Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, over the weekend, three Canadian
athletes struck gold on the world stage. Two women, Cindy Klassen and Clara
Hughes, both of Winnipeg, made speed-skating history in Sweden.
I, would, however, like to focus particularly on the brilliant success of
Mélanie Turgeon, of the beautiful Quebec City area, who — no offence to my
friend Senator Mahovlich — is involved in that most strenuous of sports,
downhill skiing. Last Sunday, she became world downhill champion, clocking an
amazing 1 minute 34.3 seconds on the extremely difficult course at St. Moritz.
This put an end to a decade-long medal drought for Canada.
Mélanie trained at two of the most spectacular ski resorts in the country,
Mont Ste. Anne and the Massif de Petite Rivière Saint- François in the very
beautiful region of Charlevoix. Getting to the first place podium has required
extraordinary determination and strength of character. I have had the pleasure
of meeting Mélanie on a number of occasions and was attracted by her
friendliness and charm. She is a role model for all Canadians, whether of her
own age or of our more advanced years.
I invite all honourable senators to join me in congratulating Mélanie Turgeon
on her remarkable achievement.
Hon. Norman K. Atkins: Honourable senators, I rise today to address a
topic that we have dealt with previously in this chamber. Unfortunately, the
situation seems to be worsening. The subject that concerns me is the debt load
faced by students who are in post- secondary education institutions in Canada or
who are recent graduates.
Students who borrow money from government in order to pursue education beyond
high school are faced with many challenges. They may not obtain the full-time
work that they have been educated to pursue. They may feel that they need more
than a diploma, a certificate or a degree to be marketable in today's society.
On top of these worries, they have to deal with repayment of their student
In order to balance the budget and eliminate deficits, grants from the
federal government to the provinces for education purposes were reduced through
the latter part of the nineties. While it was important to put our financial
house in order, a number of victims were claimed along the way. Post-secondary
students who had to borrow money to attend university or college were among
those victims. It is not my intent to complain about the government's lack of
response to these young people caught in the crunch between tuition fees that
keep going up and up and the need to borrow to access post-secondary education.
Honourable senators, I want to address the method by which these loans are
collected. Surely, these loans should not be shovelled off to loan collection
agencies. Surely, we can do better than this. Surely, the government could
impose a moratorium so that loans and defaults stay with the lending agencies
for at least two years, while the students try to work out a suitable repayment
plan. Surely, the bureaucrats who administer this program could meet with the
lenders to impress upon them the need for patience and compassion as the
students attempt to find their place in the world of work and accept their
financial responsibilities. These young people are our future. We owe them this
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, safety and security are
not some abstract concepts that social engineers can play with. They are basic
perceptions that underlie the very foundations of our communities. People feel
safe on our streets and secure in their homes when our justice system delivers
justice; and justice is done when justice is seen to be done. The judiciary in
this country cannot continue to be blind to public perceptions. Public fear and
feelings of insecurity are increasing because criminals are not receiving the
kind of punishment that society expects.
Inderjit Singh Reyat was sentenced yesterday to five years for manslaughter,
after a plea bargain, in one of Canada's most notorious mass murders. Millions
of dollars have been spent over many years investigating this horrific crime.
Honourable senators, how can Canadians feel safe in their communities when
the Criminal Code allows minimum sentences far less than what most reasonable
people consider as punishment commensurate with the crime? How can we feel
protected against terrorism and other horrific criminal acts if our courts
continue to ignore the public will and make sentencing decisions that make no
sense whatsoever when considered relative to the gravity of the crime?
It is time that we, the people, take back our justice system from the elites
of this country. It is time to review the Charter of Rights, which stands in
support of certain wrongs. It is time to review the minimum sentencing
provisions of the Criminal Code to ensure that we punish criminals and deter
crime. It is time we review judicial appointments at the legislative level. It
is time we take the justice system back before people begin to take justice into
their own hands.
Hon. Ione Christensen: Honourable senators, in the Yukon, we are into
day two of the Yukon Quest. Twenty-three mushers and an average of 250 dogs will
be running for up to 13 days through some of the wildest terrain and most severe
weather in the northern hemisphere.
It is a true test of endurance as the mushers and their dogs run the 1,300
kilometres that separate Whitehorse, Yukon, from Fairbanks, Alaska. Cold
weather, isolation and sleep deprivation put pressure on the mushers who must
ensure that their teams are well fed, rested and watered.
Each dog wears booties — in a team of 14 dogs that is 56 little shoes. These
booties wear out or are frequently lost. This small task alone is very demanding
for a musher as one dog can go through 16 sets of such shoes during a race.
The Yukon Quest is known to be the toughest dogsled race in the world. It is
certainly a "go as you are" situation. With the exception of one mandatory
two-day layover in Dawson City, the musher is the only one allowed to care for
The race is a replica of the days before the snow machine, planes and roads.
Dogsledding is how the early prospectors, trappers, mail carriers and RCMP
officers would travel. In those days, a musher had to be totally self-contained.
My father, who was an RCMP member, would do long patrols with his dogs that
would last for weeks at a time. I also had my own small team and a trap line at
that time. It was my dedication to this profession at the age of 11 that
convinced my mother that a girls' boarding school in Vancouver Island was the
best place for me to continue my education.
At the beginning of the Quest in 1983, my father was the official starter for
the Whitehorse Darts. He continued until his death at 95 years of age.
Honourable senators, this year is the twentieth anniversary of the Quest, and
the winner will go home, not only with bragging rights, but also the grand prize
of $30,000 U.S. This morning, Martin Massicotte from Quebec, with 13 dogs, was
holding first place in that race. Thomas Tetz from the Yukon was in second place
with 14 dogs. However, this was no indication of who will be the final winner,
as the complex mind games that are played during this race will determine, in
the last couple of hours, who actually wins.
In closing, I wish the mushers good luck and safe trails.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I give notice that,
at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations be
authorised to permit coverage by electronic media of its public proceedings
on Thursday, February 20, 2003, with the least possible disruption of its
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, several questions were asked
regarding amendments the Government of the Northwest Territories will propose,
in early March 2003, to its own Official Languages Act.
I want to thank the honourable minister for the information she provided us
that day. This is a very important and complex issue. This issue is important,
above all, to minority francophone communities.
With regard to amending the Northwest Territories' Official Languages Act,
the minister indicated in this House on February 5 that Parliament should agree
to this by amending the Official Languages Act. The section in question is
section 43.1 of the Northwest Territories Act.
What procedure does this government intend to follow to ensure that
Parliament possesses all the information it needs on the scope of the bill to
make a decision?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): The honourable
senator asks a question specifically about the regulations for section 41. To
the best of my knowledge, they are not forthcoming, but I will make an inquiry
to the responsible minister to see if I can give the honourable senator a
Senator Gauthier: I will repeat my question, since it was
misunderstood. The proposed amendments to the Northwest Territories Act, the
Official Languages Act, must necessarily be supported by the Parliament of
On March 3, as explained last week, the Northwest Territories intend to
introduce amendments to its Official Languages Act.
What measures are being taken and what information does the government intend
to share with us to give us the necessary explanation of the scope of the
proposed amendments to the Official Languages Act?
Senator Carstairs: My understanding, honourable senators, is that a
parliamentary committee of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
is studying the Territories' Official Languages Act. They have not, as yet, made
a presentation to the federal government.
Senator Gauthier: Honourable senators, my question to the minister
also said, "The Attorney General maintains that Part VII of the Official
Languages Act does not create obligations or rights." When the present law was
being discussed here in Parliament in 1988, the then Secretary of State told me
that section 41 of the Official Languages Act does indeed create obligations on
Fifteen years after the adoption of said law, no regulations for
implementation of section 41 have been proposed or adopted by the government.
"No rules" means no law. It is an empty shell, which is being interpreted in
different ways by different people.
The Northwest Territories has no such regulations either. It has directives,
which are not the same thing.
Sunset clauses in the Northwest Territories Official Languages Act and in the
New Brunswick Official Languages Act provide that those laws must be reviewed
after 10 years. When will the federal government set the right example and
propose regulations for section 41 of the Official Languages Act? Or is it the
intention of the government, after 15 years of experience with this law, to
review the entire act to modernize it and bring it up to date?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, at the present time I do not
know of any intention, as I indicated earlier, to either introduce regulations
or conduct a review of the entire act. However, clearly, that is the
representation the honourable senator would like me to make to the minister and
I will make that representation on his behalf.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Access to information requests show that Heritage Minister Sheila Copps
claimed almost $180,000 in personal expenses over a 22-month period. Almost
$81,000 of that amount was labelled as unspecified "other expenses" and did
not have accompanying receipts.
The practice of claiming expenditures without showing where the money went is
apparently perfectly acceptable to this government. No private company would
allow that and no individual would get away with it when they filed their income
Honourable senators, the government recently stressed provincial
accountability in health care spending, but has not exercised its own
accountability in areas such as the gun registry, HRDC and Groupaction scandals.
This is a simple case of the federal government telling Canadians, "do as I say,
not as I do."
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether the Prime
Minister will require the Heritage Minister to submit proper receipts? If not,
will the Prime Minister ask her to reimburse taxpayers for the unsupported
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the policy with respect to the expenses of the ministry was a policy in force
and effect during all of the Mulroney years. It has not changed, nor do I think
there have been any decisions to make any changes.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, this system has obviously
been in use for some time by this government, but on March 15, 2002, in the
other place, the President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Lucienne
Robillard said, the "Prime Minister has asked all ministers and their political
staff to release information related to their expense records."
Will the minister ask the Prime Minister to make his cabinet ministers comply
with his request and the Income Tax Act and to suspend the honour system for
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the answer to the honourable senator's question is this: Ministers fill out a
form each and every month, listing their expenses. That information is filed, as
it was done in the previous administration, but the receipts are kept in the
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the minister did not answer my
question, which is simply about the President of the Treasury Board asking the
ministers to comply. I wonder, one year later, why they have not.
Senator Carstairs: They were asked to comply with the policy as it
exists, and they do.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I have a question about the
Environment Canada Saskatoon office. An announcement was supposed to be made at
the end of January as to the closure of the weather office in Saskatoon, the
only one left in our province. Minister Anderson then delayed the announcement.
Has the minister any further information as to whether the Saskatoon operations
will be eliminated and moved to Edmonton?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
all I can undertake with the honourable senator is to lobby as hard for
Saskatoon as I am lobbying on behalf of Winnipeg, just two among a number of
weather offices that were recommended for closure. At this point, no policy
decision has been made.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, perhaps the minister could go a
little further than simply asking. Since 1997, the present office has been
little more than a consulting office, when the federal government chose to move
the metrological staff to Edmonton. At the time, there was a lot of controversy
about the move. Alan Manson, Chair of the Institute of Space and Atmospheric
Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, said that the quality of the
information had already fallen drastically, and was so low that even losing what
we had would have little effect. We really need to reinstitute the weather
office in our province, a province that relies on weather information for our
Could the leader take her representations a little further and ask that
provinces like Saskatchewan, which depend on weather information on a daily
basis, have their weather offices reinstituted?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, to be fair, it is unlikely
that there will be any reinstitution of services that have been lost. The
indications I have, unlike those of the professor, are that services have been
maintained. However, as I indicated to the honourable senator, there has been
some question about complete closure of a number of offices across the country.
The two that I am particularly concerned about are in Winnipeg and Saskatoon. We
both live in provinces where there are extreme temperatures. However, the
ministry has retaken the matter under consideration and, hopefully, it will make
a different decision than the one that was originally proposed.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, perhaps the leader could mention
in that cabinet meeting, where I am sure she will raise this matter, that I will
be following up with a letter. Perhaps, as well they could read what Mr. Manson
said. He said that the notion that you can do it all from a central base, with a
large computer with no local knowledge or tailoring of the forecast, is
ridiculous. What we have here is a ridiculous federal government policy of
closing weather stations across the country, thinking that machines can take the
place of quality meteorologists to supply people, businesses and the farming
community with the information they need.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, to be fair, I think Edmonton,
where the main office is presently located, has good quality meteorologists.
However, it is important to have forecasting in local communities, particularly
in our provinces, for the reasons that I have given. Some of us are working hard
on this matter.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. It relates to AIDS and AIDS treatment.
On October 23 last year, I rose and spoke in an inquiry, and raised issues
about the use of generic drugs for treatment of AIDS in Africa.
In his recent State of the Union Address, United States President Bush
promised $15 billion over five years to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in
Africa. If that pledge is kept, it will make a profound difference in the lives
of more than 25 million Africans who fight this disease with little hope. In his
speech, the President endorsed the use of generic drugs to fight AIDS in that
continent and spoke about the important role they play in making medication
accessible to those who have no way of paying for more expensive drugs.
Honourable senators, there is no good reason why drugs that prolong life for
AIDS patients in the developed world cannot be made available in the developing
world. In order to help make this a reality, I believe Canada must use its
position as a leading trade nation to ensure that the WTO encourages generic
drug manufacturers to export those vital drugs to Africa at the lowest cost
Currently, WTO rules allow countries in crisis to produce unauthorized
generic copies of a patented drug as long as the manufacturing occurs on its own
soil. For many African countries, even this is a difficulty.
What measures has the Government of Canada taken to promote public health
over private profits in global trade arrangements concerning the treatment of
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank the honourable senator for his question. Like him, I was delighted with
the announcement by President Bush in the State of the Union Address that $15
billion will be earmarked for AIDS in Africa. Clearly, that is a substantial
commitment. One hopes that it can be met through the American budgetary process,
which it will have to undergo before it will be put into place.
The honourable senator is also aware that there is an Africa Fund established
by this government. Some of the resources from that fund will also be directed
to the AIDS initiative.
Concerning the discussions before the WTO, I will make representations to Mr.
Pettigrew with respect to the suggestion put forward this afternoon by the
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, the $15-billion pledge by
the United States is 40 times bigger than the $500 million announced by Canada
in last year's G8 summit in Kananaskis. Overall, this country's official
development assistance for 1999-2000 was 0.29 per cent of GNP, down from 0.49
per cent in 1991-92 under the previous Conservative government.
The UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, Mr. Stephen Lewis, a Canadian, in
response to the State of the Union Address, said:
Countries like Canada are really on the hook to go back to their own
treasuries and ask how they are going to up their own contributions to the
epidemic... I don't know how they can escape it.
Is the federal government currently considering an increase in the amount of
financial aid given by this country to fight AIDS in Africa?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
we will have a better understanding of that next Tuesday at 4:30.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I should like to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if the
government has decided if enabling legislation will be necessary to implement
the Kyoto accord in whole or in part. If so, when can it be expected?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I think that question is somewhat premature. Perhaps the honourable senator
knows that discussions are ongoing with the provinces with respect to the
implementation of the Kyoto accord. Until that process is completed, I do not
think that they will be in a position to go forward with enabling legislation.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate. Every hour, we get closer to war in Iraq.
Today, on leaving cabinet, Prime Minister Chrétien said we should pray for a
positive report by Hans Blix when he reports to the Security Council on Friday.
I think prayer is not a bad idea, but I would like to couple it with action.
The Governments of France, Germany and Russia want to triple the number of UN
inspectors in Iraq to ensure there can be no hiding or development of weapons of
mass destruction. This is precisely the plan former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
has put forward.
Why has the Government of Canada refused to support this proposal to
strengthen the hand of the UN and to ensure Iraq's compliance so war will be
averted? Perhaps, then, we could say a prayer of thanksgiving for no war.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I would be delighted to join with the Honourable Senator Roche in a prayer of
thanksgiving for no war.
Dr. Blix will be reporting to the United Nations on Friday. We do not know
what he will be reporting. We do not know, for example, if he thinks more
inspectors on the ground would aid and abet or be harmful to the process.
Yesterday, Iraq made provision for U-2 spy planes to be able to fly over
Iraq. In my view, that might be more effective than having additional inspectors
on the ground because these planes will be able to locate things that human
beings are sometimes unable to locate.
Quite honestly, we must wait for Dr. Blix to report to the United Nations on
Friday before we engage in hypotheticals.
Senator Roche: Honourable senators, the plan put forward by France,
Russia and Germany is not hypothetical. It was contained in the speech of the
French foreign minister in the UN Security Council, among other things.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I should now like to turn to
the subject of a debate on this matter here in the Senate.
The minister will recall that we discussed this matter before. For the
moment, at any rate, we have a respectful disagreement. She says that my Motion
No. 4 on the Order Paper is sufficient in this regard. I maintain that there
should be a government-sponsored debate. I want to assure the minister that the
following is not a trick question; it is an effort to secure information on the
position of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Before the first Gulf War, the Liberal Party, then in opposition in the
Senate, introduced a motion calling for a debate. On November 20, 1990, the
Honourable Allan MacEachen, Leader of the Opposition, introduced a motion in the
Senate which triggered a debate. The motion stated:
That the Senate do now adjourn for the purpose of raising a matter of
urgent public importance, namely: the Persian Gulf crisis.
Senator MacEachen then made a speech. He was followed by the late Honourable
Heath Macquarrie who spoke on behalf of the government. A number of other
honourable senators took part in the debate.
I am puzzled as to why, in 1990, the Liberal Party, when it was in
opposition, favoured a Senate debate on the then looming Gulf War and, today, is
opposed to a Senate debate on a repeat Gulf War.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I think Senator Roche has answered his own question. We have a situation in
which the honourable senator has a motion before the chamber. I have encouraged
all honourable senators to participate in debate on that motion, but I cannot
force any individual senator to speak on the issue if he or she chooses not to
Senator Roche: Honourable senators, the minister keeps returning to
fact that I have a motion on the Order Paper. That is not the issue. The issue
is the government's position. What is the position of the Government of Canada
on the looming Iraq war? I believe that all senators have a right to hear that
from the government.
Speaking of the government, if the government will not have a debate, will
the minister herself undertake to speak to my motion?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the best spokespeople on this
whole question on the government side are the Prime Minister and the Minister of
Foreign Affairs. I am neither. They have both spoken eloquently on exactly what
is the government's position. It is a government position that I fully support.
Quite frankly, I do not believe that I could add anything to the debate beyond
what has been said very clearly by the Prime Minister and by the Honourable Bill
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, what I see developing is
exactly what took place in an earlier time. I have no notes because I lived
On January 22, 1991, the national Liberal caucus, of which I was a member,
decided early in the morning that we would not vote in favour of the motion put
forward that day by the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney.
During the day, pressures of all kinds arose. I will not make a speech on
that today. I have the names, the events and the room number. I was involved. I
was very active in the national caucus. I was a member of the Quebec caucus,
which reports to the national caucus.
For reasons I will not mention today, events took place throughout the day,
and members fell away one after the other. When it came to the final vote, the
Right Honourable Jean Chrétien stood in front of me, and I raised my hand and
said, "Please, Jean, stop. Please."
When the vote took place, we switched. The Right Honourable John Turner came
from Vancouver, if my memory serves me well, to disagree with Mr. Chrétien. Even
though I was a friend, I had the guts to respond to the leader then. The
government fell. The vote took place and we switched. At least the vote took
place. There were 47 members who were opposed to the motion, 39 of whom were
NDP. I was so glad that I was not the only Liberal. Four Liberals voted against
the motion. One of those who voted against the motion is today the chief
government whip in the House of Commons. The other two members who voted against
the motion were Warren Almand and Christine Stewart.
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
Senator Prud'homme: The question is, I think we should have the right
to vote. I do not care. I want to vote.
Senator Roche: The right!
Senator Prud'homme: Canadians are entitled to know where honourable
senators stand. I do not want people to hide and wait until after the fact. This
matter is too important. I urge the Leader of the Government in the Senate to
pay attention to justice. The minister need not respond today. However, we will
see divisiveness in this country if some countries at the Security Council vote
with one side and other countries vote with the other side. I dare say nothing
more. If there is a debate, I will say more.
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate please urge the Prime
Minister to understand that there are people who want to be counted? We cannot
vote after the decision is taken. This is a national matter for our institution.
We have the right to vote. We have the right to speak.
Would the minister at least consider the possibility of reassessing what was
just said? She has more power. She is a cabinet minister. She represents us. She
is our collective voice in this place.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I must disagree with the
honourable senator for the simple reason that I do not wish to be put in a
position at this moment where I am being invited to vote on an initiative that
is still very much at the hypothetical stage.
We have committed ourselves to the United Nations. That is absolutely the
right process to follow. The United Nations is meeting with Hans Blix on Friday.
On that day, we will learn whether there is further evidence with respect to
weapons of mass destruction that may exist in Iraq. Arms inspectors are still in
the country. We will learn whether Iraq is failing or obeying resolution 1441 of
the Security Council.
To vote prior to learning more about the actual circumstances would be
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I did not suggest that we
vote beforehand. I agree with every word the minister has said. However,
regardless of which way the United Nations goes before that, we should have the
right to vote. That is what I meant to say. For the rest, I agree totally with
Senator Carstairs: The position of the government has been quite
clear: We will support the United Nations in this matter.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. The minister has said that this is a
hypothetical situation. We are deploying troops to the Gulf region. Deploying
troops and personnel to that region does not seem to be a hypothetical activity,
insofar as the decisions are being made. In the eyes of Canadians, we are doing
what people like myself consider to be the right thing: We are moving in and
supporting the U.S. in the action that they are taking to this point.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the honourable senator is
wrong. We are not deploying troops. We have moved 25 individuals who were
working with American officials in Florida and who were doing long-range
planning to Qatar. I do not believe that one can say that moving 25 individuals
means deploying troops.
As the honourable senator is well aware, there has been a change of command
with respect to Operation Apollo and the war against terrorism. We have always
been clear about our position on terrorism and the issue of naval control
through our vessels that are already in theatre and have been ever since we
began Operation Apollo.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the only government representative in
this House, and under a principle won in a hard-fought battle by our ancestors,
you must defend this government. It may be very comforting to rely on the
opinion of the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, except that it
is up to you to answer our questions.
The President of the United States and his Secretary of Defense have said
they would act alone or with their allies regardless of whether they receive
support from NATO and the United Nations. Are we part of these allies the
Americans are referring to, yes or no?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is up to me to answer
questions that are posed; that is why I rise here every day. The particular
question of the honourable senator was whether I would give a speech. If I were
to give a speech, I would give exactly the same speech that the Honourable Bill
Graham gave in the other place. However, that is prohibited by our rules. I am
not allowed to give exactly the same speech that is given in the other place. I
indicate to honourable senators that the words would be identical because the
words should be identical. It is critical at this time, in this very difficult
situation, that all Canadians know where their government stands at the present
time. None of us wish to go to war.
Canadians want the government to act judiciously. The greatest judiciousness
that I could practice is by allowing the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the
Prime Minister to give their speeches on this topic.
Honourable senators, in regard to the subject of the American question, we
are allies of the United Nations. We have committed ourselves to the process of
the United Nations.
Senator Nolin: Honourable senators, why not say so publicly?
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in this house, a delayed answer to a
question raised in the Senate on October 23, 2002, by Senator Oliver, regarding
the United States and the Smart Border Plan Agreement to Restrict Asylum
(Response to question raised by Hon. Donald H. Oliver on October 23, 2002)
Co-operation on Resettlement (further to the Safe Third Agreement)
Article 9 of the Safe Third Agreement provides that both countries
"shall endeavour to assist the other in the resettlement of persons
determined to require protection in appropriate circumstances." The terms
of this provision are reciprocal meaning that either Canada or the United
States could propose that the other country assist them with the
resettlement of refugees. Under the Agreement, the details of any referral
would be the subject of further discussion between the parties. As
circumstances change, it may be in the Parties' interest to accept more or
fewer referrals or indeed none. It should be noted that it is not
unprecedented for countries to assist one another in the resettlement of
Further to Article 9, Canada has established the parameters that will
govern the referral of persons by the U.S.: they must be outside the United
States and Canada, as defined in respective national immigration laws; and
be determined by the Governments of the U.S. and Canada to be in need of
international protection. It should be noted that any referrals pursuant to
this supplementary agreement would be included within the target figure for
government- assisted refugees made public each year.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I have a few comments regarding the delayed answer that the Deputy
Leader of the Government just gave us. First, I appreciate the good work that he
did in preparing the delayed answer.
The way this has been done for some time now is such that we only receive the
answers to the oral questions. It is difficult to remember the question raised
by an honourable senator. Could the officials who prepare these answers include
the corresponding question?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
as Senator Kinsella knows, answers are prepared by officials in the departments,
and those answers come to us in a certain format. However, the senator makes a
good point. I will inquire whether we can add the question to the documentation
that we distribute.
Leave having been given to revert to Senators' Statements:
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, Senator Gustafson brought to
my attention that we were remiss, two days ago, in that on the February 9, 1968,
the Honourable Herb Sparrow was appointed to this chamber by Lester Pearson. I
believe that February 9 was his thirty-fifth anniversary, and I extend my
congratulations to him.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, I wish to speak
briefly about our colleague from Saskatchewan. If there was ever a person who
took the life of farmers to heart, it is Senator Sparrow. He chaired the
committee that issued a report entitled: "Soil at Risk." That report did more
to encourage farmers to practise continuous cropping, rather than leaving land
in summerfallow and allowing the soil to blow away, than any other thing that
influenced farming practices on the Prairies.
Senator Sparrow also has a very good wit. One never knows what to expect, but
one always has a delightful time with him.
I am pleased to congratulate the senior member of the Senate on his
thirty-fifth anniversary in this chamber.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I would like to say a few
words about Senator Sparrow. More Liberals should be like Senator Sparrow,
because he agrees with many of the things we on this side of the house say. When
Liberals say "independence of thought," they really mean that what they say is
right and that what we say is partisan.
Senator Sparrow stands as a lie to that statement. He actually is an
independent thinker. He is a joy to work with and a fun companion on trips back
to Saskatchewan. He enlightens us with all kinds of stories about the Liberal
Party from years ago — although nothing from the present. We exchange political
stories and we have become good friends.
I look up to Senator Sparrow — even though I do, physically, look down to him
— and I congratulate him on the work he has done on behalf of our province.
We are very proud to be associated with you.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I always bow to the dean
of Parliament. However, I would point out that none of you noticed that, today,
I commence my fortieth year in Parliament. That is, 40 uninterrupted years, for
those who catch the nuance. It was thirty-nine years ago last night that I was
However, the dean of the Senate is Senator Sparrow and I wish to associate
myself with everything that has been said about him. I respect him. He was
appointed by Mr. Pearson; I was elected under Mr. Pearson; and there are not
many people around here who can say that.
Congratulations, Senator Sparrow.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I, too, would like to join
colleagues in congratulating Senator Sparrow on this milestone. It is a real
pleasure to be able to speak like this of senators when they are still here with
us and are going to be with us for quite some time.
Senator Sparrow's work has been truly exceptional. We all know that he was
appointed by Prime Minister Pearson. The work that he has done for agriculture
and for farmers has been stupendous. I had the great privilege to work with him
on the agriculture committee some years ago when the committee was studying the
issue of soil erosion. That study truly introduced me to Western Canada.
My heart and my affection are with Senator Sparrow, as are the good wishes of
this chamber. Senator Sparrow truly is a man of the soil.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, you are all wrong.
Tomorrow is Senator Sparrow's anniversary. I know that because I remember that
when I first arrived here, almost 31 years ago, Senator Sparrow was already a
veteran. I remember the day I was sworn in. I had hardly warmed my seat when
Herb came toward me with a wide grin and arms outstretched. However, before
congratulating me he had to find out how old I was. Those were the days when
they were appointing teenagers.
"How old are you," he said. "Nineteen," I said. He said, "That is great. I am
still the youngest. I am only 16."
That is the way he has been behaving ever since.
Senator Sparrow has been my friend over the years, even through that
memorable and perhaps best-forgotten period of the GST debate. When Senator
Sparrow spoke, we did not know whether he was a Prairie preacher or whether the
Reverend Jimmy Swaggart had entered the chamber.
Senator Sparrow has won many awards. In 2001, if I remember correctly, he was
elected to the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame. Reference was made to the
wonderful report of the Agriculture Committee that he chaired, "Soil at Risk."
As a result of that report, Senator Sparrow was awarded an honorary doctor of
science degree from McGill University. He is not only a Canadian authority on
soil conservation, his knowledge of this particular field is known and respected
around the world.
Senator Sparrow, in congratulating you and outlining some of your
achievements, I want to observe that you are not getting old. You just get
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I would also like to pay
tribute to Dr. Sparrow. I did not realize you received a doctorate, Herb. I have
so much respect for you, sir. Two things epitomize you: a sense of humour and
common sense. That is what you are all about, Herb. You are a nice guy. You are
one of my favourites in this place. You are just a real good man.
Congratulations! I hope you are here forever.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, it just occurred to me that
I am one of the few people here who actually knew Senator Sparrow before he was
appointed to the Senate. In the early 1960s, I worked at Liberal headquarters
under Mr. Pearson and, with Keith Davey, I travelled back and forth across the
country. I got to know Senator Prud'homme very well.
I can recall a few hilarious meetings in the Bessborough Hotel in 1964 when
Senator Sparrow was Ross Thatcher's right-hand guy and president of the party. I
would also point out that he lives on Walker Drive, which is named after my
I consider it an honour to sit beside the dean.
Hon. Edward M. Lawson: Honourable senators, I wish to make two quick
points on the relationship with my long-time friend, Herb Sparrow. I am second
to him. I am in my thirty-third year.
A number of years ago, during the debate on the Charlottetown Accord, when
everyone across the country seemed to be unanimously in favour of the accord,
including those in the other place and in this chamber, Senator Sparrow asked
me, "How are you going to vote on the Charlottetown Accord?" I said, "Against
it." He then told me that was also his intention, and he asked me, "Will you
stand with me?" Honourable senators, there were two "no" votes on the
We were once flying together — after he got his doctorate, Senator St.
Germain — and there was an announcement that one of the stewardesses suffered a
chest injury and there was a request that, if a doctor was on board, he make
himself known to the crew. Senator Sparrow said, "I am a doctor." He went up
and came back a couple of minutes later, and I asked him, "What happened?" He
said, "Damn it, a doctor of divinity beat me to her."
You are a great senator; you have a wonderful sense of humour; and it has
been a pleasure to work with you all these years.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, in the short time that I
have been here, I have been able to figure out almost everything that goes on in
here, sometimes when it happens, and sometimes a long time after.
However, one thing happened relatively recently in relation to Senator
Sparrow that I could not figure out for the life of me. It was his motive in
taking the amount of time and the effort that he put into trying to prevent
Senator Lapointe's motion to limit tributes. Now I understand. I did not know he
was about to celebrate a thirty-fifth anniversary. It was well thought out.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Herbert O. Sparrow: Honourable senators, thank you very much. I
do appreciate your kind remarks. Yes, I have been here for 35 years, and I can
say that, in all that time, I don't regret one day that I was here. That day was
September 25, 1970. That is the day I do not regret being here.
I very much appreciate the goodwill shown by the opposition in this house. I
appreciate their kind thoughts. I should make one thing clear, though. I was
asked why I was a Liberal, and I said, "Well, my grandfather was a Liberal, my
father was a Liberal and I am a Liberal." The chap said, "Well, if your
grandfather was dumb and your father was dumb, what would you be?"
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Careful.
Senator Sparrow: I replied, "Well, I would probably be a Tory!"
Senator St. Germain: Herb, thank you.
An Hon. Senator: I take back everything I said.
Senator Sparrow: In thinking about the motion put forward by Senator
Lapointe and the time allotted for speeches in this chamber, I want to take
advantage of this opportunity to speak before a time limit is imposed on me.
Indeed, the honourable senator was correct in making that statement.
I will use this opportunity to give you a bit of my background, something I
have not had the opportunity to do in the 35 years I have been here.
The headline of the news report at the time of my birth read: "Mrs. Sparrow
gives birth to a child." It went on to indicate that I was born in a manger and
that my sex life began at an early age because the report read: "Mrs. Sparrow is
in stable condition and Baby Sparrow is holding his own."
I recognize that a person should talk about his or her background, but I
realize that I came from a poor family. As a child —
Senator Corbin: How poor were you?
Senator Sparrow: I remember walking down the street with my mother
holding my hand and people saying, "There goes that poor Mrs. Sparrow." I knew
that we must come from a poor family.
When I was in Grade 5, I remember coming home from school and saying to my
mother, "Mother, was I adopted?" She said, "Well, now that you are 18, I might
as well tell you the truth. You were adopted, but they brought you back."
My career in business also started at an early age. I was trying to help
support the family. We had a lot of crows in our part of the country. I would
take five eggs out of the crow's nest and I would put three hen's eggs in the
nest. The crow would hatch the eggs. After 21 days, I would go and pick up the
three chickens. I would get about 100 chickens a year that way. In doing so, do
not let your own chickens hatch the eggs because, as soon as they started to
hatch, they would quit laying eggs. The news report in the papers at that time —
and it was the first time I ever got a headline — read, "Sparrow beats crow."
There are one or two other things I want to tell you about my careers, and I
have had a number of them. When I was in high school, I went to the navy
barracks for a boxing match. Someone told me that every Friday there was a
boxing match at the navy barracks, and if you entered a fight, you got $15, win
or lose. I needed the money, so I went down on Wednesday to enrol and tried my
gloves on and so on. I had never had them on before.
On Friday, when I went to the boxing match, they put on my gloves. I was put
into the ring with a tough kid. In the first 30 seconds, I had him scared stiff.
He thought he had killed me.
Your Honour, I am sure I have a time limit, but do I not know what it is.
I was a CN station agent. The rural communities had small stations. I lived
in accommodation above the station. I got married there and we had a few people
in for the wedding. When the crowd was there, the top floor broke through and
down we went into the station. My mother said, "Herbie, I told you that you
should not marry above your station."
Another thing I remember is coming home and asking, "Father, will you take
me to the zoo?" He said, "Son, if the zoo wants you, they will come and get
you." I wish my father was alive today so that he could know I got to the zoo
here all by myself.
I think I have made a contribution to the government, to Parliament and to
the country. I never realized that until several days ago, when I met the Prime
Minister in the hallway and he asked my opinion. He said, "How are you, Herb?"
That made me feel real important.
I have one other story. Prime Minister Pearson wrote in his memoirs, "I was
often asked why I appointed Senator Sparrow to the Senate. I want to make that
clear now. I wanted someone to represent the mentally challenged." That is how
I got here.
Honourable senators, that is my story and I am sticking to it.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Jean Lapointe: Honourable senators, I have a great deal of
admiration for Senator Sparrow and I told him so after his speech, when he gave
his opinion on the matter of time allocated to tributes. However, there is a
world of difference between paying tribute to someone who has passed away and
someone as lively as Senator Sparrow.
It is my pleasure to applaud someone as special as Senator Sparrow. I am
pleased with the comments made by the honourable senators about him. I would
also like to congratulate him for his work. That said, I am not certain that
Motion No. 76 on the Order Paper will be agreed to today.
Hon. Yves Morin moved the third reading of Bill C-4, to amend the
Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I urge all of you to support this excellent
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I spoke at second reading of
Bill C-4 in December about my concerns for the agenda of this legislation and
the government's overall lack of public policy regarding the management of
nuclear waste. At that time, I posed a number of questions, some of which we had
an opportunity to discuss with the minister when he appeared before the
I should like the record to state that I do support this bill specifically,
since it merely eliminates the liability of lending institutions. From what we
were able to find out through our research and the hearings conducted on this
bill, the reason this liability coverage was not part of the original
legislation in 1997 was because there were privately owned Canadian Nuclear
Safety Commission licencees operating in Canada, including companies that mine
uranium and work with medical isotopes and nuclear fuel. However, it seems that
they were focused on the specific aspects of the legislation that pertained to
their own business. It was not until Bruce Power entered the market and began to
seek financing that section 46(3) became an issue. When they began to put
together their financing strategy, Canada's financial institutions refused to
take on this potential liability and cited section 46(3) in their defence.
I also appreciate the minister's explanation of Canada's current policy
framework with respect to nuclear fuel waste, as he reminded the committee
during his appearance on February 4 that the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act came into
force in November of 2002.
Before I conclude, I should like to raise the way this legislation has been
handled at a number of levels. I mention this because, frankly, I was mystified
as to the urgency that had been communicated to the Senate regarding the passage
of this bill for, it is true, I have been told by a number of stakeholders that
this bill must be passed before February 14, even though the government first
introduced it in May of 2002.
Honourable senators, it has taken this government and its experienced
legislators almost nine months to pass a one-sentence bill. I was, therefore,
concerned that there was more to the intent and impact of the legislation than I
Ultimately, I believe that the additional time the Senate has had to consider
this bill has allowed this place to conduct a thorough study on the specific
matter of financing, in addition to a more general discussion on the future of
nuclear energy in Canada. I am satisfied that we have dealt with this
legislation fairly and efficiently, considering it was only referred to the
Senate on December 10, 2002.
I believe the minister's appearance before the committee was of the utmost
importance, since Canadians take the subject of nuclear energy and its waste
very seriously. It is our job to assure ourselves that the legislation we are
passing is just, necessary and will be of benefit to Canadians for many years to
Nuclear waste facilities must be able to gather financing to upgrade and
refit their aging nuclear facilities. Facilities for high- level radioactive
waste were only designed to accommodate used fuel for 15 to 20 years. Although
the fuel could safely remain in these facilities longer, some of the older
facilities in Canada have reached the point where they need to be refurbished.
This will be an expensive proposition.
I ask honourable senators to support this legislation. In 10 years, this is
the second time that I have actually asked this. I believe that the Senate
should vote to support Bill C-4 and recommend that it receive Royal Assent
On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate adjourned.
Hon. Lorna Milne moved the second reading of Bill S-13, to amend the
She said: Honourable senators, I am extremely proud to begin this afternoon
by uttering the one sentence that I have been waiting for five years to say.
I rise, honourable senators, to speak at second reading as the sponsor of a
government bill that will allow for the release of historic census records.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Milne: As all but our newest contingent of senators are well
aware, for the last five years I have been fighting an uphill battle with
Statistics Canada to allow for the release of the nominal census returns for
Canada's historic censuses. It is a battle I certainly did not seek out. On
February 19 of last year, I told this place that this issue,
...deserves the leadership and the attention of the government. There is
nothing I would like more than to have the government announce that it will
take the necessary steps to balance the interests of all concerned. I still
hope that this issue will be taken out of my hands.
Over the course of my speech that day, I was particularly harsh with Dr. Ivan
Fellegi, maybe overly harsh, as Senator Murray pointed out at the time. Today,
however, the Chief Statistician, the Minister of Industry and I all agree that
this bill strikes an effective balance between all kinds of competing interests.
It does so by providing a framework that allows wide-ranging research by
historians, genealogists and others. It also specifically protects people's
privacy in a number of ways. In addition, the bill clears the way for all
Canadians to make an active and informed decision on whether or not to include
themselves in Canadian history in the future. I am confident that we will all be
I will start, then, by outlining for our new colleagues, and I hope the rest
of you will forgive me for this, what all of the fuss has been about over the
last five years. I will move on to give honourable senators a quick update on
what steps the government has already taken to release historic census
information. I will provide you with probably more information than you really
want to know about the bill, and then I will make my pitch for support of this
bill by each and every one of us.
For hundreds of years Canadians have been using nominal census records, some
dating as far back as 1666, to trace and research Canadian history. Up to 1993,
the Canadian government had always made the 92-year-old census records available
to the public through the National Archives. The pre-Confederation censuses of
1851 and 1861, and the national censuses 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 have been an
invaluable resource for Canadian historians, genealogists and medical
researchers, all of whom have found them to be the only primary source of
information on Canadians in their family groups.
In 1998, as we approached the ninety-second anniversary of the 1906 special
census that was taken for the West after it joined Confederation, when the
Western provinces were formed out of the Northwest Territories, Statistics
Canada was preparing to release the census when it hit a snag. The regulations
had exactly the same confidentiality and disclosure regulations as all previous
regulations had had, word for word. However, in 1905, the previous year, the
government had passed a bill specifically giving those regulations the force of
law. The regulations did make certain references to confidentiality, and they
prevented the census takers of the time from disclosing any information that
they collected in the course of their duties.
As a result of legal advice, Statistics Canada erred on the side of caution
and announced it would not release the 1906 census as planned.
This upset historians and genealogists everywhere. They did agree that census
takers were not allowed to go up and down the road gossiping about their
neighbours. In fact, no genealogist or historian doubts that contemporary
confidentiality was then and is now essential. They were adamant, however, that
a different section in the same regulations was equally, if not more important.
That section specifically stated that the nominal census returns would be stored
in the Archives of the Dominion.
My response was fairly straightforward. I thought that this was a simple
oversight the government could correct, and when the government did not correct
it, I felt it was perfect for a private senator's bill. Little did I know that I
would have to introduce that same bill twice and wait five years before getting
to this day.
I worked closely with the genealogical and historical communities who
collected petitions and pounded out e-mails to senators and to members of the
other place to encourage government action. The progress was slow but steady.
Over the course of the battle, I presented petitions with over 26,000 signatures
to the Senate, all calling for action on this very important piece of Canadian
history. While I was working in the grassroots, the government was doing its own
homework on the issue.
In order to find a way out of the legal log-jam, the then Minister of
Industry, John Manley, appointed an expert panel to study the issue and to
report back to him. The conclusions of the expert panel were fairly
straightforward. The panel, led by former Senator Lorna Marsden and former
Supreme Court Justice Gerard LaForest, found that there was no legal impediment
to the release of census records created prior to 1918. In 1918, however, the
Census Act itself was amended to include the same confidentiality provisions as
had been included in the earlier regulations governing the 1906 through 1916
Although there was no mention of the National Archives in the 1918 act
itself, the regulations governing the 1921 and all subsequent censuses, which
had and still have the force of law, all made specific reference to the fact
that the nominal census returns would be turned over to the Archives of the
The expert panel concluded that the placing of this reference in the
regulations, rather than in the bill, was not a specific policy choice but an
oversight. The panel recommended that "for greater certainty" the Statistics
Act be amended to allow for the release of post-1918 census returns.
Although the report of the expert panel cleared things up in the minds of
many people, it was still not sufficient to deal with the qualms harboured by
Statistics Canada. Legal niceties notwithstanding, the Chief Statistician was
genuinely concerned that Statistics Canada would take a hit to its reputation if
it were seen to go back on its word. In my opinion, the reputation of Statistics
Canada is worth fighting for. Stats Can is a world leader in statistics
methodology and integrity. It is seen as a model around the world, and it relies
on that reputation in the international community, and indeed within Canada,
when it asks for highly sensitive and private information from business,
industry, government and individuals. It became necessary to ensure that the
decisions regarding the release of historic census records would not affect the
broader present day or future operations of Statistics Canada.
In November 2001, Statistics Canada announced further public consultations by
way of focus groups and town hall meetings. The goal was to measure the reaction
that Canadians would have to the release of these census records. After a lot of
study and hundreds of submissions, Statistics Canada was able to conclude
sometime this past summer that post-1901 censuses could be released. All that
had to be worked out were the details. It took another seven months to hammer
out those details. I freely admit to all honourable senators that at times I was
part and parcel of that delay. There were certain things that I felt had to be
done. Fortunately, the Minister of Industry agreed with me that we would not
proceed until some conditions had been met.
I am thrilled to tell you that the details have been worked out. Much has
been accomplished and Bill S-13 is the result. At this time, I want to take a
moment to recognize the valuable input of one particular senator at just the
right time. On March 7, 2002, Senator Murray spoke on my bill and implored
everyone to reach a consensus. He appealed to the Senate to continue to work to
find a compromise that would accommodate all of the different perspectives. I
took many of his comments to heart, and I hope he will be able to support this
solution. It is precisely the type of compromise he suggested almost a year ago.
Let me turn now to what the government has already done to open historic
census records to researchers. On Friday, January 24, the government released
the entire 1906 census on-line and without restriction. Although Stats Canada
felt there may be some ambiguity in the law governing the 1906 census, the
government agreed there was no longer any need to withhold it. Ninety-seven
years were long enough to deal with any privacy concerns. Since the 1906 census
was only an agricultural census of three provinces, it contained information
that was not highly intrusive. Also, it was the first census taken of Alberta
and Saskatchewan. Therefore, the government agreed that, as part of the
compromise solution, the 1906 census would be released immediately.
What has been the response of the public, honourable senators might ask? I
will let the numbers tell the story. The government put the 1906 census on-line
on January 24. In the first 12 days the census was on-line, the site received
4,870,569 hits. You may want to know how widespread that access was. We can
learn that from the number of Internet service providers that accessed the site.
For those who do not know what exactly a service provider is, Sympatico is one
service provider with millions of subscribers. The Senate is a service provider,
as is AOL, America On Line, and Roger's Cable. If every single one of the people
who use only those four Internet service providers accessed the historic census,
the National Archives would have recorded only four visits. On average, in the
first 10 days that the 1906 census was on-line, the archives averaged 3,972
visits per day by servers. Not only is there a lot of research being done, but
clearly that huge number indicates that the servers must come from all corners
of the world.
Honourable senators may not be aware that the 1901 census has been on-line
since June of last year. In the first seven months that the 1901 census has been
on-line, June to December, the National Archives received a staggering
51,704,325 hits. There is absolutely no doubt that Canadians consider this
census information vitally important, as it is to people around the world.
Between the 1901 and 1906 census, there are now over one half- million hits
per day on the archives site. That is truly remarkable.
Honourable senators may ask what is the downside. Are there problems? After
more that 56 million hits to the National Archives website, the exact number of
complaints about the service lodged with the National Archives is zero. This
speaks volumes about the value of this service and the importance that Canadians
place on their history.
I will turn to the bill itself because it is the second and the most
significant part of this compromise solution. The government has introduced this
bill to govern the release of all censuses that have taken place after 1906, up
to and including 2001, and all the censuses to be taken in the future, as well.
I believe, honourable senators, that you will find this framework both
balanced and fair and, as it is quite a short bill, I want to take the time to
walk you through it step-by-step, clause-by-clause. There are only three
The bulk of the bill adds to section 17 of the Statistics Act, which governs
secrecy at Statistics Canada. The entire scheme that will govern the release of
historic census records is set out at clause 1 of the bill, which adds new
sections 17(4) through 17(10) to the Statistics Act. Clause 2 of the bill then
adds section 17.1, which gives the Governor in Council certain regulatory
powers. Clause 3 contains a penalty provision that applies solely to the
disclosure of census information.
Proposed sections 17(4) to 17(10) govern the release of nominal records from
censuses taken from 1911 to the present. Proposed section 17(4) gives
genealogists and historians express but conditional permission to examine
complete census records 92 years after the date of the census. The condition is
that genealogists must sign an undertaking that will limit the information that
they can publicly disclose. Historians must sign a similar undertaking as well,
and must have their research proposal approved by an acceptable authority.
Under proposed section 17(5), those people who have the right to approve
access to the census must assess the scientific and public value of the research
before allowing it to go forward.
New section 17(6) goes on specifically to note that everyone who signs an
undertaking under 17(4) must comply with the undertaking. Proposed section 17(7)
states that everyone may freely examine and disclose census records 112 years
after the date of the census. At that time, it is completely without
There are a few key details to note regarding sections 17(4) through 17(7).
These sections do not limit which parts of the nominal census returns a person
can look at or even copy. It is the government's intention that the undertaking
that genealogists and historians sign will limit the information that they can
disclose to others to what they call tombstone information. That includes name,
address, age, date of birth where available, sex, marital status, origin, and
occupation. This limitation on publication will last for 20 years. When those 20
years are up, 112 years after the date of the census, there will no longer be
any limitations whatsoever on what can be published or who can access census
Proposed section 17(8) governs the release of census material from future
censuses. The next census is scheduled for 2006. Section 17(8) limits the census
data that can be examined to the returns of those people who consent to having
their information released to the National Archives. In other words, on all
future census forms, Canadians will be asked to give their prior informed
consent to having their census returns stored in the National Archives. If a
person withholds consent, their information shall forever remain private. These
returns of future census results from now on will all be available, completely
open, 92 years after the date of the census, as the ones 1901 and prior were
available. No two-step procedure will be required for these census returns
because each person will already have given their informed consent on the issue.
Proposed section 17(9) specifically allows those who examine the nominal
census returns to publish the information that they find there. This will be
limited by the undertaking that genealogists and historians have to sign for the
period 92 to 112 years after each historic census.
Proposed section 17(10) is very important. It orders Statistics Canada to
transfer the individual census returns to the National Archivist 92 years after
each census date. The National Archivist will be responsible for regulating
access to the records. I repeat. This fact is most important. Ninety-two years
after a census is taken, the records will be transferred to the National
Archives and the archivist will have care and keeping of those records.
Once the scheme for releasing historic census records is laid out in proposed
section 17.1, the bill goes on to set out the regulatory powers of the Governor
in Council in relation to the scheme in section 17. This is clause 2 of the
bill, and it creates section 17.1, which allows the Governor in Council to make
regulations, (a) prescribing the form and the content of the undertaking
that must be signed by genealogists and historians; and (b) prescribing
the categories of people who can approve a historian's research.
These regulations must be made on the recommendation of both the Minister of
Industry, who is responsible for Statistics Canada, and the Minister of Canadian
Heritage, who is responsible for the National Archives. These regulations, when
they are drawn up, will have to be vetted by both ministers.
Finally, clause 3 of the bill adds a section to the penalty provision of the
Statistics Act, which states that any person who breaches an undertaking under
section 17(6) will be guilty of an offence and liable for a fine of up to
$1,000. This penalty is less substantial than those in the rest of the
Statistics Act. I want to reassure genealogists that there is no possibility of
jail time or a criminal record for an offence relating to the disclosure of
census records. I am not sure of this fact — I will have to check — but it seems
to me that no one has ever been convicted under the Statistics Act. That bodes
well for historians and genealogists in the future.
Honourable senators, that gives you a solid foundation in the nuts and bolts
of the bill. I want to spend some time now helping you all to understand the
various policy trade-offs that have been made in this bill, and I want you to
understand what steps are being undertaken to protect privacy. As well, I want
you to understand why it is so important that this bill be passed.
When this whole debate started five years ago, genealogists and historians
were told bluntly that there would be no future access to historic census
records. The door was to be slammed shut. We were told that this had to happen
in order to protect privacy.
In releasing the 1906 census and in introducing this bill, the government has
made the ultimate concession. They have agreed that census records should
generally be available with an absolute minimum of restrictions. Genealogists
win. In fact, under this scheme, 100 per cent of past census records will be
available for unrestricted research at some point in time — in 112 years. That
concession alone is more than enough to warrant my support of this bill. The
government has seen the historic value of census records and has decided to open
the vault. Access to history will not be compromised.
I turn, then, to the limits that are being placed on access under this bill.
I freely admit that I have struggled long and hard over what is set out here,
and I have come to the conclusion that the temporary limits are justified. One
simply cannot ignore the fact that, in 1918, the federal government wrote
privacy provisions into the Statistics Act; nor can we ignore the fact that all
of the regulations governing the 1911 and 1916 census had the force of law.
Those regulations mentioned both release to the Archives of the Dominion and the
need for privacy. Privacy rights are real rights and it would be totally
improper for the federal government to disregard them.
One of the fundamental truisms of privacy law is that all information loses
its sensitivity as time passes. Privacy theorists argue that one of the ways
privacy issues can be resolved is just to let additional time pass in order for
documents to lose more sensitivity. The censuses from 1851 through 1901 were all
governed under a set of laws different from those taken after 1901. It stands to
reason that because of the perceived lack of clarity in the legislation, the
1911 and subsequent censuses could be deemed more sensitive on their
ninety-second birthday than earlier censuses. To cure this sensitivity, the
censuses will be released, but some information within them will still be
"unpublishable" after 92 years, and all information will be released
completely free of restrictions after 112 years.
I want to take this opportunity to assure any genealogists and historians who
may be listening, or reading Hansard later, that the proposed undertaking is
nothing to be concerned about. The government does not want to make it difficult
to conduct historical and genealogical research. I am told that the forms to be
signed will be short, simple and easy to understand. More important, I have been
given the personal assurance from the National Archivist that any requirements
that the waiver contains will not prevent the historic census records from being
accessible through the National Archives website or through local libraries that
will have both the microfilm and the ability to collect signed undertakings. At
the same time, it is Statistics Canada's position that the use of the waiver
will sufficiently protect any privacy interests that arise from the release of
The principles governing the release of future censuses are, I believe,
equally sound. Starting with the next census in 2006, Canadians will have the
opportunity to decide for themselves whether their census returns will be turned
over to the National Archives. If they decide that they do not want their
information ever to be made public, it will not be disclosed.
I know that many genealogists and historians will not be happy with this
measure, but I must stress that census information, particularly the information
now asked for on the long form, is intensely personal. As such, each individual
should have a great deal of control over how it is used. The principle of prior
informed consent is the best way to handle this situation. Some have expressed
the concern that if people are given the opportunity to opt out of the
disclosure to the National Archives, serious damage will be done to the
integrity of the record and to the statistical validity of the historic record.
I hope these worries will prove unfounded. To give an idea of why I think
they may be unfounded, let me share a key piece of information. When Statistics
Canada conducted the Canadian Communities Health Survey, it asked Canadians if
they would be willing to release their health information to local authorities
to increase the quality of health care in their community. We all know that
personal health issues are extremely sensitive, but over 95 per cent answered
that they would be willing to do so. That is a truly astonishing response rate,
and I think it bodes well for the release of historic census records.
Honourable senators, this is a solid, non-partisan bill and it is a good
compromise. It achieves the goal of historians and genealogists of gaining
access to historic census records and of properly preserving them. It provides
adequate safeguards for privacy that are entirely appropriate. It is a bill that
strikes the balance that I have been seeking for a long time — the balance that
Senator Murray asked for. I am proud that the government and, in particular,
Minister Allan Rock already took the bold step of releasing the 1906 census. I
am also proud that they cared enough to preserve and protect Canadian history
and the privacy of Canadians for generations to come. I urge all honourable
senators to support this bill.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, so as not to keep my
honourable friend in suspense, I will announce right away that I intend to
support this government bill. I opposed the two private members' bills on this
subject that Senator Milne sponsored in the previous sessions of Parliament
because, as she knows, in my opinion they went considerably beyond what was
necessary for the stated purpose and what was desirable in terms of public
That said, I note that she has told us that the parties to this compromise,
in addition to herself, were the Minister of Industry and the Chief
Statistician. When we come to consider the details in committee, there are, of
course, some matters that one would want some further information on.
Further, I note that she did not mention the Commissioner of Privacy as one
of those who was party to this compromise. I would think the committee would
want to hear from the Commissioner of Privacy on this bill. At first blush, it
appears to me that the kind of compromise that he favoured when he appeared
before the committee in respect of Senator Milne's private member's bills is
indeed incorporated in this government bill, but he will have an opportunity to
speak for himself, I hope, when the committee meets.
I congratulate the honourable senator on her achievement, and I am glad she
regards it as an achievement. This is a government bill. She made it very clear
when she brought in Bill S-15 in December of 1999 and when she brought in Bill
S-12 in February of 2001, both private bills, that what she earnestly and
ardently desired was a government bill. She made it clear that introducing the
private bill was one way of exerting some pressure on the government to arrive
at a new policy and bring in a bill of its own. She has succeeded in that
effort, and I congratulate her without qualification on that.
This is a government bill. It meets the needs of the people on behalf of whom
Senator Milne was speaking — in particular, people who want to trace their own
family histories by consulting personal data collected in the course of census
and scholars who want to do historical research. It meets the needs of those
people, and it does so while, generally speaking, respecting the privacy of
Canadians, living and dead.
I think it is fair to say that this bill — and the honourable senator
acknowledged as much — resembles more closely the compromise that we were
speaking about here. I do not take for myself or for members on this side
authorship of the compromise. It had been suggested by the Commissioner of
Privacy and was the subject of negotiations between him and the Chief
Statistician and others for some considerable period of time. However, today's
government bill resembles more the compromise that was being talked about than
it does the wider-ranging bills that Senator Milne introduced. As I recall, her
bill would have made this data public after 92 years, and there were no
limitations or restrictions on what data might be released and to whom it might
There was a provision that a person in respect of whom the personal data had
been collected could object to its disclosure, and provided that that person
satisfied the National Archivist that the objection was valid, and provided,
again, that the objection was made in the 92nd year after its collection, then
that person could succeed, perhaps, in preventing its disclosure. Therefore, a
person had to be at least 92 years of age in order to make the objection in the
first place. As our former colleague Senator DeWare said when she was speaking
to Bill S-15, this was a form of negative option billing that Senator Milne was
proposing for personal census data. Other than those who objected, all others,
as Senator Milne said at the time, would be "deemed to have given irrevocable
consent" to public access to their personal information.
Objection was taken to this, and properly so, not just by Statistics Canada
and the Privacy Commissioner, but also by some of us on this side of the house,
because we felt it went far beyond what was necessary in order to meet the needs
of people wanting to trace their own family history or the needs of history
My honourable friend has pretty thoroughly outlined the provisions of this
bill. The personal census data will be released 92 years after it has been
collected to people who want to trace their own family histories and to people
who want to do historical research.
We do not have the draft regulations in front of us, but that does not really
matter because the government has sent out, with the bill, sufficient background
material as to clearly indicate what the regulations will contain. In the case
of people tracing their own family histories, they, or a person with whom they
have contracted to do so, will be permitted to disclose only the tombstone
information to which Senator Milne referred. Those wishing to do historical
research will need to have their project approved as having a public or
scientific value. Those history researchers will be subject to the same
limitations as regards the disclosure of information as apply to people
searching for information on their own family.
If you are interested, those who may approve such a history project — and
this may be the subject of some questions in committee — will include, according
to the background document that was sent out by the government, the Chief
Statistician, who is presumed to be a history scholar, the National Archivist,
ditto, members of Parliament and senators, a mayor, a chief of a First Nations
community or a band council, the dean of a university, and senior clergy,
whoever they may be. All of those people are presumed to have some
qualifications in the field of historical scholarship, and I or someone else may
want to ask when the matter goes to the committee how this can be so, or why the
government has arrived at this list of people who could sign off on historical
Most important in this bill, in my view — and Senator Milne has referred to
this — is that for all future censuses, respondents will have the opportunity to
authorize or not the release, 92 years later, of their personal census data.
This was a matter that Senator Comeau and I referred to in the debate on Bill
S-12. As I pointed out at the time, Australia has just such a provision on its
census form. The respondent is asked whether everybody living under the roof of
that house authorizes the eventual release of the data referring to that person.
Honourable senators, there are some wrinkles in the government policy on this
matter that remain to be explained. I hope that we will have an opportunity in
committee to look into them. I am somewhat puzzled as to why the restrictions
are lifted with regard to disclosure of personal data after 110 years. The
restrictions come into force 92 years after collection of the data, but then 20
years later, no restrictions will apply.
I looked up the questions and answers sent out by the government to see the
explanation for this. I will read one. Question 20: "Why 112 years?" Answer:
"First, the 92-year release, subject to some conditions, coincides with the
Privacy Act and its regulations which set out that information obtained from a
census may be released 92 years later. In addition, there is a provision in the
Privacy Act that permits the release of personal information 20 years after the
death of an individual or 110 years after a person's birth. An increasing
proportion of Canadians survive to 92 years but few do beyond 112 years. The
112-year restriction is, therefore, more stringent than the requirement of the
Privacy Act and its regulations."
They have given us much information in that answer but they have not really
answered the question of why it is 112 years. Perhaps someone will appear before
the committee to provide that explanation.
I am also puzzled by the government's decision to overtake this bill by
releasing, holus-bolus, the 1906 census. There is a question and answer about
that which I will not read, but I think Senator Milne referred to it. In a
nutshell, they released the 1906 census without any restriction, first, because
the personal data therein is all tombstone information anyway — name, address,
occupation, et cetera — and, second, because it was only taken in three
provinces in Western Canada. That means that I will be able to look up Senator
Chalifoux's ancestors, but she will not be able to look up mine.
It seems odd to me that they proceeded and released that data. Surely the
1906 census was covered. We know that it had not been released in 1998 because
the legal opinions of the Department of Justice stated that it ought not to be
released. This is covered by a euphemism in the material that the government
sent out with this bill wherein they talked about lack of clarity and about
ambiguity. Senator Milne today referred to what she would have thought was an
excess of caution on Dr. Fellegi's part and qualms on the part of Statistics
Canada concerning this matter.
There is an article in the current issue of The Hill Times that is
much along the same lines. It is as if the failure to disclose this data before
now was simply a whim on the part of the Chief Statistician of Canada, Dr. Ivan
Fellegi. For the record, there were regulations in force under the 1905 and 1906
Census and Statistics Act. I read those regulations into the record when I spoke
on March 27, 2001. I will not do so again. In addition, as Senator Milne pointed
out, provisions were enacted in the law of 1918, the Statistics Act, and
subsequent legislation in 1948, 1970, 1971 and 1972 all prohibiting the
disclosure of personal census information.
Against that, Senator Milne and others have argued that there is a provision
stating that the material should be sent to the archivist. Yes, there is; and,
yes, there is an apparent conflict. However, we must bear in mind that this data
has not been released before now and the government feels it is necessary to
bring in the bill because the Department of Justice interpreted those
regulations and that law in a certain way until fairly recently, when they have
done a 360 degree flip-flop on the issue. I suppose that lawyers in the
Department of Justice have a right to change their minds just like anyone else.
There was also the question of whether these regulations from the past and
from the 1918 and subsequent legislative provisions were trumped by the 1983
Privacy Act, which provides for disclosure of government information after 92
years. Senator Milne and others argued that the Privacy Act trumped them. As a
layman, I would have thought that if the Privacy Act were to trump existing
legislation, it would say so. Notwithstanding the information in this or that
other statute, this is the disclosure regime that would apply.
In fairness to Statistics Canada and Dr. Fellegi, I am glad that Senator
Milne has acknowledged the eminence of Dr. Fellegi and the agency and the esteem
in which they are held both internationally and in Canada. However, they were
acting in respect of an opinion that was provided to them by the law officers of
the Crown. That opinion has changed. When the Department of Justice changes its
opinion, everything changes.
For greater clarity, we now have Bill S-13, which is an honourable
compromise. It meets the needs of the people for whom Senator Milne was speaking
so effectively. We all know that for a number of years much public pressure has
been brought to bear on the government to disclose this information. I believe
that those people could not have made such an achievement without such a
persistent and tenacious spokesperson and champion as Senator Milne. I
congratulate her on that.
Honourable senators, I am eager to see this bill go to committee because
there are matters that we, on this side, wish to explore further. As to the
principle of the bill and to sending it to committee now, I think I can speak
for those in Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and say that we are prepared to see
that happen now.
Senator Milne: Would the honourable Senator Murray accept one brief
Senator Murray: Yes.
Senator Milne: My question is to ensure that the record is absolutely
straight. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Mr. George Radwanski, was
consulted, and I believe that question No. 6 has been consulted on the issue of
the release of historic census. We are grateful for his helpful advice in
respect of the safeguarding of personal information.
Honourable senators are now aware that the Privacy Commissioner has been
consulted, and I am certain that he will be asked to appear before the
committee. Are my honourable colleagues also aware that I am beginning to call
myself either Senator Lorna "Bulldog" Milne or Senator "Power-to-the-
Senator Murray: Again, the question and answer in respect of the
Privacy Commissioner of Canada states that he was consulted; I certainly hope
that he was. They did not state, as they would have stated in respect of Senator
Milne, of the Minister of Industry and of the Chief Statistician, that he is in
support of Bill S-13.
I would not want to indulge in a canine metaphor in respect of the honourable
senator or any other honourable senator. I am happy to congratulate her on her
tenacity and let it go at that.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I ask permission of the house
to revert to a question to Senator Milne. I rose earlier but sat as soon as
Senator Murray stood.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would agree to one question, but this must not turn into a question
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, my question is much more mundane
and simple, but no less important, than those raised by Senator Murray. In my
previous life, in a roundabout way, I had to do with and became concerned about,
not the moral integrity of the records, such as the ones to which you referred,
but the physical integrity of them.
That issue has also been raised here by Senator Corbin, specifically with
regard to the National Library. The same question sometimes arises with respect
to the National Archives. Some of the contents of these records have, from time
to time, been subjected to damage or materials have been irrevocably lost.
I do not know whether the honourable senator can answer my questions
immediately, and, if not, I would draw these matters to the attention of
committee members who will be studying this bill.
It was mentioned that after 92 years the data is transferred to the care of
the National Archives. In what form and in what protective containment is it
transferred? Are we satisfied that the place in which these materials will be
stored is, in fact, safe from burst pipes and leaking roofs, which have already
cost us the irrevocable loss of some very valuable Canadian Heritage materials?
Senator Milne: I thank the honourable senator for his question.
Although I cannot answer it right now, I can tell him that many of the early
census returns no longer exist on paper. They have already been microfilmed,
which makes them much easier to store since they take much less room.
The 1991 census was at one point being stored in paper form in the archives
and under the control of Statistics Canada. It was in paper form, wrapped in
plastic and stored in climate-controlled areas in the new archives in Gatineau.
It took up an enormous amount of room.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Milne,
seconded by the honourable Senator Finnerty that this bill be read the second
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kirby, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Cook, for the adoption of the Third Report (final)
of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology,
entitled: The Health of Canadians — The Federal Role, Volume Six:
Recommendations for Reform, tabled in the Senate on October 25, 2002.—(Honourable
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, last week the first
ministers signed a health accord. In it, the federal government agreed to invest
about $27 billion over five years or 12 billion new dollars over the next three
years in health care.
For their part, the provinces committed to using this money not only to shore
up existing services, but also to begin the process of extending the range of
health care services covered nationally by public insurance.
This accord thus represents progress in important areas. I had opportunity
recently to speak with the Prime Minister, and I congratulated him for moving
the agenda forward and not allowing the accord to fall into a stalemate.
Having said that, the dust has not yet fully settled. It would seem that
neither the provinces nor the federal government got everything they wanted.
Several premiers immediately made it clear that the outcome was, at best, a
first step in the right direction and that they were already anticipating the
next round of talks. More ominously, perhaps, the leaders of the territories
felt that the agreement fell so far short of their needs that they refused to
The conclusion of this latest round of bargaining brings to a close an
intensive period of discussion about the future of publicly funded health care
that began last fall. It is worth reflecting for a moment on what has been
achieved. My main focus will be on the impact on the negotiations of the two key
reports that were issued during this period, namely, that of the Romanow royal
commission and that of the Senate committee.
Something that struck me about the ongoing drama of publicly funded health
care in Canada is that there is a sharp disconnect in the policy process between
the amount of time we spend studying the system on the one hand versus the
amount of time involved in concretely deciding what to do on the other. For
example, on the study side of the equation, our committee devoted over two and
one-half years to examining the complex and interrelated issues that traverse
the health care debate, while the Romanow commission took 18 months to complete
Both studies yielded comprehensive recommendations for change. The time frame
that governs the other side of the equation could not be more different. The key
decisions with regard to health care policy ultimately have to do with how to
allocate that scarce resource — money.
In recent years, the process surrounding this critical phase of
decision-making has come to resemble a high-stakes poker game. The crunch
moments take place in the course of a single day, behind closed doors, and
outcomes often seem to be determined by short-term political considerations as
much as by the health care needs of Canadians.
Of course, the work of the committee and of the Romanow commission clearly
helped to define the menu of items from which the first ministers were able to
choose, but policy-makers seem to be incapable of agreeing to long-term plans.
Thus, despite the fact that recent studies have laid out a comprehensive set of
options, we seem to be condemned to repeat these acrimonious negotiations every
year or two.
Some might say that the conclusions of this most recent exercise in
choreographed brinkmanship has consigned both the report of the committee and
that of Mr. Romanow to the realm of past history. I suggest that nothing could
be further from the truth.
In the first place, the report upon which agreement has been recently
achieved remains very general with regard to the specific programs that will
receive new federal funding. Moreover, there are a number of critical areas,
such as dealing with the serious, across-the-board shortages of health care
professionals, that were not addressed at all in the accord. This means that the
content of the recent reports remains very relevant to the policy debate. It is
not that one should expect a wide-ranging report to be implemented integrally by
government. I believe I speak for all members of the committee in saying that we
stand by the full pack of recommendations that we adopted in our report. These
form a coherent whole and, in an ideal world, would form the basis for a
comprehensive action plan, thereby guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of
publicly funded health care in Canada.
We live in a world where that is not likely to happen. Therefore, a realistic
perspective on health care reform requires that we be prepared to proceed in
stages and implement reform in a pragmatic manner. However, if the end result is
to be something more than a fragmented system, even these incremental steps must
be guided by an overall vision of the end result to be achieved. Thus, the
short-term measures should be linked to a long-term plan.
In this context, I should like to examine briefly how the Senate committee's
approach to health care reform compares to that of the Romanow commission. It is
impossible to do full justice to the scope of either report in a single speech,
so I will concentrate on a few issues that illustrate the similarities and
differences between the two reports. I will begin with the health care issue of
greatest concern to Canadians: excessively long waiting times for diagnosis and
treatment. I will then look at the need for federal investment in health care
infrastructure and the need to expand the scope of services that are publicly
insured in this country. I will conclude briefly with some remarks on enhancing
government accountability, before returning to the status of the debate in the
aftermath of the first ministers' accord.
First, let me speak to the health care guarantee. There is little doubt that
long waiting times for access to diagnostic services for treatment are the
principal worry that Canadians have about their public health care system. To
deal with this concern, the committee recommended that a maximum waiting time
guarantee for all major procedures be put in place. When this maximum waiting
time is reached, patients would be entitled to receive treatment in another
jurisdiction, including another country such as the U.S.
The point at which this health care guarantee would apply for each procedure
would be based on an assessment of when a patient's health is at risk of
deteriorating as a result of further waiting. Safe waiting times would be
established by scientific bodies using clinical, evidence-based criteria.
Adopting the committee's care guarantee would send a signal that both
governments and health care providers were committed to ensuring that Canadians
receive timely care.
Mr. Romanow agreed that patients should be told how long they should expect
to wait for each procedure, but did not recommend going the extra step the
committee has recommended, that of making the commitment that these targets will
be met and that someone other than the patient will bear the consequences if
they are not. Mr. Romanow believes that it will be enough simply to inform
people of how long they should expect to wait for the procedure or service they
In the short term, the first ministers' agreement to invest $1.5 billion in
diagnostic equipment constitutes a first step towards reducing waiting times.
Building on this would mean making firm commitments to provide diagnostic
service with specific waiting times and, eventually, extending this commitment
to a broader range of services.
Health care infrastructure has been woefully underfunded in this country. We
now rank near the bottom of OECD countries in terms of the availability of many
important pieces of diagnostic equipment. We have allowed our capital stock to
deteriorate and are facing shortages of health care personnel across the board.
The committee has recommended that the federal government invest in the renewal
of urgently needed physical plant and equipment in Canada's teaching hospitals.
In addition to being the primary site for training of Canada's health care
professionals, teaching hospitals offer the newest and most sophisticated
services, as well as treating the most difficult, complex cases. They are truly
a national resource and, as such, must be supported by the federal government.
The committee proposed that the federal government fund the development of a
national health information system, which could be used in hospitals and
doctors' offices across the country.
Despite the importance of information management for good outcomes in health
care delivery, Canada's health care system has little capacity for health care
information management and does not make use of information management
technology to nearly the same extent as other information-intensive industries.
We consider building a system of patient electronic health records to be a
national priority, and believe that it should be entirely funded by the federal
Honourable senators, our committee has defined infrastructure of the health
care system to include the education and training of people who provide health
care to Canadians. A national strategy is needed in order to make Canada
self-sufficient in health human resources. In the short term, more money is
needed to boost enrolment in education and training programs for all health care
professionals. The committee recommended that the federal government do its
share by buying places in educational institutions so that more doctors, nurses
and other health care professionals can be educated and trained.
The general thrust of Mr. Romanow's proposal with respect to information
systems and electronic health records is similar to those proposed by the
committee. He has also proposed major investments in diagnostic equipment.
However, in other infrastructure areas, this report is rather short in detail,
especially in terms of estimating the costs of implementing the general
objectives he has endorsed.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Mr. Romanow set no specific targets for increasing
the supply of either doctors or nurses in this country, and consequently did not
allocate any specific funding for education and training of health care
professionals. Moreover, there is scarcely a word about hospitals to be found
anywhere in Mr. Romanow's report. This strikes me as a serious oversight,
especially with respect to the urgent need of Canada's teaching hospitals.
The first ministers' accord provides for an additional investment in the
development of electronic patient records, but is imprecise concerning the
implementation of its funding proposals on the other two infrastructure items,
hospitals and human resources.
The structure of medicare in Canada means that publicly funded coverage for
anything other than medically necessary services delivered by physicians or
hospitals is either nonexistent or extremely uneven across the country. This
leads to unequal access to many increasingly important elements in the continuum
of care, such as prescription drugs. At the same time, it also perpetuates much
inefficiency, such as unnecessarily long stays in hospital because of the
unavailability of services in the home. It is therefore also imperative to begin
to expand the scope of public insured services if we are to sustain an
affordable system that is capable of using all key technological and scientific
advances and providing Canadians with the best possible care.
The committee identified three key areas for investment by the federal
government: post-acute home care, palliative care and protection against the
risk of catastrophic drug expenses.
Recognizing that the resources are, and will continue to be, tight and that a
fiscally responsible government program is needed, the committee recommended a
national post-acute home care initiative; that is, one that focuses exclusively
on home care following an episode of hospitalization.
The goal of palliative care is to provide the best possible quality of life
for the terminally ill by ensuring their comfort and dignity while relieving
pain and other symptoms. Recent studies have estimated that over 80 per cent of
Canadians die in hospital. Fully 80 to 90 per cent of Canadians would prefer to
die at home, close to their families, living as normally as possible. However,
the services necessary to enable them to do so are not often available.
A national palliative care initiative could begin by allowing Canadians who
wish to take time off from work to care for dying relatives to have access to
Employment Insurance benefits.
Finally, a carefully targeted program is needed to protect the 11 per cent of
Canadians at risk of experiencing significant financial hardship as a result of
paying for catastrophic prescription drug expenses.
With respect to the delivery of health care services, Mr. Romanow and the
Senate committee made recommendations on the same issues. There are many
differences of detail, however. I would like to illustrate them briefly by using
the example of the different proposals on dealing with catastrophic drug costs.
As everyone knows, drug prices are the fastest growing component of health
care costs. A number of factors mean that the trend toward prescription drugs
consuming an ever larger portion of the health care budget is not a short-term
phenomenon. However, publicly funded coverage for prescription drugs is very
uneven across the country.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to inform the Honourable Senator Keon
that his time has expired.
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, might I have leave to complete my
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Keon: Although, on average, Canadians spend relatively little
of their income on prescription drugs, the problem for those who face very high
drug expenses can be extremely severe, with some people facing literal
bankruptcy. In the committee's view, this is simply wrong.
The committee worked hard to find a feasible remedy to this growing problem.
The committee's proposals call for the federal government to take over
responsibility for 90 per cent of prescription drug expenses that exceed a
certain limit that qualifies them as catastrophic. This plan, which would cost
the federal government about $500 million per year to implement, would ensure
that no Canadian would ever have to pay more than 3 per cent of his or her
income for prescription drugs.
Mr. Romanow has also addressed the catastrophic drug problem. Unfortunately,
it is impossible to know exactly what the impact of Mr. Romanow's plan would be
for Canadians in general since there are no fixed targets set for the maximum
that individual families could spend out of pocket on prescription drug
The first ministers also recognized the need to do something about protecting
Canadians against the risk of catastrophic drug costs, but left working out the
details to future discussions.
I should now like to say a few words about accountability to the Canadian
public. The committee believes that the area where accountability must be
significantly improved is the way in which all levels of government report to
the Canadian public on the state of the health care system and health status of
the Canadian population. For this reason, the committee recommended the creation
of a national health care commission and a national health care council that
would be national in scope and would be responsible for reporting to the
Canadian public on an annual basis on the state of the system as well as the
health of Canadians.
Mr. Romanow has proposed the creation of a new health council of Canada that
resembles the committee's proposal in many ways. He has given his council a
somewhat broader mandate than the committee assigned to its commissioner, but it
would report to Canadians on many of the same topics. The one potentially
significant difference is over the degree of independence that these organisms
would have from government.
The structure proposed by the Senate committee would make the national health
care commission entirely independent of government. While the first ministers
agreed to some form of accountability mechanism, its exact scope remains to be
clearly defined. However, in some way, they would be answering to the government
In conclusion, by highlighting some of the differences between Mr. Romanow's
report and that of the Senate committee, and by pointing to some of the areas
that were either not covered at all by the recent federal-provincial accord on
health care or were left vague by that accord, I have tried to indicate some of
the ways in which the Senate committee's report remains relevant to the ongoing
debate on health care reform.
I am encouraged by the extent to which many of the proposals, analyses and
recommendations contained in the committee's report have already had an impact
on public discussion of these issues and on the various levels of government.
There is clearly more work to be done if the foundation of the most important
social program in the country is to be solidified long into the future.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I would like to ask a question of Senator Keon.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Has Senator Keon had a chance to read the
statement following the first ministers' conference on the issue of health care?
If so, did he find in it any conclusions that could have been drawn from either
the Romanow report or the Senate report? Did the first ministers find those
reports useful to their deliberations? Is any of that reflected in the
conclusions that the ministers reached?
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, there is little doubt that the
synergism in the Romanow report and the Senate report was reflected in the first
ministers' conference. We have to accept that there has been a tremendous change
in the operational frame of mind of governments in Canada. This whole phenomenon
that we have lived with for the last 15 years of beating on hospitals,
institutions and organizations to pull more out and to become efficient has been
eased up. People are now beginning to accept the fact that this system cannot be
sustained without a very major investment, and an investment that will bring
about change. That was reflected in the accord arrived at by first ministers.
There is no question that the accord was criticized tremendously in the
press. These things are always somewhat disappointing. However, we have to
congratulate the governments of every jurisdiction and political persuasion for
moving in a positive direction, although they could still be in a stalemate over
Some things are starting to happen. It is now up to all Canadians, in
particular those who have been involved with this issue for some time, to assist
governments of all persuasions and in all jurisdictions to try to come to grips
with this matter.
A couple of weeks ago, honourable senators, I had the privilege of reviewing
cardiovascular services and so forth in Great Britain. I spent a week conducting
my review. I came home feeling pretty good about what we are doing in Canada.
It is interesting to note that the British approach is to give a health
guarantee of a year for different procedures, diagnostic tests and so forth.
Indeed, if someone waits a year, they can go to Germany or France for the
procedure and the National Health Service will pay the bill.
However, the vast majority of these people do not wait a year. They go to a
private clinic to buy the service. We do not have that option in Canada. Some 75
per cent of Canadians do not want that option. It is up to all of us to try to
protect what we have and to build upon it.
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, following the thoughtful
comments of Senator Keon, I would also like to comment on the thoughtful health
care renewal accord that was agreed on by first ministers last Wednesday. To my
mind, this accord was harshly and unjustly criticized. I think it is a
remarkable initiative that will result in real and lasting change for our health
As Senator Keon has stated, this accord is based on provincial as well as
various federal studies. In the document that was made public at the end of the
discussions leading up to the accord, the work of the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology is specifically recognized as
contributing to the accord.
As a matter of fact, as Senator Keon has stated, many of the various issues
that have been covered come directly from our work.
This accord is made up of several components. The first deals with
consolidation of current operations, for example, hospital operations and staff
This funding is divided in three. The first, according to the September 11,
2000 accord, initially $21 billion, constitutes funding of $1.3 billion that
will extend beyond the three years covered by the accord.
This year there will also be an immediate transfer from the federal
government to the provinces in the order of $2.5 million. As well, there will be
a transfer next year, assuming a budget surplus. This year, $8.4 billion in new
funding was made available, which accounts for 50 per cent of federal transfers.
An excellent initiative is being announced, the creation of a health transfer
fund. This means that, by 2008, all federal transfers to the provinces will be
through one specific fund. At that time it will be possible, without any
discussion of actual figures, to see what the government's exact transfers to
the provinces are.
The second part of this accord is a new health reform fund of $16 billion
over five years. At the end of five years, this fund will be transferred to the
special Canada health transfer fund and, as I stated earlier, all federal
transfer money will be in this fund. There will be an annual report on progress
of spending of these funds by the provinces, with similar indicators, to which
they have already agreed.
The first fund will be invested in primary care reform. That, to my mind, is
by far the most important reform, as it will promote access to care, quality and
sustainability of our system. The objective is to have 50 per cent of the
Canadian population covered within eight years with 24/7 coverage by
multidisciplinary primary care teams responsible for the care of the Canadian
The second program is a home care program with first dollar coverage, an
important issue that the provinces debated at length. It means there will be no
user fee, and it includes the funding for nursing, equipment, and so forth. It
will apply to short-term acute care, to acute community mental illness, and that
is a provincial victory because it was not in the original program as set out by
Minister McLellan in her original plan. There will also be the coverage of
palliative care. I would like to recognize the important and crucial work of
Senator Carstairs in this regard. If that coverage is in the accord, it is due
entirely to the efforts of Senator Carstairs.
Finally, there is catastrophic drug coverage. As Senator Keon stated earlier,
10 per cent of the Canadian public, mainly in the Atlantic provinces, has no
coverage to pay for catastrophic drugs. It is an essential component of health
care, and the Canadian public expects every Canadian to have this type of
support. Also included is a type of pharmaceutical management, which we
definitely need in this country, that will include efficiency of drug therapy
and reduction of costs, including the costs of generic drugs. They are more
expensive in Canada than in other countries, and the rate increase respecting
those drugs exceeds that of other types of drugs.
There is a special diagnostic equipment fund of $1.5 billion. Senator Keon
referred to the sad state of our equipment in Canada, which is near the bottom
of the OECD list. That fund will help. This time there will not be the buying of
lawnmowers or stoves or things like that because the provinces must report
annually on the expenditure of this funding.
A very important fund will be allocated to health information systems.
Senator Keon stressed the importance of these systems to the efficiency of our
system, the quality of care and the sustainability of the Canadian system.
Electronic health records are at the core of this health information system, and
$600 million will be allocated to this system, in addition to the $500 million
already allocated. Of the OECD countries, our system will be the most generously
supported, with the exception of that of the U.S.
Other health accord initiatives will be funded at the level of $1.6 billion
over five years to deal with patient safety, technology assessment and human
Senator Keon stressed the importance that our Senate report placed on the
academic health care centres, which are truly a national resource. The Romanow
commission made no mention of academic health care centres. There will be $500
million given to these centres, and that will help them, of course, in their
role of formation, research and ultra-specialized care.
There will be $1.3 billion going to Aboriginal health care, as well as a
number of other initiatives, for example, health research. We can expect to see
that in the next budget under the CIHR support. Health promotion, health
protection and drug approval will have an extra $1.3 billion over five years.
This accord announces the establishment of a National Health Council, whose
mission to demonstrate accountability, excellence and innovation will transform
our system. The federal government is responsible for ensuring reasonably
comparable health care for all Canadians. As Prime Minister Chrétien indicated,
the residents of each province should be able to compare the quality of care
they receive from one province to the next. The provinces have agreed on
indicators for accessibility, quality of care and system viability. These
accords are based on work being done by the Canadian Institute for Health
Information. Funds will be granted to this institute so that it can assume a
In this regard, it is unfortunate that Quebec has not agreed to sit on this
new council. Its absence will hurt all Quebecers, who will not be able to
compare the quality of care they receive to that in other provinces. The Clair
report, far from favouring closer cooperation with the federal government,
recommended that Quebec participate in the Canadian Institute on Health
Information, which Quebec is not doing, at present.
Honourable senators, this accord shows remarkable progress. This is a
historic agreement for the development of health care delivery. It consists of a
generous transfer of funds from the federal government to the provinces. If the
federal government had given in to the provinces' demands, and Quebec's demands
in particular, there would be a huge deficit when the budget is brought down
Finally, we must acknowledge the key role played by the Minister of Health in
preparing this accord, and that of the Prime Minister during negotiations.
Hon. John G. Bryden: I would like to ask a question, in order to make
a comment. I was going to ask this of Senator Keon, but, as sometimes happens
with me, I was ignored.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Bryden: It is appropriate as well to ask it of Senator Morin.
It is really for the interest of both senators given their professions and the
reputations they hold in those professions.
I wish to draw to their attention a series of brief essays that appears in
the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly, entitled "The real state of
the union." There are eight or ten articles, a page and a half in length, by
eminent critics and people who obviously know something about which they are
speaking, on various sectors of the U.S. economy such as defence, education and
One of the articles that I found of particular interest was the discussion of
health care in the U.S. and the reference to interesting studies that have been
done. One of the conclusions is that there is not a direct relation within
limits between the amount of money spent and the number of facilities,
procedures and specialists available to the population of the community being
served. The article indicates that specialists and facilities with the ability
to do procedures tend to gravitate in the U.S. to the places with the best
climates and the best culture.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Honourable
senators, I wish to inform you that Senator Morin's time has expired.
Senator Bryden, are you seeking leave to continue?
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Is there a question?
Senator Bryden: Yes. I am trying to get to the question. The article
states that there is no direct relationship between the number of procedures
performed and the health of the population in the area. Indeed, it is the
reverse in some areas. For example, although far more procedures are done in the
Miami area — given its general wealth — compared to the Dakotas, the health of
the population in the Dakotas is greater.
There is no end to the number of tests that can be ordered and the number of
procedures that can be done. People do not understand that virtually every time
a procedure is performed in a hospital or on an out-patient basis, the risk of
doing damage, the risk of being infected is great, which often offsets the
ability to access this never-ceasing place where one can go to get work done.
The article also points to a study on arthroscopic knee surgery that was
conducted on several thousand patients. One group received actual arthroscopic
knee surgery and the other half received what would be the equivalent of a
placebo; that is, they did not really have anything done to their sore knee at
all. Six months later, there was no difference in the wellness of those who had
actual arthroscopic surgery and those who thought they had had arthroscopic
surgery. Has the honourable senator had the opportunity to read this article? If
he has not, I would recommend it to him.
Senator Morin: It is extremely difficult for me to comment on an
article that I have not read.
I have several comments. One is that social determinants of general health
are more important than medical care. Education, social status and economic
development are all extremely important factors for health. Lifestyle is more
important. Whatever medical care a smoker gets when he has lung cancer is not
important when we consider the fact that not smoking is more important. This is
true for physical exercise, diet and so forth.
Concerning the study that has been referred to, clinical research using
placebos happens all the time. Many drugs that have been used in the past have
been found to be not as active as we thought they were after good clinical
trials were conducted using placebos. There is nothing unusual about that. I am
old enough to remember how many procedures were done when I was a young
physician that were found not to be as effective as others.
That certain procedures are done and are not effective is not surprising.
That is the difference between scientific medicine, which continuously changes
and improves, and other types of treatments that are based on faith.
I certainly will read this article, but the two specific points — the
relative lack of importance of medical care in the health of a community and the
fact that some procedures may be found to be less effective than others — are
part of the game. This has been going on for years.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Roche, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Taylor:
That the Senate notes the crisis between the United States and Iraq, and
affirms the urgent need for Canada to uphold international law under which,
absent an attack or imminent threat of attack, only the United Nations
Security Council has the authority to determine compliance with its
resolutions and sanction military action.—(Honourable Senator Rompkey,
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Oppostition): Honourable
senators, I rise to speak on this debate concerning the situation in Iraq, and
in particular, the threat of war against Iraq. This is a crisis for the world
community today, a crisis that leaves no country and no people in the role of
bystander. We are all challenged with complex political and ethical questions
surrounding this crisis.
What are we to do as Canadians? What do we foresee in terms of the imminent
danger to human life? How are we to discern the correct course of action for
Canada? Are we able to identify our responsibility to the world community? Shall
we contribute to the shaping of the international order and respect for
international rule of law, or shall we shrink from our duty and let others
determine our course of action?
Honourable senators, we are standing on the brink of war in Iraq and we must
ask: What is to be the nature of that war? Can it be justified politically or
morally? Let us recall, honourable senators, that, while in its juridical sense,
war is a contention carried on by the force of arms, in its humanitarian sense,
it is the horrific slaughter of human life.
In order to analyze the morality of any war on Iraq, some of the questions we
need to ask ourselves include: first, the existence of the right of war; second,
the juridical source of such a right; third, its possessor; fourth, its title
and purpose; fifth, its subject matter; and, sixth, its term.
To what extent can we speak of the right of war, or are the two terms
contradictory of each other? Is it indeed an oxymoron to speak of the right of
war? Clearly, there is much less difficulty in securing universal acceptance of
the proposition that there exists a right of peace, a right to security, a right
Honourable senators, every perfect right, such as the right to security,
involves an obligation in justice of deference to it by others. In order for the
world to enjoy the right to peace and security, free from the threat of
aggression and weapons of mass destruction, the Iraqi regime has a clear
obligation to disarm. The right to peace and security of the people of the
United States — as with the people of Canada and, indeed, the people of the
world — carries with it the subsidiary right of coercion, if it is to be a real
and efficacious right and not an illusory one.
Students of human rights will understand that a perfect right implies the
right of physical force to defend itself against infringement, to recover the
subject matter of right unjustly withheld, or to exact its equivalent and to
inflict damage in the exercise of this coercion wherever it cannot be exercised
effectively without such damage. It is critically important to understand that
there are definite limitations to this coercive right, which include that its
exercise be necessary, that the damage not be inflicted beyond measure and that
the exercise of coercion be restricted in civil communities to public authority.
The existence of the right of war also might be supported by the duty that
the state or group of states has to defend its citizens' rights, including the
solidarity right of peace. States and the international community have the right
of coercion in safeguarding their own and their citizens' rights in the case of
menace. This is so because, without it, the duty of the state to defend the
rights of its citizens would be impossible to fulfill. The rights of the common
weal would be nugatory, while the individual and solidarity rights of the people
of the world would be at the mercy of tyrants.
Regarding the juridical source of the right of war, the international law
articulated by numerous resolutions of the Security Council of the United
Nations, including resolution 1441, provide the international juridical backdrop
for the crisis that we are currently facing. Additional resolutions of the
Security Council might or might not be adopted so as to sustain the use of force
in Iraq. Furthermore, honourable senators, the entire corpus of international
humanitarian law clearly outlines the required limitations. Human reason makes
clear that in order for the given state or the international community to
fulfill its duty to protect the right to peace and security through a
multilateral organization such as the United Nations, it must have the moral
power or right to do its duty. This includes the subsidiary right of physical
coercion, without which these rights would not be efficacious.
In a world of nation states, one might see the right of war resting solely
with the sovereign authority of the state. However, given the nature of the
interconnected and international global community of today, together with the
nature of the right to peace and the right to security as third generation human
rights or solidarity rights, we might need to understand the right of war as
belonging to the international community.
Honourable senators, any claim by the United States to possess the right of
war on Iraq would need to be seen as flowing from the right to security and
other rights at peril in the United States. A claim by Canada would also have to
meet that same test, as would the prosecution of war under a multilateral
The primary title or right of a state or group of states to go to war is,
first, the fact that the state's rights or the rights of the international
community and the people are menaced by the aggression of Iraq and cannot be
prevented other than by war; second, that the actual violation of right is not
otherwise repairable; and, third, that there is the need to punish the
threatening acts of Iraq for the security of the future.
The secondary title or right to go to war may arise when another state is in
peril — the innocent are oppressed and the world responds. However, a clear
title to wage war is limited to the condition that war is necessary, and
necessary as a last appeal. Hence, if there are reasonable grounds to think that
Iraq will withdraw its menace and disarm its weapons of mass destruction, and
give a fair guarantee of the future security from any new developments of such
weapons, then war cannot as yet be said to be a necessity. Therefore, there
would be no right of war.
Again, the question of proportion between the dangers to be inflicted by war
on Iraq and the value of the right of the people of the world, including those
in the United States, to be free from the threat of the menace caused by the
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction must enter into consideration for the
determination of the full justice of a title or right to wage war on Iraq. The
true proportion between the damage to be inflicted and the right violated is to
be measured by whether the loss of the right in itself or in its ordinary
consequences would be morally as great a detriment as the damage to be caused by
the war on the people of Iraq.
In the prosecution of the war on Iraq, the killing or injuring of
noncombatants — women, children, the elderly, the frail, et cetera — is not
included within the subject matter of the right of war, nor would the use of
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons be justified.
The term or object of the right of war is the nation against which war can be
justly waged — in this instance, Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It is juridically in the
wrong, having not complied with United Nations resolutions, and it violates the
right of others to their right to peace and security because of their past use
and threatened use of weapons of mass destruction to this day.
In conclusion, honourable senators, the world stands today on the brink of a
war on Iraq. The question that Canadians need to address is the following: Is
such a war justified? The issue should not be whether the war will be prosecuted
by the United States, together with a coalition of the willing, nor should the
question be whether the war will be prosecuted under the multilateral umbrella
of the United Nations. Rather, Canadians need to determine if there exists a
right to conduct such a war and if it can be claimed as an instance of the
general, moral power of coercion.
For a war to be just, it must be waged for the security of a perfect right.
In this instance, the perfect right is the right of the people of Canada, of the
United States and of the world to live and exercise the right to peace and
security free from the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Would the honourable senator entertain a question?
Senator Kinsella: Yes.
Senator Roche: I congratulate Senator Kinsella on a brilliant speech.
It was in the high manner, one would even call it the philosophical mould, that
one has come to associate with Senator Kinsella's thinking. Would the honourable
senator give us a bit more on the final question of his address, namely, is such
a war justified?
Senator Kinsella brilliantly counterposed the right to war and the right to
peace. One would take from his speech that there is no right to wage a war that
will involve the massive killing of innocent people; in other words, if the
damage caused would far exceed what would be permitted under the just war rules
of limitation and proportionality.
Is it Senator Kinsella's view that the manner in which the United States has
said this war will be prosecuted, particularly in the first two days, will be in
harmony with humanitarian law? If he is not convinced that it will be, can the
honourable senator say whether or not he favours Canada pushing hard within the
United Nations context to support the French, Russian and German proposal for a
tripling of inspectors to alleviate the concern of the world that Saddam Hussein
is trying to hide weapons?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I
regret to inform you that Senator Kinsella's time for speaking has expired. Are
you asking leave to continue?
Senator Kinsella: I will ask leave.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted,
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Kinsella: I thank the honourable senator for his question.
In principle, it is clear, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11, that our
very close friends in the United States have not only apprehended but have
directly experienced a threat to their right to peace and security. The United
States, in my view, has absolutely every right to use coercion to secure for its
citizens the right to peace and the right to security, as does every other
state. Indeed, it is the duty of the state to do what it can in that regard,
including using as a moral power the subsidiary right to use coercion if the
state's citizens are having their right to life, peace and security threatened,
as has been the case.
The whole issue of justice being restored flows from the invasion of Kuwait
by Iraq some 10 years ago. Under the international law fora of the United
Nations, a cessation of hostilities was agreed upon and undertakings were given
not only to repair the damage that had been done, but also to secure the peace
and security that had clearly been threatened. As we know, that has not been
done, and they have not delivered on the attempt by the United Nations to get
Iraq to demonstrate that it has gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
As far as international law is concerned, while maintaining respect for the
rule of international law — we are not operating under the law of the jungle —
there was, in my judgment, sufficient international legal grounds for the
international community to use physical force 10 years ago.
In my own analysis of resolution 1441, I simply believe that there is in the
wording of that resolution, again from the standpoint of international law, a
sufficient case that physical coercion is legally justifiable. I am contrasting
the international legal order on the one hand with ethical questions or the
moral issue on the other.
International law contains a whole body of law on how to conduct a
humanitarian war, which is almost a contradiction. However, it has been in place
since the times of Henri Dunant and the whole series of conventions on
As far as international warfare is concerned, I am of the school of thought
that UN resolution 1441 is sufficient. I am in the disadvantageous position of
not having sufficient data upon which to conduct a full analysis. Thus, I
welcome the opportunity to have a debate under the vehicle of Senator Roche's
motion. I would have preferred to have it under a different form whereby the
government could lay before us some of the information that it has, which would
help to inform the debate. We are debating in the dark, in many ways.
I am clear on the principles, but as far as how they are to be applied at the
end of the day, there needs to be a debate.
Senator Roche: I have one more question for the honourable senator. I
want to agree with almost everything that Senator Kinsella has said. However,
did the honourable senator mean that resolution 1441 provides sufficient legal
authority to prosecute a war? There is strong legal opinion in the international
community that it does not. Therefore, a great effort is now being made to
discuss the efficacy of a second resolution that would make concrete an
authority for military action.
In asking Senator Kinsella this question, I, too, want to link the discussion
of the legal proprieties with the moral and ethical considerations because we
know that the manner in which this war will be prosecuted will not be, as the UN
charter says, "a limited use of force for a certain objective." It will be a
massive assault, in which countless numbers of people will be killed. That will
be directly contrary to every aspect of humanitarian law.
We must give serious consideration to Senator Kinsella's opening statement.
He said, "What are we to do as Canadians?" As Canadians, we have to stand up
for the best of international law, and I would ask Senator Kinsella to comment
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I should think that there is no
one on Parliament Hill who would not be supportive of the world community
finding a resolution to the crisis that will not involve the use of coercion. I
do not think the question is whether this is led by the United States with a
coalition of the willing or whether it is initiated by the United Nations with a
multilateral force. That is an interesting international, political question.
However, no matter the method, is it right to do it? In order for it to be
right, one must be at the point where no other solution is available. Many
suggestions have been forthcoming over the past several days. The honourable
senator has mentioned the German-French proposal, specifically. There have been
other proposals to try to deal with the question of a regime change in Iraq.
I am hopeful that a resolution will be found. My concern is that I do not
have much information because the government has not brought it forward. I have
no idea as to the position of the Government of Canada. We are in a frustrating
situation to try to engage in an intelligent debate. I can only deal with the
My preference is that we find a peaceful solution beyond an armed conflict. I
agree with Senator Roche and I share with him his concern about how to prosecute
war in the world in which we live, given the ordnances that are intended to be
dropped from 32,000 feet, et cetera. From a military, tactical standpoint, I do
not know how one discovers and identifies targets. I would want the defence
authorities to appear before the Committee of the Whole or a Senate committee to
answer those questions.
Senator Roche: Yes, I agree.
Senator Kinsella: We can only identify the principles and, based upon
the third-hand or fourth-hand knowledge that we have, give our best estimate.
Honourable senators, I would hope that, at the end of the day, we are able to
find the perpetrator of the threat to our right to peace and security, namely,
Saddam Hussein. I am hopeful that he and his totalitarian regime will comply
with the UN resolutions and with the requirement of the world community that he
demonstrate that he has disarmed and has rid Iraq of those threatening weapons
of mass destruction. It is his obligation to do that.
I encourage the Government of Canada to have the wherewithal to adopt a
policy to participate directly in a coalition with others, whether it be NATO or
the United Nations, and to shape the tactics, should it come to that, so that
the innocent are not massacred. It is not good enough for Canada to be on the
sideline; Canada cannot be a bystander. First, the right of Canadians to
security is in the balance. More important, if we participate, we may shape a
peaceful resolution and ensure that all avenues are exhausted. By being a full
participant, we may be able to determine the tactical side of things should
force be used.
Hon. Herbert O. Sparrow: Honourable senators, I am not sure whether I
am on safe ground with my question. In his address, the honourable senator
referred to a war on Iraq. Is there a difference between a war "with Iraq" and
a war "on Iraq"? The honourable senator talked about a massive assault. Are we
talking about an assault on Iraq or a war on Iraq or a war with Iraq to obtain
Senator Kinsella: The source of the threat to our right to peace and
security comes from the regime of Saddam Hussein, who is the dictator — the
tyrant — in Iraq. If he and his regime are not prepared to remove that threat,
then the world community and individual states have the right, in my judgment,
to take steps to remove that threat. There is no great distinction to be made
between war on Iraq and war with Iraq.
I am talking about the regime that is running Iraq that has deployed and
utilized weapons of mass destruction in the past. It is the regime that caused
the invasion of a neighbouring country 10 years ago. That is the respondent, if
you like, to the right of the world community to secure peace and maintain
security, even by the use of coercion.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley rose pursuant to notice of November 7, 2002:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the discriminatory and
negative perceptions and views of certain Opposition Members of Parliament
and national media towards Atlantic Canada, and Prince Edward Island
specifically, in relation to the circumstances surrounding the resignation
of the former Solicitor General of Canada, Mr. Lawrence MacAulay.
She said: Honourable senators, I gave notice of this inquiry prior to the
Christmas recess following a very tragic and unnecessary political event, the
resignation of the former Solicitor General of Canada, Lawrence MacAulay. If you
will recall, he tendered his resignation on October 22, 2002 following a vicious
and sustained attack against his character both in Parliament and in the media.
Following his resignation, the Ottawa Citizen described the Canadian
Alliance Party as an "effective" opposition for having "brought down" a
Liberal cabinet minister and for taking the supposed high ground on a number of
What had Mr. MacAulay done? The federal Ethics Commissioner determined that
Mr. MacAulay had lobbied to obtain financial assistance for Prince Edward
Island's only community college. The president of Holland College is the former
minister's brother. In the House of Commons, the attack was led by the Canadian
Alliance and by the Honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Mr.
Clark, and his Nova Scotia colleague, Peter McKay.
Honourable senators, I was an elected representative for many years, and I am
certainly not naive when it comes to partisan politics. I do understand the
parliamentary role of the official opposition.
However, I also believe that even in the contentious and, at times,
uncivilized world of partisan politics, honest people should not be unjustly
maligned, nor should the legitimate needs of any province or region be treated
with disrespect. It is not my intention to examine the unfortunate circumstances
that led to Mr. MacAulay's resignation from cabinet, although, like the Prime
Minister, I was of the view that he had done nothing wrong, certainly not
anything that warranted his departure from cabinet.
There are other larger issues raised by the so-called MacAulay affair, issues
of fairness and equality and the manner in which smaller and less powerful
provinces and regions are viewed, especially by Central Canada. The attack
against Mr. MacAulay and the government quickly turned into an attack against
Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada. At times, it was contemptuous and
Honourable senators, I should tell you this: Prince Edward Islanders of every
political persuasion are proud of Mr. MacAulay. They not only consider him to be
a honourable man, but they also believe that he did an outstanding job
representing their province. Just ask Premier Pat Binns. Despite party
differences, Premier Binns and Mr. MacAulay worked closely and successfully
together to improve the economy of the Island.
In the wake of Mr. MacAulay's resignation, Premier Binns went to Toronto
where he met with the editorial boards of The Globe and Mail, the
National Post and The Toronto Star. In an attempt to dispel their
stereotyped and negative perceptions about Prince Edward Island, he told them
that Prince Edward Island has a dynamic economy based on agriculture, fishery
and tourism, further enhanced by food processing and manufacturing, as well as
emerging aerospace and technology industries. In all likelihood, the premier
also took issue with The Toronto Star's insulting remark that Prince
Edward Island is "almost as famous for patronage as potatoes."
Premier Binns was clear about the controversy surrounding Mr. MacAulay. He
It is unfortunate that this story got tied up with the fact that his
brother was president of the college. I think that some people believe that
there was to be some profit for his brother. The reality is that there was
to be no profit.
Time has certainly not healed these wounds for Premier Binns. In a recent
speech at the Charlottetown Rotary Club, the premier spoke again of the
disservice done to Prince Edward Island by a national media seemingly bent on
destroying its image in the eyes of other Canadians.
Honourable senators, let me tell you about Holland College, the educational
institution at the heart of the MacAulay affair. Established in 1969 by
provincial statute, and operated by an arm's-length board of governors appointed
by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, Holland College provides Islanders and
others with a broad range of educational opportunities in the fields of applied
arts and technology, vocational training and adult education. One of more than
80 community colleges throughout Canada, Holland College has distinguished
itself in many ways.
Let me tell you about a few of its programs. The Atlantic Tourism and
Hospitality program and the Culinary Institute of Canada, working in support of
the Island's tourism industry, enjoy an international reputation and attracts
students from around the world. The Aerospace and Industrial Technology Centre
graduates are skilled technologists and machinists, and the Justice Institute of
Canada and the Atlantic Police Academy train law enforcement officers for the
region as well as conservation and correctional officers.
Honourable senators, it was around this latter, highly respected, institute
that Mr. MacAulay foundered politically. Holland College wished to establish a
Justice-Knowledge network, an Internet-based police-training program and the
then Solicitor General and regional minister wanted to help realize this
Holland College is a publicly-owned and community-operated college. It is a
vital part of our educational system in Prince Edward Island. The Justice
Institute of Canada and the Atlantic Police Academy enjoy solid reputations
based on many years of quality professional training in the region. Holland
College is not, as Greg Weston of the Ottawa Sun suggested, Alex
The president of Holland College, the former minister's brother, Mr. Alex
MacAulay, is an employee of the college under the direct supervision of a
provincially appointed board of governors. He has provided excellent leadership
during his tenure as president, and he stood to receive no personal benefit in
any way, shape or form as a result of the federal government's participation in
the expansion of the Justice Institute, other than perhaps the satisfaction of
seeing Holland College further meet its mandated goals and objectives.
Yet, honourable senators, day after day, in Parliament and in the media, the
former minister and his brother, and by extension, Prince Edward Island, were
subjected to the most unfair treatment. There is a shameful double standard at
play here. It is one that allows the larger and wealthier provinces to receive
industrial development and other assistance from the federal government with no
questions asked, while at the same time, initiatives assigned to lift my region
out of its historical dependency on federal transfers are mocked and dismissed.
Islanders are wondering about a federal system that tolerates such regional
Honourable senators, Atlantic Canada is not an economic basket case where
people prefer government handouts to honest work. This certainly is the view of
Mr. Harper, Leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. He expressed it early in his
leadership to an astonished and insulted audience in Halifax. Although he has
since tried to distance himself from these remarks, his party has shown itself
to be insular, not willing to embrace the spirit of Canada or its people.
The Canadian Alliance may be an "effective" opposition in the eyes of the
Ottawa Citizen, but I do not believe for a moment that it is a
"responsible" opposition, not when it chooses to turn its back on the people
of an entire region of the country.
At a fundraising event in Toronto several months ago, the Leader of the
Progressive Conservative Party, the Right Honourable Joe Clark, a man for whom I
have had a great deal of respect and admiration, was sharply critical of U.S.
political commentator Pat Buchanan for calling Canadians "freeloaders"
because, militarily, we rely on our American neighbours. Yet Mr. Clark, I
believe, displayed a similar view of Prince Edward Island and the Atlantic
region when he questioned Mr. MacAulay's support of Holland College. It was also
disappointing to see his colleague Mr. Peter MacKay, thought by some to be the
next leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, also criticize regional
development spending in Prince Edward Island.
Honourable senators, Atlantic Canada was an economic leader prior to
Confederation, and we fully intend to be a leader again as the 21st century
unfolds. However, we do need the help of the federal government. The outlook for
Prince Edward Island's economy is good, but Islanders have the lowest per capita
income in Canada, and we still have a lot of catching up to do. Programs such as
the ACOA-administered Atlantic Innovation Fund, designed to strengthen the
region's economy by accelerating the development of knowledge-based industries,
will benefit Prince Edward Island greatly. Equalization and established program
funding help us to provide equitable levels of service in health care and
education, but we are not alone in receiving such federal contributions.
Honourable senators, in my province, we believe that future economic success
will depend largely on the education and training our people gain for
themselves. In a recent editorial in the Financial Post, Diane Francis
pointed out that Canada's educational system is second only to that of the
United States but that "the drag on Canada's educational levels is localized in
the Maritimes." It is true that our region has the fewest number of people with
university degrees of any region in the country, but that statistic does not
tell the whole story. Atlantic Canada has, in fact, led the way in the
English Canada's first university, King's College, was established at
Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1788, and Prince Edward Island's Free Education Act of
1852 brought in one of the first systems of universal public education in
British North America.
Today, honourable senators, Atlantic Canada has over 40 colleges and
universities, the highest per capita ratio in Canada, as well as research
programs that are leading the country in many areas. According to the most
recent Maclean's national ranking of universities, the top three
undergraduate schools in Canada are situated in Atlantic Canada: St. Francis
Xavier, Mount Allison and Acadia. I am especially proud to see the University of
Prince Edward Island ranked ninth in the country, up from fifteenth place last
Another myth that needs exploding, honourable senators, is that Atlantic
Canadians are lazy and do not want to work. Nothing could be further from the
truth. We certainly want to put more people to work; yet unemployment statistics
are skewed by the seasonality of our primary industries and easily
misunderstood. The truth is that labour participation rates in Atlantic Canada
are high, and we have among the lowest rates of turnover and absenteeism in
North America. You cannot fish lobsters in January or grow potatoes in March,
but Atlantic Canadians are hard-working and enterprising people, qualities
appreciated by the many new businesses establishing in the region.
Honourable senators, the forced resignation of Lawrence MacAulay was a blow
to Prince Edward Island, and it puts into question the traditional role of the
regional minister as an advocate for his or her particular province and as a
purveyor of federal assistance. If we were to follow the new rules of the game,
ministers of the government would confine themselves to passing laws and running
their respective departments. They would not be involved at all in the
apparently unacceptable work of promoting and developing their respective
Honourable senators, the smaller and less powerful provinces need a minister
at the cabinet table, not to "dispense gifts," as Anthony Wilson-Smith of
Maclean's contends so cynically, but to ensure a degree of fairness and
equity in a federal system that does not always take them into account.
In my province, successive governments have done their best to put forward
the Island's unique position within the Canadian family. It takes constant
initiative and effort on the part of all elected representatives, whether
municipal, province or federal, to keep track of and access the myriad available
federal programs to ensure that we get our "fair share," as some have
If members of Parliament and, more specifically, cabinet ministers are now to
be prohibited from engaging in this work, if they are no longer permitted to
bring together individuals, businesses, local organizations and institutions
with the federal programs that potentially might help them, if they are to give
up the important role of directing strategic initiatives in their region, if
that is the new road we are to follow, then our ministers will become political
bystanders. They will be more akin to bureaucrats than politicians, and, in my
view, that would be a tragedy.
Islanders have always been a small part of a very big country, and yet we
claim our full constitutional rights as a province. We make no apologies to
anyone, including Alliance MP Randy White, for federal spending to achieve
legitimate social and economic objectives. Apparently Mr. White did not think
much of a decision to locate a new federal government addictions research
facility in Montague, even though the director of the facility pointed out that
had it been located in Ottawa, it would not be any better able to carry out its
work. Montague is not exactly the metropolis of the world, announced Mr. White.
He is right; Montague is not a metropolis of the world. It is a beautiful small
town in eastern Prince Edward Island with rural values and an enterprising
spirit, not unlike hundreds of small towns elsewhere in Canada.
Possibly the most insulting and offensive editorial that appeared during the
public demise of Mr. MacAulay was penned by Greg Weston of the Ottawa Sun.
Like Mr. White, Mr. Weston could not accept the fact that federally funded
projects were being undertaken in such a small and therefore insignificant part
of Canada. "The Minister's own hometown and Cardigan riding," wrote a
frustrated Weston, "isn't exactly the commercial centre of the
universe...listing the entire business district would probably fit on a Yellow
Page." Actually, for Mr. Weston's information, it would take several Yellow
You see, honourable senators, this is the same old problem: the inability or
unwillingness of Central Canada to accept the reality of Prince Edward Island,
that it is a small, close-knit province where people know and care for one
another. Our size and our familiarity with one another are our greatest
strengths as a community.
We will continue to fight for our fair share, and if Mr. Clark's metaphor of
Canada as a "community of communities" still resonates and has meaning, Prince
Edward Island will be understood and appreciated for its unique contribution to
the life of this great country.
Susan Riley of the Ottawa Citizen, in a thoughtful and balanced
editorial following Mr. MacAulay's resignation, described the former Solicitor
General as "an honest man" who volunteered "to walk the plank." I could not
agree more with her assessment. The former minister was guilty of giving
preferential treatment, not to family and friends, but to his own province and
region. This is not a crime in a federal state built around the ideals of
cooperation and sharing.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Callbeck, debate adjourned.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton rose pursuant to notice of February 6, 2003:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the legacy of waste
during the Martin-Chrétien years.
She said: Honourable senators, we are now in the ninth year of a government
led by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien and, until recently, his right-hand
man, the Honourable Paul Martin, a government which has created an unprecedented
and lasting legacy of waste and mismanagement. We have not seen the likes of
this in our history.
The collection of a complete compendium is obviously not possible since Prime
Minister Chrétien has almost one more year to add to his thriftless legacy as
Prime Minister. As ironic as it may seem, especially to followers of Mr.
Chrétien, it now appears that the Honourable Paul Martin will succeed him.
Although the waste and mismanagement that has come to light over the years is
already extensive, it is likely that it represents only the tip of the iceberg.
Can you imagine, honourable senators, what we do not know thanks to the
ineffectiveness of the official opposition in the other place and the easy ride
given to Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin by an unusually sympathetic media during
the first half of their term in office? While there is enough material on the
subject of waste for a long, long speech, which could undoubtedly qualify me for
the Guinness Book of Records, it is my intention to kick off this inquiry
by reviewing some of the highlights to illustrate the true legacy of Messrs.
Chrétien and Martin.
Honourable senators, even before the Thirty-fifth Parliament was summoned to
meet for the first time, Prime Minister Chrétien and his cabinet wiped out years
of work and negotiations involving hundreds of people with the stroke of a pen.
Who can ever forget his words, "Me, I take a pen and write zero helicopters,"
thereby incurring contractual penalties of roughly $500 million?
Nine years later, we still have no helicopters, and we will not have any for
some time. We have seen the process set back to zero on several occasions. The
procurement project was split and then rejoined at a cost of $400 million — $400
million for absolutely nothing. The net effect is that our military forces have
been condemned to using very old Sea Kings that are well beyond any reasonable
expectation for the operational life of their airframes.
Current estimates are that the Prime Minister's arbitrary and very political
decision to cancel the helicopter contract in 1993 will cost the taxpayers of
Canada roughly $2.9 billion more than if the government had simply proceeded
with the original contract.
The gross waste and mismanagement exemplified by the helicopter procurement
contract is such that we must ensure this never again happens in Canada. We can
only hope that this is the case, although there is no indication from either Mr.
Chrétien or Mr. Martin that we should expect this.
Hot on the heels of the helicopter cancellation came the December 3, 1993
cancellation of the agreement to redevelop Pearson airport. Honourable senators,
you will recall that this was a proposal which involved the investment of $750
million in private-sector funds over the life of the project, creating thousands
of jobs and offering a reasonable rate of return to the developers. The Pearson
airport deal was cancelled on the strength of a hastily cobbled together and
totally discredited report written by former Ontario Liberal leader Robert
Nixon, a slam dunk if there ever was one.
Based on sworn testimony, the special Senate committee stated that the Nixon
report was riddled with false allegations and innuendo. It is interesting to
note that less than one month into government a pattern was starting to develop
that would establish a lasting legacy of waste and mismanagement.
An interesting footnote to the sorry Pearson airport fiasco is that the
government at first tried to deny access to the courts to the wronged parties.
They then claimed that the contract was too rich and the developers would make
too much money. They then reversed their position once in court when they
offered up the defence that the developers would have lost money.
Another example on a long list of questionable decisions by the
Chrétien-Martin government was related to the Unemployment Insurance account and
the raid on the wallets of Canadian workers. The fund reached such ridiculous
proportions that the government was forced to amend the law because no
reasonable person could possibly conclude that the staggering amount supposedly
being kept in the account was in keeping with the intent of the act. Prior to
Paul Martin's arrival on the scene, no previous government had ever attempted —
nor would they ever attempt — to turn EI premiums into general tax revenue to
pay for other programs. By the end of this fiscal year, the Chrétien- Martin
government will have overcharged contributors by a total of $45 billion — and
they have blatantly siphoned off this money for other programs. There is only
one way to describe this money grab. It is, honourable senators, a new form of
Was this tax grab mentioned in the now infamous 1993 Liberal Red Book,
"Creating Opportunity"? No. I would say that "Creating Opportunity" relates
to creating opportunities for themselves. As for the title, the "Red Book," it
should be called the red-faced book. Of course, this Liberal government is tough
The pork barrel was again rolled out in grand style in 1994 with a national
infrastructure program, a Liberal dream approved by cabinet just hours after
taking office in 1993. What a nightmare for Canadian taxpayers it was. So much
money was involved with so little in the way of control that senior ministers
were squabbling over who would be in charge. The Prime Minister turned it over
to the Treasury Board. By 1995, nearly 7,000 projects had been accepted for
handouts of $1.8 billion.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
it is 6 p.m. Is it agreed that the Chair not see the clock?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator LeBreton: Had the money gone toward the Red Book definition of
infrastructure, namely, transportation and communications links, and water and
sewer systems, all might have been well. Unfortunately, the meaning of
infrastructure was liberally massaged to include "any physical capital assets
in Canada instrumental in the provision of public service." If honourable
senators can figure out what that means, then you are more adept than I am at
figuring out bureaucratic language. It was a rubric that appeared to encompass
any project located in Liberal-held ridings. This new definition was used in the
Prime Minister's riding for a $200,000 lighted fountain, as well as a $500,000
Canadian Canoe Hall of Fame. The Canadian Construction Association estimated at
the time that 20 per cent of the projects approved did not fit into traditional
infrastructure categories, and that was considered by many in the field to be a
low estimate. Others placed the number at closer to 40 per cent as not fitting
Honourable senators, I move to another example of out-of- control waste of
taxpayers' dollars. Let me take you back to 1995 and the words of the then
Minister of Justice, who said:
Let us not contend that it will cost $1.5 billion to put in place. That
is the way to distort the discussion. That is the way to frighten people.
Is it not now interesting that Allan Rock's snide comment, over seven years
ago, has unwittingly hit upon a fairly accurate estimate of the total ultimate
costs of the financial fiasco better known as the Firearms Act? Having provided
Parliament with a sketchy financial plan claiming the total net costs to the
taxpayers of this program from start to finish would be $2 million, we find
ourselves today looking at a program that is 4,000 per cent over budget and
still climbing, with no end in sight. Most certainly, it will easily surpass the
$1-billion mark. Many provincial governments recognized this boondoggle for what
it was at an early stage and had the good sense to steer clear of this financial
Let us be clear: The motive was political, as was recently pointed out in
The Globe and Mail. The Firearms Act of the Chrétien/Martin Liberal
government replaced tough firearms legislation already passed by Parliament
under the previous Progressive Conservative government, which was beginning to
take effect, as most experts will say. As The Globe and Mail article
stated, the Red Book required a policy to show up Kim Campbell, and the Red
Book's vague promise to "strengthen our gun control laws" translated itself
into the law on gun registry.
Honourable senators, consider this shocking example. In the year 2000, the
most recent year for which precise taxation data has been published, 14.7
million Canadians paid an average of $5,782 in federal taxes on an average
taxable income of $41,751. To put this gun registry into perspective, 172,950
Canadian taxpayers paid their entire federal tax to this government only to have
their hard-earned tax money go into a black hole called the gun registry. I
repeat: 172,950 taxpayers. Think of it.
The stage was also set in 1995 for the headlines of today when the
Chrétien/Martin government decided to dismantle Enforcement Services, a
40-person intelligence unit dedicated solely to the detection and investigation
of GST fraud. While the members of this group, which included ex-police officers
and criminal investigators, were reassigned to general audit duties, GST fraud
expanded by leaps and bounds. A warning by the Auditor General in 1999 about the
likely extent of fraud and the apparent ease with which it was committed went
unheeded by a government careless about the consequences. Mr. Chrétien and Mr.
Martin knew about the problem but turned a blind eye while fraud artists plied
their trade. We will never know just how much revenue was lost, but it is
becoming apparent as each day passes that the Chrétien/Martin team sent hundreds
of millions of dollars to con artists in response to their request for phoney
GST refunds. Some estimates have placed the total losses in the range of $1
billion — there we go again — a figure the government has dismissed but has not
been able to refute. I remind honourable senators that the government
underestimated the costs of the gun registry by 4,000 per cent.
In 1996, the $300-million Transitional Jobs Fund was initiated supposedly to
stimulate job creation in regions with unemployment rates greater than 12 per
cent. Although it was announced as a temporary program, it was renamed the
Canada Jobs Fund in 1999 and given an additional $110 million annually. It was
turned into a permanent cash cow that was used to pump money into Liberal
ridings, particularly the ridings of Liberal ministers. It will come as no
surprise that the Prime Minister's riding, admittedly a riding with fairly high
unemployment, was a significant beneficiary of this Transitional Jobs Fund
largesse, nor will it come as a surprise that 75 per cent of the $7 million for
his riding arrived in the hands of the grateful recipients just prior to the
Of course, that was relatively "small potatoes" in Liberal terms when it
turned out that the mismanagement of the job grants program was such that an
audit in the year 2000 showed, among other things, that 87 per cent of the
projects did not show any evidence of supervision and that cash flow projections
were missing from 72 per cent of the files. The media labeled this affair "shovelgate" after various attempts had been made by the Chrétien/Martin
Liberals to either obscure the initial audit results or discredit them. A more
detailed audit later resulted in 19 police investigations, all of which fell
outside the original 459 files that were audited. The revelation that the HRDC
would receive a 29 per cent increase in money for grants and contributions for
the fiscal year 2000, nearly $1 billion more than the previous year, proved to
be the last straw in terms of public opinion and the program thankfully came to
an end on June 22, 2000.
While the more spectacular billion-dollar programs help to illustrate the
size and scope of the legacy of waste and mismanagement being left in the wake
of the Chrétien/Martin government, many Canadians, myself included, have
difficulty envisioning $1 billion. All they and we know is that these billions
represent hundreds of millions of Canadian tax dollars being treated with
contempt by this government.
As I said, $1 billion is beyond the understanding of most Canadians. As
Walter Robinson wrote in his column in the Ottawa Sun on Saturday,
February 8, these numbers get thrown around so quickly and in such a cavalier
manner that they lose their shock value. The Liberals love this, of course. They
know we tune out numbers we cannot get our heads around. However, here are some
examples that are easier to understand.
When the Chrétien/Martin government pays $333,000 to sponsor a convention
that never happens, I am sure Canadians realize the government has a management
When the government pays $549,990 for a report that is never produced —
Senator Tkachuk: Twice.
Senator LeBreton: — Canadians realize that the government has a
When the government spends $101 million for new jets for the Prime Minister
against the advice of officials and without tender, it knows that is wrong. This
money could have bought 42 MRIs for our health care system.
When the government sends heating rebate cheques to prisoners and deceased
people, few Canadians would fail to recognize that the government has a
When the government pays a 12 per cent commission to a company to transfer
money from one government department to another, Canadians realize the
government has a management problem.
Honourable senators, I have just scratched the surface of the magnitude of
this legacy of waste, but it is clear that mismanagement has characterized this
government from the outset.
When the Prime Minister embarked on his long goodbye, there was a
considerable amount of speculation as to what he would do in his final year and
a half to secure his legacy. Little did he realize that the die had been cast in
the minds of Canadians. Judging by the evidence so far, it is a legacy he will
have no difficulty fulfilling; and, until last year, Mr. Martin was with him
every step of the way and has been virtually silent ever since.
Senator Kinsella: Well spoken.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Bryden, debate adjourned.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver, pursuant to notice of February 6, 2003, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry be
authorized to examine issues related to the development and domestic and
international marketing of value-added agricultural, agri-food and forest
That the Committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2004.
He said: Honourable senators, in moving the motion, I will give you some
background information to explain why this particular study is being undertaken.
Six pages of the Senate Agriculture Committee report, "Canadian Farmers at
Risk," were devoted to value-added agriculture. The committee recommended that:
The government develop a comprehensive strategy that encompasses tax
incentives as well as direct federal government funding and expertise to
enhance the development of value-added industries, including farmer- owned
initiatives, in rural Canada.
The report also states:
The Committee thinks, however, that farmers themselves must look at
entering the value-added business to capture a larger share of the food
During our hearings in the previous session, the president of the
Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan clearly stated:
As the primary producers we realize that the money is in food processing
The order of reference would permit the committee to examine very specific
products, such as wine, grapes, cheese, milk, potatoes, pasta, wheat, and many
other products. This is why the committee, after it completes its study on
climate change and adaptation that is required in both agriculture and forestry,
would like to undertake this study.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I only make one comment regarding the dates on which the committee
should table its report. Other committees have changed their dates. They may
table their reports at the end of May so that tabling is done during a Senate
sitting. At the end of June, usually there is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and by
then the Senate has already adjourned for the summer. If the committee chair
sees no problem in changing the date of the report and putting down May 31,
2004, I will not object to adopting the motion now.
Senator Oliver: I agree. That is an excellent suggestion.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed that the
motion be amended to delete "June 2004" and that we substitute "May 31,
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the motion, as
amended, agreed to?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to, as amended.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 12, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.