Download as PDF

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 140, Issue 46

Tuesday, April 1, 2003
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.

Prayers.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we proceed to Senators' Statements, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Neil Andrew, MP and Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives; Ms. Maria Vamvakinou, MP of the Australian House of Representatives; and Senators Grant Chapman and Jeannie Ferris, of the Australian Senate. They are accompanied by Australia's High Commissioner to Canada and his wife. Welcome to the Senate of Canada.


[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Canadian Cancer Society

Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, April 1, this very day, marks the beginning of the Canadian Cancer Society's fundraising campaign and the beginning of Daffodil Month. More than 200,000 Canadians are involved in this noble undertaking.

[English]

The Canadian Cancer Society, its staff and more than 200,000 dedicated volunteers provide support for those suffering from cancer. Their work focuses on prevention and control of cancer and on the provision of information to Canadians. I would like, this year, to focus on the contribution of these remarkable volunteers dedicated to treating, preventing and eradicating this terrible disease, while supporting those living with it. These volunteers are involved in fundraising such as selling daffodils and canvassing our streets during Daffodil Day. They also help people cope with cancer by providing emotional support, by driving people to and from cancer-related care and by providing services to people receiving cancer treatment. Finally, they promote healthy living and risk reduction in schools, community groups and in the workplace by making presentations and setting up displays.

During my professional life, I also found the selfless dedication of volunteers both remarkable and touching. One such volunteer is Daisy Sheppard from Grand Falls-Windsor in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mrs. Sheppard recently received the Certificate of Merit, presented to a volunteer involved in a major way in the fight against cancer. She has been instrumental in implementing a volunteer group to help at the chemotherapy group in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Two other volunteers, Mr. Mike Bossy, who enjoyed a dazzling career in the National Hockey League; and his brother-in-law, Mr. Pierre Creamer, have both experienced cancer through a loved one. Both have shown unwavering commitment to the fight against cancer. They have created successful fundraising events that have raised more than $800,000 over the years for the Canadian Cancer Society.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, today I would like to pay tribute to all the Canadian women and men who work devotedly and tirelessly, often in the shadows and often in difficult circumstances, in the battle against this modern-day scourge, cancer.

Justice

Decision of Quebec Court of Appeal on Youth Criminal Justice Act

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, yesterday, March 31, 2003, the Quebec Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision by five judges — the Chief Justice among them — reached the conclusion that the Youth Criminal Justice Act, enacted in 2002, was constitutional and complied with two treaties signed by Canada, but that two series of provisions of the act were contrary to section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Honourable senators will recall that this bill had triggered some long and lively debates in the House and in committee, and that a number of senators on both sides of this Chamber expressed the opinion that this bill did not recognize the particular status of young offenders by imposing upon them a legal burden that exceeded their legal rights and capacities.

First, it must be pointed out — and this is a rare occurrence — that the justices acknowledged the importance of the Senate debates on this matter. The court noted in paragraph 14:

Subsequent to their analysis of the Young Offenders Act, the task force and the standing committee made recommendations which culminated, after lengthy debates in the Senate, in royal assent for Bill C-7 on February 19, 2002.

To my knowledge, this is the second time in recent memory that one of this country's high courts has acknowledged the importance of the work of the Senate. Honourable senators will recall that the Supreme Court also acknowledged the lengthy parliamentary debates in connection with extradition and the death penalty in Burns and Rafay in 2001.

(1410)

The two violations of section 7 of the Charter identified by Quebec's Court of Appeal deal with the presumed subjection of adolescents to the adult sentencing system and also the publication of the names of young offenders tried under the adult system.

How do these series of provisions violate the Charter? The Court of Appeal is clear: these two elements violate the principle of fundamental justice found in section 7 of the Charter. Several senators raised this issue throughout debate on the bill, in committee and in the Senate. Senators from both sides introduced amendments to address these flaws in the bill.

These amendments were defeated. Today, the Court of Appeal has established three clear points: first, that the treatment of young offenders must be distinct from that of adults; second, that the justice system for young adolescents must limit the disclosure of identity in order to prevent offenders from being stigmatized to the point of jeopardizing rehabilitation; and third, that the justice system for minors must emphasize rehabilitation and must imperatively consider the best interests of the child.

[English]

Honourable senators, we must be very attentive when a bill debated in our house raises Charter issues, particularly in association with the weakest groups in our society. The Court of Appeal has stated that youth are among the most vulnerable groups in Canadian society, and we must be careful not to pass legislation that violates the principle of fundamental justice.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret, Senator Joyal, that your time has expired.

Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (Pacific Region)

Hon. Pat Carney: Honourable senators, on a moonless night on September 13, 2002, a fish boat carrying five crew members foundered off the craggy rocks of Jenny Reef, near B.C.'s spectacular Long Beach. Shortly before one o'clock in the morning, Unit 38, all volunteers of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (Pacific Region), or CCGAP, was dispatched to rescue the crew.

In heavy seas and darkness, volunteer auxiliary members Greg Blanchette and Shawn England picked their way through the rocks to the stricken vessel, successfully removing the five people from the fish boat and taking them to safety in Ucluelet. Half an hour later, the damaged fishing vessel broke up and sank.

Recently, at the annual general meeting of the CCGAP, held in Courtenay, B.C., Greg and Shawn were awarded certificates of merit for their bravery and service. The auxiliary's Pacific region celebrated its many other successes of 2002 as well.

Last year, more than 1,400 volunteers in 50 B.C. communities responded to almost 1,000 calls for help, assisted nearly 1,100 people and saved 194 lives. All of this was done by a dedicated and courageous group of volunteers who provide this service 24/7, 365 days a year, to help the Canadian Coast Guard keep B.C. mariners safe.

Now, the auxiliary has a challenging year ahead. Its primary support comes from a contribution agreement negotiated with the Canadian Coast Guard for $900,000 for B.C. That agreement did not take into account a near doubling of insurance premiums last year and sharp increases in the cost of fuel. In addition, the Coast Guard has asked the national Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary to expand its services without providing extra funding, saying, "If you do not do it, it will not get done."

Honourable senators, in this year's budget, $94.6 million was allocated to the Coast Guard over the next two years for major repairs to its fleet, for shore-based infrastructure and for capital replacement purchases. While this is welcome, by the department's own accounting, it is a far cry from the $350 million needed to renew its aging fleet and an even further cry from the additional $160 million required annually to fulfil its mandate to provide and support marine search and rescue and safety programs at a minimum level of operation. The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary's annual budget is $4.5 million per year. We must find extra money. The Coast Guard and its auxiliary are severely underfunded, particularly on the Pacific Coast, where the waters are open all year round. In other areas, the seas and the lakes are frozen and they have a more limited season. The dedicated volunteers of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, the members of the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Canadians who depend on them to work on our oceans and lakes deserve no less.

[Translation]

The Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation

Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I am going to talk about the child sponsorship program of the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation, a non-governmental organization that is active in international cooperation.

Child sponsorship allows an adult in Canada to take, under his or her wing, a child living in a poor country and help the child's development. This initiative gives the child an opportunity to live a normal life and to attend a school that is in good condition and has school books and a library. I am the sponsor of a young Haitian girl, with whom I correspond regularly.

This is necessary aid that may change the life of a child. It generates hope and it gives more courage to children who are living in a difficult environment, where resources are limited.

Education is a tool for social transformation. It is an essential element to fight poverty effectively and to provide the means to make headways in a rapidly changing world. The Paul Gérin- Lajoie Foundation helps children who have been left to fend for themselves. It calls on our noblest feelings of compassion, solidarity and humaneness.

The objective of child sponsorship is twofold: to improve a child's living conditions, which is essential to his or her success in school, and to support the child and his or her community. In order to truly help a schoolboy or a schoolgirl, it is necessary to improve his or her environment, while also supporting his or her community. Helping the community has a direct impact on the child. It may mean renovating a school, implementing an adult literacy program, or providing training that will give useful trade skills.

There is no question about it, the funds collected through this sponsorship program help provide better support to the schoolboy or schoolgirl. I can only strongly encourage you to support the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation's efforts, and particularly its child sponsorship program.

Helping the foundation not only promotes social justice, individual development and the dissemination of knowledge, it is first and foremost the heartfelt urge to change the life of a person, a child who is full of hope and who aspires to a better life.

[English]

Coming Into Force of Yukon Act

Hon. Ione Christensen: Honourable senators, today is a very special day in the Yukon. When the Yukon was created as a territory out of Rupert's Land in 1898, the government of the day was comprised of an appointed Commissioner with an appointed Advisory Council. That was quickly changed to four elected council members.

Things remained relatively unchanged until 1960, when the administration of schools, public works and welfare became a territorial responsibility. Through the 1960s and 1970s, more and more powers were given to elected members.

In 1978, there was a territorial election in which candidates ran on party lines. For the first time, we had a government leader with ministers and a caucus, but the commissioner still chaired the executive or cabinet. In 1979, the commissioner was instructed to withdraw from active participation in the government and to take on duties similar to those of a lieutenant-governor in the provinces.

Through the 1980s, the Yukon acquired more responsibilities for the Northern Canada Power Commission and, in 1988, a memorandum of understanding on devolution was signed. More powers were devolved: freshwater fisheries and mine safety in 1989; inter-territorial roads in 1990; and the Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway in 1992. In 1993, the long-negotiated Yukon First Nations Umbrella Final Agreement was signed, opening the way for all 14 Yukon First Nations to negotiate their own agreements. This also set the stage for more action on the devolution of powers for the Yukon government. In 1993, hospitals were transferred and, in 1997, community health care, with an oil and gas accord in 1998.

As you can see, bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, the Yukon government has taken on responsibility for managing Yukon affairs together with our Yukon First Nations.

Last year, we passed in this place Bill C-39, the Yukon Act. It transferred the last remaining control of land and resources to the Yukon Territorial Government.

Honourable senators, the Yukon Act comes into force, effective today, April 1, 2003. It is a proud day for all Yukoners. The responsibilities are huge. It will not make the decisions any easier, but they will be decisions made in the Yukon, by Yukoners and for Yukoners.

(1420)

Many people have been involved in this lengthy process: Yukon governments of every persuasion, Yukon First Nations, federal ministers and prime ministers. Each has added to the process, each has left his or her mark, and each is owed a debt of gratitude for the work and the dedication that they have given to the ongoing process.

Today is not the end of a process; it is only the beginning. Today will always be special when the history of the Yukon is written. Today all Yukoners are, for the first time, managers of our destiny in the development of our territory.

Honourable senators, I would ask leave to distribute to all senators a pamphlet with a Yukon pin as a commemoration of this day.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

2002 Annual Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for 2002, pursuant to subsection 61(4) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

[English]

Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum

Eleventh Annual Meeting, January 13-15, 2003—Report Tabled

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the eleventh annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from January 13 to 15, 2003.

Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association

Economic Affairs and Development Committee Meeting, January 23-24, 2003 and First Part of 2003 Ordinary Session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
January 27-31, 2003—Report Tabled

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the meeting of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development held in London, England, from January 23 to 24, 2003; and the First Part of the 2003 Ordinary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held in Strasbourg, France, from January 27 to 31, 2003.

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next setting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources have power to sit on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 at 5:00 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.


QUESTION PERIOD

The Senate

Justice—Study on Definition of Marriage

Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin: Honourable senators, section 91 of the Constitution declares that marriage and divorce are the responsibility of the Parliament of Canada. We have already legislated on divorce, but there is no federal law or statute on the definition of marriage. We have only the common-law definition.

My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it the intention of the government to define the word "marriage" in a statute? We should do so. If we do not do so, the question will be left to the courts. There are already three cases before the courts.

Honourable senators, a committee in the House of Commons is studying the matter. Is it the intention of the government to do the same in the Senate and refer the entire question to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for his question. He is quite correct. There is a House of Commons committee. The Minister of Justice prepared a white paper that was given to this committee. The white paper forms the basis for conducting public hearings.

There is, of course, nothing to stop the Senate from bringing a reference to this chamber and having the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs or any other committee, perhaps the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, also engage in this study.

The Minister of Justice has asked the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to provide views on the paper that he distributed to that committee.

Senator Beaudoin: Honourable senators, if the matter is with the Justice and Human Rights Committee in the other House, the matter should be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Health

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—Assistance to Provinces Monitoring Patients Under Quarantine

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate regarding the worsening outbreak of SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, in the Toronto area.

It was reported on Sunday that a fourth person had died from this disease. Yesterday, the Hospital for Sick Children announced that it is treating five probable or suspect cases in children and began referring patients to Ottawa.

Ontario public health officials have asked patients, staff and visitors to Scarborough Grace Hospital and York General Hospital, since March 16, to quarantine themselves for 10 days from the time of the visit to the hospital. This is the largest mass quarantine in Canada since the Second World War. It is affecting thousands of people. A voluntary quarantine has any number of logistical problems, not the least of which is to make certain it is effectively monitored to ensure that the disease does not spread further through the general public.

What actions has Health Canada undertaken to assist the Ontario Ministry of Health, indeed all ministries of health, for the proper monitoring of those patients under quarantine?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as the honourable senator well knows, the specific details of how the disease is treated within each individual province is, of course, within the prerogative and the responsibility of that particular province.

However, Health Canada officials have been working with particularly the Province of Ontario, as that is where the major outbreak has taken place. There is a suspected case in New Brunswick and a number of suspected cases in B.C. They had thought that the outbreak had been contained to one, but apparently, it has spread beyond that number now.

Health Canada officials are at the disposal of the health officials in Ontario, at their request.

In addition, the health of Canadians is the direct responsibility of the federal government in several areas. One such area is the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg, which is working virtually around the clock with Level 4 labs around the world to determine the cause of this disease, and then, hopefully, to identify the correct treatment. As a physician, the honourable senator knows well that they are trying a number of things at the present time, including a number of drugs.

Another federal responsibility is how people are arriving or departing this country, either bringing the disease with them, or perhaps, tragically enough, taking the disease out with them. Pearson Airport has been designated as the one airport in Canada of concern to the WHO. Pearson began today to staff the airport with Health Canada nurses to provide information to all passengers leaving the country, and also to meet passengers coming into the country especially from those countries that have had a SARS outbreak, particularly China and other Southeast Asian countries.

(1430)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—Daily Status Report

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: I thank the honourable senator for that very clear answer. I am not at all underestimating the magnitude of this problem, particularly given federal-provincial responsibilities. However, a tremendous number of agencies and institutions seem to be issuing information at the present time. On any given day, it seems difficult to get a clear and concise up-to- date report on just what is happening with the disease.

My supplementary question is this: Is the minister aware of any plans in Health Canada for a daily status report which would give the geographic distribution of the outbreak so that people could avoid these areas and, hopefully, avoid transmission of the disease?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): I can give the honourable senator some of those statistics. As of March 31, 2003, there were 109 probable and suspected cases in Ontario; 13 probable and suspected cases in British Columbia; five suspected cases in Alberta; one suspected case in Saskatchewan; and one suspected case in New Brunswick. Apparently, they are being reported to Health Canada on a daily basis. They were expecting higher numbers this morning. I do not have those higher numbers at the present time; only the ones as of approximately this time yesterday.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—Invoking of Quarantine Act

Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is on the same matter. There has been some speculation concerning Health Canada's possible use of the Quarantine Act to deal with the speed of the spread of SARS. Under that act, Health Canada officials would be authorized to detain incoming and outgoing travellers showing symptoms of SARS and to seize planes for 48 hours. No special procedure is needed to implement this legislation, as the Health Minister has the discretionary power to use it when it is deemed necessary.

Yesterday's National Post quotes Dr. Paul Gully, Director General of Health Canada, as saying that the government will not invoke the Quarantine Act at this time, as that would be an extreme measure. We note the situation in Southeast Asia with respect to SARS is getting more serious by the day, and quarantine laws are being enforced in countries all across the region. It is hard not to see why, as doctors in Singapore have started wearing germ warfare suits to treat patients, and the infected residents of an apartment complex in Hong Kong have been evacuated to a special isolation camp.

Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate, therefore, tell honourable senators under what circumstances this government would consider invoking the Quarantine Act?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as the honourable senator correctly reports, Dr. Gully does not think that it is warranted at this time. He is in daily contact with all of those directing the information and patients at the provincial level. The decision will be made in conjunction with all of those players as to when it is, if ever, necessary to institute and to use the Quarantine Act. As the honourable senator knows, and as was quoted quite accurately, it is a strong act. I want the honourable senator to be confident that the situation is being monitored, literally hour by hour, as to whether there is sufficient cause to invoke that act.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—Monitoring of Airline Passengers

Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, I was listening to the answer the minister gave to my colleague Dr. Keon. Dr. Paul Gully yesterday stated that checking 36,000 outgoing travellers from Toronto's Pearson airport would be impossible to do, although, as the minister said today, they are now checking outgoing passengers. The minister is shaking her head no. My question is: Is any procedure being put in place to monitor outgoing passengers so that we do not carry this disease from Canada to other parts of the world?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, yes. The WHO asked us to provide information to each and every passenger who is leaving the country as to symptoms and contact areas. In other words, since March 16, have they been in a particular hospital in Toronto? That kind of information is being provided to each outgoing passenger.

Dr. Gully has recommended, so far, that there is nothing of such urgency at the present time that would justify physically examining the 39,000 passengers that, I understand, exit from Toronto airport each and every day.

Senator LeBreton: This is a serious matter. I understand the problems in numbers, with the 39,000, as the minister says, from Pearson airport, as well as the thousands out of Vancouver and other international airports such as Montreal and Halifax. How are they able to determine that they actually have proper information from those departing passengers to ensure we do not spread this disease?

Senator Carstairs: At this point, as I indicated to the honourable senator, they are providing it in card form — all of the detailed information as to symptoms, as to location, and as to contacts that they may have had. To some degree, the honourable senator is correct in that it is a self-identification system at the present moment. If the Quarantine Act were invoked, it would require the physical examination of every single departing traveller, which, as the honourable senator can well imagine, would virtually bring travel to a halt.

Honourable senators, we must bear in mind that the seriousness of this disease is, to date, not the numbers who have died from it, because the numbers who have died from it are still relatively small. In this country, they are working at about 4 per cent. We have more than that who die from regular pneumonia in any given year. It is higher than that 4 per cent total. What is of real concern in this case is that we do not know yet how to treat it. Of the patients in Ontario, for example, there have been five deaths, and each one of those to that family obviously is very tragic. However, in the overall scheme of a pandemic or an epidemic, at this stage, it is not very large.

Hon. Pat Carney: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Vancouver, through Vancouver International Airport, is the gateway to Asia-Pacific for both Canadian and American carriers. Of course, it is impacted by the SARS scare. There is also apprehension that the traffic across the Pacific will be devastated by the fear of SARS when it is, at this moment, quite localized in Asia. Yet, Health Canada's advisory stipulates that the People's Republic of China, which means that people going to Beijing with Air Canada, or Shanghai as well as Hong Kong, do not know whether or not to cancel their flights. I am told that the traffic coming out of China has been maintained fairly well, but the passengers going to China have been cut severely.

Is there any way we could pinpoint more accurately the parts of the People's Republic of China, a very large country, that should be off limits to Canadians at this time so that other travellers can proceed with some safety, or is it a question of simply not having the necessary information?

(1440)

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, part of the problem is that we do not have the necessary information. The WHO is trying to get that information. It was thought, at one point, that Beijing was free from SARS; but now there are apparently some suspected cases of SARS in Beijing.

The WHO is monitoring flights out of, rather than into, any country. That is why we have placed additional quarantine officers in Vancouver and additional health support, as well, in order to greet the passengers coming in. Those passengers are given exactly the same information that outgoing passengers are given. Also, these passengers will be given additional information and told where to go if they develop flu-like symptoms that could be SARS.

National Defence

Personnel Serving with Coalition Forces in Persian Gulf—Duty Status

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, the government admitted that Canada has at least 31 soldiers, sailors and aircrew serving with coalition forces in the Persian Gulf. My question is as follows: Is their time of service with these coalition forces being considered as active duty or wartime service?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, my understanding is that these soldiers are considered to be on active war duty; however, I will obtain verification of that.

Senator Forrestall: I would appreciate that very much.

As the Leader of the Government knows, wartime service has other implications having to do with government jobs and access to other benefits.

The minister may want to determine if the government has taken steps to ensure that these Canadians do receive pensions and the other benefits to which they and their families are entitled. In particular, has an Order in Council been passed that would place these people on active service and accommodate these other requirements?

Senator Carstairs: As the honourable senator knows, that is a very specific question and one in which he and I share a common interest. I will try to verify whether such an Order in Council has been passed.

Personnel Serving with Coalition Forces in Persian Gulf—Status in the Event of Injury

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: All honourable senators are grateful to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and to the government for extending to all ranks the compensation for dismemberment in the amount of $250,000 under the Service Income Security Insurance Plan. I draw to the attention of honourable senators the effort of Major Bruce Henwood, who is largely and singularly responsible for bringing this about.

Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate able to tell us whether our soldiers serving in Iraq or on an exchange program with foreign forces are still covered by this insurance plan? Will they be eligible for a lump sum payment should they be injured while performing their duties during war?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): I am sure honourable senators will join with me in hoping that no injury will befall our soldiers.

As the honourable senator knows, these soldiers are not on active combat duty, even though they are serving with various elements of the British and American forces. Most of them are, as the honourable senator well knows, serving outside of Iraq in places like Doha.

The honourable senator's question is an important one. I do not think he should underestimate the importance that his questions have had in this chamber in making those changes.

Military Exchange Programs—Length of Assignments

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I am glad that the Court of Appeal in Quebec, while not vindicating, have proven that those of us who fought for juvenile delinquents were not much out of order.

When one plans a student exchange program, we know when the program will start, what the students will do and when the program will end.

Do we know when the military personnel exchange program referred to yesterday by the Minister of National Defence, with the U.S., Great Britain and Australia, will come to an end?

Also, will the minister kindly inform the ambitious Liberal member for Nepean—Carleton, who seems to be thinking that he is already the Minister of National Defence, Mr. David Pratt, that I, for one, totally disagree with his statement that Jean Chrétien should step down as Prime Minister to be replaced by someone else?

I find it offensive, at this time, that someone in the party that I loved for so many years, that I have never really left, would have the nerve, at this time, to say these things, when we are in difficulty and need leadership. That has nothing to do with the question; I mention that just in passing.

I disagree with Mr. Pratt. I believe that Jean Chrétien is doing a fine job. He is there and he is doing a great job.

Senator Stratton: Question.

Senator Prud'homme: My question, therefore, is: When will this program be finished?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, first, let me make it clear that these are not students. These are regularly serving officers.

Senator Prud'homme: May I correct the minister? My question is not related to students; I was referring to how a student program operates.

Senator Carstairs: The relationship that we have with NATO member countries has been in place almost since the beginning of NATO. Within these relationships, an officer may be given a certain period of time to serve with another force not only to enhance the work that is done in this country but also to make it possible for these soldiers to work together so that they will have a better understanding of what other armed forces do in a certain set of circumstances.

As far as the duration of these assignments is concerned, my understanding is that it varies from assignment to assignment. I cannot provide the honourable senator with a specific answer to the question because, in some cases, assignments can be for a year or two; in others, they can be as short as a few months.

Senator Prud'homme: Would you deliver my message to Mr. Pratt, please?

Justice

Firearms Control Program—Effect of Passage of Bill C-10A on Costs

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, on January 31, 2003, Mr. Raymond Hession was commissioned by the Department of Justice to assess the administration and the management of the Canadian Firearms Program. This led to the publication of recommendations to streamline the CFP to decrease the ballooning costs. In his report, Mr. Hession stated that important savings could be made in the future if changes were implemented by key milestone dates.

One of the milestones that Mr. Hession identified as being directly linked to decreasing the cost of the Canadian Firearms Program is the passage of Bill C-10A by its April 1, 2003 deadline.

Honourable senators, today is April 1 and Bill C-10 is not before us and does not even appear to be on the government agenda in the House of Commons.

Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate please determine if the failure to pass Bill C-10A, as recommended by Mr. Hession, will have significant consequences for decreasing the expenditures of the Canadian Firearms Program, as was promised in his report?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the information of the honourable senator is quite correct. The passage of Bill C-10A will reduce the costs of the firearms registry because of the way in which the registry treats certain weapons. Hopefully, we will never see Bill C-10A. It is my understanding that the government will press for the passage of Bill C-10A with the amendments that have been provided by the Senate of Canada.

As to putting this item on the Order Paper, my understanding is that it will appear next week.

Senator Comeau: If I understand the minister correctly, Bill C- 10A will eventually come before the House of Commons, probably next week. Therefore, as far as the minister is concerned, things are still on track in that Mr. Hession's recommendations will be addressed, give or take a week or two. We will be keeping a close eye on this matter.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, my understanding is that the matter will move forward next week. I can assure the honourable senator that I am keeping a close eye on this item because we have Bill C-10B in this place. We cannot move forward with Bill C-10B until the House has moved forward with Bill C-10A and our suggestion to split the bill. I have been putting as much pressure as I can on members of the other place to proceed with Bill C-10A.

(1450)

Canada-United States Relations

Effect of War with Iraq on Trade

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the honourable senator knows, I have great concern about the state of our relationship with the Americans with regard to business. Peter Smith, President of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada; as well as Tony Pollard, President of the Hotel Association of Canada, have told reporters of the loss of business as a result of the breakdown in the relationship. Is the minister aware of this? Is she cognizant of the huge impact this could have on our economy?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I certainly read the accounts in the newspapers by Mr. Pollard and Mr. Smith. However, I found it interesting that Mr. Pollard would not identify any groups that wanted to cancel hotels or convention facilities.

Obviously, decisions are being made in the United States, some of them due to the economic situation there. At this point, it is impossible for us to know what the direct implications will be of the decision of the Government of Canada, a sovereign nation, to remain outside the war.

Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I certainly would not question Mr. Pollard's integrity. I am sure that he could identify the groups. It is most likely that the groups do not want to be identified to avoid further erosion of the relationship and the possibility of losing further business.

Comments by Minister of Natural Resources

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my second question goes back to what Mr. Cellucci said in his speech in Toronto. What was most disturbing to Americans, according to various reports coming out of the United States, is that Minister Dhaliwal, a minister of our sovereign country, Canada, actually put into question the credibility of the President of the United States.

Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate not believe that it would be appropriate for Minister Dhaliwal, rather than trying to backtrack in speeches in Vancouver, to stand up and apologize to the President and the people of the United States of America?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, let me make it absolutely clear that I did not question the integrity of Mr. Pollard. I simply said that Mr. Pollard did not give certain information.

As to the Honourable Minister Dhaliwal, he has made clear what he meant by his comments, and I see no need for any further action on his part.

Foreign Affairs

War with Iraq—Activities of Syria

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, Syria, which like Iraq is governed by a hideous dictatorship, has been supplying military equipment to Iraq, shepherding fighters across its borders into Iraq, and apparently serving as a hiding place for Iraqi weapons. United States Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld has warned Syria, in no uncertain terms, to stay out of the conflict or face the consequences. Syria is defending its actions by cloaking itself in the legality of the Security Council, calling the U.S. invasion unjustified. Is the government monitoring the situation in Syria? Can the government leader share any details with this chamber?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have no information that I can share with the honourable senator opposite. I believe I can say, on behalf of all Canadians, that we would very much regret if the war that has been initiated against Iraq were to spread further than the Iraqi borders.

Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, given the stance the Liberal government has taken on the war in Iraq, does the Government of Canada refute the claim that Syria's actions are justified based on the Security Council position on this war and Syria's actions, which are obviously inflaming the whole Middle East situation?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, with the greatest respect, I do not think any proof has been given to the Security Council of the United Nations of the alleged actions of Syria. We do not know, therefore, whether they are in violation of the resolution of the Security Council.

Senator Di Nino: Would the minister undertake to get information on this matter from the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Prime Minister's Office and inform the chamber at an appropriate time?

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, if there is further information available with respect to Syria, it will be made very public. However, if the honourable senator wants me to specifically ask the government to provide that information to the chamber, I will be pleased to do so.

[Translation]

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have a response to a question raised in the Senate on March 19, 2003, by Senator Stratton, regarding the virulent pneumonia virus and a travel advisory on visiting Asia.

Health

Virulent Pneumonia Virus—Travel Advisory on Visiting Asia

(Response to question raised by Hon. Terry Stratton on March 19, 2003)

Health Canada maintains contact with airport authorities and Air Canada in its management of the SARS issue.

Air Canada, like all airlines falls under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Regulations. At any time, Air Canada can screen for ill passengers prior to embarkment and if an airline representative has concerns regarding a passenger's health, they have the authority to interview/question the passenger and if need be, a medical clearance will be requested from the Medical Director at Air Canada. This policy is in effect at all times; however, there is a heightened awareness at this time.

Air Canada has recently decided to station a nurse at the Hong Kong departure lounge to watch for passengers who visibly display symptoms of illness.

The World Health Organization has International Health Regulations in place to ensure the maximum security against the international spread of diseases with a minimum interference with world traffic.

These regulations are referred to in the ICAO Regulations as well and apply not only to airlines but airport authorities and allow for health authorities to examine passengers arriving or departing.

Health Canada now has quarantine officers in place in Vancouver and Toronto airports to assess any passengers who are ill. Together these measures can stem the transmission of infectious diseases by travellers.

Article 30 of the World Health Organization International Health Regulations states:

1. The health authority for a port or an airport or for the area in which a frontier post is situated shall take all practicable measures:

(a) to prevent the departure of any infected person or suspect;

(b) to prevent the introduction on board a ship, an aircraft, a train, a road vehicle, other means of transport, or container, of possible agents of infection or vectors of a disease subject to the Regulations.

2. The health authority in an infected area may require a valid vaccination certificate from departing travellers.

3. The health authority referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article may, when it considers it necessary, medically examine any person before his departure on an international voyage. The time and place of this examination shall be arranged to take into account any other formalities, so as to facilitate his departure and to avoid delay.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Canada Pension PlanCanada Pension Plan Investment Board Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): moved the third reading of Bill C-3, to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act.

Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.

[English]

Specific Claims Resolution Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Austin, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Bacon, for the second reading of Bill C-6, to establish the Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims to provide for the filing, negotiation and resolution of specific claims and to make related amendments to other Acts.

The Hon. the Speaker: I wish to advise honourable senators that there is an agreement that the second speaker will be given 15 minutes in order that the opposition will have the 45 minutes provided for in the rules.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I rise to speak at second reading of Bill C-6. First Nations have been fighting for recognition, acknowledgement and implementation of their treaty agreements and rights since the arrival of the European settlers. Successive governments have insisted on treating Aboriginals differently. Aboriginal people have been segregated and kept apart from the Canadian community. They have been forced to use the courts to regain their rights, and they have had to force the courts to pressure the government to do what was not done or completed in the first place — settle the land title and governing arrangements.

The first claims policy direction arose out of the Supreme Court of Canada Calder decision, in 1973. The government's response to Calder was to negotiate claim settlements, which claims were divided into two types: comprehensive and specific.

Bill C-6 deals with specific claims, and specific claims for the most part deal with outstanding grievances that the First Nations have concerning Canada's fulfilment of the Indian treaties and other lawful obligations of the Crown, or the improper administration of lands under the Indian Act or formal agreements.

Typical claims involve the loss of reserve lands without consent or the government's failure to pay compensation for their lands. This would be in contrast to comprehensive claims, which are substantial land claim treaties such as Nisga'a and Delgamuukw.

Bill C-6 is designed to set up a permanent centre to evaluate specific claims brought against the federal government by First Nations. The Indian Claims Commission already exists, but it was put in place in 1991 as a temporary measure.

Honourable senators, between 1970 and March of 2002, Indian bands across the country had filed 1,146 claims and only 232 are settled. This is unacceptable and it is getting worse.

Honourable senators, while I believe the intent of Bill C-6 is sound — to expedite the process and to provide some finality — I do not believe the mechanism proposed will work. Unless amended, Bill C-6 will fail Canadians for the following basic reasons. First, it does not share the confidence of First Nations peoples. The $7 million cap on the claims that can be heard by the tribunal will significantly limit the number of claims the new centre will be able to consider because most of the claims far exceed $7 million. There are some in my home province of British Columbia — in fact, right in the Okanagan Valley where Senator Ross Fitzpatrick is from — that exceed that amount. It lacks transparency, concrete accountability measures and provisions to prevent patronage.

(1500)

The appointed commission and tribunal members must be determined by the parties involved. The taxpayers will still have to pay expensive legal bills for the court cases that will be launched in place of mediated hearings.

There are a number of amendments that must be adopted if Bill C-6 is to be relevant. We must send a clear message to the committee that examines the bill, that all concerned groups must be heard and that sufficient time be made available to them. The committee must listen to the Aboriginal people because this legislation directly impacts their lives.

There are two other matters that really concern me at this time. They are the $7 million cap and the absence of timelines. The government has built mechanisms into this bill that will delay and obstruct the process of considering claims. It has avoided the establishment of tangible timelines to ensure a speedy resolution of claims. This is contrary to the recommendations in the 1998 joint task force report. The government calculated that it would take 30 years to clear the backlog under the existing procedures. They also say that Bill C-6 would resolve 80 per cent of the claims under the new system, but they do not seem to be clear on how long the new system will take.

The other place proposed an amendment at committee that would put a one-year limit on this process. The government voted it down. Would the government please tell this place why?

Clause 30(4) of the bill states:

No passage of time in relation to the decision on whether to negotiate a claim may be considered as constituting a decision not to negotiate the claim.

In effect, the commission may not treat the lack of a decision from the government as a decision until the minister decides to announce his decision. This is confusing and could be detrimental in the process of expediting the decisions that are required. This is a matter of accountability and transparency.

The Assembly of First Nations wants Bill C-6 to adopt the principles that they have set out. Under Bill C-6, the federal government would unilaterally control the pace at which claims are considered. Bill C-6 would permit the minister to consider a claim at the early stages of the process indefinitely. There are no time limits that must be obeyed. No independent body can ever say, "Enough is enough, the claim goes to the next stage." The claim might have to go through an elaborate series of distinct stages and steps before compensation is ever paid. Many of these steps could have been eliminated or combined with others. The delays could have been controlled by giving an independent body control over the pace or by setting a strict timeframe in the statute itself. The joint task force model bill was built for making major headway on the backlog. Bill C-6 is almost certain to ensure that the backlog grows.

The AFN also noted that under the 1998 joint task force report the minister did not have the discretion to consider a claim indefinitely. Once a claim was logged, the commission and tribunal, not the federal government, had the primary say over the pace of the proceedings. A First Nation was not required to attend more than one preparatory meeting or to prove to a third party that mediation or other "alternative dispute resolution" was exhausted. When a claim reached the tribunal, both validity and compensation could be dealt with together.

Honourable senators, clause 35(1)(d) requires the claimant to waive any compensation amount higher than the cap stipulated in clause 56, which is currently set at $7 million. However, the existence of a cap provides an incentive for government officials to obstruct the settlement at the commission stage of negotiations. The Minister of Indian Affairs claims that the $7 million cap has been set high enough to include most specific claims. However, Ms. Kathleen Lickers, commission counsel for the Indian Claims Commission, has said:

Of the 120 claims that the ICC has dealt with, only three were eventually settled for less than $7 million.

An AFN analysis added that:

In the past three years (2002-2003) eight of the 14 claims paid out by the federal government were for amounts above $7 million.

Honourable senators, it is not clear to me why it is necessary to have a cap at all. Why not send the claims for less than $10 million to one arbitration tribunal and those above $10 million to another, if that will speed up the number of cases processed?

Bill C-6 is unacceptable in its present form. It is inconceivable that this legislation will achieve the objectives of accountability, transparency and fairness in dealing with our Aboriginal peoples. I look forward to working with any and all senators in the committee on this very important piece of legislation.

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, will the Honourable Senator St. Germain accept a question?

Senator St. Germain: Certainly, honourable senators.

Senator Austin: I missed hearing whether the honourable senator was advocating a timeline for Aboriginal claimants. Does the honourable senator see mutuality here; that is, that each side must come to a definite timeline once the process begins?

Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, the timeline is more in dealing with the specific client. As far as the timeline for natives, I do not know how we would do that. If something were to come to the fore, or be presented to the public, showing that an injustice has taken place against the native group by virtue of the utilization of their land, does the honourable senator not think it would be a bit unfair if we were to set a timeline?

I hope I understood the honourable senator correctly. Is he referring to a timeline for the filing of these specific claims?

Senator Austin: I found the honourable senator's reference to a timeline a bit confusing, which is why I asked the question.

There is no timeline for filing. A provision of the bill makes it clear that no claimant will be jeopardized because of the issue of time. I assumed the honourable senator was addressing the question of a timeline for the process once the filing had been made. I agree with his answer, in so far as he said that the Aboriginal claimant should not be on a timeline in the prosecution of the claim before the commission. However, for the same reasons, I cannot understand why the government should be on a timeline in that case. I believe the main argument of the honourable senator is based on that timeline issue and on the $7 million cap, and I am sure the Senate committee to which the bill is referred will examine those issues further.

Senator St. Germain: As far as a timeline is concerned, we are trying to get these things expedited. Chief Stewart Phillip, from one of the Okanagan bands that has a claim, pointed out to me that, for years during wartime, part of their reserve land was utilized for an agricultural purpose. They never received that land back and now have a specific claim.

When referring to a timeline in which to resolve these issues, I believe it is incumbent on the government to get these matters resolved as quickly as possible.

If I have understood correctly the natives to whom I have spoken on this issue, historically, they have felt that the government has dragged its feet and that, if there are no timelines set in the legislation, the government and the bureaucracy will continue to drag their feet. It does not matter who is in power; it has been a problem since day one.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, it is my understanding, and I wonder if it is the understanding of Senator St. Germain, that the whole purpose of Bill C-6 is to establish an independent process for examining claims, independent of the Department of Indian Affairs, and that the commission that will examine the claim and spend its own money developing the facts cannot be put on a timeline because the facts need time to develop.

I do not wish to debate the matter with the honourable senator. I wonder if he would continue to keep an open mind on the question of a timeline.

(1510)

Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I certainly shall. I agree that it could become restrictive and detrimental to the overall cost. What native people are concerned about, given that these matters have been dragging on for virtually decade after decade, is that the procrastination will continue, given the way the proposed legislation is set up.

Native People are also concerned about the minister appointing the tribunal. They believe the commission should be at arm's length, that the chair should be independent. These issues will be discussed in committee, and I certainly will keep an open mind.

I look forward to working with Senator Austin and others on this.

On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.

[Translation]

National Anthem Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

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 Cools).

Hon. Jean Lapointe: Mister Speaker,Honorables sénateurs,En ce qui me concerneOur national anthemJe viens vous direThat I am totally againstLa proposition Of the honourable senator Kinsella Pour la simple raison That it is very confusing D'alterner une phrase en françaisAnd immediately followed Par une phrase In English Notre hymne national As it is presentlyEst adéquat et respecté, As much by the French speakingQue par les anglophonesOf our countryCette proposition du sénateur KinsellaIf acceptedApporteraitTo our national anthemUn effet auditif inintelligibleAnd would createUne atmosphère indescriptibleOf confusionC'est du moinsMy opinion...vous voyez what I meanThank you beaucoup

On motion of Senator Lapointe, for Senator Cools, debate adjourned.

[English]

Louis Riel Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Chalifoux, seconded by the Honourable Senator Taylor, for the second reading of Bill S-9, to honour Louis Riel and the Metis People.—(Honourable Senator LeBreton).

Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, 11 years ago, on March 10, 1992, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, in his then position as President of the Privy Council and Minister Responsible for Constitutional Affairs, introduced a resolution agreed to by the House of Commons and by this chamber that stated the following:

That this House take note that the Métis people of Rupert's Land and the North Western Territory through democratic structures and procedures took effective steps to maintain order and protect the lives, rights and property of the people of the Red River;

That this House take note that in 1870, under the leadership of Louis Riel, the Métis of the Red River adopted a List of Rights;

That this House take note that, based on the List of Rights, Louis Riel negotiated the terms for the admission of Rupert's Land and the North Western Territory into the Dominion of Canada;

That this House take note that these terms for admission form part of the Manitoba Act;

That this House take note that, after negotiating Manitoba's entry into Confederation, Louis Riel was elected thrice to the House of Commons;

That this House take note that, in 1885, Louis Riel paid with his life for his leadership in a movement which fought for the maintenance of the rights and freedoms of the Métis people;

That this House take note that the Constitution Act, 1982, recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Métis;

That this House take note that since the death of Louis Riel, the Métis people have honoured his memory and continued his purposes in their honourable striving for the implementation of those rights;

That this House recognize the unique and historic role of Louis Riel as a founder of Manitoba and his contribution in the development of Confederation; and

That this House support by its actions the true attainment, both in principle and practice, of the constitutional rights of the Métis people.

That was the resolution 11 years ago.

Honourable senators, by passing this resolution in 1992, the Canadian Parliament formally recognized Louis Riel's contribution to the development of the Canadian Confederation. The House also reaffirmed its support for "the true attainment, both in principle and practice, of the constitutional rights of the Metis people."

As the leader of what historians call the Red River Resistance of 1870, Louis Riel played an important role in negotiating Manitoba's entry into Confederation and in ensuring that religious and language guarantees were included in the Manitoba Act.

Riel was subsequently elected three times to the House of Commons.

Land grants for the Metis, in response to Metis concerns about the need for land, was also part of the Riel legacy.

Fifteen years later, in 1885, Riel became involved in a movement to defend the interests of the Metis people along the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Sadly, these events ended in tragedy and Riel was tried and hanged for treason.

The life and death of Louis Riel was one of those periods in our history that had been left unresolved and exposed to tensions between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, between francophones and anglophones, and between Western Canadians and Central Canadians. It was therefore fitting and appropriate that Parliament acted in 1992 with long overdue recognition of Louis Riel's role in helping to shape Canada. Parliament demonstrated that we had matured as a nation, that we saw in our common history a source of strength, not of weakness.

Honourable senators, I shall not attempt to review Louis Riel's entire life and career. That would take much longer than the time available here. Probably more has been written about Louis Riel than most other Canadian public figures.

The courage and ingenuity he showed, as a young man, in leading the Red River community through a troubled time in its history, and in resolving a very difficult situation, are indeed remarkable. Riel, returning to the Red River settlement after several years' absence, found a community that was deeply worried about its future as part of the new Dominion of Canada. The Metis people, who formed the majority in the Red River community, looked at him for leadership, as someone who was articulate, educated, bilingual and knowledgeable in the ways of the country, which was preparing to annex their territory.

Louis Riel worked closely with members of the community and with them succeeded in defining and articulating their concerns and objectives. Riel's success in achieving a broad consensus and uniting most of the Red River settlement behind him was significant. He failed to win unanimous support, but this was just a reflection of the deep divisions that existed in the community at the time.

In the end, Riel's accomplishments in what history refers to as the Red River Resistance were significant. He played an important role in ensuring that Manitoba entered Confederation with provincial status instead of as part of the Northwest Territories, and that religious and language guarantees were incorporated into the Manitoba Act.

(1520)

Fifteen years later, after living in the United States and becoming a U.S. citizen, Louis Riel returned to Canada and was again involved in a movement to defend the interests of the Metis people along the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Sadly, these events ended in tragedy and controversy, but no one would dispute Riel's deep devotion to his people and his willingness to pay the ultimate price with his life.

As Mr. Clark said in 1992, in support of the resolution:

It is now time to recognize the very important and constructive role Louis Riel played in defending the interests of the Metis people and of contributing to the political development of the West and of Canada.

However, we must now build, Mr. Clark said, on the positive, not the negative dimensions of this experience. The long overdue recognition by this house of Louis Riel's important role in shaping Canada as we know it today is an indication that we have, in fact, matured as nation. It is a demonstration that we see our common history as a source of strength, not as a weakness.

Honourable senators, I had the honour of working with the Mulroney government when, for the first time in Canada's history, a Metis was appointed as a lieutenant-governor, the Queen's representative, and, more important, for the province of Manitoba. However, our history is our history and we cannot alter it. We all can cite events in the past that we wish had not occurred, but that is reality. I strongly believe that history cannot and must not be rewritten.

I believe that the Parliament of Canada properly recognized Louis Riel in the 1992 resolution and, even though I sympathize with the views of our colleagues Senator St. Germain and Senator Chalifoux, I personally cannot support Bill S-9.

On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.

Legacy of Waste During Chrétien-Martin Years

Inquiry—Debate Continued

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 Chrétien-Martin years. —(Honourable Senator Bryden).

Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, since I came here in November 1994, a significant amount of time in this place has been consumed by the senators opposite attempting to rehabilitate the political reputation of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his failed Tory government.

Senator St. Germain: It does not need rehabilitating.

Senator Bryden: It has been spent attempting to have Canadians forget why they threw the rascals out and reduced the once grand party of Macdonald, Diefenbaker and Stanfield to an irrelevant rump — not even a rump, perhaps a dimple on the rump of Parliament. These attempts have been absolutely futile.

Since the point person — and I am sorry she has gone — in this failed endeavour has been Mulroney's friend and former assistant, Senator LeBreton, it is not surprising that, with all the talk of legacies going around these days, this latest inquiry would try a different tack.

Senator LeBreton described the finding of the Senate committee on Prime Minister Chrétien's cancellation of the Pearson airport development agreement "a bad decision to cancel a good and honourable deal." She conveniently failed to mention that there was a 125-page minority report that reached a very different conclusion from that dictated by the Tory majority on that committee.

The minority report examined the actual documents tabled before the committee that documented the progress of the development deal. These documents revealed a pattern of the Mulroney government happily sending millions of dollars to friends and confidants — in some cases for no work at all — and blithely prepared simply to pass these outrageous costs on to the travelling Canadian public.

What Senator LeBreton characterized in her speech as "a reasonable rate of return to the developers" was revealed, upon analysis, to be exorbitant indeed. Accountants at the time found that a pre-tax rate of return of 11 to 13 per cent would have been reasonable. In fact, the agreement's pre-tax rate of return of 23.6 per cent was double that. As a consequence, the committee was told the government would have lost over $250 million over the term of the lease. As one witness stated, "That's right, about one quarter of a billion dollars."

Senator Stratton: Better than a billion on defence.

Senator Bryden: Even that exorbitant rate of return to the developers did not include any of the numerous side deals by which the consortium members were going to enrich themselves. To quote from the report:

For example, there was the one-page contract, signed on October 4, 1993, whereby T1T2 Limited Partnership —

— the development consortium —

— promised to pay $3.5 million to Matthews Investments 4 Inc. —a company that does not appear anywhere else in the records, and about which we could find out very little, except that Mr. Don Matthews is the President/Chairman.

Don Matthews, by the way, was part of the development consortium and also former President of the Conservative Party, Deputy Chairman of PC Canada Fund and a long-time friend of Prime Minister Mulroney.

Continuing the quote from the report:

This money was labelled a "consulting fee," but it could have been called anything, including a gift: there were no obligations placed on Matthews Investments 4 Inc. to do anything to earn this money. The contract was very clear that it could not be cancelled or terminated for any reason. It could, however, be fully assigned by Matthews Investments 4 Inc. so that Mr. Matthews could assign the $3.5 million to anyone — himself, his son, or a particularly helpful friend. Yet this was a contract to be paid out of Pearson revenues, supposedly as part of the redevelopment project.

That was only one of the side deals we uncovered. In our report, we highlighted just a few of these agreements, which would have brought in over $170 million to members of the consortium and their friends over and above the negotiated rate of return.

Just another example: Fred Doucet, a long-time, close personal friend and senior staff member of Brian Mulroney's, was to receive over $2 million in lobbying fees contingent only on Paxport — the Matthew's company — signing the Pearson contracts.

This pattern of helping friends was arguably set early on by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney himself. The committee heard how, as a result of an approach made at a social function, he asked the then Clerk of the Privy Council, the government's most senior civil servant, to try to arrange things "so that everyone could get a piece of the action."

That was the deal cancelled by Prime Minister Chrétien which, under our examination, showed hard evidence of the waste, corruption and cronyism that was rife in the Mulroney Tory government, particularly during its dying days. Trying to give everyone a piece of the action had Canada on the verge of bankruptcy.

A number of honourable senators referred to the costs of cancelling the Tory government's multi-billion dollar deal to buy Cadillac EH-101 helicopters. Senator Buchanan said the price was $5.8 billion. Question: Where would they get the money? They would borrow it, of course, and add that amount to the record annual deficit and the burgeoning national debt. The savings of just one year's interest on $5.8 billion far exceeds the cost of cancelling the deal.

(1530)

Let me refer briefly to an insightful book called The Show Must Not Go On, which analyzes the spending by the Mulroney Tory government during its years in power. It states:

The Mulroney Conservatives in 8 years accomplished what all previous Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers combined could not accomplish in 117 years. They spent more than one trillion dollars!

In the chapter aptly entitled "Michael Wilson, the One Trillion Dollar Man," we find the following:

Seventeen prime ministers, from Macdonald to Turner, governing since Confederation, spent $900 billion over 117 years. Then along came Mulroney, who, with the help of Wilson, Mazankowski, Campbell, Charest and friends, managed to spend more than one trillion dollars in 8 years.

Honourable senators, what did Canada get for so much extravagant spending? By the end of Prime Minister Mulroney's tenure in power, Canada was, in the words of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, as quoted in the Financial Post April 20, 1993, "in the midst of a national fiscal crisis, and on the precipice of a national economic crisis."

The Conservatives left behind a legacy of economic devastation. There were record levels of unemployment and, of course, the deficit was at frightening record levels. The Tories seemed to have developed a unique approach to managing waste — they managed successfully to waste huge sums of money, much of it borrowed money, driving the deficit and the debt to record highs, virtually "maxing" out Canada's credit line, and having the International Monetary Fund standing by to put Canada potentially into a nation's Chapter 11.

In 1983-84, as the Mulroney government was coming to power, Canada's public debt was $167.8 billion. By 1993-94, nine years of Mulroney mismanagement had ballooned it to $482.1 billion. Fully 66.3 per cent of our gross domestic product, two thirds of our GDP, was represented in our debt.

In 1984, Canada was first in the G7 for growth in real GNP, first for productivity growth and second in unemployment growth. Inflation was average for the G7 at that time. By 1991, after the Conservatives had been in power for some seven years, Canada was second-last in employment growth, with the second highest unemployment rate, third last in productivity growth, and third highest in inflation.

By 1993, long-suffering Canadians had had enough of the Mulroney government and they threw them out with a vengeance. The new Chrétien Liberal government then turned this sorry situation around. Not only did it eliminate the deficit in only four years, it recorded five consecutive surpluses. Since 1996-97, it has reduced the federal debt by $47.6 billion. Since 1997, real GDP growth has averaged close to 4 per cent per annum and has surpassed the United States in each of the last three years. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD have predicted that Canada will lead the G7 in growth this year and next.

Our Conservative colleagues who discussed the EI question quite properly focused on the need for the government to help create jobs. Let us compare the records, honourable senators. I remember the 1993 election campaign. The then Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell — you remember, she who received the poisoned political chalice from Brian Mulroney — was reported in the media as saying that no new jobs could be created until the year 2000. While denying later the media reports as being inaccurate, Ms. Campbell defended that position as "telling it like it was" — honesty in politics. She honestly could not see a way to create any new jobs before the year 2000.

Honourable senators, the Liberal government knew that things could be managed better. From the time the Chrétien government took office in October 1993, until the end of the year 2000, two million new jobs were created.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Bryden: In 2002, the Canadian labour market was among the strongest in the world, creating more jobs than any other G7 nation. Five hundred sixty thousand jobs were created in 2002 alone, the largest 12-month level gain on record. By contrast, employment in the United States decreased during the same period by 229,000.

In 1993, the Liberal Government of Canada was asked by the Canadian electorate to fix a terrible economic legacy left by the Conservatives. Prime Minister Chrétien, ably assisted by then- Finance Minister Paul Martin and other members of the cabinet, had to make very tough decisions. They were not easy and they were not popular, both reasons, no doubt, why the Conservatives had avoided them for so many years, exacerbating the problems for Canadians. However, Prime Minister Chrétien and his Liberal government did what had to be done, and their policies worked. Canadians recognized this and, despite having suffered through some lean times, have returned the government to power now with three consecutive majorities. The Canadian economy is in good shape. Millions of jobs have been created, and the strengthened social policies set out in the recent budget are now possible: policies that will help our Aboriginal communities, Canadian children living in poverty, the homeless, and working families, with children, who want to break through the welfare wall.

Honourable senators, since this inquiry is about legacies, let us compare the legacy of the Mulroney Tory government with the legacy that will be left by the Chrétien Liberal government. The Mulroney Tory government left a wake of disasters that included a deficit of $42 billion, public debt that they managed to bloom from $167.8 billion to $482 billion — fully 66.3 per cent of the GDP — and contracts that would have enriched their friends and political cronies while further increasing the debt load on Canadians.

Certainly Prime Minister Chrétien had to cancel some of these deals, and, yes, it cost Canadians money, but this is simply further shame to lay at the feet of the Mulroney Tory government. We had over 11 per cent unemployment and a Tory Prime Minister who, when reported as saying no jobs could be created, patted herself on the back for her courage and her honesty. We had a country that, in 1991, after some seven years of Mulroney Tory rule, was second to last in the G7 in employment growth, had the second highest unemployment rate, was third last in productivity growth and third highest in inflation.

Now let us look at the Chrétien legacy.

There is no deficit. In fact, the government will record five consecutive surpluses. The debt-to-GDP ratio has come down 20 points, from 66.3 per cent to a projected 40 per cent in 2004-05. In 1995, Canada's total government debt was second only to Italy's among the G7. Today, only the United States and the United Kingdom rank better than we do. Interest on the public debt has been reduced from 37 cents of each revenue dollar in 1995-96 to 23 cents in 2001-02. Annual interest savings amount to $3 billion each and every year. There is an unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent, with a near-record-high participation rate of 67.3 per cent, in January, for example. Millions of jobs have been created for Canadians, with solid economic growth, even in the face of the terrible global economic slowdown we have witnessed recently. Our economy expanded by 3 per cent in 2002, significantly faster than the 2.4 per cent in the United States.

Senator St. Germain: Wait until the Americans are finished with you.

Senator Bryden: Both the IMF and the World Bank predict that Canada will lead the G7 in growth this year and next.

This extraordinary fiscal and economic turnabout is not the whole of the Chrétien government legacy. Let me list several items made possible by the prudent and visionary management of the Chrétien Liberal government. Federal support to health care will increase by $17.3 billion over the next three years, and $34.8 billion over the next five years. There is a $100-billion tax cut package that gives Canadians lower tax rates than Americans.

(1540)

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Bryden: There is a millennium scholarship fund that allows post-secondary education for thousands of Canadians, and now added to that are graduate scholarship funds that will support 2,000 master's and 2,000 doctoral students each year. There is a $12 million endowment for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation to expand its scholarship for Aboriginal students.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform the honourable senator that his time for speaking has expired.

Senator Bryden: May I continue? I have only a couple of pages.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: On a point of order, how much longer does the honourable senator need? Will there still be time for questions?

Senator Bryden: I do not have much left, honest.

Senator Comeau: As Senator Robichaud would say, carry on for another minute.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Order. Honourable senators, is leave granted for Senator Bryden to proceed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Bryden: In addition to what I indicated, the Canada Research Chairs program, which was introduced in 1999 by the Chrétien government, has helped many scientists. A March 17, 2003, article in The Globe & Mail had this to say about the Canada Research Chairs program:

...it has helped about 840 scientists and social scientists, including about 160 recruited from other countries. Eighty- five of those recruits were Canadians working abroad.

According to that article, more than 150 researchers, scientists and others have come home to Canada in the past three years. The Chrétien Liberal government's policies are working to drive a new brain gain.

This government also introduced policies to encourage innovation, research and development, and not just in one part of Canada, but policies that take advantage of the new technologies to make opportunities available to Canadians across the country, in rural communities as well as in urban communities.

There is the Canada Child Tax Benefit, which provides critical assistance to children in low-income families. The most recent budget announced that this assistance would increase to $10 billion by 2007.

There is $900 million over five years to help the provinces and territories increase quality childcare and early learning opportunities.

Honourable senators, I could continue listing the impressive legacy Prime Minister Chrétien will leave to Canadians. However, leaders of parties also leave legacies to those parties. Let us compare the legacies of each leader to his respective party.

Prime Minister Mulroney left the Conservative party decimated, broke and reduced to a fading shadow of its former self. He left with his party and himself receiving single-digit approval ratings that have barely, if at all, improved over the last 10 years, a party clinging by its fingernails to a few seats on the East Coast, a party that is a non-factor in the rest of the great nation and will soon be pried loose even from the Atlantic.

Prime Minister Chrétien will leave his party, after three majority governments, strong and well-funded. The Liberal Party is currently above 50 per cent in the polls, 40 per cent above its closest rival, which by the way, is not the poor Tory party. The Liberal Party today is strong from sea to sea to sea, with a succession plan in place that may, if anything, even strengthen and increase its national appeal, particularly when compared to any of the alternatives.

I would suggest, honourable senators, opposite —

Senator St. Germain: We do not need the honourable senator's suggestions.

Senator Maheu: Listen, listen.

An Hon. Senator: Keep an open mind.

Senator Bryden: I would suggest that, rather than pick and choose minor negatives that are so easy to find, and, perhaps, not surprising, when so much had to be reversed from the Mulroney years to save the nation from bankruptcy and then go forward with a vision for the 21st century, honourable senators should have asked these questions: What happened to the Conservative party? Under whose watch did it cease to be a political force in Canada? Honourable senators on the other side were all there on that watch. Honourable senators should have asked: How can this continuing decline be reversed? Those question would make for an extremely interesting and valuable inquiry.

Our system works best when there is a strong majority party in the House of Commons and a strong opposition party to keep the governing party accountable and to be a possible alternative to the majority.

For almost 130 years, that has worked exceptionally well for Canada and for Canadians. What has happened? Why, as Senator LeBreton said, is there an ineffective opposition party? Why is there not a strong opposition party? Why is the opposition in the House of Commons splintered into regionally based solitudes? In the inquiry that I am suggesting, we should ask Brian Mulroney and his cohorts why they combined his coalition of separatists and right-wingers from the West with separatists from Quebec around a withering core to form his "government of opportunity," which disappointed everybody and blew apart into splinters of Reform, Alliance, the Bloc and the remainder.

Honourable senators, I began by characterizing Senator LeBreton's supposed inquiry as a type of an apology for the performance of the Tory government under Brian Mulroney. Ten senators opposite have already spoken in this apologia. Thankfully, there are more to draw from — not many left, but there are some more — because there is a great deal to apologize for.

Senator St. Germain: I have a question.

Senator Bryden: Is the honourable senator asking me whether I will take a question?

Senator St. Germain: Yes, sir.

Senator Bryden: No, I will not.

Senator St. Germain: Character assassin, horrific little man. Would not even take a question. Shameful!

[Translation]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I find it odd that, after having granted Senator Bryden permission to continue the debate on interpretation in hopes of being able to question him afterwards, he abuses our kindness and continues his attacks. Yet, he refuses to let us ask him questions. The next time he begs leave to continue a debate, I can assure you that I will not grant him this leave.

Senator St. Germain: Exactly.

[English]

On motion of Senator Eyton, debate adjourned.

(1550)

The Senate

Allotment of Time for Tributes—Motion Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lapointe, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gill:

That Rule 22 of the Rules of the Senate be amended by adding after subsection (9) the following:

"Tributes

(10) At the request of the Government Leader in the Senate or the Leader of the Opposition, the time provided for the consideration of "Senators' Statements" shall be extended by no more than fifteen minutes on any one day for the purpose of paying tribute to a Senator or to a former Senator, and by such further time as may be taken for the response under subsection (13).

Time limits

(11) The Speaker shall advise the Senate of the amount of time to be allowed for each intervention by Senators paying tribute, which shall not exceed three minutes; a Senator may speak only once.

No leave

(12) Where a Senator seeks leave to speak after the fifteen minutes allocated for Tributes has expired, the Speaker shall not put the question.

Response

(13) After all tributes have been completed, the Senator to whom tribute is being paid may respond.

Senate Publications

(14) The tributes and response given under subsections (10) to (13) shall appear under the separate heading "Tributes" in the Journals of the Senate and the Debates of the Senate.

No bar

(15) Nothing in this rule prevents a Senator from paying tribute to another Senator or to a former Senator at any other time allowed under these rules.

Other tributes

(16) Nothing in this rule prevents an allocation of time for tributes to persons who are not Senators or former Senators."—(Honourable Senator Hubley).

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I should like to speak briefly to this motion, and I do so from the vantage point of having served as Deputy Speaker of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly — a relatively small and intimate House where Parliamentary rules and decorum are respected but where the matters of debate and discussion at times can be very local and community-flavoured. Nowhere is this local flavour and personality more evident than in the statements by members that begin the daily routine of business. I can recall a former colleague of mine — a very effective legislator — rising in the House each spring to publicly announce the opening of Gillis' Drive-in Restaurant and to pay tribute to its fine cheeseburgers and onion rings. Gillis' Drive-in is a very popular eating establishment in that gentleman's hometown.

Many other community institutions, events and people are similarly celebrated in these statements. Members' statements remain a significant part of the daily routine of our provincial legislature and are vigorously guarded and protected, especially by backbench members who view them as a unique opportunity to reflect their local constituencies. Admittedly, there were occasions when the content of these statements crossed the line of public relevancy, but most of the time they contributed to the overall proceedings and the Chair always enforced the designated time limits.

Recognition of guests is a separate part of the daily routine in the Prince Edward Island Legislature, and the Speaker also allows statements of sympathy and eulogy for prominent Islanders, including, of course, members of the House itself.

All of this contributes immeasurably, in my view, to the character and personality of our provincial assembly. Of course, the provincial legislatures are very much creatures of the federal Parliament, and our federal parliamentary practices and traditions are drawn in turn from those of the mother Parliament at Westminster.

At the very centre of all this is the right of a member to speak. In this chamber, Senators' Statements is an extremely important part of our routine, whether to note the tragic death of a head of state, as Senator Graham did several weeks ago; or to rally support around a beleaguered community, as Senator Cochrane did so eloquently on behalf of the people of Badger, Newfoundland.

Honourable senators, these are matters of public interest and concern, without question, and, as such, deserve to be spoken about in this chamber. However, I also believe that we must be careful not to abuse or trivialize our right to speak by taking an inordinate amount of time to address a particular matter. When this happens, our judgment and credibility run the risk of being called into question.

The intent of Senator Lapointe's motion, as I understand it, is to better manage the time for senators to pay tributes to their colleagues. The proposed rule changes would accomplish this. It is certainly our prerogative to amend or otherwise change the rules. However, in this instance, I do not think it is prudent to do so. It has been my own experience that the broadest possible latitude should be given to discussion and debate in any legislative forum and that to be prescriptive is usually not the best approach. Instead, we should defer to the judgment and discretion of the Chair, in whom all members have confidence.

There will be occasions when the proverbial menu at Gillis' Drive-in becomes a topic for discussion or when tributes and other statements take far too long. However, I would prefer to let the proceedings retain their elasticity and flexibility.

[Translation]

Hon. Jean Lapointe: Honourable senators, I am not familiar with the rules, but since no one has adjourned the debate, could the Chair advise me on what procedure should be followed?

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Lapointe has the right of reply, but should he speak to the motion, it will have the effect of closing the debate. We would then deal with the question. If other senators wish to speak to the motion, they should inform the house and either speak to the motion or adjourn the debate.

[Translation]

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the motion before us was already considered by the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedure and the Rights of Parliament during the previous session. It would be appropriate for the Senate to ask this committee to consider the Honourable Senator Lapointe's motion. The committee could report back to the Senate and indicate if certain opinions have changed, if this or another way would best achieve Senator Lapointe's objective of allowing senators to express their opinions within the limited amount of time this house has at its disposal.

Senator Lapointe: Honourable senators, I want to be concise about my suggestion to the committee, which made a recommendation. Twelve or thirteen people spoke on this. To date, only one comment was negative. I do not see the point of referring the motion back to the committee over and over again.

My speech is a very brief one. I want to thank all those who have supported me. I have nothing more to add. I have prepared responses to all the questions raised in connection with the time allotted to tributes. No senator has been slighted, because the changes do not reduce the rights of senators in any way. Four or five minutes is enough time for a senator to pay tribute. If necessary, the Speaker can always seek leave for additional time. A senator may take advantage of Senators' Statements, Motions or Inquiries to pay tribute to someone.

My purpose and my contribution are very simple. I have nothing at all against tributes to departed or departing senators or persons of note. There is a time for that, and a time limit. I have seen an hour and twenty minutes of tributes for a senator who did not want them. That was what made me see the light. If people want to pay tribute to others, let them do it by letter.

[English]

An Hon. Senator: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Lapointe, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gill:

That Rule 22 of the Rules of the Senate be amended by adding, after subsection (9), the following:

Senator Prud'homme: Dispense.

An Hon. Senator: Honourable senators, I think we should hear the motion.

The Hon. the Speaker: I will continue with the motion:

"Tributes

(10) At the request of the Government Leader in the Senate or the Leader of the Opposition, the time provided for the consideration of "Senators' Statements" shall be extended by no more than fifteen minutes on any one day for the purpose of paying tribute to a Senator or to a former Senator, and by such further time as may be taken for the response under subsection (13).

Time limits

(11) The Speaker shall advise the Senate of the amount of time to be allowed for each intervention by Senators paying tribute, which shall not exceed three minutes; a Senator may speak only once.

(1600)

No leave

(12) Where a Senator seeks leave to speak after the fifteen minutes allocated for Tributes has expired, the Speaker shall not put the question.

Response

(13) After all tributes have been completed, the Senator to whom tribute is being paid may respond.

Senate Publications

(14) The tributes and response given under subsections (10) to (13) shall appear under the separate heading "Tributes" in the Journals of the Senate and the Debates of the Senate.

No bar

(15) Nothing in this rule prevents a Senator from paying tribute to another Senator or to a former Senator at any other time allowed under these rules.

Other tributes

(16) Nothing in this rule prevents an allocation of time for tributes to persons who are not Senators or former Senators.

All those in favour of the motion will please say "Yea".

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please say "Nay".

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: I believe the yeas have it.

An Hon. Senator: On division.

Motion agreed to, on division.

[Translation]

Transport

State of Air Travel in Canada— Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Cochrane calling the attention of the Senate to the state of air travel in Canada.—(Honourable Senator Comeau).

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, following the events of recent days caused by the war in Iraq and severe acute respiratory syndrome, the terrible disease that has led people to put off their travel plans, I wish to reconsider my comments about Air Canada. I would like to move adjournment and go back to the beginning of the Orders of the Day.

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the honourable senator has already spoken on the issue. He is asking for adjournment to conclude his remarks at a later time. This has the effect of making us start over again, without the need for a motion.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Robichaud's point is that if the honourable senator is starting his speech and wishes to adjourn now for the balance of his time, then that will have the effect that he is looking for, pursuant to our rules.

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

Motion agreed to.

Possible Closure of Fishery for Northern and Gulf Cod Stock

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Joan Cook rose pursuant to notice of March 18, 2003:

That she 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.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak of yet another threat to the cod fishery in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The collapse of the cod fishery in the early 1990s represented one of the most challenging points in the history of my province. It challenged our prosperity, our culture and the future of our communities. Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans faced that challenge with a commitment to ensure that such a crisis would never be repeated. In the face of that crisis, families and communities made hard choices.

Honourable senators, it is now some 10 years later. On November 20, 2002, the Minister of Fisheries, the Honourable Robert Thibault, indicated that areas of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery might be closed. The NAFO areas under consideration are gulf area 3Pn4RS, and northern cod, which is area 2J3KL. These closures would, once again, create economic uncertainty, casting a shadow over the future of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.

In response to this announcement, the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly unanimously called for the establishment of an all-party committee involving the leaders of all parties in the House as well as all members of Parliament, including senators. The first meeting was held in early December 2002, here in Ottawa.

The committee was directed to prepare a common position on the possible fisheries closures, identifying needed measures to aid the recovery of the cod stocks, and to assist those who would be significantly impacted by the closures.

As part of its work, the all-party committee has sought the views of experts in fisheries science, management and development, and has consulted with key industry stakeholders on the most appropriate path ahead.

On Monday, March 17, the committee presented its report entitled, "2J3KL, 3Pn4RS Position 2003," to the Minister of Fisheries and officials of DFO, and to the chairs and members of the House of Commons and Senate committees on Fisheries and Oceans.

This comprehensive report sets out a direction based on certainty, stability and sustainability. The four objectives are: to rebuild and conserve these stocks as valuable renewable resources for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; to achieve an effective and sustainable approach for the management and development of these cod stocks; to maximize the benefits available from the province's renewable marine fish resources; and to further diversify and develop the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, including the fishing and aquaculture industries.

The report sets out an action plan of 19 recommendations that will ensure cod stock rebuilding and management. This report sets out a vision for opportunities; opportunities to assist the private sector to further develop and diversify the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, including the province's fishing and aquaculture industries. Partnerships between governments, industry, and regional development organizations, through cost- sharing agreements, are considered to be the best approach to economic development.

The committee believes that simply closing the fishery is not the answer. There has been considerable debate regarding scientific uncertainty. Many questions have been raised concerning the assessment process and models used in the determination of the 3Pn4RS stock status. There is widespread agreement that it is at the ecosystem level that future science must focus. To concentrate on the science of cod in isolation of other components of the ecosystem will do little to aid the stock rebuilding process, or to support a sustainable and viable fishing industry.

Honourable senators, closure of this fishery will mean that 4,400 fish harvesters and plant workers will be directly affected. Four hundred plant workers will lose employment, 1,500 workers will suffer reduced incomes, with many losing access to seasonal EI benefits, and approximately 2,500 harvesters in the small boat sector, which are vessels under 33 feet, would suffer income loss.

The closure would cost the provincial economy roughly $35 million in exports and $40 million in gross domestic product annually. Losses in personal income would be around $48 million per year. The impact will be the greatest on those individuals who are already experiencing the lowest income.

These impacts will have a particularly significant effect on female harvesters. Because of their role in child and elder care, women are much less mobile than men. This limited mobility greatly impedes women's access to retraining and other employment opportunities.

(1610)

In conclusion, honourable senators, the possible closure of the northern and gulf cod fisheries has, once again, challenged our fishing industry and the communities that depend on these stocks for their survival.

Charting a course for these critical stocks must be done in partnership with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the industry and the scientific community. Clearly, it must be done in consultation with the people and communities that depend on those resources for their livelihood. There must be a long-term vision that provides for stability, certainty and sustainability.

The appropriate approach, the all-party committee believes, is for the Government of Canada to prepare and implement a holistic plan of action to address the health of the province's cod resources and the fishing industry that depends upon these resources.

I am confident that I speak for all members of the all-party committee when I say that we look forward to working with the federal government and the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry stakeholders to address the challenges that lie ahead.

Honourable senators, copies of this comprehensive report are available by contacting my office. The report can also be accessed on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Web site as well.

Honourable senators, I thank you for your understanding and ask for your support in this important initiative.

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I wish to congratulate Senator Cook for bringing this forward and for her excellent speech.

On motion of Senator Rompkey, debate adjourned.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Legal Aid—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck, pursuant to notice of March 19, 2003, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be authorized to study the status of Legal Aid in Canada and the difficulties experienced by many low-income Canadians in acquiring adequate legal aid for both criminal and civil matters.

She said: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and pursuant to rule 30, I should like to modify my motion by adding after the words "civil matters" the following: "and that the committee report no later than December 31, 2003."

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the subject of access to legal aid in Canada. In 2001, after having been approached by several people in my province who could not access our justice system, I initiated an inquiry on this subject. My inquiry received a great deal of support, and a number of senators spoke on it; however, it ended with prorogation.

Given the magnitude of the problem at hand, I feel that the issue warrants an in-depth study, which is why I am moving that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be authorized to study this issue.

However, honourable senators, before I go into greater detail about the problems and consequences of the current legal aid system in Canada, I should like to provide a brief history of legal aid in this country.

The concept of legal aid was developed in the 1970s as a means of providing legal assistance to accused people who had low income. Beginning with criminal legal aid in 1973, the federal government, through the Department of Justice, entered into cost-sharing agreements with provinces. For civil law matters, funding schemes were developed later in the 1970s and were part of the Canada Assistance Plan, CAP, with the federal government providing 50-cent dollars to the provinces. For both criminal and civil matters, the provinces retained control over how legal aid would be administered and provided.

In 1990, the federal government capped its contribution to criminal legal aid at approximately $86 million. However, in the past two years, new money has been given to criminal legal aid. Just last month, in his budget, the Minister of Finance included an increase of $89 million for criminal legal aid over the next two years.

The Department of Justice is mandated with administering the criminal legal aid program and, as such, there is a certain measure of accountability and transparency. However, the situation for civil legal aid is much different.

Legal aid for civil law matters moved out of the Canada Assistance Plan in 1994-95 into the Canada Health and Social Transfer. This meant that the 50-cent dollars previously provided by legal aid services were discontinued. As part of the CHST, civil legal aid suddenly found itself completing for dollars with health care, education and other prominent issues.

The unfortunate result is an under-funded and ineffectual legal aid regime that does not respond to the needs of the people it should serve. As the Minister of Justice recently stated, "There are mounting pressures on the legal aid system which, if left unchecked, could compromise the very integrity of Canada's justice system."

I believe the integrity of our justice system has been compromised. That is why I was disappointed, but not surprised, when I saw the report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which came out the first week of March. The report on Canada was the most critical that our country has ever received. The United Nations focused on the failure of our civil legal aid system and the impact of that failure on Canada's women and children who are living in poverty.

The United Nations committee called upon the Canadian government to "ensure that enough legal aid is available to women for cases involving civil and family law and poverty law issues." While this report focuses specifically on women and children, I can tell you that the problem goes beyond this demographic. The problem affects all of Canada's low-income population, which often includes people with disabilities, recent immigrants and Aboriginal peoples.

Civil legal aid encompasses both poverty law and family law. Poverty law includes cases of people who have lost employment, who need to obtain disability or income security benefits such as CPP, or who have problems with debt bankruptcy or landlords. In most provinces, these problems are given the lowest priority.

For example, massive cuts to the British Columbia civil legal aid program have resulted in the closure of many family law clinics and the elimination of coverage for poverty law. Earlier this year, the Manitoba legal aid board also eliminated all poverty law coverage, most family law coverage and some special criminal law coverage.

The civil legal aid system in Canada is very fragmented, as each province and territory sets its own standards for legal aid, establishes what is covered and sets eligibility levels for those who apply for legal aid coverage. Across Canada, eligibility levels are usually well below the poverty line, and the areas for law for which people can obtain legal aid coverage is becoming increasingly narrow. Legal aid coverage across Canada is very inconsistent because there are no national standards. For example, a woman in one province might be able to receive support to help with child custody and support matters, whereas a woman living in a neighbouring province might not be entitled to the same support. The fragmented coverage also means that coverage is only available for specific legal problems and procedures. As a result, lawyers cannot always provide full service to a legal aid client, as the funding is only available to cover certain aspects of that problem.

(1620)

I believe this breakdown in our civil legal aid system is a tragedy that threatens people's rights and undermines the rule of law in this country. Some Canadians have lost confidence in the justice system, and this trend will continue unless we start looking at ways to repair the damage.

There are a number of reasons that access to legal aid needs to be studied — most importantly, to ensure that the rights of Canadians are not being violated. As Senator Hubley pointed out when speaking on this issue, the equality rights section of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone is equal before and under the law and that everyone has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination. Moreover, section 7 and section 11(d) seemingly give everyone the right to be presumed innocent and the right not to be deprived of life, liberty and security, except as a result of a fair trial. In addition, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states unequivocally that someone accused of a criminal act has the right to legal assistance without payment. We need to ensure the rights that we have fought so hard to establish for Canadians are not being denied.

A study should also be done, as there is no national forum in which policy discussions about civil legal aid can take place. Only the courts are setting standards. To date, they have only provided these standards in the area of criminal law. Our courts have not yet established the constitutional right to civil legal aid, although litigation is starting up across the country and such pronouncements may soon be before us.

It should also be recognized that the failure and fragmentation of the legal aid system has serious social and administrative costs in other areas. For example, a parent who cannot get child support due to a lack of coverage in the family legal aid area often resorts to social services funding to make up the shortfall. Judges and court staff are spending an increasing amount of time working with those who are not able to get representation through legal aid to help them prepare and complete their trials. They have less time to do their regular work, and the efficiency of the justice system is suffering.

Another problem, which I have not yet mentioned, is an important area that was raised by Senator Chalifoux when she spoke on this issue — the challenges that our Aboriginal people face when seeking legal aid. In many remote areas, there are no permanent legal aid lawyers, and many of those who require legal aid face significant language barriers.

If those who should be able to benefit from legislation cannot because of a lack of access to a lawyer, then our legislative efforts as parliamentarians have been essentially wasted.

Honourable senators, as Senator Cook noted when she spoke on this issue, the issues before the court are very different than they were 30 years ago when legal aid services first became available. Legal aid policies and programs must be adjusted to meet today's legal needs. Canadian lawyers have been arguing this for some time. During her tenure as Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Senator Milne wrote to lawyers across the country, asking them to provide her with their thoughts on issues they felt were of concern. As she noted in this chamber, she did not provide any guidance as to what issues should be discussed, but an overwhelming 75 per cent of respondents pointed to a lack of resources in the legal aid system as being problematic.

Indeed, frustration over the status of legal aid in Canada has prompted lawyers to take action. In August of last year, the Canadian Bar Association, which represents approximately 37,000 lawyers, announced that it will be launching a series of lawsuits across the country against the federal and provincial governments in an effort to obtain legal help for those who are being denied counsel. As Daphne Dumont, the past president of the Canadian Bar Association, was quoted in the National Post:

The challenge has begun, the litigation strategy is because we have failed to get through to government funders.

As honourable senators can see, and as the international community now sees from the UN report I mentioned earlier, doing nothing is no longer an option. I believe it is imperative for a national body to enter this debate and initiate the policy analysis that is so badly needed. I firmly believe that a Senate committee would be well suited to undertake such a task.

As senators, we in this chamber are charged with protecting the rights and interests of all Canadians. Over the years, we have helped to focus greater attention on those people in our society whose rights and interests have been overlooked. The rights and interests of low-income Canadians are being overlooked with regard to access to justice. In many cases, these people are impoverished and may not speak out, as they are embarrassed about their situation. These people deserve a public forum.

The Senate has the opportunity to become the first national forum where these issues would be publicly discussed. If the Senate does not enter this vacuum and take leadership in this area, the only guidance our policymakers can anticipate will come from the courts, which will be responding on an ad hoc basis to scattered applications that come before them. Allowing the courts to set standards for legal aid coverage province by province on a case-by-case basis is a risky game for governments to play. It will not help to solve the inequities in the legal aid system.

As honourable senators can see, there are a number of areas that the committee could look at in undertaking a study on this issue. It could examine the policy basis for legal aid in this country, looking at both our domestic and international rights obligations. It could examine the costs of providing legal aid, as well as the impact of insufficient funding. It could examine discrepancies in coverage among different provinces and, perhaps most importantly, it could examine the role of the federal government in legal aid policy development and funding. As both Senators Oliver and Day noted in speaking on this issue, there are a number roles that the federal government could look at, including making wider use of mediation and arbitration.

Honourable senators, I believe that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs can do this. The committee can obtain expert input, use the resources of our fellow senators, define the debate and recommend policy. It would be an historic contribution that would help to ensure that the rights of Canadians are upheld and the rule of law is preserved.

On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.

Human Rights

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Legal Issues Affecting On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property on Breakdown of Marriage or Common Law Relationship—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Shirley Maheu, pursuant to notice of March 27, 2003, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to examine and report upon key legal issues affecting the subject of on-reserve matrimonial real property on the breakdown of a marriage or common law relationship and the policy context in which they are situated.

In particular, the Committee shall be authorized to examine:

- The interplay between provincial and federal laws in addressing the division of matrimonial property (both personal and real) on-reserve and, in particular, enforcement of court decisions;

- The practice of land allotment on-reserve, in particular with respect to custom land allotment;

- In a case of marriage or common-law relationships, the status of spouses and how real property is divided on the breakdown of the relationship; and

- Possible solutions that would balance individual and community interest.

That the Committee report to the Senate no later than June 27, 2003.

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

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I was anticipating that Senator Maheu would provide an explanation so that I could ask a question for clarification.

Senator Maheu: Yes, I meant to speak to the issue. It had been confirmed by both leaderships in the Senate that the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights undertake this important study.

(1630)

Following this understanding, I received a formal request from the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to undertake a short-term study on the division of unreserved matrimonial real property. Following that request, I consulted with all members of the committee. All but one, who wanted to consult her leadership, agreed that there were many issues touching human rights and that they would like to undertake this study.

The minister clearly indicated that this is a short-term study and is asking the committee to report on or about June 27. Because both the Aboriginal and Legal Affairs Committees already have a heavy workload, I understand that it would be difficult for those committees to undertake this particular study.

This study does involve a number of human rights issues, particularly for Aboriginal women. I feel, as do the committee members, that the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights is the proper committee to address these types of human rights issues while studying the division of unreserved matrimonial real property. The committee is comprised of members with the expertise to take on the study. It also has the appropriate support staff who have already used their expertise for a study of this nature. I am confident that the committee could be very effective. Senator Chalifoux would be working with the Human Rights Committee throughout this study.

Senator Kinsella: I wonder if Senator Maheu would help me in my understanding of the motion.

The notice of motion was presented on March 27. It is under the letterhead of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. Unlike the previous motion that we have just commenced to debate — a motion for a committee to do a study proposed by an individual senator — this motion is from the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. Am I correct in that understanding?

Senator Maheu: Partially correct. The motion was typed on the letterhead of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, but I believe the original discussion and request for the study was undertaken by the leadership on both sides of the Senate.

Senator Kinsella: I was not involved in those discussions, but perhaps my colleague was. Notwithstanding that, is it correct that the honourable senator is presenting this proposal in her capacity as Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights?

Senator Maheu: Yes, following the request of leadership. I understand that my honourable friend was at one of the meetings, but he can correct me if I am wrong. I was told that he was present.

When the minister was told that the Human Rights Committee could conduct the study, he forwarded another request that we, indeed, handle it.

Senator Kinsella: Our memory, as we grow older, is not as great as it was before. I do not have any recollection of this. Nevertheless, I am more concerned that if the committee said this is a study it wishes to undertake and the chair of the committee presents the motion, it is very important for the chamber to know that this motion comes from one of our standing committees.

At what meeting of the Human Rights Committee did this discussion take place? Is there a record of that discussion? Was a motion put forward and adopted by the Human Rights Committee to present this motion to the Senate?

Senator Maheu: The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights meets every second week. When we have weeks off, Senate committees do not meet. Consequently, it would have taken a long time to reach committee members and have a motion passed. Contact with committee members was made individually, except for one member who has never been able to attend and advises me that he is not free to be a member of the committee.

Senator Kinsella: Could the senator advise the house whether these bilateral consultations between members of the Human Rights Committee took place before or after March 21?

Senator Maheu: I am sorry, honourable senators; I do not have the exact date. I could check it out. I am sure our leadership would have the date.

Senator Kinsella: The honourable senator has made reference to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. I believe that the minister wrote to the Chair of our Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights on March 21. It is a three- page letter, which I would be happy to table, wherein the minister asks the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights to do the study.

I have a couple of difficulties with this. First, if we examine the Rules of the Senate, and the mandate of our various committees, rule 86(1)(k)(v) makes it very clear that issues relating to marriage and divorce fall within the purview of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Rule 86(1)(q) defines the mandate of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, wherein it states that the committee is to deal with issues or matters relating to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Rule 86(1) provides for the mandate of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. I cannot understand how the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development or his advisers would write a letter to the Chair of the Human Rights Committee, when clearly the issue should be dealt with either by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs or the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Why did the minister write to my honourable friend and not to the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, or, which I believe would have been more appropriate, to the honourable senator who chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples?

Senator Maheu: As I thought I had explained, I understand the leadership was approached on the issue because the Aboriginal Peoples Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee already have extremely heavy workloads.

(1640)

I understand that the leadership on both sides discussed the issue and decided that, because there are so many human rights issues, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights should and could look at the issue. From there, I believe the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was advised. The leadership on the government side of the Senate proceeded to ask us to go ahead, and the minister forwarded a letter to that effect.

Senator Kinsella: I have a final question. I thank the honourable senator for her answers.

Many honourable senators are fully cognizant of the tremendous resources that the line ministries have available to them and that we do not have available to us. The budget of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is humongous. That department could undertake significant studies with a very small dent in its budget. The minister's letter lays out in some detail the areas that he would like to have examined, building upon the study done by Ms. Cornet in the discussion paper "Matrimonial Real Property on Reserve."

I am curious as to why the committee, when it was debating whether to submit this motion to the Senate, felt that the department could not carry out the study, particularly when the minister has a very clear idea of what he wants looked into. It seems to me, at least, that we might some day receive a piece of legislation from that minister, and we might want to husband our limited resources to be able to do a thorough study of whatever legislation the minister brings in. The policy dimension seems to be clear: the minister understands the policy that he is articulating. He is almost, from my reading of the minister's letter, proposing a sort of "pre-pre-study." I am not convinced. That is why I ask of the honourable senator: Why does the department not do the study, instead of taking our very limited resources? The minister has presented an excellent outline of a study. Why does the minister not do it himself?

Senator Maheu: Honourable senators, I suspect that the minister knows the Senate quite well. Our reputation has preceded us. Certainly, Senator Chalifoux has dedicated her life to women's issues in the Aboriginal community. That, also, is well-known.

Speaking of Senate resources, I cannot foresee the cost being tremendous. If we experience a lack of resources in the Senate, I feel that the department will help us out if need be. I also realize that Senate independence is very important to senators. If we can find money to conduct special studies elsewhere, I am sure we can afford the little cost involved in doing this study for native women and for the minister. Perhaps he will table legislation. Of course, that would go to the proper committee.

I might add, honourable senators, that our researcher on the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, in her other life, was totally devoted to Aboriginal women's issues. The resources that we have at our disposal are phenomenal. It would be unfortunate if, because of possibly several procedures not being perfect, we decided not to do this study.

Senator Kinsella: If I have understood what the honourable senator has just said, I share with her high esteem for the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. Would the honourable senator not agree, then, that that would be the more appropriate committee to undertake this study, if the Senate agrees that it should be undertaken?

Senator Maheu: Honourable senators, I have already responded. I believe Senator Chalifoux is still the chair of the Aboriginal Committee. If she is not, she has been the chair, and she has said that that committee just does not have the time to look at this type of short-term study. I gather from our leadership that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs does not have the time either. That is the reason that Senator Chalifoux has said, "I will be at all of your meetings and I will certainly devote all the time that I have when I am not on Aboriginal affairs."

[Translation]

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would like to move adjournment of the debate to have time to discuss the date on which the committee will submit its report. We have asked committees to table their reports when the Senate is sitting. June 27 seems to me to be rather late, and this is why I would like to see this discussed, so that the committee can present its report when the Senate is sitting.

[English]

Senator Maheu: It would be our intent to present the report when the Senate is sitting, honourable senators. The motion reads: "no later than." I totally agree that no report should be deposited if the Senate is not sitting. I thought we had changed the rules on that issue, and that reports should be deposited when the Senate is sitting.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Robichaud, are you moving adjournment of the debate?

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, since the Chair of the committee assures me that the report will be presented only if the Senate is sitting, I accept her assurances.

On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Carney, debate adjourned.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, April 2, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.