
The Chairman: Which three provinces have not signed on?
Mr. Palmater: B.C. has said it definitely will not sign simply because of the
social problems of aboriginal people and some of the co-op housing units they
have out there.
Ontario is another. There is some word that Ontario will sign, but only if the
co-ops and the aboriginal organizations are not part and parcel of the deal.
I know for sure that Quebec has not signed on, but that is more for monetary
reasons than anything else.
Senator Watt: Mr. Daniels, you mentioned in your introduction that you felt this
bill does not really encompass what it should in terms of aboriginal people
across the country. In your opinion, it seems to be geared more towards band
Indians on reserve and does not deal either with Indians off reserve or the
North of 60 seems to be where the line is drawn with respect to applications and
where the government's responsibility begins and ends, even though that does
not really work in a practical manner.
I believe the Inuit of the Northwest Territories will be adequately covered by
this bill. Is that your understanding?
Mr. Daniels: I do not know. I have not gone into it in that depth. They may be
taken care of under the Nunavut agreement.
Mr. Palmater:With the combination of this bill and the Nunavut agreement, the
Inuit will be taken care of under this new National Housing Act.
Senator Watt: Under the transfer agreement?
Mr. Palmater: Yes.
Senator Watt: The Government of Canada has very clear legal obligations. Certain
sets of treaties were enacted by Parliament. That is, the relationship was
fixed between the two nations, the general public of Canada as represented by
the Crown, and the aboriginal groups represented by various organizations. From
time to time, those organizations do reach legally binding agreements with the
If you were to take those legally binding agreements to the Supreme Court of
Canada, you would certainly win. There is no doubt about that. It has been
happening throughout the years. When the federal government says we are not
bound or that is not our responsibility, the rulings usually say otherwise.
Mr. Chairman, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement was enacted by Bill
C-9 and a particular piece of legislation that was also put together by the
province back in 1975.
I want this question as part of the record: Will a legally binding agreement,
such as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, override that agreement
which is considered to be a treaty between the two nations?
If that is the case, there is a very clear obligation on the Government of
Canada, but since 1993 it has denied its legal responsibility. We have taken
them to task. Today it is in the hands of a dispute resolution mechanism.
The government simply says they have no responsibility because this is a policy
matter. In negotiating with the Crown, there is much "give and take"
taking place. If you give up something, you want to gain something in return.
I remember this clearly because I was one of the chief negotiators on the
question of housing. I wanted to ensure the continuation of the program and its
accessibility to Indians, whether on reserve or off reserve. That will apply
precisely to the aboriginal people living in James Bay and to the Inuit living
in Northern Quebec.
I am sorry to say that this bill has overlooked this matter. How will we rectify
that? We will need to draft a clause because this is a legal text that was
signed between the two nations. We have been having a problem with that since
1993. I was the last person who delivered 40 houses to Northern Quebec. After
that, the government began to renege on its responsibilities.
We also have the Tate report leading up to 1993. It was finalized in 1993 due to
the fact that the Government of Canada said it no longer had responsibility for
the extension of social programs. They were able to extend it for two more
years, up to 1995. Again, this year, they granted another $5 million. We need
to fix this. I do not know whether we can do that in this bill, but we
definitely need to reflect that problem.
Mr. Daniels: On page 8, we suggest adding a notwithstanding clause to ensure
that existing social housing agreements and non-profit housing arrangements
will not be affected by the repeal. We could add a statement to the effect that
"in treaties and in modern day agreements as protected by section 35 (3)
of the Constitution Act of 1982."
Senator Watt is correct. We have been discussing this, but we are not sure how
it affects treaties and modern day agreements. If it overrides them, all our
treaties to date may be of no effect whatsoever. I do not know that; I am not a
lawyer. We need advice on that.
Senator Gill: I would just like to remind people of some of the facts; they may
not always be very pleasant memories, but it is important to bear them in mind.
In 1970, I was involved in the Board as a chief. The housing allowances from
the Department of Indian Affairs were about $5,000 or $6,000. There was no
other way of obtaining housing on the reserves inside the communities, and there
was absolutely nothing available outside. That lasted for a couple of year.
As I recall, the CMHC program began around 1983 or 1984. The need is significant
both inside and outside the communities. A lot of people are leaving the
communities to go outside, and those needs will have to be met. They are the
backlogs, and we will eventually have to tackle that problem.
I am a member of the Indian and Inuit Affairs Committee and I am sponsoring this
bill. We have started to do some work in that committee, particularly in terms
of the relationship between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. We
are currently looking at a lot of different issues.
I would like to hear your views on the following points. In New Brunswick,
Quebec and all across Canada, agreements have been reached with groups that you
might call cooperatives or with other groups as well. Agreements have been
signed with CMHC. In my region, Gilles Bérubé has a housing
program involving between 2,000 and 4,000 units and the need is just as great
outside the communities.
I do not think we need to get too hung up here. Having looked carefully at Bill
C-66, which amends the other act, it is my impression, unless I am mistaken,
that terms such as "Indian" are being taken out in order to remove
certain constraints. Is your perception the same as mine? Once those
constraints have been removed, I think that through negotiations and the work we
are doing in the housing sector, we will be in a position to move forward.
The circumstances of the aboriginal communities are quite special. I do not
think one can say that the situation in the communities was a problem or a
handicap. We knew that CMHC could go into the communities, but that it could
not do so through other intermediaries. I am now convinced that we will be able
to do that. There will still be some issues for aboriginals that leave the
communities, and I think that will probably have to continue to be negotiated,
but my feeling is that this legislation will remove the obstacles. At the same
time, we will obviously have to continue to negotiate. I have heard that there
are about ten different offices managing housing stock, which is a considerable
number. It is important that these programs be pursued and improved.
Will it be possible, through your organizations, to continue to manage the
housing inventory via negotiations and to make improvements in that area? I am
trying to determine whether the bill will be an obstacle in that regard. My
feeling is that it removes certain barriers that existed previously. I would
like to hear your comments in that regard.
Senator Cohen: Senator Gill has a very fine argument but it really does not have
anything to do with the bill we are discussing today. This is what will happen
after the fact but today the bill is before us to make recommendations. I just
wanted to be on the record with that.
Mr. Daniels: We are appearing here because of the uncertainty about what is
happening. I say this out of pure ignorance -- and I am not assigning blame to
anyone -- namely, that it appears to me that there has not been much discussion
on aboriginal peoples regarding these changes to the act. All I am trying to do
here is to bring this point forward; namely, that we do have the National
Aboriginal Housing Association. We know of about 120 groups in Canada that
belong to NAHA. We wonder how this will affect those agreements.
Senator Gill, I would rather see something put in place before you remove either
the constraints on the government or the constraints on us. If Senator
Chalifoux and her other colleagues have something else to put forward, then
please discuss it. This place is considered to be the house of sober second
thought. Let us then give sober second thought to this and say, "There are
some tough impacts on the aboriginal community here. We must to look them."
Many of the 800,000 people I spoke of do not have the financial means to do
Mr. Palmater: For a number of years -- because the federal government is
committed to the transfer of social housing responsibility to the provinces --
aboriginal housing organizations have been attempting to fit within the little
niche that exists. Coming from New Brunswick and working in housing, as I did
for almost 13 years prior to becoming involved in aboriginal politics, I know
the way the province and the federal government interpret agreements. By the
time a program gets to the recipients, it is sometimes totally different from
the original conception because of restrictions and circumstances not being
taken into consideration.
I am not saying that the bill is all bad. There are some good parts to it. You
could do what Senator Gill suggests, and pass this bill that allows CMHC to do
some of the things that it will have to do to become a Crown corporation
responsible for housing in the new millennium. However, the government has
devolved its responsibility for social housing. Nothing in this bill gives us,
as aboriginal people, security. Nothing in the social transfers gives us
security. We have all kinds of commitments from provincial governments saying,
"We will not hurt what you have now with the federal government."
However, not one province in this entire country has come up with a social
housing policy for off-reserve aboriginal people. Yet it is now their
There is no funding. Where do they get the funding? We have had premiers say to
us at meetings, "We want to help these people but we do not have any money
to do so. Our coffers are drained now." There is no social housing from
the national government, so we now have these social programs. Social programs,
however, do not generate enough money to create opportunities for the provincial
governments to build new units. There are no new units. They do not exist, so
how will we deal with that need of the aboriginal people? We are here as
elected representatives of the aboriginal people. The need is definitely there.
We know that.
If you remove the restrictive clauses that now inhibit CMHC, but add other
things that allow CMHC to do what this bill will allow them to do, we will
again be neglected. The restrictive clauses should be taken out. We state that
in our position; namely, that some of those changes will help CMHC to become a
better organization. They want to devolve all social housing responsibility to
the very provinces who are constantly telling us, "We do not have the
money to pick up the tab." They sweeten the pot by saying, "We will
give you a little more in this transfer." A clause in the social transfer
agreement allows each province to opt in on a favourable deal. That is to say,
if one province negotiates a better deal, then the others can opt into it. In
some provinces, the social housing transfer has done well -- for example, in
Nova Scotia. The aboriginal provider of housing in Nova Scotia has the
responsibility for all social housing, not just aboriginal. That involves over
2,000 units. We provide the management for all those units, but Nova Scotia is
the only province that does that.
There are provinces where, if aboriginal housing providers get into trouble,
CMHC places them into receivership or sends them to court to find out why there
is a problem. We put forward a proposal to CMHC in December, but someone will
be talking to me about it only next week. That is fine because they are busy,
but so am I. That is quite a long time to wait for a response. We wanted to take
a look at those housing organizations that are in trouble and try to help them,
through the aboriginal society that was set up to deal with their problems,
find a solution to them. For example, if your management skills caused CMHC to
shut you down, then we will seek training for you. There are all kinds of
opportunities, but we are not getting them.
I do not want this bill to be passed in the hopes that what Senator Chalifoux
and others in the Aboriginal Affairs Committee do will make it better. That
never works. We have 500 years of history that tell us that will not happen.
Mr. Daniels: By way of an explanation on how transfers take place, on March 22
we met in Regina with the provincial premiers. Roy Romanow chaired the meeting
and all of the premiers were there except the premier of Quebec. We spoke about
the Canada Health and Social Transfer. The provinces were given $916 a month
per person for everyone in the province. Based upon that, Saskatchewan was to
get $78 million on behalf of our people; Quebec, around $2 billion; Ontario
about $1.7 billion, and so on. I told them, "I can agree with you getting
that money if you can put your plan on the table today concerning how you will
deliver that money to all our people." However, it was too late because
they had already signed their agreement. In addition, I told them, "If each
premier can tell me how he plans to spend that "head count" money on
our people, that is fine." I sat there and not one plan was put forward. I
then said to Mr. Romanow, "Give me the $78 million, then. I am a
Saskatchewan resident. I will build the capacity. We will train the technicians
and the teachers and keep the hospitals and the schools open. We will spend the
$78 million on our people to do it." We are saying "no" to
having this money taken away from us and given to the provinces. The only person
who agreed with the concept of giving us the money on a straight transfer and
under our control was Mike Harris. He said it in the plenary session when
everyone was listening. He said, "I like that plan because I cannot do it."
Behind closed doors, after everyone was protecting a little till of $78 million
or 2 billion, Mr. Harris said, "I still like Mr. Daniel's plan the best
because I cannot do it. We do not know what his people want. Why not give them
The Chairman: That is an extremely interesting anecdote.
Mr. Daniels: Where is CMHC's plan for the aboriginal people?
The Chairman: That is a good question. Mr. Daniels, I do not know if any member
of the committee will take you up on your amendments. As you know, that can
either be done here when we go into clause-by-clause consideration of the bill,
or it can be done at the report stage -- that is, assuming the bill goes back
to the Senate -- or at third reading.
I will leave it there because I do not know if senators are ready to take your
suggestions and draft amendments and present them today, whether they want to
do so, or whether it will be done at all, and if so, when they might try it.
Meanwhile, however, the committee has an opportunity to explore some of these
matters with the officials from CMHC, who are here waiting to be heard from this
afternoon. They came here prepared to discuss the testimony that we have heard
from other witnesses on this bill. They have now heard you and they have a copy
of your brief. They will, perhaps, volunteer some comments. Whether they do or
not, senators can explore these matters with them.
On that note, I will thank you and call the officials from CMHC to the table.
Mr. Daniels: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If anyone wants to talk to us, we are
willing to answer any questions in private or away from this table. I want to
thank the Senate committee for hearing us. We appreciate it. We wish you the
best of luck in your deliberations.
The Chairman: Senators, the witnesses from the Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation are well known to you.
I understand, Mr. Rochon, you have a brief opening statement to make.
Mr. Marc Rochon, President, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Thank you
for your invitation to again discuss Bill C-66 with the committee. I would like
to respond to a number of points raised by witnesses in their statements,
particularly with respect to a level playing field in the area of mortgage
insurance and some of the effects of Bill C-66 on social housing.
Let us start by talking about mortgage insurance. Our competitor, as you know,
claims that the main purpose of the legislation is, and I quote:
...to level the playing field between CMHC and GE Capital.
However, that is incorrect, as far as we are concerned. We do admit that certain
provisions of the bill may have that effect, but that is not the primary
objective of Bill C-66.
Bill C-66 is primarily aimed at providing the Government of Canada with the
means it requires to help Canadians to obtain appropriate housing. The purpose
of this bill is not to guarantee a market share to one of the most powerful
corporations in the world. We are in favour of fair competition, and this
legislation will indeed provide for a new financial framework between our
shareholder and CMHC, a framework that will foster a more level playing field.
Nevertheless, Mr. Chairman, because the committee heard quite a bit about the
difference between the government guarantee provided to CMHC and that to GE,
the 100 per cent versus the 90 per cent guarantee, I thought you might be
interested in some additional information. You were told that GE's market share
could not continue to grow. GE told you that banks would be reluctant to commit
additional business to them because of the marginally higher capital
requirements associated with their insured loans. The evidence we have suggests
Last October, for example, the Royal Bank of Canada, the largest mortgage lender
in this country, instructed its branches to send 50 per cent of their mortgage
insurance business to GE. In May of this year, the same bank again wrote to its
branches urging them to provide more business to GE. If Royal Bank branches
follow this instruction, the result will be a significant increase in GE's
market share and a corresponding reduction in CMHC's.
Also in May this year, the Bank of Nova Scotia wrote to its branches advising
that the bank and GE had "undertaken a significant partnership in other
key business areas." The letter goes on to urge branches to utilize GE.
Rather than cutting back on doing business with GE, as the president of GE
Capital suggests, at least two major banks have taken steps in the last few
weeks to increase the business they send to GE Capital.
It would appear that other benefits that GE is able to offer clients more than
compensate for any perceived disadvantage from the government guarantee. What
are these advantages? As a large, diversified, multinational company, GE has
the ability to leverage mortgage insurance business, and I quote, "through
partnerships in other key business areas." We do not know the details of
this partnership or what the other key business areas are; but presumably, the
Bank of Nova Scotia is directing mortgage insurance business to GE in return
for business provided by some other part of the GE empire.
Mr. Chairman, let me give you another example. I have in my hand a brochure
issued last fall by GE and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce offering a
gift certificate for GE appliances to consumers whose new home mortgages are
insured by GE. Mr. Chairman, we do not make stoves and refrigerators at CMHC.
All we offer is top-notch service with no hardware attached.
CMHC does not have these kinds of cross-marketing advantages.
Also, as our minister pointed out, GE is not required to perform the public
policy functions that CMHC is required to perform, and this is the essence of
our raison d'être as a Crown corporation.
The government can require CMHC to use its profits to provide mortgage insurance
to Canadians who would otherwise be denied it in the private market. Last week,
GE said they were accepting applications from everywhere in the country, but
they did not say that they were approving applications from everywhere in the
country. We do, Mr. Chairman, and will continue to offer our services from sea
to sea to sea.
In 1995, the then president of GE Capital Mortgage Insurance said, "In
1996, we will be going after the entire Canadian market." What he really
meant was that GE would be going after the most profitable parts of the
Canadian market. It is called "cherry-picking." They did not go after
the rental market; they have not been present on reserves with First Nations;
nor did they go after innovative, affordable housing projects for low-income
Canadian, all of which, by government policy, our institution insures.
Last week, GE said that they would consider performing those non-commercial
functions, but only if subsidized by the government. Mr. Chairman, with Bill
C-66, Canadians would obtain these benefits, at no additional cost, through
CMHC. Why should our citizens have to pay more to deal with GE?
Our competitor does not require additional assistance from the Canadian
Government in order to remain competitive. It already benefits from the
inherent advantages of a multinational corporation. In actual fact, it is CMHC,
given its responsibilities with respect to the public interest, that will need
to be on its toes at all times in order to compete with this very powerful
All of these comments are intended to set the record straight, but in terms of a
guarantee, the real debate has to do with the method that should be used. Is
legislation the best way of determining what kind of support the government
should be providing to private enterprise? We do not think so. In our view, it
is better to use the current agreement between GE Capital and the Department of
Finance -- an agreement that GE Capital is apparently in the process of
negotiating with our colleagues at the Department of Finance.
I would now like to address the issue of social housing, something you have just
been discussing with Mr. Daniels.
Two key issues have been raised -- the protection of assistance to existing
social housing projects, and the ability of the new NHA to respond to housing
needs of low-income Canadians, including native Canadians, or aboriginals.
There has been understandable concern in this period of change about support for
existing projects. I think we have heard some of this concern again this
afternoon, but I state that the Government of Canada is still spending some
$1.9 billion a year on some 645,000 existing social housing units. Many
Canadians depend on this support for decent and affordable housing. This is why
the Government of Canada has confirmed many times that it will honour all its
financial commitments. Many of these units are part of non-profit and
cooperative housing projects that, in addition, have individual legal
agreements governing the provision of government assistance. These contracts
cannot and will not be changed without the agreement of both parties. Even if
the administration of these agreements is transferred to provincial
governments, or a separate administrative agency, as suggested by the
Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, residents of co-ops and non-profits
In terms of the impact of these changes on the government's ability to provide
housing assistance to low-income Canadians, I want to make one thing perfectly
clear. Any form of housing assistance currently available under the National
Housing Act will remain in place when Bill C-66 has become law. Only Bill C-66
can give the Government of Canada the flexibility it needs to design new forms
of assistance and work cooperatively with other levels of government, the
non-profit sector and the housing industry.
Bill C-66 will make the National Housing Act a far more powerful and modern tool
for helping disadvantaged Canadians find suitable housing.
Thank you for your attention. I hope that after hearing these comments, you will
be in a position to support the legislation as currently drafted.
Senator Doody: Mr. Rochon, thank you for that very spirited and commercial
presentation. I think the corporation is in the very best of hands and that we
do not need to worry too much about the competition.
Frankly, sir, I was quite impressed with your presentation, but you failed to
answer a couple of questions that have been bothering me since I first had a
look at this bill.
First, why do you object to equal treatment for the private sector? The minister
has said clearly that he favours creating a "level playing field" as
far as he can. He feels that the rules of the game should be the same for
everyone and it is up to the Department of Finance to decide whether this is
indeed practical or possible. It seems to me that since the private and public
sectors are offering the same services, they should be treated the same under
The insurance part of the bill has bothered me as well.It gives the corporation
plenty of room to manoeuvre in terms of new directions, new products, and
changing the approach to the marketplace. All of this is unspecified, but it
does give you limitless opportunities to move into new areas. My understanding
is that the private sector, the competition, does not have that opportunity
under this proposed legislation. They are allowed to follow in your direction,
provided that is approved by the governing or regulatory authorities. However,
they do not have the same impetus to go out and try new areas and develop new
products. Perhaps you could explain to us the rationale for that because, up to
now, it has escaped me.
Mr. Rochon: First, I will repeat my minister's position on the question of the
100 per cent guarantee. I do not think it is the object of this bill. It is a
discussion and a negotiation between the Department of Finance and that private
Senator Doody: Excuse me. Perhaps I have been operating on an incorrect premise.
I got the very clear impression from listening to the minister here -- and I
can check the record later on if I have to -- that he feels making the rules of
the game equal for all the players is one of the prime purposes of this bill. I
am pretty sure he said that.
Mr. Rochon: Mr. Chairman, the president of GE Capital did mention to you that
they are in negotiations with the Department of Finance. His expression was
that "the puck is not in the net yet." and I assume that those
negotiations are ongoing. That is not for us to decide.
Senator Doody: I was referring to the minister's comments.
Mr. Rochon: I did tell you, senator, that we do welcome the competition. We want
to compete on a level playing field, and it is for the government to decide how
it will manage things between itself and GE, via the Department of Finance.
By the way, we do not offer the same services as GE. We offer better services to
all Canadians, wherever they live in Canada, from sea to sea to sea.
The Chairman: What is your objection to having the same guarantee for CMHC and
its private sector competitor? It is not conceivable, is it, that the Crown
would bring CMHC down to a 90 per cent guarantee?
Mr. Rochon: Why not?
Senator Doody: Because it is a Crown corporation.
The Chairman: The Crown owns it and would have to stand behind it. Are you aware
of any Crown corporations where the Crown stands behind them less than 100 per
cent? I am not.
Mr. Rochon: On this one, I believe it is for my political masters to decide how
they intend to handle it. I do not believe that it is material to this bill at
The Chairman: I accept that, but is it your position that having the same
guarantee would impact you negatively?
Mr. Rochon: It would impact us. Whether it would be negative or positive remains
to be seen. We live with the facts as they are today, and if the rules of the
game were to change, I guess we would then be in a position to answer you.
That is purely hypothetical, and I cannot answer that.
The Chairman: But you are not expressing an objection in principle.
Mr. Rochon: No.
The Chairman: Are you not, so far as we know, advising the government against
proceeding as Mr. Gagliano suggested they might?
Mr. Rochon: We provided advice to Mr. Gagliano before he appeared before you,
Mr. Chairman. He made the statements he made, and we will live by them.
Senator Doody: Can I get an answer to the second part of my question about new
Ms Karen A. Kinsley, Vice-President, Strategy, Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation: The issue that GE articulated is that they are limited, in their
view, to providing new products on the marketplace with the government
guarantee. Nothing prohibits a private sector company from innovating and
bringing products to the marketplace. Their concern is that they cannot do it
with the government guarantee. The question before us is, should the government
be supporting everything that GE may want to do in the marketplace, or should
it be, in the context of fair competition, only supporting those things that
CMHC is mandated to do?
To date, the government has suggested the latter. We appreciate that GE may not
like that and that they would like a government guarantee for everything they
do, but I am not sure that is a reasonable proposition, since there are risks
to the government in the event that those products fail.
Senator Doody: Once again, I must have misheard or misread the testimony. My
understanding of the testimony I heard was that a private company was asking
for the same rights, privileges and opportunities to develop new products that
are given to the corporation. I do not think they asked -- at least, they did
not say so specifically, to my knowledge -- that everything they did be given
the government guarantee no matter what it might be. That would be outlandish.
Even the most optimistic business person would not expect the government to be
that foolish. Surely we have not developed to that stage. My impression was
that they expected the same rules and the same opportunities that the Crown
Ms Kinsley: They have all the ability to do all the things that CMHC can do in
the marketplace today.
Senator Doody: Under this proposed legislation?
Ms Kinsley: Under the existing legislation, as well as this bill.
Senator Poy: Mr. Rochon, in your presentation, you addressed the problem of
social housing and the new forms of housing assistance. The new bill will give
the government a lot of room in which to work in that respect. Could you
address the issues that have been raised by Mr. Daniels?
Mr. Rochon: Yes, I believe we can provide you with some answers. I will ask my
colleague, Mr. Stewart, to take this on.
Mr. Douglas A. Stewart, Vice-President, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation:
Mr. Daniels covered a lot of ground. I have not had a chance to go through all
of this, so I will speak to some of the main points. I will ask my colleagues,
Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Asselin, to jump in to supplement my comments.
The key thing I would like to point out is the difference between government
policy and legislation. Much of what Mr. Daniels talked about related to
questions of policy. There were questions about how much money is going into
social housing programs for aboriginal peoples, for example.
Mr. Daniels and the government may disagree on policy matters -- and there are a
number of healthy disagreements -- however, I think that they should agree on
the effect of this bill. The effect of this bill is to make available to the
government, a far more powerful tool for providing housing assistance to people
anywhere in Canada who need it. This bill will ensure that we can do everything
we do today more efficiently and do more of it.
One of the key aspects of this bill is to remove some of the restrictions placed
on CMHC with respect to partnerships. That will allow us to work with many more
types of organizations than before, including aboriginal organizations.
The CMHC has a proud record of working with aboriginal organizations in the
past. I thank Mr. Palmater for his comments about the Nova Scotia arrangement
-- I think André Asselin has first-hand knowledge of those arrangements
-- and those working relationships will only be enhanced by this proposed
Most social housing arrangements in Canada are subject to agreements between the
federal government and the organization delivering that housing.
I want to make this absolutely clear. This bill will in no way impact those
agreements. Those agreements are in place and have primacy. Nothing in this
bill will impact the existing agreements that govern the provision of social
housing to individual groups in Canada.
With respect to the devolution of social housing to the provinces, I have
circulated clause 22 of that agreement. If you look at that clause, you will
see that there is an ironclad requirement that the provinces honour those
agreements, even after they have signed the devolution agreement with the
federal government and begin to administer those projects on our behalf.
Senator Poy: You mentioned that the government will honour the existing
agreements, but Mr. Daniels is worried about the future. What happens in the
future if it is not written into this bill? Where will they go from here?
Mr. Stewart: These long-term agreements will exist well into the future. The
government will honour the commitments made in those agreements until they
expire. Those agreements are in place for many years to come, and they will be
Mr. André Asselin, Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Marketing
Division, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: It is important to realize
that most of these agreements have been struck for 35 years and that the
federal government is committed to continuing assistance under those
agreements. It is important to note that much of the assistance provided to the
provinces, not just to the urban native groups, has been provided under those
very same agreements. If there were something nefarious in this bill and the
changes to section 95, the provinces would have some concern about our ability
to take assistance away from them. There are no such concerns anywhere on the
record. It is important to stress that point. There is absolutely nothing in
this agreement that could be negative for First Nations.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I know that you are not the one who drafted this
legislation, but I imagine you were consulted. Were the aboriginal communities
consulted about this? There seems to be quite a discrepancy between what the
bill says and the representations being made by the aboriginal communities
about the bill.
I refer here to page 6 of Mr. Daniels' brief, and I quote:
In "Gathering Strength," the federal government promised to build a
new relationship with the aboriginal people of Canada.
He is asking to be represented on the board of directors. Is that something you
see as feasible and desirable?
Mr. Rochon: Yes, it both feasible and desirable.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: And who will make the final decision?
Mr. Rochon: Whoever appoints the members of the board of directors -- in other
words, our shareholder, the Government of Canada.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: On that issue, were the aboriginal communities consulted?
Mr. Rochon: Throughout the negotiations with the provinces, there were regular
meetings between my minister and various aboriginal groups. There have always
been regular meetings between my minister and various aboriginal groups.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Then how do you explain the fact that there is such a gap
between what the bill says and what the aboriginal communities are seeking?
Mr. Rochon: I believe this legislation will meet the needs of aboriginal
communities to a far greater extent than does the current act. It is a question
of how you interpret the scope of the amendments. I guess there is a need for
education in that regard.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: It seems to me that your positions are so completely
opposite on important issues that one wonders whether the representations of
the aboriginal communities were not completely ignored -- those are my own
words -- when this bill was being drafted. Did they have an opportunity to make
Mr. Rochon: Yes, they had an opportunity to do so at the House of Commons. They
decided to give you the privilege of hearing their presentation this afternoon.
Senator Butts: I want to follow up on Senator Lavoie-Roux's statement and ask a
specific question. A representative of the Bank of Montreal told us about the
nine-person board, seven of whom were aboriginals, that had a say in all the
things we are talking about. What is the relationship of Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation with that board?
Mr. Stewart: There is no formal relationship between the Bank of Montreal and
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with respect to the aboriginal housing
banking program. That is strictly a private sector initiative and it is a
private sector board.
Senator Butts: That board presumably could have appeared before this committee
Mr. Stewart: Yes.
Senator Robichaud: In response to Senator Lavoie-Roux, you said there were
consultations with aboriginal communities. We apparently are being told that
some groups were not consulted. In your consultations with the provinces, were
certain groups more regionally-based than nationally-based?
Mr. Rochon: Briefing sessions were provided to all groups that are our
traditional clients and those who took advantage of them said they were
satisfied. I presume the others had some knowledge of the draft legislation and
the assurance that it would meet their requirements. My colleague, Mr. Stewart,
has just informed me that he did consult national aboriginal associations.
Senator Robichaud: So, there were consultations?
Mr. Rochon: Yes.
Senator Chalifoux: I thank you for your interesting presentation, even though I
do have some concerns about it. This bill affects the relationship with all
aboriginal people, whether on reserve or off reserve, because off-reserve
treaties would still qualify. CMHC has the most impact on aboriginal people of
any federal department outside of DIAND, and for off-reserve people, it has the
I have been involved in aboriginal housing for about 20 years. At one time, 40
per cent of federal funding for off-reserve housing came from CMHC. Considering
this great impact, what was the outcome of aboriginal consultation on this
Mr. Stewart: I think we are starting to get into questions of policy.
Senator Chalifoux: No, I do not think so. This is consultation, not policy. I am
asking about consultation on this bill. How many aboriginal organizations were
consulted and how many organizations appeared before you when you were working
on this bill?
Mr. Stewart: When drafting the bill, we offered briefings, as Mr. Rochon said,
to all the groups with which we have traditionally dealt. I personally made a
presentation to the housing committee of the AFN. We went through the bill in
detail and government funding for aboriginal housing programs was one of the
items we talked about quite a bit. In the end, it was accepted that this was not
so much an issue of legislation but of what the government would do with the
Senator Chalifoux: How will this bill affect section 95 of the National Housing
Mr. Stewart: This bill will make section 95 even more powerful than it is today.
It will allow us greater freedom to respond to the needs of low-income
Senator Chalifoux: You are talking about low-income Canadians. It is interesting
that two-thirds of all Canadians own their own homes. We are one of the best
housed people in the world. Yet less than 5 per cent of aboriginal Canadians
own their own homes. Where is the benefit for aboriginal people in Bill C-66?
Mr. Stewart: One benefit is that we will have greater freedom to introduce new
mortgage insurance products. We will have greater opportunity to offer those
mortgage insurance products on reserve. We will have greater ability, if the
government wishes, to encourage home ownership in more traditional ways.
Senator Chalifoux: I am very familiar with Métis urban housing in
Alberta, as I worked on that many years ago. At that time, we wanted to be able
to offer our tenants the opportunity to buy their homes. We were told that if
we did that, we could not replace the existing low rental homes.
Will this bill assist tenants to buy their own homes and still retain part of
the housing portfolio for low rental?
Mr. Stewart: I will defer to Mr. Brodksy for the exact legal response, but the
thrust of the bill is to remove many of the legislative restrictions that may
have prevented us from doing those types of things in the past. In general, the
bill will give us far greater ability to introduce these innovative programs
without influencing the existing situation.
Senator Chalifoux: The existing housing associations would have to negotiate new
agreements for buying housing for the working poor and that sort of thing. How
does CMHC feel about entering into new agreements? You have talked about old
agreements. I am talking about new agreements.
Mr. Stewart: The government's policy is to transfer the administration of those
agreements to the provinces.
Senator Chalifoux: That is bad.
Mr. Stewart: The negotiation would be between the group and the province if they
wanted to change the agreement.
Senator Chalifoux: That is not good news for the aboriginal peoples in this
country. Treaty Indians are under federal jurisdiction. The Métis are in
limbo. Some are under federal jurisdiction and some are under provincial
jurisdiction. It is a sad situation because it seems to me that you are
abdicating your responsibility, especially to the treaty Indians in this
Senator LeBreton: It will not surprise Mr. Rochon that I have a question about
how the new board of directors will be selected.
First, your presentation was, typically, excellent. You spoke about your
competitors in the private sector. I do not believe you were suggesting, Mr.
Rochon, that the private sector competitors are not free to use innovative
ideas to pursue the market within the bounds of the licence? You were not
suggesting that they somehow have an advantage over CMHC by having access to
I believe you said, in response to one of my colleagues, that you did not fear
the competition in any event, that you would just have to deal with it. The
minister stated, in his testimony, that he personally had no problem with it.
He threw the ball into the court of the officials of the Department of Finance.
I should like you to clarify that.
Mr. Rochon: I do wish that I had a little factory to produce stoves and fridges
to give away to incite people to come to us. That is part of the marketplace.
That is the way it works, and culturally, we will have to adapt to that because
we are a 51-year-old institution and this is a new challenge for us.
That being said, my minister's words are my words. We believe that the
Department of Finance will resolve its differences, if any, with GE and that is
the way it is. In no way will we shy away from the competition, and in no way
will we prevent GE from innovating if it feels that it wants to do so.
Senator LeBreton: Or any other private sector competitor, which is entirely
Mr. Rochon: Our objective is to lead them, not to follow them.
Senator LeBreton: Thank you for that.
This is an unfair question, perhaps, because Mr. Rochon and I used to share
responsibilities in another time. Nevertheless, we talked about the changes to
the makeup of the board of directors, and on page 19 of the bill, clause 25(1),
6(1), it states that, "The Board of Directors shall consist of the
Chairman, the President and eight other members."
In the explanation, we discussed the change that would remove "two public
servants" and draw from the private sector. It seemed to make great sense,
since Canada Mortgage and Housing is a stand-alone Crown corporation competing
in the private sector. I had the advantage of getting out some old documents
that I have. Why, then, in this bill, did they leave in the subsection that
states "The board, with the approval of the Governor in Council, shall
appoint three vice-presidents and fix their salaries"? Perhaps this is an
unfair question, but is that really necessary if we are taking public servants
off the board? We already have the instructions regarding the chairman, the
president, and eight other members, but are there people filling these three
vice-president positions at the present time?
Mr. Rochon: No.
Senator LeBreton: Does it make sense to leave that in there? -- not that I am
suggesting that this is something that we could not do, perhaps, when we are
cleaning this up at a later date. Does it make sense to leave that in there?
Would it not be something that you, the chairman, the president, and the board
would decide for yourselves rather than having it under Order in Council? -- not
that I would ever have tried to remove some of my own responsibility in a past
life. However, it is a rather redundant section to have in the bill. Perhaps
one of your people, or you, can answer if you can.
Mr. Rochon: The shareholder, the government, considered this question and
decided that the status quo would prevail in terms of those positions. However,
the government has not exercised its appointing authority for those positions
over the last four years.
Senator LeBreton: That does not mean that they will not in the future.
Mr. Rochon: The government may, in the future, decide to exercise its appointing
Senator LeBreton: Is that not unfair to the management of the CMHC? We all know
what it is like to be searching around for people and you have three people
appointed to Canada Mortgage and Housing by Order in Council. Obviously, you
are competing. You have your own business plan. Does this not cause difficulty
for the president and management of Canada Mortgage and Housing to have them
sitting there, even though they are not filled at the present time?
Mr. Rochon: Since the government has not exercised that prerogative, we do not
know if it will cause us difficulties or not. We are very resilient. I am sure
that if the shareholder requires additional staff on our payroll, we will
accommodate our shareholder.
Senator LeBreton: For the record, these three positions -- and this is my
personal view -- could have been left out of this act when we were redoing it.
It was not necessary to have that in the act.
Senator Watt: I will try to describe the way I understand the bill first, and
then I will ask some questions.
The bill will allow CMHC to expand its capacity to work with the First Nations
and to consider commercial ventures that would assist First Nations. It then
goes on to say that CMHC will continue to provide financial assistance to
existing commitments made to housing projects on reserve at an annual cost of
approximately $160 million. It states that it will also fund new commitments at
the rate of approximately 1,000 units per year, as well as provide $8 million
per year through a residential rehabilitation assistance program. Is that
Mr. Rochon: I presume so, yes.
Senator Watt: It then states that the Indian and Indian band still remain fully
covered by Bill C-66. I believe that is the case; is that correct?
The Chairman: What are you reading from there?
Senator Watt: I am reading from the government's response to Senator Chalifoux.
My point is that in this bill -- they kept talking about Indian band and Indian
people -- there is no reference whatsoever to either the Métis or the
Indian. Clearly, there is an advantage for the Inuit and the Métis when
you are moving away from social housing to a commercial-venture type of
situation. However, that has always been missing within our society.
Getting back to the social housing issue, this particular bill worries both the
Métis and the Inuit. There seems to be a departure from the social
commitment that the Government of Canada has made. If the agreements are to be
honoured, as your colleague says, why do we not explicitly mention them in this
proposed legislation so that the worry within our aboriginal people will not
result in a confrontation. Confrontations are very costly.
Mr. Stewart: I should like to comment on the references to aboriginal groups in
the bill. In the existing NHA, there are references to Indians and to Indian
bands. The act, as amended by Bill C-66, would remove all of those references
so that there would be none at all. We took those references out to ensure that
there were no provisions of the bill that would restrict us. Sometimes in the
past, when trying to do something with a group, the questions became: Was this
an Indian band? Could we do this? We took all those references out so that now
the entire bill is available for use for all Canadians, no matter who they are.
Mr. Brodsky: There is explicit provision in the bill that preserves the status
of existing project operating agreements under their existing regime. Clause 38
of the bill is a transitional provision that ensures that existing provisions
continue to apply. This prevents anyone from violating existing agreements.
This was one of the points Mr. Daniels raised. The answer is already contained
in the bill provision to protect existing agreements. That is the clause.
Senator Watt: That leads me to raise another question. If that is the case, why
have we been having a constant problem negotiating with the Department of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Government of Canada regarding
Mr. Rochon: We cannot answer for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
Senator Cools: My question is unrelated to everything that has been said before.
It is in respect of clause 11. (1) of the bill on page 13, under the heading "HOUSING
RESEARCH, COMMUNITY PLANNING AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT." This section
permits you to:
(j) carry out research and planning and provide services and information that
relate to the financing of housing, housing affordability and choice, living
environments or community planning, or that are intended to contribute to the
well-being of the housing sector of the national economy.
Therefore, there is an international dimension to the bill.
What does that clause mean and why is it required?
Mr. Brodsky: This part of the bill is intended to support the policy directive
that is introduced by the new clause 3 of the bill for CMHC's mandate in the
area of housing finance to pursue affordability, competition, and the other
This will make it clear that CMHC does have a research mandate in these areas:
financing of housing, housing affordability of choice, community planning, and
generally to contribute to the wellbeing of the housing sector in the national
economy. This provision complements the generally stated mandate in the
proposed new section 3 of the act.
Senator Cools: I understand that; I just do not understand the international
The Chairman: This has been much discussed by the minister and others.
Senator Cools: I am curious as to what a Canadian Crown corporation does
internationally in the promotion of housing.
Mr. Stewart: When the government reviewed our mandate in 1996, in response to
industry requests, we were asked to help the Canadian housing industry to sell
its products and services abroad, and we have taken on that role.
One of the key tools for helping the housing industry to sell its products and
services abroad is information. These provisions of the bill will allow us to
do research and create information that will permit builders, product
producers, architects, developers, and anyone else involved in the housing
industry, to obtain better information in order to enter foreign housing
The Chairman: I thank the officials for appearing again. We have thoroughly
canvassed the issues in the bill, and even some issues wider than the bill.
Thank you very much.
Colleagues, this is our third meeting on this bill and there are no further
witnesses to be heard. It is on the agenda that we will proceed to
clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
I can take you through this bill clause by clause, as is the normal procedure.
There are other options, however. If any senator wishes to propose an
amendment, with leave, I could go immediately to the clause that you wish to
amend. If there are no amendments to propose, with leave, the Chair could
entertain a motion to report the bill without amendment. I am in your hands.
Senator Doody: Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment on the part of the bill
that interested me most in the beginning, although the social housing part is
becoming more and more interesting.
I was inclined, in the beginning, to offer several amendments on the social
provisions of the bill, but I do not sense any enthusiasm for amendments from
the committee as a whole. The minister said clearly that his prime objective in
the bill was to create a level playing field for the industry as a whole. I
understand that discussions are ongoing with the Department of Finance that show
signs of being productive.
Instead of going down the route of clause-by-clause study with amendments that
will probably not clear the committee or the Senate anyway, I suggest that we
ask our staff to prepare wording to the effect that these things have been
brought to our attention and are worthy of consideration, and that we commend
the minister for his sympathy with the problems that have been expressed. We
should try to get on with the positive parts of this bill while stressing the
perceived problems of the aboriginal people and the social housing as well as
the business matters; the opportunity for the entire industry to take advantage
of the marketplace on an equal footing.
That is how I would like us to proceed, but of course it is up to the committee.
The Chairman: Senators know that there are plenty of precedents for a committee
reporting a bill without amendment to attach a narrative in which certain
observations and/or recommendations are made. I believe that is what Senator
Doody is suggesting with regard to mortgage insurance.
Senator Doody: Yes.
The Chairman: What about some of the things we heard this afternoon?
Senator Doody: I think that could be addressed as well. There were some very
serious and sincere concerns expressed that may or may not be covered by this
bill. The officials indicated that the concerns of the aboriginals were not
valid. We may point out that there are concerns and ask for responses. However,
I do not think we should try to amend the bill at this time. We do not have the
research facilities to do that sort of thing anyway.
Senator Cools: I would like to support the concept of attaching a commentary to
the report on the bill that would reflect many of the concerns that were heard
I have been doing some reading on the clause-by-clause study of bills. A habit
is creeping into the Senate of not adopting bills in committee. I urge that the
bill be adopted without amendment prior to us voting to report the bill without
amendment. I understand that many senators may not want to be bothered to vote
clause by clause, but we can vote on clusters of clauses.
The Chairman: I agree with you, senator, and with leave, I will so proceed.
Senator Cools: I support Senator Doody's wish to attach a commentary.
Senator Gill: I agree with that.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I do not know if it can be done the way Senator Doody
wishes. One amendment was recommended on page 8 of the brief. It appears to me
to be very legitimate to have one of the eight directors be an aboriginal. We
should at least have this amendment. It should be added to the bill somewhere.
Senator Doody: Can we add it as a recommendation?
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Yes, as a recommendation.
The Chairman: We can add anything as a recommendation, provided we have
Is that satisfactory to the committee?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: It is an observation or a recommendation.
Senator Cohen: I agree with Senator Doody and everyone else. We should make a
strong statement about social housing and homelessness in Canada, zeroing in on
what we heard from the aboriginal community. There is certainly not enough
being done, even with the units they are building. I would end with the example
of the Province of Nova Scotia. They have been successful, so obviously it can
The Chairman: Senator Butts, do have you any objection to using Nova Scotia as a
Senator Butts: No.
The Chairman: The devil is in the details. Our friend from the parliamentary
library is our draftsman and he has heard the testimony. He can draft a brief
narrative along the lines we have discussed, but I will have to find a way to
circulate it among senators tomorrow morning, assuming I report the bill
tomorrow afternoon. Is that satisfactory?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Let us be very clear about how this is to work, colleagues. I do
not want any misunderstandings tomorrow afternoon.
As soon as we can tomorrow morning, the clerk and I will send all members of the
committee an e-mail. If I hear from you, we will discuss what needs to be
discussed. If I do not hear from you, I will go ahead with the narrative.
Is that understood?
Senator Cools: Mr. Chairman, we will say that we are reporting the bill with the
following observations. It must be clear that there are observations.
The Chairman: I will come to how we will report the bill.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: They could be observations and recommendations.
Senator LeBreton: Do we have time to put in observations now, or should we wait
until we go through the bill clause by clause?
The Chairman: Senator Doody is suggesting that there would not be any
amendments. He suggests that the observations on mortgage insurance and social
housing, as well as the issue of the board of directors, could be part of the
narrative that will be presented with the bill.
If members of the committee agree with that and with the process I have
suggested, then I will move to entertain a motion that we dispense with
clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
Senator LeBreton: For clarification, I would like to include an observation
about the necessity for three vice-presidents. This is an age of efficiency and
the bottom line. Since these positions are not filled, I would like to see an
observation stating that this section is not necessary. Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation seems to operate without them. Could I make that observation
The Chairman: You are not trying to amend the bill. You want to make an
observation, and there are two ways of handling this. One way is to state that,
"Some members of the committee felt that..." If your observation has
general agreement, we can say, "The committee feels that..."
What is your point again, senator?
Senator LeBreton: One of the clauses in the bill states that the board, with the
approval of the Governor in Council, shall appoint three vice-presidents and
fix their salaries. As the witnesses testified, these positions have not been
filled for some time and may not be filled. Why are these positions there when,
in the name of efficiency, they are not required? Why not remove them from the
books to prevent the possibility of abuse? Let us not kid ourselves. There could
be abuse. Governments come and go.
The Chairman: Your point is that the Governor in Council has had this power for
some considerable time.
Senator LeBreton: They are not using it now, but there is no guarantee they will
not use it in the future. If I were the management of Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation, I do not know if I would be thrilled to have people who
might not even have the necessary expertise moved into the organization. From
the testimony we have heard, it appears that the government has not filled these
three positions. They obviously see no need. Why not remove the temptation for
any government in the future to use these three positions? There are also
associated costs above and beyond the salaries of three vice-presidents of a
Crown corporation, such as offices and secretarial help. This is not needed.
Obviously we have a well-run Crown corporation. Why would we leave this hanging
there? If we were running a government agency, we would not want the phone to
ring and hear someone say, "By the way, three people are coming to your
office tomorrow morning and they will be vice-presidents." I hope I am
supported by my colleagues in that. I agree with Senator Doody.
Furthermore, I am asking for checks and balances. If we see this abuse in the
future, we will have it on the record that we did not approve when this matter
was before this committee.
Senator Gill: In fact, if I understand correctly, we will be passing Bill C-66
without amendment. We will be including some observations, however, to be
drafted according to instructions. If we want them to be general observations,
they will have to have the approval of the majority of committee members, even
though this is secondary to the legislation. However, I think it is important
that we be specific. If those observations only have the approval of certain
senators, I would suggest that we state that.
The Chairman: That is precisely the question I was going to put to the
committee. You heard Senator LeBreton's comments. In your view, is this a
general observation supported by the entire committee or only certain senators?
Are some senators in agreement with this one?
Senator Robichaud: Some.
Senator Poy: Some.
Senator Robichaud: If we say we want to report the bill without amendment, we
should not be trying to slip in some disguised amendments.
Senator Doody: Call it "observations and recommendations."
The Chairman: If senators have second thoughts about amendments, I can always
provide them at report stage, or third reading and so on.
Senator Cools: When I was making my suggestions about recording observations, I
took it as given that the observations reflected in the report would find
consensus among all of us. Whereas I am prepared to support observations that
meet the agreement of all of us, I am not prepared to support observations that
only some members of the committee have. I thought we were speaking in general
to the concerns of social housing and the aboriginals -- that is, the wider
concerns that we can all agree upon.
In addition, I think that the concern that Senator LeBreton is raising is a
valid one; however, I think you can deal with it equally effectively during
debate at third reading.
Senator Doody: That problem has been faced in committee before and it is usually
dealt with by saying, "As well, some honourable senators expressed concern
with clause `X,' et cetera, and felt that it was redundant or unnecessary."
The Chairman: There is no procedural difficulty.
Senator Cools: A few weeks ago, on the floor of the chamber, a question was
raised on this very point. I believe it was raised by Senator Lynch-Staunton or
Senator Kinsella. The speaker at the time said whatever he had to say. In any
event, the issue here is that there is wide support for bringing forward some
clearly articulated observations to communicate to the government that we did
not think that all was well. To this extent, we should stay with consensus. If
we do not want it, that is fine.
The Chairman: I appreciate that.
Senator Cools: That is okay with me.
The Chairman: What Senator LeBreton, and others, are suggesting is felt by some
senators to be vastly preferable to importing this U.S. custom of a minority
report. We do not want to do that.
Senator Cools: No, we do not want to do that. However, if we continue on this
path, I will reconsider my support for including observations.
Senator LeBreton: Perhaps I am trying to save some poor devil in the future from
getting a phone call and saying, "I want that recognition." I support
having a narrative because we have worked hard in this committee and given a
lot of attention to this bill. We have had witnesses and heard arguments from
both sides. For us to report the bill without amendment and not include a
narrative to at least articulate certain points is wrong. People ask, "What
do you do?" We have just spent hours and hours in this committee and a
narrative would help answer that question.
Senator Doody: I think we have all agreed on a narrative.
Senator LeBreton: Senator Cools was suggesting that perhaps she would withdraw
Senator Cools: When I stated that I was supporting Senator Doody's request for a
narrative with some observations, I said that implicit in my suggestion was
that those observations would meet with the agreement of all of us.
Senator Doody: Even if some senators do not agree, the narrative could be
expressed as a majority opinion or the opinion of most senators, or some, or
many, or whatever. You will never achieve unanimity on everything.
Senator Cools: How will you arrive at a consensus as to what the narrative will
The Chairman: The genius of this will be in the drafting and the e-mail will be
sent to you tomorrow morning, if that is satisfactory.
Honourable senators, with leave, it is moved by Senator Butts that the committee
dispense with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-66.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Senator Cools: No. I am not prepared to dispense with clause-by-clause
consideration. I am prepared to vote on clauses in large clusters, even if one
vote would comprise every single clause of the bill. One cannot dispense with
clause-by-clause consideration of a bill.
The Chairman: I will accept that. Let me have a motion, then, that the title,
the short title, and clauses 1 to 43 inclusive, be adopted by the committee.
Senator Butts: I so move.
The Chairman: Carried.
I now need another motion.
It is moved by Senator Cools that Bill C-66 be reported to the Senate without
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Carried.
Senator Cools: As long as we pronounce on the report, that is fine.
The Chairman: It is agreed that a narrative will be presented at the same time
as the bill, the draft text of which will be circulated to your offices by
e-mail. In the case of Senator Cools, it will go out by fax tomorrow morning.
If I do not hear from you, I will assume that you have approved the draft text.
Thank you all.
We now must deal with Bill C-64. These are famous last words, but Bill C-64 is a
non-contentious bill. I would ask the officials from the Department of Canadian
Heritage to come to the table, please.
Bill C-64, An Act to establish an indemnification program for travelling
exhibitions, was given second reading in the chamber last week. It was
sponsored by our colleague, Senator Poy. I believe you have copies of a letter
from Matthew Teitelbaum of the Art Gallery of Ontario expressing their support
for this bill.
I had a telephone call today from Richard Darrack, from the Canadian Museums
Association, who wanted to express their strong support for the bill, how much
they appreciate the efforts that have been made by all political parties, their
interest in this bill, and the obvious interest of the Senate in seeing the
bill move forward. They are hoping for speedy passage, as they regard the bill
as an important step forward.
If that is not enough for you, we have some officials from the Department of
Canadian Heritage here.
May I ask for an opening statement from Ms Sarkar.
Ms Eileen Sarkar, Assistant Deputy Minister, Arts and Heritage, Department of
Canadian Heritage: Mr. Chairman, my opening statement covers the basic elements
of the bill and the approach we are taking to it.
The first point that we generally make when explaining this bill to people who
do not spend their lives in insurance indemnification matters is that
indemnification is not insurance. It is where the state itself assumes the
financial risk instead of paying out insurance premiums.
The federal government did have quite a fine insurance program between 1985 and
1995. It paid out about $6 million over that period through a cost-shared
program and facilitated a lot of travelling exhibitions in Canada. What has
happened is, the demand has outweighed the capacity to keep paying out
Under the indemnification, we would only provide compensation for damages or
losses. That would be the only money that would actually flow out of the
government coffers. Therefore, we would have to ensure that those who are
accepted into the program meet strict criteria.
There are 14 industrialized countries that have indemnification programs -- and
I will not cite them -- that are similar to the elements that we have put
together for the Canadian program. There have been no, or at least very few,
claims in any of those countries. As an example, in the U.S., where an
indemnification program has been in existence for 24 years, they have paid out a
total in two claims of $102,000. People who put together exhibitions are, by
nature, quite conservative and careful people.
The objectives of this program are as follows: to improve access to our
heritage; provide for more interprovincial travelling exhibitions; facilitate
the hosting of major exhibitions -- here we are talking mainly about
exhibitions from abroad or those with fairly significant economic spinoffs --
and to reduce costs while minimizing risk.
The Canadian museums are major supporters of this bill and have been lobbying
for it for about a decade. What they will get from it is, either they will pay
no insurance premiums or reduced premiums. In cases where they would pay no
premiums, it would be because their in-house insurance on their collections
would cover the deductible that will be built into our coverage.
I will give you one example that you might find rather striking. In the
mid-1990s, there was a Group of Seven exhibition mounted by the National
Gallery. It started in Ottawa and travelled to Toronto, Vancouver, and
Montreal. The cost to insure it while it travelled was $80,000. We have
estimated that if the indemnification program had been in place at that time,
the cost of insurance would have been $5,000 because they would only have had
to pay the deductible.
We expect that they will redirect the moneys that they save into all the other
museum activities that are so important to them, including mounting
exhibitions. They will also be, and they have told us this clearly, in a
competitive position when they go to negotiate with foreign countries for
bringing exhibitions to Canada. Many of these countries really appreciate
having the government backing.
In terms of program eligibility, for international exhibitions, only one venue
would be required. In other words, the exhibition could be presented in only
one museum in a single province. However, domestic exhibitions must travel to
at least two provinces in order to foster exchanges among Canadians. There will
be stringent eligibility criteria in a number of areas, including security,
environmental control and artefact handling -- for obvious reasons, namely to
reduce risks. Finally, we will have access to the advice of risk management
experts in selecting candidates for the program.
I mentioned before a deductible, which will be built in. It is the principle of
shared risk. We are saying here that for the small claims, which cover what we
call the "nuisance" claims, the bumps and dents when exhibitions are
moved around, the museums would take out insurance or use their in-house
insurance to cover that. It is really cost effective because, otherwise, you
would have a bunch of bureaucrats spending very labour-intensive time dealing
with small claims. Insurance companies do that better.
We believe this is a partnership between the government and the institutions. It
is also what is done in all of the other countries that have indemnification
My point is the economic impact and benefit, both to the host institution and to
the province, region, and municipality, in terms of jobs and tax revenues. For
example, when the Art Gallery of Ontario mounted the Barnes exhibition from
September 1994 to January 1995, there was net economic activity of $137 million
in goods and services in the greater Toronto area. More than 2,000 jobs were
created. In total, $42 million in federal, provincial, and municipal taxes was
raised. We have comparable figures for the Renoir exhibition.
Senators, that completes the presentation. We would be happy to answer any
The Chairman: What happened to the program that you referred to that existed
between 1985 and 1995?
Ms Sarkar: Basically, it disappeared during the program review exercise, along
with a number of other programs.
The Chairman: How was it sanctioned? Was there a bill such as this, an act of
Ms Sarkar: No. It was a spending program.
Mr. David Walden, Director, Moveable Cultural Property, Department of Canadian
Heritage: It was a straight program of the department for which there was no
legislative authority of any sort. It was established to purchase insurance on
a cost-shared basis.
The Chairman: By bringing in legislation, you want to be sure that the program
does not fall victim to some cost-cutters in the future, is that it?
Ms Sarkar: I also think that if the government is assuming a $1.5 billion risk,
one would want legislative authority for that, as exists in other countries.
The Chairman: If I heard you correctly, you said that the program in place
between 1985 and 1995 had paid out about $5 million or $6 million. Was that
paid out in small dribs and drabs, or were there one or two large payments?
What were they?
Mr. Walden: That was the total cost of the insurance purchased over that 10-year
period. It was purchased on a cost-shared basis with the institutions. The
total purchase price was approximately $6 million.
The Chairman: It was not a case where there were large expenditures and some
loss or damage involved, was it?
Mr. Walden: Total claims paid was under $600,000, but that was what the
insurance industry calls "dollar one insurance." In other words,
there was no deductible in those cases. The majority of the claims were for
very small amounts, some as low as $150.
Senator LeBreton: What you are doing is saving money on an insurance policy that
you did not really require. By following the procedure set out in the bill,
there will be quite a cost saving from year to year as opposed to paying an
insurance premium and not making any claims. Is that right?
Ms Sarkar: Yes. No money goes out of the federal government coffers unless there
is a claim and the small claims would be covered by the deductible. Given the
demand today and the mounting of more major exhibitions, I think if we were
still in a cost-shared insurance program, the demands would be higher.
Senator Butts: In your presentation it states, "international exhibitions,
one venue." Who decides where that is going to be? I am presuming "venue"
is where it shows. Is that decided by the exhibitor or by whom?
Ms Sarkar: I may defer to my colleague, who knows a lot more about this than I
do, but my understanding is that we would receive an application from a museum,
such as the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Musée des beaux-arts in
Montreal, that would have negotiated with another museum -- the Louvre or a
museum in London -- to bring an exhibition to Canada. If that organization
satisfied our strict criteria designed to ensure the collection would be well
handled and well presented, then we would approve a choice or decision made by
one of our clients.
Senator Butts: That is what is covered in your eligibility criteria then?
Ms Sarkar: Yes.
Senator Butts: On the domestic ones where two provinces are involved, who
decides which two provinces?
Mr. Walden: Again, the program will respond to requests for indemnification
after the institutions -- the museums, archives and libraries -- have organized
the exhibition and have determined the tour schedule. It will be the organizers
of the exhibition. What routinely happens is that one institution will organize
an exhibition and then offer it to other institutions across the country that
have similar collections or a population that would be interested in that
Senator Butts: So you have no ability anywhere in this to ensure that smaller
provinces or poorer provinces would have a better chance of getting these
exhibits than they have today?
Mr. Walden: We did a survey of exhibitions that were insured under the previous
insurance program and exhibitions which are anticipated from now until 2002,
and institutions in every province are capable of hosting exhibitions that
would be eligible under this program.
Senator Butts: The province could apply to have it?
Mr. Walden: It would be the host institution within the province.
The Chairman: The House of Commons committee that studied this bill recommended,
if I recall correctly, that there be a review of the legislation after five
years. What was that about?
Mr. Jeff Richstone, Legal Counsel, Department of Canadian Heritage: Yes,
senator, there was a decision by the committee to insert a review clause. This
is a common type of clause, as you will see, in a number of statutes. We
currently have over 50 statutes on the books that have these kinds of clauses.
The Chairman: I see. They actually inserted the clause.
Mr. Richstone: Yes. It appears as clause 5.1, and it was to enable Parliament,
after that period of time, to have an overall review of the legislation, how it
is working, and to make recommendations and hear such evidence as it deemed
The Chairman: Here we go again. I am not quarrelling with you, but just for the
information of government members, the clause now reads:
The administration of this Act shall, five years after the coming into force of
this Act, be reviewed by the parliamentary committee that may be designated or
established by Parliament for that purpose.
However, the little explanatory note in the margin says:
Review of Act by House of Commons.
I do not know whether these explanatory notes are part of the proposed
Mr. Richstone: They are not.
The Chairman: Perhaps we should insert, "Review of Act by Senate."
Mr. Richstone: Mr. Chairman, if I may, there was a procedural history to this.
It originated in one form in the other place in committee, and it was changed
to another form at the report stage without the marginal note being changed. I
hope the Chair will entertain a suggestion from legal counsel that perhaps the
marginal note could be changed. It can be changed by the Senate or Senate
editors, I was told, without amending the bill because this is normally done. I
would pass it on to whoever does this kind of thing.
The Chairman: We can make it, "Review of Act by Parliament."
Mr. Richstone: As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Interpretation Act does say that
marginal notes do not assist in the interpretation of the act, but most of us
look at them anyway to help us out, and it would be helpful to have a fully
reflective marginal note.
The Chairman: That is fine. Apart from that, as to the substance of the
provision, when it talks about a committee designated by Parliament, as legal
counsel to the department that is interested in this bill, does this mean
Parliament as we understand Parliament, which is the Senate and House of
Commons, or does it mean whichever house gets there first?
Mr. Richstone: I would quail, Mr. Chairman, in answering a question that you
pose to me on a matter of parliamentary procedure. I would suggest that you
have far more experience in that matter than I.
The Chairman: Thank you. I am interested in the subject. I do not think that you
want curbstone, layman's opinion. I do not think that one house could purport
to act on that. Parliament is Parliament, and includes the Senate and the
Mr. Richstone: The point is well taken. At the same time, there are precedents
in our statute book now for this very clause. We have a section similar to that
in the Official Languages Act, section 88. We have a section similar to that in
the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We had a section similar to that in
the recent amendments to the Copyright Act, Bill C-32, in the last session of
The Chairman: Calling for a review?
Mr. Richstone: A review by such committee as may be determined or designated or
established by Parliament. That is the general phraseology used.
The Chairman: Has it been acted upon?
Mr. Richstone: In the Official Languages Act, it was.
The Chairman: That is by a joint committee.
Mr. Richstone: Again, I only offer this as my understanding and not the official
position of the department. Of course the department could not take any
official position in terms of Parliament, since that is Parliament's
prerogative. My understanding is that the leaders of the two Houses of
Parliament decide among themselves, and then the two Houses entertain
resolutions as to which house or joint committee would take on the duty.
The Chairman: I think that would have to be done in this case. I think both
Houses would have to agree. Do we agree on that?
Hon Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Colleagues, are there any further questions for the officials?
Senator Ferretti Barth: A travelling exhibition is presented at a specific time
of the year -- one year in Quebec, and the following year in Ontario. It may
even travel all across Canada and abroad.
If a travelling exhibition is very successful in one province, will it be
possible to bring it back to the same venue the following year?
Ms Sarkar: That is a fairly technical question. Yet every request will be
reviewed. There is an overall limit set in the legislation, which is $1.5
billion in a single fiscal year. That is something that would have to be
calculated. Also, it is the institution hosting the exhibition that applies the
Senator Ferretti Barth: You referred to the program previously available through
the Department of Canadian Heritage. Under the legislation, you have to meet
the requirements of the departmental program. If you do something this year,
the following year, you will not be able to do it.
With this legislation, it will be possible for a travelling exhibition to come
back a year or two later. Presentation is not limited to a single year. Am I
right about that? Will it be possible to repeat exhibitions?
If I want to organize a travelling exhibition this year, will I be able to do
the same thing next year or two years later in the same venue and the same
Mr. Walden: In practice, that is not the way it works. Normally the venues are
chosen in advance. The exhibition then travels to the various institutions.
That did happen recently with a Van Gogh exhibition presented at the Art
Gallery of Ontario which was then given approval to travel to Winnipeg.
Senator Ferretti Barth: So, it could be presented again in the same venue?
Mr. Walden: Normally another exhibition would be planned for that venue.
Senator Ferretti Barth: The purpose of this legislation is to promote art across
Canada. A travelling exhibition can go anywhere. If an exhibition is successful
in one province, can it return to that same province at a later date?
Ms Sarkar: Nothing would prevent that from happening. If the organizers of the
exhibition want to repeat the experience, and if all the partners agree, there
would be no problem bringing forward that exhibition as a candidate for our
program. It would not automatically be disqualified just because it had already
been approved once.
The Chairman: Colleagues, once again, I can take you through this bill clause by
clause, or if any of you wish to draw my attention to a clause you wish to
amend, I can go immediately to that clause.
Failing either of those, the Chair could, with leave, entertain a motion that
the title, the short title, and clauses 1 to 6 inclusive, be adopted and form
part of this bill.
Senator LeBreton: I so move.
The Chairman: Thank you, senator. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Carried.
I would now entertain a motion that Bill C-64 be reported to the Senate without
Senator LeBreton: I so move.
The Chairman: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?