Download as PDF

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 139, Issue 57

Thursday, October 4, 2001
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, October 4, 2001

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the Chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Honourable Francis William Mahovlich

Tribute on Retirement of Sweater No. 27 by Toronto Maple Leafs

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, last night, over 19,000 cheering fans took to their feet at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as the Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off their season with a game against the Ottawa Senators. People were on their feet cheering not only for the teams; they were cheering for one of our great hockey legends. His picture and that powerful No. 27 were raised on a banner to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre in honour of our colleague Frank Mahovlich, known to his fans and to those who feared him as the "Big M."

When Senator Mahovlich was appointed to this chamber over three years ago, the Canadian public immediately began to wonder how a famous hockey star and successful businessman would fit in this august institution. My answer then is the same as it is today: Just great.

Honourable senators, Frank Mahovlich has been "just great" in this chamber, in committees and in parliamentary associations. He has been "just great" on the road, giving speeches about what we do here in the Senate and about national issues, enormous pride of country and pride of membership in this place. He has been "just great" in the small towns across this country where he has shown enormous generosity of time and spirit for Canadians of all ages, from the tiniest child to seniors. He shakes their hands and signs their sticks and generally shows them his joy of citizenship and his respect for and love of this country.

Honourable senators, I know that we all congratulate Frank for his ascendancy to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre with other heroes such as Syl Apps, Charlie Conacher and Tim Horton.

The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to advise the honourable senator that her three minutes have expired.

Senator Fairbairn: Frank Mahovlich is still on our team.

[Translation]

Advantages of Chrysotile Asbestos

Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, the tragic events of September 11 affected us all, and a number of my colleagues have spoken about this here in the chamber. In the weeks following a disaster of this magnitude, it is natural to ask ourselves if it might have been possible to save more lives, with the good intention of planning for the future.

[English]

Recently, in the American press, it has been stated by several experts that had asbestos insulating material been used in the World Trade Center for fireproofing and insulating steel building materials, particularly floor supports, the steel girders would have lasted up to four hours before melting. Instead, the steel frames of One World Trade Center lasted only one hour and 40 minutes while the steel frames of Two World Trade Center lasted 56 minutes before collapsing.

As honourable senators know, the use of asbestos ceased in the 1970s following reports of asbestos workers becoming ill from high exposure to asbestos fibres. This was certainly true in the past for the high occupational levels measured at that time. However, times have changed and, at today's exposure levels, no excess morbidity or mortality has been detected.

[Translation]

In addition, there is staggering evidence indicating that there is a marked difference in the toxicity of amphibole asbestos, which was used in the past, and the chrysotile asbestos that is used today. Chrysotile asbestos in urban ambient air or in public buildings does not appear to cause illness.

Honourable senators, chrysotile asbestos is one of this country's most precious natural resources. We can now affirm that it is safe and that it can save a great number of lives in disasters such as the tragic one that took place September 11.

(1340)

Women's History Month

Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, since 1992 Canadians have designated the month of October as Women's History Month.

This month provides us with a unique opportunity to highlight the contributions, both past and present, that women have made to Canadian society. The contributions made by women to our country's heritage have often been undervalued. These celebrations provide us with the opportunity to increase our awareness of their achievements.

The theme of this year's Women's History Month is "In praise of Canadian women volunteers." The United Nations has declared 2001 "International Year of Volunteers," and this year's WHM theme has a double meaning. It celebrates key accomplishments in Canadian history by women volunteers. It also acknowledges outstanding volunteer women's organizations which influenced the evolution of Canadian society through volunteering. This acknowledgment is richly deserved, for in Canada 54 per cent of volunteers are women. More than 4 million Canadian women aged 15 or over take part in formal volunteer activities.

Canadian women's involvement as volunteers is far from new. Native women played a crucial role in the fur trade industry, acting as volunteer interpreters or intermediaries between fur- trade companies and Natives; members of religious congregations looked after orphans and ran hospitals; many women volunteered their services during the two world wars; members of benevolent societies contributed to social and political change in our country. Canadians have played, and continue to play, a vital role as volunteers. That contribution deserves proper recognition.

The high point in the month will be October 18, the day we commemorate the Persons Case, a decisive victory in Canadian women's struggle for equality. As we know, this case led to Canadian women obtaining the right to be appointed to the Senate, and opened the door to participation in other aspects of public life.

Honourable senators, we are delighted to share the work of the Senate with our male counterparts, but we would remind you that we also share the power to make decisions.

World Teachers' Day

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, October 5 is World Teachers' Day. This year, the Canadian Teachers' Federation has selected as its theme, "Teachers building the future."

As guardians of the Canadian education system, teachers can be both the agents and defenders of change in our global society, making it a better place to live. They help shape the future. Canadian boys and girls do not come into the world with the necessary knowledge and characteristics to be members of a democratic society; it is through Canada's teachers that they acquire that knowledge.

[English]

If we want to shape a stable democratic society in the 21st century, our public education system must be a forum where people can meet and learn to live together. Knowing how to get along peacefully is good, but going beyond mere tolerance is still a greater virtue. It requires respect but also a sharing of our cultural, religious and social values. Through sharing, we come to understand and appreciate our differences. What better place is there than our classrooms for young people to develop an appreciation of the world's mosaic?

[Translation]

There is nothing more vital to the quality of education than the quality of teaching. Thanks to the teachers in Canada, our country has one of the world's best systems of education.

Centenary of Passing of Giuseppe Verdi

Hon. Marisa Ferretti Barth: Honourable senators, this year, we celebrate the centenary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi, the father of lyric opera.

In view of recent events, it seems to me that music does us all good.

Verdi was born in Roncole, in the Emilia Romagna region. He was a renowned composer. His life was one of triumph and pain.

At an early age, his great musical talent made its appearance. He studied music with Vincenzo Lavigna, a composer and musician at La Scala. Verdi presented Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio there. The work was well received.

The following year, his first opera Un Giorno di Regno was a total fiasco. Added to this failure were family problems, the death of his wife and their two children. He even considered abandoning opera at this point.

After reaching the age of 40, Verdi gained fame around the world and especially in Italy, the country of his birth, where the public adored him.

He composed 28 operas. There was Nabucco and Aida, the latter being commissioned for the festivities inaugurating the Suez Canal.

There was his trilogy of Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore, marking the peak of a certain Romantic tradition. Magnificent!

Between 1861 and 1865, Verdi was active in politics, first as the representative of Busseto in the provincial parliament before going on to the national parliament. Later on, he became a senator. It is interesting to note that Verdi and Marconi, talented Italians from two very different worlds, met in the Italian senate. While he was a senator, Verdi wrote La Forza del Destino and Don Carlos.

In 1899, he founded a retirement home for elderly musicians, which he described as his finest work.

Verdi was a famous volunteer, but who will establish a retirement home for senators?

On January 21, 1901, Verdi fell gravely ill. All of Italy waited for news with bated breath. The death of Queen Victoria on January 22 was barely noticed, such was his popularity. Verdi died on January 27, 1901. Over 200,000 people gathered for his funeral. Italy had lost a great hero.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I should like to remind you that we have resolved in our rules and among ourselves to stick to the allotted 15 minutes for Senators' Statements and to three minutes per senator. I give notice that I will be more vigilant in the future on keeping time.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Sixth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Jack Austin, Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, presented the following report:

Thursday, October 4, 2001

The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (formerly entitled the Standing Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders) has the honour to present its

SIXTH REPORT

Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on March 15, 2001, to examine the structure of committees in the Senate, respectfully requests that the date of presenting its findings to the Senate be extended from no later than Wednesday, October 31, 2001 to no later than Friday, February 15, 2002.

Respectfully submitted,

JACK AUSTIN, P.C.

Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

On motion of Senator Austin, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at next sitting of the Senate.

(1350)

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Eighth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Richard H. Kroft, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:

Thursday, October 4, 2001

The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its

EIGHTH REPORT

Your Committee recommends the adoption of Supplementary Estimates of $2,646,000 for the fiscal year 2001-2002. Since the Senate had a carry-forward balance of $621,000 from 2000-2001, the new funding requirements in the Supplementary Estimates are $2,025,000.

This Supplementary Estimate is required to meet operational shortfalls in Committees as well as salary increases resulting from collective agreements and other human resource related items.

Your Committee wishes to underline the fact that these Estimates will include, on an information basis, the estimated costs that will be charged to the Statutory Appropriation related to the revised remuneration of Parliamentarians.

Respectfully submitted

RICHARD H. KROFT

Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

Senator Kroft: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

On motion of Senator Kroft, report placed on of the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

Foreign Affairs

Notice of Motion to Request Authority to Meet In Camera

Hon. Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, I give notice that on Tuesday, October 16, 2001, I will move:

That, notwithstanding rule 92(1), the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will be empowered to hold occasional meetings in camera for the purpose of hearing witnesses and gathering specialized or sensitive information in relation to its order of reference of March 1, 2001, to examine such issues as may arise from time to time relating to foreign relations generally.

[Translation]

La Fête nationale des Acadiens et Acadiennes

Day of Recognition—Notice of Motion

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next meeting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate of Canada recommend that the Government of Canada recognize the date of August 15 as Fête nationale des Acadiens et Acadiennes, given the Acadian people's economic, cultural and social contribution to Canada.

[English]

Personal Watercraft Bill

Petitions

Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I have the pleasure to present 206 petitions bearing the signatures of 2,769 Canadians who are urging the Senate to pass Bill S-26, the Personal Watercraft Bill.


QUESTION PERIOD

Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology

Auditor General's Report on Public Accounts—Comments on Process to Create Fund

Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate regarding the 2000-2001 Public Accounts that the Auditor General addressed last week. In her report, the Auditor General addressed the matter of the circumstances surrounding the setting up of the Canadian Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology and the creation of the fund.

The Auditor General raised some concerns regarding the creation of this fund in the fiscal year preceding the passage of the actual bill that established the foundation.

According to the Auditor General, the transfer of a large sum of public money, much larger than was necessary, to the foundation before Parliament had approved either the initiative or the funding was inappropriate.

The Auditor General clearly states that she could determine no compelling reason for the haste in which this occurred. The Auditor General concludes:

I certainly hope that in the rest of my tenure as Auditor General of Canada, I will not see another such series of events carried out to achieve a desired accounting result.

Given the Auditor General's criticism, what assurance can this government give that a similar series of events will not occur in the future?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, before I begin my answer, I want Senator Stratton to know it has been great fun to work with him over the last two weeks as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Although we will welcome Senator Kinsella back, it is always nice to work with a fellow Manitoban.

As to his serious question with respect to the Auditor General's report, she clearly made her feelings on this matter very pointed and clear. The government has taken a contrary position. However, I would like to think that, given the due consideration and serious questions asked by members on both sides of this chamber about the actions of the government, the government will not in undue haste act that way again.

Senator Stratton: Honourable senators, I appreciate very much the compliment, and if Senator Robichaud is around, I would like to thank him and the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It was fun. It was also interesting and a heck of an education, but I will get back to normal life when we come back.

I thank the minister for her response, because it makes one feel uneasy when that kind of money is made available with no accountability. It does not even have to come back to the government if the corporation shuts down. That is another concern regarding this issue because Canadians should have that kind of accountability. I very much appreciate the reassurance those concerns will be carried forward, along with the concerns, I hope, about the accountability for any unused funds that do not have to be returned. To me, that is a big concern.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, as the honourable senator knows, the legislation is now in place and, as a result, clear accountability structures are in place. However, I can also assure the honourable senator that the views of honourable senators from both sides, as expressed in this chamber, were made clear to my government colleagues.

(1400)

Environment

Report of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development—Initiatives of Government

Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I should like to return to the audit of the Environment Commissioner. The Environment Commissioner has raised some serious questions about the federal government's role in protecting the Great Lakes basin and the health, well-being and prosperity of half of Canada's people.

First, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development says that the government is losing the basic science capacity necessary to meet its commitments in areas where it was once active. For example, it does not know whether our drinking water meets its own national safety guidelines; its policy on bulk exports is incomplete; and Canada is not living up to its international commitments. Of 17 highly contaminated sites listed for cleanup in 1985, 16 remain on the list. There is also declining funding. Approximately $125 million was promised to federal departments to deal with Great Lakes programs and only 12 per cent has been allocated in short-term, unconnected programs rather than being part of a consistent strategy. I raised the issue of agricultural waste yesterday.

In response to my question yesterday the minister said that we have to work with the provinces, but the environment commissioner has targeted some very key federal government responsibilities. It would be useful for us and for the Canadian public to have some light shed on these areas. I know that with budget cutting, et cetera, funds have been cut.

What is the response now that we have this huge, looming crisis? I would appreciate the leader's comments.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we have these commissioners because we expect them to make the kind of frank statements the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development made this week. That is why Minister Anderson welcomed the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and why he considered it notable that, for the first time, the commissioner concentrated on one specific area, namely, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem, which involves, as honourable senators know, an extremely complex jurisdictional issue as we discussed partly yesterday.

The commitment to sustainable development and conservation is part of the government's coordinated ecosystems approach, and the implementation of the three phases of the St. Lawrence River action plan is an example of where the government is taking steps.

There is no question that the commissioner was critical of a number of things. She was also, as was the Auditor General, quite complimentary that we were, in fact, doing some of the right things. We need to have these very aggressive reports. They are positive because they keep the environment ministry active and seeking solutions.

Senator Spivak: Honourable senators, I thank the leader for her response.

There are three specific issues here. One is the science capacity. That has been addressed in other areas, for example, in medical research, but the science capacity is not there any more. I know this from Dr. David Schindler, and others, with regard to water issues. There is the $125-million funding; the agricultural waste, which is a time bomb soon to go off; and the 17 contaminated sites. Those are specific questions. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate has the capacity to look at those four specific areas and give us some indication of the government's intentions in response, it would be helpful.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I can give some of that information to my honourable colleague this afternoon. For example, restoring the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem, while a shared environmental responsibility, has resulted in the following: Across the board, more than 60 per cent of the actions needed to restore the beneficial uses of the environment in the remaining 16 Canadian areas of concern has been taken. It is not 100 per cent, and that is clear. There is still 40 per cent to go. However, 60 per cent is over half way to the target that we have set for ourselves.

Since 1988, there has been a 90 per cent reduction in liquid toxins from the 50 most polluting factories along the St. Lawrence and more than 130,000 hectares of natural habitat have been protected along the St. Lawrence. That has led to recovery plans for 22 priority species of plants and animals.

Under the Canada-Ontario Agreement, releases of persistent priority toxic substances, tier one, have been reduced by over 70 per cent. There are specific target goals and we are moving toward those target goals in the areas that the honourable senator has identified.

Could we move a little faster? I will encourage my colleague to do so.

The Senate

Hill Precinct Parking

Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, it is not often that I complain about anything that happens in the Senate. However, it will be cold soon, and there have been problems getting parking behind the Centre Block. I do not know what the rule is, but some senators have asked the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration about this situation. Some senators who have offices in the Victoria Building have two places to park their cars. The shuttle bus runs every five minutes between the Victoria Building and the Centre Block. Could the Chairman of the Internal Economy Committee tell us how the regulations work for the parking area around the Centre Block?

Hon. Richard H. Kroft: I thank the honourable senator for his question. This has been a concern for a number of senators over the past months as the projected work has developed. I am not in a position to give the honourable senator the exact details now. I assure honourable senators that after a long and difficult set of discussions over several months, starting early in the summer and finishing late in the summer, we have arrived at a solution that will be completely satisfactory and honourable senators need not be concerned about any problems regarding parking when the cold weather comes.

Senator Adams: Honourable senators, I have one other question. Some senators do not have a car here in Ottawa. I have heard that some of these senators have given their parking space to their assistants or to their secretaries. Is that true?

Senator Kroft: Honourable senators, I am not in a position to answer that question. I will look into it.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration Report on Drought in Prairie Provinces

Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration released a report today on the drought in Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of Manitoba. We were informed that the rainfall this year was the least in our history, since records have been kept. We know the minister visited in mid-summer, before the crops were even mature. Since the crops are in and harvested, and we know the results of this devastating drought, is it the government's intention to have the minister or some of the ministers in the cabinet visit the drought areas on the Prairies to reassess the situation?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as the honourable senator knows, the Minister of Agriculture has already been to the drought areas and has reported to his cabinet colleagues. I do not know of any further intention. I do know that this week the Canadian Farm Income Program interim applications for 2001 were made available. The government is urging those who will experience income shortfalls to apply sooner rather than later. I also know that an evaluation is ongoing, now that the crops are in, to assess the state of the crop lands, and the PFRA is part of that assessment.

(1410)

Senator Gustafson: Honourable senators, it would seem to me to be important that the Minister of Agriculture revisit the situation. When he came out west in mid-summer, he indicated that he would wait and see but, at that point in time, the answer was mainly no. Now that the crops are in, would the Leader of the Government in the Senate take up with cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture the importance of understanding just how serious the situation is?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I will certainly take back the honourable senator's message. I also hope that we will have some figures from the applications for crop insurance very quickly. We will also have some better understanding of the uptake on the NISA, of which there is $1.3 billion available. Those figures are not in yet, senator, but we hope that they will be in shortly.


[Translation]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Immigration and Refugee Protection Bill

Motion to Allot Time Adopted

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I wish to inform you that the discussions between the government and the representatives of the opposition party have led to an agreement on Bill C-11. Senators sitting as independents were also consulted.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: "Informed."

Senator Robichaud: I agree that the term "informed" is more appropriate.

Honourable senators, I move:

That, pursuant to rule 38, in relation to Bill C-11, An Act respecting Immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger, no later than 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 31, 2001, any proceedings before the Senate shall be interrupted and all questions necessary to dispose of third reading of the Bill shall be put forthwith without further debate or amendment, and that any votes on any of those questions be not further deferred; and

That, if a standing vote is requested, the bells to call in the Senators be sounded for thirty minutes, so that the vote takes place at 5:30 p.m.

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

[English]

Senator Prud'homme: It is not debatable, but I disagree.

The Hon. the Speaker: It is not a debatable motion, honourable senators.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Prud'homme: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: On division?

Senator Prud'homme: On division.

Motion agreed to, on division.

Royal Assent Bill

Second Reading

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government) moved second reading of Bill S-34, respecting Royal Assent to bills passed by the Houses of Parliament.

She said: Honourable senators, let me begin this afternoon by thanking my colleague Senator John Lynch-Staunton for his cooperation and his strong leadership on this matter.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-34, respecting the deliberation of Royal Assent by the Governor General in the Queen's name to bills passed by the Houses of Parliament.

[Translation]

I have the honour to advise this House that:

Her Excellency the Governor General has been informed of the purport of this bill and has given consent, to the degree to which it may affect the prerogatives of Her Majesty, to the consideraton by Parliament of a Bill entitled "An Act respecting royal assent to bills passed by the Houses of Parliament."

[English]

Modernizing the procedure for declaring Royal Assent has long been a matter for discussion by honourable senators and members of the other House. In 1983, the Senate launched a discussion over alternatives to the procedure whereby the Governor General, in the Queen's name, signifies assents to bills passed by the Houses of Parliament. In 1985, the Standing Committee on Standing Rules and Orders of the Senate, as that committee was then known, issued its fourth report recommending a change in the Royal Assent procedure. Also in 1985, in the other House, the McGrath committee report on the chambers' standing orders recommended the simplification of Royal Assent.

In 1988, a government bill on modernizing Royal Assent was introduced in the Senate by Senator Murray, who was then the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In 1998, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Lynch-Staunton, introduced a similar bill.

The bill was reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which made a number of amendments. The bill as reported from committee was reintroduced early this year by Senator Lynch-Staunton.

On Tuesday of this week, following the gracious act of Senator Lynch-Staunton, I introduced a bill in this chamber which mirrors his bill but for a few minor technical and editing changes. That is what I am pleased to speak to today.

As I have mentioned, the bill before us today is the result of detailed study and recommendations by honourable senators. This bill concerns the process for implementing the final stage of our legislative process and so it is fitting that the leadership in support of this initiative has come from both government and opposition senators, although I must say that the balance is with the opposition senators.

I would commend all honourable senators for their attention and work on the issue of Royal Assent. Without their efforts, and without the leadership of Senator Lynch-Staunton and others such as Senator Murray and Senator Frith, the bill would not be before us in its present form.

Bill S-34 has two key elements: First, it preserves the Royal Assent ceremony as an important tradition by requiring its annual use in each session of Parliament, including the first appropriation bill of each session; second, it permits Royal Assent by written declaration.

The bill's provisions are procedural and simply relate to the form of signifying Royal Assent. The Governor General or her deputy will continue to exercise the royal prerogative of assent either in the Senate chamber, when Royal Assent is done by way of ceremony, or by written declaration reported to the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament. Both procedures respect the convention that all three constituent elements of Parliament — the Crown, the Senate and the House of Commons — be included in the Royal Assent process.

Honourable senators, Canada is the only Commonwealth country that still uses the traditional, although somewhat time- consuming, Royal Assent ceremony on a regular basis and as the only procedure. The provisions of Bill S-34 are based on changes made by other jurisdictions which share our parliamentary heritage. The United Kingdom passed legislation in 1967 to allow Royal Assent by written declaration. In Australia, the Governor General's assent to bills is also usually made known by message to the President of the House of Representatives and the Speaker of the Senate.

Several Canadian provinces also use the written process. In Ontario, in 1973, through an all-party agreement, the legislature waived the formality of summoning the Lieutenant Governor to the chamber for Royal Assent. Except on special occasions, the Ontario Lieutenant Governor now gives Royal Assent in her suite at Queen's Park. Quebec also uses the written procedure which occurs in the offices of the Lieutenant Governor.

The fact that other Commonwealth countries and a number of provinces allow Royal Assent to be done by way of written declaration demonstrates that Bill S-34 is entirely procedural and does not alter the constitutional requirement for Royal Assent or affect the office and prerogatives of the Governor General.

Section 55 of the Constitution Act, 1867, requires that where a bill passed by the Houses of Parliament is presented to the Governor General for the Queen's assent, the Governor General shall declare, according to his or her discretion, whether he or she assents to the bill. On the issue of the royal prerogative, to quote from the debates in the United Kingdom Parliament:

(1420)

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Gardiner, stated in the House of Lords in 1967 regarding UK legislation to permit Royal Assent by written procedure that:

The Bill ... leaves the prerogative exactly as it is; it leaves the Royal Assent in person exactly as it is ... All it does is to provide a ... simpler method, not strictly of giving the Royal Assent, but of declaring it to both Houses.

In the House of Commons at Westminster in 1967, Mr. Anthony Buck stated that, and I quote.

I understand that the Bill does not limit the Royal Prerogative; in fact, so far as it does anything it extends it somewhat, by providing an additional way in which it may be signified to the House ....

Honourable senators, I began my remarks by declaring that the Governor General has given her consent to the consideration of this bill. To quote again from Lord Gardiner's statement during the 1967 consideration of their Royal Assent bill:

We do not ordinarily legislate in a matter which does, or even may, affect the prerogative without first asking Her Majesty.

I have already indicated that the government shares Lord Gardiner's view that permitting Royal Assent by written procedure does not affect the royal prerogative in any way.

As Dicey's classic work The Law of the Constitution states, it is a longstanding parliamentary practice, politeness and civility to obtain royal consent in advance to any bill which might affect the royal prerogative or interest, whether the bill is in relation to the prerogative or not. In keeping with this practice, the government sought, obtained and has declared in this chamber royal consent to proceed with Bill S-34.

Like the United Kingdom legislation authorizing Royal Assent by written declaration, Bill S-34 does not specify procedural details. Given the significance of this stage of the legislative process, I have asked my officials to work with the Office of the Governor General, the Table and the staff of the House of Commons on a process for handling written procedure that would respect the roles of those involved.

Honourable senators, let me conclude my summarizing the reasons why this bill should be supported. First, it is a balanced and non-partisan bill that draws on the work and support of both sides of this chamber. Again, I particularly thank Senator Lynch-Staunton for his efforts which have led to the introduction of this bill.

Second, Royal Assent by written declaration will remove a frequent interruption in the business of parliamentarians while preserving the Royal Assent ceremony as a special, ongoing tradition of Parliament.

Third, the bill addresses the challenges we will face when the Houses of Parliament meet in different buildings for at least eight years during renovations to the Centre Block. Arrangements for the traditional ceremony will be more difficult and time-consuming, especially in inclement weather. Senator Lynch-Staunton has said that this alone is reason enough to give serious consideration to a bill on modernizing the Royal Assent procedure.

Fourth, written declaration will reduce the burden that the ceremony places on the Governor General and the Supreme Court justices who act as her deputy.

Fifth, the bill is consistent with our broader work to modernize and streamline parliamentary procedure and to make our rules and procedures serve the needs of honourable senators and all Canadians.

Sixth, the bill is based on the practice of other Commonwealth countries and provinces that use this process.

Seventh, the passage by the Senate of this bill will demonstrate our ability to work together for the good of all parliamentarians in both this chamber and in the other place.

After two decades of study and debate, I believe it is time for us to move forward with the legislation. My cabinet colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, is prepared to seek to advance this bill in the other House following the consideration of the Senate, but I specifically asked that this bill be introduced in this chamber because it most affects us, our work and our planning.

Honourable senators, I invite you to support the timely passage of this bill so that it can be sent to the other House and we can have an end to the debate on this matter.

Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my comments are word for word those of a highly respected member of the judiciary, whose opinions are renowned as much for their brevity as for their content. More often than not, when asked to join in an opinion submitted by a colleague, he writes, "I concur."

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Carstairs, bill referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

[Translation]

The Senate

Committee of the Whole—Replacement of Sea King Helicopters—Appearance of Officials on Procurement Process—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Finestone, P.C.,

That at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday October 4, 2001, the Senate resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole in order to receive officials from the Department of National Defence and the Department of Public Works and Government Services for a briefing on the procurement process for maritime helicopters.

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I think it would be appropriate to inform the Senate that the members on both sides of this chamber are still holding discussions regarding a date for the committee of the whole to debate the purchase of maritime helicopters. The date initially proposed was today, October 4, 2001, but, of course, that is not going to happen. Once a date is set, I will let all honourable senators know so that they may prepare themselves accordingly.

On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.

[English]

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Eighth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented earlier this day.

Hon. Richard H. Kroft moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, I should like to take just a few minutes to explain the content of this report. The report is based on the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Finance and Budgets of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, which is composed of Senators Furey, Doody and Stollery.

The subcommittee met on September 19 to review the proposal for Supplementary Estimates. Internal Economy reviewed the recommendations of the subcommittee on September 25 and October 4. The items proposed for inclusion in these Supplementary Estimates are comprised of salaries, other human resource-related matters and funds for committees. The proposed Supplementary Estimate, amounting to some $2.6 million for voted items, represents an increase of 4.7 per cent to the Main Estimates for 2001-02, which total $56.5 million. Taking into consideration the carry-forward, the net additional operating funds become $2,025,000, or an increase of 3.6 per cent.

I underline that Supplementary Estimates must include for information purposes the estimated expenditures for statutory appropriations. This means that the revisions to the remuneration of parliamentarians will be disclosed and show an increase to statutory expenditures of some $1.8 million. The statutory expenditures relating to the revised remuneration represent a 3.2 per cent increase to the 2001-02 Main Estimates.

In summary, our Supplementary Estimates represent a 7.9 per cent increase to our Main Estimates.

(1430)

I should point out that both the House and the Library of Parliament will be going forward for Supplementary Estimates. Most departments requiring additional funds seek authority in the first Supplementary Estimates of the year. It is important to go for the first Supplementary Estimates, which are scheduled to be tabled on November 1, in order to allow the Senate to move forward on a number of issues, including training and the work of our committees.

Finally, I would point out that in order to meet the printing deadline, the recommendations of this committee will need to be approved by the Senate today, given that we will not be sitting the week of October 8 to 12.

Honourable senators, I urge you to support the adoption of this report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Status of Legal Aid Program

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck calling the attention of the Senate to the status of legal aid in Canada and the difficulties experienced by many low-income Canadians in acquiring adequate legal assistance, for both criminal and civil matters.—(Honourable Senator Hubley).

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to continue my remarks in support of Senator Callbeck's inquiry into the status of legal aid in Canada. Again, I commend Senator Callbeck for bringing this important issue before us and for pointing out the inequities and flaws in our present system.

Indeed, as my colleague has demonstrated, legal aid in Canada is really not a national system at all, but rather a disparate collection of programs and services that vary greatly from one province to another. This inconsistency is the result of different rules respecting access, as well as the federal and provincial funding that is accorded legal aid in each jurisdiction. The federal government has allowed funding for criminal legal aid to wither away, while federal assistance to the provinces for civil legal aid services is no longer dedicated but is part of the general Canada Health and Social Transfer.

The result, honourable senators, for small provinces like Prince Edward Island, is that legal aid services are chronically underfunded and do not meet the needs of low-income Canadians especially. In other words, the people legal aid is supposed to help are often denied access to services, which I firmly believe should be available to every citizen as a basic right. Every Canadian, regardless of their social status or economic power, should have the right to be represented in a court of law. They should have a right to a fair trial. They should have a right to seek and obtain justice. What could be more fundamental to our system of democracy? It is one thing to perceive a right, or assume it exists in our society, and quite another to have it guaranteed by law.

The equality rights section of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone is equal before and under the law, and everyone has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination. Moreover, section 7 and section 11(d) seemingly give everyone the right to be presumed innocent and the right not to be deprived of life, liberty and security, except as the result of a fair trial. In addition, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Canada is a signatory, states unequivocally that someone accused of a criminal act has the right to legal assistance without payment.

This international covenant, however noble, is not enforceable in Canada. The meaning and implications of our Charter of Rights in the area of legal aid have been unclear. Do low-income and disadvantaged Canadians have the right to government- funded legal representation in criminal trials? Provincial appeal courts that have examined the question seem to think the Charter indirectly guarantees such a right, and yet the Supreme Court of Canada has been slow to take a position. Happily, the legal tea leaves are beginning to take shape.

In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of an impoverished New Brunswick mother who had been denied government legal aid to fight the apprehension of her children. That ruling has had repercussions right across the country. It is now unlikely that civil legal aid will ever be refused again in such child protection disputes.

Honourable senators, there is no joy in poverty. In every province and region, low-income Canadians have a daily struggle to survive and to take care of themselves and their families. They are single-parent mothers, children, people with disabilities, new immigrants, Aboriginal people, the unemployed, those on social assistance, and the large group of Canadians we have come to describe as the working poor. Most of these people depend heavily upon the law and on government bureaucracy and regulation for the necessities of life. As such, they are often not only poor but also powerless.

We expect a great deal from our poor and disadvantaged. We expect them to constantly look for work when collecting employment insurance benefits, even though employment opportunities often do not exist. As social assistance recipients, we expect people to abide by countless rules and regulations, and frequently we enter into their private family lives as uninvited helpers taking away their personal freedom and independence.

Honourable senators, I do not believe we should ever expect the poor and the disadvantaged to represent or defend themselves in court, or to be denied access to justice under the law. Yet, because of tighter eligibility rules and reduced funding to legal aid throughout Canada, that very thing happens with regularity. The results are often disastrous for both the individual and the justice system itself.

Honourable senators, our criminal justice system is adversarial by nature. The government spends vast amounts of money to send those accused of crimes to trial. For many years my husband was a Crown prosecutor, and I know that without legal representation the scales of justice are unavoidably tilted in favour of the Crown or the state, and most attempts at self- representation are doomed to failure.

The National Council of Welfare, in its 1995 report entitled "Legal Aid and the Poor," described the predicament this way:

The most minor criminal cases can be very complex, and the police and court environments are so intimidating to non-initiated people that even intelligent, well-informed suspects who face criminal charges without the help of a lawyer can be found guilty of something they did not do. In most criminal prosecutions, the accused are poor, they have limited schooling, and little or no idea of what is going on.

While the availability of criminal legal aid is essential, it is a fact that most low-income Canadians have never been in trouble with the law and, thankfully, will never need these services. Many of our poor and disadvantaged will require civil law services, however, to resolve tenant-landlord disputes, consumer frauds, financial problems and a variety of other matters. The majority of civil legal aid applicants will be women seeking to resolve family law issues. Indeed, perhaps the greatest failure of legal aid today is its inability to address the needs of families caught up in a child custody or child maintenance dispute.

(1440)

In my own province, honourable senators, women desiring to have child support orders changed are frequently obliged to go into the courtroom without professional legal help. As former Prince Edward Island Chief Justice Norman Carruthers has expressed, the court does its best to accommodate this self- representation, but, in his words, the civil legal aid system is a "mess," and the women in difficult financial and family circumstances are not being afforded the assistance they require.

Senator Callbeck has outlined the financial inadequacies of the existing civil legal aid programs as well as their inconsistencies from one province to another. Therefore, I will not comment at length on these issues. However, I will restate the obvious, that the federal government's financial commitment to legal aid programs and services has diminished over the past decade.

Unfortunately, the mode of funding has changed, too. These essential services must now compete with a myriad of other provincial spending priorities in health and education. This is most regrettable.

Honourable senators, today I am calling on both the federal and provincial governments to renew their commitment to legal aid for Canadians. I realize that the Honourable Anne McLellan has announced her intention to study broader civil legal aid issues, including the needs of disadvantaged Canadians for legal aid assistance in both criminal and civil matters. At present, a joint federal provincial study is underway in that regard. It is my sincere hope that, as a result of this review, funding will be strengthened and the scope of legal aid broadened.

Honourable senators, many of us are understandably concerned with the prospects of a two-tier health care system in Canada: one system for the rich and one for the poor. We are doing our best to protect the universality of medicare. However, I fear we are in danger of creating another two-tier system in our country, one that, in my view, would cast a dark shadow upon our basic democratic and constitutional rights. We do not need a two-tiered justice system in Canada, one that discriminates against those without economic power. Our national mission is greater than that. Our ideals are loftier. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms demands more from our governments.

In concluding my remarks, I should like once again to commend Senator Callbeck for introducing this important matter. I encourage other senators to participate in the discussion.

On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Chalifoux, debate adjourned.

United States National Missile Defence System

Motion Recommending that the Government Not Support Development—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Roche, seconded by the Honourable Senator Finestone, P.C.:

That the Senate of Canada recommends that the Government of Canada avoid involvement and support for the development of a National Missile Defence (NMD) system that would run counter to the legal obligations enshrined in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which has been a cornerstone of strategic stability and an important foundation for international efforts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for almost thirty years,

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Finestone, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Bacon, that the subject-matter of this motion be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Defence and Security for study and report back to the Senate.—(Honourable Senator Forrestall).

Hon. Lois M. Wilson: Honourable senators, I am not prepared to speak to this item today. However, I should like the Senate to extend the debate because it is important, particularly in view of the events of September 11.

On motion of Senator Wilson, debate adjourned.

Defence and Security

Committee Authorized to Study Health Care Services Available to Veterans and to Apply Documentation from Previous Session to Study

Hon. Jack Wiebe, for Senator Meighen, pursuant to notice of October 3, 2001, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Defence and Security be authorized to examine and report on the health care provided to veterans of war and of peacekeeping missions; the implementation of the recommendations made in its previous reports on such matters; and the terms of service, post-discharge benefits and health care of members of the regular and reserve forces as well as members of the RCMP and of civilians who have served in close support of uniformed peacekeepers;

That the papers and evidence received and taken on the subject during the Second Session of the Thirty-sixth Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Committee report no later than June 30, 2002; and

That the Committee be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to deposit its report with the Clerk of the Senate, if the Senate is not then sitting; and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.

Motion agreed to.

[Translation]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Notices of Government Motions:

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, October 16, 2001, at 2:00 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, October 16, 2001, at 2 p.m.