Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 140, Issue 60
Thursday, May 29, 2003
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker
- SENATOR'S STATEMENT
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- QUESTION PERIOD
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
Thursday, May 29, 2003
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the Chair.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, never before in the history of our nation have we had a Prime Minister who has so disgraced this country and so clearly betrayed Canadians in their approach to relations with the United States. Rarely, in our history, have Canada-U.S. relations been so eroded and endangered as they are today. Never before has our national government been so careless and so utterly disconnected from the sentiments of the majority of Canadians who truly value our unique historic relationship with America.
Canadians are realists. They understand and appreciate the importance of strong and constructive bilateral relations. They expect our government not only to value the positive relationship Canada has always maintained with America, they expect our national government to constantly nurture this relationship.
Ask any forestry worker on the British Columbia coast about the importance of good Canada-U.S. trade relations. The first thing you will hear is that this Prime Minister and his government's foreign relations policies have abandoned B.C.'s forest industry, allowing the softwood lumber trade dispute to fester. The Liberal regime has ignored this critical trade dispute.
While our Prime Minister continues to take partisan potshots at the U.S. administration, B.C.'s forestry workers continue to lose their jobs. These workers, like the vast majority of Canadians, expect our Prime Minister to be respectful of Canada's unique relationship with America, not antagonistic and abrasive. Canadians certainly do not expect our Prime Minister to play a partisan game that positions Canada as the political enemy of the current American administration.
Since President Bush has been in office, our government has been at odds with the U.S. on a number of important international issues. The Liberal regime ignored the importance of strong Canada-U.S. relations, when the Prime Minister led his pack of foolish cowards as they deserted the coalition of the willing and refused to defend freedom's cause and fight terrorist oppression in the invasion of Iraq.
Following in the wake of that disastrous decision, our PM now makes a distasteful comment in an attempt to contrast the policies of his administration with those of the Bush administration. What a contrast that is, honourable senators.
Unfortunately for Canadians, the policies and initiatives of the Chrétien regime speak of an erosion of respect, the promotion of mediocrity and the abandonment of personal responsibility, facilitating disunity, overtaxation, unaccountable decision-making and reckless public spending. This sorry list, which is devoid of any connection to real Canadian values, goes on and on.
When one looks to the south at the policies of the Bush administration, one sees policies that reflect true respectful values, that speak of excellence, decency, unity, accountability, achievement, fiscal prudence, freedom and respect.
No, honourable senators, our Prime Minister has nothing about which to boast. There is simply no comparison between his leaderless auto-pilot and arrogant administration and the strong, competent and internationally acclaimed leadership of President George W. Bush.
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a petition from the Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and the Canadian Association of Financial Planners, of the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, praying for the passage of an act to amalgamate and continue in existence as one corporation under the name The Financial Advisors Association of Canada or such other name as is acceptable to Parliament.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I have one short question to ask of the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
It relates to the comments the Prime Minister made aboard the aircraft in which he said he would never fly, the Airbus, as he was on his way to Europe. It concerns the reference he made about the fact that President Bush is pro-life and that the Prime Minister is pro-choice.
As a Roman Catholic, I happen to be pro-life and believe in what the Holy Father in the Vatican teaches, a position of which I am proud. I have never heard that belief bandied about or brought into question in general political discussions; that should be.
Could the minister possibly explain to us why her Prime Minister, the head of her cabinet, would bring up a subject that is so contentious and personal in a discussion with the media?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the Prime Minister has been very clear for many years that he is pro-choice, as am I and as are a number of people who practise the Catholic faith throughout the world. That was the position that he indicated to the media, and it is one that he has taken in the past.
Senator St. Germain: I am respectful of everyone's position, but why make a contrast with our largest trading partner, our best friend and our closest neighbour?
Senator Carstairs: It is a contrast, honourable senators, between the philosophical background of one individual and the philosophical background of another individual. That is what was being debated. The Prime Minister indicated his position. He indicated that the other individual has contrary views. That is why they have different attitudes toward governing.
Senator St. Germain: I do not think there is a philosophical difference; there is a spiritual difference. As Senator Cools points out, it is not a matter of what the difference is. It is a question of raising that subject in the manner that he raised it. He was trying to position himself above the President of the United States by virtue of the secular, worldly position that he has assumed.
Senator Carstairs: I do not agree with that characterization at all. I do not think the Prime Minister was trying to put himself above or below. I think he was trying to show the President that he is different.
Senator St. Germain: He is, believe me.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, yesterday I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate why the government refused to split Bill C-13. Perhaps the leader misunderstood my question because she started talking about my assumed inattention to the complexities stemming from the splitting of Bill C-10. I assure the minister, respectfully, that I have been paying close attention to the peregrinations of Bill C-10A and Bill C-10B, but that was not what I was talking about.
I ask again, why did the government refuse to split the controversial Bill C-13? As far back as 1996, when this bill was in its previous incarnation, several members of Parliament requested that the bill be split, including a parliamentary secretary. In fact, the Standing Committee on Health, which spent nearly a year in an exhaustive review of this legislation in its draft form, recommended splitting the bill.
The Minister of Health did not appear before the committee on Bill C-13, nor did she provide a comprehensive response to the committee report on the draft bill. At no time has a substantial response been given by the government as to the refusal to split Bill C-13, as was requested several years ago.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): The government made a decision, honourable senators, to include in one bill the issues that are in Bill C-13. The decision has not changed from the very inception of that bill to the bill that is presently before the House of Commons at third reading stage and will shortly come here. When Bill C-13 is referred to committee, which I anticipate will happen later this month, I would invite the honourable senator to put that question to the honourable minister.
Senator Roche: Will the minister recognize that many important groups in Canada believe that the reason the bill was not split is that the first part prohibits cloning, which almost everyone is against, and the second part deals with the regulation of research activities, which gets into the question of embryonic research, which in turn touches on the sanctity of life? It is an extremely controversial position. The government has put parliamentarians in the position that if they vote against this bill, they will be voting for cloning, which we do not want, but at the same time they will be voting for embryonic research, to which many in this country are vehemently opposed.
Senator Carstairs: With the greatest of respect, the honourable senator and I have different views on this matter. One cannot discuss cloning without also thoroughly discussing research activities because that is the basis upon which cloning takes place. Separating Bill C-13 into two bills is almost an impossible task. I would suggest that if the honourable senator wishes to pursue this issue further, the best and most appropriate way to do so would be when the bill goes to committee.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, this morning's The Globe and Mail quotes our Minister of Foreign Affairs, questioned in Athens, about the Parthenon Marbles. He indicated he supports their return through UNESCO but has applied no direct pressure.
What do the British say on this issue? The former Leader of the Opposition, the Right Honourable Neil Kinnock, said the Parthenon without the marbles is like a smile without its front teeth. More seriously, Christopher Price from the BBC said that the only thing British about the marbles is the fact that one of our ambassadors filched them.
The U.S. has a resolution before Congress. Australia, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, New Zealand, Iran, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia and other European Parliaments have all pressed motions similar to the position taken by both Houses of Canada's government. Prime Minister Helen Clark from New Zealand just wrote to Tony Blair. Last year, John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, raised the issue publicly with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his support in 2001 —
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
Senator Merchant: Will the Leader of the Government press the motion of this house upon her cabinet colleagues, in particular Minister Graham, to further the appropriate cause of fairness?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for her question. Of course I will bring the matter of the resolution passed in this chamber to the attention of all cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator LaPierre, for the third reading of Bill C-10B, to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), as amended.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to third reading of Bill C-10B. I am sure that all honourable senators know that Bill C-10B is a bill of some complexity. It is not large in size, but certainly large in complexity.
Honourable senators, I should like to begin by explaining a little bit more about one particular amendment that was made in the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Senator Furey, in his speech two days ago, explained the amendments that the committee had made in a pretty fulsome way, but I should like to focus on one.
I moved that particular amendment in committee. It was an amendment to clause 2 of the bill and, in particular, the proposed section 182.5 of the Criminal Code. The amendment that has been adopted with the report in this chamber reads as follows:
No person shall be convicted of an offence under this Part where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse or with colour of right.
Honourable senators, I should like to provide a further explanation as to why I moved that amendment and to why the committee saw fit, in its wisdom, to adopt it. As honourable senators are aware, passage of Bill C-10B will bring about a major amendment to the Criminal Code. In essence, it will move the new sections on animal cruelty not into the property sections of the Criminal Code but into a new part of the Criminal Code.
The animal cruelty sections are found in Part XI of the Criminal Code, which is headed: ``Wilful and Forbidden Acts (Property).'' Part V is headed: ``Sexual Offences.'' Passage of Bill C-10B will create a Part V.1, which will be called: ``Cruelty to Animals.'' Interestingly enough, Bill C-10B will amend section 182, a section dealing with dead bodies. This change, therefore, will be quite dramatic and profound.
What bothered many honourable senators, including myself, was that the shift, the realignment and these redefinitions in the Criminal Code just appeared in this bill with little articulation or historical background as to why the structure of the Criminal Code was being changed. This caused some anxiety to many of us.
This anxiety was created because the Criminal Code, in matters of defences, preserves what we call the common law defences. Section 8.3 preserves common law defences as defences in criminal prosecutions. Section 8 dates back to approximately 1954. Around 1954 or 1955, the Criminal Code was overhauled. It was the first major overhaul since about 1892. There was great concern amongst parliamentarians and the legal community that the common law defences be preserved.
Section 8.3 states as follows:
Every rule and principle of the common law that renders any circumstance a justification or excuse for an act or a defence to a charge continues in force and applies in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Act or any other Act of Parliament, except insofar as they are altered by or are inconsistent with this Act or any other Act of Parliament.
It is interesting to note another relevant section of the Criminal Code to do with colour of right, legal justification or excuse, and that is section 429. Section 429(2) states:
No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.
Honourable senators will immediately notice the similarity between section 429(2) and the amendment that I proposed in committee. As one can see clearly, the words are almost verbatim. My amendment was as follows:
No person shall be convicted of an offence... where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.
Senator Furey explained a few days ago, and I wish to make the point again, that the committee adopted this particular posture because there was considerable doubt among the legalists and the lawyers who appeared before the committee as to whether or not colour of right was included in the section 8 common law defences. There was a lack of clarity.
In addition to that, in R. v. Jones and Pamajewon, in 1991, Mr. Justice Stevenson, essentially speaking for the court, rejected that the colour of right defence did not need to be specifically written into the offence section.
After much debate, consideration and considerable reflection, the members of the committee decided to import the exact words from section 429(2) into Bill C-10B so that those words would be contained in the new sections on animal cruelty, as a new part of the Criminal Code was being created.
Honourable senators, there was significant concern that, with this totally new conceptual and legal framework, the possibility existed that false, malicious or mischievous prosecutions could flow.
In its wisdom, the committee sought to ensure that the defences of legal justification, excuse and colour of right were not only preserved, but also articulated clearly in the relevant sections so as to provide great clarity and direction to the courts and relevant individuals.
Honourable senators, I should like to continue by saying that this committee heard from many witnesses, particularly witnesses from what I would call the husbandry professions. We heard from the agricultural community, those people who were involved in the use of animals. We heard from hunters. We heard from scientists, the scientific research communities and also from particular faith communities. My recollection turns immediately to the Islamic and the Hebrew communities, who were very concerned about potential prosecutions under this particular bill. The theme that seems to run through all of the debate is for adequate provisions for the proper defence of individuals against malicious or false proceedings or wrongful prosecutions.
Honourable senators, many of us have expressed numerous concerns about this bill. I was raised to be a great respecter and a lover of animals. I come from a family that was a great lover of horses. My mother used to tell us that the phenomenon of man's inhumanity to man also includes man's inhumanity to animals. Another expression that my Methodist mother used was: Cruelty to animals is a sign of a low mentality.
Despite the fact that we are respecters and lovers of animals, I believe that we all subscribe to the notion that animals remain property, that animals are treated with a degree of subjugation and subordination to human beings, and that animals should not be elevated to a near human status.
I say with great sincerity that these amendments are an attempt to provide what would be considered a balance in this legislation. There can be no doubt that hunters and anglers and the relevant communities have a sense of consternation about the proposed provisions of this particular bill. To that extent, we thought that we should maintain some balance in the bill.
I should like to move to a small but interesting point. In my speech at second reading of then Bill C-10, I raised my concerns about what I call ``social engineering.'' That is one of my preoccupations in life.
We have seen a social phenomenon in the last years — we have been making men into women and women into men and trying to rid the world of evils like guns, hunters, hunting and so forth. I have always viewed these as programs of social engineering.
I wish to place on the record a document that I raised in committee on numerous occasions. It is an extract from an organization called the Animal Alliance of Canada. It is an extract from their winter 2002 newsletter.
Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, I cannot hear Senator Cools speak.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we are having difficulty hearing. Please conduct your conversations outside the chamber.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Adams for that comment. He knows that many of us here have great respect for him and the concerns that he and Senator Watt brought forward to the committee, particularly about the impact of this bill on Aboriginal rights. I am flattered that Senator Adams was listening to me so attentively.
Bill C-10B amendments to the Criminal Code seemed to spring from nowhere. I would have thought that when the Criminal Code is being restructured, considerably more study would go into the propriety and the constitutional significance of such an exercise.
I quote the newsletter of the Animal Alliance of Canada as follows:
On another front — and again thanks to your support and determination — the federal government is about to pass a bill, C15B, that will forever change the way animals are viewed in law.
Bill C-15B, which makes changes to the animal cruelty section of the Criminal Code, recognizes for the first time that animals are not just ``property,'' but rather beings in their own right who feel pain and are therefore deserving of legal protections.
I can't overstate the importance of this change. This elevation of animals in our moral and legal view is precedent setting and will have far, far reaching effects. We'll make sure of that...
It's you who can take credit for this. You see, the reality is that Bill C15B did not come about because our federal politicians in the Liberal Party suddenly saw the light. No! C15B happened because Animal Alliance and our political arm, Environment Voters — thanks to your generous donations and letter writing — proved in elections and on Parliament Hill that support for C15B would win votes, and failure to pass C15B would cost votes.
It started in the last federal election. Because of a commitment made by the Minister of Justice Anne McLellan, in the House of Commons, to pass C-15B, Environment Voters campaigned for her re-election. Under attack by hunters and gun owners and a cabal of extremist right wing groups Ms. McLellan was in a losing campaign.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt, but I must advise that the 15 minutes allotted to Senator Cools has expired.
Senator Cools: May I continue for one minute?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted for Senator Cools to continue?
An Hon. Senator: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry, leave is not granted.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I would like to restrict my comments to the allotted 15 minutes. I understand that colleagues have other functions to attend later this afternoon. However, I would be remiss not to put on the record today my proposal to honourables senators in relation to Bill C-10B.
First, I commend Senator Furey, the Chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs during the six months the committee studied this bill and produced the report presented earlier this week on the animal cruelty provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code.
Honourable senators, this bill seems to be innocuous. Who is in favour of cruelty to animals; who is not opposed to it? We all feel the same way when we see animals treated with cruelty. There was no quarrel with the general objective of the bill.
The problem stems from the fact that this bill recognized a conflict in civilization — Aboriginal culture versus non- Aboriginal culture. Those of us who are not Aboriginal have a pyramidical or vertical vision of the universe. We all know, through ancient scripture, the Bible and ancient history, that there is God, then man, then animals and then the other creatures.
Honourable senators, for Aboriginal people, this is not the case. Aboriginal people live horizontally with the universe. There is no order or scale of importance. As I tried to understand what is at stake with this legislation, I looked at the research that has been published on this matter. One publication, entitled: The Spirit of Indians, states:
O Great Spirit of the Cosmos [...] Since time began, the nations have followed You. Some of us are water people, who listen at the spirit of the sea, of the otter and salmon. Others are of the desert, who hear your spirit in the rain clouds, in the four sacred mountains [...] Our people of the Plains hear the spirit of the buffalo and of the heavens. Our people of [...] the gulf hear the spirit of the redbird. [...] Our nations of the Great Lakes country hear the spirit of the moose, of the hickory, of the great forests.
With regard to animals, the Indian symbols that have been published recently state as follows:
According to Indian tradition, all human beings are related to nine animals, which accompany them on their life journey and give them skills and talents.
In other words, in the Aboriginal culture man is linked to nine animals. This is so much so that of the 39 Aboriginal nations that existed in 1701, at the time of the signing in Montreal of one of the first treaties in Canada, more than 20 signed with animal signs.
I have here a photocopy of that treaty, the original of which is in the archives in France. We have no original copy of the treaty in Canada. The Aboriginal people of those days signed with, for example, ``les onontagué'' and ``un échassier.'' Condionrank, the most important Aboriginal leader of the time, the leader of the 39 nations, signed with the sign of a rat. He did not write the word ``rat'' but rather drew a rat.
Les Outaouais, named after the river, made their sign that of a bear. If honourable senators were to go through all the treaties, they would see these pictures of animals.
What do we, non-Aboriginal people, have as our perception in understanding animals? Justice Lamer decided the famous Menard case in the Court of Appeal of Quebec in 1978. It is the leading case that defines, for Canadians, the meaning of the order of the universe. What did Justice Lamer say in that case? He said, and I paraphrase, that men do not renounce the right given to them by their position as supreme creatures to put animals at their service to satisfy their needs. Man, in the pursuit of his purposes as a superior being, in the pursuit of his well-being, could continue to use the animals.
What does that mean, honourable senators? It means that this bill has been conceived by non-Aboriginal people to deal with how Aboriginal peoples deal with animals. This is very important because Aboriginal people in Canada have rights that most of us do not have. Most of us, who are not Aboriginal people, do not have a certain set of rights. Why is that? I quote the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1996 Van der Peet decision:
...the doctrine of aboriginal rights exists, and is recognized and affirmed by s. 35(1), because of one simple fact: when Europeans arrived in North America, aboriginal peoples were already here, living in communities on the land, and participating in distinctive cultures, as they have done for centuries. It is this fact, and this fact above all others, which separates aboriginal peoples from all other minority groups in Canadian society and which mandates their special legal, and now constitutional, status.
It is clear that because the Aboriginal peoples were here before any of us, because the ancestors of the six Aboriginal senators who are in this room were here before us, they have special rights to maintain their culture and their type of society. This is the fundamental principle enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution when we entrenched Aboriginal rights.
What did we do when we entrenched those Aboriginal rights in 1982? I wish to refer to the decision of Justice Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2001, in a famous case involving the Metis people. What did Justice Sharpe say about the rights of the Aboriginal people? He said:
Two fundamental purposes for the constitutional protection of Aboriginal rights have been identified. The first purpose is the recognition and respect for the prior occupation of the land by distinctive aboriginal societies.
He went on to say that the second fundamental underlying purpose of section 35 is that it provides the constitutional framework through which the fact that Aboriginals live on the land in distinctive societies with their own practices, traditions and culture is acknowledged and entrenched with the sovereignty of the Crown. This means that their rights are protected by the Crown, not by the government. As senators, we have a responsibility to advise the Crown as to how to deal with the Aboriginal people in this bill because this bill directly affects their traditional hunting, fishing and harvesting practices, rights that pre-date our own rights. Those rights were not recognized by the Constitution. They were there before the Constitution of 1982 was adopted. That was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1984, in the landmark Guérin case, in which it was stated that the right of Aboriginals to their territory is a pre-existing right in common law. It was not created by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 or by section 18(1) of the Indian Act or by any other statutory instrument or executive order.
When we impose obligations on non-Aboriginal people who are fishers, hunters and harvesters of animals, we cannot do so without questioning how that will affect their traditional hunting and fishing practices. That is why it is so important to support the amendment that has been brought by the committee that studied this bill for more than six months.
When we legislate, honourable senators, we legislate for all Canadians. That is why Parliament was constituted. In this bill, we do not want to make an exemption for Aboriginal people because Aboriginal people could be cruel to animals. We want to ensure that when they exercise their constitutional and traditional fishing and hunting rights, they do so without the risk of finding themselves in a criminal court having to defend themselves. This is the only thing we are doing with this bill.
If Aboriginal people exercise their traditional fishing and hunting rights the way they have always done on their land, they could raise that defence in court. That is what this amendment addresses.
This amendment is important because, through our legislative activities, we move slowly but progressively to more or less surround the Aboriginal society and corner Aboriginals in terms of their cultural practices in relation to fishing and hunting. We have gun registration and endangered species legislation. Numerous acts affect their fundamental, traditional, ancestral rights. That is why it is so important that this house, the house of minorities, the house that represents Canadians who are disadvantaged, can draw the attention of the whole of Parliament to this bill. When we create a new offence and increase the penalties, we must ensure that we protect the Aboriginal peoples in a fair and consistent manner. That is why the Criminal Code recognizes in paragraph 718.2(e) that when an Aboriginal person is to be sentenced the judge must take into account the fact that this is an Aboriginal person.
Essentially, honourable senators, we are being consistent with the new Constitution that was adopted in 1982. That is to say, when we legislate and it directly affects the traditional and ancestral rights of Aboriginals — their cultural way of doing things in what identifies and characterizes their being — we have to think twice. As a majority, we must give this matter sober second thought. We can move as a majority. We are a majority of non-Aboriginal people. We can move easily, but that is not what we want to do. We want to give fair recognition in this bill, which would amend the Criminal Code of Canada, to Aboriginal people and their capacity to use their traditional status and ancestral practices in relation to dealing with animals. It is no more or no less than other Canadians. At least we will have signalled that we will honour the commitment that the Crown took in 1701 and in 1763 to protect the way of life of Aboriginal people in a fair and respectable manner.
Honourable senators, this is a very complex issue. The Leader of the Government this afternoon has committed herself on behalf of the government to come forward with a better solution to this issue. We want to all feel comfortable that when we legislate, we properly recognize the traditional ancestral rights of Aboriginal people. I commend the government leader for that initiative. I know that she is working with many other senators to achieve that goal. It is for that reason that I invite honourable senators to support Bill C-10B at third reading.
Hon. Thelma J. Chalifoux: Honourable senators, I should like to thank the committee for having taken the responsibility to deal with this bill with the sober second thought for which this house is so famous.
Included in the definition of ``Aboriginal'' in the Constitution are three separate nations: The First Nations, the Metis, and the Inuit. However, we must consider each nation separately in this bill.
The Metis have not met with the favour of this government in recognizing their just rights with respect to hunting in the Constitution of Canada. We have had to go to court. In fact, in Alberta, several cases have gone before the courts.
The Metis do have settlements, and they are allowed to hunt in those settlements. The Saskatchewan Metis have just signed treaties and agreements, as have the Manitoba Metis. They recently signed another agreement on hunting, which went through the courts. In Ontario, a court has also made a decision regarding Metis hunting rights.
Honourable senators, my concern relates to the Metis who live in the mid-Canada corridor, who live the traditional lifestyle, who depend on hunting, fishing and trapping. That is their lifestyle. I live there. I know. That is why I totally support the efforts of the senators who sat on the committee, who recognized the needs of the Metis people, and who proposed these amendments. Our people in those areas do not have much money since there is over 95 per cent unemployment in those communities. Therefore, I totally support this amendment.
It is with deep gratitude that I applaud the efforts of the committee and the Aboriginal senators who, in their wisdom and in demonstrating their tenacity, proposed these amendments that will begin to address the traditional hunting practices of the Aboriginal nations as defined in the Constitution Act, 1982. Thank you so much for recognizing the needs of our people in the mid-Canada corridor.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, as Metis, I should like to reinforce what Senator Chalifoux has just said. I know the area in which she lives and how important hunting rights are to the Metis in that area. I should also like to compliment the senators with legal backgrounds, and I think of Senators Joyal, Andreychuk, Nolin, Furey and others, who responded to the needs of our Aboriginal peoples. I have been here for 20 years now, and I have never seen such excellent consideration and cooperation.
I do, however, have a question for Senator Chalifoux. Does the honourable senator know how many Metis live on the land in the corridor to which she referred?
Senator Chalifoux: The number is estimated to be anywhere between 90,000 and 290,000. We have never been counted and any census never seems to produce adequate information.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, in respect of this bill, I have been misunderstood on a few comments I made, so I want to clarify on the record what I meant when I made my comments.
I so much admire what the committee has done, and I so much admire what Senator Joyal has said and the passionate way he said it. In committee, I expressed a reservation about the Aboriginal amendment, if I can call it that, to this bill. I have expressed it in other ways and elsewhere to Senators Chalifoux, Gill, Watt and Adams.
I want it to be clear on the record that I am in favour of this bill. No one in this place is more in favour of this bill than I. No one supports the protection of Aboriginal rights that are now contained in this bill more than I.
As I understand it, the Aboriginal amendment here has, as its purpose, and it is one with which I absolutely concur, the absolute protection for Aboriginals to practise their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering in the ways that they have always done it, in the places in which they are entitled to do it, and that they are, by this amendment, exempted from a charge of cruelty when and where and if they do that.
This amendment begins with the words, ``No person shall be convicted of an offence...'' I support the intent of this amendment, which is to provide that absolute protection in those places where it is appropriate.
My reservation and concern about this amendment, which I will support, and I will support this bill, is that it does not just do what it sets out to do. It goes further than that and creates confusion. It says, no person shall be convicted of those activities who is one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, in any area in which Aboriginal peoples have harvesting rights under or by virtue of existing treaties.
Honourable senators, I have been taken to task on this, but I have done my homework, and I know that there are lands in Canada where the rights of hunting, fishing and gathering are reserved to certain particular Aboriginal peoples, to certain First Nations. These are not general Crown lands, but lands in which the rights of hunting, gathering and fishing are reserved to certain First Nations. This may be only a technicality, but the present wording of this amendment says that that is not so.
For example, a member of the Red Pheasant Reserve can travel to the Nisga'a reserve, and hunt on the lands in their traditional fashion, which have, I believe, unless I completely misunderstood, been reserved for that purpose to the Nisga'a people.
I think that a rational interpretation of this later on will not be a problem. I was concerned that perhaps we should fix this while we were dealing with the bill. It could have been done by the very simple expedient of replacing the words ``Aboriginal peoples have'' with the words ``that person has.''
I merely wanted to make it absolutely clear on the record that I support the thrust, intent and purpose of this amendment, and that I have never opposed it. I am anxious that we now get on with the business of passing this bill to increase the penalties for cruelty to animals.
Hon. Pat Carney: I should like to ask a question. Senator Banks' point applies particularly in British Columbia where specific rights and Aboriginal affairs are restricted to specific areas. Is there any response by the sponsor of the amendment to the concerns that Senator Banks raised?
Senator Banks: Yes, senator, there has been a response, and the response has been carefully considered by all members of committee and by those persons to whom I spoke about this matter. It is that it will be reasonably interpreted and understood what the intent of this amendment is, and that no one will construe it otherwise. My argument is more a matter of semantics, I suppose, than of substance. That has been the response.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is the house ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator LaPierre, that the bill, as amended, be read the third time now. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
An Honourable Senator: On division.
Motion agreed to and bill, as amended, read third time and passed, on division.
The Hon. the Speaker: I should like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in our gallery of His Excellency Dr. Mulatu Teshome, Speaker of the House of the Federation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. He is here with Ethiopia's ambassador to Canada and a delegation.
On behalf of all senators, welcome.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government) moved the second reading of Bill C-28, to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 18, 2003.
She said: Honourable senators, it is indeed an honour to present this bill this afternoon. As you know, the budget of 2003 marked many milestones and many major new commitments. Budget 2003 responds to Canadians in three arenas of national life. First, by building society's values, the budget makes investments in the needs of individual Canadians, their families and their communities. Second, by building the Canadian economy that Canadians need, the budget is fiscally prudent, deficit free and promotes productivity, innovation and sustainable development. Third, by building the accountability Canadians deserve, the budget makes government spending more transparent and accountable.
It is clear that our government continues to uphold its commitment to sound fiscal management, and this commitment has led to five consecutive surpluses and resulted in a $47-billion reduction in the federal debt. Sound financial management also made possible the government's tax reduction plan of $100 billion. With sound fiscal management and strong growth, Canada led the G7 in GDP growth last year. We are also the only G7 country to have a surplus in 2002.
Honourable senators, economic success and fiscal discipline are only part of good government. They are means to the much more important end of building the society that Canadians value. No social policy is more vital to Canadians than our publicly funded health care system. The 2003 Accord on Health Care Renewal, agreed to by the Prime Minister and first ministers in February, responds to this request, and this budget is a reflection of that accord.
The 2003 health accord reflects a common commitment among governments to work together to improve access to the health care system, enhance accountability of how health care dollars are spent, and helps ensure that the system remains sustainable in the long term.
The measures contained in Bill C-28 guarantee funding for new investments under the health care accord, for reforms.
First, the budget provides a $16-billion Health Reform Transfer to help in the priority areas identified by first ministers, namely primary health care, home care, and catastrophic drug coverage.
A second measure — an immediate $2.5 billion supplement to the CHST — will help relieve existing pressures in the health care system. As well, the budget builds on the $1 billion provided for medical equipment in 2000, with an additional investment of $1.5 billion over three years. As a result of these investments, total annual cash transfers to the provinces and territories will now rise to $26.1 billion in 2006-07, and $27.7 billion in 2007-08.
First ministers also recognized that the sustained renewal of Canada's health care system required structural change as well as additional financing, and that is why it has been agreed to restructure the CHST into two separate transfers: A Canada Health Transfer and a Canada Social Transfer, effective April 1, 2004. At the same time, first ministers reaffirmed the importance of the equalization program in ensuring that all provinces have the ability to provide comparable levels of public services at comparable levels of taxation.
In terms of other health initiatives, first ministers identified electronic health records, which are an essential building block for a modern and more integrated health care system, as a priority concern, and this budget provides $500 million to that initiative. Canada Health Infoway also receives an additional $600 million to accelerate the development of EHRs and common information technology standards across the country.
Health research is another vital component of Canada's health care system. Again the budget responds. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation, which supports the modernization of research infrastructure in Canadian universities and colleges, research hospitals and other non-profit research institutions, will receive $500 million. Genome Canada will receive $75 million for applied health genomics. It also allocates funding for governance and accountability initiatives, including funding for the Canadian Institute for Health Information. There is also funding for a new Canadian patient safety institute, as well as to improve the timeliness of Health Canada's regulatory process with respect to human drugs.
All these investments will improve access to and, indeed, the quality of health care for Canadians. Working through the budget, and particularly through Bill C-28, we recognize that we have strengthened our long-standing commitment to Canadian children and families in several key areas. The most important of these for me, of course, is the new benefit that will be given to persons who choose to care for gravely ill or dying members of their family.
A new compassionate care benefit under the Employment Insurance program will come into effect on January 4, 2004, if we pass this particular bill. Eligible workers will be entitled to six weeks paid leave to provide that care. This will, I believe, make a fundamental social change in this country that will be central to the life of every Canadian. The welfare of their families is of paramount importance to Canadians.
The budget also responds by increasing annual assistance for children in low-income families, through the Canada Child Tax Benefit, to $10 billion by 2007, with annual benefits increasing up to a maximum of $3,243, or to $3,495 for a child under the age of seven.
Beyond a stable fiscal and monetary climate, the key drivers of a stronger economy are those that allow Canada to improve its productivity performance. These include such factors as a tax system that encourages economic growth and job creation, and investments in new technologies and research. That is why this particular budget bill today does provide new opportunities to Canadians to gain new skills. The budget commits $60 million over two years to improve the Canada Student Loans Program to put more money in the hands of students and better enable post- secondary graduates to manage their debt.
Canada's high-calibre workforce also deserves the support of a competitive tax system. That is why, in the 2000 budget, the government launched its $100-billion Tax Reduction Plan. This plan continues in this particular budget bill.
To help sustain our economy, the budget further improves the tax system through incentives to save and invest, to help small and medium-sized businesses, and to boost Canadian competitiveness. Canadians can now be assured that the three pillars of their retirement system, the federally funded Old Age Security payments, the Canada Pension Plan, and tax-assisted retirement savings, are all on a sound footing.
The 12 per cent federal small business tax will be extended to business income between $200,000 and $300,000 over four years, and this will result in annual savings of up to $9,000 for many local Canadian companies. The budget also eliminates the $2 million limit on the amount of small business investment eligible for the capital gains rollover, and the budget reduces business costs and complexity by improving the tax treatment of benefits and expenses.
The five-year tax reduction plan also puts in place a tax advantage for business in Canada as a basic part of the strategy to attract investment and foster a strong, productive economy. This budget builds on that advantage by totally eliminating the federal capital tax over five years.
Bill C-28 implements other tax measures as well. For example, it confirms the increase in federal taxes on tobacco products, and it removes the 4-cent-per-litre federal excise tax on diesel fuel from bio-diesel fuel. It also provides authority for interested First Nations to levy a broadly based sales tax, consistent with the GST, on their lands.
Honourable senators, funds allocated in this bill include $250 million to the Sustainable Development Technology Canada Foundation, $50 million to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences to increase climate and atmospheric research activities, and $20 million to Farm Credit Canada to support venture capital investment in the agricultural sector.
Again, the budget took action on issues that are also of concern to Canadians, such as accountability. We have seen in this past budget and through this bill that the Air Travellers Security Charge has been reduced from $12 each way on domestic flights to $7, a decrease of 40 per cent.
In addition, EI contribution rates have been cut by 12 cents to $1.98 per $100 of insurable earnings for 2004.
The new health accord also sets out an improved accountability framework that includes a commitment by all governments to report regularly to Canadians on how their tax dollars must be spent.
At the same time, the government is moving to improve the accountability of foundations to Canadians and parliamentarians. Unspent funds will now be returned to the government and not distributed amongst recipients who received the grants.
Finally, the budget terminates the Debt Servicing and Reduction Account. There is no longer any need for this account since those revenues must ultimately be deposited in the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Honourable senators, Budget 2003 delivers a wide range of action while maintaining our commitment to prudent fiscal planning for balanced budgets. I believe the result is a better, more compassionate and competitive Canada, and I encourage all honourable senators to give quick passage to this bill.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Bolduc, debate adjourned.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, would honourable senators consent to having all items on the Order Paper that have not yet been reached stand in the order in which they appear on the Order Paper?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I should like to say for the record that a few moments ago a senator was speaking and needed a minute to finish a quotation. Leave was denied. I understand that today is very important for the Tories in that tonight there will be a great celebration for Mr. Joe Clark. I admire and respect that, but I want the record to show that some of us do not believe in dirt in kind. I would be happy to give leave so that the Tories can leave early today to celebrate Mr. Joe Clark tonight and also to take part in their convention.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is granted, honourable senators. All remaining items will stand in their place until the next sitting.
Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, June 3, 2003, at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, June 3, 2003, at 2 p.m.