Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 140, Issue 40
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker
- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- QUESTION PERIOD
- Foreign Affairs
- The Senate
- United Nations
- National Defence
- Foreign Affairs
- National Defence
- Citizenship and Immigration
- Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
- Citizenship and Immigration
- Customs and Revenue Agency
- Foreign Affairs
- Physical Activity and Sport Bill
- Pages Exchange Program with the House of Commons
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Canada Pension Plan Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act
- National Anthem Act
- Vimy Ridge Day Bill
- Bill to Change Names of Certain Electoral Districts
- Study on State of Health Care System
- Study on Proposal of Valiants Group
- Legacy of Waste During Chrétien-Martin Years
- Foreign Affairs
- Transport and Communications
- Negotiations with Innu (Montagnais) of Québec
- National Finance
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, the assassination of the courageous young Prime Minister of Serbia rocked the world last week. A brilliant, passionate anti-communist, Zoran Djindjic joined the Democratic Party in its founding days, and in 1997 he led three months of anti-Milosevic protests, which captured the imagination of freedom fighters the world over. In his country's darkest hour, Zoran Djindjic was able to unite Serbia's infant pro-democracy movement, ensuring a popular uprising that would sweep then-President Milosevic from power in October of 2000.
At the request of Prime Minister Chrétien, I had the privilege of representing Canada in Belgrade for Mr. Djindjic's funeral last Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs marched through the streets to pay their respects. The silent crowd that followed Prime Minister Djindjic's coffin was the largest since the street protests that toppled Milosevic two years ago. Many waved placards bearing a picture of the lost leader. The quotations on the placards had been taken from a speech that Mr. Djindjic had made only two weeks earlier — remarkably, after another unsuccessful attempt on his life. "Anyone who thinks they can stop the implementation of reforms and the rule of law by having me killed is seriously mistaken," the placards read.
As I listened at the graveside to George Papandreou, the Greek Foreign Minister, praise Mr. Djindjic's efforts to transform his country into a candidate for European Union membership, I thought, as a Canadian, of the compelling nature of his words. "Your death strengthens our will to make your vision a reality," he said.
There were many who compared the Serbian tragedy to the loss of John F. Kennedy nearly 40 years ago. Yet, while the tragedy has engulfed the nation, the structure and the system endure. There are many who feel that this final act of brutality will strengthen the will of a people who have suffered too much in the past, and strengthen their conviction to walk the long road to a better world for their children.
Honourable senators, as Serbia weeps, I think of Kennedy's ringing words and the difficult days to come. We must remember that the torch has now been passed to a new generation, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, and proud of an ancient heritage. All of us who have the privilege of living in free countries must be there to help them hold it high.
At the funeral, I had the privilege of personally expressing the profound sympathy of the Canadian people to the slain Prime Minister's courageous widow and her two young children, to ordinary citizens in the street and to a wide range of government leaders. While the country is feeling vulnerable at the moment, I sensed a fierce determination to carry on and ensure that all of the dreams of Djindjic would be realized.
I was very proud of our Canadian Embassy staff, led by the Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro, His Excellency Donald McLennan. Honourable senators, we have promises to keep for the future of that country and for the good of the wider world community.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I was honoured, as a senator from Nova Scotia, to attend the launch of Atlantic Scene at the National Arts Centre 12 days ago. Atlantic Scene is a large festival that showcases and celebrates Maritime arts and culture. The NAC President and CEO, Peter Herrndorf, who studied law in Nova Scotia, announced that the showcase, to be held in the National Capital Region from April 22 to May 4, 2003, will be the first in a series of biennial regional festivals that will celebrate the best of Canadian arts and culture from sea to sea.
The NAC, nightclubs, galleries and museums across Ottawa and Gatineau will stage 85 events involving 400 new and established artists from the East Coast during the festival. The Atlantic Scene line-up, which includes music, comedy, theatre and dance performances, readings from authors, film screenings and cooking demonstrations, truly had something to please everyone. There is even a kitchen party planned for May 3, which is sure to make displaced Maritimers feel nostalgic and to give non-Maritimers attending the festival a sense and taste of how things are in Atlantic Canada.
Several federal and provincial government departments and agencies have teamed up with corporate and individual sponsors to showcase the artists from Atlantic Canada. The $1.5 million investment in Atlantic Scene is part of the NAC's mandate to promote arts and culture in Canada and abroad, and Peter Herrndorf has taken this mandate seriously. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, ACOA, and the Department of Foreign Affairs have made it possible for arts presenters to attend the festival and to seek out new talent and touring productions for audiences beyond the two-week festival.
CBC radio and television programers are working with the NAC to cover the festival, thereby making it possible for Canadians outside the National Capital Region to experience the rich diversity of Atlantic Canadian culture. Two network specials will be created during thefestival. One special will showcase the unique comedy created by Atlantic Canadians, while the other special will examine the lives of several of the festival's participants in greater detail as they travel and perform for audiences at home and abroad.
In conclusion, the arts and culture industries of Atlantic Canada are important facets of the region's economy, stimulating tourism and the export of artistic products from the area. A two-week showcase of this magnitude in the nation's capital provides an excellent cross- section of artists, writers and performers from each of the four Atlantic provinces and other Canadians and arts presenters to enjoy.
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, this March, Canadians mark Nutrition Month with a new tool in their efforts to eat healthily: mandatory nutrition labelling requirements for pre-packaged foods. These nutrition-fact tables are some of the most advanced in the world. They list calories and 13 key nutrients that health professionals and consumers consider important to health.
For the first time, Canadians will be able to see, by reading food labels, just how the foods they choose can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
When this regulation comes into force, there will also be a public awareness campaign to help Canadians use this information to make informed and healthy nutritional choices.
Individual Canadians will be wiser and our health care system will benefit. Over the next 20 years, nutrition labels should save about $5 billion due to reduced incidence of cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes.
The nutrition labelling requirements are the culmination of a huge collaborative effort that began in 1998. Consumers, industry representatives, health care professionals and many federal and provincial government departments helped to create the regulations that will benefit all Canadians.
One nutrient of particular note that will appear in the nutrition label — and it is a Canadian success story — is trans fatty acid. Research has shown that this product of food processing increases the risk of coronary artery disease and can have detrimental effects on cognitive development and vision in infants. One of Health Canada's own research scientists, Dr. Nimal Ratnayake, has contributed significantly to this research. He developed an internationally accepted method of analysis for trans fatty acids and demonstrated that their levels in Canadian food supplies were higher than those observed in other countries.
As a result of Dr. Ratnayake's research, voluntary labelling of trans fatty acids was introduced a number of years ago and has already resulted in a significant reduction of this substance in the Canadian food supply.
Honorable senators, I invite you to join me in congratulating scientists throughout Canada, as well as those from Health Canada's Food Directorate. Their hard work made this great achievement possible, and Canadians are reaping the benefits.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw to your attention the presence in our gallery of a delegation from the National Assembly of Zambia, headed by the Honourable Jason Mfula, Deputy Speaker. On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome him to the Senate of Canada.
Honourable senators, I also have the pleasure of drawing your attention to the presence in our gallery of a group from the Children's Miracle Network. They are a remarkable and courageous group of children dealing with serious injury or illness and have been chosen as champions across Canada to travel to Ottawa and then to Disney World. On behalf of all honourable senators, we welcome them to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver presented Bill S-16, to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act (Speakership of the Senate).
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Oliver, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.
Hon. Joan Cook: Honourable senators, I give notice that on Thursday next, March 20, 2003:
I will call the attention of the Senate to a Position Statement presented to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans concerning the possible closure of the fishery for Northern and Gulf Cod in NAFO Areas 2J3KL and 3Pn4RS.
Hon. James F. Kelleher: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Recently, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Right Honourable Joe Clark, argued that while Canada may not be able to make a significant contribution in the war against Iraq due to our seriously depleted military, we could redeem ourselves by participating in the rebuilding of post-war Iraq.
Last night, in responding to the speech of President Bush, Foreign Minister Graham touted a similar line, saying that Canada would participate in the post-war building of Iraq.
Canada has tremendous experience in civilian-military cooperation in this regard in a host of countries around the world. Indeed, a contribution such as this would fit nicely with the government's expressed foreign policy emphasis on human security. A central tenet of the human security doctrine applies to Iraq in that in order to prevent another war in Iraq some time down the road, we will have to engage in a substantial amount of peace building with the Iraqi people as part of the post-war reconstruction of that country.
These types of operations, if they are to go right, take a lot of lead-time and careful planning. They take an extensive commitment of time and resources. Given that we do not know how long the war in Iraq will last, there is no time like the present to at least begin contingency planning. With war now imminent, have we begun to think about this?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I am delighted to report that we are not only thinking about it, but that contingency planning has begun. The role for the Government of Canada in the post- war building of Iraq will be extremely important. The lead minister will be the Honourable Susan Whelan, Minister for International Cooperation.
In terms of rebuilding, I think it will be similar to the commitment of $250 million made yesterday to Afghanistan as part of rebuilding that country. That money is in addition to the $116 million that was given in the fiscal year that will end March 31.
Senator Kelleher: Honourable senators, have we approached the United Nations to ask for their involvement in this regard?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I believe Kofi Annan has made it clear that he sees that as an ongoing and important role for the United Nations. It is clear from the position that we have taken with respect to the war, which may regrettably happen in 36 hours, that we want to be part of any multilateral effort. Obviously, we would be part of a UN.effort in this regard.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I wish to thank the government for the clarity of the declaration of the Prime Minister yesterday. For once, we had some clarity in that position.
Senator Robichaud: It was clear all along.
Senator Nolin: It was not very clear at all. Now it is clear.
Now that the Prime Minister has clearly stated the position of the government and we heard last night the statement of the President of the United States of America, has the government reflected on the legality of the position taken by the U.S. government?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I do not agree with the honourable senator when he says that the Prime Minister only brought clarity yesterday. I think the Prime Minister has shown dramatic and positive leadership on this issue from the very beginning.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Carstairs: Our Prime Minister, over and over again, has indicated his support for multilateralism and his deep-seated belief in the United Nations and its processes. That makes me doubly proud, to be a member of the Liberal party and sit with members of a Liberal government.
As the honourable senator is aware, legal experts will argue both sides of the issue of whether this war is legal or illegal. A legal opinion from Great Britain today would indicate that it is legal. I am sure other legal scholars will argue that it is not legal. Clearly, there were two resolutions of the Security Council outlining the work that must go on in terms of disarming the Iraqi government. The decision made by the Canadian government was not made on the basis of legality; it was made on the basis of policy and our firm belief in multilateralism.
Senator Nolin: We must be clear. The Prime Minister has said that Canada would be part of the war if there were a UN decision to that effect.
Is the government on one side of the legal opinion or the other? On one side, there are those who say, as in the U.S., that there is total legality from the actual resolution of the Security Council. The other side says there is not sufficient legal support for a decision, based on the actual resolution of the UN council. To what side does the government lean?
Senator Carstairs: As I indicated to the honourable senator, the decision of the Government of Canada was based on a policy decision, not on the vagaries of legal opinions, which, as the honourable senator will know as a member of that extremely interesting profession, can give an opinion on almost everything. Five lawyers in a room together will quite often give five different legal opinions.
The reality is that the decision was not based on whether the issue was legal; the decision was based on whether it was good policy. The Government of Canada decided it was not good policy. What was good policy was to support the multilateral approach and the United Nations.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I attended the House of Commons debate yesterday. I will not hide the fact that I stood up and applauded vigorously, which was not according to the rules. I was not alone. I was in the company of a Liberal, but I do not want to embarrass my friend. I almost instantaneously became an independent Liberal yesterday; however, I will delay that pleasure.
I agree with the decision taken yesterday. After having listened to speeches until midnight last night, I was depressed and happy. I was depressed to see that the official opposition is not the government of the day. I was happy that Mr. Kenney, who spoke last, is totally out of touch with the reality of Canadian public opinion. I am totally in agreement with what took place yesterday in the House. I showed it by standing up and applauding three times with no shame, to the distress of the press. Thank God for the distress of the press.
Is there still time for the Senate of Canada to vote on this issue? This house is, after all, the closest to the mother house and the British parliamentary tradition that I have defended since I was a little boy because I believe it is one of the best systems. The debate taking place in the British house today is the best example we can show to the world of people being able to stand up, speak up and be counted by having a vote on this issue. My preference, if it is not too late, would be to be able to do the same thing. Honourable senators know where my vote would rest.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): As the honourable senator is aware, a vote is to take place in the British house today. With the time change, I do not know whether it has been completed or not. However, they are making a decision to go to war. We have made the decision not to go to war. In terms of any further debate we wish to have on Iraq, the resolution of the Honourable Senator Roche is still on the Order Paper. I would welcome any interventions by honourable senators on that motion.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, I put my question in the context of the deep appreciation that many Canadians feel for the government having made a correct and courageous decision in deciding that Canada would not participate in the war in Iraq. I ask the minister if she would convey this appreciation to Prime Minister Chrétien and Foreign Affairs Minister Graham.
Given that the United States is crucial to almost all of our foreign relations and that the United Nations is a cornerstone of foreign policy, what steps is the government taking to ensure that the unity of the United Nations can be restored as quickly as possible, with the full participation of the United States?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will be delighted to take his remarks of appreciation to the Prime Minister.
As to his question about unity within the United Nations, that is exactly what our ambassador representing the Government of Canada has been doing over the last few weeks. He has, on at least two different occasions, proposed compromise motions that, it is hoped, would preserve the unity. That the Government of Canada is already looking at post-war Iraq and will work with the United Nations on that endeavour is a singular way in which the nations can come back together following this war, should it occur, and I think we all think it will. That is where the unity will have to begin, and Canada will be very much a playing partner in that process.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, as I understand the Canadian government's position, it is based on policy and not international law. I would therefore ask, based on policy, will we withdraw any active support for the war? That is where good public policy, based on what the government has said, would lead us. Therefore, there would be no ships in any ancillary or indirect role, no aid in any manner at all, and all our troops now involved with either British or American troops would be withdrawn.
If the Leader of the Government in the Senate's position on respect for international law is correct, as I heard it stated here earlier today, what will this do to the position that we have been putting forward for an international rules-based system, the International Criminal Court, the respect for the Kyoto Protocol, the respect for the land mines treaty, and for a whole host of terrorist legislation, 12 pieces in all, that is squarely based on compliance through international law? Are we to believe that international law is so flexible that these are of little importance?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the honourable senator first asked a question with respect to active support. The honourable senator is aware that there are Canadian ships in the Persian Gulf. They are participating in the war against terrorism. They will not be an active participant in the war against Iraq. The honourable senator is also broadening that question to deal with the issue of the exchange officers. There are, in fact, 31 exchange officers at the present time. They will remain at all times under the command of our Chief of Defence, and they will not be allowed to participate in an active way in this war with Iraq.
In terms of the honourable senator's other question, she well knows that the United States has not chosen to be a part of many of those international obligations that we, in this country, have accepted, whether it is the land mines treaty or the Kyoto accord or the International Court of Justice. That is deeply regrettable. It is my hope that, in the future, they can choose to become part of those international obligations. That, quite frankly, in no way will change our opinion. We are committed to these international treaties and obligations.
Senator Andreychuk: Honourable senators, my question had nothing to do with the United States and their respect for international law; it had to do with Canada's respect for international law. We have always based our movements in the international sphere on international law, because the underpinning of the United Nations is the rule of law. From what I understand, the position taken on whether, in fact, this war is justified has little relevance to international law and is simply a public policy issue, public policy often being of self-interest. My question is: If we did not give any weight at all to the international legal system, what signal are our actions and justification today giving to the rest of the world and those who are errant and who do not sign conventions?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, we made it clear from the outset that we expected explicit authorization for the use of force to come from the Security Council. The Security Council did not take that explicit step, and that is why we are not part of this war.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It is supplementary to Senator Nolin's question. It may sound frivolous, but it is not. I wonder if the leader is aware of any war that has ever been started by anyone, anywhere, that was legal.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, if the honourable senator were to examine the preliminary clauses of the Charter of the United Nations, he would learn that there are some justifications for war, justifications which would make it legal, one of which is a war in which you are attacked and you respond.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, the question was based on "started," not "declared."
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I can say it is one thing to talk about starting, but in general terms and legal terms, one does declare war. One can look back at Canada's participation in World War I and World War II. In World War I, because of our Constitution of the day, we were at war virtually because it had been declared by the United Kingdom. In the Second World War, because the Statute of Westminster passed in 1931, we had a lag time that was quite deliberate on the part of the Government of Canada. We waited, I think, six days before we declared war so that it would look like a Canada declaration of war and not a United Kingdom declaration of war.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I want to pursue the point that Senator Banks and Senator Nolin have started. Incidentally, please assure the Prime Minister that Senator Roche's observations are not the unanimous observations of this chamber. I think Senator Banks is right in that there is quite a difference between attacking unprovoked, for your own reasons, your own ends, and defending yourself. We all recognize that difference, and I wish to ask a few questions in that regard.
Have the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and CSIS been placed on a higher state of alert due to new threats of al-Qaeda and some of its allied groups and the coming conflict with Iraq?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no change in the state of alert in Canada. As the honourable senator knows, the Americans have gone to a higher level. They had been at that level and had dropped back. They have now returned to that level. They are not at their highest state of alert, as I understand, which would be red; I believe they are at orange at this particular point in time. There has not been, to the best of my knowledge, a similar change in attitude in Canada.
Having said that, I think that the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and CSIS have all been very attuned to the world situation since the events of 9/11, and we are all in a higher state of alert since that time than at any other time in our history, other than when we were at war.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, I was asking in the context of the last 72 hours or so.
Honourable senators, the Croatian member of the tri- presidency of Bosnia has warned that al-Qaeda operates out of Bosnia. There is a suicide attempt warning against coalition warships in the Persian Gulf, the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Sea. A Canadian has already been killed in Yemen. Has the government raised the threat against Canadian Forces personnel deployed outside of this country in the last 72 hours?
Senator Carstairs: The honourable senator is always so well informed that I suspect he knows that there have, in fact, been some deaths in Yemen: one American, I understand, one Canadian, and one Canadian injured. It would be premature to say they were direct terrorist acts because there is no proof of that, but clearly the situation has raised concerns.
I suspect the honourable senator is referring more to the ships in the Persian Gulf, because the vast majority of our troops are presently in that theatre. They are all on a high state of alert, as they have been and continue to be part of the war on terrorism. That is the very reason we should remain there, because terrorists who may be in that region, not just Iraq, may well use this opportunity to try to find safe havens elsewhere. Part of our reason for having our ships there is to prevent that from happening.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, in fact, Canadian naval warships are escorting British and American surface traffic up through that area to their staging grounds. When one escorts someone, it seems to me one is taking sides, that one is involved. Thank God we are a little bit involved.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I ask the leader why the government has, in the last day or two, deployed a platoon-plus of Canadian soldiers to the United Arab Emirates. Was there a reason that force protection was required in that region and, if so, for whom?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I must tell the honourable senator that I do not have any specific information as to why that platoon has been placed there, if it has been, but I will try to obtain that information for the honourable senator.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have one final question. Again, going back to what Senator Banks and Senator Nolin said, we are in a unique position in the world. France stated today that if the Iraqi regime used weapons of mass destruction against their neighbours or coalition forces, it would be prepared to join the war on Iraq. Since Canada has already turned its back on its traditional allies — the U.S, the U.K. and Australia — and sided with France at the United Nations, what will the position of the Canadian government be in the event the government of Iraq, as has been suggested could happen, uses forces of mass destruction? I do not necessarily mean nuclear forces; I mean chemical or biological warfare, as it presses southward to the point of embarkation for the United States and its allied forces?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the United Nations clearly would have an emergency meeting if weapons of mass destruction — which have never been clearly proved to be in the hands of the Iraqi government — were deployed. You may then have a Security Council decision that it was not able to come to earlier. In any case, we have committed ourselves to the decisions of the Security Council, and it will be on the basis of those decisions that we will make future decisions.
Senator Forrestall: Is that the case even if it takes a month?
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, on another topic, Federal Court Judge Michael Kelen ruled last month that even though the Department of Citizenship and Immigration had extended to March 31 the deadline for applying new rules for skilled worker immigrants, the department had not done enough to process the backlog of between 80,000 and 120,000 files before the new rules took effect. Immigration officials have also stated that not all skilled workers on this list will be processed by the deadline.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us how many applicants would have qualified under the old rules and what measures have been taken to process the outstanding number of immigrant applicants caught between the old and new rules?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as the honourable senator began his question, he talked about a decision of the Federal Court, which, of course, has been appealed. Therefore, I cannot comment on his preamble with respect to the judgment that has come down.
In terms of his other question, no, I do not have those numbers here but I will seek to obtain them for the honourable senator.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, I appreciate that. I have a supplementary question. This is the latest example of the many serious problems within the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. In recent months, we have learned of a refugee board facing its highest caseload ever, a backlog in spousal immigration claims, confusion over a controversial new identification card, and other situations. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what concrete steps the department is taking to deal with these obvious problems of mismanagement?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I do not agree with the honourable senator's statement that there have been mismanagement problems. We have a huge number of individuals who wish to come to this country, I think partly for the very reasons we heard yesterday, that Canada does believe in a multilateral approach and does believe in the United Nations and the decisions of the Security Council.
Having said that, there are clearly backlogs that need to be addressed. That is exactly the reason why the department was given substantial new monies, in order to reduce those backlogs.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, surely a better answer than "We have given some money" would be appropriate to those tens of thousands of people who are out there caught in a trap that is not of their own making. Obviously, the Leader of the Government must have some plans or ideas to share with us with regard to some of the things that the department is doing to solve this problem.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the process is clear. Extra officers have been hired. They have been trained. They are working on a daily basis to reduce the backlog. The appropriate processes are in place. Sometimes those processes are long because, as the honourable senator knows, there are appeals. The government is working to deal with these individuals who desire to be either refugees in our country or landed immigrants through the landed immigrant process.
There are a great many people who want to come to Canada, and the department is doing the very best it can.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourables senators, I have the honour to table four delayed answers, one to a question raised in the Senate on February 5, 2003, by Senator Oliver regarding Bill C-22, expenditures on advertising and training; one to a question raised in the Senate on February 5, 2003, by Senator Andreychuk regarding immigration; one to a question raised in the Senate on February 12, 2003, by Senator Stratton regarding the Canada Child Tax Benefit; and one to a question raised in the Senate on October 30, 2002, and February 12, 2003, by Senator Kinsella regarding Northern Ireland.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Donald H. Oliver on February 12, 2003)
The purpose of the Child-Centred Family Law Strategy is to help parents focus on the needs of their children following separation and divorce. It is composed of three pillars:
- Implementation of the legislative framework proposed in Bill C-22;
- Enhanced funding for family justice services; and
- Partial Expansion of Unified Family Courts.
Together, these three pillars will create a family justice system that:
- Minimizes the potentially negative impact of separation and divorce on children;
- Provides parents with the tools they need to reach parenting arrangements that are in the child's best interests; and
- Ensures that the legal process is less adversarial so that only the most difficult cases will go to court.
Not only will the Government be devoting $63 million in new funding (over 5 years) to the provinces and territories for family justice services — the services needed to ease the conflict and stress that come with separation and divorce and help parents while they are making decisions about the care of their children — in addition, there will be funding of $16.1 million a year for 62 new judges in order to expand Unified Family Courts.
Unified Family Courts improve outcomes for children and their families by simplifying the process, providing easy access to an array of family justice services and involving specialized judges who are experts in family law. Forty-six of these judges will be promoted from the provincial court level and the provinces will also be required to reinvest the money they save on their provincial judicial salaries in family justice services.
Overall, this is a much greater investment than the $48 million ($47.7 over 5 years). However, this funding is essential to the implementation of the family law reforms to the Divorce Act in Bill C-22, which will foster a cooperative approach to parenting after separation and divorce that focuses on the best interests of children.
Education and information about the new legislative reforms are a cornerstone of this strategy, which seeks to promote a child-focused perspective on the part of parents, professionals and judges. The Department of Justice will play a key federal role in the continuing development of the family justice system in Canada, by participating in activities supporting the evolution of child-centred family law in collaboration with the provinces and territories. The Department will serve as a resource for training and professional development, including producing extensive public legal education and information materials, not only for lawyers and judges, but also for parents, children and youth and front-line service providers. There will be a comprehensive communications strategy developed that will promote positive parenting and will serve to inform Canadians about the importance of the Divorce Act reforms. In addition, the Department will facilitate the exchange of information nationally and internationally and will operate a toll-free line to educate and assist the public.
This funding will also support activities to improve the national and international enforcement of support and custody orders. Further, research and evaluation will play a very important role during implementation, particularly in monitoring the legislative reforms and collaborating with the provinces and territories on evaluations of family justice services for families and their children. The funding will also provide the opportunity for Statistics Canada, through the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, to develop the necessary data and information sources that have been so lacking in the family justice area.
(Response to question raised by Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk on February 5, 2003)
This review considers elements of risk that a person might encounter if returned to their country. Persons who face removal from Canada are eligible to seek such a review. This procedure is in place to ensure that no one is removed from Canada when there are sound grounds to conclude that harsh or inhumane treatment might be incurred.
Other factors involving humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) concerns are not considered in such a review. Should a person wish consideration on such grounds then it is incumbent upon the family to file a separate application seeking such redress.
The issue of children's interest is a most serious one and is explicitly recognized in the new immigration legislation. However, immigration officers are instructed to keep in mind that the inclusion of the best interest of a child into the legislation does not mean that the interests of the child outweigh all other factors in a case. The best interest of a child is one of many important factors that officers need to consider when making an H&C or public policy decision. A final decision is based on a balanced assessment of all the important factors germane to a particular case.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Terry Stratton on February 12, 2003)
The Government acknowledges the difficulties which some low income Canadian families face. Budget 2003 makes a series of long-term funding commitments to support families with children, including $965 million per year investments in the National Child Benefit (NCB) and $965 million over five years for child care.
Budget Plan 2003 already recognizes the problem associated with the clawback and states: "Going forward, and building on the NCB initiative, the federal government and the provinces will need to ensure that low- and modest- income families with children have enhanced incentives to work and earn income. This will include examining the reduction or `claw-back' rates for the CCTB as well as other elements of the tax and benefit structure that may affect incentives to work and earn income for low- and modest- income families."
(Response to questions raised by Hon. Noël A. Kinsella on October 30, 2002 and February 12, 2003)
Canada's support for the Northern Ireland peace process is characterized by our engagement and support at many levels. The situation in Northern Ireland is a domestic matter. Canada does, however, play an active role in supporting the efforts of both the UK and Irish Governments to create a climate of trust and transparency between the parties to the conflict and to achieve lasting peace. The importance of Canadian support has been acknowledged on many occasions, including during the September 2000 visit to Ottawa of former Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson, and during the visit of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his February 2001 speech to a joint session of the Canadian Parliament.
An important element in Canada's approach to the Northern Ireland peace process is our promotion of high- level dialogue and contacts. Key parties frequently meet with Canadian ministers to discuss the peace process. The November 9, 2002, meeting in Toronto between Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Bill Graham, is a recent example. The November 10-12, 2002, visit to Ottawa by Jane Kennedy, the UK Minister of State for Northern Ireland is another. In such meetings, the Government of Canada has urged that all steps be taken to advance the peace process, including measures to strengthen or restore Northern Ireland's devolved institutions.
Canadian parliamentarians play an important role in promoting dialogue. Groups like the Canada-Ireland Parliamentary Friendship Group and the Canada-UK Parliamentary Association have been particularly active in this regard. The June 2001 all-party visit of the Speaker of the House of Commons to Belfast and Dublin, and the return visit in September 2002 of a delegation of Northern Ireland parliamentarians led by the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly have contributed to strengthening networks between our parliamentarians. In addition, staff of the Parliament of Canada have provided training on parliamentary procedures for their Northern Ireland Assembly counterparts, both in Ottawa and in Belfast, and efforts are being made to further develop exchanges between the two institutions.
Another example of Canada's support has been our financial contribution of more than $5 million to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). Projects supported by the IFI help build trust and cooperation between the communities. The IFI Wider Horizons program, whose training in cross-cultural relations is mainly conducted in Canada, has been particularly effective in this regard. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has also funded three community projects from its Human Security Program since 2000. The most recent project, supported jointly by this program and by Bombardier, the largest private sector employer in Northern Ireland, was a two-day workshop carried out by Peaceful Schools International. PSI is a Canadian non-governmental organization dedicated to providing support to schools committed to creating and maintaining a culture of peace. The workshop brought together teachers, students, NGOs, members of the public and government officials in Belfast.
Canada can also take pride in the role played by our individual citizens, experts and organizations who play a vital role in supporting the peace process. Perhaps best known is General de Chastelain who heads the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. But, there are numerous other Canadians who have been asked to lend their expertise, such as former Chief Justice William Hoyt of New Brunswick and Justice Esson of British Columbia on the UK Commission of Inquiry into the "Bloody Sunday" shootings by the British Army. More recently, retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Peter Cory was appointed to head an inquiry into allegations of security force collusion in certain killings.
Canadians are also working on the initiatives to reform policing in Northern Ireland, an issue which is one of the main stumbling blocks to the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly. In 2001, retired RCMP Assistant Commissioner Al Hutchinson assumed the position of Chief of Staff for the Oversight Commissioner for Policing Reform in Northern Ireland, and he will assume the position of Oversight Commissioner in December of this year. He is supported in this work by two other Canadians, Bob Lunney and Roy Berlinquette.
Finally, sports and cultural activities are helping to bridge the gap between communities and build non-sectarian relationships. The Belfast Giants, a hockey team consisting mostly of Canadians and owned by Canadians, is now one of the most popular professional teams in Belfast. This has had a positive impact by attracting the interest and support of both communities.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons returning Bill C-12, to promote physical activity and sport, to acquaint the Senate that the House of Commons has agreed to the amendments made by the Senate to this bill, without amendment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding with the Orders of the Day, I wish to introduce the pages visiting us from the House of Commons.
Mathieu Lambert-Bélanger from Timmins, Ontario, is enrolled in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. His specialization is political science.
Dale Alexander of Mascouche, Quebec, is enrolled in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. She is majoring in translation.
Hon. Ross Fitzpatrick moved the second reading of Bill C-3, to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act.
He said: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure, today, to present Bill C-3 for second reading, which amends the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act. The measures introduced in this bill complete the investment policy reforms to the Canada Pension Plan, or CPP, that the federal and provincial governments initiated in 1997. The federal and provincial governments are joint stewards of the Canada Pension Plan.
Following a warning in the early 1990s by the Chief Actuary of Canada that the sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan was at risk if changes were not made, governments recognized the need for reform. The Chief Actuary predicted that the CPP's assets at the time — the equivalent of two years of benefits — would be depleted by 2015 and that contribution rates would have to increase to more than 14 per cent by 2030 if the plan was to be sustainable.
The Canada Pension Plan was established in 1966. Back then, the government came to the realization that Canadians were in need of a public pension plan that could be carried from job to job and province to province. The answer was the CPP, a compulsory earnings-based national plan set up jointly by the federal and provincial governments to which virtually all working Canadians contribute. The plan provides retirement income to those who have worked in Canada and contributed to the plan. It can also provide their families with financial assistance in the event of death and disability. It was designed to complement, not replace, personal savings and employment pension plans.
Honourable senators, the importance of the Canada Pension Plan to Canada's overall retirement income system becomes clear when we take note of the fact that the plan is one of the system's three supporting pillars. Canada's retirement income system is a blend of public and private pension provisions and considered by many to be one of the most effective ways of providing for retirement income needs.
In addition to the CPP, the other two supporting pillars are: first, the Old Age Security program, which provides public pensions for seniors and ensures all Canadians a basic income in retirement; and, second, the private component of this system, which includes tax-assisted, fully funded, employer-sponsored pension plans, registered retirement savings plans and other private savings.
The Canada Pension Plan worked well for 30 years. However, the Chief Actuary's warning that the sustainability of the plan was in jeopardy spurred the federal and provincial governments to release a discussion paper on the issue and to hold cross- country public consultations on the Canada Pension Plan in the mid-1990s.
In joint hearings from coast to coast, Canadians gave their governments a clear message: They wanted their governments to preserve the Canada Pension Plan by strengthening its financing, improving its investment practices and moderating the growing costs of benefits. Governments heard from a good cross-section of Canadians at these hearings, not just from one or two special interest groups. They heard from senior citizens, young people, social planning groups, pension experts, actuaries, chambers of commerce and from many interested and concerned Canadians.
Following the public consultations, the federal and provincial governments in 1997 adopted a balanced approach to CPP reform so that the plan could meet the demand of the coming years when the baby boomers would be retiring. These changes included a rapid increase in CPP contribution rates and building up a larger asset pool while baby boomers are still in the workforce, investing this fund in the markets at arm's length from government for the best possible rates of return, and slowing the growing cost of benefits through administrative and expenditure measures. All together, these measures ensured that a contribution rate of 9.9 per cent could be sufficient to maintain sustainability of the plan indefinitely.
Federal and provincial ministers concluded in their most recent financial review of the CPP in December 2002 that the plan is financially sound and is on track to provide retirement pensions in the future.
A key part of the 1997 reforms was a new market investment policy for the CPP. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board was set up in 1998 to implement this new investment policy. Established as an independent professional investment board, the mandate of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, or CPPIB, is to invest for contributors and beneficiaries and to maximize investment returns without undue risk of loss.
Prior to the board's creation, the investment policy for the Canada Pension Plan was for funds not immediately required to pay benefits to be invested in provincial government bonds at the federal government's interest rate. This resulted in an undiversified portfolio of securities and an interest rate subsidy to the provinces.
Now, under the new investment policy, CPP funds that are not needed to pay benefits and expenses are transferred to the CPP Investment Board and invested in a diversified portfolio of market securities in the best interests of contributors and beneficiaries.
Before turning to the specific measures in Bill C-3, I should mention that this new policy framework is consistent with the investment strategies of most public sector pension plans in Canada, including the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement System. The CPPIB operates under investment rules similar for these other public sector plans. They require that pension plan assets be prudently managed in the best interests of CPP contributors and beneficiaries. Like other plans, the board is subject to the foreign property rule.
As honourable senators are aware, the CPP Investment Board is responsible for billions of dollars of retirement funds belonging to Canadians. It is imperative that the board be fully accountable to Canadians and the federal and provincial governments. It is also imperative that the retirement funds of Canadians be managed to the highest professional standards and at arm's length from governments, with experienced managers making investment decisions.
As many honourable senators know, the government's framework established for the CPPIB is designed to ensure full transparency and accountability. The board keeps Canadians well informed of its policies, operations and investments through quarterly financial statements, through an annual report tabled in Parliament, at regular public meetings in participating provinces, and through an informative Web site where it makes its financial results and investment policies public.
Full accountability is also assured through a process with strong checks and balances in place for identifying and appointing CPPIB directors. Directors are selected from a list of candidates identified by a nominating committee. The CPPIB has a strong board of directors with investment, business and financial experience. Independence from governments in making investment decisions is critical to both the success of the CPPIB and public confidence in the CPP investment policy. I believe it is worth noting that both the public and the pension management experts have indicated that they support the independence and quality of the CPP's Investment Board of Directors.
I will now turn to the specific elements of the bill that we are debating today. To begin, I remind honourable senators that the money invested by the CPP Investment Board today will be needed to help pay the pensions of working Canadians who will begin retiring 20 years from now. Under Bill C-3, all of the CPP assets that are currently administered by the federal government will be transferred to the CPPIB over a three-year period. These assets include a $5 billion cash reserve and a large portfolio of mostly provincial government bonds that is valued at about $32 billion. These changes will mean that all CPP assets will now be managed by one independent professional organization. This move not only makes a great deal of sense but it also represents the final steps in the 1997 reforms of CPP investment policy.
Several benefits will ensue as a result of Bill C-3. First, consolidating all CPP assets under the management of one organization provides sound investment and risk management strategies for all CPP assets and will put the CPP on the same footing as other public sector pension plans, thereby contributing to the sustainability of the CPP.
Second, according to the analysis of the Chief Actuary of Canada, fully investing all CPP assets in the market will earn a greater return, thereby producing a very large benefit in the order of an additional $85 billion over 50 years for the Canada Pension Plan. This will add considerably to the soundness of the Canada Pension Plan and enhance the confidence of Canadians in their public pension plan.
Third, phasing in the transfer of the plan's assets over three years will help to ensure that the transfer is absorbed smoothly by the capital markets, the CPP Investment Board and provincial government borrowing programs.
The transfer of all assets to the CPPIB will lead to prudent, sound investment diversification as well as increased performance. I remind honourable senators that all provincial and territorial governments unanimously support the transfer of these assets to the CPPIB. Their support is important because any changes to CPP and CPPIB legislation must have their approval.
Honourable senators, I have mentioned that the CPPIB is responsible for establishing and fully disclosing its investment policies and for investing CPP assets while properly minimizing risk. Together with the 1997 reforms to the CPP, these new measures will ensure that the Canada Pension Plan remains on a sound financial footing for future generations.
The CPP reflects a national belief that retirement for working Canadians should not be a time of hardship. The CPP also captures the Canadian value of shared responsibility among contributors and governments to provide reliable support to working Canadians after they cease active work.
As I stated at the beginning of my remarks, Canada's retirement income system is built on three pillars. It is a blend of public and private pension provisions and it is considered internationally to be one of the most effective ways to provide for retirement income needs. In summary, allow me to review these pillars. First, there is the Old Age Security program that provides public pensions for seniors and ensures all Canadians a basic income in retirement. Second, there is the Canadian Pension Plan, the subject of today's debate, the national contributory pension plan that provides working Canadians and their families with income support at retirement and in the event of disability or death. Third, there are tax-assisted, fully-funded, employer-sponsored pension plans, registered retirement savings plans and other private savings.
The measures in Bill C-3 will only further enhance this retirement income system. I believe that the establishment of the Canada Pension Plan was one of the most important public policy initiatives ever undertaken. The measures in Bill C-3 will strengthen the system further and help the government to fulfil its commitment to making Canada's retirement income system secure for all Canadians. I urge all honourable senators to join with me in supporting Bill C-3.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Bolduc, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kinsella, seconded by the Honourable Senator Corbin, for the second reading of Bill S-14, to amend the National Anthem Act to reflect the linguistic duality of Canada.—(Honourable Senator Corbin)
Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin: Honourable senators, the purpose of Bill S-14 is to add an appendix to the act, which would include a combined version of the National Anthem of Canada, half French and half English. As our colleague Senator Kinsella has said, this does not involve any change in the words of our national anthem. They stay the same.
Sung in this way, our national anthem would constitute a fine example of the linguistic duality that has shaped our country and is an ongoing source of pride to Canadians in general.
Let us say a few words about our system of linguistic duality in Canada.
In 1999, Justice Bastarache indicated in Beaulac that it is appropriate to interpret language rights under section 16(1) of the Charter in the same way as other rights and freedoms with Charter guarantees, that is broadly, liberally, generously and purposively.
The concept of equality is not limited as far as language is concerned. On the contrary, French and English enjoy equal status, and that equality must be real if it is to have any meaning. According to Justice Bastarache:
This principle of substantive equality has meaning. It provides in particular that language rights that are institutionally based require government action for their implementation and therefore create obligations for the State... It also means that the exercise of language rights must not be considered exceptional, or as something in the nature of a request for an accommodation.
I would remind honourable senators that the Beaulac case centred on subsection 530(1) of the Criminal Code, which grants the accused the right to a trial in the language of their choice. This is not a procedural right, but a substantive right. The purpose of this right is to provide defendants who speak one of the two official languages equal access to the courts in order to allow them to protect their cultural identity. This right also applies for new trials, as is the case in question, because the defendant is in the same situation as he was for his first trial.
Justice Bastarache points out that the administrative drawbacks that may be entailed when this right is exercised are not appropriate factors to justify refusing it from being exercised. The Official Languages Act requires sufficient institutional infrastructure and not simply the obligation to accommodate the defendant. This infrastructure is based on the equality of both official languages.
Finally, still in this judgment, refusing the defendant's request must be the exception to the rule and the onus to justify such a refusal rests with the Crown. Obviously, the later the request is made in the trial, the easier it is to justify a refusal. Currently, it is up to the trial judge to exercise his or her discretion as set out in subsection 530(4) of the Criminal Code.
That is the situation, as it exists in Canada, which lies at the very heart of our Constitution with respect to linguistic duality. Some will say that this is very far removed from the national anthem. That is true.
Senator Prud'homme: Very far.
Senator Beaudoin: But these are linguistic matters nevertheless. I am suspicious of comparisons, because they can be deceptive. This is often mentioned in speeches, but we can also use it. Everything depends on the facts. It seems to me, and this is my point, that, in a bilingual federation, the national anthem should be sung in both languages at the federal level. This is part of our heritage and our linguistic rights are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I do not think that this is asking too much from Canadians. We are not asking everyone to speak two languages, not at all. But the fact is that it exists. To some extent, the national anthem is sung partly in French and partly in English, and this is quite all right with most people. Personally, I am always somewhat distracted when I hear the person next to me singing in one language, while I am singing in the other language.
Senator Prud'homme: That is the beauty of the thing.
Senator Beaudoin: Let me talk. This situation can lead to cacophony, and this should be avoided when singing a national anthem.
To sing half of our national anthem in French and the other half in English, as Senator Kinsella explained, is definitely a very interesting idea. While we may agree or disagree with it, at least this bill reflects Canada's linguistic duality.
I think it should be passed. Amendments can be put forward, and I will be the first to consider them. It is not too much to ask in this country of ours, which has two official languages and two legal systems, to have a national anthem with one portion sung in French and another in English, not simultaneously but consecutively. I therefore agree with the principle of Bill S-14 and urge you to support it.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, are you not concerned that a real "cacaphony" is precisely what is being proposed in the bill before us today? You are suggesting that everyone should be allowed to sing in either official language. Historically, that has been our wish exactly: that English Canada learn the "O Canada," which after all is a translation, while French Canada, and we in Quebec in particular, sing it as it was written.
The anthem by Sir Basile Routhier was not a translation. Let us leave that to English Canada. I am opposed to all of these changes: what is being proposed is a real "cacaphony." I would have much more to say on this. Senator Beaudoin just mentioned that we have two government systems and two legal systems. However, as far as I know, these are not mixed. We do not apply part of the Civil Code and part of the common law. The various points of view are put forward and a conclusion is reached. I would be terrified by such changes.
Does Senator Beaudoin recall the opposition of certain senators to the changing of a single word proposed in Senator Poy's bill? Incidentally, the proposed changes are supposed to provide clarity to this bill. I have put together some 200 pages of notes on all national anthems. When we look at the changes made in other countries, we invariably conclude that we are better off with what we have.
All the national anthems I will mention in my speech are precisely dated. When we get to the "O Canada," it says that it was adopted in 1980. As if, suddenly, 1880 or 1909 did not mean anything anymore. Having heard all the arguments, would Senator Beaudoin not be prepared to reconsider his position by the end of this debate? Do you not agree that we are headed for a real "cacaphony"? I can imagine how our fellow Canadians would react if they were asked to sing "la terre de nos aïeux." It is sad, because that is the original wording, but the emphasis would not be on that. I have listened carefully and I would like to know if Senator Beaudoin is not leading us to a real "cacaphony"?
Senator Beaudoin: First off, I must say that the word is "cacophony," according to the dictionaries.
Senator Prud'homme: I did it deliberately.
Senator Beaudoin: Yes, but you have no right to butcher the French language.
Senator Prud'homme: I was not butchering the French language. I was doing this on purpose because I knew that the senator would be quick to pick up on this word.
Senator Beaudoin: I will trust my colleagues' judgment.
Senator Prud'homme: Especially the translation.
Senator Beaudoin: Honourable senators, it is true that we are not required to learn two languages. I remember my years in classical college, when some things were said in French and other things were said in Latin. We were proud to be able to speak another language.
Canada is a wonderful country with its two universal languages and two legal systems. It is not too much to ask that 21 words be sung in French and 21 words in English. This does not diminish our enthusiasm for our national anthem.
If it can be proven that there is an error in Bill S-14, I will listen to the arguments to this effect and admit that I am wrong. But I have looked at it from all angles and have not found any errors.
I am willing to consider anything, having worked in law my whole life. If you can prove this is not the right solution, I will accept a better one. We are here to discuss things.
Senator Prud'homme: That is true.
Senator Beaudoin: We are simply going back to the original version of the national anthem, from before the First World War. It is not the end of the world. We are not changing the copyright. We are simply saying that men and women should be treated equally.
The finest section of the Constitution, section 28 of the Charter, stipulates that Canadian law applies equally to persons of both sexes. It is wonderful. Canada managed to apply the amendment when other countries did not. If the amendment to the Charter works for Canada, why would it not for the national anthem?
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Beaudoin's time has expired. Is the honourable senator seeking leave to continue?
On motion of Senator Corbin, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Poy, seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the second reading of Bill S-3, to amend the National Anthem Act to include all Canadians.—(Honourable Senator Stratton).
Hon. Terry Stratton: I would like to inform honourable senators and, in particular, Senator Poy that I will speak to this matter later this week. It will be this week.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Poulin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Poy, for the second reading of Bill C-227, respecting a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.—(Honourable Senator Meighen).
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-227, respecting a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
I congratulate Senator Poulin for presenting this bill. From time to time, when our colleagues in the House pass a bill worthy of our support, we must congratulate them as well.
One need only read the "whereases" at the beginning of the bill to grasp the significance of this World War I battle for our fledgling nation. This was the first time Canadian troops fought together against a common enemy on foreign soil. It was certainly a turning point for our country and the beginning of Canada's march towards nationhood.
We, who were not there, cannot imagine the horrors faced by our young soldiers. However, I believe, if anyone has ever captured this battle so that it will remain with us forever, Will Longstaff has done so in his painting displayed in the Railway Reading Room, depicting the ghosts of Canadian soldiers scaling Vimy Ridge.
A great deal of the credit for this victory goes to Major-General Arthur Currie, the Commander of the First Canadian Division at Vimy. The story goes that he instilled confidence in his men by sharing with them the objectives of the various battles they were to partake in and how these objectives would be accomplished. For example, Currie distributed maps to his troops, took them into his confidence, ensuring that not only were they to follow orders, but also they would know why the orders were given and would understand them as well.
The five-day battle on Vimy Ridge, fought, at least initially, in a sleet storm, resulted in the enemy being removed from the high ground. This was a feat that the French troops in 1915 and the British in 1916 had failed to accomplish. By the end of the battle, in which we were victorious, we had taken more ground, more guns and more prisoners than any previous British offensive. However, the cost was heavy, honourable senators — 10,000 Canadian casualties, 3,598 of whom lost their lives.
At that time and since then, Vimy has become a rallying cry for the country, a true symbol of unity. Westerners, Quebecers, Ontarians and those from Atlantic Canada fought shoulder to shoulder, wearing the same identifying "Canada" patch on their shoulders. They were all Canadians united in a common cause.
Our late Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn captured the feelings of all Canadians when he spoke during the ceremonies held in 1992 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of this battle:
The Canadian corps demonstrated a level of intelligence, skill, courage and teamwork that terrified the enemy, electrified our allies and sent a surge of pride and self- confidence through the Canadian population that has lasted to this day.
In 1992, I had the great privilege of accompanying Prime Minister Mulroney and a number of veterans of the battle to the ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of Vimy. Again, in 2000, I had the honour to go to Vimy as part of the delegation that brought home the Unknown Soldier to be laid to rest just a short distance from here. Going there, admiring the beautiful monument, which is arguably the most awe-inspiring of its kind anywhere, instils a deep and lasting sense of pride in our country and in our history.
On July 3, 1921, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Cross of Sacrifice at the Thelus Military Cemetery on the slope of Vimy Ridge, a former prime minister and former member of this chamber, Arthur Meighen, spoke in these terms:
No words can add to their fame, nor so long as gratitude holds a place in men's hearts can our forgetfulness be suffered to detract from their renown. For as the war dwarfed by its magnitude all contests of the past, so the wonder of human resource, the splendour of human heroism, reached a height never witnessed before...
France lives and France is free, and Canada is the nobler for her sacrifice to help free France to live. In many hundreds of plots throughout these hills and valleys, all the way from Flanders to Picardy, lie fifty thousand of our dead. Their resting places having been dedicated to their memory forever by the kindly grateful heart of France, and will be tended and cared for by us in the measure of the love we bear them. Above them are being planted the maples of Canada, in the thought that her sons will rest the better in the shade of trees they knew so well in life. Across the leagues of the Atlantic, the heartstrings of our Canadian nation will reach through all time to these graves in France; we shall never let pass away the spirit bequeathed to us by those who fell; their name liveth forevermore.
Honourable senators, it is important that Canadians are made aware of the history of their country. To that end, it is vital that we teach our young people about the sacrifices that have been made by previous generations of Canadians. Symbols do matter, honourable senators.
Honourable senators, I support Bill C-227 without reservation, and I encourage you all to cooperate in order for it to be passed without delay, so that it may be proclaimed before April 9 of this year, the day I hope will become Vimy Ridge Day.
On motion of Senator Atkins, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Milne, for the second reading of Bill C-300, to change the names of certain electoral districts. —(Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.).
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, this is a bill like many others that have come before us over the years for the changing of names of certain constituencies in Canada. The MPs in question have consulted with their constituents and have brought forward these names as being more properly representative of the geographical and cultural realities of the ridings.
This is the second time that this bill has been approved unanimously by the House of Commons. It began as Bill C-141, which died because it did not make it through the legislative process before prorogation, and is now before us as Bill C-300.
It is true that boundary commissions are sitting. Some have reported and some have not. I believe that about half have reported. In some cases, even those that have reported have not seen fit to change the names of boundaries as suggested in Bill C- 300. In any case, the boundary commissions, even those that have reported, are not finalized. There is an opportunity for MPs to ask for a review of the commission report and to make further suggestions to the boundaries commission. As a matter of fact, it is possible to delay those reports of the boundary commissions.
I would further point out that, even when the boundary commission report is adopted and the names are changed, no elections can be held on the basis of those new ridings for a year after the boundary commission has reported. If, by approving Bill C-300 now, we make changes to the boundaries in time for the next election, and if we approve Bill C-300, this is evidence that can be put before the boundary commissions for review.
I ask honourable senators to adopt this bill that we have received from the House of Commons. There are some amendments that will need to be made, in particular with regard to the name of the Kelowna riding. Senator Fitzpatrick intends to move a motion in committee to more properly reflect that. I think he has consulted with the member of Parliament in the House of Commons on that matter as well.
I would ask for your support, honourable senators, in passing Bill C-300.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a question. I have been working on this subject for 35 years and I have very strong views on the matter. You speak as though you are sure that the next general election will be held before July 1, 2004. If the election were to take place after July 2004, it would be under a completely new set of seats and names. I am of the opinion that there will be an election in April of 2004, as I said to the Banking Committee. However, we are now coming to the end of the day for changes on something that we cannot know will be put into effect.
If there is an election before the year 2004, the bill that you are proposing to us for consideration — and I follow that in the committee — will come into effect with all the expenses that this involves. The changing of a name seems to be easy, but there is a lot involved. New maps must be printed. Do you not think that we should leave it to the new commission that has already been established? Their report will go to the House, changes in names will take place there, and if there is an election, all these new names will be part of it. Furthermore, if there is an election before July 1, 2004, then it will take place using the actual map.
At this late stage, why are we changing names for only one election? That will only create more confusion for the electors, who must be already confused from being moved from one district to another.
I know the pressure. I was elected, as you were, but I think it is the duty of the Senate to reflect gently sometimes and to refuse certain expenses that are frivolous just for the sake of changing a name.
Senator Rompkey: Honourable senators, with regard to the timing, as I said this point has not come up recently. This bill had a previous life but just did not make it all the way through the process. With regard to the question of why now, this is a bill that has been around for some time.
With regard to the question of on what date will we have the election, all of the boundary commissions have not yet reported. Some reports can be delayed for six months, if the commissions request a delay. We have no idea when the reports of all the boundary commissions will be in and when they will be approved. Even after approval, it will be a year before an election can be held on those boundaries.
Why now? These changes come from both sides of the House, and the House has approved this bill unanimously. The members of Parliament have consulted with their constituents and these names better reflect the geographic and cultural realities of the ridings than the previous ones. That process has gone on for some time in the House of Commons. We are respecting the wishes of the people in those constituencies to have the names of their constituencies reflect their reality more accurately than it does at the present time. I hope the Honourable Senator Prud'homme will approve of that.
On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
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 Senator LeBreton).
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I rise today to participate in the debate concerning the adoption of the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology entitled: "The Health of Canadians — The Federal Role, Volume Six: Recommendations for Reform." I should like to take this opportunity to speak about developments in progress in the area of palliative and end-of-life care.
I would like to begin by congratulating Senators Kirby and LeBreton for their excellent work as chair and deputy chair of the committee. I also wish to thank all of the committee members for their efforts and their great devotion over the two years of the study on the future of health care in Canada.
During the course of its work, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology sat for over 200 hours, held 76 meetings and heard from over 400 witnesses. These statistics illustrate the extensive amount of time and effort put in by members of this place to produce thoughtful and thorough reports, not only on health care but also on a range of issues that, either directly or indirectly, affect the daily lives of citizens. Indeed, the Senate is one of the most effective public policy think- tanks in Canada.
Several of my honourable colleagues have already contributed to the debate, and I would like to thank them for their insight and contribution to the discussion. I would also like to invite all of those who wish to speak on this matter to do so.
I believe that we are currently in exciting times when it comes to health care renewal in Canada. In its budget 2003, the federal government stated that it would invest $34.8 billion over the next five years to renew the health care system. This investment is aimed at improving the quality and accessibility of health care services and at ensuring the sustainability of this top priority of Canadians today and in the future.
In addition, the budget provides $1.3 billion over five years to support health programs for First Nations and Inuit. Funding is a key step in fulfilling the September 2002 Speech from the Throne commitment to improve the life chances of Aboriginal people. We senators have a wealth of knowledge and experience to contribute to the discourse that will inform the federal, provincial and territorial governments as they work toward implementing the first ministers' Health Care Renewal Accord 2003. The accord, and the budget 2003, includes a five-year, $16-billion health reform fund for the provinces and territories to target primary care, catastrophic drug coverage and home care, including short- term acute home care, community mental health and end-of-life care.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments are currently working on determining the core set of minimum services that will be provided under the health reform fund. Health ministers have until September 30, 2003, to agree on these services. It is important to note that because each province and territory has varying needs in respect of its populations and is at different stages of reform in each jurisdiction with respect to programs such as home care, there will be flexibility so that each province and territory will define its best way to meet the objectives of the health reform fund.
The Senate has already been studying the issue of palliative care and end-of-life care for some time now. It undertook its study of the issue in 1995 when the Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, of which I was a member, was struck. Under the chairmanship of Joan Neiman, this committee presented a number of unanimous recommendations regarding palliative care and end-of-life care in its final report, entitled "Of Life and Death." The recommendations included making palliative care more accessible, establishing standards of care and ensuring that health professionals receive improved training in palliative and end-of-life care.
In 2000, the Subcommittee to Update "Of Life and Death," as it was known, released its final report entitled, "Quality End-of- Life Care: The Right of Every Canadian." The committee recommended, above all else, the need for federal leadership and collaboration and the development of a national strategy to improve end-of-life care in Canada. The 2000 report was, in many ways, a call to action to support informal caregivers, to provide access to palliative and end-of-life care at home, to increase training and education for health care professionals, and to enhance research in the area of palliative and end-of-life care. The report also expanded on the concept of palliative care to include all end-of-life situations. This report was unanimously adopted in the Senate, signifying recognition by honourable senators of the importance of palliative and end-of-life care for all Canadians.
The third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology that is currently before us reaffirms the findings and recommendations of both the 1995 and 2000 committee reports and the chapter dedicated to palliative care. Among the recommendations is the establishment of a national palliative home care program and the provision of income and job protection for those caring for a gravely ill or dying loved one. The report recommends expanding coverage to include palliative home care in order to ensure that end-of-life care is available to all Canadians. This coverage would be in line with the federal government's recommendation on this issue as put forward in the first minister's Health Care Renewal Accord 2003.
As well, the recommendation addresses the needs of palliative and end-of-life patients and their families. We know that 80 per cent of Canadians wish to die at home, but it is estimated that only 15 to 20 per cent are able to do so. Integrated palliative and end-of-life care is essential to ensure that Canadians have access to all of the services and supports that they need when they are needed. However, it is also important that Canadians have access to quality palliative and end-of-life care in institutions outside their homes such as hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities.
In addition to the chapter dedicated to palliative care, many other themes in the report also apply to palliative care. The report makes recommendations concerning the importance of providing additional funding for research. This is critical in the area of palliative care in order to build research capacity and to enable results that will help inform decisions on the delivery of quality palliative and end-of-life care for all Canadians.
One of the themes of this report was reforming primary health care, which includes palliative care. The report also highlighted the importance of technology in the health sector. Indeed, telehealth and tele-hospices are essential when it comes to providing all Canadians with information on palliative care and guaranteeing them access to palliative care, particularly those who live in rural or outlying areas.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of Health and Social Services for Prince Edward Island recently announced a tele-home care pilot project to be carried out in the province from 2003 to 2006. Tele-home care uses telecommunications technology to provide care, instruction and education to patients in their own homes. This is where most Canadians want to be in their last days. The federal government will provide $400,000 in start-up funding for the tele-home care pilot project, which will expand the provision for home care service to eligible veterans and other home care clients throughout the province.
This project builds on the work of the tele-hospice pilot project initiated by Prince Edward Island's West Prince Health Region in April 2000. The tele-hospice project has had excellent results and is recognized at national and international levels as an innovative way to use technology to support the health care needs of a rural population.
During a visit to Prince Edward Island this past fall, I was given a demonstration of the tele-hospice project. Utilizing available tools and technology to deliver palliative care services and information to people, no matter their location, is key to improving the quality of life of patients and their families, and is indicative of a health system that is accessible, portable and comprehensive. I am hopeful that the knowledge gained from this tele-hospice project will be used in other regions of Canada.
If honourable senators will allow me to digress for one moment, I think you would be amazed at what the technology can actually do. During the demonstration, I sat in front of a machine and became the home care patient. I was contacted by my home care nurse via a telephone line and a small television screen. I could see the nurse and she could see me. Attached to this piece of machinery was a blood pressure cuff; so we took my blood pressure. They measured the oxygen in my blood. They examined, with a small camera, an area of my arm that I had wounded many years ago. They were able to see that the scar was properly healed and that there was no concern.
I did not allow myself to be a patient for the use of the attached stethoscope. I was convinced that my executive assistant, travelling with me, had bronchitis and so I asked her to sit in the chair while she moved the stethoscope to different areas of her chest. They diagnosed that she did indeed have bronchitis, and we made sure that my assistant received treatment.
This begs the question, of course: Is this not rather impersonal? In fact, I experienced exactly the opposite reaction. Patients liked this system for a variety of reasons. One woman said she liked it because she did not have to get up in the morning and have a bath. Another liked it because she did not have to clean, since the home care worker was not going to arrive at her house. Another liked it because she knew that the home care nurse was at the end of this machine more than once a day, if she needed to consult her more than once a day. Clearly, if they have a patient in crisis, they can be in contact three, four, five or six times per day through the use of this technology. It really was quite an exciting experiment.
At that point, there were only 15 machines in Prince Edward Island. I came back here and consulted with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who was interested in the delivery of palliative care services to veterans, and I asked if we could do something to deliver home care to veterans in Prince Edward Island using a similar initiative. That is how the pilot project came into being.
What interested me the most was the cost of this machine. We are talking about low tech here. We are talking about a machine that costs $5,000, and the only thing that is required in a person's home is an electric plug and a phone line. Nothing else is needed to make this system work. I became excited about the system because I could see that it could be used in remote communities throughout Canada. It could provide much more in the way of hands-on service at relatively low costs.
The young nurse at the other end said that she finally met one of her patients because the woman had been in hospital and they had to go out and do a home visit to change a dressing. The woman presented her with an afghan that she had knitted for her. She said that each day, after the home visit, she knitted a little bit more because she knew at some point she would meet her home care nurse.
It really is a remarkable success story, and one that we should move toward adopting in a great many places.
Another issue addressed by the committee was the use of pharmaceuticals. We know that not only is the use rising, so is the cost. They are playing an increasing role in health care for Canadians in a variety of circumstances, including in the context of palliative care. Sometimes the cost of drugs can be prohibitive. No Canadian should have to face financial hardship because he or she has to pay for drugs that they need to maintain their health.
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology's recommendation for expanding coverage to include catastrophic prescription drug costs is another area identified by the federal government as a priority. It is one of the target areas identified for the $16-billion health reform fund that I mentioned earlier in my speech. Such coverage would help many of those in palliative and end-of-life situations a great deal.
In my view, the Senate has greatly contributed to the increased awareness of palliative care and end-of-life issues among Canadians and all levels of government. The developments in palliative care that I am addressing today reflect the commitment of the Government of Canada to take action. The federal government is recognizing and supporting a new national resolve to enable Canadians to continue life as they always have in physical, emotional and spiritual terms, regardless of their stage of life.
In addition to the report before us, the federal government has also taken into account the recommendations of the final report of the Romanow commission. Mr. Romanow recommended targeted funding for home care, which would include end-of-life care as a priority. As well, both the Romanow and Senate committee reports recommended that the federal government take action to provide support by way of income support and job protection for those faced with caring for a gravely ill or dying loved one.
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, the Romanow commission and other provincial reports on health care will undoubtedly contribute to the continuing debate on health care reform, and provide federal, provincial and territorial governments with viable and concrete options for change.
As many in this chamber know, I was appointed as Minister with Special Responsibility for Palliative Care in March of 2001. I am very honoured to be the first federal minister with special responsibility for palliative care. This is the first position of its kind, not only in Canada but also, from what we can discover, in the world. It is a role that has provided me with the opportunity to make a specific contribution to Canadians concerning an issue that is of great personal importance to me.
In June 2001, Health Canada established a secretariat on palliative and end-of-life care. In addition to supporting me in my role as minister, the secretariat was given the mandate of promoting and facilitating a Canadian strategy on palliative and end-of-life care through collaboration with organizations and experts within and outside the federal government, and coordinating federal initiatives on palliative and end-of-life care.
Under the leadership of the secretariat, a key accomplishment has been the commitment to, and ongoing development of, a strategy. The secretariat is working in collaborative partnerships with external stakeholders on the strategy, which is aimed at taking an integrated approach to end-of-life care as part of health care over the course of a lifetime. Implementation is taking place by way of a structure that has been established consisting of a coordinating committee and five working groups in the area of best practices and quality care, public information and education, education for care providers, research and surveillance.
Recognizing that palliative and end-of-life care is an issue that has implications beyond the health sector, the federal government has been working through an interdepartmental working group to ensure that its programs and policies in the area of palliative and end-of-life care are developed and implemented in the context of a broader strategy. Indeed, the palliative care file provides the federal government with an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to working horizontally in order to provide Canadians with timely information and services when they need them the most.
Many of the measures adopted so far by the federal government in the area of health care follow up on the commitments made in the September 2002 Speech from the Throne. They include the commitment to modify existing programs to allow Canadians to care for a gravely ill or dying child, parent or spouse without putting their job or their income at risk.
Caregiver protection is an important priority to me as minister with special responsibility, and it is also a priority of the Canadian strategy. I am honoured to be part of a government that will provide concrete support to families on a fundamental and critical matter. I have been working closely with the Minister of Human Resources Development Canada. I am, therefore, very pleased that in its budget 2003, the federal government has committed to providing a new Employment Insurance benefit for a six-week compassionate care leave for people who take time off from jobs to care for a gravely ill or dying family member.
This compassionate care program will involve amending the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code. As well, provinces will be required to amend their labour laws to ensure compliance with the Employment Insurance Act, and they have agreed to do so as part of the Health Accord.
Some of them have done so already. The labour laws of six out of 10 provinces include provisions for compassionate leave to care for a close family member who is injured or ill. Saskatchewan is leading the way in providing 12 weeks of job protection. The concept is not new, with most provinces having already recognized the need for measures in this area.
The federal government is aiming to implement the program in January 2004, at a cost of $221 million per year. Honourable senators, I think it is important to acknowledge that every penny spent on this benefit program will go a long way toward improving the quality of life of palliative care patients and their families.
The compassionate care benefit will be complemented by tax measures outlined in the 2003 budget, including $20 million a year to expand the list of eligible expenses for the medical expense tax credit. This measure has the potential to be of great help to palliative care patients and their families as, in certain situations, medical expense costs can be very burdensome.
The federal budget outlines two other tax credits that will, in some instances, be of great help to palliative care patients and their families. One of these is the $50-million-a-year credit for a new child disability benefit for low and modest income families. That could provide up to $1,600 annually for a child qualifying for this tax credit.
Another is $80 million a year to improve tax assistance for persons with disabilities. While using the disability and medical expense tax credits were recommendations in the final report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, they are also strongly supported by the palliative care advocacy community and key associations such as the Canadian Medical Association. In addition, expanding tax measures to assist end-of-life patients and their families is one of the objectives of the strategy for palliative and end-of-life care.
I have consistently expressed my strong support for using a variety of mechanisms to assist people in end-of-life situations. By including these tax initiatives in the recent budget, the federal government is taking action to address the particular needs of patients and their families in a significant way. This is a very important achievement for palliative and end-of-life care in Canada.
Research is another of the priorities in the Canadian strategy. There have been recent developments in the area of research. In its 2003 budget, the federal government announced that it would be granting an additional $55 million per year to fund the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.
In fact, the Institute of Cancer Research at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research chose palliative care as first amongst six priority areas for research to be considered for special funding. In conjunction with the Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care at Health Canada, a joint ICR-Health Canada working group has been established to identify specific funding opportunities.
In January of 2003, the ICR working group presented its recommendations. I am pleased to note that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has committed $3.6 million over a five-year period for palliative, end-of-life care research. This, along with the CIHR's new program to support fellowships to train physicians to conduct research in palliative care — which was announced last May — will go a long way towards increasing the number of researchers and the capacity in the area of palliative care. This will enable evidence-based decision-making that will ultimately translate into improved quality palliative and end-of-life care for all Canadians.
In addition to the ICR, five other institutes have expressed an interest in making palliative care a priority: aging; human development, child and youth health; circulatory and respiratory health; genetics and neurosciences, mental health and addiction.
The National Cancer Institute of Canada is also becoming more involved in the area of palliative care research. The institute is in the process of reviewing its overall strategic approach and, to that end, is holding a series of focus groups to discuss the priorities that will inform its new strategy. It is encouraging to note that supportive care, including palliative care, is one of their emerging priorities.
As well, the government recently announced the first-ever Canada research chair in palliative care. Dr. Harvey Chochinov at the University of Manitoba will receive $1.5 million in funding from Industry Canada and Western Economic Diversification to advance research in palliative care and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
While research has an important role to play in terms of innovation in the area of palliative and end-of-life care, equally important is the role of technology, which can be a useful tool in providing both access to care and advice to people in palliative care situations. I had the privilege of announcing recently, together with two of my cabinet colleagues, that the federal government will provide $500,000 to the Canadian Virtual Hospice, a Web site that provides information on best practices in the area of palliative and end-of-life care. CVH is a virtual site for patients to connect with each other, for family members to seek support, for answers from a qualified doctor or nurse, for information for physicians and nurses themselves, and for physicians to have access to a specialist in palliative care. This is an exciting new concept that I believe will go a long way towards improving knowledge and expertise in end-of-life care for Canadians.
The training and education of health care professionals is paramount if we are to improve the quality of health care in general and, more specifically, palliative and end-of-life care in Canada. Many aspects of end-of-life care are not comparable to the medical care we receive at other stages of our life. For example, pain control is a big factor for those receiving palliative care. It also has a huge impact on the quality of life of people living with other diseases and chronic conditions. However, a 2001 study of medical students revealed that they received, on average, one hour of training on pain management in their four years in medical school. This is clearly not enough. I am pleased, however, to be able to say that there is progress in the area of education for health professionals. McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, recently made palliative care a core part of their medical school curriculum. McMaster is the first university in Canada to do so, and I look forward to others following their lead.
Honourable senators, I must tell you that the doctor who is directing this program stopped me at a conference in the fall and said that she had heard me give a speech in Hamilton about the lack of core programming in palliative care. She decided that she could do something about it, and went back to her university and did so.
Indeed, investing in innovation and education is key to sustaining a modern health care system. That is why the government is providing $90 million over five years towards health human resources and the expansion of professional development programs to ensure that health professionals acquire the necessary knowledge and training to work effectively in a variety of disciplines, including palliative and end-of-life care.
As all honourable senators are aware, palliative care is something about which I am very passionate. I believe that every Canadian should have access to quality palliative and end- of-life care, as it is a barometer of the quality of our health care system and of the values we hold as a nation. End-of-life care is just as important as care at the beginning of life. I believe that this is something that holds true for all Canadians.
As the minister with special responsibility for palliative care, I am committed to moving the palliative care agenda in Canada forward, and to the development of a Canadian strategy on palliative and end-of-life care. It is important to keep in mind that partnerships and collaboration between the federal, provincial, territorial governments and the external stakeholder communities are crucial in order for us to have a positive impact on palliative and end-of-life care in Canada and to continue to be a leader internationally on this important issue.
Given the demonstrated interest of the Government of Canada, the Parliament and this special Senate committee, I am optimistic that our long-term goal of providing quality palliative care to all Canadians is quickly becoming a reality.
Honourable senators, if I needed any further proof of the value of the work that I and so many of you have contributed to the issue of palliative care, it would be my trip on Friday to the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. I went to visit a former colleague of ours, the Honourable Philippe Gigantès. He is in the palliative care unit there. I had spoken with his daughter a week before and discovered that he was not in very good shape. When I arrived there, because of the treatment he had received in the palliative care unit, directed by Dr. Bernard Lapointe, he was lucid, welcoming and had a number of visitors. He had a quality to his life that can only be provided by people who have an understanding of what quality end-of-life care is all about. It is, and continues to be, my passion. It continues to be, I know, the passion of many of you in this room.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Will the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Carstairs: Of course.
Senator Keon: First, allow me, honourable senators, to congratulate the minister on behalf of all Canadians on her dedication, her energy and the enormous accomplishment she has made in this field. People will be indebted to her for a very long time.
Having said that, I remain concerned about the agenda not moving as quickly as many people would like to see it moved. One of the barriers, which the honourable senator touched on at the end of her speech, is that we do not have the appropriate health professionals in place. We also do not have the plans to train the appropriate health professionals in order to put this program in the place that it should occupy.
The honourable senator referred to the fact that about 80 per cent of people are not dying in their own beds. Instead, they are dying in highly sophisticated hospital beds, where they would be much better with a bouquet of flowers each day than having their blood work done. We cannot seem to get out of that conundrum.
My question is: Does the honourable senator have a plan for getting the 16 health sciences centres involved in educating multidisciplinary teams? It is not good enough, I believe, to have educational programs in medicine, nursing and so forth. We must have a leadership in the health sciences centres that will address the education of particularly the multidisciplinary team that will move out into the homes, because much of our intellectual resources are now concentrated in the large teaching hospitals. I will repeat the question: Is there a plan to address the health sciences centres in their broadest context to educating multidisciplinary teams?
Senator Carstairs: I thank the honourable senator for his question. The honourable senator is quite right. If we do not have a broader plan to educate physicians and nurses, then it will not become a reality because there are very few trained palliative care professionals in this country.
I have sought out the Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges. They will shortly present a proposal to the Department of Health as to how they can provide education programs in all of our medical schools in Canada with respect to palliative, end-of-life care. I am hoping the proposal will come forward within the next few weeks, and will persuade the Department of Health to use some of the resources they have now received in this area.
I should also inform honourable senators that, as of 2004, there will indeed be a curriculum for nurses in the country. They have requested a program, and it will be one they have developed. That will help to increase the number of professionals at that level. However, I still believe that the critical player is the physician. All physicians must know about palliative care and that it is an option. That is why I think undergraduate medicine is such an important tool. If young doctors who end up being oncologists, cardiologists or in internal medicine do not have some grounding and understanding of what can be provided in end-of-life care, then they will not make it as a recommendation to their patients. We know that there are some excellent centres across the country, but it is very hit and miss at the present time. The only way I think that this will be enlarged is if we educate the doctors and nurses and make it a reality throughout the country.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator LeBreton, debate adjourned.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (study on the proposal of the Valiants Group) tabled in the Senate on December 12, 2002.—(Honourable Senator Atkins).
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, Senator Atkins was good enough to allow me to speak in his place, and I will be taking the adjournment in his name when I am finished. I will not be long.
Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to speak on the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. It is in fact a report of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. This is a very short report, which is nevertheless extremely important to our country. In this report, we address a proposal by the Valiants Group for the erection of statues in downtown Ottawa to salute the heroic wartime sacrifice of certain valiant men and women who fought victoriously for Canada.
These statues that are proposed to be erected will commemorate the giants of our history as they struggled for our freedom and independence during the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. These people were not just warriors, honourable senators; they were real nation builders. Consider, for example, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, Joseph Brandt, Sir Isaac Brock, Laura Secord, Georges Vanier, Andrew Mynarski and many others.
"Valiants" is such an appropriate name for these people whose activities are proposed to be celebrated and commemorated. Every Remembrance Day, at war memorials across our country, those attending hear the recitation of "In Flanders Fields." Without fail, the great hymn "O Valiant Hearts" is sung. The first two verses of that hymn put this project and the people it is to celebrate in context:
O valiant hearts, who to your glory cameThrough dust of conflict and through battle flame; Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, Your memory hallowed in the land you loved. Proudly you gather rank on rank, to war. As who had heard God's message from afar; All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave To save mankind — yourselves you scorned to save.
The Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs took an interest in the Valiants Project because the group's proposal appeared to have been derailed by the bureaucracy in Ottawa. We can all understand and sympathize with anyone who is trying to move a project through the maze of the federal government's bureaucracy.
I will begin by describing the group that is the proponent of this subject. Mr. Hamilton Southam, a distinguished Canadian known to many senators, is the chair. Working with him are a number of veterans and military historians, as well as advisers on sculpture and urban planning. Some of their names will be familiar to honourable senators: David Bercuson, Jack Granatstein, Clifford Chadderton and Lieutenant General Charles Belzile are just a few of the people behind this imaginative proposal. Mr. Southam explained to the subcommittee that this proposal would provide Canadians with a permanent reminder of the history of our country as we moved from a French colony to the great North American nation we are today.
The valiants whose lives are to be immortalized in statue form were chosen by a group of Canadian historians. The list, which has grown to 16, commemorates our wars of independence during the French regime, the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the 20th century wars.
The Department of Canadian Heritage established an interdepartmental working group to examine the project. The Valiants Group were included in this examination process. Unfortunately, at least in the opinion of our committee, the governmental group determined that this project was to be dropped. Mr. Southam explained to our committee that the reasons given for dropping the project were as follows: One, too many statues; two, too many officers; and three, too much money. He added that he was under the impression that the bureaucrats felt that the military statues were out of place in the heart of the capital of such a peace-loving nation as Canada.
The Valiants Group explained to us that they could reduce the number of statues but still believed that the project is fundamentally sound. Canadians should remember their history, and they should remember the people who sacrificed that we may live in freedom. This sentiment is one with which the committee wholeheartedly agreed.
I have taken the opportunity to correspond with the ministers who I believe might be helpful in moving the proposal along. Interestingly enough, all seem rather supportive. The Minister of Defence says in his letter:
In principle, and in general, I fully support the aims of the Valiants Project and the theme it wishes to present — that Canada, as it is today, has been shaped by military events to an extent greater than many Canadians understand.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs writes, "Veterans Affairs Canada is supportive of any initiative that complements its remembrance programming."
Finally, I was heartened to receive a letter dated February 11, 2003, from the Minister of Canadian Heritage saying that she would look again at this proposal in light of the work of our subcommittee. She has, therefore, instructed officials from the Canadian War Museum to work closely with the Valiants Group along with officials of her department. On behalf of the subcommittee, I responded to the minister's letter thanking her for her decision.
Honourable senators, our committee's sole recommendation is that the Government of Canada reconsider the Valiants Project, taking into account the proposals of the sponsors to reduce the number of statues, to alter the choices of valiants and to lower the costs.
I might add that the group chaired by Mr. Southam has agreed to raise 20 per cent of the funds required.
We believe this to be a worthwhile venture and certainly worth the financial investment required. I therefore urge other honourable senators to join in the debate supporting the work of the Valiants Group and urge the government to reconsider its position on the project so that we might go ahead and have the project completed by August 15, 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Atkins, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator LeBreton calling the attention of the Senate to the legacy of waste during the Martin-Chrétien years.—(Honourable Senator Bryden).
Hon. James F. Kelleher: Honourable senators —
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, this matter stands in the name of Senator Bryden, and he rose. Senator Bryden, I must see you.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I rose because I did not realize that someone else wished to speak to this item. I wanted to stand this inquiry and give some explanation as to why it continues to stand in my name.
As honourable senators know, this is a very non-partisan chamber. However, a good number of honourable senators on the other side of the chamber have participated in this inquiry in a very non-partisan fashion. I see that there are more who wish to participate.
This is just not a time at which I feel comfortable in replying to the thoughtful and non-partisan comments of honourable senators opposite. There are other events happening this week. The pictures in this chamber tend to remind me of that.
I want to speak to this item, but for me, this is not the time to do it.
Senator Kelleher: Honourable senators, notwithstanding the forgoing comments, I will continue.
Senator Robichaud: Continue to be non-partisan.
Senator Kelleher: No. I may seem nice, but do not be misled.
Today, honourable senators, I would like to discuss the heating grant fiasco, as I call it. Paul Martin spent more than $1.4 billion on a heating rebate program that mainly sent money to people who did not face rising heating costs.
In October 2000, rising home heating costs were a potential election issue. Paul Martin responded by announcing a one-time fuel rebate payment of $125 for low-income and modest-income single people and $250 for families. He targeted the program so badly that cheques were sent to dead people, prison inmates and to people not even living in the country. Meanwhile, thousands who had fallen on hard times received nothing.
The cheques were sent in early 2001 to anyone who qualified for a GST credit, based on 1999 income. It did not matter whether the heating bills were paid by someone else, or whether there was no imminent increase in heating costs because the home was heated by electricity, or whether the person's income had risen dramatically since 1999.
As the Auditor General noted in her December 2001 report, there was:
...a weak relationship between those who received the GSTC and those who needed assistance for increases in their heating expenses.
The Auditor General noted that only between 15 and 25 per cent of those who received the payment needed help to pay for increased heating costs stating:
...we estimate that of the more than $1.4 billion paid in relief for heating expenses, the total amount paid to those who faced an immediate increase in heating costs was between $250 million and $350 million.
She said that between 25 and 35 per cent of the households that received assistance did not need it now but might need it in the future. As a result, she concluded that:
At least 40 per cent of the households that received a payment either were not low- or modest-income households or would not likely face higher future heating costs related to the 2001-01 energy market conditions.
Some of her other findings were just as disturbing. Because income changes from year to year, at least 600,000 Canadians did not qualify based on their 1999 income, but would have qualified based on their 2000 income. Of that 600,000, she said that:
At least 90,000 of these people needed immediate assistance to help with increased heating costs.
She noted that at least 1 million households received more than one cheque, and that:
At least 4,000 Canadian taxpayers who did not live in Canada and 7,500 deceased people received cheques. While it is difficult to calculate how many prisoners received the relief for heating expenses, based on available data the Department estimates that about 1,600 prisoners could have received cheques.
In a December 6, 2001 editorial, The Globe and Mail observed:
Even if we assume (charitably) that the Liberals were simply trying to help low-income Canadians, or (cynically) that they were trying to butter up as many people as they could before the election, the execution was abysmal.
In an editorial aptly entitled "Toss Another Cheque on the Fire," the Halifax Chronicle-Herald observed on December 7, 2001:
The audit finds "at least 40 per cent" of recipients did not have low or modest incomes or were unlikely to face higher heating bills last winter.
That's a truly pathetic mismatch.
Imagine the outcry if a foreign aid agency only managed to get 17 to 60 per cent of relief to the needy and wasted the rest.
As Red Cross Secretary General Pierre Duplessis told this newspaper recently, his agency expects that, on average, 85 per cent of humanitarian relief will get through to the suffering in places like Afghanistan, where agencies face obstacles like spoilage, poor transportation links and bandits. As much as 95 per cent of aid can get through, he said; 75 per cent is considered poor.
The editorial went on to conclude:
Although the auditor doesn't say so, the root of these problems was surely a crass rush to cook up an election goody. A huge expenditure, directed at nearly eight million households, with little regard to need, made at cabinet's discretion, as a gift — these look suspiciously like a recipe for vote buying, not for a darned good program.
Problems were obvious even as the cheques were being mailed out. The Winnipeg Free Press reported the following on January 30, 2001:
"People who should be getting rebates are people who have heating bills," said Kim Watts, a married mother of four children. "According to these rules, my brother who lives at home will get the rebate but he doesn't have a heating bill. That makes no sense."
"You can have adult children, living with their parents, who will get the rebate but their parents — who pay the heating bills but don't qualify for the GST credit — will not," Watts said, adding that people living in apartments will also receive the rebate. "It's all backwards."
Columnist Gordon Henderson observed in the Windsor Star of February 20, 2001:
Finance Minister Paul Martin may be a dirty, no-good, grasping, throne-usurping plotter in the eyes of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his paranoid Parliament Hill cronies, but he's never been more popular in Canada's gated communities.
But this business of sending out federal heating rebate cheques for $125 or $250 (depending on family circumstances) to prison inmates who qualified for a GST rebate in 1999 is the final proof, as if we needed more, that the government places the buying of votes light years ahead of management of financial public policy.
In Mexican jails, you wish you had an influential daddy. In U.S. jails you find out who's your daddy. In Canada the taxpayer is your sugar daddy, courtesy of the nice folks in the finance department and at Revenue Canada.
This loopy scheme — hey, why don't we shovel $1.4 billion out of the ministry window and see where it lands — was introduced in Martin's mini-budget last fall as soaring energy costs threatened to become an issue in the imminent election.
Did they direct the money to homeowners staggering under humongous heating bills? Gosh. No. That would be too complicated. It would require planning and foresight.
Either Paul Martin and the Liberals do not pay attention or they do not care how money is spent. While Paul Martin gave the heating rebate to those who got the GST credit, he had no idea if the GST credit itself was working.
The GST credit was created in 1991 to ensure that lower-income Canadians paid no more net sales tax than they did before the GST replaced the hidden Federal Sales Tax. Normally, programs are reviewed every few years to ensure they are doing what they are supposed to do. If necessary, changes are made.
In 1996, the Auditor General suggested that Paul Martin's Finance Department study the GST credit to make sure it was meeting its objective. Five years later, Canadians were told by the Auditor General in December 2001 that:
The Department of Finance has not yet conducted a formal evaluation of the GST Credit program to ensure that it is meeting its intended objective.
Columnist Greg Weston observed in the Winnipeg Sun of December 6, 2001:
The great home-heating rebate boondoggle, exposed this week by Auditor General Sheila Fraser, may leave ordinary Canadians with a rather nagging question: What kind of idiots would come up with a $1.4-billion government handout scheme that gives 80 per cent of the money to all the wrong people, including thousands of dead ones.
The short answer is the federal Liberal government.
The longer answer is the same idiots who continue to send GST rebate cheques to thousands of dead Canadians every few months.
Mr. Weston went on to note that after rejecting several options for providing relief:
Paul Martin's finance department came up with the brilliant idea of sending the heating handouts to the same lower- income Canadians who received GST rebates. The main problem — as the government knew at the time, and the AG subsequently reported — there is little connection between those who get GST rebates and those Canadians who pay their own heating bills.
The situation was made worse by the fact the government was sending heating handouts to people who qualified for GST rebates in the year 2000, based on their tax returns for 1999. By the time the government got the heating cheques in the mail in February of this year, at least 14,000 members of the needy class of 1999 were either in prison, dead or had left the country.
And therein lies the other problem. Since the heating payments were sent to the people getting GST rebates, guess what? At least 14,000 GST rebate cheques were also mailed to people who are in prison, abroad or in heaven.
Not only did Paul Martin send money to the wrong people, but he bypassed Parliament to do it.
Normally, there are only two ways for the government to send out such cheques — as an expenditure approved by Parliament or as a tax measure approved by Parliament. Either way, the government would have to bring in a bill. It would have to answer tough questions such as, "Can you assure us that no cheques will be sent to anyone who has the same address as the Kingston Pen?"
However, because Parliament was dissolved for an election, the door was open for a third way — the use of special spending warrants. Those are only supposed to be used for urgent spending that cannot wait for the recall of Parliament, such as a war or a flood. The Liberal cabinet approved those warrants on December 12, 2000.
The original plan was to treat the payments as a credit under the Income Tax Act. Instead, the payments were sent out as an ex gratia payment, basically an act of benevolence in the public interest. Putting a bill before Parliament was too much of an inconvenience.
The Auditor General was highly critical of this process, noting in her December 2001 report:
We are concerned that parliamentary scrutiny of this initiative was weakened because the government chose an approval process that did not involve Parliament. The government decided that it was important to deliver the relief quickly, and there were few avenues available when Parliament was dissolved.
We appreciate the importance of delivering the relief quickly to those who urgently needed it. However, the Department knew on 13 December 2000, that Parliament would be recalled on 29 January 2001... In our view, a delay of no more than six weeks would have allowed Parliament the opportunity to debate and approve the spending of public funds before the spending took place, and without compromising the government's objectives.
When the Auditor General delivered her report, Paul Martin stayed away from the House of Commons. The CBC's Anthony Germain reported on The World at Six on December 5, 2001:
The person in charge was Paul Martin. But he hasn't answered any questions about the rebates problem because the Finance Minister is busy drafting next week's budget. Apart from the humour in Parliament, there is a more serious question for Paul Martin. The theme of the Auditor General's report this week is that Parliament's power to control spending is eroding. Sheila Fraser highlights the fact that Martin gave the green light to this $1.4-billion program without consulting Parliament.
Jim Peterson, the junior Minister of Finance, answered in place of Paul Martin, telling the House of Commons on December 4, 2001, that:
Sure there were anomalies but it was a darn good program.
Obviously, the Liberals do not learn from their mistakes.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Gustafson, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion by the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C.,
That the following resolution, encapsulating the 2002 Berlin OSCE (PA) Resolution, be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for consideration and report before June 30, 2003:
WHEREAS Canada is a founding member State of the Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the 1975 Helsinki Accords;
WHEREAS all the participating member States to the Helsinki Accords affirmed respect for the right of persons belonging to national minorities to equality before the law and the full opportunity for the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms and further that the participating member States recognized that such respect was an essential factor for the peace, justice and well-being necessary to ensure the development of friendly relations and co- operation between themselves and among all member States;
WHEREAS the OSCE condemned anti-Semitism in the 1990 Copenhagen Concluding Document and undertook to take effective measures to protect individuals from anti- Semitic violence;
WHEREAS the 1996 Lisbon Concluding Document of the OSCE called for improved implementation of all commitments in the human dimension, in particular with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms and urged participating member States to address the acute problem of anti-Semitism;
WHEREAS the 1999 Charter for European Security committed Canada and other participating members States to counter violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and manifestations of intolerance, aggressive nationalism, racism, chauvinism, xenophobia and anti- Semitism;
WHEREAS on July 8, 2002, at its Parliamentary Assembly held at the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, the OSCE passed a unanimous resolution, as appended, condemning the current anti-Semitic violence throughout the OSCE space;
WHEREAS the 2002 Berlin Resolution urged all member States to make public statements recognizing violence against Jews and Jewish cultural properties as anti-Semitic and to issue strong, public declarations condemning the depredations;
WHEREAS the 2002 Berlin Resolution called on all participating member States to combat anti-Semitism by ensuring aggressive law enforcement by local and national authorities;
WHEREAS the 2002 Berlin Resolution urged participating members States to bolster the importance of combating anti-Semitism by exploring effective measures to prevent anti-Semitism and by ensuring that laws, regulations, practices and policies conform with relevant OSCE commitments on anti-Semitism;
WHEREAS the 2002 Berlin Resolution also encouraged all delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly to vocally and unconditionally condemn manifestations of anti-Semitic violence in their respective countries;
WHEREAS the alarming rise in anti-Semitic incidents and violence has been documented in Canada, as well as Europe and worldwide.
RESOLUTION ON ANTI-SEMITIC VIOLENCE IN THE OSCE REGION
Berlin, 6-10 July 2002
1. Recalling that the OSCE was among those organizations which publicly achieved international condemnation of anti-Semitism through the crafting of the 1990 Copenhagen Concluding Document;
2. Noting that all participating States, as stated in the Copenhagen Concluding Document, commit to "unequivocally condemn" anti-Semitism and take effective measures to protect individuals from anti- Semitic violence;
3. Remembering the 1996 Lisbon Concluding Document, which highlights the OSCE's "comprehensive approach" to security, calls for "improvement in the implementation of all commitments in the human dimension, in particular with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms," and urges participating States to address "acute problems," such as anti- Semitism;
4. Reaffirming the 1999 Charter for European Security, committing participating States to "counter such threats to security as violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and manifestations of intolerance, aggressive nationalism, racism, chauvinism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism";
5. Recognizing that the scourge of anti-Semitism is not unique to any one country, and calls for steadfast perseverance by all participating States;
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
6. Unequivocally condemns the alarming escalation of anti- Semitic violence throughout the OSCE region;
7. Voices deep concern over the recent escalation in anti- Semitic violence, as individuals of the Judaic faith and Jewish cultural properties have suffered attacks in many OSCE participating States;
8. Urges those States which undertake to return confiscated properties to rightful owners, or to provide alternative compensation to such owners, to ensure that their property restitution and compensation programmes are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner and according to the rule of law;
9. Recognizes the commendable efforts of many post- communist States to redress injustices inflicted by previous regimes based on religious heritage, considering that the interests of justice dictate that more work remains to be done in this regard, particularly with regard to individual and community property restitution compensation;
10. Recognizes the danger of anti-Semitic violence to European security, especially in light of the trend of increasing violence and attacks regions wide;
11. Declares that violence against Jews and other manifestations of intolerance will never be justified by international developments or political issues, and that it obstructs democracy, pluralism, and peace;
12. Urges all States to make public statements recognizing violence against Jews and Jewish cultural properties as anti-Semitic, as well as to issue strong, public declarations condemning the depredations;
13. Calls upon participating States to ensure aggressive law enforcement by local and national authorities, including thorough investigation of anti-Semitic criminal acts, apprehension of perpetrators, initiation of appropriate criminal prosecutions and judicial proceedings;
14. Urges participating States to bolster the importance of combating anti-Semitism by holding a follow-up seminar or human dimension meeting that explores effective measures to prevent anti-Semitism, and to ensure that their laws, regulations, practices and policies conform with relevant OSCE commitments on anti- Semitism; and
15. Encourages all delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly to vocally and unconditionally condemn manifestations of anti-Semitic violence in their respective countries and at all regional and international forums.—(Honourable Senator LaPierre).
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: Honourable senators, I rise in support of Senator Graftein's motion; anti-Semitism has become something of a disease in this country.
It saps our vitality and our strength as a people, and it endangers many aspects of our international and national life.
I do not think that this motion should be referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee but, rather, it should be referred to the Human Rights Committee because it is basically a question of human rights. However, I bow to the wisdom of Senator Grafstein.
Since September 11, 2001 — that dreadful day we shall never forget — we have witnessed the evolution of racism in our country.
We have seen in our country the growth of racism across the board. A few days after September 11, a Hindu temple in Hamilton was burned to the ground. Since then, many minorities, in particular those of the Muslim faith, have been subjected to name calling, insults and physical attacks. In this very city, an Arab boy was seriously beaten up a couple of weeks after September 11. Consequently, are all of these actions that occurred after September 11 symptomatic of the development of a way of life?
I am the moderator of the forum on culture and diversity. Secretary Augustine talks about systemic racism in our country. Systemic racism seems to engulf us more and more as the days go on. Racism against a Black person, against an Arab, against a native person or against a Jew is all the same kind of racism and must not be tolerated in this fair land. One of the honourable senators whom I greatly respect told me the other day that he had a consultation about the role of visible minorities in the federal civil service. He was told that Black people do not make good managers. When he asked why, he was told that they are not capable of developing efficient PowerPoint presentations. I think the entire civil service should be replaced by Black people, if they are not capable of doing PowerPoint, since the most boring issue of discussion is PowerPoint.
I mention this as an example of what happens. While we were in recess, the newspapers reported that incidents of anti-Semitism have increased considerably in Canada. Why? I am a child of a culture, of an environment that welcomed and made almost natural anti-Semitism. I prayed for the Jews to find the right path. I prayed so that we could eliminate them from their roles in our society. We prayed and prayed, so that the day would come and they would all be converted and that would be the end of it. We did that to the native people, too. We thought that if we could only send them to the schools to become Roman Catholics, the end result would be that they would be like us. Thank God it has failed!
For these reasons, I listen to myself, and I listen to my colleague across the way. I was moved by what the honourable senator was saying. I was quite moved by the resolution that was passed in this association or this reunion that he attended. I asked, "Why is it that today we see a growth of that kind of thing?" People say to me, "The cause has to do with the fact that Israel is too tough on the Palestinians, and the country is not being humanitarian." These are not reasons and they are not causes. It does not help us, though, honourable senators, that many Jewish organizations call anti-Semite anyone who questions the means whereby Israel assures its security.
I am a Canadian and I have always believed, since I was able to start believing in things on my own and I was not afraid of being beaten up by some nun, that the day would come when the Israeli people would have their home. This summer, in the association of going back to the land of Israel, two young friends of a friend of mine went back to Israel. I asked them to put a little note in the wall, apologizing for the part in my past life when I thought that the Jews were dangerous people to have around. I no longer want this. I really do not want this. Israel will exist. It has the fundamental right to exist and it has the right to defend its existence. There is no way out of that. Those who became anti- Semitic because of the human right that Pearson and Canada defended since 1948 are doing a disservice to their country.
Honourable senators, it is essential that we raise our awareness. Today, we are talking about anti-Semitism.
Tomorrow we will speak about another aspect of racism that exists and affects our people. This is a great country. There is no room for this sort of thing. This is the land of diversity. This diversity is a condition of citizenship; it is a fundamental value of our country. To honour it is to be really Canadian. Consequently, we have laws against racism, but these things seem to spread and spread in spite of the law. At the end of day, we must think globally and we must act locally. We must look into our hearts and we must condemn anyone, whether they be our friends, the teachers of our children or anyone else who dares question the validity of a person's religion, a person's race, a person's colour and, above all, the Israeli people who have suffered enough, and need not suffer the humiliation of anti-Semitism.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Would Senator LaPierre take a question?
Senator LaPierre: Do I have any time left? I will take a question, but the honourable senator must not make a speech, because that annoys me.
The Hon. the Speaker: You have eight minutes remaining.
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, the honourable senator mentioned 1948. I agree with him because I have a motion following his. He is aware of the Canadian responsibility of November 29, 1947, where, by a vote of 33 to 10, Canada was the facilitator with Mr. Pearson, the deputy minister, for resolution 181 that was written by Judge Wren of the Supreme Court, one of the drafters. That passed 33 to 10.
Senator LaPierre: I am aware of that. I was born then.
Senator Prud'homme: The honourable senator commented on 1948.
Senator LaPierre: It is the spirit of the country I am talking about. The spirit of our country has always been with Lester Pearson and people who have supported this action.
I am now a has-been, but when I was famous and had a program on television, I went across this country and raised money for the universities in Israel and for the growing of trees in Israel. Therefore, I am happy. This is my contribution. I may have forgotten the date, but I am an old man, and old men live with their dreams and their dreams live in their heart. Thank you very much. That is enough.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Kinsella, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gauthier:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on the current state of Canadian media industries; emerging trends and developments in these industries; the media's role, rights, and responsibilities in Canadian society; and current and appropriate future policies relating thereto; and
That the Committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than Wednesday, March 31, 2004.—(Honourable Senator Stratton).
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the motion introduced by Senator Fraser on November 26, 2002, seeking an order of reference to permit the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications to study a number of issues related to the media in Canada. For the sake of brevity, I believe that the object of this exercise proposed by Senator Fraser is to allow the committee to study virtually all elements of the role of the media in Canadian society.
We on this side of the chamber do not disagree in principle with a study inquiring into the role of public policy and how it can ensure that the Canadian news media remains healthy, independent and diverse. However, we do object to the broad terms of reference sought by Senator Fraser. We can see a focused study dealing with specific issues of independence and diversity and their relation to public policy. As Senator Kinsella said when he characterized the mandate being sought by the committee as being too broad, "a study about everything in general is a study about nothing in particular."
When describing the questions this study may address, Senator Fraser listed issues that would take volumes to answer. I have a number of quotes: "Are Canadians still getting the quality and diversity of news and information that they need?" "How can we be sure Canadians will have access to news and information from this country's perspective seen through Canadian eyes?" "How can we be sure that these Canadian stories will not be drowned out by the voices from the rest of the world, especially from the United States?" "Are there elements of public policy that can or should be changed to address the new problems created by the new realities?"
Let us study media concentration if we must, but let us be reasonable about what we undertake so that we do our usual credible job on such matters. Senator Kinsella, in his intervention, listed other questions that could form the basis of study: the rise of the Internet, the potential loss of sovereignty posed by technological advances, and the use of satellite dishes. Each of these could form the basis of an individual study. Are we developing a two-tier society when it comes to access to information and media?
Before we go any further, I will go back to the events of last spring and early summer, which lie at the root of the request for this committee's study. Editorials supporting the Liberal Party were required to be printed by the owners in all CanWest papers. Editorial control by the ownership was demonstrated for all to see in the firing of long-time publisher of CanWest's Ottawa Citizen, Russell Mills. He was fired for speaking out against such editorial control and for carrying material critical of the government in the CanWest paper, of which he was the publisher. The firing was universally condemned. Interestingly enough, since the time of the firing and the public outrage that followed, we have seen no further incidents of this type of editorial control or interference by owners, at least not as blatant as those actions.
Does this mean the marketplace, or public outrage, is an effective tool to deal with such situations? Is there a public policy role for government? When government moves in to guarantee the freedom of the press, are we not heading down a slippery slope toward control of the press or the media by government?
As someone in this chamber stated, if the firing had occurred in any other business, it is doubtful that anything would have been said. Why, then, should this be any different? Let the public decide.
What should we, public policy-makers, do to protect the marketplace of ideas and to ensure that the public hears a diversity of voices and opinions in the coverage of local, national and world events?
The answer arrived at on this side is to conduct a study that is focused and time-limited. I believe that the following would serve as appropriate terms of reference:
Given changes in the media in recent years — notably globalization, technological change, convergence and concentration of ownership — the standing committee should study the appropriate role of public policy in helping to ensure that the Canadian news media remains healthy, independent and diverse.
The following is a list of issues and questions to be addressed by the committee in its study:
1. What are the key, recent developments or tendencies? To what extent are developments in Canada unique to this country? To what extent are the experiences common to many countries?
2. How have the developments affected, or how may they affect, elements of the public interest?
3. What mechanisms exist to protect and promote the public interest in Canada and in other countries?
4. What is seen as the appropriate role for government, and what are seen as the responsibilities of the media?
5. What about access?
We have the Internet, after all, and yet we have a two-tier system — those who have access to it and those who do not.
Such a study would focus clearly on avenues available through the public policy route to ensure that Canadians continue to hear the diversity of views now guaranteed to them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The investigative study would be supported by research into the current state of ownership of media outlets and rules for self-regulation established by the media. Statistics on readership, audiences, profits and ownership would be assembled.
Committee hearings could begin here in Ottawa, with experts addressing the issues of freedom of the media, the role of the media in the 21st century and the business side of the media. The regulators, such as the CRTC and the Competition Bureau, would be heard from, as would interested government departments and press councils. We would also hear from those representing ownership, writers, workers, advertisers and consumer groups.
On February 14, 2003, McGill University, through its Institute for the Study of Canada, held a conference entitled "Have Journalists Lost Control?" What can we learn from this conference? At the end of it all, if we were to think it necessary, the committee would travel to hear varying views from across the country.
Through the technology of video conferencing, we could learn how other jurisdictions are addressing these public policy issues. For example, the views of experts in the United States, Britain, France and Germany would be helpful. All of this, we believe, could be done in the next fiscal year so that we would have a report by mid-winter 2004.
Let us be disciplined and respect the taxpayer's money, yet determine if there is a role for public policy to play in the area of media concentration.
Honourable senators, because no one else has come forward to put an appropriate fence around this broad-scope definition that has been sitting here for a long, long time, it needs to have a fence put around it. I have heard talk about it, but nothing has happened.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Therefore, I move, seconded by the Honourable John Lynch-Staunton:
That the terms of reference for the study of the current state of Canadian media industries by the Standing Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications be amended by removing all of the words after the word "authorized" and adding the following:
"to study the appropriate role of public policy in helping to ensure that Canadian news media remains healthy, independent and diverse, given changes in the media in recent years, notably globalization, technological change, convergence and the concentration of ownership; and
That the Committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than Wednesday, March 31, 2004.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise to speak against the proposed amendment. I should like to outline my reasons for urging senators to vote down the amendment.
My honourable friend has read virtually word for word our draft work plan, which was the result of taking to heart the comments made by Senator Kinsella some time ago. I believe it was on December 5 that Senator Kinsella spoke. The committee reviewed his words carefully and discussed the issue of whether we need to amend the wording of the motion. The committee, which consisted of four members from the opposition side and eight members from the government side, considered the matter at length and developed a draft work plan that clearly provided the focus that we needed.
Senator Kinsella's words were helpful to us, but we did not believe that it was necessary to amend the wording of the motion. We shared the wording of the draft work plan with Senator Kinsella and Senator Stratton, and the amendment he is proposing incorporates many of the words from the work plan.
Honourable senators, it is the unanimous view of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications that the wording of the motion as it appears is appropriate. We are very anxious to get on with this study. I would urge honourable senators to vote against the amendment and to subsequently support the motion.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I wish to explain to Senator Stratton why I will vote against his motion in amendment. While, in some respects, I think it has the effect of expanding rather than drawing a fence around the term of reference, what bothers me about it most is that it concentrates on, if not limits itself to, studying the question of news. The study ought not to confine itself to that question, or to the questions of concentration, because the telling of our stories and the spreading of our arts and culture is at least as important as news and at least as important as questions of concentration. I believe that the present wording of the motion is more appropriate to the task that ought to be undertaken.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have participated in debates of this kind in the past. Regarding the amendment that has just been put, I should like to ask permission to adjourn the debate under my name. I do not want to delay the debate probably any further than tomorrow, but I think we need time because this motion is very important.
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: The honourable senator has had time since December.
Senator Prud'homme: I know, but in a democracy one could say yes or no and dispose of the matter. We do not need to jump over the barn.
I ask if there is consent; if there is no consent, that is it. I should like to adjourn the motion in my name. It is not a question of killing the motion. I want to see the meaning of the amendment. Senator Day has explained it very well. He is contrary minded to what Senator Banks has said. I believe a day of reflection would not kill anyone. I promise to speak tomorrow. If I do not speak tomorrow, then we can proceed with whatever is in front of us.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is moved by the Honourable Senator Prud'homme, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, that further debate on the motion in amendment be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will those honourable senators in favour of the motion to adjourn debate please say "yea"?
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Will those honourable senators opposed to the motion to adjourn debate please say "nay"?
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it. On division.
Motion agreed to, on division.
Hon. Aurélien Gill rose pursuant to notice of Thursday, February 13, 2003:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the issues related to the common approach to negotiations with the Innu (Montagnais) of Quebec, Quebec and Canada, in relation to the current debate.
He said: Honourable senators, I feel it is my duty as a senator to inform you about the debates around the new agreement being negotiated at the present time by the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec with part of the Innu nation, the Montagnais. These negotiations, which began around 1975, are aimed at establishing an Innu government and a new type of relationship with other levels of government. For nearly thirty years now, the Innu have had the same goal: to resume their responsibilities, improve their living conditions and be able to live in dignity. To accomplish that goal, they had to first obtain recognition of their ancestral rights. Then there had to be negotiation of a sharing formula which would reflect current reality, while at the same time preserving the land base pursuant to acquired rights.
The Innu also had to have entitlement to certain other parcels of land, also subject to ancestral rights, as far as certain uses were concerned, as well as supervisory rights and the entitlement to resource royalties. After 28 years of hard work and difficult discussions, interrupted several times, the Innu are now well on the way to signing an agreement which will provide them with the foundations for self-government. By so doing, the decades of being under the guardianship of Indian Affairs will be over; they will be able to finally break down the shameful walls that kept them enslaved on the reserves. The Innu will again be able to make their own decisions and to take back responsibility for themselves in all areas. They will at last be able to assume social and economic responsibility for themselves as a People, though a number of means including an appropriate taxation system.
This will honour the recognition of First Nations rights present in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and made more explicit in 1982, and ought to be source of pride to Quebecers and Canadians. Alas, it is a source of controversy instead and has given rise to some opinions and positions that have often proven disastrous.
Honourable senators, this situation, while currently involving only one specific part of the country, concerns all Canadians nevertheless. It is, in reality, just one more reflection of the negative attitudes that have prevailed so often throughout the country in connection with specific agreements with Aboriginal peoples. Yet those agreements are intended merely to assure Canada's First Nations of their entitlement under social justice and constitutional law.
As a result of this connection, I have recently become aware of the position of Mayor Jean Tremblay of Saguenay, as reported in the local press. He has submitted a brief to the Quebec Parliamentary Commission, addressing the common approach proposed in this agreement.
I feel it is worthwhile to look at what he has had to say, because the mayor's position is a kind of synthesis of the arguments prevailing in this country that are contrary to aboriginal interests, arguments that are offensive to Canadian reality as far as the application of moral and political values of which we are proud is concerned: a concern for justice, tolerance, respect for diversity, harmony, peace and so on. I wish to raise this with you in order to illustrate its impact on the country. I will begin by stating that this position, which got a lot of press in Quebec, is, regrettably, far from surprising. It reflects the usual concerns of those opposed to agreements of this kind. The basic premise is that we must not create two classes of citizens, nor give some an advantage over others.
The argument is that this will be a threat to the rights of non- Aboriginals, but not those of Aboriginals; that there is no point in turning back the clock; that the principle of equality for all takes precedence over any other principle which would divide people into sub-groups. This is the standard human rights argument, that human rights are individual by definition, that 31 million Canadians have the same rights, with no differentiations or exceptions. I am always thunderstruck when this argument keeps cropping up again and again in a country like Canada. There are differences; we know there are. Those differences are what have shaped this country. This is why special considerations are fair and necessary. These specific differences are based on rights rooted in the history of this country, a long history that had to be acknowledged at the time the Constitution was repatriated in 1982.
The Innu form a people, my people, with one language and shared traditions, as well as a unique history sadly marked with injustice and abuse for the past 200 years. They have rights that must be expressed fairly and in a way that reflects their identity.
Our rights were recognized as the first people of this country. It is now urgent that those rights take concrete form in social and political life. The unjust course of history cannot be reversed otherwise.
The position of the mayor of Saguenay is tantamount to a denial of our specific cultural identity, our history, our ancestral rights, by lifting the debate to the abstract level. In the brief from the City of Saguenay the following statement is made:
One could, for example, listen forever to the anthropologists reciting all the ancestries in order to determine who are the first, the true, Aboriginal people. In politics — and we are in politics — what we have to do is address equality of opportunity for the people who are living now, regardless of race, gender or other individual characteristics.
You will agree that hearing such words from a Quebecer, a resident of the Saguenay, is somewhat astounding. The First Nations have been battling for many moons, in the name of equity and human dignity, in order to gain recognition of their right to exist within their identity as a people on a defined territory. The mayor of Saguenay also uses the concept of solidarity as an argument for uniform rights for each and every person in the region, again without regard to the existence of the Innu people. He goes so far as to manage the scandalous feat of making the victims of injustice out to be privileged aggressors. So now the rights of the Whites must be defended against the wicked Indians. One would think we were back in the 1800s when preparations were being made to park the Indians on reservations in order to make the good land available to the right people. This was the history of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, and of just about every other part of Canada.
Raising the concept of solidarity in order to promote the levelling of differences in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and elsewhere, whether Labrador, the North Shore of the St. Lawrence, Western Ontario, Northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or anywhere else in Canada, is an insult to the memory of a country, an insult to history. The truth is that this country was built entirely with the total solidarity and participation of the First Nations and Inuit, and this was done at their expense, with no respect, no fair compensation whatsoever. The people of the Saguenay and surrounding areas cannot deny that, still today, the Innu are living as second-class citizens, with no dignity, in poverty, marginality and dependency. This same situation remains part of the daily reality of all of this country's First Nations. Where was the equity when the Indians of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean needed solidarity, as did those all over Canada, when they were totally stripped of all that they owned in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean and everywhere else in Canada? What solutions do the supporters of the mayor of Saguenay's position have to propose that would guarantee protection of our cultural identities, our political autonomy and our economic health? What place do the Innu people have in the region, in their view? The fact is that the Innu, like all of the other Aboriginal people in the country, bother no one as long as they do not speak up, as long as they accept the Indian reserve designated for them, as long as they do not make any waves on the region's political scene. They can remain a kind of negative exception forever. This is justified by the argument that those who want to leave can do so. All they need to do is fade into the woodwork, one at a time, good citizens all, with no regard for their ancestral origins, for their deepest being, for their aspirations, highly legitimate though they may be.
If they speak out collectively, they are seen as threatening solidarity, if not justice itself. Whose solidarity? Whose justice? How could it be that a cultural group with an identity recognized by the Constitution of this country would not have the right to make any sort of demands as a specific group? Could the opponents' argument not go this far? Could the Canadian government be wrong in its interpretation of Aboriginal rights? And on it goes, always demeaning the image of Aboriginal people, who are seen as nothing but demanding abusers of public charity. How is it that we have reached this point almost everywhere in the country? And, more important, how is it that we have not yet got beyond it?
Unfortunately, most Canadians know nothing of the first inhabitants of their country, historically, culturally, economically or demographically. How could they understand and accept the new agreements and realize they are justified? How could they make any informed judgment?
In this context, until the reality of our First Nations is properly covered in the school texts and curriculum of our young Canadians — that is, as stakeholders in the social, political and historical reality of this country — this question should never be addressed unless there is a constant concern and a real effort to properly inform the entire population.
Appropriate communication strategies must be put in place. Ignorance must be overcome by sustained educational and information campaigns, not just starting with the content of the agreements and limited to that, but also, and most important, on the First Nations themselves, from the historical point of view, and also in the present context. As long as the historical reality of the first peoples has not been restored, as long as they are not better known by their fellow citizens, they will find it extremely difficult to win public opinion over, as far as the justification of their demands is concerned. The issues involved are too emotional for any areas to be left in the shadows. Light must be cast on the entire situation. Honesty and courage are required, along with integrity. Responsibility must begin with political leaders. Is it normal for there to be virtually no communications budget in circumstances that are so crucial for the first peoples? Yet we, in politics, are well aware that people never react well to the unknown. Unfortunately, however, this is the situation as the public is confronted with the reality of first people's rights. They are just waking up, and very late, as they note the changes and envisage the consequences. Then a desire to be consulted is expressed, and solutions improvised. Either Indians are declared non-existent, or to have too many rights, or they are rich pariahs, or lobbyists. They go so far as to dare to turn their backs on all historical truths and to state that the Whites are the ones to be sympathized with, and the Indians have everything. Pathetic statements all. The first peoples have been dispossessed. They are neither seeking nor obtaining any privileges. All that they are demanding, based on their rights, is the means to resume responsibility for themselves.
In this context, the equality the mayor of Saguenay is seeking to defend at any price, far from being compromised by application of a particular model for the Aboriginal people, can at last be established. We agree, obviously, that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the State. There are 31 million Canadians, all with the same rights and duties. This is a fundamental principle, an inviolable principle in a true democracy. Within those universal rights, however, there is a duty to consider certain differences. This is the case for francophone or anglophone minorities in the provinces, which illustrate the prevalence of inalienable collective rights. This is so because the French and the English are considered two founding peoples. Here, like Mayor Tremblay, there is not only no recognition of the undeniable historical reality of the Aboriginals as a founding people, but, as well, no recognition of the collective ancestral and Aboriginal rights expressly recognized in the Constitution patriated in 1982.
The Innu cultural identity has its place in the future of a region, a province of the state. As First Peoples, we have a duty to assume the right to self-government, to restore our unity, diminished by the act, by Indian Affairs' policies, by provincial boundaries, by powers that have been shared over our heads! Who are the Innu? This fundamental question needs to be answered. Why are the Innu seen as outsiders in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, a land of which they have been dispossessed? Why are they seen as a threat, a lesser breed? It can only be because they are considered nothing more than individuals with serial numbers, members of federal bands that belong to the federal government, whose lands never were really theirs; it is all make-believe. Yet denial of a people is a true scandal.
The future must bring recognition, correction, reparation. The future must bring a sharing of resources, of space, of wealth. The future must be one shared future. The Innu government is in the process of rebirth. It must be helped in that birth. The Common Approach with a part of the Innu people can be improved, of course, and our leaders acknowledge this. To do so, however, requires good faith. The discussion has been thrown open. If there is dialogue, solutions will be within our reach.
Positions like the mayor of Saguenay's are not conducive to any exchange of views. We must admit, moreover, that this harsh reality is the same across Canada. People are closing their eyes, looking no further than their own interests.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Gill, I regret to advise that your 15 minutes have expired.
Senator Gill: I would seek time to continue.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Gill: I am almost finished. As long as this country does not have the political will to truly recognize Aboriginal peoples, they will continue to be humiliated and considered non-existent, just flies in the ointment, or isolated bands under Indian Affairs' responsibility. Their claims will be stifled in a flow of legal mumbo-jumbo, in legal hair-splitting, in a scattered approach, in harmful ideologies.
Honourable senators, we are not Indian Affairs' Indians, not bands created by the Indian Act, not privileged members of society. We are peoples. History has denied our existence; the bureaucracy has crushed us; the federal government has divided us, spread us thin, reduced us to residents of Indian reserves in the very heart of our own lands, the provinces have ignored us; Canadian citizens have ignored us even more. When we seek the reality of the first peoples, we discover what a sad reality it is, a reality lived out daily within the borders of this country. We have no choice, therefore, but to object most strenuously to the dishonest argument of the mayor of Saguenay, who chooses to ignore reality in order to justify his position. His position is exemplary, but as an example of what not to do. It ought to serve as an example to all Canadians of what not to say, what not to use as an argument, what not to uphold as a position, when there is a collective intention to initiate any meaningful dialogue on issues of such a difficult nature, of such great importance.
History has its limitations. I will be coming back to you on this issue as often as it takes. Reclaiming our rightful position in the landscape is not an easy thing to do. It will take a lot of work, a lot of working together. Solutions are not ready-made, not all simple. Fortunately, I know that some of you already support action toward improving relations. Others, too, are already involved; support has been forthcoming from some political leaders, labour unions, associations, and other institutions. Now it needs to extend to public opinion as a whole. Now it needs to permeate the political, economic and social life of the first peoples of Canada.
I intend to be sharing my views with you on Aboriginal self- government in the very near future. I can assure you that, when the first peoples have finally achieved the autonomy that is so dear to their hearts, the people of Canada will, far from being disadvantaged as a result, be able to benefit from an unexpected and great advantage, as those who first welcomed them to this country regain their full identity.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, I should like to adjourn the debate in my name, but I should like to ask a few questions before that.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Gill, will you take a few questions?
Senator Gill: Certainly.
Senator Watt: Honourable senators, I have lived through a similar proceeding in the past: that is, inheriting a politically negotiated tax. That is what Senator Gill is talking about — a matter that has been negotiated between the federal and provincial governments and the representatives of his own Aboriginal people. I know, for a fact, that that is not in there. What is the next step that your people will take in terms of validating that agreement at the provincial level and also the federal level? I am talking about future legislation that would put life into that agreement. Could the honourable senator give me some indication of what is happening?
Senator Gill: If I understand the agreement process and planning correctly, it is absolutely necessary to ratify this federal-provincial agreement.
The problem is to get there. Negotiations have been going on for a very long time, almost 27 or 28 years. The process is very hard to follow for people who sometimes have more or less the means to do so. Moreover, these means are usually provided by the federal government. This does not help negotiations, which can move forward or slow down, depending on the number of obstacles. The same thing happened with the Inuit and the James Bay Cree. We are headed for an agreement signed by the provincial and federal governments.
Senator Watt: On the Aboriginal side, Senator Gill, has this agreement been ratified by your people?
Senator Gill: No. We were about to ratify an agreement in principle, but when the time came to submit that agreement to the three parties, there was a lot of criticism from the public. The Quebec government then decided to hold public hearings and conduct studies on the various issues included in the agreement in principle. The agreements have not been signed. I assume that the public hearings will resume after the provincial election.
Senator Watt: Honourable senators, I would like to adjourn the debate in my name. This is a matter on which honourable senators should focus. It is something our native peoples are living through. Thus, it is important that it be given some attention by the Senate.
On motion of Senator Watt, debate adjourned.
Hon. Terry Stratton, for Senator Murray, pursuant to notice of February 27, 2003, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance have power to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of its examination and consideration of such bills, subject-matters of bills and estimates as are referred to it.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, March 19, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.