Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
May 5 to May 11 marks National Hospice Palliative Care Week in Canada. This
annual event is a time to raise awareness about palliative care issues, but it
is also a time for all of us to stop and personally reflect about the way in
which we, as Canadians, face the end of our lives. Quality end-of-life care is
an important issue for Canadians. As Minister with Special Responsibility for
Palliative Care, I do my best to ensure that every Canadian has a right to a
quality end of life.
This year, in particular, I am so proud to celebrate National Hospice
Palliative Care Week because the Government of Canada, together with our key
partners, has achieved a great deal. For the first time, loved ones taking time
off work to care for the dying will be entitled to compassionate care leave
under Canada's Employment Insurance Program. I consider that a remarkable
This morning at a special breakfast in the Senate foyer, some of us gathered
to celebrate our success in improving the quality and availability of palliative
care for Canadians.
Caring for a loved one at the end of life is never easy; yet, every day,
thousands of caregivers across this country give generously to offer care and
comfort to those facing the end of their lives.
I ask honourable senators to join me in congratulating and thanking these
very special people who quietly and bravely provide dignity and support to the
dying. Quality palliative care would simply not be possible without the
countless volunteers, health professionals and community workers who, every day,
contribute to our high level of palliative care.
This year, almost 10,000 volunteers and participants gave to palliative care
in a different way. They took part in the first-ever national fundraiser for
hospice palliative care. The Hike for Hospice was held on Sunday in 78 different
communities across Canada, and I was pleased to walk with them in Winnipeg. The
walks raised awareness and close to $300,000 for hospice palliative care. I
congratulate everyone who donned walking shoes to Hike for Hospice. I am sure
this event will continue well into the future.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, the sun came out Sunday
morning at Sailors' Memorial at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax to shine on the
ceremonies marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. At a
colourful ceremony, rows of uniformed veterans paid tribute to the Canadians who
lost their lives during the battle.
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest and, arguably, the most critical
campaign of the Second World War. From the beginning of the war in September
1939 until its end in May 1945, Canadian sailors and merchant seamen endured
raging storms, pack ice, bitter cold and the dense darkness of the North
Atlantic nights in an attempt to deliver supplies to England.
In 1943, the Allies managed to turn the tide against the German submarine
fleet and take control of the Atlantic sea lanes. Canadian ships sank 27 enemy
submarines and sank, captured or destroyed 42 enemy ships. During the war,
merchant ships carried 182 million tons of cargo to the United Kingdom under
Canadian escort. Some 90,000 tons of war supplies passed daily toward the
battlefields in Europe.
Dozens of wreaths were laid in remembrance of the more than 900 aircrew
killed during the Battle of the Atlantic. Between 1939 and 1945, over 1,700 navy
personnel lost their lives due to enemy action. A moving moment at the ceremony
was when a wreath was laid by 93- year-old retired Rear Admiral Desmond Piers of
Chester. The commemorative ceremony in Halifax was attended by hundreds and
consisted of prayer readings and the battle's Last Post roll calls of the HMC
ships and the Canadian merchant ships.
Honourable senators, Nova Scotia's role in the protection of Canada during
World War II was significant. Nova Scotia's 580-kilometre- long peninsula is
surrounded by water. With an area of 55,000 square kilometres and average width
of 128 kilometres, no part of the province is far from the sea. Canadian Forces
service people monitored messages transmitted by German boats in the Atlantic
Ocean and detected their location based on the signal. Without such monitoring
services, Canada would not have been secured during the Second World War.
The Second World War also emphasized the importance of Halifax, Nova Scotia's
capital, as one of the world's major military ports. Halifax was the marshalling
point for ships crossing the North Atlantic in convoys during World War II.
Honourable senators, as the sun set Sunday evening, I was reminded of the
day's events. The importance of Halifax during the war, like the soldiers who
lost their lives, will not be forgotten.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw
your attention to the fact that this month is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that can be
very disabling. It is among the most common of neurological diseases in Canada,
with more than three people being diagnosed with the disease each day — women
developing the disease twice as often as men. MS can lead to a loss of balance,
impaired speech, impaired vision, paralysis and extreme fatigue.
The causes of this disease are not yet known. However, researchers are
learning more about the disease every day. There are some medications that have
been approved in Canada to help decrease the frequency and severity of MS
attacks. Researchers working with the MS Society are working on six areas:
repairing and growing myelin, a protective covering of the brain and spinal cord
that is attacked by MS; the immune system; virus research; genetics; MRI
studies; and health research. Together, this research is aimed at understanding
the disease, looking for a cure, and helping people diagnosed with MS to cope
with the disease.
I would like to congratulate the MS Society of Canada and all the volunteers
for their hard work. This society was founded by volunteers and is maintained by
the dedication of approximately 13,500 volunteers across the country. Last year,
during the annual carnation campaign, volunteers sold $1-million worth of
carnations to support MS research. Volunteers are also crucial to service and
support activities that help people with MS to manage and cope with the disease.
I would also like to thank all of those who have supported MS research. I am
sure that this year's carnation campaign, being held on Mother's Day weekend,
will be as successful as last year's and will help to bring us closer to
understanding and treating this disease.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, living in a
democratic country such as Canada, with the right to express our joys and
sorrows, enables us to constantly question our true values. This is the
situation today for the residents of the Acadian peninsula and the entire
province of New Brunswick. On Sunday, April 20, a young Acadian named Wilfred
LeBouthillier filled all Acadians with pride as he performed before 4 million
television viewers all over the country.
With his talent, perseverance and naturalness, Wilfred has been a fabulous
ambassador for Acadia.
Honourable senators, this morning's The Globe and Mail, May 6,
presents Wilfred LeBouthillier as an Acadian idol. He was crowned champion of
Star Académie, Quebec television's hit version of American Idol. Quoting
The Globe and Mail:
Hysterical fans literally kiss the pavement in front of his family's
It is true.
Sceptics may say that it is just a big media operation for seeking votes, but
to quote our colleague, artist Viola Léger, charisma and talent cannot be bought
at any price. Wilfred is an example of this.
Unfortunately, two weeks later, on May 2 and 3, the same Acadian peninsula
was reeling with shock and dismay at the fires and damage in Shippagan. We must
all speak out loud and clear against such acts of violence.
Premier Bernard Lord has done so, saying that such actions are unacceptable
and that there is absolutely no justification for such behaviour.
Yesterday evening I was pleased to see Mr. Noël, the president of the
traditional fishers association — those responsible for distributing the quotas
— telling Radio-Canada's Stéphan Bureau that his association opposed such
So, the pride, joy and euphoria stirred up by Wilfredmania has been replaced
by a storm of violence and destruction. Historically, Acadians are not a violent
people. Senator Robichaud has said: "We were deported in 1755, and we did not
react with violence."
In closing, I would like to quote Serge Roussel, Dean of the Faculty of Law
at the University of Moncton, who wrote, in the Acadie Nouvelle:
In no way must we condone and accept, in a country such as ours, the use
of violence and arson to demonstrate and express frustration and anger.
However, the images of these events are hardly enviable; those of Wilfred
better represent us.
Honourable senators, I would invite you all to come to visit Acadia, to
witness for yourselves the joy, spirit and hospitality of the Acadian people.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, there are two
educational television channels in Ontario: TVO, the English channel, and TFO,
Until recently, Signal, the bilingual, bi-monthly television guide,
gave programming information for both educational channels.
Recently, without notice, TVOntario started distributing Signal in
English only. This decision to publish only in one official language surprised a
great many television viewers.
The real reasons for separating the English and French schedules was not made
public. Neither members of the TFO board, nor francophones or francophiles, of
which there are many in Ontario, were given advance notice of this change. For
some subscribers, this decision is unacceptable and is a step backward for
Franco-Ontarians. I would even go so far as to say that this administrative
decision is divisive for the linguistic communities.
In a letter addressed to Ms. Bassett, CEO of TVO/TFO, I asked her to reverse
the decision and set things right by publishing Signal in both official
languages again. If the decision was made for financial reasons, Ms. Bassett was
given poor advice, and I ask her to reconsider.
Ontario is home to 1,319,715 bilingual people. Whether their names are
Gauthier, Smith, Lesley, Tranchemontagne or Fraser is of no importance; the
names do not indicate the language they use every day or the educational
television they watch in Ontario. Educational television is for both anglophones
In my letter, I told Ms. Bassett that if she intended to separate the
management of TVO and TFO, many people would support her. People have been
saying for a long time that educational television ought to be managed by the
French-language community. If she really wants to separate the two networks, she
is on the right track.
Educational television is an educational institution just like a school, a
college or a university. Perhaps it is time to ask the courts for an
interpretation and to transfer this right to the francophone community. The
anglophone majority manages educational television in Ontario at present.
Perhaps they want to change the system — we shall see.
Hon. E. Leo Kolber: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the date for the presentation by the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce of the final report on its study of the
administration and operation of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the
Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, which was authorized by the Senate on
October 29, 2002, be extended to Thursday, December 18, 2003.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, once again, I have the honour
to present a petition bearing 431 signatures from Canadians in the province of
B.C., including the municipalities of Maple Ridge, Quesnel, Campbell River,
Prince Rupert, Nanaimo, Port Coquitlam; Canadians in the province of Ontario,
including the city of Toronto and the municipalities of Don Mills, Unionville,
Bracebridge, Newmarket, Peterborough and Milton; and Canadians in the province
of Nova Scotia, including the city of Halifax and the municipalities of Trenton
and New Glasgow. These people who signed this petition are researching their
As well, I have signatures from 69 people from the United States and one from
the United Kingdom who are researching their Canadian roots. A total of 501
people are petitioning the following:
Your petitioners call upon Parliament to take whatever steps necessary to
retroactively amend Confidentiality- Privacy clauses of Statistics Acts
since 1906, to allow release to the Public, after a reasonable period of
time, of Post 1901 Census reports starting with the 1906 Census.
I have now presented petitions with 20,987 signatures to this Thirty-seventh
Parliament and petitions with over 6,000 to the Thirty-sixth Parliament, all
calling for immediate action on this important piece of Canadian history, which,
I hope, we can soon give them.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Canadians have recently learned from Minister Copps that some of her cabinet
colleagues go missing in action when their ministry is facing a crisis.
In the aftermath of the violence in Shippagan, New Brunswick, due to the
decision of the Minister of Fisheries to reduce snow crab quotas, when will the
Minister of Fisheries go to Shippagan or, like other Paul Martin ministers, will
he choose to be absent from the action?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I do not accept any of the preamble of the honourable senator's question.
However, my understanding is that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is
quite prepared to meet with fishers in the crab industry later this week.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, can the Leader of the
Government tell the house, then, why the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
reduced the total allowable catch for the snow crab fisheries in New Brunswick
by 5,000 metric tonnes after he failed to reach an agreement with the fishers?
What factors were taken into account when he made that decision?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, first, let us be clear as to
what this is. It is a quota reduction. It is certainly not a fisheries shut
down, which, unfortunately, had to happen with respect to the cod fishery.
The minister is acting in the manner in which he is because the issue of
conservation is paramount and it is absolutely critical that the Minister of
Fisheries and Oceans protect crab as a stock. It is a valuable stock not only
for the Province of New Brunswick but also for the Provinces of Quebec, Nova
Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The value of this stock must be protected to
the very best of the department's ability.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, what is disturbing in this file
is that, after extreme violence in Shippagan, the Minister of Fisheries is
musing about amending his earlier decision by increasing the quotas from 3,000
or 4,000 metric tonnes, almost a complete reversal of his decision to reduce the
fishery quota this year by 5,000 metric tonnes and, as I understand it, for the
good reasons that the minister in this house has indicated, namely, ecological
The question must then be asked: If the minister is so musing, has he
considered the repercussions of such a decision that he has already made to the
ecology and the politics in that area, or must one conclude that the Minister of
Fisheries' earlier decision to reduce the fishery was ill-conceived or that he
is buckling under the pressure of the use of violence as a tool for negotiation?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the operable and most
important issue to keep in mind is co-management and the need to reach a
co-management agreement in which not only the Department of Fisheries is
involved in managing the crab stocks but so, too, are the fishers themselves.
That has not been achieved, and that must be achieved if we are to protect this
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I trust, then, that the
minister and his officials are sticking to the ecological goals of fishery
management and are not being motivated by the violence that we have seen.
In light of the violence that occurred in relation to the cod stock, why was
the minister not suitably prepared so that the violence that we saw in Shippagan
would not have taken place? Where was the minister? We continue to ask that
question. Why did he not ensure that precautions would be taken, knowing, as
anyone would have known, that such an eventuality might present itself?
Furthermore, given the loss of property that we have seen, will the minister go
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, as the honourable senator
indicated, there was a series of violent activities. Interestingly enough, my
information indicates that the minister had discussions with the fishers and the
fisher organizations. They indicated that they were unhappy with a reduction in
quota but they also indicated that they did not believe that any overt action
would be taken, and certainly no violent action.
Honourable senators, I want to comment on the role of the RCMP in this
matter. RCMP officers, who found themselves quite overwhelmed by this incident,
acted with great calm and great maturity in maintaining as their primary
concern, as always it must be, the protection of human life.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators will be pleased to know that, in
the Province of New Brunswick, Premier Lord has two provincial cabinet ministers
in the Acadian peninsula today, just as Premier Eves of Ontario had his Minister
of Health go to Geneva to meet with officials of the WHO. Conversely, it seems
that this government's ministers go into hiding when a crisis has to be faced.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, that is quite wrong. The
minister has not gone into hiding. The minister has been working with his
officials and with the fishers in the community in order to provide calm. I do
not think it would be wise at this time to have a meeting unless we know that
appropriate controls are in place so that the meeting can be a fruitful one.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, in response to Senator
Kinsella's first question, the minister stated that this 5,000-ton reduction of
quota was a conservation measure. Later on, she mentioned the issue of
co-management. Do I understand correctly that the reduction of the original TAC
by 5,000 tons was a tactic by the department to entice the fishermen to come to
the table so that, at that point, the total allowable catch could be raised by
that 5,000 tons?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the issue is one of co-
management. There is no question that the minister would like the crab stocks to
be a co-managed resource. He thinks it is critical for the industry. He believes
that, if they can reach a co- management agreement, there may be an opportunity
to increase the amount of quota. However, it would very much depend on the
willingness of all the fishers, be they inland or offshore, to fully participate
in the co-management of this resource.
Senator Comeau: My understanding — and I am not as familiar with the
management regime in the Shippagan area as probably I would want to be — is that
a co-management regime has been in place in that area for quite a number of
years whereby the crab fishermen pay for most of the science that the department
was unwilling to contribute towards.
There was, in fact, a co-management system. Is it a tactic of the government,
then, to reduce the TAC to get more of what the department wants from the crab
fishermen? Is this a new tactic? This is the first time I have heard about it.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the purpose of any co-
management agreement is exactly the same as reducing quota. It is meant to
ensure that there is adequate crab available to the fishers not just this year
or next year but well into the future. This is an extremely valuable resource.
The cod fishers, frankly, would only wish to have the kind of incomes obtainable
by those who fish for crab. However, that income will not be sustainable unless
supply is managed properly, and co-management is absolutely critical.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I still have difficulty
understanding. I am trying to get to the nature of the problem. I understand the
concept of co-management. The department, along with fishermen, implements a
system of control and conservation measures. What I do not understand is the new
tactic of reducing the TAC so the department can get what it wants. I understood
that the crab fishermen in that area were fishing to quota, not going over
quota, and that they were in fact meeting all conservation measures.
What is the department trying to get from the crab fishermen? As far as I
know, the goal was certainly not to increase conservation measures, nor to exact
conservation ethics out of the crab fishermen.
Senator Carstairs: To the best of my knowledge, honourable senators,
the purpose of this initiative is to get a co-management agreement, which does
not exist at this point. That is what they are doing. The past agreement, to
which the honourable senator has alluded, has now expired. It must be
re-achieved to ensure that appropriate conservation measures are taken.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government of the Senate on the subject of maritime
I have a document acquired under the Access to Information Act, an e-mail
from Raymond Chrétien, Ambassador to France, sent to the PMO's Jean Pelletier
and Eddie Goldenberg, to PCO's Mel Cappe and to then-Deputy Prime Minister Herb
Gray, dated April 3, 2001. That is a couple of years ago. The e-mail outlines
three changes that Eurocopter required to compete for the Maritime Helicopter
Project. The e-mail ends with this sentence:
This is a tremendously important file from both the commercial and
Can the Leader of the Government tell us why the Ambassador to France, a
nephew of the Prime Minister, would write about Eurocopter's concerns to the
Prime Minister's key aides and political advisers in the PMO, the PCO and
cabinet and yet not write to Public Works nor to Treasury Board nor to the
Department of National Defence? Why would Raymond Chrétien involve the PMO and
the PCO? Was he under direction?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
with the greatest respect, I do not know. I suspect the honourable senator did
not think I would have an answer about an e-mail that I have never seen. I will
take the question as notice and try to obtain the information requested with as
much speed as I can.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have two brief
On the document, there is a minute address to André Juneau and François
Guimont that asks if Eurocopter's concerns are true and, if so, why was their
number three concern not picked up in the Letter of Interest process. That is
signed, I believe, by Mel Cappe. Can the leader tell us why the former Clerk of
the Privy Council Office has his hands all over this file?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, no, I cannot give an
explanation for that today. As with the earlier question, I will take it as
notice and do my best to obtain the answer that the honourable senator desires.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, I assume that the Leader of
the Government, who was a member of the government at the time, may not know the
answer to my next question either. Can she tell us why it is that Raymond
Chrétien referred to the Maritime Helicopter Project as a "tremendously
important file from...political perspectives."
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I will not try to interpret
the words of Raymond Chrétien, the Ambassador to France and an individual with
great expertise. Mr. Chrétien has been a very professional bureaucrat within the
Department of Foreign Affairs for a number of years. I think the best thing to
do is to ask for that information to be provided to the honourable senator.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, this is my final
question. I am sure the minister can cope with this one. It has to do with her
constant reminder to me that the operational requirements have not changed in
spite of changes being made in the configuration and capability of the aircraft
under a variety of circumstances, and in spite of my insisting that it is not
the operational requirement changes but the mission requirements that have
changed. Would the minister now be in a position to indicate to me whether
changes reflecting the mission requirement, if not the operational requirement,
not just of Eurocopter but of industry generally, were or were not made?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
let me be clear. I will read this once again. I know I have read this before,
but I do so again because I think it is important to do so: The Maritime
Helicopter Requirement Specifications, MHRS, which are the detailed technical
specifications for the maritime helicopter, continue to be governed by the
principles established in the Statement of Operational Requirements. Changes to
the technical specifications were the result of an unprecedented level of open
and transparent dialogue with industry and stakeholders. The authors of the
Statement of Operational Requirements reviewed all of the changes that were made
to the technical specifications and were comfortable with those changes. They
believe that the technical specifications conform completely with the Statement
of Operational Requirements.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, the operational requirement,
as we pointed out many times, calls for a vehicle capable of hovering after the
loss of one engine. The Eurocopter has two engines and cannot — I repeat, cannot
— hover at the level required under the Statement of Operational Requirements
for the period of time required. Interestingly enough, the Cormorant and the
Sikorsky are three-engine and two-engine aircraft respectively. The loss of one
engine would leave them with one, enabling them to operate.
Senator Carstairs: The honourable senator has clearly made up his mind
which helicopter he thinks would best address the needs of the Canadian
military. That is his right as a member of this chamber. However —
Senator Forrestall: Answer the question.
Senator Carstairs: — I believe it is not only the right but the
responsibility of the Government of Canada to get the very best helicopter for
the armed services of this country.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, it is also the duty and
obligation of the Government of Canada to be open, honest, frank and transparent
to the taxpayers of this country about the shenanigans that have been happening
with respect to this contract. I suggest the leader read carefully the e-mail
from which I quoted a few moments ago. We will have another go at this tomorrow.
Senator Carstairs: With the greatest respect to the honourable
senator, it is hard to be more open, transparent and honest than to put
everything on the Web site.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. It deals with immigration matters. The
recent Auditor General's report stated that the Department of Citizenship and
Immigration has been very slow to remove people from Canada who have been deemed
or found to be inadmissible. As a result, over the last six years, the federal
government has lost track of about 36,000 failed refugee claimants. In addition,
50,000 claimants are waiting for hearings, and it is expected that some of them
may also go missing as they wait as long as two years to be processed.
The Auditor General has called this situation a "national security risk."
My question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate is: Will additional
resources be allocated to the department in order to enforce the removal of
claimants considered inadmissible to Canada?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): The honourable
senator knows that additional funds were made available in the budget to the
Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Use of those funds, hopefully, will
result in speeding up files that the honourable senator has addressed.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, we learned yesterday from a
report dated December 4, 2002, obtained by a national newspaper under the Access
to Information Act, that the Bank of Canada has broken its internal financial
rules by sole- source awarding of consulting contracts to McKinsey & Company and
to an arm of KPMG Consulting, having a total value of $4.3 million, rather than
seeking competing bids as per the bank's internal policies.
Honourable senators, perhaps the information that I will request is not
readily available at the present time. However, I would like to ask the
government leader in the Senate to please, now or later, provide details as to
the nature of these contracts, the process followed in granting them, the method
of billing and what the Bank of Canada is doing to assure Canadians that such
troublesome gaffes will not occur again?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): As the honourable
senator is well aware, the Bank of Canada is an arm's-length body from the
Government of Canada. I would suggest that the best source for that information
would be the Governor of the Bank of Canada, and that those questions be put to
him the next time he appears before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking,
Trade and Commerce, of which the honourable senator is a member.
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, you may be sure that these
questions will be put to the Governor of the Bank of Canada at his next
appearance. Unfortunately, he appeared only last week and did not tell us
anything about these matters.
The bank's internal rules require that any contract valued at more than
$100,000 must be put to tender, except under special circumstances. Since these
embarrassing incidents involving McKinsey and KPMG for contracts in excess of
$100,000 in value, it has been proposed that the bank's procurement policy be
changed, lowering the requirement of tendered contracts from $100,000 to $5,000.
This proposal, apparently, will be voted upon by the bank's board of
directors, who are not appointed by the Governor of the Bank of Canada, later
this week. Can the Leader of the Government please assure honourable senators
that these directors will vote in favour of these improved new rules and also
assure us that the bank will adhere to its own rules in future?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I would certainly hope that
they would adhere to their own rules. However, it is unrealistic to ask them to
go from $100,000 to $5,000. There are those times when it is necessary to work
rapidly, times that do lend themselves to a tendering process, which I am sure
was the reason for establishing the $100,000 limit in the first place.
I will not accept the advice of the honourable senator, and I will not take
to the Minister of Finance the recommendation that people vote for a reduction
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, it is reported that the bank has
commissioned a study following the revelation of these so-called mistakes. The
deputy governor drove the examination that led to this report to which I
referred, dated December 4, 2002. It, indeed, recommends that the limit be
dropped to $5,000. I understand that the management of the bank is in favour of
It is obvious that the Leader of the Government knows something about that.
Is there some feeling that the management of the bank should not be supported by
its politically appointed board?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I am sure that if the board,
in particular the governor, comes forward with a request to the board members,
the board members will comply. I do not have any information about this.
I am merely telling the honourable senator that, in the logical operations of
governments, $5,000 is not a helpful amount for the day-to-day operations of any
corporation, including the Bank of Canada.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, my question relates to
the decision of the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose an additional 8.15 per
cent duty on high-quality durum and a 6.12 per cent duty on spring wheat. These
duties come on the heels of a 4 per cent increase in duties that the Americans
imposed in March. A serious problem faces agriculture and the farmers growing
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform this chamber of what
measures the Canadian government is taking to respond to these moves by the
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
as the honourable senator is aware, it is a preliminary finding of the
Department of Commerce of the United States to impose these countervailing
duties. The next step in their process is to make the final determination. It is
obviously our determination that we will challenge this decision as best we
This is not the first time, as the honourable senator well knows, that the
United States government, through its Department of Commerce, has challenged
wheat and the Canadian Wheat Board. Every time they have done so in the past,
they have lost. It is my hope that they will lose this time as well.
Senator Gustafson: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government
in the Senate must admit that these are high duties and could cost agriculture
and grain farmers as much as $47 million per year. The Minister responsible for
the Canadian Wheat Board has indicated that this is a very serious problem for
Canada. Is the government considering doing anything for the farmers if we
cannot get the American government to change its position?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the preliminary decision was
made on March 4, 2003, which is the one to which the honourable senator refers.
The final decision will not be made until July 2003. Our primary objective must
now be to present the necessary information to the Department of Commerce of the
United States to prove that they are wrong in trying to impose these duties on
It is also important that we engage the purchasers of those wheat products
because, as we well know, the wheat products that would be placed under this
proposed countervail cannot be produced in any quantity in the United States.
They are necessary for the making of certain products in the United States.
Hopefully, we can join with the users, those who take that wheat and produce
products from it, to persuade the Department of Commerce that this proposal is
ill-considered on their part.
Senator Gustafson: Honourable senators, I accept that the Americans
cannot produce that kind of high-quality grain. On the other hand, are we to
assume that we are paying the price because Canada did not become involved in
the Iraq war and that farmers are being penalized for the decision of the
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, if we were to presume that, we
would have to go back to find out why, on nine other occasions, they challenged
the decisions of the Wheat Board and lost on each occasion. I do not think one
can draw a parallel between our very sovereign decision made with respect to
Iraq and this decision. However, it is an ongoing irritant. American farmers
quite often have the ear of their government, particularly in an election year
when they seem to have a bigger ear of their government. However, the decision
made by the U.S. Department of Commerce is wrong and we have to convince them of
Senator Gustafson: Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate
commit to take to cabinet the seriousness of this matter? I am sure that it has
been discussed in the other place.
Senator Carstairs: Of course I will do that. I can assure the
honourable senator that no one understands the importance of this issue better
than the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, who is from the
province of Saskatchewan. I will remind the Honourable Ralph Goodale not only of
the honourable senator's concern but also of the concern of all honourable
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kinsella,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Corbin, for the second reading of Bill
S-14, An Act to amend the National Anthem Act to reflect the linguistic
duality of Canada.—(Honourable Senator Cools).
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I will be brief. I first
want to commend Senator Kinsella for this initiative. Senator Robichaud and I
often meet francophones and anglophones in the course of our activities, and we
would like to be able to sing the national anthem in both official languages,
without turning it into the Tower of Babel.
I have had the opportunity to study this bill, and I believe that it is well
suited to this type of activity. I encourage all senators to support this
initiative, which has reached second reading.
In support of this bill, I would like to read a letter sent by Stéphane
Dallaire from the office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The letter is
addressed to Senator Kinsella and reads as follows:
On behalf of the Honourable Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage,
thank you for your correspondence of February 13, 2003, and accompanying
documentation, regarding Bill S-14, An Act to amend the National Anthem
Act to reflect the linguistic duality of Canada.
Ms. Copps appreciates your advising her of your views on this matter. It
should be noted that the Minister supports this bill and feels that this
initiative is an excellent way to promote Canadian identity. The national
anthem is one of Canada's best-known symbols; for this symbol to further
reflect our linguistic duality is certainly important.
As indicated in your correspondence, bilingual versions of the anthem are
being performed across Canada, including an unofficial version sung at
federal government events. An official bilingual version of the anthem is
Please accept our best wishes.
I would like to table this letter in case anyone would like to read it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
have the honourable senator table the letter?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Comeau: For all these reasons, I encourage senators to support
this motion for second reading so that the bill can be sent to committee for
On motion of Senator Prud'homme, debate adjourned.
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 Cools).
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join in this
debate about one of the most quixotic and fascinating figures in Canadian
history — Louis David Riel, the founder of my province of Manitoba.
This historical figure has been the subject of much scholarly research,
debate and writing — both fiction and non-fiction. We now have more than a dozen
full-length biographies, 20 stage plays, an opera, radio dramas and several
television series about Riel. They are a significant part of our uniquely
No historical figure has been the subject of so much debate in Parliament,
particularly in the other place. One speech was delivered in the House of
Commons on April 13, 1871, less than a year after Manitoba entered
Confederation. It was delivered by John Christian Schultz, member of Parliament
for Lisgar, Manitoba, and Riel's nemesis. He was speaking to Supplementary
Estimates that included $40,000 in relief to government loyalists who had lost
property in the Red River uprising.
The speech is remembered for a theory that most historians have dismissed.
According to Dr. Schultz, Riel was less the Metis hero who defended land,
language and religion, and more a co- conspirator with officers of the Hudson
Bay Company in Red River, who saw Canada's purchase of the Northwest Territory
as the end to their way of life and livelihood — and naturally opposed it. As I
said, historians have given that view little credence and paid much more
attention to the portions of the demands of Riel's provisional government that
found their way into the Manitoba Act.
A patriot or a traitor? A visionary or a madman? President of a legitimate
provisional government under threat or a manic murderer who ordered the
execution of Thomas Scott against the best advice of his followers? In today's
parlance, where you stand depends on where you sit, and it was ever thus.
Sir John A. Macdonald, in a February 23, 1870 letter to a former cabinet
colleague, suggested that President Riel be made a senator. A few months later,
after Scott's execution, he had entirely different thoughts. He shared the view
of Dr. Schultz that Riel was a cold-blooded murderer. In the spring of 1890, Dr.
Schultz spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 in Toronto and stirred Orange
Ontario against Riel. That spring, he also testified before a Senate hearing.
The Parliament record is heavy with debate about Riel, including the debate
on the motion to expel him from Parliament after his election as a Manitoba MP.
The grounds for the motion were that Riel was a fugitive from justice — the
government having denied him amnesty — and, understandably, he had failed to
obey an order to attend the House.
The United States Senate also held a special session in March 1889, in which
President Benjamin Harrison, responding to a Senate resolution, made public
correspondence between Riel, from his Regina jailhouse, and the head of the U.S.
consulate in Winnipeg, James W. Taylor. The President also tabled petitions from
Lawrence, Massachusetts; Rochester, New York; and Wayland, Massachusetts —
petitions that pleaded with the government to intervene to save U.S. citizen
Riel from the gallows. Those petitions described Riel as an "apparent victim of
fanaticism"; his trial as "not impartial" and the death sentence hanging over
his head as "an abuse of justice."
In this country, it is safe to say that no historical figure continues to
rouse such strong feeling, as we have seen again in this chamber in recent
After more than 100 years, there is a consensus that Riel's tragic and fatal
mistake was to submit prisoner Thomas Scott to a trial of sorts, then order his
execution on March 4, 1870, outside of the walls of Upper Fort Garry, in front
of more than 100 bystanders. He had relented on executions of other prisoners in
the fort. On Scott, he would not relent. It was the single act that determined
the rest of his life and played no small part in shaping the political fault
lines of Canada to this day.
After more than 100 years, there is also a strong case that Scott's execution
and the furor it stirred in Orange Ontario was the driver that led to Riel's
hanging — not the charge of treason on which he was tried. Protestant Ontario
wanted his head; Quebecers were outraged by his trial and the death sentence.
Riel had spent two years in Quebec asylums. They thought he was truly mad and
should not be executed. Sir John A. Macdonald, like Riel, chose not to relent.
Some believe it was an equally tragic mistake on the part of the Prime Minister.
Manitoba scholar, J. M. Bumsted, has written extensively about the Red River
Rebellion and Riel. He put it this way:
The vast majority of French Canadians believed that Riel had died because
he was French Canadian and Catholic... Quebec suddenly discovered that it
was being deprived of a legitimate share in Western Canada. It had learned
that it had no power in the national government. It responded, as one
pamphlet put it, with cries of French-Canadian nationalism: "The Province of
Quebec is ours; it is our property, and let's tell the English we intend to
keep it. No concessions: absolute power in our own house, French governments
By 1886, Honore Mercier was arguing in the provincial election that the
Quebec conservatives had failed to defend the autonomy of Quebec. From the
standpoint of the history of Canada, the death of Riel led inexorably to the
election of a government that labelled itself national and devoted itself to
the defence of Quebec autonomy. A large step toward separatism had been
Whether we agree with that interpretation of history, there is no doubt that
the life and death of Louis Riel was a major force in shaping not only Manitoba
and the West, but allegiances to political parties — and therefore, the federal
government — for a very long time.
As we know well, almost a century passed before voters in Quebec saw the
wisdom of electing a Conservative prime minister from their province. Now they
have made the wise decision to elect a former Conservative leader as their
premier. Some of this history is unpleasant, but we should not be afraid to
encourage people to study it.
Bill S-9 does not attempt to rewrite history — at least on the major issue.
It does not, as Bill S-25 did, seek a posthumous pardon. Otherwise, I would not
support it. What was done was done by honourable men, the best men of their
times, men we have already recognized by proclaiming days in their honour —
January 11 for Sir. John A. Macdonald and November 20 for Sir Wilfrid Laurier,
who debated fiercely on Riel's behalf. It is not for this generation to
pronounce sentence on their decisions and to reverse them.
What this bill does, and I concur with it, is to establish May 12 as Louis
Riel Day — May 12 because it is the day the Governor General assented to the
Manitoba Act. I would like to see a Louis Riel Day enacted perhaps for different
reasons than some of the previous speakers. They have spoken about the need to
give young Metis a hero, a role model to inspire them. I would like to see all
young people of all provinces, especially Manitoba, delve into this fascinating
history that I have briefly touched upon. I would like to see history teachers
in Manitoba mark Louis Riel Day. I would like their students to read of the
people that formed part of Riel's story and survive largely as city street names
— Bannatyne, Hargrave, Lagimodiere and Tache. I would like to see Manitobans of
all ages and backgrounds drawn to the St. Boniface museum that honours Riel and
inspired to read their own history.
I would like to see Riel's part in our history revived, on an annual basis,
because he is the greatest single window on our past that helps us understand
who we are today.
As historian Thomas Flanagan wrote in the 1980s:
As long as Canada exists, its citizens will want to read about Louis Riel
because his life summarizes in a unique way the tensions of being Canadian:
English versus French, native versus white, east versus west, Canadian
This bill could go some way to ensuring that he is correct. We need to study
the roots of these tensions, not to perpetuate them but to lessen them.
The bill talks about affecting reconciliation and bringing harmony to
Canada's national story by honouring Louis Riel and the Metis people. I do not
interpret this as an invitation to whitewash history, or to make of Riel a
cardboard, Disney-like character. It would be impossible to do that without
tossing out huge portions of his life. Nor do I see it as just a way to uncover
old wounds and keep alive old enmities. Reconciliation, in the best sense of the
word, is "to make friends again."
We "make friends again" by trying to remove the sting of past decisions.
That is something the Mulroney government certainly tried to do in its
resolution 11 years ago. We reconcile by keeping forgotten promises. Again, the
Conservative government of the 1980s strongly supported bilingualism in Manitoba
and Saskatchewan. We "make friends again" by reading history from its many
perspectives and seeing the human frailties of all leaders, the miscues that led
to the misunderstandings and, particularly in those days of the Red River
settlement, the immense difficulties in communications.
When emissaries had to travel by rail through the U.S. and on snowshoe or
horseback between the end of the rail line and the Red River, small wonder that
Riel's government became legitimate through happenstance.
Lieutenant-Governor-in- waiting William McDougall prematurely ended the Hudson's
Bay Company rule, unaware that here, in Ottawa, the government had delayed the
date of the transfer of the Northwest to Canada.
I certainly hope that this bill will encourage varied reading and discussion
by many people. I hope it will not lead to attempts to construct a single
harmonized, sanitized official history. There should be no new political
correctness arising from this bill.
It does, however, establish Riel as a Metis patriot and a Canadian hero. I
have no problem with the former, but a Canadian hero? I do not know. He more
resembles the hero of a Shakespearean tragedy, possessing passions that were
larger than life, at times delusional, and a flaw that was his undoing — not
usually Canadian traits except in very rare circumstances, and I can think of
Riel was also a poet. There is a prophetic quality in some of his earliest
works, written while he was studying for priesthood in Montreal. He wrote of the
mice successfully rebelling against the cat. He wrote of a young man dying. In
later years, he wrote of his political enemies and what he had tried to
accomplish in Red River. I would like to quote one stanza from one poem that
says, in his words, what his struggles were all about.
It was not afraid to defend
The honour every man is
Civil rights; freedom
Both religious and Political
Precious human life
God the Father counts each second.
"Hero" or "legend" or "mythical figure," perhaps it does not matter
which word or phrase we use in this bill, but I would suggest that either of the
latter two would be a better fit.
Finally, in my support for this bill, I have to deal with a criticism that we
already have too many "days," and the more we create, the more it diminishes
those we have already established. When you look at this month's calendar, you
will see that, in May, we have World Press Freedom Day, World Red Cross Day,
Canada Health Day which falls on May 12, as does International Nurses Day. We
have International Day of the Families, National Missing Children's Day and
World No-Tobacco Day.
The reality is that no one marks all these days. They are kept by various
segments of our society and, from time to time, here on Parliament Hill we are
reminded of some of them. While I hope that educators and others in many
provinces will choose to mark Louis Riel Day, the reality is that it will be
kept, in the main, by the Metis of Canada and by some Manitobans, just as
International Nurse's Day is far more likely to be kept by nurses than by
Should we deny the Metis and the Manitobans a Louis Riel Day? It would be
mean-spirited, considering that we have passed bills for a Sir John. A.
Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day. In principle, I support this bill and
hope it moves quickly to committee. I promise honourable senators who study it
that, if they dig no further than our own archives and our Library of
Parliament, they will find a treasure trove.
Hon. Thelma J. Chalifoux: Honourable senators, in conversation with
Senator Cools, she told me that she does not wish to speak to this bill and that
all her concerns have been answered. I would therefore suggest that we proceed
to a motion to have this bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on
The Hon. the Speaker: I will deal with the original motion.
Senator Chalifoux's interjection is helpful in that the matter stood in the
name of Senator Cools.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I am rather curious as to
why the bill would be referred to the Aboriginal Committee, since we have just
been told that that committee is overloaded with work. The human rights study on
Aboriginal matrimonial rights and property rights for Aboriginal women could not
be referred to the Aboriginal committee because it was too busy. Would the
honourable senator perhaps suggest that it be referred to another committee?
The Hon. the Speaker: I am taking this as comments on Senator Spivak's
speech. We are at a point where the question on the motion for second reading is
in order or an honourable senator may wish to move the adjournment of the
debate. We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
If the house is ready, I will put the motion.
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Chalifoux is entitled to speak, but I
must advise her that, if she speaks now, her speech will have the effect of
closing the debate on the motion for second reading of this bill.
The motion that the bill be referred to committee is not debatable.
Senator Chalifoux: Honourable senators, I should like the question to
The Hon. the Speaker: I will put the question, and it will be up to
the house to decide which committee shall study the bill if it is to be
Is the house ready for the question?
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, since Senator Chalifoux has spoken, may I ask her a question? Perhaps
that will get us out of this procedural bog into which we are headed.
Would the honourable senator agree that this bill should be referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology? I suggest
that committee because its members have already studied the Macdonald bill.
However, it could be referred to either that committee or the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I would suggest that those are
more appropriate committees than the Aboriginal committee for a study of this
Senator Chalifoux: Honourable senators, in my brief discussions with
our whip, we considered the Legal Committee, but that committee also seems to be
overwhelmed with work. Perhaps it would be appropriate if I were to speak to the
leadership to determine which committee would best be able to deal with this
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I would suggest that we adjourn the debate and
revisit this question tomorrow. I do not want to argue this on the floor today.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I do not think that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs is overburdened. They should be able to complete the study of the bill
they have before them relatively soon, provided the outcome of the vote that
takes place this afternoon at 5:30 is as it should be. Therefore, it would be my
recommendation, honourable senators, that the bill be sent to either the Legal
Committee or the Social Committee, whichever meets with the approval of
honourable senators. I am of the view that the Legal Committee would be the
appropriate committee to study this bill.
Senator Chalifoux: I am in agreement.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators I have one additional
comment. We should be consistent in our approach in referring this type of bill
to committees. Over time, committees develop a certain expertise and
proficiency. The Legal Affairs Committee is already studying Senator Comeau's
bill. We have had excellent testimony not only with respect to the specific
topic, but also with respect to the overall designation of special days, weeks
and what have you. The experience gained from that work should not be lost, and
therefore I entirely support the proposition that this bill be referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for that reason
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is the house ready for the question? Senator
Chalifoux having spoken, I have no option but to put the question. Honourable
senators, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Chalifoux, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Taylor, that this bill be read the second time now.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
Hon. Thelma J. Chalifoux: Honourable senators, I move that the bill be
referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, just to make the point so it is clear in the future, the motion before
us is debatable, votable and amendable. This is the stage at which the
discussion that has occurred prior to second reading is dealt with. Therefore,
for the future, we can vote on the principle of the bill, and then the
discussion as to what committee it would go to prior to third reading is
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am treating this as a
point of order because I am not sure I agree with Senator Kinsella.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the Leader of the Opposition took advantage of procedure to ask a
question of Senator Chalifoux at exactly the right moment. That had the effect
of closing the debate.
I think it was all in order, but I also agree with Senator Kinsella that the
next time such a decision is made, we might put the question and then discuss
the issue of referral to committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Chalifoux has moved
a motion. I have put the question and it now is for me to ask this house if it
wishes to adopt the motion of Senator Chalifoux.
Honourable senators, is it agreed that this bill be referred to the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Chalifoux, bill referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fraser, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Gauthier, for the adoption of the fifth report of
the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications (budget—study
of the Canadian media), presented in the Senate on April 3, 2003.—(Honourable
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, Senator Stratton has agreed to
let me speak first on the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications regarding the budget for the committee's study of
the Canadian media.
The committee has submitted a budget request for $435,250. This was one of
the largest budgets submitted. The Internal Economy Committee appreciated that
the Chair of the Transport Committee indicated a willingness to spread the
travel over two fiscal years, thereby reducing the demands on this year's
budget. With this in mind, the Internal Economy Committee recommended the
release of $197,850.
The Internal Economy Committee has already received requests totalling some
$3 million. I wish to remind honourable senators that, in approving its Main
Estimates for 2003-04, the Senate agreed to an allocation of $2.2 million for
committees. Of this amount, $400,000 has been set aside for witness expenses and
video conferencing, leaving $1.8 million available for distribution to
During the debate on committee budgets last Thursday, a number of senators
indicated that the budget for committees is inadequate. Some suggested that all
committees should have been asked what their needs were before the Main
Estimates were submitted.
I would like to assure honourable senators that the needs of committees were
taken into account in developing the Main Estimates. Previous demands as well as
past spending patterns were taken into account. In the past few years,
committees have spent, on average, approximately 70 per cent of the funds
allocated to them, and $2.2 million is substantially more than what normally has
I wish to remind honourable senators that we are talking about public funds
and the allocation of funds within a political environment. I am sure senators
recall the emphasis in the last Speech from the Throne on budgetary restraints.
The Senate must be aware of the broader fiscal framework and difficult decisions
must be made. The Senate, like all public institutions, must reflect financial
It may be useful to remind honourable senators of how far we have come in
terms of funding Senate committees. I share Senator Lynch-Staunton's view that,
to the extent possible, funding should be included in the Main Estimates.
Supplementary Estimates should only be used for expenditures that could not have
In reviewing funding for committees over the past 10 years, it is clear that
funding has increased dramatically. In 1993-94, the budget for committees was
$819,000, with a further $58,000 for witness expenses, for a total of $877,000.
Funding in the Main Estimates for committees remained fairly stable
throughout the 1990s, though Supplementary Estimates for committees varied
There was a dramatic jump in the Main Estimates in 2000-01, to $1.5 million
for committees, including $300,000 for witness expenses. The total funding for
committees in the Main Estimates increased to $2 million in 2001-02 and an
additional $1.2 million was obtained through the Supplementary Estimates. In
2002-03 and 2003-04, the budget for committees was $2.2 million. In short, the
budget available to committees has increased by some 250 per cent over the past
Clearly, the Senate values the work of its committees, and it has been
prepared to show its support for committee work through increased financial
support. Increased financial support does not, however, mean unlimited financial
support. Historically, requests from committees have exceeded the budget
available. The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and
Administration has never had an easy job and has had to review requests from
committees and determine how to allocate funds in a way that would facilitate
the work of committees while respecting financial constraints.
The importance that the current Internal Economy Committee places on
committee budgets is demonstrated by the fact that the steering committee itself
took on the task of reviewing these budgets and making recommendations to the
The steering committee invited committee chairs to present and defend their
budgets. While some chairs required no more than 15 minutes to make their case,
others, including the chair of the National Security and Defence Committee, took
much longer, speaking for 45 minutes. The steering committee gave committee
chairs ample opportunity to make their case.
The Internal Economy Committee has made a particular effort to be transparent
in its decision making to ensure that committees understand the rationale for
its decisions and what is being funded.
I believe that we have been fair and equitable. We have not paralyzed any
committee. We have, however, questioned certain requests. For example, the
budget submitted by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and
Defence for its subcommittee's study on veterans health care included a request
for $14,000 to attend veterans' commemorative events, one in Canada and one
In the debate on Thursday, Senator Day suggested, and I quote, "that you
will get half the effort that you would have gotten otherwise," because of the
reduction in the budget from $35,000 to $17,000.
Almost the entire cut was directly related to the decision not to fund
attendance at these commemorative events, which do not appear to be related in
any way to the order of reference. Even if funds were unlimited, this item does
not properly belong in a budget for a study on veterans' health care and I fail
to see why this cut would result in any reduction whatsoever in the ability of
the subcommittee to report on veterans' health care.
I wish to remind honourable senators that there are many different ways to
study a given topic and that the most expensive way is not necessarily the best
way. There is no direct correlation between quality and cost. Some of the
Senate's most influential studies have been very inexpensive. For example, the
study "Quality End-of-Life Care: The Right of Every Canadian" cost a total of
$17,000, including $15,500 for witness expenses. The health care study of the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology cost a small
fraction of the Royal Commission headed by Roy Romanow. The Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has a reputation for undertaking a
great deal of legislative work in Ottawa, using nearly exclusively internal
Clearly, committees can produce valuable and influential reports without
spending massive amounts of money. Work plans can be adjusted to take into
account budgetary constraints. Instead of travelling across the country,
committees can hear witnesses in Ottawa or take advantage of technological
developments to hear testimony by video conference.
This brings me to the matter of the process for the approval of budgets. The
process is included in Appendix II of the Rules of the Senate, entitled
"Procedural Guidelines for the Financial Operation of Senate Committees."
These guidelines are an extract from a report of the Standing Committee on
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament adopted by the Senate in March
1986. The Rules Committee is empowered by the Senate to propose amendments to
the rules. However, when it comes to rules regarding budgets, it is clear that
the Internal Economy Committee has a direct interest since it is responsible for
the financial administrative management of the Senate. Therefore, it would
appear that a working group made up of representatives of both committees would
be an appropriate forum for an in-depth discussion on the budgetary process.
Ideally, the chairs of both committees would be involved in the working group so
that they could report to their respective committees as appropriate.
Indeed, in February of this year, I spoke to Senator Milne, Chair of the
Rules Committee, making this suggestion. As all honourable senators know, the
Rules Committee has been exceptionally busy, but I know that Senator Milne
shares my interest in this matter and would like this issue to be examined once
the Rules Committee has completed its work on the ethics package.
In my discussions with Senator Milne, I indicated some of the questions the
working group might consider. These could include: What is the appropriate
relationship between an order of reference and a budget? Should there be limits
on the number of orders of reference approved by the Senate in any given period
or should the control be exercised at the budgetary level? Do the Rules of
the Senate need to be updated? Are there other issues — political,
communications, education and so forth — that need to be addressed? To what
extent does the prior approval of an order of reference by the Senate have any
impact on the decision- making process of the Committee on Internal Economy when
it comes to considering a budget submission? If budgets were submitted to
Internal Economy prior to approval of the order of reference by the Senate,
would the freedom of the Senate to determine which studies should be undertaken
be constrained? Given that orders of reference are not always committee-
generated but sometimes come from individual senators or at the request of a
minister, what are the appropriate times for budgets to be considered by a
committee, by the Internal Economy Committee and by the Senate? Should there be
base budgets for committees? Is the fiscal year approach to budgeting the most
effective? How much flexibility should there be for committees to transfer funds
between various types of expenditures once their budgets have been approved? How
much flexibility should there be for committees to transfer funds between
various types of expenditures once an activity has been completed? Are the
categories of expenditure as identified in the rules appropriate? Are
expenditures being appropriately distributed between central budgets — for
example, witness expenses, video conferencing and beverages — and individual
committee budgets? Are the current practices for reporting budgets to the Senate
There are other issues that could also be considered by the working group. It
may wish to review the use of fact-finding, which seems to have become an
increasingly popular way of gathering information. I am particularly concerned
with ensuring that fact-finding is not used as a way of getting around the
official languages requirements that we are bound, as an institution, to
respect. I am also deeply concerned about the use of transcript from
fact-finding meetings. Parliamentary privilege protects senators and witnesses
alike at a formal committee meeting, but the same cannot be said for
fact-finding and great care must be taken in the use and dissemination of the
information gathered. We do not want Canadians or the Senate to be put at risk.
Having discussed these issues and decided whether any rule changes or other
action need to be taken, the representatives of the working group could report
back to the Rules Committee and the Committee on Internal Economy with a
recommendation as to how best to proceed.
Committee work is an integral part of the work of the Senate. However, we
must remember that senators also have an obligation to attend the Senate
chamber. Committee travel, while valuable in many circumstances, must be seen
within the larger context of the work that needs to be accomplished in the
Senate, here in Ottawa. The larger context also includes the political and
procedural environment within which we operate.
The process followed by the Internal Economy Committee in allocating funds
for 2003-04 respects the process established by the Rules of the Senate
and the constraints imposed by the budget adopted by this chamber. Your
committee has no choice but to do so. Given that demands received from
committees so far are approximately $3 million, the committee could not
recommend full funding. Instead, funds were released to enable committees to
plan their work through the early fall. The recommended release to date amounts
to over $1.6 million, leaving a modest contingency for the remainder of the
There have always been budgetary controls of some kind for committees. For
example, in past years, funds have sometimes been granted through the release of
a certain proportion of each of the budgets submitted, such as three-twelfths or
six-twelfths. Such an approach results in the preferential treatment of
committees with larger budgets and does not take into account that there is
greater flexibility in managing certain types of expenditures.
For 2003-04, in order to be fair to all committees, a clawback provision was
agreed to by the Senate to ensure that funds remaining at the end of an activity
are returned to the central budget for reallocation. I should point out that an
even stricter clawback process exists in the House of Commons.
Your Internal Economy Committee does not wish to micro- manage the operations
of other committees. For example, if a committee wishes to change its dates of
travel and its destination, it is for the members of that committee to decide.
However, the Committee on Internal Economy must exercise strict control over the
number of trips undertaken. It would not be fiscally responsible to grant funds
for a trip and to allow any surplus funds to simply remain in the hands of the
committee for its use for another trip. Indeed, such an approach would only
encourage the padding of budgets. Given that funds were released to allow 12
senators to travel for public hearings and nine senators to travel for
fact-finding, in addition to the necessary staff, it is likely that a
substantial amount will be returned to the central budget, since the historical
record shows that between six and eight senators participate in most trips.
The clawback process will enable committees to access funds that otherwise
would have been unavailable to them.
I am aware that a number of senators are unhappy with the level of funding
that was granted to their committees. I suspect that anything less than 100 per
cent funding would have been seen as unacceptable. However, we cannot ignore
political or fiscal reality. There is only so much money available. Our funds
The Internal Economy Committee has the responsibility to recommend the
allocation of funds within our established framework in a prudent, fair and
transparent manner. I am confident we have done so.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have not had an
opportunity to carefully consider what the honourable senator has said about the
Internal Economy Committee, but I wonder whether the committee has done another
analysis, that of value for money. We have heard about cost savings and focusing
on costs, but I am also interested in the model of value for money. Are we
getting value for the money and, if so, are we spending enough?
Senator Bacon: For the chairs of committees, we never spend enough. As
I said, we will form a working group to come up with some valuable answers to
all the questions.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, last week I adjourned the
debate particularly because none of our committee members were here in Ottawa.
Three or four were ill. First, I wanted to ensure we would have our committee
members present. Second, I wanted to ensure that they were comfortable with the
budget as it currently stands, and they are. I will remove any constraints that
I had with respect to approval, only asking that, surely to goodness, we will
not recommend a government- supported newspaper, as advocated by Patrick Watson.
I would expect that the committee would want to hear from Mr. Frum on his recent
Senator Carstairs: And Patricia Pearson.
The Hon. the Speaker: Does the honourable senator wish to comment on
Senator Stratton's speech? She might do that, or ask him a question.
Hon. Joan Fraser: I will comment on the two questions raised by the
Honourable Senator Stratton. In regard to Patrick Watson's suggestion, I would
note that we are only beginning our work, and I expect we will hear from
numerous witnesses. Indeed, we heard from at least one witness this morning who
is opposed to Mr. Watson's suggestion. We have a long way to go on that one.
Senator Stratton: I would hope so.
Senator Fraser: As for Mr. Frum, it will be up to him to decide
whether he wishes to appear before us. However, I must say that when I learned
that he had left his previous employer, my first reaction was to say, "Oh, let
us see if we can get him to come to speak to us."
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (budget—study on straddling stocks and
fish habitat) presented in the Senate on April 30, 2003.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Comeau,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Beaudoin, that this report be adopted now.
Does the Honourable Senator Comeau wish to speak?
Senator Comeau: No.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): To be consistent,
honourable senators, I would like to ask Senator Comeau the same questions I
have asked other chairmen who have seen their committee budgets reduced.
After listening to Senator Bacon, I think we have a better appreciation of
the problems faced by her committee. I want to take this occasion to
congratulate her and the members of the Internal Economy Committee for the
excellent work they do under very difficult fiscal and political constraints.
That being said, Senator Comeau's committee has asked for $245,000 in round
figures and has been allotted $167,000. Can he assure us that, with a reduced
budget, his committee will be able to carry on the work with the same efficiency
and care that I know it would with the original amount? Does the reduced amount
handicap the committee's efforts and work at all and, if so, to what extent?
Senator Comeau: I thank Senator Lynch-Staunton for the question. It
gives me the opportunity to congratulate Senator Bacon and her committee members
for the excellent work they did in looking at all the committee budgets. I have
to say, as well, that members of that committee are doing yeoman's work. It is
not easy, having a group of chairmen arrive at this committee, demanding all
kinds of money for work that they very much believe in. I appreciate what they
do. I welcome their questions and comments. Committees and their chairmen must
be on their toes in trying to arrive at realistic budgets.
In direct answer to the question posed, we will obviously do the best we can
with the budget that we have. One of the areas we did agree to reduce was with
regard to public hearings. We have accepted that we would conduct a fact-finding
trip, which will be much less costly than holding public hearings.
I wish to reiterate that public hearings are not necessarily preferable to
fact-finding trips. Public hearings have a tendency to draw in representatives
of the people, representatives of fishermen, rather than the fishermen
themselves. As a committee, we have always preferred having fishermen and their
families and communities appear before us rather than the representatives of
We have agreed to reduce our numbers from 12 to nine members when we travel.
We will be getting a better representation of the fishing community.
We have seen, in the last couple of days, what can happen when a decision is
made in Ottawa from on high, without having adequately considered what might
happen when the decision is applied on the ground. That is one of the reasons
our committee wants to go to various parts of Canada. We want to hear from
fishing communities and the people who are directly affected by the decisions
made in Ottawa.
With the budget reduced as it is, I think we will be able to accomplish a
great part of the work that we had intended to accomplish this year. I think we
will be able to come up with some very positive and uniting reports.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Gauthier,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser:
That the Senate approve the radio and television broadcasting of its
proceedings and those of its committees, with closed-captioning in real
time, on principles analogous to those regulating the publication of the
official record of its deliberations; and
That a special committee, composed of five senators, be appointed to
oversee the implementation of this resolution.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, I wish to amend the
latter part of my motion. I was advised to establish a committee of five
senators. I know that the honourable senators are busy enough. There is no need
for a special committee to examine this matter. The Committee on Internal
Economy, Budgets and Administration is already responsible for all broadcasting
of the business of the Senate and of its committees. I ask leave to amend my
motion so that it be referred to the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and
Having said that, I know that the honourable senators are divided on the
issue of broadcasting our proceedings. I have been thinking about this issue for
a long time. I have come to the conclusion that it would be in the public
interest and in the interest of the Senate to make all or part of the
proceedings of the Senate and of its committees available to all Canadians.
The Senate is an integral part of Parliament, and one of its two Houses. The
Senate, like the House of Commons, plays an important role in democracy. We are
the house of the federation and we represent the regions. The House of Commons
is the elected body: it democratically represents the people. There is a great
difference between the two Houses. The broadcasting of our proceedings would not
change the legislative function of the Senate in any way.
The House of Commons' experience can guide and inspire us when it comes to
televising our proceedings.
I was a member of the House of Commons when that motion was adopted in 1977.
There were discussions of the advantages and disadvantages. Agreement was
reached on October 17, 1977, and it was voted on. It took another three years,
until 1980, for the committees to get permission to broadcast their proceedings.
From 1992 on, this became regular practice and was covered by an agreement with
CPAC. The Senate adopted a different approach. Rather than broadcasting our
sittings regularly, we adopted a policy of videotaping meetings. Since 1997, the
agreement with CPAC allows committee meetings to be broadcast when they have
obtained permission from the Senate. We televised 195 hours in 2000-01, and
nearly twice that in 2001- 02.
The Senate does not have the necessary equipment to record its debates, so
they are not broadcast. I would like this to be authorized. It is true that
certain sittings of the Senate have been taped, such as the Speech from the
Throne, Committees of the Whole, or evidence given by certain invited speakers.
This, however, has been done by CBC or CPAC, not ourselves. In a normal year, we
broadcast more or less 200 hours of committees and a few hours from the Senate
There is a great difference between the proceedings in the two chambers. I
remember a very different experience in 1972 when I was elected to the House of
Commons. It was a pretty noisy place. People banged on their desks, people
wandered all over the place. There were curtains behind the benches and people
went there to smoke and to chat. They even spoke from the curtained area. All
this changed when TV came in, in 1977. Peoples' behaviour improved. They stopped
using their desks to make noise, stopped yelling, stopped making disparaging
comments, stopped smoking behind the curtains, eating in the House of Commons
and behind the curtains. I found this absolutely correct. It was what the public
We remember the comments we got from people about the members lighting up
behind the curtains. They saw it happening on their TV and commented on how
unhealthy it was, which was true.
Behaviour improved following the decision and the noise was greatly reduced.
It must be noted that the broadcasting of the debates comes under the authority
of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who is authorized to organize and
monitor the public image of the House of Commons. In the Senate, it is not the
Speaker or the government leader who is responsible for this; that is up to the
Chair of the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
In the end, we will be better served by the committee, since it is the committee
that is authorized to study the issue. I think that this is appropriate and
necessary. The Senate projects a better image today. We are better understood.
We must make ourselves seen and heard and, most importantly, we must make
ourselves understood by Canadians.
The Senate plays an important role. This must be said and we must give
Canadians the chance to see for themselves the programming they want and to
follow the debates in the Senate from time to time. I regret that recent major
debates have not been broadcast. There were good debates on important issues,
such as public security. Canadians do not know about these debates except if
they rely on the media, which is rarely here to communicate our message. If we
had control of the picture and the sound that is broadcast, I think it would be
a good thing.
Some senators are hesitant, and I understand that. However, if we want to
make ourselves understood by Canadians, we will have to take action, show what
we do publicly and not legislate unseen.
We are living in an age of communications. Television has been said to be a
hot medium that people use. A majority of Canadians get their information and
news through that medium. They keep abreast of what is going on.
Nowadays, we can hear of events unfolding in China and know what is happening
there. It allows Canadians to be better informed. There are consequences. Some
use this medium for purposes of which I disapprove.
For example, I think it is essential that Canadians have access to the
proceedings of this House and its committees on a regular basis. This should be
a general rule. It will require that decisions and expenditures be made.
Absolutely. Someday, we may have to take charge and decide for ourselves what we
are going to do.
Years ago, when I asked why we were not broadcasting our proceedings, I was
told that the Senate would make a decision, and that neither the government nor
the administration would be making this decision for it. I then asked why, if
this was a decision to be made by the Senate, a motion to this effect had not
been introduced. That is what I am doing today.
I also asked that our broadcasts be closed-captioned to allow the three
million Canadians who are hard of hearing to have regular access to news and to
parliamentary proceedings on television. They can do so today.
I have regular access, on a daily basis, to a portable computer on which I
can read the transcript of the proceedings in French and in English. The
transcript is correct 95 per cent of the time. It keeps me informed of what is
happening and allows me to take part in the debates.
The same is true for the millions of Canadians who would appreciate it
greatly if the Senate were to innovate in this area. I am sure that we would be
appreciated much more by individuals who are getting on in years. By the age of
70, 30 per cent of people have hearing problems. By the age of 75, 40 per cent
of Canadians have hearing problems.
They are often in denial of the fact that they do not comprehend what is
happening. They will increase the volume on their TV. They will say that the
phone is not working properly. They will say that they are not interested in TV
because they cannot follow. However, if they had subtitles, they could follow
Subtitles would be a very good pedagogical tool for those who want to learn a
second language. Subtitles would be a good tool for our immigrants and for our
young people in immersion programs because they would be able to hear and to
read what is being said.
I could make a series of good arguments in support of this proposal. It is
the first time that we have had a chance to discuss this publicly. I hope that
decisions on this matter will be made promptly.
Honourable senators, I should like to refer this matter to the Standing
Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, may I suggest that Senator Gauthier postpone the rest of the debate to
the next sitting of the Senate, in order that he might present the Senate with
his amended motion to refer the motion to the Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration and, as well, a date on which this committee should
report back to the Senate. In that way, the honourable senators will be better
prepared to take a position on the issue because everything will be clear.
The Hon. the Speaker: Do you agree, Senator Gauthier?
Senator Gauthier: Honourable senators, I appreciate the comment by the
Deputy Leader of the Government. I could write out my motion and present it
tomorrow, without going through the notice of motion period.
I am removing the final paragraph of my motion and replacing it with "that
the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration consider this
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, it is not as simple as
that. Senator Gauthier cannot amend his motion without the unanimous consent of
the Senate. I do not want him to waste his time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the 15-minute time limit
has expired. Do you wish additional time, Senator Gauthier?
Senator Gauthier: No, Your Honour.
The Hon. the Speaker: If honourable senators were to follow Senator
Robichaud's suggestion that a change be considered, unanimous consent from
senators for modification of the resolution would require that Senator Gauthier
again have the floor.
Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, Senator Gauthier did not ask
for the consent of the Senate for additional time to present his motion.
Therefore, I move that the debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator LeBreton calling
the attention of the Senate to the legacy of waste during the
Martin-Chrétien years.—(Honourable Senator Eyton).
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join the
debate on the inquiry launched by Senator LeBreton into the legacy of waste
during the Martin-Chrétien years. Honourable senators, we have in recent weeks
heard from 11 of our colleagues on this side: Senator Bolduc, Senator Buchanan,
Senator Comeau, Senator Di Nino, Senator Gustafson, Senator LeBreton, Senator
Oliver, Senator Stratton, Senator Forrestall, Senator Nolin and Senator
Kelleher. We have heard from them a series of chilling illustrations of the
abominable wastage of millions, perhaps even billions, of Canadians' hard-earned
tax dollars during the Martin-Chrétien years. As well, in the context of these
illustrations, we heard repeatedly very disturbing examples of outright Liberal
government arrogance and stonewalling in their refusal to acknowledge or in any
way to be accountable for this disgraceful and, in some cases, even criminal
behaviour. Honourable senators, there is more to come: more, more and more
scandalous stories that together weave a fabric depicting the horrendous legacy
of waste that characterizes the Martin-Chrétien years.
Honourable senators, I was planning to devote all of my time this afternoon
to the government's flagrant abuse of its so-called sponsorship program,
particularly what has become known as the Groupaction scandal. However,
honourable senators, we have received new revelations on what I respectfully
submit is the mother of all scandals and abuses perpetrated during these pitiful
Martin-Chrétien years. I speak of the infamous "Airbus Affair" in which former
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his family were shamelessly, perniciously,
publicly and unjustly persecuted over an eight-year period during an RCMP
investigation initiated at the behest of officials of the Liberal government.
Notwithstanding Mr. Mulroney's successful defamation suit against the
government and the RCMP, the Chrétien team has steadfastly and arrogantly
refused to make a fulsome apology to the former Prime Minister and his family or
to acknowledge publicly that the investigation was politically motivated.
Rather, they caused the RCMP investigation to continue unabated for six more
years after the settlement of the litigation was finalized, the whole causing
substantial further chagrin, heartache and embarrassment to the Mulroney family
and more totally unjustified and damaging gossip, rumours and speculation in the
media, to say nothing of running up huge, additional, unjustified costs and
expenses for the poor taxpayers.
Then suddenly on April 22, just two weeks ago, the once proud and
internationally respected RCMP issued a terse press release announcing that at
long last the Airbus investigation was closed, that no evidence of wrongdoing
had been uncovered and that no charges would be laid. All of this came after an
eight-year investigation costing taxpayers a reported $50 million over and above
the cost of defending the Mulroneys' lawsuit, which is estimated to be in the
area of $11 million. Is this not yet another shocking example of abuse and
misuse of taxpayers' dollars? You bet it is, honourable senators, an absolutely
classic example of the deplorable legacy of waste of the Martin-Chrétien years.
We are given to understand that it was Allan Rock, then Justice Minister, who
initiated this horrendous "witch hunt" by forwarding "rumours" to the
Solicitor General and thence to the RCMP, that bribes had been paid in
connection with Air Canada's purchase of 34 Airbus A320 airplanes at a cost of
$1.8 billion. These rumours, we understand, were started or fed by a certain
overzealous journalist who harboured a strong personal dislike of Mr. Mulroney
and his family.
Mr. Rock was also the minister whose subordinates in the Department of
Justice later dispatched the shocking Kimberly Prost/Fraser Fiegenwald letter of
September 29, 1995, requesting investigative assistance from the Swiss
government. This letter contained the incredible sentence:
This investigation is of special importance to the Canadian government
because criminal activities carried out by the former Prime Minister are
Later, during proceedings in the Mulroney lawsuit, we learned the equally
shocking fact that the Commissioner of the RCMP had never read the said letter,
as late as two years after the fact. Honourable senators, what a dismal day for
justice and fair play in Canada.
The London Free Press reported on April 29, 2003:
Whether a man is popular or reviled, the rules of natural justice apply;
the point about basic rules of fairness is they apply to all. And the way
Mulroney out of office was treated by the Chrétien government was shameful.
Proof of this was the statement made April 23rd by assistant RCMP
Commissioner Bill Lenton. Lenton announced that the eight-year,
multi-million dollar RCMP investigation of the so-called "Airbus" affair
was over... "there are no more leads to follow and nothing more to
substantiate the allegations that were originally levied; it is incumbent
upon us to stop the investigation, which we have done"...Guess what, it
turned out there were no criminal activities. There were no facts. Outside
the fevered imaginations of some so-called "investigative journalists",
there was nothing that would stand up to scrutiny in a law court. And the
RCMP finally admitted that.
The London Free Press article continued:
Almost as disturbing as the way the Justice Department initiated, and the
RCMP handled, the investigation, is the lack of political accountability. To
date, no politician has resigned over this gross abuse of power. If the
Airbus saga warrants any conclusion, it is the danger posed to citizens by a
government out of control. The Justice Department did not determine the
accuracy of its information before libelling a former Prime Minister. The
RCMP spent millions on a fruitless investigation.
Honourable senators, the investigation into the "Airbus Affair" may have
ended but the most important questions remain unanswered. How was this travesty
of justice ever allowed to occur? How much longer will Canadians tolerate the
unaccountable abuse of their trust by the Chrétien government? Who will be made
accountable for putting Brian Mulroney and his entire family through such
unconscionable turmoil for the past eight years? Who will answer to Canadian
taxpayers for the millions wasted? As we have seen since the beginning of the
tacky Liberal administration in 1993, the answer is: Nobody. This government's
legacy is clearly one of sleaze, arrogance and abusive waste.
The arrogant attitude surfaced in this chamber on April 29, 2003. When asked
very politely by Senator Tkachuk when this government would issue a formal
apology to all those wrongly and very publicly publicized as being involved in
this misadventure, the Leader of the Government in the Senate responded, three
times, I believe, by saying, "...this investigation was directed by the RCMP.
If the honourable senator has questions to the RCMP, I would suggest that he
address them to that body." Perhaps Senator Tkachuk does not wish to wait eight
years for a "nothing" RCMP response. He wants and he deserves to know when
this government will do the right thing and apologize, as do all Canadians,
Honourable senators, I would now like to deal with the sponsorship program.
This Liberal program was created by former Public Works Minister Alfonso
Gagliano after the close referendum on Quebec sovereignty in 1995.
According to the Liberals, its purpose was to increase federal government
visibility in the provinces.
This is another scandalous situation — one in which the RCMP is again
involved, albeit this time for the right reasons. The key is: When will the RCMP
complete its criminal investigation commenced one year ago and, if warranted,
take the appropriate steps against the guilty parties in consequence of their
findings? Hopefully we will not have to wait eight years for this. The program
was established in 1997, allegedly to support sporting, cultural and community
activities in all regions of Canada, and to encourage a positive perception of
the federal government and to increase its presence and visibility in
communities across our land through the use of the Canada Brand at events and on
promotional material. In theory, this $40- million-a-year program sounded like a
darn good idea. Unfortunately, it has been knee-deep in scandal and controversy
almost since its inception.
Some of the most controversial contracts given out under the program involved
a Montreal-based communication or marketing agency called Groupaction, a known
friend and supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada. Between 1996 and 1999,
Groupaction was awarded three contracts valued respectively at $500,000,
$550,000 and $575,000. In March of 2002, this sponsorship program blew up in the
government's face, following reports in the media and questions in the House of
Commons and here in the Senate. Important concerns were raised about the
program's inefficiencies and obvious examples of wasteful spending. Groupaction
was caught four-square in the middle of all this controversy. After increased
pressure from the media, the public and parliamentarians, the then-minister of
Public Works, Don Boudria, was forced to ask the Auditor General to conduct a
special audit into the three Groupaction sponsorship contracts.
The Auditor General, Ms. Sheila Fraser, agreed to the special audit. A few
months later, on May 8, 2002, she tabled an extensive report in the House of
Commons. She did not mince her words. She stated:
Our audit found that senior public servants responsible for managing the
contracts demonstrated an appalling disregard for the Financial
Administration Act, the Government Contracts Regulations, Treasury Board
policy, and rules designed to ensure prudence and probity in government and
procurement.... The government files on the three contracts are so poorly
documented that many key questions remain unanswered surrounding the
selection of the contractor and the basis for establishing the price and
scope of work for the contracts. In our opinion, the government did not
receive much of what it contracted for and paid for....
Key elements of what was specified in the Groupaction contracts were
never delivered and no one has been able to find a report for the second
contract, for which the government paid $549,990.42... Officials approved
payments for work that varied considerably from what the contracts
specified. In a few cases, payments were approved with the knowledge that
the requirements of the contracts had not been fully met.... We found that
the first contract had been amended to double its value without any
documentation to support the need for the amendment... None of the documents
we examined contained any explanation of how the government had determined
the need for the services or why it had decided that contracting was the
best way to fill the need. We found no evidence that a proper selection
process was followed in awarding the first contract.... We saw little
documented support for the decision to award the second and third contracts
to Groupaction.... Officials did not comply with the requirements of the
Financial Administration Act and contracting regulations, and did not
verify that the amount of time billed for by the contractor was an
acceptable reflection of the work that was done."
At the press conference after tabling her report, Ms. Fraser stated:
The Financial Administration Act and government contracting
regulations are rules that apply to public servants, not to contractors. And
senior public servants broke just about every rule in the book.
The Auditor General's findings respecting the Groupaction contracts prompted
her to launch a government-wide audit of the entire sponsorship program. As she
noted during her press conference, "You can't put three contracts this badly
managed in front of the Auditor General and believe she won't want to see the
rest." She went on to say, "This is a completely unacceptable way for government
to do business. Canadian taxpayers deserve better."
On May 24, 2002, just barely under a year ago, the RCMP announced that it
would undertake a full criminal investigation into the awarding of advertising
contracts to Groupaction. Canadians are anxiously awaiting the result.
The media had a field day after Ms. Fraser reported. As an example, The
Globe and Mail of September 18, 2002 reported:
Under the former federal sponsorship program, advertising agencies would
receive hefty commissions, usually 12 per cent, to oversee the government's
sponsorship of events.... Quebec-based agencies that were major donors, many
of which also had executives who worked on Liberal Party election campaigns;
Groupaction, Groupe Everest and Lafleur Communication Marketing Inc.,
received the lion's share of the contracts.... An internal Public Works
audit in 2000 found that Groupaction and Groupe Everest received 63 per cent
of the sponsorship money between them, in violation of government guidelines
that limit any one company to no more than 25 per cent.
It gets worse, honourable senators. Groupaction was also the company of
choice for another of the present government's high profile fiascos — the gun
registry program. The agency managed to get $29.3 million in contracts since
1997 for the billion-dollar program. In that regard, the Saint John
Telegraph-Journal reported on June 18, 2002:
Groupaction's firearm registry work includes yet another missing report —
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt, Senator Angus, but your
time has expired.
Senator Angus: May I have leave?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, the article continued:
The federal government is looking into yet another contract with the
Montreal ad agency Groupaction Marketing, this one for $330,000, to devise a
communications strategy that was never requested by the Justice Department
to sell federal gun control policy to the public.... The contract, awarded
in December 1996, called for Groupaction to canvas people affected by new
gun registration rules in the Firearms Act and develop a
communications strategy for the government.... The Justice Department says
it never asked for such a study and never received one from Groupaction. The
deal was handled by Public Works, where it was approved by Charles Guité, a
senior official who has since quietly retired.
In February of this year, Public Works Minister Ralph Goodale announced that
up to seven civil servants implicated in the sponsorship program face
disciplinary measures, or possibly even criminal charges. Minister Goodale also
suggested that the probe could extend to former Public Works minister Alphonso
Gagliano, who was responsible for the department when the scandalous activity
Honourable senators, I could go on for hours listing the scandals of the
Liberal government. Due to time constraints, however, I have restricted myself
to the highly disturbing, if not downright unbelievable, facts surrounding a
single communications agency, Groupaction.
We can conclude that the scandal surrounding the sponsorship program occurred
when the Liberals, under the pretext of combating the separatist movement, took
advantage of the situation to cut some pretty sizeable cheques for their
supporters. To do so, they did not hesitate to get around, or actually break,
the rules for the proper awarding of government contracts.
Using the excuse of fighting the separatist movement in Quebec, the Liberal
government wrote large cheques to its loyal donors and supporters. The evidence
clearly reveals that the services contracted for and so generously paid for
were, in many cases, only partly delivered to the government and in all other
cases, not delivered at all.
The government also appears to have been devious and deceitful by covering
its tracks and leaving no paper trail for the auditors. Also, the government
only decided to clean up its act after it was caught red-handed not once, but
three, four or even more times.
Several days ago, honourable senators, Ralph Goodale, the minister of Public
Works responsible for federal contracting practices these days, unveiled a
series of new measures aimed at bringing some semblance of integrity to this
huge annual expenditure of public funds on government advertising. Mr. Goodale,
now known as the government's resident Mr. Integrity, acknowledged in announcing
the new rules: "I think we have the process configured so it will be open,
transparent and fair.... I think what we have now is a really strong, credible
set of rules." As for using advertising contracts as rewards to party faithful
for services during election campaigns, Goodale said: "That's just not on any
more. That may have been the old way of doing business, but that stuff won't fly
with the public in this day and age, nor should it."
According to an editorial in the Ottawa Sun last Friday:
In the decade the Chrétien government has been in power, Liberal-friendly
ad agencies have dined out on an estimated $1.5 billion in federal
advertising contracts. In the past year alone, federal departments have
burned through close to $200 million, advertising everything from SARS to
savings bonds. By default, the lion's share has gone to a tight little
circle of firms up to their executive suites in Grits....There is no way to
calculate exactly how many millions of dollars of Canadian taxpayers' money
have been wasted in all this.
Honourable senators, Auditor General Fraser has indicated that the new rules
for awarding government advertising contracts are a step in the right direction.
I agree. However, she said:
...the proof will be in how the policies are implemented. We'll have to
wait and see. In many cases the government has very good policies and
procedures. It's how they are put into practice that becomes troublesome.
All of this really makes one wonder how many other such nauseating messes are
in the Liberal closet, waiting to be uncovered. It is clear that these contracts
were blatant pork barrel patronage, pure and simple. The more information that
comes to light about this government's contract dealings, the more one can
plainly observe the flagrant pattern of sleaze and abuse. The Liberals
priorities are simple: reward your friends and hide the truth from Canadians.
Canadians work hard, honourable senators. Canadian taxpayers pay a
significant portion of their hard-earned money to the government. Honourable
senators, it is simply unacceptable that Canadians' tax dollars be wasted in
this deplorable way and used to contribute to such unethical and dishonest
behaviour. Those responsible must be held to account for their flagrantly
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. John G. Bryden: I have a question of the Honourable Senator
I rise, honourable senators, because it came to my attention in the latter
part of last week that there was a significant misunderstanding of my speech. I
know I am not allowed to speak more than once on this inquiry. This mistake came
to my attention because Senator Stratton put a question to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. The question put was directly out of my speech and,
indeed, a great deal of my speech depended on that sentence. It was obvious to
me that he had misunderstood that particular portion. The leader said she does
not have to answer for me, which is true. I could answer for myself, she said.
Since I read that, I have been trying to find out how I can now answer for
myself, because I am only allowed to speak once and I have already spoken.
I draw the attention of the Senate to rule 37(1) of our rules, which deals
with this. It says:
No Senator shall speak more than once. However, if a material part of the
Senator's speech has been misunderstood, the Senator may speak again —
Senator Stratton: Good try, Senator Bryden.
Senator Bryden: The rule continues:
— in the same debate. In such a case, the Senator, with leave of the
Senate, shall be permitted no more than one period of five minutes to
explain that part of the speech which was misunderstood. In so doing, the
Senator shall not introduce any new matters.
Senator Stratton: Are you going to apologize?
Senator Bryden: Because I know the question was seriously put, and
because the misunderstanding is obvious to me, at least, I would like leave of
the Senate to spend the five minutes that I could be allotted here.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is not granted, Honourable Senator Bryden.
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator Stratton: Next time you can take questions.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: I should like to question the honourable
senator on his speech.
Some Hon. Senators: He has gone.
Senator Ringuette: I am sorry, honourable senators, that he left so
fast. Thank you.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Ask Senator Bryden a question.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Eyton, debate adjourned.
Leave having been given to revert to Tabling of Reports from
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the
Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, OSCE, the Organization for Security and
Co- operation in Europe, Parliamentary Assembly's OSCE PA second winter session,
Vienna, Austria, February 20 and 21, 2003.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton
calling the attention of the Senate to the Budget presented by the Minister
of Finance in the House of Commons on February 18, 2003.—(Honourable
Senator Carstairs, P.C.).
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I began this speech on March 25. Unfortunately, because of my activities, and
also I must say those of the Leader of the Opposition, I have not been able to
return to it until today. I was, of course, expanding on the good news we had
just read about our national economy. Let me begin.
At the same time last year, Senator Bolduc expressed his concerns about the
economic upturn, describing the Minister of Finance's forecasts as too
optimistic. In support of his position, he made reference to our neighbours to
the South and the prudent scepticism of Alan Greenspan, President of the Federal
Reserve Board, and Bob Rubin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary.
Fortunately for Canadians, parallels cannot be drawn between the performances
of our two economies. I am pleased to report that, despite the fact that the
American economy appears to be slowing and their national debt increasing,
economic indicators here in Canada remain strong. Since last year's budget, our
national economy has seen favourable growth across a number of significant
economic factors. Canada is in an enviable economic position when compared to
all of its partners in G7. Over the past year, Canada has led the G7 in growth,
while other countries are beset by economic uncertainty. We are the only G7
member expected to declare a surplus last year, and all indicators point to
further growth and additional surpluses for this year.
Our standard of living has grown faster than that of any other G7 country,
and we are still experiencing favourable economic conditions.
The International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development predict that, over the next two years, Canada will
move ahead of all other G7 member countries as far as economic growth is
The 2003 budget is the sixth balanced budget brought down by the government.
This cautious approach to finances has paid dividends for Canadians. In recent
years, we have witnessed increased economic security. This has allowed personal
disposable income to increase by 13 per cent in recent years.
In recent weeks, the Canadian dollar has risen dramatically. How many
honourable senators in this chamber can remember the conversations we had in
Question Period just a year ago where it seemed that, according to the
opposition, we were in a total nosedive and the dollar would never recuperate? I
believe the dollar reached 70.87 cents yesterday. The dollar did not go into the
depths and has experienced a high-percentage increase in just the last two
months. The dollar is at its highest level now in more than five years.
New home construction is also up dramatically. The number of applications for
building permits was at a record high at the beginning of this year and, because
interest rates remain low, Canadians can afford to buy these new homes.
As a country, we experienced more job growth last year than any other G7
nation, and that growth was disbursed through every age group and geographic
region. Last month, while Americans lost more jobs than at any time over the
past year, Statistics Canada reported that we created 55,000 new jobs during
that same period.
As a result of continuous record payments on our national debt, Canadians
today are less burdened by interest payments. The Government of Canada is now
able to access funds that were used to service the debt and spend it on more
important priorities, such as health care, national child benefits and
Honourable senators, the Government of Canada is also committed to reducing
taxes, where possible, to reflect the true cost of federal programs. As some
programs may have outlived their usefulness and because few programs are meant
to continue indefinitely, government expenditures will come under examination. A
program review — of all federal programs across all departments — will be
instituted by the departments. They will reassess program usefulness and
effectiveness and will report their findings to Treasury Board. This review will
free up more revenue to spend on new programs that are better designed to fill
the needs of Canadians today.
In an effort to reduce the debt, previous budgets focused on minimizing
expenditures and not on whether our revenue stream also required adjustment. The
current state of the Canadian economy is favourable. Taxpayers deserve to
benefit from the sacrifices that they have made. As one of my predecessors, the
Honourable Alasdair Graham, pronounced a few years ago, "the elimination of the
deficit was not an end in itself." In addition to introducing new initiatives,
the federal government is introducing a cost-reduction program in several areas.
When the Government of Canada introduced the Air Travellers' Security Charge,
we committed to review the costs of this program. This budget reduces the charge
on airline tickets by 40 per cent, from $24 to $14 for a round-trip ticket
I know that Honourable Senator Stratton must have been absolutely delighted
with the news that the federal government will engage independent experts to
consult on the Employment Insurance Program, and employee premium rates will
decrease to better reflect the costs of this program. As honourable senators
know, premium rates have been reduced each and every year, but it is clear that
we are still collecting more than required and that is what these experts will
Taxes will be lowered in order to encourage investment in Canada. The federal
capital tax will be eliminated over the next five years. Small businesses will
be eligible for even greater deductions. Taxes will also be lowered in the
mineral and natural resources sectors.
In the past, our budget focus has been on fiscal responsibility and that will
continue. However, we are now placing a new focus to improve transparency and
The Government of Canada has implemented a new financial management system on
the recommendation of the Auditor General. The introduction of full accrual
accounting will give the government and taxpayers a more accurate and realistic
picture of both revenues and expenditures.
Instead of making financial judgments based on information that is limited to
current conditions, accrual accounting will take into account the long-term
advantages and disadvantages of any particular financial decision. Moving away
from a cash-based system and toward accrual accounting will give Canadian
taxpayers much better value for the same tax dollars and will enable the federal
government to see real financial benefits from its expenditures.
To further improve transparency, federal support to provinces will now be
paid through two new transfers: the Canada Health Transfer for health matters
and the Canada Social Transfer for post-secondary education and social services.
Increased funding for loans given by the Business Development Bank of Canada
will further help businesses. Other institutions like Aboriginal Business
Canada, Farm Credit Canada and the National Research Council's Industrial
Research Assistance Program will receive additional funding to encourage
initiatives that will contribute to their respective sectors.
Honourable senators, one of the most important initiatives in this budget is
increased funding to support the most disaffected members of our society, the
homeless. We see them in our communities every day, and we know that solving the
problems of so many people who live on our streets is not a simple matter.
However, providing shelter will also provide stability and dignity and is a
necessary first step in rebuilding their lives.
Over $400 million will be invested during the next three years to combat
homelessness. The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative will coordinate
the transfer of money to the communities and will work together with the
communities so that local priorities are identified and addressed. The SCPI, as
it is called, will work not only with other levels of government but also with
the voluntary and private sectors to reduce homelessness.
Honourable senators, I have been privileged in just the past few months to
visit two shelters in this country. The first, the Thompson shelter in northern
Manitoba, caters almost exclusively to Aboriginal people who have left their
communities and find themselves in Thompson without any form of accommodation. I
have also visited the Mission Hospice in Ottawa. I must tell honourable senators
that from my own personal experience, the dollars we spend on shelters like that
are absolutely irreproachable in terms of the value we get from them.
It was hard for me to look at the Thompson shelter, which can accommodate
only 15 people a night. If the shelter takes in one woman, for example, it can
only accommodate eight men because there are two rooms, one for males and the
other for females. If just one female needs that room to herself, six men must
be asked to leave and sleep rough for the night because the shelter cannot
accommodate them. Clearly, they need more space. Hopefully, through this new
initiative, they will acquire that.
There is something special going on here at the Mission Hospice here in
Ottawa. They have developed palliative care beds. They will treat homeless
people who do not want to go into hospital. The very nature of their lifestyle
is such that they do not want to be in an institution, so the ability has been
established for these people to receive hospice care within the Mission Hospice.
The honourable minister responsible, Claudette Bradshaw, is so impressed with
that program that she is reaching out to other shelters across the country to
see if they could provide the same type of service.
I should like to draw to the attention of honourable senators that the
Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative has been recognized
internationally as a model program to address the needs of the homeless. Last
year, the United Nations selected the SCPI program as a "best practice" for
the UN Habitat International Awards. These awards recognize programs that
improve the quality of life in cities and communities.
The Government of Canada has committed to investing $3 billion to our
infrastructure over the next 10 years, including $1 billion for municipal
infrastructure. Part of this money is being directed to the SCPI program and
part is being directed to expand affordable housing and to extend the
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.
Canadians know that quality of life is not dependent solely upon housing and
Senators have read about the cornerstone of this budget, the five-year
investment of almost $35 billion in health care, the number one program desired
by Canadians. This investment is the result of many converging factors. One
determining factor is clearly the Romanow Commission on the Future of Health
Care in Canada, which reported its findings late last year. The final and
decisive cause is the achievement of the 2003 Health Care Accord, the outcome of
discussions held earlier this year between the Prime Minister and the provincial
This outcome, however, would not have been possible without the significant
contribution of members of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology. The Senate committee studied the quality and
accessibility of health care services from coast to coast to coast and made
comprehensive recommendations to change current approaches and to add new and
innovative services. Their work was equally considered. I think, honourable
senators, that if you were to examine the recommendations of the Senate
committee, the recommendations of the Romanow committee and the actual
pronouncements of the health accord, you will find that the report of the Senate
of Canada did very well indeed.
I have spoken in the past about the important developments we have achieved
in relation to my other position as Minister with Special Responsibility for
Palliative Care. I am extremely gratified to report that this health care budget
establishes a new benefit funded by the Employment Insurance Fund for six weeks
of compassionate care leave. This means that any family member can care for
someone who is gravely ill or at the end of life without worrying about
sustaining an income during such a difficult period. I have often been
petitioned by Canadians for more government assistance during what is a very
stressful and emotional time. I believe this is one of the best ways we can
provide real support.
Because health care is of such fundamental importance to Canadians, many
other aspects of health care are also receiving increased funding. The largest
proportion of health funds will go toward helping the provinces and territories
improve primary health care, home care and catastrophic drug coverage. We will
be, in effect, buying change.
The Canadian Health and Social Transfer will be increased by billions and
will also receive an immediate cash infusion of $2.5 billion to upgrade the
current health care system. Money will be provided to develop secure electronic
records of patients, to establish a fund to acquire more diagnostic and medical
equipment and for medical research.
Canadians view our universal health care system as an essential contribution
to our national welfare. They also share a concern for the welfare of our
children who will inherit and sustain these social values. Last month, the
Honourable Minister Stewart announced that federal, provincial and territorial
ministers responsible for social services have reached an agreement to expand
early childhood development programs and services. Nine hundred million dollars
will be distributed to the provinces and territories in order to improve access
to affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education. It is
always important to combine the phrase "child care" with "early childhood
education." Children are like sponges. They begin learning from the moment of
their birth, if not their conception. From the moment of birth, one need only
watch their eyes to know that they learn more each day. Qualified child care
must provide not only shelter, but also education. There are also provisions for
a new child disability benefit for low-income families, and the list of medical
expenses that are eligible for a tax credit has been increased.
I am sure that honourable senators are aware of the importance of the
Aboriginal and First Nations communities to our Prime Minister. I know that the
first Canadians are also of concern to many of you and that they have long had a
receptive audience in the Senate. I also know that you have an appreciation of
the complexity of the problem facing any government as it attempts to bridge the
economic differences between Aboriginal communities and other communities across
This budget contains numerous initiatives to respond to health and other
concerns on reserves. As you know, a great many programs contain provisions
concerning Aboriginal peoples. In addition to these major programs, the budget
sets aside specific amounts to protect Aboriginal languages and cultures,
through the establishment of a new centre that will be directed by Aboriginals.
The budget also contains increased funding for the First Nations Policing
Program and funding to find new ways to meet the needs of Aboriginals living in
This budget contains measures to invest further in programs that enhance the
quality of life for Aboriginals, both off and on reserve. A significant amount
of money, $1.3 billion, will be spent over the next five years to support health
programs for First Nations and Inuit. This money will provide for increased
capital development, nursing programs and immunizations.
Last summer, I spent a week touring northern Manitoba reserve communities,
particularly their nursing stations, hospitals and personal care homes. The
quality of care there is exemplary, but the lack of equipment and resources is
astounding. None of us living in this part of Canada would tolerate for a minute
the conditions that many of them are asked to tolerate.
I will cite one example that blew my mind. In one community, where every
patient must be transported out within an hour and a half, they could not afford
to buy a $500 blanket warmer. There are patients there delivering children and
suffering from heart attacks and accidents, yet we cannot provide them with a
heated blanket. Finally, someone decided to do that. Someone in the Department
of Health authorized it and they got their blanket warmer. However, someone else
in the Department of Health decided that they did not need the blanket warmer
and wanted to confiscate it. Fortunately, the band council paid for the blanket
warmer and it remains in the community. Such a situation is intolerable.
I also learned that individuals were being transported out for a test that
could be conducted on the reserve. The cost of transporting a person from that
community to Winnipeg was $900, and they were transporting 50 people a year. The
cost of the piece of equipment required for the test was $5,000. It did not take
much arithmetic to figure out that you could pay for the equipment in three
months. The logical question was, "If you had the equipment would there be
someone available to conduct the test?" In fact, they did have a staff member
at the hospital trained to conduct the test. It is my understanding that they
now have the required piece of equipment.
Honourable senators, it was an eye-opener for me to experience that
firsthand. It is not the same to read about it; I have read it about it in the
past. It is different to experience it firsthand, to visit the nursing stations,
the primary care homes and the nurses providing the care. I was connected with
Telehealth, a wonderful initiative sponsored by the federal and municipal
governments. An example of the benefits of Telehealth is the case of a young
child who had a hernia operation. Under most circumstances, that child would
have had to have gone to Winnipeg three or four times. Due to Telehealth, the
child went once. The rest of the time, the child was at home supported by family
members. That is the kind of innovative technology in which we must invest if we
are going to provide the quality of care for our Aboriginal peoples to which
they are entitled as Canadians. We must make even more of it available.
The ongoing contribution of Aboriginals to our country has given Canada a
special cultural heritage. There are other aspects that we identify as uniquely
Canadian, including our formation as a country from two distinct European
Last month I attended an announcement by the Prime Minister and the Minister
for Intergovernmental Affairs to devote $750 million over five years to an
action plan for official languages. We have already made great strides in
promoting bilingualism among our younger generation. Over the past decade, the
number of students who can speak both languages has doubled to 25 per cent. In
order to ensure that bilingualism in Canada will remain protected and part of
our national identity in the future, we need to increase that level to 50 per
Honourable senators, one of the initiatives of this new program that was
important to me was to improve the needs of core French program students. As a
teacher, that word makes sense to me but it may not necessarily make sense to
you. However, in my province, for example, we have three types of programming.
We have children who are in français programs. Those children have parents who
are French-speaking, and so, other than their course in English, the rest of
their curriculum is in French.
We also have programs on early French immersion and late French immersion,
early French immersion starting in kindergarten and late French immersion
starting sometimes in Grade 4 and sometimes in Grade 7. I must say that many of
those teachers are top-notch. They are very well qualified.
However, the rest, and by far the majority, of Manitoban school children who
study French do it in what we call core French classes. That means they study
French for 40 minutes a day beginning, sometimes, in Grade 1 and sometimes in
Grade 4. I believe that we need to beef up core French training. I do not want
children to share my experience where I studied French every single year I was
in school, except that it was taught by someone who could not speak French. I
learned to write and to read French, but it is very difficult to speak French to
anyone if they cannot respond in French. The result was that I did not learn to
speak French even though it was in the curriculum and I studied it.
Unfortunately, it was not good enough.
Therefore, we need to improve the training of core French teachers so that
all children have the opportunity to learn to speak the French language, and I
would suggest it is probably equally true that, in Quebec, they need to have
good solid core English training so that they may learn to communicate in the
other official language.
One area of our Canadian culture that interests me a great deal as a former
teacher of Canadian history is protecting our heritage. We are investing $30
million over the next three years to provide financial incentives to the private
sector to preserve historic places. This will not only rejuvenate some of our
most beautiful buildings, it will also encourage economic growth in the
surrounding areas, which are often located in the oldest and most neglected
parts of our cities.
This budget extends beyond our health, our children and our communities to
our national borders and protecting our collective global welfare. The
multicultural nature of our country has meant that Canadians have an innate
sense of the importance of world affairs. We know that Canada occupies a special
place among other nations and that we can play an important role in
international relations. However, security for Canadians means not only national
defence, but the security that comes from living in a world governed by peace
and economic prosperity.
This budget includes $800 million for our Armed Forces, with an additional
$250 million immediately upon the announcement of the budget. It also contains a
$1.4 billion increase over three years for international assistance. Canada is
on track to double its international assistance by 2010, because we believe that
a more equitable balance amongst nations will be able to diminish conflict, and
there was no more important national initiative announced by the government than
the Prime Minister's Africa fund.
In order to strengthen the country's economy, we will invest further to
expand trade with our main trading partner, the United States.
We will also be setting aside money in contingency reserves for security, to
respond to unexpected security needs, including border security.
When this government was first elected, we made a fundamental promise to
Canadians to implement a sound economic strategy. We were committed to a
long-term plan to not fall into a deficit position and to not add to our
national debt. Honourable senators will know that only eight years ago our
federal debt load peaked at 71 per cent. Last year our debt load decreased to
46.5 per cent, and the federal debt itself has been reduced by $47.6 billion. We
knew that our social obligations could be better met if we had more tax dollars
available and fewer tax dollars committed to paying down our debt.
This budget, with its emphasis on social expenditures, provides a
counterweight to previous policies. Canadians are now in the fortunate position
of being able to match financial responsibility with social responsibility. We
are building the Canada we want, a country that is economically strong,
culturally unique, and without parallel in caring for its citizens.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have a question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Bolduc, following upon Senator
Grafstein's question, I will turn to you for the adjournment.
Senator Grafstein: At the outset I have a comment. The senator made a
very moving assay into the renovation of Aboriginal health care. She will recall
that the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources produced a unanimous report outlining a means of renovating drinking
water facilities on reservations. Could she tell us what progress has been made
with respect to the government's promises to deal with that situation on the
Senator Carstairs: I thank the honourable senator for that question. I
can inform him that much of the $1.3 billion will be specifically directed to
improving water quality on the reserves. Obviously, good health and good,
healthy lifestyle indicators are dependent on having good quality water. He
knows better than most others that there are many reserve communities, even in
my own province, that would not do well on independent evaluation testing done
on their central water supplies.
Hon. Roch Bolduc: Honourable senators, the Minister of Finance's
budget speech two months ago focused on five key points: the health of
Canadians; Canadian families and communities; the economy; Canada in the world;
and management of public spending and accountability.
Before I address these five points, let me say straight off, honourable
senators, that my overall impression is that federal budgets have become
meaningless. The discrepancies between projection, budgets and the facts are
such that we are now forced to rely on the past, that is to say, the accounts
certified by the Auditor General. We see a situation where revenues from
taxpayers are growing rapidly and the government is spending that money hand
over fist, based not on the real needs of Canadians but on the pressure from
taxpayers grouped with the most effective voice organizations.
The 2002-03 fiscal year is a striking example of that. Program spending
increased 11.5 per cent, or $14.3 billion, yet the economy grew at much less
than half that pace. To those who would reply that it is because of health care
needs and the threat of war, I say that other spending increased 7.3 per cent
this year, twice the rate of economic growth.
The budget contains an additional $25 billion in spending over three years.
Moreover, when it comes to spending public money, the government mimics the
ex-PQ government in Quebec, using the smoke screen of five-year plans to beef up
the amounts without knowing whether the government will still be in office then
to dole out the money to those with the loudest voices. Nor are we given any
numbers for spending and revenue beyond next year, leaving us to wonder what
they are trying to hide.
Gone are the days of moderation and frugal handling of public monies. As an
example, now we have 39 ministers in the federal cabinet. That is not a cabinet;
it is an assembly. Another example is that nearly half a million people now work
in the public sector in Canada; that is to say 450,000 people. Only one third of
them work in the public service proper. The others are in Crown companies,
special agencies and all those organizations that are outside the civil service.
Instead of changing the laws of the civil service to accommodate and modernize
the situation, we hire people outside of the public service, but they still work
for the government.
Nowadays it seems that leadership battles and the health of the party come
before the health of the country. The minister was exaggerating when he said
that we are in a time of prosperity. I have news for him. The world economy is
in a very bad situation. Those who know what is going on in the world are aware
that the Americans have been experiencing for the past three years — and will
continue to experience for some time to come — the worst devaluation of their
stock exchange assets since the 1930s.
Japan has been in a recession for 10 years despite massive injections of
government money that have produced no results in terms of economic growth at
all. Public expenditures were 30 per cent of the GNP; now they are 40 per cent.
That is a tremendous move for an economy of about $4.5 trillion. Yet the
economic growth is zero in Japan and Japan is a major contender. We always speak
of France, but France is a peanut by comparison to Japan — a big peanut but a
The economy of continental Europe, despite the economic bravado, has been in
a slump for quite a while. In the past two years, the United States has lost 2
million jobs. In March of 2003, 300,000 people lost their jobs in the United
I forecast a year ago that we might witness a double-dip recession in the
United States. We are in it right now. I am telling honourable senators that the
impact on Canada is coming pretty soon.
Senator Carstairs gave us good news about the Canadian economy. Let us wait
another six months and see what happens. I do not hope to be right but we shall
see. Those who think things are going well are living in a dream world. The fact
that federal statistics cast Canada in a favourable light compared with other G8
countries does not mean we are in a paradise. We are far from it in fact. I urge
senators to read the very powerful speech that Mr. Brian Mulroney gave a few
months ago in Halifax.
The minister tells over and over about the good things that the OECD found in
our economic statistics in November 2002. He forgets to mention that the OECD
also pointed out that taxes are too high in Canada. Productivity is barely
improving relative to other countries and the market is too rigid. The OECD also
says that this is a bad time to introduce fiscal incentives like increased
government expenditure that does not create wealth.
What has Mr. Manley's budget done? It has done the exact opposite. Tax cuts
are non-existent or so small that they are a joke, yet spending has been
increased by an inordinate margin without looking at the validity of the many
programs already in place. I am disappointed by Mr. Manley who, after seven
years at the Department of Industry, struck me as fairly sensitive to Canada's
weaknesses in terms of productivity. I figured he would mark his arrival as
Minister of Finance with a bold initiative, perhaps a corporate tax cut that
would lower production costs and help corporations become more innovative
through investment in research and more sophisticated equipment — but, no. The
budget offers only scraps: 12 cents in Employment Insurance contributions; $5
per airline ticket; peanuts in terms of increased RRSP contribution limits; and
a five-year phase-out of capital tax. That is all the minister did to ease his
conscience over the very problems that account for the gap between our standard
of living and that of our neighbours. He, therefore, did almost nothing to
stimulate growth in the productivity of the labour force — GDP per worker. To
wit, in 1995, we were 15 per cent behind the United States in manufacturing. Six
years later we were behind by 33 per cent. Those are averages, which means they
cover the spectrum from our strong sectors like resources and our weak sectors
like machinery and electronic equipment.
From 1990 to 1995 and 1995 to 2002, average annual growth in the GDP per hour
was held steady at 1.5 per cent in Canada while the American rate increased to 2
per cent for the last seven years, even though they are in a slump. I should add
that in the past year direct foreign investment in Canada has dropped sharply
and Canadian exports to the United States have also decreased.
As for the rigidity of the market, the minister promised smarter regulations,
but we have been hearing that old song for about a decade now.
Honourable senators, I want to come back briefly to the OECD reference to
productivity, as it is essential that I bring the minister back down to earth
regarding our relative wealth. We have tumbled to fourteenth place among OEDC
countries in terms of R&D spending. That is lower than Sweden, which has barely
a third of Canada's population. We dropped from third to eighth place in terms
of competitiveness while Mr. Manley was industry minister. Our standard of
living measured by per capita GDP fell from second to seventh place among OECD
countries. That value uses the purchasing-power parity exchange rate in order to
eliminate variations in the cost of living and the market exchange rate. When
American states and Canadian provinces are ranked in terms of wealth produced,
only Alberta holds a respectable position, with Ontario far behind and the other
provinces at the bottom of the list. That is nothing to crow about as the
minister did in the House. He even mentioned by name every Liberal MP whose
riding would be getting special treats in this budget, as if he were arrogantly
trying to buy votes at the next convention. It was an indecent thing to see on
TV. I was in Florida looking at that and I was scandalized. Needless to say,
power changes people.
Let us turn our attention to the first highlight of the budget.
What about the government's health policy? In terms of policy direction,
nothing has changed, except that, under pressure from the provinces, the
government signed an agreement for the transfer of additional funding, combined
with a return to specific purpose subsidies imposed by Ottawa.
Big Brother knows best how to cure our problems in Vancouver, in Regina, in
Montreal and in Saint John.
Yet there was there was no shortage of opinions; there was the report of the
Clair Commission in Quebec, the Kirby report, the Mazankowski report and the
Romanow report, in which the government picked only two conclusions: to invest
additional funds and dismiss private-sector involvement.
In a nutshell, the government is revelling in the good old socialist model
created by the Labour Party in England following the Second World War. In
Canada, it is regarded as a mortal sin to accept contributions by the private
sector, despite the fact that they are accepted in almost every other developed
They are accepted in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany,
Holland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, and even in
socialist Tony Blair's England.
For us in Canada though, this is not acceptable. I guess all these
governments are deluded somehow. We are the only place to be in step, as noted
by Jeffrey Simpson in The Globe and Mail.
I might add that among industrialized nations with a universal health care
system, Canada has the most expensive system. The system is more expensive in
the United States, but access is more limited.
Among those with universal access, Canada's system is the most expensive. It
accounts for 10 per cent of our GDP. Still, our ranking in terms of results —
expectations, hi-tech equipment, and so on — based on meaningful indicators, is
very average. In other words, there is no proportionality between the money
spent and performance.
For example, take expectations versus expenditures in Saskatchewan. Canada,
the government and the bureaucrats at Health Canada have not grasped the
fundamentals of the problem yet. What are they? First and most fundamentally is
the aging of the population, thanks to the advancement of modern medicine. Over
the past century, life expectancy has increased by 30 years to approximately 80
years. In 20 years, the number of seniors 65 and over will have increased by 75
per cent and seniors will account for 20 per cent of the total population.
The second major statistic represents health care expenditures that increase
with age. In 2000, persons aged 65 and older represented 13 per cent of the
population and 45 per cent of health care expenditures in Quebec. Average annual
expenditures were $2,095; for persons aged 65 and older, health care cost
$7,330, or three times the average.
For the past 20 years, aging has been responsible for a 22 per cent increase
in health care expenditures. Twenty years from now, this phenomenon will result
in a 36 per cent increase in health care costs for care, medication,
technologies and so forth. Health expenditures are expected to double over the
next twenty years. Health care is costing us $100 billion, or 10 per cent of the
To this increase, we must add the cost of overall inflation, which would be
114 per cent over a 20-year period. However, this sector is characterized by
stronger inflation, set at 148 per cent.
The number of working Canadians will decrease due to the aging of the
population and the low birth rate. For the past thirty years, the number of
Canadians aged 65 and older has more than doubled: from 1.7 million, there are
now 4 million seniors or one in six adults or one in eight Canadians.
In 2021, some 6.7 million Canadians will be over the age of 65 or one in four
adults or one in five Canadians. In 2041, when today's graduating classes will
be nearing retirement, 9.2 million people will be over the age of 65, or one in
three adults or one in four Canadians. There will be fewer workers to support
the costs of the system, set at $3,149 per capita now and at $8,500 in twenty
years. Personal income will not increase enough to meet the anticipated rise in
costs. These three trends indicate that the current system is headed for serious
Delaying a serious overhaul of the system is an irresponsible government
attitude both for Ottawa and for the provinces, but especially for Ottawa, which
is setting the rules of the game.
I want to come back to Senator Kirby's report, which is better than Mr.
Romanow's. There are some questionable points, but he is betting on the
incentives. Without this, the health care system cannot be reformed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Bolduc, I am sorry to interrupt, but
your time has expired.
Senator Bolduc: I am only beginning.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted to allow
the honourable senator to continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Bolduc: Everyone is in a rush to focus on changes to the
system's administration, including Senator Kirby in his report. This, however,
barely impacts upon 8 to 10 per cent of costs. So that is not the way of the
future. It must be acknowledged that the Kirby report was more analytical than
the Romanow report and refers to the central role of incentives in any reform.
The present system has some serious unintended effects; for instance, the
fact that services are free creates an inefficient and excessive demand on
services of up to 30 per cent. No one will admit it, but that is the fact of the
Another example: fee-for-service encourages overproduction of services. The
"moral hazard" must be reduced and use must be made of means such as
cost-sharing in connection with demand and managed care in connection with
supply. In other words, the system must be provided with a plan that makes it
naturally possible to cut costs while still providing services.
There are complaints about physician shortages in Quebec. Yet the funding
scheme imposes quotas on faculties of medicine, encourages physicians to retire
early and imposes limits on their salaries. So we see them playing golf on
weekdays because they have reached their limit. They work three days a week
because they are not allowed to earn more than $200,000 or $250,000 annually.
The problem is not a shortage of physicians! Let them work. Let the ones who
want to work six days a week do so. That will solve the problem. The present
situation is ridiculous, as well as tragic for those who are waiting for surgery
or other treatment and for whom time is of the essence.
People must look out for their own futures. Individual workers should be able
to create their own health fund, tax-free, which would be cautiously invested to
meet future costs. This is the same principle as for retirement savings, and the
reasons are similar. It is not popular to speak this way in an era in which
there is a welfare state, where the majority of people expect the state to look
after them, as if people were incapable of looking out for their own futures.
What a misconception!
It seems to me that the past follies of Canada Pension Plan management — for
instance, from 1965 until 2000, when the government loaned money to the
provinces at below-market rates — should convince people that State-supported
social welfare is a necessary escape route. Such welfare is not for everyone,
but for the 8 to 10 per cent who comprise life's walking wounded, the mentally
handicapped, people with major physical handicaps, those in long-term care,
victims of serious accidents or people suffering from any serious illness that
deprives a family of an income.
The Manley budget, in addition to health care, will provide support to
Canada's families and communities. The government, instead of reducing
everyone's tax rates, discriminates in favour of some categories and against
others. Ottawa makes the decisions about tax expenditures because it knows
better than the taxpayers how to spend their money.
A look at the latest report on all tax expenditures, including exemptions,
deductions, tax credits, deferrals and other credits, reveals a frightening
number of possible situations. They are all the more complex because in many
cases they create feedback, making work for lawyers and accountants. The
economic impact of these measures is unfortunately hard to estimate.
The government is giving itself five years to erase the capital taxes that
have such a negative effect on businesses in their struggle for increased
productivity. I would like to emphasize that social costs have increased by 2.5
per cent per $100 of profits in ten years. This is a sizeable bite out of
salaries and company earnings. As for infrastructure subsidies, they are a
simple and politically worthwhile way to distribute money, rather than reforming
the tax system in such a way that regional governments could retain their
independence and not depend on patronage to provide a decent standard of living
to their residents.
That reminds me of the arguments between Georges-Émile Lapalme and Duplessis
in the 1950s, back when the current Prime Minister was a student at the seminary
The third part of the 2003 budget is devoted to the economy. I noticed right
off the bat that the government wants to help small business with a $100,000
increase in the small business deduction over five years. Think of that —
$20,000 a year and only for those who are incorporated. If a business is not
incorporated, it does not get the deduction.
Most small business people in Canada work from their homes. They are not
incorporated. It is the minority that will get the deduction. That is some
The RRSP situation was so ridiculous that the government must have felt so
embarrassed that it raised the contribution limit slightly.
Like his predecessor, the minister mentioned Canada's tax advantage over our
neighbours to the south. That advantage may be short-lived if the Congress
accepts the proposal of President Bush. Mr. Manley forgot to tell us that his
government has taken $55 billion more out of taxpayers' pockets this year than
in 1994. Tax revenues increased from $106 billion in 1994 to $161 billion in
The orgy of additional spending over the past few years was made possible by
taxes that have been too high for eight years, and a tax incentive that was
entirely out of place in the economic circumstances, which the Bank of Canada
quickly sanctioned, as only it can, taking into account our inflation rate which
is the highest of the G7, but no one talks about that.
The government misjudged the worldwide economic situation and I referred to
that earlier. I feel a need to come back to this because it is more serious than
people realize. The value of American assets has dropped by an estimated $7
trillion, which represents a loss of 40 per cent of the total Standard & Poor's
index. That is the equivalent of 70 per cent of the American GDP and 10 times
the one-year value of the Canadian economy. Elsewhere in the world, the loss is
comparable. Indeed, there is talk of deflation of U.S $13 trillion, or more than
one-third of the gross world product or 20 times more than Canada's GDP.
People are talking as though Canada is doing just fine economically. Well, we
have been doing relatively fine for only a very short time. That is the reality.
It will take time to absorb the massive over-investment made in recent years
in some sectors of the economy, $2 trillion for example in communications.
Business and individuals, too, are overburdened with debt because stock prices
are historically overvalued by 20 to 25 per cent, perhaps even 30 per cent, and
interest rates are low. There is a risk of worldwide deflation because there is
only so much that the federal reserve can do.
Honourable senators will recall what Mr. Greenspan said in 1998 about
irrational exuberance, but we know that he did not do anything about it because
there was a federal election coming in Washington; and he complied with the
government. That is not why he is paid. Therefore, we have paid for it since.
The result is that the growth rate will stay low for longer than we had
hoped. The rise in real estate prices is also coming to an end. With the
globalization brought about by technology and our trade dependence on the United
States, the impact of these major shocks is certain to be felt in Canada soon.
Nor should we believe that the problem of Canada's public debt has been
solved. With the switch to full accrual accounting, the federal debt dropped to
$507 million but the net debt is $563 million because of commitments that were
not accounted for in the old system but are accounted for in the new one, such
as the requirements for the public pension plans. As well, on a cash-flow basis,
the government has a $5.8 billion shortfall this year.
The fourth part of the budget will deal with the very important subject of
Canada's foreign relations.
The government has added $1 billion to the defence budget. That is not how we
will make ourselves credible with NATO. It will not be taken seriously. It is
becoming an embarrassment, what is happening to us: we can no longer defend
ourselves. We were never able to do so, but at least previous governments,
starting with St. Laurent, knew we were not capable of defending ourselves. The
country has a vast territory, but we are unable to defend it. We therefore
concluded an agreement with the United States for NORAD. It made sense.
Today, people are wondering whether we should join the Northern Command. Why
refuse it? We are not being realistic. I listened to the debate on Iraq. I
listened carefully and I followed other perspectives than the American
perspective. I followed TV5, France Presse and a number of other media outlets.
We in Canada behaved like children. There was even a cabinet minister who
railed against the President of the United States. And the government did not
give him the boot. That is what we call leadership? Just thinking about it makes
my blood boil.
At least previous governments were realistic enough to conclude agreements to
ensure our protection. However, the government, based on some strange notion of
sovereignty, is still waffling on whether or not it should accept a security
perimeter that would include us. As for our traditional involvement in NORAD, it
is not clear that we will be providing the same for the Northern Command. I will
come back to this later, because I want to make a speech on security and I have
comments to make regarding the subject. I have wanted to talk about security for
Our relations with the United States are very strained. It is as though we
were going out of our way to make problems: diplomatic problems, trade problems,
a weak presence in states that import, and so on.
For example, we are represented in some 10 or 15 places in the United States;
however, in Mexico, the number is about 40. There are more Mexican
representatives in the state of Texas than there are Canadian representatives in
all of the United States. It is ridiculous. Three quarters of our budget for the
Department of Foreign Affairs goes to Europe, but we do nothing with Europe.
Most of our trading is done with the United States, but we invest in Europe, not
Asia. We should have people in Asia and the United States. It is fun to go to
Europe because they are our cousins in terms of culture. We have a great time
with the Europeans. However, Canada's reality and future do not lie in Europe.
The Department of Foreign Affairs needs to wake up and redirect its resources.
In today's tense situation, we are still torn between the United States and
Europe, in spite of the fact that, commercially, the European countries have
been snubbing us for 25 years, while we were bringing peace to their backyard.
As far as international assistance is concerned, we have yet another white
paper on the discretionary direction of the Department of Foreign Affairs. After
providing assistance for nearly 40 years, and in excess of $100 billion of
funding, we still do not know what impact it has had in real terms on developing
It may be appropriate to note here that the increase in the standard of
living in Asia came about more specifically after the free market economy was
introduced, which goes to show that economic growth benefits the poor as much as
the others. It is important that the world know that globalization and
international trade promote economic growth and that economic growth is good for
the rich as well as for the poor. This is a significant fundamental fact.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Bolduc: That is what is happening. In Asia, 3 billion people
have seen their standard of living increase, honourable senators. In Africa,
they were not so lucky, but in Asia, they were. I am familiar with the area, I
visited it; I can vouch for that.
I also note that CIDA is still without a legislative framework to define its
objectives, policies, principles, policy principles, resource-allocation
criteria and accountabilities. I have given a speech on the matter and hope to
garner support in this regard.
The last highlight of the budget is public funds and accountability. The
government has finally switched to full accrual accounting, which is an
administratively sound move. However, I note that the minister was being
virtuous when the timing was right. This was an excellent pretext for
committing, before the end of the fiscal year, amounts to be recorded in the
financial statement that are much larger than those in the budget, especially
since billions of dollars earmarked for innovation went into bank accounts and
are still there.
With regard to foundation accounts, the government justifiably had its ears
boxed by the Auditor General and by the Standing Senate Committee on National
Finance. It finally made a commitment to be a bit more transparent. The fact
remains that, in any event, we will have new legislation to patch things up with
regard to Parliament, even though the Auditor General, our agent, will not be
able to conduct an independent value-for- money audit in those areas. If the
minister wishes to reassure worried investors, I suggest that he review some of
the government's business rules in the Canada Corporations Act, and that he not
go to war with the provinces over the securities market but that he offer
I am returning to this because some dumb things have been done. Coming from
the private sector, from the market place, as I do, I can still admit this. A
lot of dumb things have been done in the United States and Canada as far as
executive salaries are concerned. I am not saying that regulations are needed to
change this, but someone must at some point make them realize that a dumb thing
is a dumb thing, even if done by a businessman. They generally have pretty good
judgment but have lacked judgment in the past five years as far as salaries are
concerned. They went way too far. In certain cases, I would say it came close to
being conflict of interest. When you inflate financial statements in order to
make sure the stocks go up, and when you start messing with stock options —
yikes, that is really going too far.
Senator Robichaud: That was not right.
Senator Bolduc: It certainly was not.
Incidentally, this could, to some extent, help bring foreign investment to
Canada since our share of this worldwide activity is so small. I reiterate the
warning sounded by the President of the Royal Bank over the loss of head
offices. The minister plans to reallocate funds — out of $143 billion, he wants
to identify $1 billion for reallocation. This is not what we would call a
comprehensive review of the existing programs when we consider, for example, the
gun registry fiasco.
Finally, the President of the Treasury Board has tabled draft reforms of the
Public Service Act. We are going to look at them very closely in committee
because they contain some disturbing things. In the meantime, I would like to
draw your attention, honourable senators, to a tendency to exaggerate somewhat
in the public service.
I now want to talk about administrative expenditure. The example comes from
high up. House of Commons expenditures increased $37 million in one year. This
reflects the artificial atmosphere in which our representatives live with the
peoples' money. Honourable senators, a $37-million increase in one year on the
other side is a big increase.
Almost all senior public servants receive sizeable performance bonuses in
addition to very good salaries, yet the Auditor General finds that the
measurement of service performance is loose.
Departmental performance assessments are never available. This is too
complicated, we are told. Yet administrators get a performance bonus. We are not
able to evaluate administrations, but we are able to evaluate the performance of
the administrators. Really now, this is ridiculous!
In the same vein, how can anyone rationalize the analysis of responsibilities
and performance evaluation for an income of almost $500,000 for the President of
Canada Post, as one example? Canada Post is a corporation with a monopoly — no
one can deliver a letter, as you know, for less than 48 cents — that can raise
stamp prices whenever it wants. Certainly, all that is missing is options. It is
a monopoly. He can raise the stamp prices as he wishes, and we pay the guy
$500,000 a year. It is not serious. Somebody somewhere is being silly.
These excesses are indicative of a profound change in ethics in the public
service. Public servants want to be like entrepreneurs but without risking their
own capital and the possibility of bankruptcy.
I had the honour of working in the Quebec public service and dealing with the
federal mandarins of the day, the Robert Bryces, the Sharps, the Robertsons, the
Johnsons and others. I can assure you, honourable senators, that they were not
serving their country for the money; and they did not need performance bonuses
to increase their motivation to work.
Perhaps I am longing for days gone by, but there was a time when quality was
established at Finance and Foreign Affairs. Deputy ministers and other public
servants were later drawn from that pool of distinguished human resources. Let
us hope that the tradition is not dying.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I wish to move adjournment of the debate, in the name of Senator
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with the cooperation of the honourable senator, if we were to follow
the custom of going back and forth between government and opposition, Senator
Morin would like to speak. If he is in agreement, I will move that debate be
adjourned until the next sitting, in the name of Senator Morin.
Senator Kinsella: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Morin, debate adjourned.
Hon. Gérald-A. Beaudoin rose pursuant to notice of April 29, 2003:
That he will call attention of the Senate to a possible new constitution
He said: Honourable senators, there is much talk of a new constitution for
Iraq. Some have even mentioned federalism, including the Prime Minister of
Canada. The idea is gaining ground. That country must adopt a new constitution
and the federal formula could be appropriate. In certain cases, federalism is
the answer. It all depends on the country that needs a new constitution. Canada
could be a worthwhile model.
Before talking about federalism, there are unavoidable political steps which
must be taken first. First of all, there must be order and peace. Iraq is in a
difficult transition period.
Then a democratic system will have to be established. The Iraqis must, of
course, choose their own system. It is not up to us to impose one on them.
The foundation should be solid, including the rule of law, the supremacy of
the constitution and the separation of great powers. That is the very basis of
It will be important to have a real separation between the church and state.
Right now, Iraq is allegedly a secular state; Islam is the state religion. The
state must be secular both in theory and in practice. Citizens must be free to
choose from one or several religions, or none. This is a difficult problem to
solve. It took a great deal of time for the Western world to do so. However, it
must be considered from the outset, before even broaching the issue of
federalism. The problem of religion must be solved first.
Canada, the United States and several democratic federations have
constitutions that, as interpreted by their supreme or constitutional courts,
respect the separation of church and state.
At this point, it is important to define federation and confederation. A
confederation is an association of independent states that have one or several
common objectives. A federation is a country where the powers are shared between
the central government and the regions. I highly doubt that Iraq would be
interested in a confederation. As for a federal state, I think it is possible.
When we talk about modern federalism, we think of the United States,
Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Germany and Belgium. Currently, there are 24
federations in the world.
After the American War of Independence, the 13 states opted for a
confederation formula. The articles of this confederation were proposed on
November 15, 1777, and came into force on March 1, 1781. This form of government
was provisional. It did not end up being the ideal solution for the states.
In the summer of 1787, in Philadelphia, representatives from the 13 states
adopted a federal constitution after four months of discussion, and a
confederation was replaced by a federation. The constitution came into force on
March 4, 1789.
The United States is still a federal state. From 13 states at the beginning,
it has grown to 50 today. The federation is working very well. True, there was a
civil war from 1860 to 1864, but President Abraham Lincoln managed to salvage
the American federation.
Switzerland made the transition from a confederation to a federation in 1848.
In 1867, Canada adopted a federal government system following the Charlottetown
conference and the Quebec City conference, in 1864, and the London conference,
in December 1866.
Our federation has grown. In 1867, Canada's population was approximately
three million. Today, it is 30 million, or 10 times as many. Canada is a member
of the G7, and a number of countries, including Australia, India and South
Africa, have modelled their government systems on our federal system.
Australia became a federation in 1901. Germany adopted a federal system in
1949. This system is working very well indeed. Belgium became a federal State in
1993, while India has been one since 1950 and Austria since 1920. Russia has
also become a federation.
At present, 2.4 billion individuals are living in a federal system,
worldwide. That is a significant number. In Canada, at constituent assemblies
from 1864 to 1867, John A. Macdonald made no secret of the fact that he would
have liked a unitary state. George-Étienne Cartier, in Lower Canada, and Joseph
Howe, in Nova Scotia, convinced him otherwise. Cartier was the key figure in
connection with the establishment of federalism in Canada.
No constitution is perfect. It has to be made to measure, and this will be
the same for the Iraqis as for everyone else. They will have to develop their
own system. In a federal state, power is necessarily decentralized, whereas in a
unitary state, it is centralized. There are, however, varying degrees of
centralization and decentralization.
In countries where religious and ethnic backgrounds are varied, prima facie
federalism is often what comes to mind spontaneously.
The kind of federalism in place in 24 countries varies from one federation to
the next. Of course, in these federations, the powers are divided between the
central government and the regions. This is at the very heart of federalism. But
the separation of powers varies from one federation to the next. It could not be
any other way.
Furthermore, federalism takes the form, at times, of a parliamentary
government system; at others, of a presidential democracy; at still others, of a
democracy taking elements from both models. This kind of system might work well
in one country and not in another. As Montesquieu said, it is luck if one
country's regime produces the same results in another.
Care must be taken with things that are borrowed. The British parliamentary
system has worked well in Canada, Australia and in other federations. The
presidential system that is popular in the United States and in some other
countries is not necessarily successful everywhere. A federation can be more or
less centralized. What distinguishes a unitary state from a federal state is the
way sovereignty is shared by the centre and the regions. This is what we call
federated states, provinces, Länder or cantons; it is also a list of powers, a
provincial list and a federal list.
Canada is a good example of federalism. A unitarian state has just one
government. It can be very centralized or very decentralized. The United
Kingdom, a unitarian state, is decentralized, with the devolution of some
jurisdictions to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. France, another unitarian
state, has remained centralized, however.
Let us come back to the distinction between a federation and a confederation,
all the more so since two federations, the United States and Switzerland, were
confederations before opting for the federal state model. The European Union is
a kind of confederation, with some characteristics even of a federation.
Austria-Hungary was a confederation from 1848 to 1916. As I mentioned, a
federation is a country where the centre and the regions share sovereignty. A
federation evolves. It is subject to centralization and decentralization. This
is quite normal for this type of government. We need only read the history of
Australia, Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Switzerland and Canada to be
convinced of this.
It also evolves according to the decisions of courts through constitutional
amendments, more than twenty in the United States and Canada, as well as through
administrative agreements. The courts play an important role in some
federations. This is true for Canada where the judiciary is strong, independent
and controls the constitutionality of legislation. This can vary from one
federation to another. The independence of the judiciary is one of the
components of a great democracy.
A number of countries that have emerged since the Second World War and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 have entrenched a charter of human
rights in their constitutions. These are models to be followed by unitary states
and federal states alike.
Justice Charles Evans Hughes of the United States went so far as to state:
The Constitution is what the judges say it is.
That may be debatable. In twenty years in Canada, the Supreme Court has made
more than 450 decisions about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, while
continuing to rule on the division of powers. Thus, our control over the
constitutionality of laws is both rigorous and effective. Such judicial control
The power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court is a significant power. In
Canada, it belongs to the Prime Minister and, in the United States, the
President's choice is subject to confirmation by the Senate. In Canada, the
Supreme Court is a general appeal court as well as our constitutional court.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am sorry to interrupt
Senator Beaudoin, but it is now 6 p.m. Does it please the honourable senators
not to see the clock?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Beaudoin: In other federations, such as Germany, the
constitutional court is distinct and only rules on constitutional cases. Both
systems have their virtues. Those were just a few words on federalism: the
subject is very broad.
A new constitution for Iraq is the subject of much debate. But it must be
remembered that before a federal formula for Iraq can be discussed, there are a
number of fundamental political problems to be solved. These problems will be
very hard to solve, and courage will be required in order to start down that
path. I wish the Iraqis great courage.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, at the very beginning of his speech, my honourable friend made
reference to the Prime Minister being in favour of a federal constitution for
Iraq. Could he clarify what he has said, please?
Senator Beaudoin: This is what I have heard in the news. I do not know
on what occasion. It was about two or three weeks ago. He said that Canada might
serve as a possible model for federalism.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: He meant the Liberal Party.
Senator Beaudoin: This is why we refer to the Confederation of Canada.
However, we are not a confederation like Europe; we are a federation. As a
federation — and of course I am prejudiced — it is one that is very good. The
Canadian model has served Australia, which we know very well. It has served
India; it has served South Africa. Even if the South Africans say they are not a
federal state, they are. The Prime Minister said that Canada might serve as a
The purpose of my speech is to say if Iraq wants to have a federal state,
they may acquire some inspiration from our country. However, before concluding
that the federal system is the best for them, although it is probably the case,
they must solve three difficult problems: peace, order and the separation of the
state and the church. The third problem is very difficult because even in our
country it has taken many centuries to separate the state from the church. It is
very difficult, but we succeeded. The Supreme Court has said again and again
that this is one of the fundamental bases of democracy.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, will the federation model
recommended by the Prime Minister include a clarity provision in terms of the
Kurdish section of Iraq when it secedes, or will it be a federal model like that
of the United States or Mexico, where secession is not possible?
Senator Beaudoin: The United States started with articles of
confederation, which lasted for less than 10 years. Then, they drafted a
masterpiece in four months in Philadelphia. It was unbelievable, but they
succeeded. However, their Constitution, although fantastic, is not without
I remember that the wife of John Adams, the second president, sent a letter
to her husband saying, "You think the Constitution of the United States is the
best in the world, but men and women are not equal." There was also a
difference between Black people and White people. Gladstone said that the
American Constitution was the best ever. That may be true, but it is certainly
not without some failures or weaknesses.
In Canada, we have had only one system since the union of Lower and Upper
Canada. We have succeeded as a federal state; there is no doubt about that.
Honourable senators, nothing is perfect.
On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, May 7, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.