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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 10

Thursday, October 28, 2004
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker


 

THE SENATE

Thursday, October 28, 2004

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Tributes

The Late Honourable Calvin Woodrow Ruck, C.M.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 22(10) of our rules, I have received a request from the Leader of the Government in the Senate to provide for time under Senators' Statements to pay tribute to our former colleague, the late Honourable Calvin Ruck.

As required by the rules, I would advise that interventions are to be no longer than three minutes and any senator may only speak once.

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I rise to speak to the unusual and outstanding career of Senator Calvin Ruck.

I did some background research. While I remember him in this chamber, as many do, I did not know nearly as much about his career while he was here as I have learned since his demise.

What I have found is so beautifully expressed in The Daily News, which is a Halifax newspaper, in an editorial that they issued on October 22 last. I should like to read portions of the editorial into the record. It states:

They are called "The Greatest Generation." Born between the years 1910 and 1930, its surviving members are senior citizens now — grandparents and great-grandparents. Some continue to live in proud independence; others reside in nursing homes. They are enduring the infirmities of age with the same stoic spirit that carried them through the privations of the Great Depression and the horrors of the Second World War, the events that shaped their lives.

We are losing them: one by one, day by day.

Calvin Ruck was a member of the Greatest Generation. He passed away at the age of 79 on Tuesday in Ottawa, where he had lived during the past several years. It was the end of a journey that took him from Whitney Pier in Sydney to Parliament Hill in Ottawa; from a job as a sleeping-car porter on the Canadian National Railway to a seat in Canada's Senate.

Between those poles of his life, Mr. Ruck could best be described as a one-man civil-rights movement. As a black man, the son of immigrants from Barbados, he faced not only the tough and trying times of the 1930s and '40s, when the world was shaken to its roots, and then reshaped; he also bore the brunt of racism at a time when it was not only fashionable, but acceptable.

He did more than just bear it, though. He fought it in a diligent and dignified manner. No challenge was too great for him to accept, and overcome.

The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People? He was on its executive.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission? He was a rights officer and a commissioner.

The Stevens Road United Baptist Church? He was a deacon.

The Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia? He was its treasurer.

A complete list of the organizations to which Mr. Ruck contributed, and the awards he won would fill the rest of this space.

Aside from his tenure in the Senate, which ran from 1998 to 2000, Mr. Ruck is best remembered for single-handedly rescuing an important piece of Canadian military history from an obscurity it did not deserve. Outlandish as it seems now, during the First World War, a debate raged over whether blacks were worthy to serve in the Canadian military. The government formed an all-black unit called the No. 2 Construction Battalion, which served overseas during the conflict. Although it attracted recruits from other parts of Canada and the United States, most of its members were Nova Scotians.

After the war ended, the unit was largely forgotten.

But not by Mr. Ruck. After years of diligent research, he published a book called The Black Battalion: 1916-1920: Canada's Best-Kept Military Secret, which accorded the soldiers the recognition they deserved.

Mr. Ruck's many accomplishments were no secret. His life set an example for people of all generations — and all colours.

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join these tributes to a great Canadian and a great Nova Scotian, the Honourable Calvin Ruck, who passed away last Tuesday.

Calvin Ruck devoted his time and efforts to the service of others. During his life he worked as a janitor, delivery driver, social worker, author, human rights officer, and finally as a senator. Regardless of the job, he never lost sight of his ultimate goal — improving the lives of all Nova Scotians. Indeed, he devoted his career and life to the betterment of others, particularly Nova Scotia's Black community.

Senator Ruck moved to Halifax at age 20, finding employment as a CN Rail porter and later as a janitor at the 12 Wing Shearwater air force base outside Dartmouth. However, when he tried to buy a home in the White neighbourhood of Westphal in Dartmouth in 1954, the residents circulated a petition to keep him out because they did not want Black people there. They failed, but the incident motivated the senator to challenge the obstacles faced by African Nova Scotians, from segregated barbershops to restrictions on entering the navy.

Saturday's funeral was a fitting tribute. Hundreds of people filled the Atlantic Funeral Home in Dartmouth to its capacity. Several prominent religious figures gave fitting inspirational tributes. The gospel music that filled the building throughout the afternoon brought tears to our eyes, and I know it would have made the senator proud.

Calvin's two sons, Martin and Douglas Ruck, gave a heartfelt eulogy of their father's work to promote the rights of Blacks in Canada. Martin told the story of how Calvin Ruck broke down the barrier to let Black people have their hair cut in White barbershops by staging a number of barbershop sit-ins. This was just one example of how he methodically broke down systemic barriers and promoted racial equality in Canada.

(1410)

In his obituary, it stated:

Calvin Ruck was not a man who wished for change but, rather, one who worked to make a difference. His efforts in Nova Scotia have reverberated throughout the nation. He believed in a society that treated all people, regardless of their colour, with respect and dignity.

Honourable senators, Calvin Ruck was a tireless advocate for racial equality, a dedicated supporter of equal rights and a great Canadian. He will be missed.

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I am most honoured to rise today to pay tribute to the late Honourable Calvin Woodrow Ruck, who served Nova Scotia with distinction in this chamber and who recently passed away at his retirement home in Ottawa.

I wish to be associated with the remarks of Senators Austin and Oliver. Last Saturday afternoon, Senator Oliver, my friend Graham Downey, the first Black alderman elected in the City of Halifax, and I attended the church service in celebration of the life of Senator Ruck. No less than five clergymen and clergywomen spoke about this honourable gentleman. They all spoke of his dedication to his loving family, his commitment to improving the lot of our Black citizens, especially the young members of the Black community, and the respectful way in which he conducted himself in the service of others.

I should like to share with senators two anecdotes further to those mentioned by my colleagues. Both are testaments to the soulful motivation and high quality of Senator Ruck's work.

As mentioned by Senator Austin, Senator Ruck wrote two books about the history of Canada's Black Battalion, No. 2 Construction, which he called "Canada's best-kept military secret." One Wednesday at National Liberal Caucus — I ask that partisans indulge me this one little indiscretion — Senator Ruck took the microphone and through the chair he asked Prime Minister Chrétien to cause markers to be placed at the unmarked graves of Black veterans who served Canada. In his respectful way, he assured the Prime Minister that he did possess the power to address this situation and that it was the right and respectful thing to do. That Gandhi-like approach by Senator Ruck moved our Prime Minister to direct the minister responsible to confer immediately with the good senator in an anteroom and to fulfil his request. Those markers were put in place forthwith, thanks to that intervention by Senator Ruck.

Senator Ruck was a devote Christian. At his going home celebration his son, Douglas, shared the following story with the host of family and friends gathered. Two uniformed police officers, one Black and one White, came to Douglas' residence in the company of the funeral home staff to receive the senator's remains. As he was laid to rest in the vehicle, both officers stood alongside, came to attention and snapped a salute. That gesture was a moment of discrimination-free respect, the paramount thing that motivated Senator Ruck in all of his work.

Sometimes, honourable senators, we do not realize the giant qualities of the men and women with whom we associate on a day-to-day basis.

We extend our deepest sympathy to the late Senator Ruck's spouse, Joyce, their sons, Douglas and Martin, and his brother, Arthur, and we thank them for sharing this outstanding man with us.

Ms. Jillian Keiley

Congratulations on Receiving the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre

Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as Senator Oliver did yesterday, I rise to pay tribute to Jill Keiley who has just been named the winner of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. This is Canada's richest annual theatre award. The jury selected Jill from a field of 59 directors nominated from every region of Canada. The jury described Ms. Keiley's work as "startlingly original and radically imaginative," calling her a "visionary, innovative artist whose experiments with form and content have magical results, for audiences and performers alike."

Jill Keiley is the founding Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland and Labrador, where she directed 14 new productions, almost all of which were original scripts and scores created for the company by playwright Robert Chafe and composer Petrina Bromley. Ms. Keiley has taught at universities and professional training institutes across the country for the past six years. She also directs for other local companies, most recently Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador's "Tempting Providence," the story of Nurse Myra Bennett, who served in the early years of the 20th century on the remote north coast of Newfoundland. I am very proud that my own son, Peter, acted in that play here in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre, as well as in others that Jill Keiley has directed. Very often her plays premiere in our province at the Resource Centre for the Arts in St. John's, which has given us Mary Walsh and Rick Mercer, or at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival. I am personally very pleased to pay tribute to her today.

The prize is a cheque for $75,000 and her assistant, fellow Newfoundlander Danielle Irvine, received $25,000. Ms. Irvine has taught at the National Theatre School and has worked at Stratford.

Tony Comper, President and CEO of BMO Financial Group, the founding sponsor of the Siminovitch prize, said it was meant to encourage Canadian artists to go further in the pursuit of their craft — to "put the wind in their sails and to celebrate theatre in Canada and the talented artists who, like Ms. Keiley, comprise this vibrant community."

It is with great pleasure that I salute Jill Keiley.

[Translation]

The Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, from time to time it is worthwhile reminding ourselves of the culture of respect that is historically customary in this place.

To illustrate my point, I would like to quote certain comments made last Thursday in this chamber during tributes to the Honourable Senator Gauthier on the occasion of his retirement.

I am truly disappointed that today we have not been able to properly pay you the honour due to you for all the years you have devoted to achieving that recognition, and that your bill — which has been passed unanimously here on three occasions — did not pass because of pure partisan politics. I wonder whether this does not denote a lack of respect for what you wish to accomplish and what you have worked so hard to achieve.

There is a long-standing tradition in the Senate that a senator does not impute motives to a colleague, particularly when the rules, practices and normal procedures of this chamber have been followed.

Debate and differences of opinion are what this place is all about, but the honourable members of this noble parliamentary institution and all Canadians stand to lose if a senator finds it necessary to resort to insulting a colleague in order to make a point.

Adjourning debate is a common practice in the Senate, and no senator should to be subjected to negative and insulting remarks when a debate is adjourned in order to allow a senator time to prepare comments.

I have discussed this incident with Senator Gauthier and he has indicated to me that he was not bothered by the adjournment. On the contrary, Senator Gauthier is very much aware of the adjournment procedures and follows them faithfully. He has assured me that he does not perceive the adjournment on Bill S-3 as indicating any lack of respect toward him or his bill.

As for my commitment to the respect and promotion of our country's two official languages, I have no need of any lectures from a senator making such accusations.

[English]

Mr. Milton Wong, O.C.

Tribute

Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, as Senator Jaffer is unable to be here today, she has asked me to deliver the following statement on her behalf.

First, Senator Jaffer would like all of us to join her in welcoming an individual who exemplifies Canada's multicultural and charitable values. Mr. Milton Wong, Chancellor of Simon Fraser University, is well known throughout British Columbia and Canada for his work and achievements. Mr. Wong is founding Chairman of the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival and Deputy Chair of the B.C. Cancer Foundation Millennium Campaign. He has been given Vancouver City's Civic Award, a doctorate from Simon Fraser University and an honour roll distinction from Maclean's. He is also a recipient of the Order of Canada.

Mr. Wong is founder and Chair of the Laurier Institution, an independent non-profit institution dedicated to advancing knowledge of the economic and social implications of cultural diversity.

Anti-Semitic Statements by Canadian Muslim Leaders

Hon. Maria Chaput: Second, honourable senators, Senator Jaffer asks us to join her in condemning the anti-Semitic remarks that have recently been made by select Canadian Muslim leaders. These kinds of statements have no place in the Canadian discourse and must be condemned not only for their hatefulness and promotion of violence toward our fellow man but also for the deep damage they do to the relationship between different Canadian communities.

(1420)

Our words, and especially the words of those who take the lead in different communities, should be the thread that binds us together with ties of understanding, tolerance and peace. We must never allow our words to become the knife that severs these very ties.

We are approaching the season of remembrance for the deeds of our forebears, who suffered and died to preserve the dream of Canada as the greatest nation in the world. It is truly a nation where all people can find a place and be proud to call home.

We must remember that when we allow our words to cut the ties between us, we do a disservice to those memories. The Canada that they fought and died for is not a Canada that promotes violence and hatred against anyone. These men and women shed their blood to protect our values and way of life. We must ask no less of ourselves.

Child Care and Early Learning

Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I did not expect to rise in this chamber so soon after my speech on October 20, 2004, a speech I devoted to early learning and child care. Yet this week, I knew I must do just that.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I will never understand why the media want their readers to focus on negative news. October 25, 2004, is an example of this. The lead story in The Globe and Mail was about child care in Canada.

[English]

The Globe and Mail made child care in Canada a lead story because the OECD found Canada's child care system to be "a fragmented, money-wasting patchwork."

I am not sorry that this newspaper and others chose to bring our child care challenge to the attention of Canadians. What I regret is that the earlier good news story did not make the front pages. This good news story could have been written on October 6, 2004, the day following the Speech from the Throne, which stated:

The time has come for a truly national system of early learning and child care, a system based on the four key principles that parents and child care experts say matter — quality, universality, accessibility and development.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, the Government of Canada has accepted this challenge and has promised to contribute $5 billion over five years. The time has come for the provincial and territorial governments to work with the federal government and members of every community to promote this issue so that families will have access to the best health care for their children; quality care accessible to all, with the emphasis on better understanding of child development.

[English]

The OECD report could well be "the big stick" to turn the federal-provincial-territorial meeting of November 1, 2004, into something other than a war of words — rather, into a battle waged together, on many fronts, which will give Canada's families a victory in their determination to give their children the best possible start in life. Let this be the front page story.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, will the newspapers one day have a front page story saying that the development of our children at home, in day care and everywhere in our communities is our highest priority for Canada's future?

[English]

Then, the alarming front-page story from the OECD will have been the shock we needed. After all, perhaps that is what journalists do best.

International Trade

Canada Border Services Agency—Granting of Market Economy Status for China

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I rise today to call your attention to an international trade issue that deserves careful consideration by our government. It involves a recent decision by the Canada Border Services Agency to grant "market economy status" to our Chinese trading partners. Chinese exporters will now be able to sell goods to Canada at lower prices, lessening the protection of Canada's anti-dumping duties, which are surtaxes used to protect Canadian companies from being undersold by foreign competitors. Some manufacturers fear that this new policy may lead to the closure of several Canadian factories and damage our domestic industries.

The United States, Japan, Mexico and the European Union have all declined to grant China market economy status. They fear that Chinese goods are being improperly subsidized by the Chinese government and produced by workers who are exploited with low wages.

On June 29, the executive commission of the European Union stated that China "must ensure the equal treatment of all companies by reducing state interference on its domestic exports, before market economy status can be granted." This decision has been praised by U.S. and Japanese economists who say that their manufacturers simply cannot compete with the massive imports of unfairly priced Chinese goods.

However, in a press release dated September 1, the Canada Border Services Agency stated that "there is no evidence to demonstrate that the pricing of goods is being substantially controlled by the Chinese government." This ruling is contrary to the decisions of our major trading partners.

Honourable senators, I acknowledge that it is important to promote and strengthen China's economic reform. However, I have spoken with Canadian manufacturers who have concerns with the Canada Border Services Agency's recent decision.

For instance, the Canadian Bicycle Manufacturers Association fears that as a result of this policy Chinese bicycles could be sold into Canada at a cost well below the standard price. They fear that this decision could also lead to the closing of two factories in Quebec that directly employ more than 700 people.

Honourable senators, I have spoken with legal experts who say that this recent decision may do great damage to our domestic industries. Please join me in urging the government to examine closely this recent decision to ensure that the interests of Canadian manufacturers will not be ignored.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Clerk of the Senate

2004 Annual Accounts Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, pursuant to the Senate Administrative Rules, I have the honour to table the clerk's statement of receipts and disbursements for the year ended March 31, 2004.

Federal Departments and Agencies

2003-04 Performance Reports Tabled

Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the performance reports of 90 departments and agencies for the period ending March 31, 2004.

Immigration and Citizenship

2004 Annual Report on Immigration Tabled

Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to section 94 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the annual report on immigration for the year 2004.

Citizenship Act

Bill to Amend—Report of Committee

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your Committee, to which was referred Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, October 20, 2004, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

WILBERT J. KEON
Deputy Chair

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Kinsella, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Business of the Senate

Notice of Motion to Change Commencement Time on Wednesdays and Thursdays and to Effect Wednesday Adjournments

Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, for the remainder of the current session,

(a) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday or a Thursday, it shall sit at 1:30 p.m., notwithstanding rule 5(1)(a);

(b) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday, it stand adjourned at 4 p.m., unless it has been suspended for the purpose of taking a deferred vote or has earlier adjourned;

(c) where a vote is deferred until 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings, immediately prior to any adjournment but no later than 4 p.m., to suspend the sitting until 5:30 p.m. for the taking of the deferred vote, and that committees be authorized to meet during the period that the sitting is suspended.

(1430)

Tax Conventions Implementation Bill, 2004

First Reading

Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government) presented Bill S-17, to implement an agreement, conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Gabon, Ireland, Armenia, Oman and Azerbaijan for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion.

Bill read first time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

On motion of Senator Harb, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.

Inter-Parliamentary Union

One-hundred and Tenth Assembly and Related Meetings, April 15-23, 2004—Report Tabled

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour, on behalf of the Canadian group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation that attended the one-hundred and tenth assembly of the IPU, held in Mexico City, Mexico, from April 15 to 23, 2004.

Foreign Affairs

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study 2003-04 Performance Reports of Departments of Foreign Affairs, and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency

Hon Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs be authorized to examine the Performance Reports for the period ending March 31, 2004 of: a) Foreign Affairs Canada; b) International Trade Canada; and c) Canadian International Development Agency, tabled in the Senate on October 28, 2004; and

That the Committee report to the Senate no later than March 31, 2005.

[Translation]

National Pain Awareness Week

Notice of Motion

Hon. Yves Morin: Honourable senators, I give notice that on Tuesday, November 2, 2004, I will move:

That this House call upon the Government of Canada to establish the first week of the month of November in each and every year, throughout Canada, as "National Pain Awareness Week."

[English]

Study on Issues Affecting Urban Aboriginal Youth

Report of Aboriginal Peoples Committee—Notice of Motion Requesting Government Response

Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I give notice that, in two days hence, I will move:

That, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the Government to the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, entitled Urban Aboriginal Youth: An Action Plan for Change, tabled in the Senate on October 30, 2003, during the Second Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament and adopted by the Senate on April 1, 2004, during the Third Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament, with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, the Minister of Social Development, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Industry being identified as Ministers responsible for responding.


QUESTION PERIOD

Prime Minister's Office

Equalization Payments—Newfoundland and Labrador—Offshore Oil Revenues—Revenue-Sharing Agreement—Comments by Prime Minister's Staff

Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, in an article in today's Toronto Star, the Prime Minister's spokesperson, Scott Reid, warned that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be left empty-handed as a result of Premier Danny Williams' recent actions. Mr. Reid is quoted as saying:

He's making a mistake of historic proportions —

"He," meaning Premier Williams.

— and he's doing it on the backs of his own citizens....He may get some short-term gains, but he'll pay for it in the long run.

When I read that, honourable senators, it sounded to me to be a threat, and I am not alone. Media in my home province also picked up on the comments, and the premier himself has indicated that he perceives those comments to be a direct threat.

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Could he clarify the comments of Mr. Reid? Are these comments just the latest in a series of gaffes out of the Prime Minister's Office, following in the tradition of the mislaid phone call from Premier Williams?

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I saw the news story as well, but I cannot give any interpretation of the remarks, except to say that the policy of the Government of Canada is to pursue its negotiations with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to a conclusion that recognizes the paramount interests of both that province and the people of Canada.

Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, I am not sure if I accept that answer, because Mr. Reid is speaking here for the Prime Minister.

Senator Robichaud: No, he is not.

Senator Cochrane: What does the Prime Minister say about this? These comments are coming directly from a member of the Prime Minister's staff. In my mind, it is unthinkable that someone from the Prime Minister's Office should say something like this. Could the government leader clarify further the comments of Mr. Reid?

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I hark back to an era I lived through moment by moment, and that was the era of 1973-74 when I was Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. The Government of Alberta made strenuous politics out of the rise in the price of oil, a doubling of the price of oil, at that time. After exchanges of political rhetoric, of somewhat intemperate statements over a period of weeks and months, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau, and the then Premier of Alberta, Mr. Lougheed, came to a satisfactory conclusion on the resource revenue-sharing issue, shared a glass of champagne together, and Canadian federation marched on.

Therefore, I would ask honourable senators not to get ground into the minutia of a political discourse, but rather to keep their eyes on the big picture, which is to come to a satisfactory conclusion with respect to this issue, a conclusion that allows Newfoundland and Labrador a very substantial increase in its revenues and allows it to tackle its economic issues, and a conclusion that permits the Government of Canada to stand by its obligations.

(1440)

Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, I do not think we can validly cite situations that occurred 30 or 40 years ago. This gentleman said this today. I should like to hear what the Prime Minister has to say about this.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I have no doubt that Senator Cochrane's colleagues in the other place will be asking him.

Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, I want to know how the Prime Minister responded to this, and I want to hear the answer in this house. Never mind the other place. Senators conduct their own business in this chamber.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I have no doubt that Senator Cochrane's patience will be rewarded shortly by what is taking place in the House.

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, as a supplementary question, it is important that it is perfectly clear that all members of this honourable house have the right to ask the government questions in Question Period and to expect either an answer forthwith, or notice being taken of the question.

The question that I have by way of supplementary is quite simple: Does Mr. Scott Reid speak for the Prime Minister or not? Is the statement he made, which has been alluded to, the policy of the Government of Canada? We have the right to know the answer to that question from the minister in this place for the Government of Canada. Does Mr. Scott Reid's statement represent the policy of the Government of Canada?

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I would not challenge for a moment the right of any senator to ask whatever question he or she wishes to ask with respect to public policy.

I have provided an answer. It may not be the answer that senators on the other side want to hear. They probably would like to see me indulge in the kinds of statements that would make this issue even more difficult to negotiate. I am not prepared to do that.

Equalization Payments—Newfoundland and Labrador—Offshore Oil Revenues—Letters from Premier Williams to Prime Minister

Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, in response to a question yesterday, the Leader of the Government said, and I quote:

We have two different parties who both believe they have come to a conclusion, but they had an inarticulate premise, or two, or three that were not expressed.

Yesterday, Premier Williams produced three letters that he had written to the Prime Minister in which he clearly stated the province's proposal. In the June 10 letter, the premier specifically outlined the agreement. This position was reaffirmed in the letters dated August 5 and August 24. There are three letters, but the Prime Minister never provided a written response to Mr. Williams' letters. Yesterday, Mr. Williams said that his clear understanding of the agreement reached between himself and the Prime Minister, and confirmed to him in writing, was never refuted, questioned or responded to negatively by Prime Minister Martin.

I ask the Honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate to help me understand. Premier Williams' letters are very clear. I have them here. If there were indeed a difference of opinion as to what had been agreed upon, why did the Prime Minister fail to respond in writing to Mr. Williams at that time and set the record straight?

Hon Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have not seen those letters. I look forward to reviewing them. I would be pleased to see them tabled.

Honourable senators, of course, are aware that, in these negotiations, parties put their positions in writing. Officials and ministers have discussions and conduct negotiations. In no way am I suggesting that there was no response to these letters. The response may not have been in writing, but I am given to believe that discussions between the province, its ministers and officials, and those of the federal government opposite were continuous. They met in August. They met in September. When they met to discuss the health accord, it was requested by the premiers that the government table its equalization proposals and it did so at that stage. The premiers then asked that they refrain from discussing those proposals in September but that they hold a separate meeting to deal with those, and that meeting was held earlier this week. There can be no doubt in my mind that in no way did the government fail to respond fully to the points raised by the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, I will table those three letters.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cochrane: I would also say to the Leader of the Government that those three letters were written to the Prime Minister as the result of the conversation of June 5, during the election period, when Paul Martin was in our province.

The only response that Premier Williams received to those letters was dated October 24, 2004, and that came from Minister Goodale. The letters from Premier Williams were written back in June, and the response was received on October 24. I hardly think that that is sufficient, honourable senators.

Senator Austin: I can only repeat that the dialogue that goes on between the federal government and a province does not go on simply in the form of an exchange of letters by the heads of the respective governments. It goes on at the level of ministers and officials and, if the complete record were available to me, I would be delighted to list the dates on which those meetings were held. If Senator Cochrane would like to know about meetings at the official level, phone call dates and so on, I will be pleased to provide the chronology.

Equalization Payments—Offshore Resources—Revenue-Sharing Agreement—Plans for Premier Williams and Premier Hamm to Meet with Prime Minister

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. First, it appears from statements made both here and in St. John's that there was a telephone call yesterday between the Prime Minister and Premier Williams. Did they set a date for another telephone call? Was the question asked, "When shall we two meet again?" What plans are there?

Second, I do not know whether the Leader of the Government noticed yesterday an interview given on CBC Newsworld to Don Newman by Premier Hamm of Nova Scotia. The government of Nova Scotia is in discussions with Ottawa concerning its offshore resources and what arrangements might be made in a side agreement to equalization. I think we all know that the situation of Nova Scotia and that of Newfoundland and Labrador are somewhat different, but they seem to be looking for essentially the same arrangement. Premier Hamm indicated that he would be happy to see Newfoundland and Labrador join him at the table with Ottawa. What is the federal government doing to follow up on that constructive suggestion?

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am not up to speed on the latest interchanges between the Prime Minister and Premier Williams, or the Prime Minister and Premier Hamm. With respect to the phone call made by the Prime Minister and taken by Premier Williams, I want to publicly acknowledge the facilitation of Senator George Furey in that particular event. However, you cannot ask him questions about it; certainly not in Question Period. It is not pertinent to his role as chair of a standing Senate committee. However, it demonstrates the role of representing regional interests, which is available to senators; and it demonstrates that government is quite aware that senators can facilitate issues from time to time.

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With respect to the question put to me yesterday, I did say at the time that I was not aware that the Province of Nova Scotia had reserved its position on the eight-year term and was still continuing. I have been advised that it has done so and the discussions are continuing.

Honourable senators, I have just been handed a statement that I wish to share with you. Mr. Reid has both telephoned Premier Williams' office and given several media interviews, to apologize for anything that might have given offence to the premier. Mr. Reid has stressed his desire to move past rhetoric and towards a new deal for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Equalization Payments—Nova Scotia—Offshore Oil Revenues—Revenue-Sharing Agreement—Sunset Clause

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, there is no depth to which some of these people will not go.

I am pleased that the honourable leader referred to the Nova Scotia premier. Premier Hamm has said that he will not accept a royalty deal that includes an eight-year sunset clause. Contrary to the government minister from Nova Scotia who should be taking care of Nova Scotia but is not, Premier Hamm is fighting for Nova Scotia and for all Nova Scotians.

When the Prime Minister toured Nova Scotia a few days before the election, he indicated that Nova Scotia would be the principal beneficiary of offshore resources. Various Liberal candidates in the election used this as a means to gain votes in Nova Scotia, and it was quite helpful. There was no mention of a best-before date of 2012. Did the Prime Minister hide the fine print on the eight-year clause? This matter was never raised in the election campaign. Was it because the fine print was hidden from Nova Scotian voters? Was it because some of the Prime Minister's officials may have reminded him of the increased revenues that could be derived from rising oil and gas prices? Perhaps it was suggested that now is not the time to honour this promise by the Prime Minister?

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would not impute any negative motives to anyone in this negotiation. The Prime Minister has had to negotiate equalization payments with all of the provinces, in consideration of the special arrangements that he has proposed for the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador on the one part and Nova Scotia on the other in respect of offshore resources. In those particular cases, one might also speculate that the Prime Minister was asked by other provinces, some of which have Conservative governments, to provide a review mechanism. This is not a discontinuance of the arrangement — and I want to make that absolutely clear. It is a review at the eight-year point of how the special arrangement with the two provinces is performing.

Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I might ask whether the honourable leader could indicate which provinces asked the Prime Minister of Canada to include this clause, subsequent to the election, as part of the offshore resources deal with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. I would ask whether the Prime Minister might have indicated to the premier or premiers who asked for the sunset clause that he — that is, the Prime Minister — could not do that because he made an undertaking with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia that there shall be no sunset clause. Might the Prime Minister have said, "I did not raise it during the election and, therefore, it is not part of the deal that I have with these two provinces."

Senator Austin: I do not think that the honourable senator heard my last answer. I said that the eight-year provision is a review provision; it is not a sunset clause. There is no termination automatically at eight years. The provinces, as a group, have accepted this arrangement, subject to the negotiations by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has heard the concerns of the other eight provinces and, as a result, the federal government proposed an eight-year review. It is totally erroneous to say that there is any cap put on the arrangement at the end of eight years. "Cap" is a nice little word that has been bandied around, but I think Senator Comeau would want to join me in making sure that the arrangement is not misunderstood.

Equalization Payments—Newfoundland and Labrador—Offshore Oil Revenues—Promise by Prime Minister of Future Negotiations

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I would like to go back to my supplementary on the question of the Newfoundland and Labrador accord. Yesterday, Senator Kinsella mentioned that the Prime Minister told the St. John's Telegram in June that his word was good. Newfoundlanders assumed, perhaps wrongly, that this would be the Prime Minister's word on the done deal.

Did the Prime Minister think he was only promising future negotiations when he provided this commitment to the province? Does it mean that the promise of future negotiations would be his word?

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, let us get this story straight for the seventh or eighth time. The Prime Minister promised the Province of Nova Scotia and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador 100 per cent of the revenues from the offshore resources. He said that those revenues would not be a deduction from their full entitlement to the equalization pool — and he has delivered on that promise.

Equalization Payments—Newfoundland and Labrador—Offshore Oil Revenues—Negotiation between Ministers of Finance

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: I will try one last time. During the week of October 14 to October 22, the Minister of Finance for Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Loyola Sullivan, called Minister Goodale's office in Ottawa virtually every day to ensure that there was an agreement on the proposal. On October 24, the Prime Minister said that he was unsure about why Premier Williams would not take yes for an answer. Mr. Sullivan said that week that the deal being proposed by the federal government was not acceptable. Why could not the two parties reach a deal or at least indicate that there was a difference of opinion before Premier Williams had to come to Ottawa to try to salvage something of the Prime Minister's promises? Even after the many telephone calls by Mr. Sullivan and all the letters exchanged by the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, no deal could be reached. How long does it take for it to sink in that the Prime Minister was not living up to his commitment during the election?

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the concluding sentence is totally wrong. The Prime Minister has lived up to the commitment with respect to 100 per cent of the revenues and equalization.

Senator Comeau: Therefore, Newfoundland is wrong.

Senator Austin: Many ideas enter the negotiation process at various stages. The major premise of the Prime Minister's undertaking on June 5 has been met. There are other ideas. The honourable senator was speculating a few minutes ago about the impact of the price of oil on these negotiations. Perhaps there is something to his speculation.

Environment

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development—Reports on Environmental Performance

Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, in October 2002, and again last year on October 8 and 22, I made reference in this chamber to the 2002 and the 2003 reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Both reports raised serious concerns about the glaring gaps between the Liberal government's commitments to the environment, on the one hand, and its actual performance, on the other hand. The commissioner characterized this gap as the government's environmental deficit and said that good intentions are not enough.

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Honourable senators, the commissioner, Johanne Gélinas, has just released her 2004 report dated October 26, this week, and has once again highlighted the deplorable environmental deficit of this Liberal government. The commissioner says that she is particularly concerned that Canada's environmental performance has been downgraded from an already disappointing twelfth place ranking in 2002 to sixteenth place amongst OECD countries last year. This worrying trend has been confirmed in a recent embarrassing performance review on the state of Canada's environment by the OECD where Canada was criticized for spending less on pollution control than most other wealthy countries, and has seen increased greenhouse gas emissions, has more smog, and is having problems protecting its land and its water.

My question, honourable senators, to the Leader of the Government is: Can he please outline for honourable senators and Canadians at large what concrete steps this government is taking to correct its alarming environmental deficit and to bring Canada back into line with other OECD nations?

Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Does the honourable senator have a supplementary question, so I can answer both questions at the same time? I am fascinated with the practice on the other side of asking questions and then asking supplementary questions.

Honourable senators, the government has received this report and welcomes it. There are deficiencies, and the government acknowledges the deficiencies which the commissioner has outlined in her report. Serious steps have to be taken by this government to deal with these environmental issues and issues with respect to the salmon fishery, which are also pointed out in chapter 5 of this report.

At this stage, I do not have a comprehensive statement to give the chamber with respect to specific steps to be taken, but I can assure this house that the government will make a very serious response both in respect of the report and in respect of the steps that must be taken.

Senator Angus: Honourable senators, I thank the leader for that answer, and I can assure him that it is much more comprehensive and encouraging than the answer his predecessor gave me in 2002 and again in October of last year.

However, I would point out that the commissioner is also critical of the fact that, from high-level decision making to program and project planning, the government is not making proper use of some of the important and useful environmental decision-making tools which it has at its disposal. She lists various examples in her report, and I will not go into all of them. She mentions, for example, the use of strategic environmental assessment is far from adequate to meet its promise in guiding policy and program development. Project-level environmental assessment is also not fulfilling its potential in the international development projects that the commissioner studied. Fisheries and Oceans — and I believe this is the one to which the Leader of the Government referred — apparently has not used a risk-based approach in managing the potential impacts on fish habitat. I assume that relates to the salmon fishery off the Pacific Coast of Canada.

The supplementary question is: Can the leader please account for these failures, if possible, and explain what concrete steps his government will be taking to address these critical issues?

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, one important step this chamber could take would be to ask our Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to undertake a detailed and careful inquiry into the report of the commissioner. Indeed, I would personally like to see that committee hold hearings in both the Pacific and Atlantic regions to gather the response of the stakeholders to the report. It comes down, as all honourable senators know, to the political will to act; and the political will to act has a great deal to do with the environmental situation and its costs to a community, and also with the economic situation and its costs to a community. Senator Angus knows as well as anyone just how complex this particular trade-off between the sustainable development of our resources and ecology is, and the need to deal with an environmental and economic system.

In my province of British Columbia, there were news stories in the last day or two about a decision made by the government to not list two species of salmon as endangered. These are two species, of which there are only a few hundred salmon, and to list them would, under the law, require the suspension of the entire Fraser River fishery. Obviously the stakeholders, all of them in British Columbia, were not prepared to suspend the fishery.

I am going on a bit at length because I take the supplementary question as a serious one. I believe this chamber could make a solid contribution to this important subject with the leadership of our two committees, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, on the fisheries aspect, and the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. I will also speak to Senator Banks.

Senator Angus: May I assume that the honourable senator took the first question as a serious one?

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I take it that I have been given an opportunity, in spite of Senator Stratton's disapproval of Senator Angus's continuation, to say, yes, I take the question as serious, except for the parts that were not.

[Translation]

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a response to a question raised in the Senate on October 21, 2004, by Senator LeBreton regarding the application of the Learning Bond Program.

Human Resources and Skills Development

Application of Learning Bond Program

(Response to question raised by Hon. Marjory LeBreton on October 21, 2004)

The Minister of Community and Social Services in Ontario has committed to removing the rule in Ontario which requires families to liquidate their Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) in order to be eligible for social assistance.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with all provinces and territories to ensure that low-income families have access to saving opportunities and realize the full benefit of their efforts to save for their children's education.

The Provinces (British Colombia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec) and Territory (Northwest Territories) that do not currently exempt RESPs are reviewing the option to exempt them.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Speech from the Throne

Motion for Address in Reply—Motion in Amendment—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Munson, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput, for an Address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her Speech from the Throne at the Opening of the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament,

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Kinsella, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, that the following be added to the Address:

"and we urge Your Excellency's advisors, when implementing the details of their proposals, to review the Employment Insurance program to ensure that it remains well-suited to the needs of Canada's workforce, to reduce and improve the fairness of taxes, to be unwavering in the application of fiscal discipline, to examine the need and options for reform of our democratic institutions, including electoral reform, and to rise above partisanship to address the public interest;

That Your Excellency's advisors consider the advisability of the following:

1. an Order of Reference to the appropriate committee of each House of Parliament instructing the committee to recommend measures that would ensure that all future uses of the employment insurance program would only be for the benefit of workers and not for any other purpose;

2. opportunities to further reduce the tax burden on low and modest income families consistent with the government's overall commitment to balanced budgets and sound fiscal management;

3. an Order of Reference to the appropriate committee of each House of Parliament instructing the committee to make recommendations relating to the provisions of independent fiscal forecasting advice for parliamentarians including the consideration of the recommendations of the external expert;

4. an Order of Reference to the appropriate committee of each House of Parliament instructing the committee to recommend a process that engages citizens and parliamentarians in an examination of our electoral system with a review of all options;

5. with respect to an agreement on ballistic missile defence, the assurance that Parliament will have an opportunity to consider all public information pertaining to the agreement and to vote prior to a government decision;

And we ask Your Excellency's advisors to ensure that all measures brought forward to implement the Speech from the Throne, including those referred to above, fully respect the provinces' areas of jurisdiction and that the financial pressures some call the fiscal imbalance be alleviated."—(7th day of resuming debate)

Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I would like first to congratulate my colleague from New Brunswick, Senator Noël Kinsella, on his election as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

I also want to pay tribute to Senator John Lynch-Staunton, who was our leader since 1993. I thank him for his leadership, for his views on the place the Senate should occupy in our Parliament and for his support during all these years.

I listened carefully to the reply to the Speech from the Throne that our leader, Senator Kinsella, gave. His approach was to highlight all the elements missing in the speech and show how potentially important they are to the future of our country.

[English]

I thought I would deal specifically with what was in the Speech from the Throne: warmed over promises, trotted out for exposure but no action, just one more line by a tired Liberal government void of new ideas.

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The speech began with the phrase:

The Government will do its part to ensure that this minority Parliament works.

Those empty words had flesh put on them almost immediately by our colleagues in the other place who stood their ground on a subamendment calling on the government to address the fiscal imbalance between the federal government and the provinces.

The Leader of the Opposition in the other place demonstrated the leadership and commitment of which we know he is capable, and, through his hard work, encouraged passage of the amendment.

This action also ensured passage of a more elaborate amendment presented by the Leader of the Opposition, which had been duplicated here in the Senate.

This amendment deals with issues that affect Canadians — lower taxes, lower EI premiums, a commitment to institute a means for proper economic forecasts, electoral reform and a voice for Parliament in a future ballistic treaty.

These two amendments put a new face on this Speech from the Throne and set the agenda for Parliament, which will address the issues faced by Canadians. The government, in the speech commits to fostering a strong economy. Our first evidence that the government plays politics with the economy can be seen in the surplus forecast that was revealed at $9.1 billion, up from the predicted $1.9 billion.

It is time the government made good on the commitment to address the debt. Yes, the speech refers to the government objective to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio to 25 per cent within 10 years. Even if the government did nothing but have a balanced budget, the debt-to-GDP ratio would be reduced to 25 per cent simply by the growth in the economy alone.

A realistic target should have been a debt-to-GDP ratio of 20 per cent in 10 years, as advocated by our leader in the other place. That is a realistic target. That would make government tighten its belt in order to meet that target. Pay down the debt. The money saved on the interest could then be freed up to invest in social programs such as health care and education and to reduce taxes.

The speech fails to address the needs of post-secondary students. A learning bond will not help those who are shouldering high debt loads as they attempt to pursue an education. It is time this government committed to ensuring access to post-secondary education for all qualified students, regardless of ability to pay.

We will see how the government delivers on its other economic commitments: less regulation, greater productivity, more venture capital. We have heard it all before. This government, which cannot manage the trade file, especially with our largest trading partner, commits in the speech "to secure and enhance our access to markets."

Please concentrate on the areas you have mismanaged — softwood lumber and BSE. Solve the problems your attitude towards the United States has created before you venture elsewhere.

The throne speech promises health care for Canadians. As it promises health care, we receive reports that waiting times have increased across the country. Our health minister promises to enlarge the group compensated for contracting hepatitis C and then retracts that promise the next day.

The next day, again, the health accord is reached by throwing around taxpayers' money, but with no enforceable standards. This is hardly a plan for 10 years. It is barely a plan for 10 months. Our emergency wards in my hometown are known as "zoos" because of the overcrowding and long waits for medical attention. One of the most crippling issues in health care today is the cost of drugs. That has not even been dealt with.

Yes, an agreement was reached, but will it improve the health of Canadians? We need a long-term joint federal-provincial strategy. There must be no more meetings held with no plan, no agenda, and no idea on the part of the federal government as to how it will address health care. Maybe this is not surprising as it comes from a Prime Minister who, nine years ago, was ready to scrap the health care act all together.

To add insult to injury, the speech dredges up the universal child care promise one more time. Look at the headlines earlier this week across the country: The Star Phoenix of Saskatoon, "Canada's child-care system in bad shape"; the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, "International report criticizes Canada's 'fragmented' child-care programs"; the Hamilton Spectator, "Canada comes up short in child care: System offers "basic babysitting"; the Moncton Times and Transcript, "Canada's child care criticized in report: 'Fragmented' programs disregard early education, says the international study." Lo and behold, the headline in the Toronto Star reads "A call to action on child care."

This all started back in the days of the 1993 election with Paul Martin's Red Book. The kids who were promised child care at that time are entering high school today and we still do not have child care. This is one of the cruellest jokes perpetrated on Canadians by a series of Liberal governments since 1993. Give parents a tax credit so they can choose their own form of child care.

The concerns of Aboriginal Canadians are only peripherally addressed. There was a time when a good position of the throne speech was devoted to the needs of Canada's Aboriginal people. Now the previously committed $700 million for Aboriginal health care is reannounced in the throne speech and a report card on progress is offered — whoop-de-do.

As the Liberals move into provincial jurisdiction dealing with cities, the speech re-announces the Liberal portion of the gas tax to be given for the benefit of municipalities — a re-announcement of a re-announcement. Will the money flow to address our crumbling infrastructure problems?

The government recommits to its failed plan to implement Kyoto. Admit Kyoto will not address environmental concerns and get on with giving Canadians clean air and clean water.

The speech ends with a description of the Liberal commitment to our Armed Forces and to foreign aid. Volumes have been written in the past three weeks on the problems the government has created for our military through chronic underfunding. Senators Forrestall, Meighen and others have addressed and will be addressing this in detail.

This is a statistic that is unheard of — 92 per cent of Canadians realize that we have dramatically underfunded our Armed Forces. Do you not think the government would finally get the message that there are serious problems?

The last page of the speech refers to the government's plan to involve parliamentarians in the review of key appointments. With this in mind, I will be reintroducing my private member's bill that establishes a non-partisan nominations process. I look forward to the government keeping its commitment in this area.

We have seen the opposition Conservative Party in the other place set the agenda, an agenda addressing the real needs of Canadians.

We are in for some interesting times, both here and in the other place. I look forward to participating and holding the government accountable for it promises.

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to participate in the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, which was so capably moved and seconded by my colleagues, Senators Munson and Chaput. I congratulate them on a job well done.

I also want to congratulate the senators opposite who have taken up new roles within the leadership. I welcome the opportunity to work with them in this Parliament, as well as to continue working with very able colleagues in the leadership on this side of the house.

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A Speech from the Throne traditionally sets out a government's priorities for a new Parliament. I am pleased to note that themes such as a stronger economy, support for society's most needy and investment and innovation in sustainable technologies are paramount in this most recent throne speech.

Regional and rural development are central components in building a strong economy. Regional development agencies such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, or ACOA, and tools such as the Atlantic Innovation Fund help develop successful businesses, create jobs and increase our region's capacity to carry out the leading-edge research and development needed in a knowledge-based economy.

As we move more and more firmly to that knowledge-based economy, expectations are that, within five years, two thirds of all jobs in Canada will require some form of post-secondary education training. However, it is estimated that as many as 8 million Canadians may not have the necessary literacy capacity to fully engage in our economy. Twelve per cent of Canadians do not complete high school.

Furthermore, we are currently faced with a growing shortage of skilled workers in areas such as construction, oil and gas, and manufacturing. New entrants into skilled trades are insufficient to meet the shortfall that is created by people who are retiring. The Conference Board of Canada has warned that by the year 2020 Canada will be short 1 million skilled workers.

A strong knowledge-based economy needs a skilled and well-educated workforce able to compete on a global level. The government's commitment to enhance skills development through the new Workplace Skills Strategy is most welcome, as is its recognition that literacy skills, apprenticeship opportunities and top-notch training facilities are central to the success of the strategy.

The government must also find ways to ensure access to post-secondary education and training. A new learning bond is being proposed, which will provide low-income families with up to $2,000 for children born after January 1, 2004. To encourage families to set up a Registered Education Savings Plan, the Canada Learning Bond will provide $500 to children born on or before January 1, 2004, to families that are entitled to the National Child Benefit supplement. This will be followed up by 15 annual $100 entitlements for each year the family is entitled to that National Child Benefit supplement. With earned interest, these entitlements could be worth up to $3,000 by the time the child reaches 18 years of age. We need initiatives such as that to ensure that all Canadians have access to post-secondary education and training.

Canada has an aging population, and we are heavily reliant on immigration to sustain our population. In this regard, Canada does not easily recognize foreign credentials, and there are many instances of engineers, doctors and nurses who are working as taxi drivers because their credentials are not recognized in Canada. Therefore, the government's commitment to renew efforts to work with the professional organizations and provinces to formulate strategies to recognize foreign credentials is very timely.

Another federal initiative designed to support a stronger economy bears mentioning, and that is the government's commitment in the Speech from the Throne to reform the equalization program, to make more stable and predictable the total payments by the federal government to the less wealthy provinces. All four Atlantic provinces rely heavily on equalization payments to provide public services. These revenues are used to support provincial priorities in health, education and other sectors of the economy. Unpredictable funding levels impair provincial abilities to budget appropriately in meeting the needs of Canadians, including our most vulnerable. Therefore, I was pleased that last Tuesday the federal government signed an agreement on equalization with nine provinces and the territories. I am proud that Prince Edward Island will receive an extra $32 million in 2004-05. We are currently receiving $247 million, but that figure will be increased to $279 million, which is an increase of $32 million, or about 13 per cent.

Honourable senators, investing in our children, our families and our seniors and providing support for our country's most vulnerable Canadians is a significant theme in the Speech from the Throne. Not only must we invest in our economy, but we must also invest in our people.

Last year's report on the Prime Minister's Task Force on Women Entrepreneurs raised the issue of a national child care system as it affects the participation of women in the workforce and the ability of women to consider self-employment as a valid career option for them and their families. It is well known that early learning and child care programs and services play an important role in the healthy development of young children. The federal government's commitment in the Speech from the Throne to a national system of early learning and child care, based on quality, universality, accessibility and development, will help children to reach their full potential.

As lawmakers, we must not only provide a good start for our children, but we must also ensure that they are protected and valued as they grow into adulthood. To that end, I would like to commend the government on the introduction in the other place of new measures to combat child pornography.

Investing in our people does not only mean investing in our children. It also means caring for our families and for our aging population. According to Statistics Canada, by 2026, 8 million Canadians will be over the age of 65, compared to 4 million in 2000.

As our society ages, more and more families are in the sandwich generation, caring for young children as well as aging parents and grandparents. Federal initiatives to improve existing tax-based support will help families deal with the economic constraints associated with care giving. The proposed increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Canada's least-well-off seniors will provide them with increased means to meet their basic needs.

The new 10-year health plan to strengthen health care, agreed to by the federal government and all the provinces earlier this fall, also represents a significant investment in health care. The plan to reduce wait times and increase access to quality health care is especially important to my province of Prince Edward Island.

In a recent study, it was indicated that the wait times for residents of Prince Edward Island for a referral from a physician to a specialist are among the highest in the country, and some Islanders do not even have a family doctor. The federal government's commitment to predictable long-term funding is a substantial investment in the people of Canada.

My province will receive an extra $151 million over 10 years, plus extra dollars under the wait times reduction strategy. That is a significant increase.

As well as investing in our people and in a stronger economy, the Speech from the Throne also highlights some investments in innovation and sustainable development. Both provide opportunities in the world economy for Canadian researchers and entrepreneurs.

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Investments in innovation and energy sources such as wind power are important to Atlantic Canadians. The North Cape Wind Farm in Prince Edward Island currently provides 5 per cent of the island's electricity. It is estimated that by the year 2010 wind energy will supply as much as 10 per cent of the province's electricity needs. Sustainable development, especially in the ways we use and produce energy, is key to the long-term health of our environment.

Honourable senators, the government has set out in the Speech from the Throne a comprehensive and ambitious plan for governing. With themes such as investing in a stronger economy, investing in our people, including our most vulnerable citizens, and investing in innovation and sustainable development, the government is charting a course for Canada that has a lot to offer Atlantic Canadians and Prince Edward Islanders. I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement these measures.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Will the honourable senator permit a question?

Senator Callbeck: Yes.

Senator Murray: As a former Premier of Prince Edward Island, does she agree with the present Premier of Prince Edward Island that the introduction of a per capita formula into part of the equalization program is not good news for Prince Edward Island and the other less populous recipients of equalization?

Second, with regard to a national child care program that she mentioned, does she expect that the federal government will be expecting the provinces to foot part of the bill? If so, how big a share does she think Prince Edward Island will be able to carry?

Finally, in a lighter vein, has Prince Edward Island gotten over its hang-up about importing nuclear power from New Brunswick?

Senator Callbeck: On the question of equalization, if I were premier at this time, I would be extremely happy with the amount of money that will come to the province. When I was premier, payments were cut back. I remember walking into the office one day and finding out that payments had been cut by some $30 million. P.E.I. is receiving an extra $34 million this year, which is a windfall.

With regard to child care, my understanding is that it is to be paid for by the federal government, that they will be footing the bill.

I am sorry, but I did not understand the question on nuclear power.

Senator Murray: For a long time, Prince Edward Island would not import power from New Brunswick because some of it had been produced at a nuclear plant.

Senator Callbeck: Right. Is the honourable senator asking me a question, or did he just intend to make a comment?

Senator Murray: It was asked in a lighter vein.

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: In my remarks yesterday I said that I did not think that the present funding formulas could maintain a sustainable health system in Canada. It is my impression that even with what has been done, the provinces are facing bankruptcy given the current funding of health care. I would deeply appreciate a comment from the honourable senator, awkward as it may be for her, because she is a former premier. I think we need an entirely new approach if the provinces are to avoid that predicament.

Senator Callbeck: I can tell my honourable friend that it is a big concern of mine. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, of which Senator Keon and myself are members, produced a report on health care in 2002. Senator Keon alluded to many of its recommendations in his speech yesterday and expressed several concerns. Let me say that I share them.

On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Committee Authorized to Engage Services

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon, for Senator Kirby, pursuant to notice of October 20, 2004, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology have power to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of its examination and consideration of such bills, subject matters of bills and estimates as are referred to it.

Motion agreed to.

Committee Authorized to Permit Electronic Coverage

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon, for Senator Kirby, pursuant to notice of October 20, 2004, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be empowered to permit coverage by electronic media of its public proceedings with the least possible disruption of its hearings.

Motion agreed to.

Fisheries and Oceans

Committee Authorized to Study Government Policy for Managing Fisheries and Oceans

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley, for Senator Comeau, pursuant to notice of October 27, 2004, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to examine and report on issues relating to the federal government's new and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans; and

That the Committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than Friday, March 31, 2006.

Motion agreed to.

Statutes Repeal Bill

Bill S-5 Referred to Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Hon. Joan Fraser, for Senator Banks, pursuant to notice of October 27, 2004, moved:

That Bill S-5, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent, which was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, be withdrawn from the said Committee and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Could we have an explanation?

Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, this motion is necessary basically because an error crept into the original motion. On the plain face of it, this bill is more suited to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs than to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Furthermore, in the last session of Parliament, the earlier version of this bill received fairly detailed study by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. That would seem to be the appropriate place to continue the study of the bill.

The Hon. the Speaker: No senator rising to intervene further, are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

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

Motion agreed to.

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Bill Rompkey (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, November 2, 2004, at 2 p.m.

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, November 2, 2004, at 2 p.m.