The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following
communication had been received:
May 8, 2003
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne
Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written
declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 8th
day of May 2003, at 4:07 p.m.
Secretary to the Governor General
The Speaker of the Senate
Bills Assented to Thursday, May 8, 2003:
An Act to establish a process for assessing the environmental and
socio-economic effects of certain activities in Yukon (Bill C-2, Chapter 7,
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms) and the Firearms Act (Bill
C-10A, Chapter 8, 2003)
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, I wish to draw a very
important matter to the attention of the Senate. For over two years now, the
automobile insurance companies have been shamelessly hiking up the insurance
premiums for residents of the Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick in particular. I
will summarize the situation, if I may.
The insurance companies managed to manipulate the Conservative Government of
Ontario into legislating everything their little kingdom desired. Bolstered by
that success, and seeing that the Conservatives had cousins in three of the four
Atlantic provinces, the companies decided to target consumers in that region
In New Brunswick, in 2002 alone, insurance rates increased by 62.4 per cent,
not counting discriminatory practices with regard to age and gender nor the fact
that New Brunswick's accident rate had dropped by 48 per cent. After several
years of inaction, the Lord government struck an all-party legislative committee
to examine the issue. The committee wrote an excellent report that was shelved
because the insurance companies did not like it. At least the Progressive
Conservatives in Nova Scotia imposed a moratorium on increases in automobile
premiums while they examined the matter. While Mr. Lord and Mr. Green were
strutting around Toronto with the representatives of the insurance companies,
New Brunswick consumers were paying increasingly high premiums. This is not
surprising, because the Progressive Conservative government in New Brunswick
needed money to pay for the elimination of the toll booths. The higher the
premiums, the fuller the government's coffers got. In 2002, the Progressive
Conservative government of New Brunswick received $99.3 million in various taxes
from the insurance companies, thereby endorsing the vicious cycle of increased
premiums for consumers. After years of inaction and visits to Toronto, the
Progressive Conservative government introduced automobile insurance legislation
that lacked vision and maturity.
However, the legislation honours the wishes of the companies and hurts
consumers. This legislation, in my opinion, also violates article 2(d) of
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, freedom of association, because it prohibits
insurance companies from reducing premiums for various associations. Why car
insurance and not dental insurance or drug insurance, which associations also
have? Will New Brunswick consumers soon have to pay dearly for their insurance?
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, the Canadian public is
looking more and more to the Senate of Canada for leadership and direction.
A series of recent editorials in Canadian newspapers and journals has pointed
to the emergence of the Senate as more than a body of sober second thought,
namely, a body that is leading the debate on new and important public policy
initiatives for Canadians. For instance, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald
The Senate has remained decidedly more non-partisan and more focused in
its efforts. The result has been that the upper chamber's deliberations have
been more substantive — and of higher quality — than what usually emanates
from the House of Commons.
I have read some of the current debate in the other chamber about the
traditional definition of marriage and human rights. The views of the deputies
reflect the diverse views of members of the Canadian public, but there is in
fact no leadership, particularly in areas of prohibited grounds of
discrimination, including sex, sexual orientation and marital status.
Honourable senators, these are important human rights issues. I am no
stranger to the issue of human rights. For instance, in 1998, at the invitation
of Senator Kinsella, I was the Abdul Lodhi lecturer at the Atlantic Human Rights
Centre at St. Thomas University, where I spoke about the universality of human
rights. There are some rights that we have intrinsically, by virtue of our
humanity. These rights do not have to be purchased, earned or inherited. They
are an inherent part of our being.
Honourable senators know that section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms outlines some of our human rights, but the more specific definition is
contained in section 3(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which states:
For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination
are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual
orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for
which a pardon has been granted.
The issue in Canada, today, on which Canadians are looking for the Senate to
provide some comment and direction is the following: Does the issue of human
rights extend to the issue of same-sex marriage?
I checked over the weekend and between the years 1995 and 2000, I stood in
this chamber and asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate on more than
13 occasions when a Senate Human Rights Committee would be established to deal
with important and pressing public policy issues. Senators Fairbairn and Graham
will be painfully aware of my constant requests that they take immediate action
to establish such a committee so that we would have a forum for debating and
analyzing these important public policy issues.
With that background, therefore, I feel the time is right for the Senate
Human Rights Committee to hold public hearings to deal with issues of
discrimination based upon sexual orientation and sexual unions, particularly in
relation to same-sex marriage.
The public policy issue arises from the fact that, under the Constitution Act
of 1867, marriage falls under federal jurisdiction while the solemnization of
marriage is a provincial responsibility. Some Canadian provinces have permitted
marriages between same-sex couples, although these unions are not sanctioned
under federal legislation.
Honourable senators, the bigger issue for us to determine is whether our
courts or Parliament should be making the law on this matter. Canadians are now
divided and are searching for leadership and direction.
Honourable senators, the time is right for us as, a chamber, through our
Human Rights Committee, to stand up, take a lead and offer some direction on
this important public policy issue.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, it is a done deal! A
new departure! A new collaboration has begun between the military and Montfort
Hospital. The Department of National Defence will invest millions of dollars,
probably $200 million, in order to set up a new military health care centre at
Montfort Hospital, the only French-language teaching hospital in Ontario.
Defence Minister John McCallum made the announcement yesterday to a gathering
This new hospital site will provide services in both of Canada's official
languages. A new wing with six floors, two of which will provide health care to
the members of the Canadian Forces and their families, is expected to open in
This new partnership will make it possible to offer better health care and,
at the same time, will create a critical mass of professional skills. The
Canadian Forces' bilingual medical officers will be integrated into the medical
staff of Montfort Hospital, as will the military's nursing professionals and
other health care professionals, who will be able to interact with their
civilian counterparts. The medical officers and professionals will also be able
to participate in the hospital's teaching mission and take an active part in
We all know that Montfort Hospital is one of the most efficient hospitals in
Ontario, and it will continue to the offer high-quality services for which it is
Montfort Hospital was built in 1953, by the Daughters of Wisdom, and has
served the region's francophone community for 50 years. This is a new start,
because the hospital was threatened with closure in 1997 by the Ontario
provincial government. We went to court and we won. We won in the lower court
and we won in the appeal court. Today, Montfort Hospital is officially Ontario's
French-language teaching hospital.
I commend everyone who supported us and fought by our side over these many
years so that we could finally achieve victory.
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, multiple sclerosis attacks
people in the prime of their lives, usually between the ages of 20 and 40. It
can put them in wheelchairs, confine them to bed, cause mental dysfunction and
affect their ability to see.
Most people with multiple sclerosis anticipate a steady progression from a
healthy, productive life to disability. In the words of Winnipeg writer Ingeborg
I totter and stumble through life...I walk on invisible stilts; the mere
flapping of a butterfly's wings a mile away will inexplicably upset my
precarious balance. My hands are muffled in oven mitts; my handwriting has
deteriorated to an awkward scrawl that even I can no longer read. My mouth
is filled with marbles; the words I try to enunciate come out rattled and
This quotation is from the book Dropped Threads.
The incidence of multiple sclerosis in Canada is among the highest in the
world. More than 50,000 Canadians suffer from the disease.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for it, but research has made
significant progress. I am happy to say that Canadian researchers are among the
most productive on this front.
Dr. Voon Wee Yong of the University of Calgary is receiving funding, from
both the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research, for projects that will lead to greater understanding of the
role of certain proteins, called matrix metalloproteinases, in the destruction
of myelin. His work could lead to new therapies for the disease. Dr. Jack Antel
of McGill University is leading an international team to find out if the body's
own stem cells can be turned into cells to regrow new myelin.
Honourable senators, these are a few of the research projects being funded by
the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and CIHR. These efforts and those of
many other fine Canadian researchers could, one day, lead to a cure for multiple
sclerosis. Until then, however, Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month reminds us
that the only source of hope for multiple sclerosis patients is research.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the House of Assembly of the
Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is considering a resolution calling for
amendments to the 1949 Terms of Union. The Prime Minister of Canada and his
intergovernmental affairs minister have stated flatly that such an initiative is
a non-starter and that constitutional discussions will not take place.
Permit me to draw to the attention of honourable senators the advisory
opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in Reference re Secession of Quebec
and, in particular, to the following paragraphs, beginning with paragraph 69:
The Constitution Act, 1982 gives expression to this principle, by
conferring a right to initiate constitutional change on each participant in
Confederation. In our view, the existence of this right imposes a
corresponding duty on the participants in Confederation to engage in
constitutional discussions in order to acknowledge and address democratic
expressions of a desire for change in other provinces. This duty is inherent
in the democratic principle which is a fundamental predicate of our system
Paragraph 88 states:
The amendment of the Constitution begins with a political process
undertaken pursuant to the Constitution itself. In Canada, the initiative
for constitutional amendment is the responsibility of democratically elected
representatives of the participants in Confederation...The corollary of a
legitimate attempt by one participant in Confederation to seek an amendment
to the Constitution is an obligation on all parties to come to the
Significantly, paragraph 153 states:
The task of the Court has been to clarify the legal framework within
which political decisions are to be taken "under the Constitution", not to
usurp the prerogatives of the political forces that operate within that
framework. The obligations we have identified are binding obligations under
the Constitution of Canada.
In light of the binding obligations spelled out by the Supreme Court of
Canada, it is proper to ask by what moral, political, legal or constitutional
right Messrs. Chrétien and Dion purport to stonewall the initiative being taken
by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Messrs. Chrétien and Dion warmly
embraced those parts of the Supreme Court opinion that they believed justified
the so-called Clarity Act. They must live with all the Supreme Court opinion,
not just those parts they find convenient. In the event of a constitutional
initiative by Newfoundland and Labrador, the federal government will have to
come to the table.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, this year's National Nursing
Week is in full swing until May 18. As a former nurse, I would like to take
advantage of this week of celebrations to renew my support for nursing staff in
this country. Thanks to the countless roles they fill in health care delivery,
nurses never cease to demonstrate that they are key players in the health care
This phenomenal contribution made by nurses is the result of the passion and
determination of nurses like Louise Lévesque, who dedicated her career to the
advancement of the nursing profession. As a professor of nursing sciences,
together with her work as a researcher specializing in care for the elderly, she
has guided several generations of students. She was one of the first people to
identify family health care aides as a group at risk for health problems.
Louise Lévesque contributed enormously to the creation of the first chair in
Canada dedicated to nursing care, seniors and the family. She is now at the
Institut universitaire de gériatrie of the University of Montreal.
A model of perseverance, last month, Louise Lévesque was awarded the Montreal
YWCA's Women of Distinction Award in the area of Health.
Ms. Lévesque's passion is a hallmark of the nursing profession. On a daily
basis, nurses provide high quality care, in spite of huge obstacles. In recent
years, they have repeatedly spoken out about the deterioration of their
profession. Like many others, the Kirby and Romanow reports have highlighted the
grievances of nurses and clearly demonstrated that the nursing shortage will
prove insurmountable, unless the governments act quickly.
We must recognize that their demands are starting to be heard. The
governments seem to be not only realizing that a crisis is imminent but also
becoming aware of the real contribution of the nursing staff and the impact of
hospital and health care restructuring on the quality of their work. This
awareness is reflected in the measures taken by the various levels of
government. We can only applaud these efforts made to alleviate the burden of
However, we must remain vigilant because nurses continue to feel the effects
of staff shortage. The recent demonstration by the emergency room nursing staff
at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont is an indication of how urgent the situation is.
The nurses of that establishment demonstrated on Mothers' Day to draw attention
to the fact that they, too, are mothers and that the 16-hour days nurses are
often required to work, not only at Maisonneuve- Rosemont but in every hospital
in Quebec, have a big impact on their families.
I recognize that there is a commitment to address the problem. Still, it must
be understood that the situation remains urgent. Nurses are kind-hearted
individuals who have their profession at heart, and they ask nothing more than
some help so that they can do the work they love so much.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
present a petition from the Boy Scouts of Canada, a body incorporated by chapter
130 of the Statutes of Canada, 1914; praying for the passage of an act to amend
its act of incorporation, in order to consolidate the statutes governing it, to
change its name to "Scouts Canada" and to make such other technical and
incidental changes to the act as may be appropriate.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, according to the Ottawa Citizen of this morning, the Minister
of Justice is in Washington today to meet the United States Attorney General to
discuss proposed Canadian legislation touching on the decriminalization of
marijuana. The pertinent part of the article reads:
The watered-down bill will include stiffer penalties for drug traffickers
and people caught with marijuana grow operations.
To underline the point, Justice Minister Martin Cauchon will present his
plan to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft today.
Mr. Cauchon is expected to stress that marijuana will remain illegal and
Canada will toughen penalties substantially for marijuana-growing
operations. He already described the plan briefly to Mr. Ashcroft last week
at a Paris meeting of justice ministers of the Group of Eight leading
industrialized nations, but today's meeting will give a fuller explanation.
There is a convention in this country, if not a law, that specifies that all
government legislation is to be considered confidential until introduced in
either the Senate or the House of Commons. Does the Leader of the Government in
the Senate not agree that her colleague is breaking a long-standing convention,
if not the law, by informing a foreign government of the contents of a proposed
bill, and no doubt asking for its support, before the bill has been introduced
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank the honourable senator for his question, but, no, I do not believe that
the Honourable Minister of Justice has broken with precedent. I think it is safe
to say that the discussions that are taking place with Mr. Ashcroft are around
the principles of the bill. The specifics of the bill will become evident to all
of us in due time, when the bill is tabled in the other place.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, I would remind the Leader
of the Government in the Senate that, not so long ago, the then Minister of
Justice was severely reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons for
having given a press briefing on the contents of a bill before that bill was
introduced in the House of Commons. This is a very similar situation, except
that the briefing is being given to a representative of a foreign government.
If it violates House of Commons rules to brief, even in a sketchy way, the
contents of proposed legislation before it is made public, surely the Minister
of Justice should also be severely reprimanded.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, with the greatest of respect
to the honourable senator, it is a matter of discussing the principles behind
proposed legislation that will be tabled, not the specific legislation itself.
That will be tabled in due course, in the House of Commons.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, yesterday the Minister
of Health confirmed she will talk about a new drug strategy. Is it the intent of
the minister to talk about that on Thursday, the same day on which the bill will
be introduced in the House of Commons?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): My understanding,
honourable senators, is that when the bill is introduced, the principles of a
drug strategy will be debated as well.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I have two questions
for the Leader of the Government. I know Colonel Brian Akitt, the former
commander of CFB Shearwater, to be a man of honour and high integrity. Unlike
the Minister of National Defence, who is an economist by profession, Colonel
Akitt is a professional aviator. He wrote a paper in which he warned that
because of political intervention by an ad hoc committee of cabinet in 1999, the
so-called Gray committee, the specifications for the new helicopters were
diluted to the point where there is a "significant risk to a safe and credible
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell this chamber why an
officer and professional aviator of spotless reputation would make such a
statement if it were not true?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I obviously cannot speak for Colonel Akitt, other than to say that his paper was
an opinion piece on the circumstances surrounding the MHP process. The Chief of
the Defence Staff has indicated quite clearly that he is confident that there is
more than one helicopter that can fulfil the needs of the Canadian Forces, that
the competition is robust and that we can find the right helicopter at the best
price for the Canadian taxpayer.
Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, no one wants the best price.
It is lowest price compliant.
Today the press reported that a former Deputy Minister of the Department of
Public Works, Raymond Hession, a much- respected public servant, labelled the
government's procurement strategy based on lowest price compliant, "plain
stupid." Can the minister tell us why a senior retired public servant would
warn the government that a procurement strategy is stupid?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, every Canadian is entitled to
their opinion, and so is Mr. Hession. The government's goal has always been, and
remains, to get the right aircraft for the Canadian Forces as soon as possible,
at the lowest possible price.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have been asked to go on a military
week. The response indicated that they would be putting me with the Sea Kings
but, unfortunately, I could not go — not that I will not go. However, the
minister has confused me. The minister says that the government is trying to
accelerate this process. It has been 10 years since the Liberals took over from
the Tories but a suitable choice for a replacement helicopter has yet to be
The leader continues to give her responses to Senator Forrestall, who has
done an excellent job of following the file. What has to happen? Do we have to
literally kill someone? As I said before, the blood of any death as a result of
this situation will be on the hands of the Liberals and the cabinet for failing
to make a decision.
Honourable senators, when will we get a decision? Do we have to wait for Mr.
Chrétien's nephew to hold hands with the French and make a side deal of some
kind? Something is going on.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I have been very forthright with all senators with respect to this particular
policy. Perhaps, if we had not taken office in 1993 with a $42-billion deficit,
we would have been able to make decisions prior to this point. However, there
were a variety of things that, quite frankly, we were unable to do because of
the legacy of the honourable senator's government.
The result is that the process is ongoing. The process is being addressed
and, hopefully, we will choose an aircraft in 2004.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, a little more than a week
ago I posed a question on the status of the 4X cod fishery, which I mentioned at
the time included Minister Thibault's political riding. The Leader of the
Government in the Senate began her response by saying, "I hope that the
honourable senator is not suggesting that we should not use the best science
available." With respect to the 4X cod, the minister added: "—fishing for cod
appears to be average. Therefore, the resource is viable and, therefore, fishers
are allowed to continue in their occupation."
However, honourable senators, the Fisheries and Oceans Committee heard
testimony last week to the contrary. Dr. George Rose, Senior Chair, Fisheries
Conservation at Memorial University and a member of the FRCC, told us: "— the
science on the 4X cod is weak at present. The 6,000-ton quota that has been set
for 4X cod is certainly questionable." He later said: "It is certainly pushing
things to have that quota set that high." He also added: "In that area, they are
pushing the limits of biological productivity with the cod, in my view."
Therefore, I would like to ask the Leader of the Government: Why did the
minister keep the 4X cod stock open to fishing when concrete science was not
there to support such a move? What science is Minister Thibault using to justify
keeping the cod fishery open in his riding?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the honourable senator asked a similar question last week, and I said to her, as
she has indicated, that we had to rely on the best opinions of scientists. The
scientists with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have indicated that the
policy announced by the minister was the best one to take to preserve the cod.
The honourable senator also indicated that she did not think that we had to
close the cod fishery at all. Where are we on this argument? Are we to close
down all the cod fishing, or are we to close some where it is shown that it is
necessary, but leave open the fishery where it appears to be still viable?
Senator LeBreton: In the Liberal ridings.
Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, if the cod is in danger in
Newfoundland and Labrador, it is also in danger in the 4X area of Minister
Thibault's riding. Fish swim. Your former Prime Minister, bless his heart, has
also announced that fish swim.
The Chair of the Fishery Resource Conservation Council, Mr. Fred Woodman,
told the Fisheries Committee on Tuesday that the stock status report this year
was not complete. He said that explicitly. He told us with regard to the report:
It did not give us an estimated biomass level. They could not do it
because of misreporting and dumping and so on. They did not give us a true
picture of the resource. We made our recommendation based upon the fact that
we had two good- year classes coming in — 1999 and 2000.
That is the two years upon which they based their judgment.
Can the honourable minister tell me if it is common practice for the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans to rely on scientific information that is
three or four years old when making decisions about the health of the stocks and
the levels at which they can be sustainably fished?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the Minister of Fisheries and
Oceans must make the decision on the best science advice available to him.
Perhaps, the honourable senator should listen to the former Minister of
Fisheries, Mr. John Crosbie, a Newfoundlander and member of her party. He said
that he did not think that Mr. Thibault had any real choice.
Naturally, the fishermen do not like that, especially in areas with no
alternative to cod, but perhaps the scientists have to recommend it as they see
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, a week ago last Monday,
all G8 countries agreed to develop travel documents capable of carrying
biometric information such as fingerprints and retinal scans. This is a direct
response to recent American legislation.
By October 2004 the United States will require nationals of other countries
to have this type of documentation in order to enter its territory. In recent
months, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Denis Coderre, has
advocated a national discussion, not a formal proposal, as to whether Canada
needs a new biometric-capable national identity card. In light of our new G8
agreement the minister's idea of a discussion seems highly disingenuous.
Why is the minister continuing the pretence of discussing the possibility of
implementing biometric capable identity cards in Canada if the government has
already agreed to take this route?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the government has not agreed to take this route. My understanding of the file
is that the United States and Canada are still actively considering and
discussing as to what exactly will be the entry and exit procedures that
Canadians must follow as they cross into the U.S. Also, there seems to be great
speculation as to when such a system could be put in place even in the United
States, let alone in the other G8 countries.
Senator Oliver: Honourable senators, what is the meaning of the G8
agreement of two weeks ago? The U.K. is said to be the only G8 country that is
publicly expressing reservations over adopting the use of these
biometric-capable travel documents. Britain's Home Secretary, David Blunkett,
has said that such a process should not be rushed and that these new
surveillance techniques may hinder freedom of movement as well as trade and
commercial arrangements. Has the Canadian government had any discussions with
the U.K. government about their concerns?
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I do not know whether these
discussions have taken place. I know that Mr. Coderre has expressed his concerns
in respect of this information and its form. However, I shall contact the
minister's office to find out if he or others have had contact with the United
Kingdom to indicate our similar, shared concerns.
Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
to the question that I asked last week concerning the screening of air
travellers for symptoms of SARS. There has been confusion surrounding the
thermal camera used to screen passengers at Toronto Pearson International
Airport. A spokesperson for Health Canada said last week that the camera had
been used only for a photo opportunity last Wednesday night and had then been
put back in storage. Health Canada has since refuted this statement. However,
there were reports that the scanner was not in use at all last Thursday.
Could the Leader of the Government tell the chamber what happened with the
infrared camera last week and bring us up-to- date on the current situation?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I should have followed up on that file, on the basis of the honourable senator's
question last week. I, too, read that news item, but did not follow up on it. I
shall do so when I return to my office this afternoon.
Hon. Brenda M. Robertson: Honourable senators, the President of the
Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Dana Hanson, in an editorial in the Ottawa
Citizen today, wrote that the SARS outbreak has proven that Canada's health
care system is ill- prepared to deal with rapidly spreading infectious diseases,
along with more day-to-day problems, and that we need a comprehensive plan to
ensure that we are able to meet similar challenges in the future. According to
Dr. Hanson, one of the first steps in strengthening and providing leadership in
our public health infrastructure should be the appointment of a national chief
officer for public health — someone who could coordinate all of our public
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether the federal
government is considering creating such a position?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the federal government is working closely with provincial and municipal health
care workers in an ongoing process to address this issue. It is for that reason
that the Dean of Medicine at the University of Toronto was put in charge of a
group that will examine exactly what occurred during the SARS epidemic and will
identify what needs to be done in the future. The honourable senator is quite
right, in the preliminary to her question, that we were not adequately prepared
for that kind of outbreak and that we must now ensure that we are prepared for
future outbreaks of this nature.
I have some good news. It is my understanding today that there are only 19
people remaining in hospital across the country and that we expect more people
to be released within the next few days.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, the RCMP investigation
into the leaked BDC loan allocation of the Auberge Grand-Mère has revealed
missing documents in the file and erased computer files. The leaked loan
application contains a footnote showing that the Auberge Grand-Mère company owes
$23,000 to the Prime Minister's personal holding company. Clearly, this would
have put the Prime Minister in a direct conflict of interest when he phoned the
president of the BDC on behalf of the Auberge. These computer documents and
pages are missing from the BDC files. Could the Leader of the Government in the
Senate tell us if there has been an internal investigation at the BDC to
determine who would have erased computer documents and removed material from the
Auberge Grand-Mère file? At the same time, could the Leader of the Government in
the Senate give us a categorical assurance that Mr. Jean Carle was not in a
position to access these files when he was in a senior position at the BDC?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the honourable senator asks an impossible question because, as she well knows,
the BDC is an arm's-length body from the Government of Canada. Therefore, the
BDC does not take orders from the Government of Canada about the investigations
it should undertake within its corporate structure. What is clear is that, in
1993, Prime Minister Chrétien sold his shares in the golf course, before he
assumed the office of Prime Minister.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it is interesting that Mr.
Chrétien's own accountant talked about the Prime Minister receiving $40,000, and
that information is also missing from the documents.
In the affidavit filed by RCMP Corporal Gallant about the forged Auberge
Grand-Mère loan application, Corporal Gallant does not include the statement by
BDC official France Bergeron that "without the intervention of the federal MP,
the project would have never been accepted." Corporal Gallant stated that it
was "not up to me to comment on what might be normal or not normal with respect
to the work of a member of Parliament."
If Corporal Gallant did not feel that he had the authority to comment on the
Prime Minister's activities, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate
tell us who would have made the decision to suppress this information in the
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, just as the government does
not interfere in the day-to-day operations of the BDC, it certainly should not
interfere in the operations of the RCMP.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the gun registry. Last
month, the government moved the gun control program from the Department of
Justice to the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada, along with, I
presume, the $70 million that was allocated. The government has not yet advised
how much more money must be allocated to cover the additional and ongoing
expenses incurred for the fiasco.
Has an economic impact study been established as to how much this will cost
Canadian taxpayers before it is over? If not, could the honourable leader tell
this chamber why one is not being done?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I am not sure that an economic impact study is what the honourable senator
wants. Perhaps he has some interpretation of an economic impact study that I do
With respect to the gun registry, the government was clear in the Estimates
process about what it wanted, as well as in the budgetary process. As such, the
monies were voted appropriately in both Houses of Parliament, to provide those
sums of money to the appropriate authority.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, this has certainly had an
impact on Canadians. Although the word "impact" may not be correct, there
should be an economic review of the entire process.
My next question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the
status of the registry. After the move to the Solicitor General's department,
the government then ordered that the registry program be made into a department.
It is listed here as the "Order Designating the Canadian Firearms Centre as a
Department and the Chief Executive Officer as the Deputy Head." What would the
impact of this be on the program? How would it benefit the program? Would it
clarify the situation as to the future of the program? How much would Canadians
have to pay for this boondoggle?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
the honourable senator correctly talks about an economic review, and that is
exactly what Mr. Hession did. The review was presented to all parliamentarians
on the costs to date and the projected costs. The reorganization of the registry
is for the purpose of efficiency. Obviously, the Government of Canada would like
to get the best value possible from the ongoing monies it is spending on this
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I should like to continue
with the matter of the gun registry. Last week, the Moncton Times &
Transcript reported that Solicitor General Wayne Easter said that the jobs
at Miramichi firearms centre might be relocated. My question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate. Is the government considering moving the
firearms registry from the Miramichi centre? If so, has it done a cost analysis
in terms of what this would add to the multi-billion-dollar boondoggle?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
let me make sure that Hansard is correct as to who your colleague was. It
certainly was not me who made that reference, but it was the Honourable Senator
St. Germain. It was announced last December or January that the government would
be examining the issue of whether the registry should stay in its current
location. To the best of my knowledge, senator, no decision has been made, and
your suggestion of doing the appropriate analysis is one I will take to the
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, last week the President of
the Treasury Board refused to rule out any further Supplementary Estimates for
the gun registry in the coming year. So far, the government has requested
Supplementary Estimates no less than 11 times since the start of the gun
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who sits in cabinet, not
agree that it is time that the President of the Treasury Board be given
instructions to no longer request Supplementary Estimates for the gun registry
and that any future costs be placed under the Main Estimates of the budget?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
ideally that is exactly the way everything should be done, including Senate
budgets. We should always put everything in the Main Estimates and rarely, if
ever, use Supplementary Estimates. However, the practical reality for many
government programs, including the operations of this place, is that sometimes
it is required to apply for and obtain the approval of both Houses for the
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, a $2-million program that turned
out to be a $1-billion program should send a message to cabinet that it is about
time that the budgeting processes not have to resort to Supplementary Estimates.
It may finally dawn on the people in cabinet that there is something wrong with
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, last week Gary Webster,
former head of the Canadian Firearms Centre, could not explain the Prime
Minister's comments last December that a number of people had been fired from
the firearms centre as a result of the cost increase from $2 million to $1
billion. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise as to who those
people were, and if no such people were fired, would they belong to another
group that includes the homeless individual who keeps giving policy advice to
the Prime Minister?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank the honourable senator for his question. I clearly do not have names,
ranks or serial numbers of any of those individuals, but I will seek an answer
for the honourable senator.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I have a question that the
Leader of the Government in the Senate may wish to take as notice and obtain a
considered reply from the legal advisers of the government.
In the view of the government, which of the various amending formulas in the
1982 Constitution Act apply to amendments to the 1949 Terms of Union of
Newfoundland with Canada?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
my friend is quite right. I will not venture an answer on that question this
afternoon. I will take it as notice and return with an answer for the honourable
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of tabling three delayed answers: the response to an
oral question raised by the Honourable Senator Comeau, on March 26, 2003,
concerning the firearms control program, border control procedures and the
departments involved in their implementation; a second response to an oral
question raised by the Honourable Senator Comeau, on March 27, 2003, concerning
firearms registry, access of foreign law enforcement agencies; and a response to
an oral question raised by the Honourable Senator Keon, on April 3, 2003,
concerning the severe acute respiratory syndrome, the languages of notices and
the availability of translators.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Gerald J. Comeau on March 26, 2003).
A number of border controls are currently in place and a number of others
are awaiting the passing of Bill C-10A. Existing measures include the
requirement for all returning residents to demonstrate they are the holder
of a valid firearms licence and the firearm(s) they are importing are
properly registered. Non-residents must also meet registration and licensing
requirements in the same fashion as residents, however, they have the option
of obtaining a "Confirmed Declaration" which is a temporary form of
licensing and registration. These measures ensure that all firearms entering
Canada are properly accounted for and the individuals are eligible to
possess those firearms. Commercial shipments of firearms are controlled
through the issuance of Import and Export Authorizations and are subjected
to Customs verification at the point of entry.
These control measures are carried out by the Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
The Canadian Firearms Centre provides the administration support for these
Within the cost spent to end of 2001-02, i.e. $688M, CFC reimbursed
Canada Customs & Revenue Agency a total of approximately $13.6M related to
costs for services provided at border crossings and system connectivity.
CFC's forecast expenditure as at March 31, 2003 for 2002-03, was
approximately $100M which included approximately $1.7M of costs reimbursed
to CCRA for a total of (13.6M + 1.7M) = $15.3M for border control procedures
and system connectivity.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilbert J. Keon on April 3, 2003).
1) The material being provided to travelers is available in various
languages based on the demographics of the travelers at various locations as
1. Incoming Health Alert Notices (yellow cards)English, French, Korean,
2. Outgoing Health Alert Notices (cherry cards)English, French, Chinese
(simplified), Chinese (traditional).
3. In-flight Traveler Contact Information Sheet — instructions are
available in the following languages:English, French, Chinese (simplified),
Chinese (traditional), Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Thai, Urdu
Ontario's web site is offering SARS information in several languages:
e.g. French, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Tamil, Vietnamese.
2) It would be extremely difficult to provide travellers, who do not
speak either English or French, coming into and leaving Canada, with
translation services. However, measures are in place to assist new
immigrants and refugees who do not speak English or French entering Canada.
Government-sponsored refugees are met at the airport and Citizenship and
Immigration Canada (CIC) personnel provide direction and orientation to
them. Other refugees who identify upon landing in Canada are also assisted
by CIC personnel and provided the necessary services. Training on
identifying the symptoms of SARS has been provided to Citizenship and
Immigration personnel who interview immigrants coming into the country and
are alert in identifying travellers who may be showing symptoms of SARS.
Health Canada advisories have been distributed by Citizenship and
Immigration to all their service providers to ensure that they are in a
position to provide the information to immigrants and refugees who cannot
communicate in English or in French.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Chalifoux, for the third reading of Bill S-13, to
amend the Statistics Act.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I think that Senator Comeau, last week, touched on the greatest
weakness of this bill, which is that it violates a pledge made to Canadians that
information given through the census was to remain confidential and secret in
perpetuity. To quote from the long form, on the last page after the person has
answered all the questions, there it is, in large letters: "The law protects
what you tell us. Your personal census information cannot be given to anyone
outside Statistics Canada, not the police, not another government department,
not another person. This is your right."
The argument against that is that the information that would be allowed
through this bill would not be given out, except in specified cases, for another
92 years from the date of the census, and, without restriction, for another 112
years. The argument is this: Will a person really care whether information given
in confidence, which can be argued for the most part of a routine nature, is
made public 112 years later? I say yes. I will try to convince senators, before
voting to support this bill, that my arguments deserve at least a little
There is a clause in this bill which allows that from 2006 on — at the time
of the next census — information given in that census and in those that follow
can be made public if the person signing the questionnaire gives consent. I
think that is very good except for one flaw — the same census questionnaire
applies to more than one person, sometimes to dozens of people. The
questionnaire is quite clear regarding who to include in the questionnaire, such
as people who are away or absent — like students or spouses working abroad —
whose legal address is where the questions are being asked on one particular
day. How is one to get the approval of, say, 20 people in one household, 14 of
whom are away? How can one get them all to agree or disagree that personal
information can be released or not released if they are not there the day that
the questions are being asked? I asked if there were regulations covering this
aspect and, so far, I am not aware that it has been covered.
I want to mention some of the questions asked in the long form because every
new long form becomes more and more intrusive. At one time, the census was
strictly a nose count — name, address, age, sex, number of children, marital
status, et cetera — basic public information. Now we are going a lot further.
There is, for instance, the relationship between two persons, including
whether a common-law partnership refers to two people of the opposite sex or of
the same sex who live together as a couple. Some people may not want that
information known — whether now or 112 years from now — whatever their common-
There are other questions, such as those concerning household activities.
This may sound amusing, but I wonder what the value of this information is to
the census people. They want to know how many hours a person spent doing the
following activities: unpaid housework; looking after one or more of this
person's own children without pay; providing unpaid care assistance to one or
What is the point of all this information and how will it be interpreted once
it is made public, whether 112 years from now or whenever?
On page 12 of the long form this question is asked: Could this person have
started a job last week had one been available? What kind of a question is that?
What is the value of that question? Could this person, that is, the person
replying, have started a job last week had one been available? That is close to
a question like: Do you still beat your wife? What is the value of that? I find
that intrusive and none of the government's business, ever.
Page 16 is devoted entirely to income. Most Canadians declare their income on
tax returns, which are considered confidential. The same information regarding
employment, self-employment income, income from government, other income,
dividends and interest is asked for on the census form in similar detail.
Whereas, as far as I know, our tax returns remain confidential forever, the
same, or nearly the same, information on the census form will be made available
in due course. Why this morbid curiosity? Why not be satisfied with what a
census is all about? Some will say, "Historians need to know." Only snoopy
historians need to know. I do not think that some of this information should
ever be made public, unless the individual giving it agrees.
On page 17, this question is asked: Who pays the rent or mortgage, taxes,
electricity for this dwelling? Whose business is that? Why would the government
want to know whether I pay the rent or my wife pays the rent or my father-in-law
pays the mortgage? What does it matter? Perhaps there are families making their
children's mortgage payments and they do not want anyone to know this is taking
place. "All right," the answer is, "they will not know for another 112
years." That may be so at present, but what I am afraid may well happen is that
this is only the thin edge of the wedge.
I refer to the experience that we have had since the social insurance number
was introduced. It was put in place in 1964. There was a great deal of debate in
the House at the time. Mr. Diefenbaker himself was very concerned that this
number would be applicable eventually to all sorts of activities, both
government and non-government, which were not even considered at the time the
SIN was being proposed. It was to be restricted to UI, which is now EI, and the
Canada and Quebec Pension Plans. That is all. The House was assured that was all
it would be used for.
Only a few years later, in 1967, the Income Tax Act was amended so that your
social insurance number had to be put on your tax return. Eventually, that was
applied to all sorts of other government activities and functions, at both the
federal and provincial levels, and then eventually at the municipal level. The
law was also changed so that anytime a tax slip for a dividend cheque or
interest payment is received, your social insurance number must appear on it.
That was never the intention at the beginning.
It certainly was not the intention, although it is not disallowed,
unfortunately, for the private sector to ask for that number. No matter where
you go now, whatever application form you get, you are asked for your social
insurance number. Very few will say that giving it is optional. You do not have
to give it.
Senator Comeau: But they do not have to lend money to you either.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: That is right.
I raise that point because, in 1964, Parliament was assured that the social
insurance number would be used for limited and specific purposes. Now we see it
is a free-for-all. We may as well make it public. We may as well advertise it. I
suggest the same will happen with this bill. Eventually, if it is passed in this
form, someone will have the bright idea of saying, "Look, we cannot afford to
wait another 90 years for this information. Let us change the law and bring it
back to 50 years, 25 years or 10 years." Eventually, they will say, "Let us
make it all public," unless the person does not want to allow the information
to be released. Even then, is that any guarantee that the information will not
be made public?
I am also concerned that the long form questions are becoming more intrusive,
more personal and, I believe, more irrelevant. I know there is an argument that
governments and others can trace demographic and social factors from census
results, thus allowing various policies to be tailored for the long term. That
is what it says in theory. Whether in fact that is true, I somehow doubt it.
Passing this bill will violate a pledge made that census information never be
made public. Second, there is no question that passing the bill will lead to a
discussion of accelerating the release of the information. Perhaps this will
even be suggested in the form of an amendment. Third, more and more intrusive
questions of a personal nature are being asked on the long form, and they should
never be made public. For all these reasons, in particular the first one, I urge
honourable senators not to support this bill.
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, I should like to ask a question
of the Honourable Senator Lynch-Staunton.
My question concerns two issues. One issue concerns the disclosure of
information, and I follow Senator Lynch-Staunton in that regard. I strongly
believe that information in the census should not be disclosed at whatever time.
One of the strengths of our census is that it is confidential and will remain
confidential. If there are any indications that it will not remain confidential,
then people will stop giving confidential information.
Where I do not follow the honourable senator is in the matter of the census
being more extensive in its questions. We know, for example, that issues like
the social determinants of health are becoming extremely important. Statistics
Canada has taken a leading role in the world relating to issues such as economic
development, the social network, housing, education, and so forth, with the
health status of a given population. As a matter of fact, these non-medical
social determinants of health are more important than health care delivery,
hospitals, physicians, and so forth.
I realize that people are asked if they are working or not, but this is an
important issue as far as public health is concerned.
Does the honourable senator agree that non-disclosure of the census is
important, but the fact that more and more questions are being asked bears some
relation to health and to the economic development of our country? I might say
that Statistics Canada is one of the leading organizations among OECD countries.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: If the information were to be kept as a
collective bit of information rather than an individual bit of information, then
I might agree with Senator Morin. However, we will now see that what is
collected for millions of people as a whole, broken down by age and region but
still very impersonal, will become personal information, rather than a
conclusion based on information that remains impersonal and confidential.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, has Senator Lynch- Staunton
had an opportunity to read the new legal opinion, if I may call it that, of the
Department of Justice on this matter and to appreciate the fact that absent this
bill, with the restrictions it imposes on access, Statistics Canada will be
seriously exposed to a situation in which litigation would probably succeed in
opening personal information in the census in an unrestricted way?
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I have not seen that legal opinion or the one
that preceded it, apparently, which stated the contrary; however, having had
experience with Department of Justice opinions, I am somewhat cynical of them. I
am thinking particularly of the Pearson bill and others that came to us with the
full support of the Department of Justice.
So, no, I have not seen the opinion; however, even if it says what it says,
is that risk worth taking?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: On the question of legal advice from the
Department of Justice, if the Department of Justice is suggesting that it might
not survive a court challenge, does this not suggest that we should enforce the
confidentiality or bring an amendment to the current legislation that would
enforce the confidentiality rather than giving in and saying, "Since the
Department of Justice is saying that this will not survive a court challenge,
let's give in and throw the books open"?
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I could not agree more with the honourable
senator. We see that the government is not hesitant in the budget implementation
bill to put in retroactive legislation. If that principle applies there, it can
apply in this case also.
Hon. Colin Kenny moved the second reading of Bill C-9, to amend the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise to speak today about Bill C-9, to amend
the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Some honourable senators may not be familiar with the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act or the practice of environmental assessment. Quite simply,
environmental assessment is a planning tool to identify, assess and mitigate
potential negative environmental impacts on proposed projects.
I suspect that all honourable senators will agree that preventing
environmental harm through sound project design is much better than trying to
clean up or repair damage after it has occurred.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, or CEAA, as it is commonly
referred to, has been in place since 1995. This act requires an environmental
assessment of proposed projects, such as the construction of a new dam, where
the Government of Canada is the project proponent or has a decision to make
about whether to provide funding, land or a regulatory permit that allows the
project to proceed.
The breadth and scope of the act is far-reaching.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Kenny, I am sorry to interrupt.
Honourable senators, it is becoming quite noisy in the chamber. I would ask
honourable senators who wish to have conversations to defer them or to carry
them on outside the chamber.
Senator Kenny: Thank you, Your Honour.
Each year, the Government of Canada assesses about 6,500 projects with the
potential to negatively affect our air, health, water, wildlife and natural
spaces. It is important to remember that the act also touches upon billions of
dollars of potential investment.
Honourable senators will know that making or amending environmental laws is
time-consuming and often a difficult process. The stakes are high for the health
of our environment and for the health of our economy. Views are usually
polarized. The government often finds itself in the position of being pushed and
pulled by environmental groups, industry, Aboriginal peoples and provincial
What is remarkable about Bill C-9 is its support from a wide range of
interests. When this bill was first introduced in the House of Commons, the
Canadian Environmental Network, an umbrella organization of environmental
groups, issued a news release that congratulated the government for bringing
forward to Parliament many issues where consensus was found among diverse
interests. At the same time, the Mining Association of Canada commended the
government for its bold and important steps.
Honourable senators, the message for us is quite clear. An open and
comprehensive five-year review of CEAA has resulted in a bill that will promote
progress and shared environmental priorities. The story behind Bill C-9 goes
back to June 1998, when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the body
that administers CEAA, began to prepare the five-year review of the act. Their
first step was simply to ask the following question: What are the problems with
the current act?
The response came from inside and outside the government. Concerns were
raised about poor federal coordination and uncertainty in the process.
Inconsistent quality of assessment and limitations to public participation were
These preliminary consultations provided the foundation for a discussion
paper released by the Minister of the Environment in December 1999. For its
part, the discussion paper was a frank admission to the problems with the
current act. The identification of the problems in the discussion paper was an
essential step for ensuring that the review of the act was focused on finding
The five-year review saw cross-Canada consultations that included public
sessions, regional workshops, meetings with the provinces, discussions with
Aboriginal peoples and a special Internet Web site.
The Minister of the Environment's regulatory advisory committee was asked to
examine the issues and options identified in the discussion paper and come
forward with recommendations.
After hearing from Canadians from all regions and walks of life, the Minister
of the Environment developed his report to Parliament and a bill of the proposed
"Strengthening Environmental Assessment for Canadians" was tabled in March
2001. At the same time, Bill C-19, predecessor to Bill C-9, was introduced in
the House of Commons. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and
Sustainable Development took a year to review Bill C-9. The committee heard what
Canadians had to say about the minister's proposals. The committee considered
over 200 possible amendments. In the end, the House of Commons passed a number
of amendments that I believe improve the bill.
Honourable senators, Bill C-9 will make the federal environmental assessment
process more predictable, certain and timely. It will improve the quality of
assessments and strengthen the opportunities for public participation. It deals
head-on with problems originally identified in the 1999 discussion paper.
The highlights of Bill C-9 include measures to improve federal coordination
and application of the act. Projects that undergo a comprehensive study level of
assessment will no longer face the double jeopardy of potentially having to
undergo a second in- depth assessment by a review panel.
There is new authority for ministers to issue prohibition orders to stop
project construction before the environmental assessment is complete. Bill C-9
recognizes Aboriginal traditional knowledge and requires that the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Agency consult Aboriginal peoples on policy issues
related to CEAA. The bill proposes to create a new class of screening tool to
deal with small significant projects in an environmentally sound manner.
As a result of Bill C-9, follow-up programs will be mandatory for projects
after a comprehensive study, mediation or review panel. The bill proposes to
make the transboundary sections of the act more operable and specifically
recognizes the importance of promoting the ecological integrity of Canada's
Bill C-9 requires the establishment of an Internet site of project
information so that Canadians can have timely access to information about
projects occurring in their communities.
Finally, this proposed legislation will extend environmental assessment
obligations to over 40 Crown corporations.
The government has committed $51 million over the next five years to support
the implementation of these improvements and others in the bill.
Honourable senators, careful consideration of this legislation will put us a
step closer to a revitalized environmental assessment process that will work on
behalf of all Canadians.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Kenny for his
glowing words and his intelligent review of the bill. It will not surprise him
or anyone else that I view it in a slightly different light.
I want to look at the history that began many years before the government
proclaimed the legislation in 1995. I want to briefly relate it, because it
gives us a benchmark for what this bill does and does not do. It is, by and
large, a history of progressive weakening of Canada's commitment to
environmental assessment — a progressive weakening of the good use of this
planning tool that can help us avoid costly mistakes and prevent irrevocable
harm to our environment.
In the 1970s, Canada was on the forefront of what was then a novel concept of
environmental assessment. Before Mr. Justice Thomas Berger conducted his royal
commission into the social, environmental and economic impacts of the proposed
Mackenzie Valley pipeline, few countries thought it necessary to examine the
cost to the environment before approving a major project. In his 1977 report to
the government, Judge Berger wrote of the North as "a heritage, a unique
environment that we are called upon to preserve for all Canadians." He wrote of
the strong feelings held by the people in the North about the pipeline and
large-scale frontier development. In the end, the government of the day accepted
his recommendation that no pipeline be built for 10 years to allow time for
settling of land claims.
Some seven years passed before this bill's antecedent came into being. It
came in the final days of the government of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott
Trudeau, and it came in the form of an Order in Council that set out the
environmental assessment and review process guidelines, or EARP, pursuant to the
Department of the Environment Act.
I have it on excellent authority that there were two reasons that the Trudeau
government put EARP in place. On the high road, it knew that it was remiss in
not having a legislated process for environmental assessments. By then, other
countries had moved ahead. On the not-so-high road, it wanted to make mischief
for its successor, which it correctly assumed would soon be a Progressive
Make mischief it did, although not for several years. The guidelines order
was not discretionary. It required the federal government to conduct an
environmental assessment of any project supported by federal funds on federal
land or requiring a decision by a federal minister, such as the issuance of a
permit under the Fisheries Act.
For much of the 1980s, however, few people believed that this Order in
Council compelled the government to conduct the assessments. It was viewed as
voluntary. It was, after all, not legislation. Then, in the late 1980s, the
Saskatchewan government proposed to dam up the Souris River, a river that, after
the spring runoff has passed, resembles a prairie drainage ditch. The river
flows into North Dakota, where it had periodically caused spring flooding, and
then winds its way north again into my province of Manitoba. "Souris," of
course, is French for mouse. With respect to environmental assessment, it was
the mouse that roared.
Opponents of the Rafferty-Alameda dam project — environmentalists, farmers
and others — challenged the review process that essentially, and illogically,
divided the river in three. They wanted a full federal review that would examine
the environmental impacts that, like the water, crossed international borders.
Federal courts heard these challenges and, to the considerable surprise of the
government, affirmed that EARP was enforceable. Unfortunately for those who
challenged the Saskatchewan dams, the decision came too late. Construction was
Faced with a clear need for legislation, the Mulroney government developed
and passed the Canadian Environment Assessment Act in 1992. It set out the
regime that we have today, both its strengths and its weaknesses.
On the plus side, it logically drew distinctions between the thousands of
federal projects each year that need only be screened for assessments, the
scores that require detailed reviews, known as comprehensive studies, and the
few that have a potential for creating significant adverse environmental
effects, or rouse such public concern that the appointment of an independent
review panel is more appropriate. It also gave better assurances of public
participation in those panel reviews and provided for intervener funding.
On the downside, it greatly enhanced ministerial discretion to submit
projects to one form of review or another, and it left some crucial matters
undefined, matters as key as what constitutes a significant adverse
environmental effect or when public concern is sufficient to trigger an
independent panel review. I recall debating that legislation, trying to create
something workable. With the wisdom of hindsight and the knowledge of how this
law has been applied, or rather, not applied, it is apparent that we created a
regime that was weaker — less protective of the environment — than the EARP
regime that the courts had said must be applied.
Nevertheless, when Environment Minister Copps moved second reading of the act
that this bill amends, she described it as
— one of the most outstanding environmental acts in the world. With the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and its important amendments, Canada
will be a world leader in environmental thinking and practice.
Experience has proved otherwise. Under the regime that the act created, we
have failed to appoint independent panels to review the world's largest
above-ground storage of nuclear waste, to harness Ontario's highest waterfall
for hydroelectric power, to grant one forestry company 25 per cent of the land
mass of my province of Manitoba, or to consider the cumulative impact of logging
on a large adjacent tract in Saskatchewan.
We have also failed — and this is something our Energy and Environment
Committee noted in its report two years ago — to require that our nuclear power
plants undergo even a level two assessment; that is, a comprehensive study, when
aging reactors are shut down for years and significant modifications are made to
the power stations and utilities attempt to restart the reactors, as Ontario
Power Generation plans to do this summer at its Pickering station.
In fact, none of our nuclear power generating stations has been assessed as a
whole under EARP or under this legislation. We had review panels under the EARP
guidelines on the concept of deep geological disposal of nuclear waste, on
uranium mining developments in northern Saskatchewan, and on the uranium mine
tailings of Elliott Lake. There has been no assessment of the potential of our
nuclear power plants to cause significant adverse environmental effects,
including adverse health effects to people who live close to these plants, or,
God forbid, in the event of a catastrophic event that could spread radioactive
contamination over much of Toronto and downwind to northern New York State.
We have had no comprehensive study or panel review because the plants were
constructed before the courts determined that EARP was enforceable and because
the act we are amending does not include prolonged shutdowns of reactors or
significant retrofits among the projects that must be assessed. Comprehensive
studies have been required of a military parachute training area, a water
pipeline and road construction. All this law required of Ontario Power
Generation was that it meet the requirements of the screening, the same
level-one assessment that in the Pickering area examined bridge repairs at a
golf course, reconstruction at a railway level crossing, and demolition of barns
on various sites.
The assessment act gives ministers the discretion to order independent panel
reviews when the projects pose a potential for significant adverse environmental
effects and when there is public concern. In the case of the Pickering shutdown
of four reactors, there was a well-documented history of public concern. The
City of Toronto, the City of Oshawa and more than 200 other interveners called
for a comprehensive federal review. A referendum calling for a provincial
assessment was supported by some 87 per cent of more than 17,000 residents. A
team of scientists from the University of Toronto and McMaster University, hired
by the City of Pickering, also recommended an upgrade in the federal review.
There was a formal request to the Minister of the Environment to refer the
project to an independent panel. All to no avail. The so-called trigger of
public concern was jammed. Neither the regulatory commission nor the minister
required the utility to do more than what is described as an enhanced screening.
Your Energy Committee commented on the inadequacies of that assessment and
recommended that the government correct the glaring oversight in the act by
requiring comprehensive studies, at a minimum, of projects involving significant
modifications to nuclear reactors and nuclear power stations and the re-start of
reactors following prolonged shutdowns.
Bill C-9 ignores that recommendation. On that ground alone, we could choose
to oppose this bill, given that the Senate adopted the committee report.
However, we have to dig deeper to understand how the problems I have mentioned —
and several others — remain in the act, despite the mandatory five-year review
of the legislation. We also see that, as parliamentarians, we cannot amend Bill
C-9 to prod the government to accept our earlier recommendation.
The flaw lies in the act itself. Unlike most mandated five-year reviews, the
review we passed was not placed in the hands of Parliament. The act required the
minister to undertake a comprehensive review of its provisions and operation.
The minister defined the terms, tabled his report to Parliament and drafted
bills — Bill C-19 in the last session and renamed Bill C-9 in this session. They
do not include amendments to sections that cause difficulties or add new
sections that could correct obvious omissions. Now we are constrained to
sections of the act that Bill C-9 addresses. We cannot open up the full act and
do what we think is required.
Fortunately, Bill C-9 does amend the section that will govern the next review
of the legislation. Next time, a parliamentary committee will set the scope of
Bill C-9 does make other improvements, as Senator Kenny has noted. It does
bring most Crown corporations under the act's regulations, at least within three
years, unless they devise their own acceptable regulations.
The Export Development Corporation would still be exempt, and that is
problematic, as the Auditor General observed two years ago. The EDC introduced
its own environmental review process in April 1999. When the Auditor General
examined it, she found that more than 90 per cent of the projects examined were
not properly assessed. Assessments of 24 of 26 projects got a failing grade, and
nine of 13 others that did not qualify for reviews, according to the Auditor
General, posed environmental risk.
The Auditor General said the following:
The corporation does not have sufficient information to know if
environmental risks exist and are being adequately addressed, and how
Canadians could be supporting projects which they would feel do not meet
With Bill C-9, we could still see the government give loans or loan
guarantees in support of nuclear reactor sales or aircraft sales or other
exports without taking the most basic steps to see how the environment is
directly affected elsewhere as a result of our government decisions, so it is
business as usual for the EDC.
Other Crown corporations, namely the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, will
have three years to decide how they will be included. Frankly, they are nervous.
Their anxiety should not be a reason to see this improvement fall by the
The bill has other benefits, as Senator Kenny eloquently set out. Some
non-federal entities on federal lands, such as airport authorities, will be
covered. Quality control of assessments will be required by the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Agency, and there will be additional funds.
However, Bill C-9 also takes one giant leap backwards. As the act stands,
ministers can appoint an independent review panel at almost any time, including
at the end of a comprehensive study. In fact, that final option was exercised
once at the end of one of approximately 100 comprehensive studies. In the
assessment of 40,000 projects, only 10 panels have been appointed, nine of them
following screenings and one following the more detailed comprehensive study.
Bill C-9 removes that option. Departments, agencies and, in time, Crown
corporations must decide after a screening whether a comprehensive study or
independent panel is needed. I appreciate the argument that this change lends
greater certainty from the perspective of project developers. It removes the
need to take part in a comprehensive study and then receive the unpleasant
surprise that an independent panel will start work.
My misgivings about this change are these. First, there could well be another
instance in which this screening process fails to recognize that a panel review
is ultimately required. The amended bill would provide no recourse to correct
that significant error.
Second, by holding out the possibility of an independent panel review — which
in my opinion is the best way to assess things — something that project
proponents want to avoid, there is incentive to conduct thorough comprehensive
studies. Do the job well and that is all you have to do. Remove that remedial
option and there is a far smaller real-world penalty for making less than
adequate effort in the course of a comprehensive study.
That brings me to another huge problem with this bill. There is no
enforcement provision, no penalty, no "or else" for simply ignoring the act.
However, with the bill comes a new position of environmental assessment
coordinator. I will be interested to hear in committee to what extent the
coordinator can stop up those leaks in the bill.
I now want to get to the very crux of the matter, as the current Minister of
the Environment defines it. In his report, he declared that the "core
strength" of the act is found in its provision for independent panel reviews. I
agree that this is where it should lie. The other forms of assessment, mediation
aside, are essentially self-assessments. Proponents and departments determine
whether there will be harm to the environment, how to mitigate it and whether
the project should go ahead. Interested parties and ordinary citizens can
contribute information, but, ultimately, departmental officials, relying heavily
on information provided by developers decide to grant the permit, approve the
funds or proceed with the project on federal lands. The vast majority of the
time, these internal assessments are good enough but certainly not always.
Sometimes, an independent perspective is required.
Since 1995, there have been 40,000 such screenings leading to approximately
100 comprehensive studies. Only 10 independent panels have been appointed; that
is, 0.025 per cent of assessments. I am not suggesting some magic percentage
should be achieved. I am suggesting that, too often, independent panel reviews
have been denied.
I have cited the nuclear reactor case. I want to give some detail on two
other glaring omissions. Without being too parochial, the first comes from my
own province. Imagine 15 million hectares of forest on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan
border. That is an area larger than New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
combined. Imagine a plan to take more than 2.5 million cubic metres of timber a
year out of it and to construct more than 1,400 kilometres of new, all-season
and winter roads with more than 35 river crossings. Know that federal officials
determined that at least 20 of those crossings required federal approval under
the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Consider that our Department of Fisheries
and Oceans had in hand a commissioned study that found approximately 6 million
acres contained superior quality fish habitat that would be at high risk from
forestry and road construction. Add to that that the environment minister
declared the area of national and international importance for migratory birds,
and know that a similar project in the days of EARP was found to require a
Honourable senators may be shocked, as was I, to know the government's
position on the assessment of the project. It decided that the project, for
assessment purposes, did not include a new pulp mill to be constructed or 1,400
kilometres of road or any of the millions of acres of forest to be harvested. It
was simply a 20- by-70 footbridge over the Sewap Creek that required a permit
under the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
Manitoba's Future Forest Alliance, a coalition of citizens and environmental
organizations, tried repeatedly to have the minister invoke section 46 of the
act that allows him to launch a full-panel review when a project in one province
may cause significant adverse environmental effects in another project or
internationally. The discharge of mill effluent into interprovincial and
international waters, the destruction of migratory bird habitat and the
destruction of millions of hectares of fish habitat never really counted. The
central issue here was the government's absurdly narrow interpretation of the
term "project." In this instance, it could not see the forest for the bridge.
Just as shocking, a federal court and a federal appeal court upheld that
interpretation. As a backhanded reward for years of effort in trying to enforce
the spirit of the federal act, the Future Forest Alliance was ordered to pay the
forestry company $25,000 in costs. That onerous practice, incidentally, of the
Department of Justice, seeking an order of costs against citizens who challenge
the government's interpretation of the act, has become routine.
Bill C-9, now before us, does nothing to prevent a recurrence of this
extremely unfortunate outcome should anyone attempt to force a panel review of a
forest as opposed to a bridge.
Now a new Manitoba Hydro power project is being planned. The province is
seeking federal funds from the Kyoto implementation budget.
What about the environmental assessment? At present, only the Manitoba Clean
Environment Commission will review a project. This project, which is a huge
industrial project, should have a full panel review. Native people who live in
that area are calling for a full review and have lobbied the government.
Honourable senators, the second example I would like to cite comes from
Inverhuron, Ontario, a hamlet of approximately 300 families immediately next to
the Bruce nuclear complex. These families are concerned about their local food
and drinking water that has been tested at 50 times the level of natural
background radiation. They have suffered childhood leukemia deaths and two
documented cases of advanced aging disease in children within a 25-kilometre
radius of the plant. As the president of the ratepayers' group told the
committee in the other place, "When you see a six-year-old child who looks like
sixty and who dies before the age of nine, it breaks your heart."
These families live near the world's largest nuclear facility, nine reactors
and a heavy water plant that, in the past, emitted hydrogen sulphide gas. It is
Canada's only production facility to burn radioactive waste. In the past, it has
emitted dioxins and furans hundreds of times in excess of national limits. It
has two dedicated radioactive storage sites to store the waste from the Bruce,
Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations. There have been documented leaks from
these sites of radioactive contaminants into the groundwater.
When they learned that Bruce would also be the site of a new high-level waste
storage facility for spent fuel bundles — some 40,000 tons of it — making it the
world's largest nuclear waste storage facility, here is what Normand de la
Chevrotière, the ratepayers' president, said that families believed:
This is a slam dunk. If anything deserves a panel review, this has to be
it. But we'd better not be complacent. We'd better participate in the
With no intervener funding, because a panel review was not recommended, they
spent thousands of their own dollars to hire experts. They had the support of
their local MP, Ovid Jackson, the local medical officer of health, the Canadian
Federation of Agriculture and the neighbouring First Nations. They learned the
hard way that overwhelming public concern was not sufficient to trigger a panel
They went to court and discovered that the project had changed materially in
the middle of the public comment period. When they lost in Federal Court, they
appealed and lost again. They sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and
were denied. In the end, on top of lawyers' fees, they faced $100,000 in costs
to Ontario Power Generation and the federal government.
Mr. De la Chevrotière sums up the horrific experience this way. When their
children ask what happened, they can reply:
We did everything humanly possible. We exhausted every regulatory avenue.
We exhausted every legal avenue. We did not fail you; the system and the
government failed you.
Honourable senators, that system is not changed at all by Bill C-9. By any
measure, the act's "core strength" is wanting. It proved spineless when
dealing with the world's largest nuclear waste storage facility, Ontario's
largest waterfall or forests the size of two provinces combined. Any impartial
observer viewing the facts would ask us to stop pretending, to either remedy the
huge deficiencies in the law or to toss it out and start again.
That, in fact, is what some parties in the other place are suggesting. They
contend that we need a radically different environmental assessment law. I tend
to agree. However, we are constrained from doing that here today. Instead, we
can only impose, in principle, what this bill fails to do.
I suggest that we must proceed without amendment to gain the relatively
modest benefits contained in Bill C-9. However, I would like to see our
committee make substantial recommendations about the enormous deficiencies in
the assessment process that could be corrected in the next round of review, or
From Thomas Berger to 2003, Canada's commitment to sound environmental
assessment has been on a downward spiral. It can only get better if we come to
our collective senses and embrace the concept of environmental assessment as a
tool to help us plan better, think longer and build stronger for future
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the consideration of the eighth report (interim) of
the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
entitled: Government Ethics Initiative, deposited with the Clerk of
the Senate on April 10, 2003.
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I would like today to give a
brief report on my opinion as to what has taken place with the study in the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament with
respect to the ethics package, while reserving my comments for the bill itself.
We have presented here an interim report. There is much work to be done. The
interim report is just a stone skipping across the surface where we touch on
several issues but not to any great depth and substance.
My primary concern has been, and will continue to be, the appointment of the
ethics officer. There were two opinions. One was that the ethics officer should
be appointed through statute. The other opinion was that the ethics officer
should be appointed by the Senate.
The committee had a teleconference with representatives of the House of
Lords. One Lord stated that the Law Lords in the House of Lords would no more
touch on issues of privilege with respect to the House of Lords than fly to the
moon. However, he believed that our Supreme Court, being far more activist in
his opinion, would not hesitate to touch upon privilege if we use the statute
Honourable senators, I have grave concerns in that regard, and I believe that
we simply should not go there. We already have too many laws in this land. If we
open the door to allow an activist court to intervene for whatever reason, they
The intent of the government would be to bring in the legislation that is
currently in the other place. It will come here and we will debate it. I think
that there will be a lot of debate.
As I said, we have merely touched the surface of this bill and the entire
ethics package. We need to examine it because it deserves consideration in the
fullness of time. Thinking matures over time as different witnesses are heard.
You do not simply form opinions off the mark and stick to them. Opinions do
change and thinking evolves as you hear different witnesses and take the time to
reflect about the impact and the effect this proposed ethics package will have
on this chamber. It is important that honourable senators have the opportunity
to reflect over time.
Some of us do not believe there needs to be an ethics package because there
is substantial evidence that we have sufficient rules in place. I tend to agree.
However, having said that, we move forward with the realization that we will
have an ethics package. The Senate will develop the ethics rules. Having served
on the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament for
a while, I am aware that it will take a great deal of time to arrive at a set of
rules, which will continue to evolve and change over time as we meet issues in
this chamber that we feel must be dealt with.
Honourable senators, those are my comments. We on this side still do not see
the urgency for this interim report. The government was able to review the
evidence and learn the thinking of the committee on this issue. Some of us feel
quite strongly that we are a little premature in the report because our thinking
has not fully matured.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to speak today
to this report because, unlike Senator Stratton, I believe it is a very good
report. The committee worked hard on it, taking pains over every phrase in it.
It is a classic example of how Senate committees go to the heart of an issue and
make fundamental points about it. It is particularly gratifying to see how
strongly our report influenced the government in the preparation of the bill
that it has presented to the other place, which in itself was a good reason for
preparing the report. That bill will make its way here in due course and we will
examine it then. The committee served the Canadian people well.
Above all, it was our committee that said that the Senate should have its own
ethics officer and that he or she should be appointed with bi-partisan support
in this chamber. These are fundamental points and the committee's view was both
strong and unanimous on them.
Today, honourable senators, I would like to speak on a subject on which the
committee has not been able to reach a consensus, despite very serious thought
and discussion. That is the question of the status of the ethics officer. Should
the office be created by legislation or within our own rules, the Rules of
With your leave, I would like to explain how my own thoughts on this subject
have evolved — Senator Stratton is right: our opinions do evolve. I will begin
by quoting the first basic principle the committee cited in its report, a
principle on which we were unanimous. On page 3 of the report, it says:
The public should have confidence that Parliamentarians conduct
themselves with a high standard of ethical behaviour.
That is simple, clear and true. It is self-evident.
The public must be able to have the confidence that we conduct ourselves to
the highest standards. The question is: How best can we arrange our affairs so
that the public will have that confidence? It is not enough for us to simply
stand on our honour and give public assurances that we have only the highest
standards. The time is long past when the public was willing to give its trust
simply because someone said "trust me." From Watergate to Lewinsky; from
Profumo to gifts of diamonds in Paris; from the Pacific and Beauharnois scandals
to Vander Zalm; and to great public betrayals such as the Enron affair, the
public has learned to be sceptical. Understand me, honourable senators, I am not
suggesting that senators are in any way corrupt or dishonest; we all know
better. I am suggesting that we are, at least, as subject to public scepticism
as any one else.
While that scepticism has a healthy side, it has a dangerous corrosive
effect. When people do not believe in the integrity of their parliamentary
institutions, they lose faith in the integrity of their democracy. A Ph.D. is
not necessary to understand that a decline in public trust leads to a decline in
democratic participation, electoral turnout and participation in political
parties. Our democracy can work only when people believe in it. Honourable
senators, we have no greater duty than to serve and enhance our democracy,
including citizens' faith in it. I have long believed that it is important for
people who hold public office to have clear, strong, public rules of conduct
and, in particular, rules about conflict of interest, in all the many guises
that such conflicts may assume.
When I speak of people who hold public office, I am using that phrase in the
lay sense and not in the narrower legal meaning. I am using it in the ordinary
way that a member of the public might understand it — referring to anyone who is
paid from the public purse to conduct the public business, as we all are.
There are, as many honourable senators have observed, some rules that govern
us now. All of these rules are public in the Criminal Code, the Parliament of
Canada Act, the Constitution Act, 1867 and in the Rules of the Senate.
Some of the rules are also very strong. It is hard to get much stronger than the
Constitution and the Criminal Code. However, few of the rules are clear. I even
wonder how many senators, for example, know exactly what is meant by section 23.
(3) of the British North America Act, which refers to our property
He shall be legally or equitably seized as of Freehold for his own Use
and Benefit of Lands or Tenements held in Free and Common Socage, or seized
or possessed for his own Use and Benefit of Lands or Tenements held in
Franc-alleu or in Roture, within the Province for which he is appointed,...
The Criminal Code provisions are no clearer to a lay eye. For example, how
many members of the public would readily understand that when the law speaks of
a benefit that may be bestowed by Her Majesty, it is not referring to the actual
physical person of our sovereign. When you read all these rules, which you can
do in the interim report, it is easy to understand why the committee agreed that
they should be modernized and clarified. This may seem to be a digression, but
it goes back to the question of public's ability to have confidence. For that
confidence to exist, we must not only be but also be readily seen and be
understood to be acting to the highest ethical standards.
One of the rules of thumb that a reasonable person will use in judging
whether that confidence is justified is the matter of whether the rules are
established and enforced at arm's-length to the people to whom they apply.
Self-regulation, although honourably practised by many groups in our society,
does not necessarily inspire the same degree of public confidence that an
arm's-length system can inspire. Who among us cannot recall hearing public
scepticism expressed about some case of professional self-regulation? For
example, it might have been a case where the public believed that the
professional society of sedan-chair carriers merely wrapped the knuckles of one
of its members who had committed a serious offence when the public believed that
a stronger penalty was justified.
The higher the public office with which one is entrusted, the higher the
standard of ethical conduct to which the public has the right to know that one
is held. Honourable senators, there are few higher public offices than the one
that we are privileged to hold. There are some, I grant you. Only one of us is a
cabinet minister, to name the most obvious distinction, but we are all
legislators. We are all here to vote on laws that affect the daily lives of
Canadians. We have the power to accept, reject or amend those laws. There are
few higher public duties than that. We have the additional advantage of being
permanently secure in our jobs, until the age of 75. This is a public privilege
of the very highest order demanding a correspondingly high and transparent
Honourable senators, I know, as we all know, that we are all aware of that. I
know that the honourable senators are very much aware of their responsibilities
and that no one takes these responsibilities lightly. However, I also know that
the public, whom we serve, does not understand us, and that too often our fellow
citizens distrust us, specifically because we have permanent jobs, and our rules
are not very clear. There is an idea around that we have must have something to
hide — and there are commentators and politicians who encourage such rumours.
In our era, one of the key ways in which powerful groups — and most people
would classify senators as a powerful group — can increase public confidence is
by having a strong regulatory system. As I argued a moment ago, the more
independent that system is, the more confidence the public will feel in it. That
is why, for a long time, I thought that the whole system of parliamentary ethics
controls — both the rules and the enforcement — should be set out in law.
Since we in Parliament make the laws, even that is not entirely at
arm's-length from us, but it is as close to real independence as one can get for
us as legislators. It would be harder for us to change the law to give ourselves
some advantage than it would be simply to change our in-house rules. We need
only to think about how hard it is, politically speaking, to change the laws
about our own pay to understand that.
However, since I came here, I have also come to have a deeper understanding
of another crucial principle: the importance of parliamentary privilege. Like
almost everyone else, I find that word to be a bit outdated, but the concept is
vital. Instead of calling it privilege, let me call it the concept of the rights
and independence of Parliament and of each chamber of Parliament. For our
democracy to work as it should, it is vital for Parliament to safeguard its
rights and independence.
Centuries of struggle and reflection have confirmed that Parliament must be
in full control of its own affairs if it is to serve the people faithfully. In
particular, Parliament must not be subject to judicial interference as it goes
about its business, including the business of setting and enforcing its ethical
How do we square the circle? How do we reconcile these two apparently
contradictory principles: the need for an arm's-length system to maintain public
confidence and the need for internal control of our own affairs as
parliamentarians? Clearly, a compromise that respects both requirements is
necessary. Fortunately, we are not the first to consider the dilemma, and the
remedy is fairly straightforward, as experience in several Canadian provinces
has shown. It is to have an ethics commissioner who is himself or herself a
person of guaranteed autonomy, appointed under a statute and with bipartisan
support, removable only by a resolution of the parliamentary chamber he or she
serves. This makes it clearly a bipartisan and arm's-length relationship.
That person, however, is given no decisional authority. Instead, the
legislature itself continues to make and apply the rules about parliamentarians'
conduct. The commissioner, in our case the Senate ethics officer, is simply
empowered to gather information, to give advice and, where appropriate, to make
recommendations to the legislature based on the legislature's rules. The
legislature retains all authority to make decisions and take action according to
its own parliamentary rules. This, it seems to me, absolutely preserves the
rights and independence of Parliament.
It is a system that may lack the elegant intellectual symmetry of a system
based only on statute or one based only on in-house parliamentary rules, but
experience suggests that it has the advantage of working. It works well in most
of the provinces, and I think it is a system that could work well here.
Many senators, including some members of the Rules Committee, do not share
this view. They argue that we should beware of setting any part of our system
out in a statute where the courts may feel inspired to interfere. Some of them,
as did Senator Stratton, cite the House of Lords' system as an appropriate
precedent for us to follow. As senators know, the Lords' system is entirely
in-house, established under the Lords' rules and administered by a registrar who
is the clerk of the judicial office, the Law Lords.
Since our Senate was modeled on the House of Lords to a significant degree,
that is a significant precedent to consider. However, I would argue that in this
case the differences between our two chambers matter more than the similarities.
To begin with, the House of Lords is now significantly less powerful than the
Canadian Senate. It simply does not matter as much in real parliamentary terms
as we do.
Second, its nature is very different, even now that hereditary seats are
being done away with. The key fact is that members of the House of Lords are not
paid. Since they obviously must support themselves, this means that the British
system is based upon the assumption that they will all have substantial outside
interests, that their job at the Lords is a part-time affair.
We, in contrast, are paid. While our salaries may not be much in comparison
to senior levels of the private sector, they are high in relation to the
earnings of most Canadians and even of most public servants. In the range of
public service, we are well paid. Certainly, we are paid a full-time wage, and
in the public's mind, this obviously brings a comparable degree of
responsibility. Therefore, while I have the greatest respect for the Lords, I
think their system is of only limited relevance to us in this matter.
There is another level of difficulty with the Lords' system; that is, the
fact that their registrar is an ordinary employee of the House of Lords — a
senior employee, to be sure, but with no independent legal standing. Is it fair
to put on such a person the burden of judging the people who are his or her
employers? Would the public have faith in such a system, or would it simply
dismiss the commissioner as a lapdog? That would not be fair to the commissioner
or to Parliament. I think that is another reason for not going the same way the
Lords have gone. The Lords have their own traditions; Westminster has its own
traditions and its own political context. We must pay attention to our political
Honourable senators, I have not discussed the bill. We shall come to that
when the bill comes to us; nor have I discussed what I think should be in the
actual rules of conduct that we shall proceed to consider and adopt. That will,
indeed, be a subject of fascinating discussion.
I just wanted to talk about the principle that did so occupy the members of
this committee as they went about producing the interim report, and explain the
reasoning behind the position that I have come to.
We all love the Senate, our beautiful Senate, as Senator Beaudoin has called
it. We all want to protect and improve it.
If I thought that a statutory ethics officer would diminish in one scintilla
the rights and independence of this chamber, I would argue forcefully against
it. However, I believe that the appointment of an ethics officer, who not only
was but was seen to be at arm's-length from us, could only serve us and enhance
our stature as we go forward.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Kinsella,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Corbin, for the second reading of Bill
S-14, to amend the National Anthem Act to reflect the linguistic duality of
Canada.—(Honourable Senator Prud'homme, P.C.).
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, Senator Robichaud has moved the adjournment of this debate. I know
that all honourable senators are looking forward to hearing from our colleague
Senator Prud'homme. Hopefully he will speak this week.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): The
Honourable Senator Prud'homme, who had to be absent this afternoon, has
indicated that he wants me to defer debate to the next sitting. He has also
indicated that, either this week or the next, he will be taking time to study
the items adjourned in his name in order to be in a position to speak on them in
the near future.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bacon, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Maheu, for the adoption of the thirteenth report
of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
(Policy on Equipment, Furniture and Furnishings) presented in the Senate on
April 2, 2003.—(Honourable Senator Kenny).
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I have several brief comments
to make about this report. In general, I think it is a good report and a
positive step forward.
I have now had an opportunity to compare the current report with the previous
situation. I think that honourable senators will benefit from this report and
that it will be of value to them.
My one observation and my one concern is that we are continuing to move items
into senators' research budgets. As a matter of principle, I believe we should
keep our research budgets solely for intellectual assistance, and that the
provision of desks, computers or like material, would be more appropriately met
out of the Senate general budget.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bacon, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Maheu, for the adoption of the fourteenth report
of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
(Policy on Telecommunications) presented in the Senate on April 2, 2003.—(Honourable
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I wish to thank whoever
provided the comparisons of the current policies with the new proposal.
This is a positive and useful step for the Senate. My reservations are
precisely the same as those concerning the thirteenth report of the committee. I
am concerned when we see monies coming out of our research budgets. I should
note that our research budgets have not increased. I believe that communications
matters should generally be paid from the Senate budget as a whole.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator LeBreton calling
the attention of the Senate to the legacy of waste during the
Chrétien-Martin years.—(Honourable Senator Eyton).
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, 10 years ago, long before
Paul Martin controlled the Liberal caucus and the Liberal Party of Canada, the
people of this country delivered victory to the Liberal Party of Canada. We on
this side of the house are still recovering, and after yesterday's by-election
our recovery is progressing well.
We watched as the Liberals assumed power, promising to review the free trade
agreement, cancel the GST, cancel the Toronto airport agreement and cancel the
helicopter purchase. Those four promises drove the Liberal Party to victory.
Those four promises were the vehicles of attack for alleged corruption, alleged
bad economic policy, alleged bad transportation policy and alleged bad defence
policy, as enunciated by the Progressive Conservative government. A change in
these policies was what would make life better for the Canadian people.
We on this side of the house knew that these policies were essential for the
strong economic and political development of Canada. Naively, perhaps, we also
believed that this nonsense perpetuated by the Liberals would not be bought by
the Canadian people in the numbers that translated on that day in 1993.
Failing that, though, we, having battled the Liberals for decades, and
knowing them, believed that none of these promises would be kept, so no harm
done. To our horror, and to all those involved, they kept two of them. Of
course, they denied making the other two, as if all that happened in this place
over the GST and the free trade agreement never took place.
It seems that their speeches during the election campaign did not take place
either. One policy caused an election — the free trade agreement. The other
almost caused a constitutional crisis as the Senate was reduced to all-night
vigils in the GST debate.
After the election, the Liberals adopted these two policies. In the case of
free trade, the Prime Minister set about a course of expansion as Canada's
newest trade advocate, leaving John Turner's fight of his life in the rear-view
The Liberals, having fought every cost-cutting and reduction measure proposed
by the Mulroney government, and having run an election on increased spending in
almost every government department, adopted deficit cutting measures and
balanced budgeting as their financial mantra immediately upon coming to power.
These were the Liberals we knew.
They then engaged in the most shameful act of character assassination against
Paxport Inc. and hired Robert Nixon, former Liberal finance minister in the
Ontario Liberal government, newly minted chairman of the federal Crown
corporation Atomic Energy of Canada, father of Jane Stewart, Liberal MP and now
cabinet minister, and personal friend and campaign chairman of the Prime
Minister. It seems that Mr. Nixon not only had Liberal pedigree but sired
Liberals as well. He was hired to examine the contract with the developers to
develop the Toronto airport.
The developers breathed a sigh of relief at this turn of events as they
stared at a new definition of fairness. They would be the first to be welcomed
to the real Age of Aquarius for Liberals only.
The cancellation of the Pearson airport development agreement would be the
beginning of the first assault on fair play, honesty in government, and a
ruthless assault on the Constitution and the rule of law. The new gang in town
would attempt to use legislation to assault the law itself.
Pearson was a precursor of much to come. They dismantled the helicopter
purchase contracts, paid everyone off with taxpayers' money, sacrificed the
safety of the very people who pledged to protect us, and then proceeded to do
the same thing with Pearson, because only this place, the Senate, stopped the
Liberals from hijacking the Constitution itself. The government, led by the
Prime Minister, then went to court where facts would stare them in the face and
capitulated without a fight; the shame of it all.
The Liberal government based their decision, for all that transpired on the
Pearson airport issue, on what was produced by Robert Nixon. His three-week
report produced a work of fiction for the Prime Minister, which I believe was
written by someone in the Prime Minister's office who actually believed their
In 1993, a private sector consortium won a bid to develop and operate
Terminals 1 and 2 at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. This
agreement would have resulted in $700 million of private sector investment,
creating 14,000 person years of employment. Looking for an election issue in
1993, and without providing any substantive proof, the Chrétien-Martin Liberals
charged that the Pearson airport agreement was a patronage scam designed to give
developers huge undeserved profits at taxpayers' expense. The Liberals did not
let the fact that under this agreement no government money would have been used
to get in the way of an opportunistic exercise in character assassination of the
agreement's principal players, including the former government and the
developers in the Pearson Development Corporation.
It would predictably follow that upon executing a quick review of the Pearson
redevelopment agreement in which Nixon concluded that it was done under terms
too generous to the private sector consortium, the Liberals moved to cancel the
It would later prove to be ironic that the Liberals would take the view that
the redevelopment agreement for Terminals 1 and 2 was too rich because, in a
subsequent breach-of-contract lawsuit over this affair, the government lawyers
would eventually wind up arguing that the exact opposite was the case; that the
developers would have lost a bundle on the project.
Nonetheless, the government followed up on the Nixon report by introducing
Bill C-22, to abrogate the Pearson airport agreement, to give the government
immunity from any lawsuits related to this abrogation and to remove the legal
right of the Pearson Development Corporation, the group that won the bid to
operate Terminals 1 and 2, to seek redress from the courts. Instead, the
government wanted a situation where the transport minister would arbitrarily
determine limited compensation for the developers' expenses.
To add fuel to the fire, it should be remembered that the Transport Minister
at that time was the great icon of Liberal non- partisanship, impartiality and
fairness, Doug Young. During the course of this affair, he developed quite a
reputation for making intemperate remarks directed at almost anyone who had
questions regarding our government's arbitrary actions.
In the debate that followed over Bill C-22, Progressive Conservative senators
objected to provisions that violated fundamental principles of the rule of law
and the right of the affected parties to have open access to the courts. After
PC amendments were rejected by the Liberal majority in the House of Commons, and
the Liberals failed at several attempts to pass Bill C-22, this legislation died
on the Order Paper in February 1996.
In April 1996, the Liberals reinstated Bill C-22 in close to its original
form, Bill C-28, and it was no better received than the earlier legislation.
Like its predecessor, it, too, was defeated in the Senate.
Meanwhile, a $622 million breach of contract lawsuit by the developers
against the Liberal government was making its way through the courts. On a
separate front, in the face of the government's refusal to hold an independent
inquiry into the Pearson affair, the Senate struck a special committee to
examine the events surrounding the Pearson airport agreements and their
cancellation by an order of the Senate on May 4, 1995. After hearing over 130
hours of testimony and 65 witnesses, the special committee issued its report in
The committee concluded that there was no evidence that the public interest
had been set aside during the negotiation of the original agreements. The
Conservatives also found that the report upon which the government rationalized
its decision to cancel the agreement, the Nixon report, was demonstrably
inadequate in the information, time and analysis used to make its
On April 16, 1997, the federal government and the Pearson Development
Corporation reached a $60 million out-of-court settlement over the consortium's
lawsuit. The government wound up paying $45 million for direct out-of-pocket
expenses, and $15 million to cover the consortium's legal costs and interest. It
should not be overlooked that taxpayers were also on the hook for the
government's legal bill.
The Greater Toronto Airport Authority, the GTAA, which is now managing
Pearson, received $185 million in rent relief from the government so that it
could pay $719 million to buy back Terminal 3 from the Pearson Development
Also, in early 1997, transport documents suggested that the cost over 20
years of the Liberal government's decision to cancel the Pearson airport
agreement was roughly $873 million and adjustments for inflation and tax
considerations would push this figure higher.
In monetary terms, the combined cost to Canadian taxpayers of this Liberal
exercise in opportunism ended up approaching over $1 billion.
In terms of wasted economic benefits, the cost generated by this wasteful
fiasco was just as steep: a loss of some 14,000 person years in employment and
the loss of additional secondary job creation.
Two tangible ways of assessing this issue in terms of being another exercise
in massive Liberal waste are also apparent. First, considerable parliamentary
resources had to be utilized in the fight against Bill C-22 and Bill C-28; and,
second, in the work of the Special Senate Committee on the Pearson Airport
Particularly in the Senate, extraordinary effort was expended to fight for
basic principles that the government's arbitrary actions threw by the wayside:
First, the rule of law; second, the rights of Canadians to have access to the
courts to protect themselves from arbitrary government action; and, third, the
issue of what was the most prudent policy course for the Canadian government to
pursue with respect to the matter of Pearson's redevelopment.
In fighting for these issues and others, the work of honourable senators on
both sides of the Special Senate Committee and in the main chamber was
invaluable and indeed it was the right thing to do.
How needless these efforts would have been had the government not chosen the
route of contract cancellation and had instead upheld the policy route developed
by the previous government. These efforts by parliamentarians can be viewed as
another example of government waste generated by the actions of the present
What was the policy decision that was causing the problem? The policy
decision that the Conservative government made was that there should be private
sector development of airports as well as local, municipally controlled
It seems that the concern of the Liberal government was that someone might
make a profit. Someone might make some money by running an airport; as if
municipal airports do not have to make money. Municipal airports must make the
same profits as private airports must make; otherwise, who would fix the
airport? Who do you think pays for the infrastructure? Who pays for the
buildings? There is no such thing as a non-profit corporation. A non-profit
corporation only means one thing: It does not have to pay any income tax. It is
not because it does not make a profit, because they all have to make profit. If
they do not make profit, governments have to write a cheque to pay for the
infrastructure. That is exactly what they do.
When the Liberals chose to cancel the contracts to redevelop Terminals 1 and
2 at Pearson, they were gutting the work of public servants who managed the
process, of the policy framework people, of the negotiation process and of every
public servant and every business person involved in putting the agreement
together. With barely an afterthought, the Chrétien- Martin Liberals threw all
of this work by the public service, the government and the policy people out the
Did the Liberals knowingly cause such massive waste in the name of some
high-minded ideal? I doubt it. I know they did not. Were they motivated by some
deep concern for what was in the best interest of the travelling public, the
Canadian taxpayers and the people of Toronto? We have the result of 10 years of
transportation policy by the Liberal government. Just travel to Pearson
International Airport. Try to find an airline outside of WestJet that has good
economic infrastructure. All of those issues were the result of bad Liberal
transportation policy. It started with the cancellation of the Pearson airport
An Hon. Senator: Give me a break!
Senator Tkachuk: I do not have to give you a break. I am telling you
that we have a worse situation today than we had 10 years ago. All our airlines
are almost bankrupt. Toronto Pearson International Airport is a disaster area.
It is 10 years hence, and that would have been finished five years ago. We would
today be reaping the benefits of the 1993 Pearson Airport Agreements that the
Liberal government cancelled. I am just telling you what exists today. I am not
making this up. We all know it, because we fly on planes, and we know exactly
what is going on.
The Liberals did this in much the same way that guided them to attack and
distort for electoral gain and thereby cancel another Progressive Conservative
policy, that is, the helicopter project.
In fact, informed by the benefits of the passage of time, the Liberal EH-101
debacle and the Liberal Pearson fiasco are twin illustrations of the pernicious
outcomes that can arise when cheap electoral politics are mixed with governing.
As the months wind down on this Liberal government and the Prime Minister
searches to define his legacy —
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Tkachuk, I am sorry to
interrupt, but your 15 minutes have expired.
Senator Tkachuk: I would ask leave to continue. I only have a minute
or so remaining.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, as the months wind down on Prime
Minister Chrétien's time as Prime Minister and as he searches for issues to
define his legacy, voters will not let him forget his approach to the
redevelopment of the Pearson airport, particularly as it can be viewed through
the ever-expanding prism of massive Liberal waste of taxpayers' money and
Every time we travel through Pearson today, we are reminded of another broken
promise. It was the Liberals who said, "There will never ever be an airport tax
at Pearson," yet 10 years later, every time we buy a ticket and go through
Pearson airport, it costs us, the taxpayers of Canada, $10 — another broken
promise by the Liberals.
On motion of Senator Kinsella, for Senator Eyton, debate adjourned.
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
Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, this afternoon I should like to
briefly respond to the unjustified criticisms of the recent federal budget,
criticisms that have been heard from many of the health care delivery system
I was therefore surprised to read certain statements to the effect that the
flaws in the federal budget demonstrate that health is not a priority for the
Canadian government and that it is deviating from the recommendations of the
Romanow report and the report by the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology.
This statement in fact summarizes much of the unfair criticism that has been
reported in the press in relation to the budget. The first criticism states
that, in spite of its stated priorities and the repeatedly expressed wishes of
the Canadian population, the proportion of spending allocated to health is
inadequate. The second line of criticism would assert that the government, in
its budget, did not follow the recommendations of various studies, specifically
those of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
and of the Romanow commission.
In fact, the basic premise underlying both reports is that any new funding
must be conditional upon the achievement of certain reforms that are a priority,
namely, primary health care, home care and pharmacare, as otherwise these
reforms would never see the light of day.
That is why the lion's share of the new transfer payments, that is $16
billion over five years, will be allocated to this fund for reform.
One might well wonder whether the recent funding announced by several
provincial departments of health in the areas of primary health care and home
care would have come along if it had not been for the conditional nature of the
When it is definitely known that the provinces have brought in these reforms,
in about five years, then all federal transfers in this area will then be
consolidated into a Canadian health transfer fund.
This means that the current CHST will be split in 2004-05 into a Canada
health transfer and Canada social transfer. The budget assumes, with reason,
that 62 per cent of the old CHST goes to health. On that basis, the amount of
cash going to support health care in 2005-06 will be $13 billion, not including
the $4 billion in reform funds and the remaining $500 million in cash left from
the 2002-03 surplus. This would amount to about 25 per cent of provincial and
territorial spending on hospitals and physician services. This is exactly the
proportion of federal funding recommended in the Romanow report.
There are other needs, however, in the Canadian health system that are not
covered by transfers to provinces. The budget addresses them very efficiently.
For example, there is generous funding for health promotion and health
protection. More than $1 billion over two years will be allocated to ensure the
safety of air, water and food.
But there is more. In many areas, increased payments will enhance the
efficiency of our services.
For example, the funding allocated to the Canadian health information system
now exceeds $1 billion, which makes it one of the best funded systems in the
The same is true for granting agencies in health research. Their higher
funding levels will no doubt benefit our university hospitals, whose plight is
In fact, the new amounts earmarked for health research this year total more
than $345 million. The knowledge development resulting from this infusion of
capital will surely have a significant impact on the health of Canadians and the
efficiency of our health care delivery system.
Many other areas of the Canadian health care delivery system will be
positively influenced by this new budget. For example, its governance will be
facilitated by additional funding to the Canadian Institute for Health
Information, a real Canadian success story. Funding will also be allocated for
the creation of the new health council, which has been universally acclaimed and
whose mission to demonstrate accountability, excellence and innovation will
really transform our system. There is also money for the new institute of health
safety, for technology assessment and for the study on human resources in the
Under the new funding for palliative care in the form of EI benefits for
compassionate leave, I should like to recognize the important, crucial work of
Senator Carstairs in this regard.
In addition, many of the new initiatives announced in the budget will build
on recommendations contained in volume six of the report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
There is, for example, explicit reference of catastrophic drug coverage,
short-term acute home care, electronic health care records, primary health care
and so forth. These are the priorities of our report.
I would like to draw particular attention to the $90 million over five years
allocated to health care for minority language communities. There is another
$1.3 million allocated to health care for Aboriginal nations.
We now know how important the social determinants of health are. We know, in
particular, that factors such housing and a harmonious setting in early
childhood are more vital to human health than hospital care. The budget invests
an extra $1 billion in these social determinants of health.
In fact, honourable senators, this is really a health budget. This year
alone, $5 billion out of a total spending of $6 billion goes to our health
system. That is 80 per cent of the budget.
Honourable senators, in fact, more than 80 per cent of new spending announced
in the last budget will go directly, or indirectly, to health. As a result, I
believe this is a budget that will mark an era as one of the most transformative
factors in our Canadian health care system.
Hon. Roch Bolduc: Honourable senators, I would like to ask a question.
I broached this subject in my speech on the budget. I understand that the
government has invested in health care. Does this represent health care reform,
or simply an investment in health care?
Senator Morin: Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for
his question. It gives me an opportunity to touch on the numerous commissions
that have studied Canada's health care system in recent years. All of the
provinces have carried out studies and the federal Liberal government
established the Romanow Commission, which recommended reforms. Closer to home,
the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology also
I am very happy to say that these different reforms were accepted and
agreements were established in the February 2003 agreement with all of the
premiers. Also, for the first time, the provinces will be accountable through
this health council to demonstrate that the various reforms were carried out.
For the first time in the history of Canada, different commissions proposed
almost identical reforms. They were accepted by the various stakeholders,
provincial governments and the federal government. Ottawa funded the reforms and
the provinces must report back in five years. This is a unique initiative and
the federal government must be commended for it.
Hon. Michael A. Meighan: Honourable senators, the advantage with
taking our time in the Senate before beginning our debate on the budget is that
it allows us to reflect rather than respond immediately, as is the tradition in
the other place. We have the opportunity to observe the effects of the budget
and to see what changes it causes, if such is the case, before responding.
Today, I would like to speak on a subject to which I have devoted much time
in the past few years, the military, and the army reserves or militia.
Before dealing specifically with these subjects, I would like to make some
comments on the nature of Mr. Manley's first budget as Minister of Finance. The
minister and the government of which he is a part have missed the ideal
opportunity to serve the Canadian people. In fact, the real concerns of
Canadians have in fact been set aside or simply ignored in the interests of the
current Prime Minister's legacy, and to commit federal spending in coming years,
in order to limit the flexibility of the next Prime Minister. One could even say
that the needs of Canada were treated haphazardly: a little here, a little
there, but never touching on anything substantial.
Honourable senators, a government that runs a surplus year after year on the
backs of taxpayers, with no considered plan as to how to spend this money, is a
government with no overarching fiscal plan and, certainly, no vision for the
The priorities after health care, defence and education should be paying down
the debt and tax relief, especially for Canadians at the lower end of the
economic scale. A rigorous commitment to debt reduction — not debt reduction as
an afterthought — would pay large dividends down the road. Right now, the amount
to service the debt on an annual basis is the federal government's largest
single expenditure. Reducing this amount would give the government freedom to
choose among policy initiatives. It would provide more money for health care,
defence or perhaps allow it to reduce taxes, giving Canadians more disposable
I believe the greatest legacy the Prime Minister could have left Canadians
would be a country whose surpluses help pay down the mortgage on our future
through debt repayment. This would have translated into more money for health
care, defence, education, even student debt or lower taxes. However, this is not
what the finance minister did in his budget. Spending has increased, spread over
a cornucopia of initiatives with the hope that at least one of them may be
memorable enough to serve as a legacy for Mr. Chrétien.
Of course, the area where the Prime Minister does leave a legacy, and I am
afraid a sad one at that, is in the area of defence — a legacy of neglect, a
legacy where it was always known that if money was needed to fund initiatives
from the gun registry to advertising contracts, it could always be taken out of
the defence budget.
Before I begin to criticize the government for what it has done to our
military, I believe I should, in all fairness, congratulate our current Minister
of National Defence, the Honourable John McCallum, for being able to secure a
somewhat remarkable — at least for this government — increase in spending. As
the minister told the Senate Veterans Affairs Subcommittee the day after the
budget was tabled, he had succeeded in finding sufficient money to close the gap
"between our budget and what we were called upon to spend." It is a beginning,
but it is only a beginning.
Unfortunately, after years of neglect, after years of telling the military it
had to do more with less, after years of commitments that have strained our
forces to the breaking point, it is not good enough now to simply attempt to
close the gap. I say "attempt to close the gap" because the ongoing deficit is
estimated to be between $1 billion to $1.5 billion per year. That is billion,
not million. That is not surprising, given the way budgets have treated defence
since the government came to power in 1993.
I recall for honourable senators that the last budget of the government led
by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney designated $12.4 billion for defence. By 1996,
this government had brought it down to $10.6 billion and further reduced to $9.8
billion in 1997. This downward spiral continued through 1998, to $9.4 billion.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Who was the Minister of Finance then?
Senator Meighen: It seems to me it was the Honourable Paul Martin,
future and putative prime minister. His name seems to come up frequently in our
While budgets in more recent years have started to restore funding, it does
not make up for years when the defence budget was raped and pillaged.
When I was a member of the Special Joint Committee on the Future of Defence
Policy, then Minister Collenette appeared before us and unequivocally stated —
and Senator Rompkey will remember this — that our military needed consistent
funding year after year in order to plan, to be efficient and to be effective. I
know Senator Rompkey was a strong advocate of that principle, and I hope his
influence increases, too. As Senator Rompkey knows, this has not happened. It
has been to the detriment —
An Hon. Senator: Whom does Senator Rompkey support?
Senator Meighen: I do not know if he is one of the 124 or not.
Leaving my friend Senator Rompkey, for the moment, and getting back to the
Manley budget, it should be noted that the Forces themselves have to cough up
another $200 million in savings to help the government address the
sustainability gap. Mr. Manley's budget allocates $100 million to cover the cost
remaining for our military commitment in Afghanistan.
Honourable senators, where will the money come from to sustain our return to
Afghanistan as promised by the Prime Minister?
Honourable senators are well aware that the Conference of Defence
Associations and others stated that the budget provides less than what the
Canadian Forces require to prevent further deterioration of our capabilities.
Our own Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has
recommended the immediate infusion of $4 billion. The defence committee in the
other place has recommended a 50 per cent increase in spending over the next
three years — $18 billion in new money.
We have before us a budget that has not taken into consideration some of the
pressing needs of our Armed Forces. I do not want to impinge on the territory of
my friend Senator Forrestall, but on top of the list are the maritime
helicopters. I am sure honourable senators would not want me to read the
articles in the press of the last few days where phrases such as "plain
stupid" and "abject failure" come to the surface time and again with regard
to the process adopted by this government.
We need maritime helicopters, long-range troop transport planes and funds
dedicated for training. We need improvements to military housing. Obviously, the
most important need by far and away is the replacement of those aging Sea Kings.
Honourable senators, it is almost 10 long years from the time when the
current Prime Minister made a political promise, and it was nothing more than a
political promise during the heat of the 1993 election campaign, to cancel the
purchase of the helicopters if his party was elected to govern the country.
Unfortunately, his party was elected and his promise was kept.
Since that time, taxpayers have paid approximately $1 billion to enable the
Prime Minister to keep this promise. Perhaps if he had found another $1 billion,
he might have kept some of the other promises to which Senator Tkachuk referred.
There were contract cancellation fees, monies paid to keep the Sea Kings
flying and lost revenues for Canadian industry. All of these would have
benefited had the contract been honoured.
I hope that the first order of business for the new Leader of the Liberal
Party — perhaps it will be our friend Mr. Martin — will be the purchase off the
shelf, if possible, of a new fleet of naval helicopters.
These acquisitions cannot and will not happen with funding levels stuck at
1993 levels. In other words, this budget contains no new money. It merely
refills the military coffers that the government robbed between 1993 and last
year. Either the government is genuinely committed to national security or it is
not. Quite frankly, after watching this government's indecision over the Iraq
conflict, one wonders.
Honourable senators, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
has produced a number of reports dealing with the precise nature of our security
and our defence capabilities. These unanimous reports have been acclaimed for
their insight and their high relevance to the debate. It is time that the
government recognizes that, with the atmosphere of hostility now reigning in the
world, we will have an opportunity to fight conventional wars on the other side
of the world. If we want to be thought of as a nation that supports its allies,
we must be equipped to do so.
Supporting our regular armed forces are our reserves, as all honourable
senators are aware. Our reserves need resources for training, equipment and
salaries. Our army reserves, the militia, have been cash starved for years. The
reserves need some of the money dedicated for defence if they are to be able to
support our regular forces.
Money must be forthcoming; it must reach the armoury floor. New recruits must
be processed, hired, trained and paid. I would ask that the Minister of National
Defence make it clear that sufficient money be directed to the reserves so that
they can and do fulfill their valuable functions both at home and abroad.
Since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, all of us have become
conscious of our vulnerability to attack. We do not live in the fireproof house
that North America was described as being many years ago.
Canada is a country with multilateral obligations. We cannot and must not sit
on the sidelines and let other countries sacrifice for us. In order to do our
share, we must be properly equipped. This does cost money, money that this
government has not seen to allocate in sufficient amounts to enable us to pull
our full weight in the continuing fight against terrorism.
I hope that other honourable senators will address this issue in subsequent
speeches on the budget and bring pressure to bear on the government, for we
ignore this issue at our peril. We, as Canadians, risk becoming irrelevant on
the world stage. We risk becoming a country that cannot be counted on to support
its allies and a country incapable of living up to its international
commitments. Surely, one thing on which we can all agree is that Canada deserves
better than this.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Maheu, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Bacon,
That the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights be authorized to
examine and report upon key legal issues affecting the subject of on-reserve
matrimonial real property on the breakdown of a marriage or common law
relationship and the policy context in which they are situated.
In particular, the Committee shall be authorized to examine:
The interplay between provincial and federal laws in addressing the
division of matrimonial property (both personal and real) on-reserve
and, in particular, enforcement of court decisions;
The practice of land allotment on-reserve, in particular with respect
to custom land allotment;
In a case of marriage or common-law relationships, the status of
spouses and how real property is divided on the breakdown of the
Possible solutions that would balance individual and community
That the Committee report to the Senate no later than June 27, 2003;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Carney, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Keon, that the motion be amended in the
first paragraph thereof by replacing the words "Standing Senate Committee
on Human Rights" by the words "Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal
That the reporting date be no later than March 31, 2004 rather than June
27, 2003.—(Honourable Senator Rossiter).
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, before the standing of Item No. 108, which is the Honourable Senator
Maheu's motion, as well as the amendment to it, the debate was adjourned on
behalf of the Honourable Senator Rossiter. I have been asked when this issue
could be examined, since it is very important. It will require a fairly in-depth
study, and some members of the committee would like to start as soon as possible
so that the motion is given the attention and time it deserves.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I will
undertake to consult with Senator Rossiter and report.
Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, I would like to know when the
Honourable Senator Kinsella will address the Senate again on this subject.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I am tempted by my learned
colleague Senator Bolduc, but I will consult with him and report tomorrow.
Hon. Raymond C. Setlakwe rose pursuant to notice of March 27, 2003:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to Canada's trade relations
He said: Honourable senators, as I rise today to speak to trade relations
with Europe, I have in mind two terse comments from persons for whom I have a
good measure of affection and admiration. The first is the Honourable Jean-Luc
Pépin, a wonderful parliamentarian and endearing educator. Some of you may have
had the pleasure of debating or bantering with him.
In a speech delivered in Toronto in March 1974, as Canada's Minister of Trade
and Commerce, he stated, tongue in cheek: "Canadians don't export. We permit
others to import from us." That was quite some time ago. Since then, FTA and
NAFTA have somewhat brought Canadian exporters out of their torpor, certainly as
far as the U.S market is concerned.
However, we have been far less successful with the other element in the
essential pair of liberalization and diversification. This brings me to the
inaugural address of Thomas Jefferson, on March 4, 1801, in which he said:
Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations — entangling
alliances with none.
Honourable senators, as far as trade is concerned, we are entangled with our
neighbours to the South because we did not diversify our trade. I will be frank,
but without falling into the trap of primary anti-Americanism, because on that
Pavlovian reflex I subscribe to the views of French philosopher Jean- François
Revel, as expressed in his latest work, entitled: L'obsession anti-américaine.
I am concerned about the state of dependency on the United States that we are
left in because of our seeming inability to convince Europe — or more
specifically its officials in Brussels — to establish a fertile free trade area
I am even more concerned when I read a significant document by the Conference
Board of Canada from last October, which addresses the challenges and choices
our country will be up against in the coming decade.
The few separate paragraphs I will quote now are a faithful reflection of the
general tenor of the document:
Economic integration with the United States has expanded significantly in
many areas beyond merchandise trade.
By 2010, our business linkages will be even more driven by our
relationships within North America....Canadians will become more North
American. (They) see themselves as globally focused, but their choices and
behaviours will lead them more and more to being simply North Americans.
The Conference Board comments continued:
As we look toward 2010, it is clear that without a concerted effort by
both government and business, Canada will most likely become even more
dependent on the U.S. market.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, CCCE, agreed, when they stated:
North American integration, it says, is irreversible...but the bilateral
trade, investment, regulatory, security and institutional relationship do
not reflect the advanced level of integration between the two countries.
You would expect the CCCE to use the present state of Canadian-U.S. affairs
as leverage for diversification, but no. It recently travelled cap in hand to
the United States in an effort to offset what might be negative commercial
consequences of our country's independent and legitimate decisions on both Iraq
and our full involvement in the war against terrorism.
These findings prompt the authors to promote solutions of a structural and
institutional nature that are intended to safeguard some of the elements of
economic and trade sovereignty.
These analyses, which are as disconcerting as they are realistic, are a
powerful argument in favour of another type of solution: an energetic effort of
diversified trade toward the huge European market, leading ideally to a free
There are justifications for such an initiative and they come down to some
simple economic proposals.
Before the recent addition of some 15 additional members, the European Union
accounted for 25.5 per cent of the world GDP, thus representing a huge market
that will soon equal that of the United States with its 32.2 per cent.
Our exports to Western Europe no longer account for more than about 5 per
cent of our total exports, a 45 per cent drop over the past four decades.
Our economy is regularly weakened by fluctuations in certain sectors of the
U.S. economy or by trade disputes that flare up, even within free trade
Our dependence on U.S. markets is greater than ever. Even NAFTA does not
prevent restrictive trade practices from being used.
This evolution — which seems more like a gradual drift — has been
advantageous for Canadians, but at the cost of definite vulnerability to
pressures from our American friends, who are pursuing open and integrated
markets around the world, which will benefit themselves first.
As Raymond Aron wrote in 1974, in The Imperial Republic:
A world without frontiers is a situation in which the strongest
The benefits of diversification towards Europe should be self- evident,
particularly if it grows our total trade, as it should, and does not take away
from our commercial relations with the United States. The advice on
diversification comes from on high. After portraying Canada's trade regime as
among the world's most transparent and liberal, the WTO now calls on the
Canadian government to seek trade diversification, as the volume of our exports
to our southern neighbour "makes the Canadian economy particularly vulnerable to
events in the United States."
There are sound economic reasons for diversification, but because the project
calls for political leadership, its proponents are often portrayed as advocating
it on strictly political grounds. It is not so. Canada was the first nation in
1949 to insist, under Prime Minister St. Laurent's leadership, that NATO not be
an exclusively military alliance, that it should also consider other matters of
common interest, such as trade. Much fun has been made of Mitchell Sharp's Third
Option in the 1970s, but had it succeeded, our commercial interests would now be
well rooted in Europe's large and expansive market and there would be less
coughing in Canada when the U.S. economy catches a cold.
In 1997, in London, our Prime Minister renewed his proposal of 1994 to
negotiate free trade between Canada and Europe if, he added, as it seemed
likely, the United States, for domestic reasons, could not join in the
negotiation of a NAFTA-EU free trade agreement. The Americans, as I have
discovered on two recent trips to Washington, may now be more inclined to a
joint approach with Canada towards negotiations with Europe. Currently, 25 per
cent of foreign direct investment, FDI, in Canada originates from Europe. In
turn, it receives the same proportion of Canada's total FDI. Yet, surprisingly,
efforts to build trade upon sound foundations have failed, a failure that is a
On the one hand, our own trade sector has been shivery to Europe, which
confirms Jean-Luc Pépin's views and illustrates Carl Beige's November 1989
judgment: "Canada is like a womb with a view. We do not want to face the
discomfort of the real world." On the other hand, European bureaucrats in
Brussels have been quite imaginative, although not too credible, in opposing
free trade with Canada while simultaneously negotiating it with other countries.
It is argued that the lack of a U.S. fast-track negotiating authority has
hampered free trade discussions between NAFTA and Europe. However, the argument
is debunked by Europe's agreement with Mexico. Why, then, is Canada left aside?
Among other reasons, we are told that it is because Brussels wants free trade
only with developing countries. Of course, the argument does not hold water.
Brussels has agreements with Norway and Sweden and is negotiating with East
Also, Europeans are keen to protect their common agricultural policies. That
is no wonder because these policies foster overproduction and allow higher
internal purchasing prices and excessive export subsidization of farm
commodities, all of which provide European governments with solid partisan,
political support from their farming communities. Under the guise of slowly
reforming these policies by applying a multi-functionality concept that stresses
the non-economic benefits of agriculture, it may be that Brussels assist only
giving protectionism another name.
Canada must be relentless in calling for the end of distortions in
agricultural trade. However, at the same time, we need to convince Europeans
that Canada's economy has evolved dramatically; bulk agricultural products no
longer form a significant part of Canada-EU trade; and, although agricultural
policies must be overhauled, they need not prevent us from progressing rapidly
toward free trade.
Fortunately, a Canada-European Union trade enhancement agreement is soon to
be negotiated, following the December Canada-EU summit in Ottawa. It will entail
discussions about standards, regulations, investments and movements of people
and professionals across the Atlantic, but not the elimination of trade
As you know, honourable senators, we live in an era in which the economy,
business and trade act as the vehicle for social, political and even cultural
values and ideas.
Under these circumstances, are we able to move forward and integrate our
trade even more closely with the United States, without jeopardizing the
elements of our identity born of the history, traditions and values left to us
by our European ancestors?
Can we afford not to reflect, in our trade relations, our country's rich
diversity that millions of people around the world envy?
The former Minister of Industry and Trade, Roy MacLaren, answered this
question eloquently last August. He said:
Let us not fool ourselves. The prospect of pursuing successful policies
distinctive in terms of our history, traditions and values...is dim if we do
not diversify the sources of our affluence.
The man dubbed the czar of American trade, Robert Zoellick, wrote the same
thing recently in The Economist:
America's trade policies are connected to our broader economic, political
and security aims... To be sustainable at home, our trade strategy needs to
be aligned with America's values and aspirations, as well as with our
The United States does it; why not do the same? We sing the praises of our
rich social, cultural and economic diversity in national and international
arenas. Why not carry these values along with our trade policy? Who could blame
Was it not our countryman Galbraith who wrote that:
...economic ideas are always and intimately a product of the time and
place in which they were conceived: they cannot be dissociated from the
universe they reflect.
This universe is well described by most analyses of Canadian opinion. They
also confirm that while Canadians favour the free circulation of persons, goods
and services in North America, they are not prepared to sacrifice their social,
cultural or political independence.
Although the hypothesis may not be politically correct, one might imagine
that Canadian protestors against globalization would be pleased to see Canada
making a significant effort to diversify part of its trade from the United
States to Europe.
Moreover, I am thoroughly convinced that, in time, trade globalization will
be seen to produce more disputes than the simple regionalization of trading
How, then, shall we promote Canada-Europe free trade, if the bureaucracy in
Brussels continues to slow down discussions by engaging in traditional bilateral
diplomacy with the national governments of each one of Europe's friends — and
they are legion?
We must regain that ground and mobilize all our European friends to convince
them of the appropriateness and reciprocal benefits of a Canada-Europe free
These friends are all over Europe, especially since we belong to NATO and the
G8, and show leadership in the Francophonie. Cities such as Stockholm, London,
The Hague, Copenhagen and Berlin would be more likely than the Eurocrats in
Brussels to listen carefully to our ideas.
The effort is worth a try. I will repeat the words of Roy MacLaren:
Without the major initiative of a free trade negotiation, our relations
will continue to diminish as the inexorable forces of economics persist in
promoting regional integration on both sides of the Atlantic and lessening
transatlantic ties, a trend which Canada must counter if, in the end, for no
other reason than the peculiar Canadian requirement to enhance our relations
with our two founding European nations.
In my idealistic view, this major initiative should have as its goal the
implementation of a North Atlantic free trade agreement, eventually including
such countries as Russia and Poland. I have become convinced, in recent travels
to these countries, that such a project might not be as distant as one would now
I recognize and praise the initiatives of our government, particularly after
the tabling of the report by the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs,
to stimulate discussions on increased trade with Europe.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Setlakwe, I regret to advise that your
time has expired.
Is leave granted to allow the honourable senator to continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Setlakwe: Bilateral discussions must continue and intensify
their focus on countries that are allies of Canada. Due to its attempts to delay
free trade negotiations with Canada, Brussels is stimulating renewed interest in
multilateralism. It is promising more open free trade with Canada, according to
the findings of the Doha Round, which will end on January 1, 2005.
In the meantime, Canada must take pains to present the perfect case to the
most important countries in Europe so they can promote a free trade agreement in
Brussels, which would greatly benefit them, as it would us. But we must also
create incentives to persuade the Canadian business community to join in this
large- scale project.
The work of the Canada-Europe Roundtable on the Canada- European Union
business relationship is the ultimate starting point. Business leaders must lead
the way to overcoming obstacles for more intense, fruitful and, above all,
beneficial trade relations with the old European continent, which is rapidly
modernizing and expanding its borders.
It is not only in their financial interests but also in Canada's political
interests, at a time when globalization must strike a balance between freer
trade and the affirmation of a country's own character and national identity.
On motion of Senator Bolduc, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, May 14, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.