Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, pursuant to rule 22(16), I ask for agreement that up to 10 minutes be
allowed now for the purpose of paying tribute to Pierre Berton, whose death
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it
was with great regret that Canadians learned yesterday of the death of Pierre
Berton at age 84.
Through his writings, he put a mirror to the face of Canada and showed us our
past successes and our future possibilities. Pierre Berton knew so much about us
because he had experienced the frontiers of our Far North and the sophistication
of our urban centres.
Born in Yukon, he was educated for a time at the University of British
Columbia, where he began to learn the art of writing at The Ubyssey, the
campus student newspaper. Over the course of his career, he authored 50 books;
he was a long-time newspaper columnist and broadcaster; and he served as editor
of Maclean's magazine.
Pierre Berton was a member of the Order of Ontario. He became an Officer of
the Order of Canada in 1974 and was subsequently promoted to Companion of the
Order of Canada in 1986.
Pierre Berton's death signals the passing of a Canadian institution, but
anyone familiar with his career knew that he preferred to see himself as an
iconoclast. Mr. Berton received many awards — some of them several times — that
honour his many accomplishments: Governor General awards, Nelly awards for
broadcasting, national newspaper awards, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
and the National History Society's first award for distinguished achievement in
popularizing Canadian history.
Mr. Berton was a member of the Newsman's Hall of Fame and was awarded 14
honorary degrees, but I believe he retained a modest perspective on his
contribution to our country.
Pierre Berton was greatly appreciated by his fellow Canadians because of his
deep personal attachment and dedication to Canada. When he was recently voted as
one of our great Canadians, he remarked that he did not deserve that
recognition, as he saw himself as a mere chronicler of the people who made our
country. Pierre Berton characteristically overlooked how he deserved a place
amongst the best of Canadians, for he understood us and our special place in the
world, as few have. He understood very well the powerful pull of our neighbour
to the south and the pull of countries, particularly our founding countries,
across the ocean. He saw us examining our relationship with those countries. His
writings upheld and strengthened our national identity to an extraordinary
I know very well Pierre Berton's close association with Pierre Trudeau. Both
men had an irrepressible optimism about this nation. Pierre Berton became a
household name because we saw in him everything we hoped to be — compassionate,
funny, insightful, righteous and sometimes rebellious.
Canadians will be forever grateful to Pierre Berton for showing us our
accomplishments and our potential. He was one of our greatest cheerleaders.
We thank his wife, Janet, and his many children and grandchildren for sharing
him with Canada.
Hon. Pat Carney: Honourable senators, I also wish to pay tribute to
Canadian author Pierre Berton who died yesterday at the age of 84, and who gave
Canadians a great legacy: Our sense of Canada's history.
Born in Whitehorse, Yukon, Pierre produced some 50 books in 50 years,
recreating for his readers some of Canada's most exciting events and
achievements, from the gold fields of Klondike, his history of the Gold
Rush, to The National Dream and The Last Spike, the building of
Canada's national railway which opened the Canadian West and united a country.
Although, as Senator Austin said, Pierre Berton won three Governor General
awards, was presented with 14 honourary degrees and was named a Companion of the
Order of Canada, most Canadians will remember Pierre as our great national
storyteller who made Canadian history come alive. He once famously described a
Canadian as "someone who can make love in a canoe"; no doubt, he succeeded.
Allan Fotheringham, who was a fellow panellist with Pierre Berton on the CBC
television program Front Page Challenge, said many academics resented him
because Pierre made Canadian history readable.
A journalist, an army officer, a commentator and a broadcaster, Pierre was a
pioneer in every field he entered. At UBC, my old alma mater, he graduated in
arts while he majored in skipping classes to work on the student paper The
Ubyssey. He was the hotshot young reporter of the Vancouver News Herald
before barnstorming the Toronto publishing world.
He donated his unpretentious family home in Dawson City, Yukon, to writers in
residence. He was a great Canadian nationalist and defender of the North.
My favourite story of Berton was how, as a young reporter, he went to Paris
to interview that other Yukon Canadian icon, Robert Service, who gave us The
Cremation of Sam McGee and other Canadian classics. He asked Robert Service,
"Don't you miss the Yukon?" Robert Service said, "I never gave it another
He was a founder of the Writers' Trust and other agencies that help writers,
whom he unfailingly assisted.
When I met him again in recent years at a Writers' Union event, I was struck
by the fact that, though his big body was frail, his intellect was as vigorous
He will be greatly missed and, on behalf of honourable senators, I extend our
thanks and condolences to his wife, Janet, and family.
Hon. Ione Christensen: Honourable senators, I, too, wish to speak to
the memory of Pierre Berton. Canada has lost a passionate and readable
While Pierre Berton lived most of his life in the southern part of Canada, he
had strong roots and a love of the North, in particular, the Yukon.
Our life paths crossed in a number of ways. Pierre's father came north during
the Klondike Gold Rush. When the rush was over, he worked for the government as
a mining recorder. His mother came to Dawson City as a teacher just after the
Gold Rush and she was my mother's kindergarten teacher. When she married
Pierre's father, they moved to Whitehorse, where Pierre was born. The family
then moved back to Dawson City in the 1920s and they lived across the street
from my grandparents. My grandmother and Ms. Berton were close friends.
The Berton family left Dawson City when Pierre was 12 but, during his
university years, he came back for the summers to work in the mining camps.
His first work as a journalist was with The Vancouver Sun. At 21 years
of age, he was the youngest editor of a Canadian daily. It was in Vancouver that
he married his wife, Janet, who, at the time, was the editor of the opposition
paper, The Province.
In 1979, when I resigned as Commissioner of the Yukon, I was invited to be a
guest on Front Page Challenge. It did not take Pierre long to nail down
In 1985, Parks Canada was celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary and
Pierre and his family were invited to do a boat trip from Whitehorse to Dawson.
My father, who was then 85 years old, and I were invited to be the river guides
for the trip. As a member of the RCMP, my father had used the Yukon River as his
patrol highway for many years and that same trip had been made by Pierre's
father in 1898.
It was a 10-day trip, and all of Pierre's children and most of their spouses,
as well as his wife, Janet, were part of the armada. Pierre took charge of the
cooking and cleaning up and arranging the entertainment. We were broken into
nine teams, each responsible for an evening presentation. It was all run with
military precision, and we all had great fun.
Pierre returned to the Yukon whenever possible. His old home in Dawson,
established as a "writer in residence home," has become a coveted retreat for
Canadian writers practising their craft.
His book Klondike, and the later photo publication Klondike Quest,
are still the best documentation of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Pierre has left us with a wealth of documented history and has shown us what
a proud and colourful country we are. We have lost a great Canadian pioneer and
a Yukon sourdough.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, I rise on this first day of
December to draw your attention to World AIDS Day. AIDS is a growing pandemic.
Despite all of our efforts, the spread of HIV is faster than our response to it.
Here in this country, AIDS continues to take lives because people have become
complacent about HIV. We still are faced with the challenge of raising people's
awareness and fighting discrimination against those with the virus.
The number of people living with AIDS throughout the world has increased to
close to 40 million, a record high, according to the annual report of UNAIDS and
the WHO. This report also draws attention to the increasingly female face of the
epidemic. In every region of the world, the number of women with the virus has
There is a direct link between the various forms of violence to women and
this growth in HIV infection rates. Many women have been infected as a result of
rape, a form of violence used increasingly as a weapon of war. The increase in
domestic violence is another factor in the spread of AIDS.
In countries where the virus is prevalent, many women do not have the basic
knowledge to protect themselves against HIV. Women's chronic lack of power also
makes them vulnerable. In many societies — dominated by men, of course — women
and girls continue to bear the burden of their partners' irresponsible
behaviour. In addition, for millions of other women, the sex trade is
unfortunately their only source of revenue.
Efforts to help women must be strengthened in sub-Saharan Africa, the most
severely affected region. In that part of the world, nearly 60 per cent of
adults living with HIV are women, and 76 per cent of those aged 15 to 24 living
with the virus are girls. That is staggering. Nearly an entire generation may be
wiped out. According to UNICEF, in South Africa and Zimbabwe, where nearly
one-quarter of the adult population is infected, AIDS will kill nearly half of
the people now 15 years old. These young people are the future of their
countries. In some places, AIDS is a real factor in economic decline.
Nine people out of ten across the world are still in need of treatment. Even
though the drugs now exist in less expensive generic forms, they are still
inaccessible to many millions of people. We must continue to be generous, and —
why not — speak out in favour of making them free in certain countries where
AIDS has caused life expectancies to drop below 40 years.
We must become more involved. I urge you, honourable senators, to continue to
support all those who are working to eliminate this scourge.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, today marks the sixteenth
annual World AIDS Day, a day set aside to remember those who have died from this
terrible disease and to pledge our support for those who live with it. Over 39
million people around the world are currently infected, including an estimated
56,000 in Canada.
The global infection rate is now the highest it has ever been. Despite all
the efforts that have been made to raise AIDS prevention awareness around the
world, this year 4.9 million people became infected.
AIDS is a disease still without a cure, although scientists have made great
progress in their work to find a vaccine. I am proud to say that Canadian
scientists play an important part in this research through the Canadian HIV
Vaccine Enterprise. We have invested $15 million in the first year, but once
again our American friends put us to shame, promising an investment of $1
billion over the next two years.
AIDS robs people everywhere of their health and their future. In sub-Saharan
Africa, it has destroyed communities and created a generation of orphans, some
15 million of them.
Increasingly, women are bearing the burden of this disease, not just as
caregivers, but also as victims. AIDS infection rates in women increased
worldwide in 2004. This growing problem is related in the focus of this year's
World AIDS Day, which is "Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS."
Africa, as is so often the case, is especially hard hit. UNAIDS reports that
women comprise 57 per cent of all infected people. Seventy-six per cent of
people infected with HIV between the ages of 15 and 24 who live in this region
of Africa are female. Today, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS have
jointly called on all countries to ensure that women receive equal access to
both treatment and prevention programs.
Canada has made many commitments over the past year to help the international
fight against AIDS, such as pledging increased financial support to the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Health Organization's
3 by 5 Initiative, which aims to treat 3 million Africans by 2005.
I am sure all honourable senators will join me in urging our government to
strongly support this movement.
Hon. Landon Pearson: Honourable senators, November 20 was National
Child Day. I was unable to speak last week, so I rise this afternoon to
celebrate Canada's children because in my view children should be celebrated
every day of the year.
Most of Canada's children, I am happy to say, are doing well, but alas not
all. We still have far too many children on the margins of Canadian society who
are abused, neglected, exploited or living in poverty, as we were reminded last
week by Campaign 2000's annual report. Fifteen years after the adoption of the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, we still have a long way
That being said, I do believe that thanks to the children's convention and to
symbolic events such as National Child Day, we are now more and more aware of
how important our children are to us all and how we must fight to protect their
rights and ensure their well-being. I am encouraged by the fact there is
considerable evidence that communities are rallying.
I spent much of National Child Day with children in Montreal and Ottawa. I
ended the day at a multi-generational, multi-faith feast where a table was set
with a plate of food for the "unknown child" in Canada or abroad who would be
going to bed hungry that night. Ottawans from diverse backgrounds were present
at this event to honour not only children but also the individuals of our
community, men and women alike, who have demonstrated how much they care about
Events such as the Manger Meal, as well as the highly successful National
Child Day celebration held here in the Senate on November 19 — thanks to
Senators Mercer and Munson — fill me with hope, the kind of hope each one of us
feels when we hold a brand new baby in our arms, a new life full of
possibilities and a new chance for us all. They convince me more than ever that
we have to get the circumstances right for all our children to grow and develop.
We have to do more to build a Canada fit for children.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I would like to share
with you today the revulsion many Canadians will be feeling for a very long time
and for which there was no demonstration on the Hill. I want to talk about what
happened to Margaret Hassan, the Anglo-Iraqi director of the humanitarian
organization CARE, who was assassinated in a cowardly manner. While this took
place a while back, it still haunts me every night. She was kidnapped and
assassinated for no reason. Margaret Hassan did nothing but help others for 30
years of her life. She was not armed. She had denounced no one. She had no
enemies. Hers was a gratuitous murder.
Honourable senators, barbarity has plumbed new depths. These are not just
enemies in a conflict. They are cowards who use innocent people as shields. I am
appalled by this new aspect of world conflicts. My concern is that such acts
will be trivialized, for several reasons: first, because innocent people are
murdered when traditional armed conflict is not enough, in the eyes of
terrorists, to shake world public opinion; second, because decapitation and the
assassination of innocent people are becoming so commonplace that an escalation
of terror is to be feared.
When will it be the turn of children and old people to be tortured live on
TV? What are we waiting for to get involved? Canada is a peaceful country. Our
government must initiate processes for sustainable peace.
I wonder whether the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United
States found time at their meeting last evening to discuss the killing of
innocent people who are not involved in military conflicts.
Honourable senators, the world needs peace that fosters reconciliation, not
peace at the price of innocent victims like Margaret Hassan being killed.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, and
notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs have
the power to sit at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1, 2004, even though the
Senate may then be sitting and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I give notice that, on
Thursday, December 2, 2004, I shall move:
That the petitions tabled during the Third Session of the Thirty-seventh
Parliament calling on the Senate to declare the City of Ottawa, Canada's
capital, a bilingual city, be sent to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal
and Constitutional Affairs for consideration;
That the committee consider the merits of amending section 16 of the
Constitution Act, 1867; and
That the committee report to the Senate no later than April 30, 2005.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, with leave of the
Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce have the
power to sit at 4 p.m. today, Wednesday, December 1, 2004, even though the
Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Could the honourable senator explain why this
leave has been sought? This is the second committee to request such a leave. I
understand that the leadership may come to some agreement beforehand, but the
rest of us do not know the reason.
The Hon. the Speaker: We have dealt with the motion and it is
completed business. However, I am certain that honourable senators would like to
hear an answer to the honourable senator's question. Would Senator Grafstein
care to respond to Senator Corbin's question?
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: I welcome the question.
As honourable senators know, we were told by our leadership yesterday that we
would have a short sitting then as well as a short sitting today. The Senate has
directed the Banking Committee to move expeditiously on a number of studies,
including a study on charitable giving. In order to have some appropriate input
to the budget, it is important that the committee meet as soon as possible. The
time for the committee to hear testimony was planned for four hours, from 4 p.m.
until 8 p.m., but that has been curtailed as of today when the committee was
informed that it could not do that. Therefore, the witness testimony has been
collapsed into two hours. Senators have been told that the Senate will sit until
6 p.m. today. The committee has witnesses standing by from Ottawa and outside
the area to attend this meeting. Hence, it is a question of being fair to the
witnesses and to the work of the Senate.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: For years I have strongly objected to this
practice, which has nothing to do with the excellent work of the Banking
Committee specifically. I am concerned that there might not be enough senators
remaining in the chamber to make quorum after 4 p.m. I made my views known
yesterday regarding the Foreign Affairs Committee receiving permission to sit
today during the Senate sitting. Today, we have two committees asking for the
same privilege. Again, my concern is that there might not be 15 senators in the
house for quorum if too many committees are given leave to sit at that time. I
am concerned about these exceptions. Yesterday the circumstances were
The Chairman of the Banking Committee also sits on the Foreign Affairs
Committee. I do not know how he will divide his time when the two committees
meet concurrently. It is a long-established principle that the house adjourns
at 4 p.m. I do not see much business on the Order Paper and Notice Paper
today, so perhaps the leaders could consider the usual adjournment time for
Wednesday. That would put the matter to rest. If the Senate had an unusually
heavy agenda, that would be another matter. The Senate should adjourn at the
usual time for a Wednesday to avoid another honourable senator asking for leave
to sit. I am sure that the Leader of the Government understands the difficulties
that proceeding in this matter can present — senators wanting to be in committee
and in the house at the same time. Perhaps the honourable leader could tell the
house whether it will adjourn at 4 p.m. today.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it
is always difficult to judge the time required to conduct business in the
chamber. However, I have a personal optimism that we may be able to finish our
business by 4 p.m. today. If we do not finish, then perhaps we could entertain
the motion at that time.
Senator Grafstein: On a point of order, honourable senators, was the
The Hon. the Speaker: I should point out that points of order are not
allowed during Routine Proceedings. However, questions as to where we are in our
proceedings will be allowed. The honourable senator is asking where we are in
our proceedings. I had asked for leave of all senators to allow Senator Corbin
to put a question to Senator Grafstein. The question is customarily put before
leave is granted. I pointed out that I had put the question, I had asked
senators if there was agreement, and I had heard senators agree. The matter was
completed. That is our custom; and that is what I did.
Having said that, I sense opprobrium on the part of some senators. When leave
is requested, I should be more vigilant to pause to ensure that senators who
wish to ask questions or withhold leave have a fair opportunity to do so. I
thought I had done so. In future I will pause for a longer period before
Hon. Landon Pearson: Honourable senators, in demonstration of my
earlier remarks, I rise to present 801 petitions, which were inspired by
National Child Day, submitted by residents from all regions of Canada, including
the West, the Territories, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic, calling for the
implementation of Canada's national plan of action for children entitled, "A
Canada Fit For Children."
Hon. Pat Carney: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am seeking clarification of his answer
to a question I asked yesterday regarding funding to bring five Aboriginal
youths from Gold River to Ottawa for the opening of the Yuquot exhibit at the
Canadian Museum of Civilization.
In his reply, the leader said that the band had never applied for funding and
that the first application was in the form of a letter from myself, which is
My point of clarification is this: Is the leader suggesting that a request
for funding from a Conservative senator is unacceptable? This band is in a
Conservative riding represented by a Conservative MP. Need only Liberal MPs and
senators apply for public funds under the Liberal minority government?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Senator Carney's question indicates she has totally misread my answer. I said
that there was no application by anyone from the band and, therefore, her letter
making representations would be treated as the application.
Senator Carney: The whole point is that the band did apply through me.
I am asking: Was that acceptable? Are only Liberal MPs' and senators'
applications for funds deemed to be proper? The leader's response was that the
band had never applied for funding. However, I would point out that the band did
apply, through my office.
When we wrote the minister asking her to identify the programs that could be
applied for, her letter simply stated that there were none for this type of
endeavour. However, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage did have funds: $50,000
for Bubbles Galore, the pornographic movie; $98,000 for the dumb blond
jokes book; and nearly $200,000 for Frank the Rabbit, on how humans and
rabbits formulate and justify beliefs.
Could the Leader of the Government ask the minister to identify which
programs were used to fund these projects, which were deemed so important to our
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I am absolutely mystified at the
failure of my communication to Senator Carney. I said that there was no
application from the band directly and, therefore, her letter making
representations is taken as the application. It has nothing to do with politics,
partisanship, the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party. It is a procedure
that I thought was fair and generous on the part of the department.
As to the remainder of the honourable senator's question, these points were
made by her before. I said that I would hold a watching brief with the Minister
of Canadian Heritage. I said that yesterday, and I will continue to do so.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, my question to the Leader
of the Government in the Senate regards compensation for all — I repeat all —
hepatitis C victims.
Last week, the Minister of Health announced that the federal government will
begin talks to provide financial compensation for hepatitis C victims who were
excluded from the original compensation package. These people and their families
have waited six long years to receive this recognition from the federal
government. An estimated 400 tainted blood victims from this group have already
died while waiting for some federal assistance, while many others have become
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate assure us that discussions
aiming to provide these people with compensation will begin very soon?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as
the honourable senator well knows, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Ujjal
Dosanjh, announced on November 22 that the Government of Canada would enter into
discussions on options for financial compensation to people who were infected
with hepatitis C through the blood system before January 1, 1986 and after July
I answered a question in this chamber a short while ago advising of the
complexity that relates to the existing trust fund which is under the
administration of the court and whether those funds were funds that would be
available or whether new funds would have to be generated. The legal entitlement
of the present beneficiaries is also a complex question. However, the government
has announced that it will go forward with talks, and I expect those talks will
be held shortly.
Senator Keon: Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us
or at least find out and let us know if the original remuneration package that
was offered six years ago will stand or, with all the complexities that have
entered into this, is the size of the package being changed?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, since 1998 the Government of
Canada has committed approximately $1.4 billion to compensate and assist those
people who were infected with hepatitis C through the blood system between
January 1986 and the end of June 1990. I am advised that, of that amount, $875
million was allocated to a trust fund to fulfil the Government of Canada's
financial obligations to those infected under that settlement.
The government has also committed $525 million for a comprehensive package to
support treatment for people infected before January 1, 1986 and after July 1,
1990 and for blood regulation, surveillance, prevention, support and research.
The issue, as Senator Keon well understands but which I would like to make clear
to honourable senators, is with respect to compensation, not with respect to
treatment for this group, which the Government of Canada has supported
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Prime Minister in his meeting with
President Bush was unsuccessful in getting the Canada-U.S. border fully or
partially opened to live cattle. We are hearing from more and more Canadian
ranchers that they are facing and trying to deal with a precarious situation,
Honourable senators, ranchers operate on a fine margin at the best of times.
However, when some 10 to 12 per cent or more, in some cases, of their herds are
culled cows that cannot be sold to out-of-country markets and when the beef
consumption market in Canada is finite, ranchers cannot liquidate a significant
portion of their operation.
As I said, that is forcing some of them into bankruptcy situations. As a
matter of fact, Senator Gustafson told me today that one major operation went
down to the tune of $16 million through no fault of its own.
In Quebec, dairy farmers receive 12 cents a pound for their cull, while they
were receiving 65 cents a pound in 2003.
The Quebec producers are apparently being held hostage to one abattoir.
We now know that the President was referring to younger cattle when he
clearly indicated yesterday the possibility of reopening the border. What does
the government plan to do in view of these recent developments?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, a
number of questions are in Senator St. Germain's statement, and I will attempt
to answer them succinctly.
As the honourable senator knows, the matter of when the U.S. border will
reopen is a question under U.S. legal process. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture has finalized a rule that would reopen the border to Canadian
cattle. That rule has gone to the Office of Management and Budget for review of
its impact on the U.S. economy, a process required by their law. The Office of
Management and Budget has up to 90 days to review the rule. When that review is
complete, then the rule, with its support, would be implemented within 60 days.
That is the situation, and it was reviewed in discussions between the Prime
Minister and President Bush at the November 20 meeting of APEC in Santiago,
Chile, as well as yesterday.
With respect to the situation of culled cows in Quebec, the difficulty, as I
am sure the honourable senator is aware, is that there is only one packing
plant. That packing plant, as a private business, is free to purchase its culled
cows anywhere it wishes.
I would point out that, up until this time, the Government of Canada has
supported the cattle industry in the province of Quebec with $366 million under
its Business Risk Management Program.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Pierre Pettigrew, was on CTV a couple of days before the President
arrived and spoke definitively in stating that the President would bring forward
a definite timeline as to when this dispute would be resolved. Was this man
grandstanding? What was the minister doing?
Given the situation that we are facing now as a result of the President's
visit, there is no timeline. There is nothing. These ranchers are still in
severe trouble. What will the government do to alleviate the pressure as a
result of these culled cows? Putting $366 million into Quebec is great, but it
does not deal with the situation. The producers have been on television
continually reciting that it does not resolve their situation. What about the
producers out West and in Ontario? They count as well, I am sure. Does the
minister have an answer for that?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Certainly, the timeline
is the one provided by U.S. law. It cannot be subverted by the President of the
United States. This is clear to everyone in the industry. The President of the
United States is making it clear that he is urging that the process proceed,
that it not be impaired, and he is looking forward to the end of this particular
trade irritant between Canada and the United States.
Honourable senators, with respect to the question of whether the cattle
industry is suffering, you bet it is. That is well known. The Government of
Canada supplied over $500 million in various programs to the industry, and
provinces have supplemented those programs.
I think that Senator St. Germain is aware of the Fed Cattle Set-Aside
Program, which concerns auctions in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
The feeder calf program and the Loan Loss Reserve Program are also available.
There are also efforts to expand export markets including the opening of the
Hong Kong market to Canadian beef, which was announced a day or two ago.
The Government of Canada is working very closely with cattle producers and
the provinces to support this situation, and developments are being monitored by
the Minister of Agriculture daily.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, this is not my figure, but
one of the banks came up with the figure of a $5-billion loss. There is no way
that the federal government has come close to putting $5 billion into this
A proposal put to the government at the beginning of this year to create a
one-time program whereby ranchers and dairy farmers would be offered $500 a head
to reduce their culled cow numbers would make the entire system viable. The
government has not adopted this proposal, and it is apparent that the U.S. and
foreign markets will not be opening their markets. The minister has clearly
stated that the Office of Management and Budget has to go through its
First, what was the minister talking about when he was on CTV indicating an
immediate resolution? Second, would the government consider the proposal put
forward by the Conservative Member of Parliament for Battlefords—Lloydminster
that $500 a head be offered to rationalize the culled cow population right
across the country?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, with respect to the last
question, I will make inquiries of the Minister of Agriculture to see what
consideration is being given to that particular proposal.
Given that my honourable friend continually refers to some statement that was
made, I want to add that everyone is aware that there is a U.S. process. No one
was suggesting that the President of the United States could shorten or in any
way tamper with the legal process in the United States.
The economic structure of the cattle industry is extremely complex. I know
the honourable senator is aware of the complaints of the cattle producers with
respect to the way the packing plant industry has been dealing with them and the
support that the Government of Alberta gave to the packing plants rather than to
the cattle producers themselves.
There are discussions, but I believe the government has taken all appropriate
actions at this time. Many producers placed a bet that the border would be open
before now, a business decision that is now leading to a new inventory aged more
than 30 months.
What becomes of all this is impossible to predict. In the meantime, I want to
assure the honourable senator that the Minister of Agriculture is communicating
daily with the industry, the cattle producers, the Canadian Cattlemen's
Association and the provinces affected by this serious issue.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I think that the cattle
industry is coming on side with the idea of the payment of $500 a head. I
believe Alberta erred in that the money should have gone directly to the
cow-calf producers who are, so to speak, at the bottom of the totem pole. I have
been there and know what it is all about. As your cattle are going through an
auction, you may have only one potential buyer. Logically, the price is set by
that one buyer. Milk producers in Quebec are currently facing the same
situation. British Columbians also faced that circumstance. I hope the minister
will take the representation to the Minister of Agriculture. The money should
get to where it belongs, that is, in the hands of the dairy farmers and the
cow-calf producers across this country. I think this $500 a head idea should be
entertained. Would the minister please carry this representation forward?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I will certainly carry that
representation to the Minister of Agriculture. In the meantime, I know that part
of the issue that is being considered by the Government of Canada is the lack of
packing capacity and the control that a group of packers — large in economic
capacity but small in number — has over a vital part of the whole supply chain.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Before stating my question, I wish to
associate myself with the remarks in the statement by Senator Keon. On the
occasion of World AIDS Day, I would ask the Leader of the Government in the
Senate about the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa Act. In May 2004, Royal Assent
was given to this bill, which aims to make it easier to provide generic drugs to
poor and developing countries to fight health crises such as tuberculosis,
malaria and the AIDS pandemic afflicting African countries in particular.
However, passage of the legislation has not yet resulted in any medication being
sent to Africa where there is a desperate need for these drugs.
My question is: Can the federal government tell us how much longer it will be
before any generic drugs are in fact shipped to Africa, as anticipated last May
by the passage of the bill?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, when
the bill was passed, we had great hopes that the program could be put in place
quite quickly, but what we are seeing, as Stephen Lewis expressed publicly, is
an intra-industry problem which needs to be sorted out.
The government itself cannot manufacture these drugs. The government cannot
overrun the legal patent protection that is provided to the pharmaceutical
industry. In our sense of the rule of law, we are not prepared to expropriate
those property rights. We have facilitated negotiations, and we are discovering
that issues we thought were settled between the patent owners and the generic
industry are still, to some important extent, outstanding.
On the first part of Senator Oliver's question, I do want to confirm to this
house the announcement made today by the Honourable Aileen Carroll, Minister of
International Cooperation, that the Canadian International Development Agency
will provide close to $105 million to various initiatives targeting women and
young girls infected or affected by HIV/ AIDS in developing countries. I would
be pleased to provide additional details to honourable senators, should they be
Senator Oliver: Honourable senators, groups on all sides of this
particular issue, including the pharmaceutical industry and aid organizations
such as Doctors Without Borders, have all pointed out the problems in this
legislation that have prevented drugs from reaching Africans to this point, and
that, perhaps, will prevent that from happening well into the future.
Industry Canada says that the regulations relative to this legislation have
yet to be drafted. Once that has been done, it is hoped that they will clarify
the issue. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us when the
regulations will be completely drafted, and once drafted, can the minister
explain to us the particular way in which it will be easier for the drug makers
to export medications to Africa?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I, too, look forward to the
issuance of those regulations. The problems in those regulations are tied up in
the issues that I referred to in answer to the honourable senator's first
question. I would be absolutely delighted to bring those regulations to this
house and outline them the moment they are promulgated.
Senator Oliver: Does the leader have any idea how much longer that may
Senator Austin: I do not, but I will make inquiries.
The Hon. the Speaker: Not much time for Question Period remains, and
Senator Andreychuk's name is on my list. I say that so that we may hear from
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have a
supplementary question. If the leader does not have the answer to this now,
perhaps it can be given in a written form. What problems occurred in passing and
implementing this legislation that were not known at the time it was before the
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, when
the bill was before the Senate it was believed that the intra-industry issues
had been resolved, but sometimes that which you think is resolved is not
resolved. That is where we find ourselves at the moment with respect to the
regulations to which Senator Oliver referred.
Honourable senators, I do not want to deprive Senator Prud'homme of the
opportunity to ask a question, but may I have leave to answer orally a question
that Senator Di Nino asked yesterday? It has a timed consequence to it.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: I will ask my question tomorrow, honourable
The Hon. the Speaker: May I suggest to Senator Austin that we give
leave for him to read the written response to Senator Di Nino's question, but
after we hear from Senator Prud'homme?
Senator Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I would be delighted to bow
to the leadership by asking my question tomorrow.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
thank the Honourable Senator Prud'homme, because the matter that was raised by
Senator Di Nino has some urgency. Yesterday he asked a question regarding the
death sentence which was passed in China in the case of Tenzin Delek. I should
now like to provide a response.
Tenzen Delek is a Tibetan monk on death row in the Chinese province of
Sichuan whose death penalty reprieve reportedly expires on December 2. Canada
has expressed serious doubts about the fairness of his trial and about the
circumstance of his arrest.
The case dates back to April 2002, when Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Delek
Rinpoche, who are both well-respected Tibetan monks, were arrested on charges of
instigating a series of state targeted bombing incidents in Sichuan province,
where they lived.
The trial, which was held on December 2, 2002, was, in our terms, without due
process, behind closed doors, and their lawyers were not allowed to attend.
Lobsang Dhondup, as Senator Di Nino said yesterday, was sentenced to an
immediate death penalty and Tenzin Delek was sentenced to death with a
suspension of two years. On January 26, 2003, Lobsang Dhondup was executed after
his trial, and the death sentence of Tenzin Delek was reaffirmed with a two-year
Our embassy in Beijing has taken this case to the Deputy Director General in
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have expressed, in the strongest terms, our
disappointment in those sentences, the lack of transparency of judicial
procedure and, additionally, our concern about the speed of the trials, the
appeals and the execution.
We also cooperated with Norway and Switzerland in an appeal in November 2004,
just three weeks ago, with respect to the sentence of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
I would also like to advise the Senate that we have raised this case in
Beijing, at the level of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Peter
Harder, and again when a Canadian delegation met in Beijing in October 2004
during a Canada-China bilateral committee called the Joint Committee on Human
We continue to press this particular case, and I think we have been as
aggressive as we possibly can with respect to it.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of tabling a delayed response to a question raised
in the Senate on November 25, 2004, by Senator Andreychuk regarding the threats
of Rwandan intervention in Congolese territory.
(Response to question raised by Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk on November 25,
The Government of Canada is concerned by the threats of Rwandan
intervention in Congolese territory. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and our
diplomatic missions in the field (Kinshasa, Nairobi and Kigali) are closely
monitoring the situation as it develops.
We are concerned that a military intervention by Rwanda in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo could undermine the significant stabilization and
peace-building efforts in Africa's Great Lakes Region.
Last week, on the margins of the Francophonie Summit in Ouagadougou, Prime
Minister Martin stressed the significant progress made by the International
Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Canada actively participated in the
Summit of Heads of State in Dar-es-Salaam (November 19-20), as co-chair of the
Group of Friends of the Great Lakes Region.
Canada will continue to encourage Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo to pursue dialogue and cooperate together to honour their commitments to
seek peaceful regional solutions. In particular, we urge them to cooperate
within the framework of the Tripartite Agreement and the Joint Verification
Mechanism, which were specifically designed to address security concerns along
the common borders of these two countries.
Hon. Serge Joyal moved the third reading of Bill S-10, A second Act to
harmonize federal law with the civil law of the Province of Quebec and to amend
certain Acts in order to ensure that each language version takes into account
the common law and the civil law.
He said: Honourable senators, I may be a bit too anxious to share with you
the importance of this bill at this stage in the legislative progress. I wish to
speak about the scope of this bill from two points of view. The first relates to
the nature of the bill itself: it is intended to harmonize federal law with
common law in the nine Canadian provinces with a common law tradition, and with
Quebec civil law, the system that is in use in Quebec.
I shall try to present this bill to you without over-simplification. There
can, of course, be confusion because of the term "harmonization." This does
not mean that one of the two systems is going to disappear, nor that one will be
imposed on the other, but rather that the two will be able to cohabit
simultaneously within the same federal legislation.
You will recall that, when the Fathers of Confederation came to defining the
responsibilities of each of the two levels of government, the Canadian federal
government and the governments of the provinces, they clearly recognized in
section 92.13 that everything concerning property and civil rights was under
The Constitution states that everything that deals with or relates to
property and civil rights in the province is under the exclusive provincial
jurisdiction — not concurrent, not shared but exclusive jurisdiction.
What has happened over the past 137 years? Canadian federal law has been
based on the common law. The laws adopted by this Parliament, by this chamber in
particular, have been prepared with exclusive reference to the common law
tradition — the tradition of law used in the nine provinces to which I referred
earlier. In the province of Quebec, the civil law of the province of Quebec
being different, it is a written law, a code consisting of all the provisions
and regulations relating to private law in Quebec. In order to apply federal
laws in Quebec, people realized that they would have to try to adapt or mould
them to the civil code. It is easy to understand that the genius of the common
law system cannot be transposed as is into a written system of civil law
originating in another legal source. Hence the importance of trying, when we are
drafting and adopting legislation — as we will do later with other legislation
on the Orders of the Day — to reflect in the legislative language the concept of
both legal traditions, so that it is very clear what is involved when the
legislation is applied to Quebec, when it refers to property and civil rights in
Quebec, or when it is applied to the other provinces.
This is a very important exercise because it breaks a tradition or a habit of
approaching federal legislation on what I call a "silo" basis. In other words,
the two systems are totally compartmentalized, totally separate, and they evolve
according to their own merits or genius.
What do we do now with the federal legislation? We understand what there is
in the common law tradition, the concept of the common law tradition. We try to
understand very precisely the concepts of the civil law tradition, in the second
silo, and we try to reconcile those concepts on a common ground so that when we
use a concept, it is applicable with the same substance, the same merit, in both
In other words, we are creating federal legislation. Federal legislation is
not meant to compartmentalize the country; it is to make sure that there is a
common basis, that there is common, shared legislation that has exactly the same
interpretation in the civil law tradition as in the common law tradition.
This is what I call "federative" legislation. Harmonization is a federative
initiative of the federal Department of Justice, and it has spanned the last 10
I would like to commend Senator Bacon for her ability in presiding over the
Legal Committee's study of Bill S-10. The committee identified that this
initiative has many implications. If we are ready to recognize that there is a
civil law tradition and there is a common law tradition in Canada, those two
traditions did not appear out of the blue. They came to Canada at a point in
time in our history where there was already another tradition, that being the
tradition of the Aboriginal peoples. I want to draw the attention of honourable
senators to this tradition because it is totally new in parliamentary debate and
there is a lot of misconception about it.
On November 18, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada gave an important, seminal
decision in relation to the status of Aboriginal people, that being the famous
case of Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests). This
decision applies throughout Canada. Six provinces intervened in the case, among
them the Attorney General of Ontario, the Attorney General of Quebec and the
Attorneys General of Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. I want to quote
paragraph 25 of that decision because it establishes the ground on which this
bill has implications.
Put simply, Canada's Aboriginal peoples were here when Europeans came, and
were never conquered. Many bands reconciled their claims with the sovereignty
of the Crown through negotiated treaties...The potential rights embedded in
these claims are protected by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The honour
of the Crown requires that these rights be determined, recognized and
respected. This, in turn, requires the Crown, acting honourably, to
participate in processes of negotiation. While this process continues, the
honour of the Crown may require it to consult and, where indicated,
accommodate Aboriginal interests.
What does this mean? It means that before there was a civil law tradition in
Canada there was an Aboriginal traditional law and customs tradition or system
in Canada. This is so much so that, when the Royal Proclamation was made by King
George III, whose portrait hangs in our Senate foyer, King George III said very
And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest, and
the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians
with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be
molested or disturbed in the Possession of such parts of Our Dominions and
Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to
them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds.
This paragraph of the Royal Proclamation of February 10, 1763, is as valid
today as it was in 1763, and it still governs the rights of the Aboriginal
people to their rights.
In French, there is an expression which reflects this perfectly: les
Autochtones ont le droit à leurs droits.
They have a constitutional right to claim their rights, as much as we
francophones — and I am a francophone — have a right to claim our rights under
the Quebec Civil Code. Why? Because in 1774 the same king presided over the
adoption of the Quebec Act that reinstated the Civil Code as the law of Lower
Canada at that time. As much as, today, I can claim my rights under the Civil
Code, the Aboriginal people can claim their rights under the 1763 proclamation,
and that is so for a very specific reason. I would again quote from the decision
of the Supreme Court, honourable senators. It states:
Put simply, Canada's Aboriginal peoples were here when Europeans came, and
were never conquered.
They were never conquered. They never yielded their way of life, their
identity, their culture, their language or their form of organization of their
society to anyone else. The king recognized that and it is under the protection
of section 35 of the Constitution that paragraph 25 operates.
Therefore, when the Minister of Justice appeared before our committee, under
the chairmanship of Senator Bacon, we asked of him: We are all in support of
harmonizing the civil code and common law, but what about the Aboriginal people?
I would refer honourable senators to the testimony of the Minister of Justice in
the committee, because it is very important for the future of our work that we
understand the position of the Department of Justice in relation to the
recognition and the entrenchment of the rights of Aboriginal peoples. The
Minister of Justice said this:
...I regard it not only for me as a personal commitment but that of our
department to work with Aboriginal people in order to identify and to better
appreciate Aboriginal legal traditions and to consider how those Aboriginal
legal traditions can be mainstreamed effectively within our legal system,
which goes beyond even the issues of harmonization.
He gave three examples in that regard. He referred to the work of the Law
Reform Commission of Canada. In 2005, the Law Reform Commission of Canada will
hold an important seminar to try to define the boundaries of the research that
needs to be done to establish the basis for the recognition of the traditional
Aboriginal law, private law, into the mainstream of our legal system. The legal
scholar of the Law Reform Commission of Canada for the year is John Burroughs, a
distinguished scholar of Aboriginal law.
The second point that the Minister of Justice made is the following:
The department is supporting an innovative experiment in legal education at
the Akisiraq Law School in Nunavut. It is the first Aboriginal law school that
is intended to provide Inuit students with a legal education that is tailored
to northern realities. Inuit traditional law is being incorporated throughout
the legal education program using the expertise of elders and local educators
from across Nunavut and other northern regions.
We have the testimony of the Dean Perret of the University of Ottawa Law
School, who told us that the University of Saskatchewan and the University of
Ottawa have devised a special program. I should like to quote him to be
accurate. Dean Perret called this program:
A native pre-law program.
I would like to quote him:
There could be collaboration with lawyers from these areas, with native
lawyers that we have helped train, whether that be at the University of
Saskatchewan or the University of Ottawa, in native pre-law programs.
Honourable senators, this is a most important reality. This bill offers us an
opportunity to reflect upon this. I would refer you to the observation that your
committee made in its report that was tabled last week in this chamber about the
next step we should take.
The report of the committee states:
Your committee fully supports the comments of one of Canada's foremost
expert in bijuralism who, in his testimony to the committee, said that he
encourages everyone to take the view that bijuralism is by no means
exclusionary. Rather, he emphasized that it is an open model that he hoped
would lead to a plural model, as time goes on.
This is an important element. Senators St. Germain and Austin will remember
that when we debated the Nisga'a bill in this room, we recognized the
sovereignty of the Nisga'a tribes over their territory. In fact, we recognized
their rights to their rights. We have had other bills before us, including the
bill of Senator St. Germain last week introducing a system to try to establish a
procedure for self-government. If we recognize the principle of self-government
of Aboriginal people on their territory, on their land, we have to recognize
that we are reinstating them in their right to their private rights.
This is a major development and we should applaud it. It is complex; it is
difficult; it will take a long time; but it will reinstate the Aboriginal people
in their fundamental dignity as first inhabitants of this land, as much as we
have to take the initiative to reinstate them in their own language.
I see Senator Gill here, who is an Innu from Quebec. We all know in Quebec
that the Huron, having lived for centuries in the proximity of Quebec City, for
example, no longer master their language. There is not a single Huron in Canada
now who can speak the original language of the Huron. It has been lost through
time. It has disappeared.
As much as we do not want the identity of the Aboriginal people to disappear,
the way to organize their civil relationships is as important for their identity
as the mastering of their language. What we are doing here in this bill, for the
common law and the civil law, is the pathway to that reconciliation and to that
recognition of the Aboriginal people's identity.
Honourable senators, I am proud to ask you to support this bill. This is the
second bill in a process. We will have the opportunity in years to come to go
further in other areas of harmonization, but in the future we must develop ways
to strengthen the law tradition of the Aboriginal people as we have the
traditions of the civil code and the common law.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Would the Honourable Senator Joyal accept a
Senator Joyal: Yes, I would be happy to answer a question.
Senator Watt: Honourable senators, I wish to indicate my strong
support for the initiative that was studied by the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs in their review of civil and common law and the
attempt to harmonize the two traditions.
Some people might question the concept of harmonization, but I do not think
that one can replace the other. I do not think that is the intention of the
exercise. I want to ensure that I understand that aspect.
Honourable senators, much can be said about what Senator Joyal just outlined.
We need to go further than just looking at the civil and common law.
Aboriginal people in this country have been forgotten in many respects. At
times, it is very uncomfortable for us to speak out to describe our thoughts. I
will do my best to make myself understood.
When you have been idling in no man's land for many years, you get to the
point where you start to doubt your existence. I hope honourable senators
understand what I am talking about. Many of our youngsters in this great land
fall through the cracks and commit suicide, and we ask ourselves why this is
happening. The answer is not that difficult. The problem is that the youngsters
today do not see a clear picture. They do not see a future for themselves in the
way that the rest of Canadians do. They do not feel they are in the same boat. I
hope that this institution can change that. I always try to be optimistic,
rather than looking at the situation too darkly.
It is important for us to examine what we can do to rectify what was not done
in the past. It will not be easy. Acknowledging, recognizing, accepting and
respecting one another can go a long way. From there, we can start to put those
concepts into institutional forms. Maybe that is what we need to do.
We have had neither a written Inuit nor Indian law, but we did have a road to
follow, one that is heavily influenced on a daily basis. That disturbs the
day-to-day life of our people in remote communities. The larger society tends to
overrule our way of life by passing laws. I have experienced this for the last
20 years and have tried to be instrumental in bringing about change. I know that
I have not always expressed myself in a clear fashion, but I try my best. It has
been uncomfortable at times, but, nevertheless, this is where the game is and
this is where we address matters that need to be rectified. I try to utilize the
instrument that is available to me and will continue to do so. That is why I
accepted the offer to become a senator, to get close to the system, to have some
influence. In that way, I can represent my people.
Twenty years have passed and I am still driving the implementation of section
35 of the Constitution. There is a way to implement section 35, a small part of
which we are doing now in harmonizing the Civil Code and the common law. That is
one avenue we can take to improve the lives of the people in the North. Their
lives are not getting any better and will not get any better. That is the way it
I am not blaming any individual for this oppression. We need to focus on the
system. We forget that we are only human beings, and the system sometimes ends
up running our lives. This is where we need to focus our attention. Do not
misunderstand me. I am not pointing a finger at anyone in this place. I am
saying that we must look at the system and see how we can improve it.
The common law has moved quite rapidly into our day-to-day lives. We are
beginning to see the same with the civil law.
I am from Quebec. Over the years, we have been able to live together with
people who have a pillow. I call the civil law a pillow. Perhaps there are
similarities between Inuit and French Canadian society, but we seem to have more
of an ability to achieve our destinies together.
I cannot say the same thing when I look at the common law side of the
equation. It is a big threat to our survival as a people in the North. I do not
exclude the civil law because the civil law can also be very damaging to our
people unless there is a serious attempt to sit down to harmonize the two
My question is this: How can we continue in this way after so many years?
Senator Joyal: I will be very brief because we have had the benefit of
hearing the comprehensive views of Senator Watt. His question is not
unanswerable. It will involve the support of existing law schools and jurists
throughout Canada. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, especially New
Brunswick, have been able to achieve common law in both French and English. We
owe that to New Brunswick and to Ontario, especially, which have developed the
capacity to have common law, which is of British origin, to speak as much in
French as in English. It has as much validity in one language as the other.
If we have been able to achieve the unachievable of having the civil code
speak in English as much as in French, and the common law as much in French as
in English, I am sure that there is a way to reach or attain the objectives that
the honourable senator proposes and that I share so much. There is a part that
We understand the way that the traditional Aboriginal people work. I think
that Senator Austin was the sponsor of Bill C-6, which established a centre for
land claims settlement, and Senator Kinsella participated in the debate. That
bill provided for the creation of a centre for research where the documents,
archives and oral tradition of Aboriginal peoples would be kept to assist in the
satisfactory determination of rights under treaties and any subsequent land
Sooner or later, we will have to consider a similar proposal. Of course, we
must understand the multiplicity of Aboriginal tradition. It is much easier to
do so in Nunavut, which is well circumscribed with a localized population. At
the Akitsiraq Law School, it is easier for staff to go to the roots of the
Aboriginal tradition and come up with a vocabulary, terminology and all the
essential tools to draft or understand legislation. I totally agree that in
other instances this would be difficult to achieve, but I do not think it is
unfeasible. We have already done things to the traditional French-speaking civil
law and English-speaking common law that seemed unnatural, but we have been able
to achieve that in respect to those two major languages. I am sure that we will
be able, with goodwill and common sense, to do the same with Aboriginal
The members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs have shown a deep commitment to this point. I am sure that in any
discussion about future bills in this place — and I know that some are
forthcoming — we will look into that aspect of the Aboriginal reality. With the
conviction that my honourable friend shares and that we all share in this room,
we will be able to achieve progress.
Hon. Aurélien Gill: Honourable senators, for 30 years or so, the
courts — provincial courts, appeal courts, and the Supreme Court — have handed
down decisions favourable to First Nations with respect to Aboriginal and other
rights. In some cases we have seen that enforcement of these laws appears to
cease once the decision has been rendered.
I remember one decision by the Supreme Court. I do not remember the name of
the case; I think it was the Marshall case, in the Maritimes. After that
decision, no one knew what to do; there was a vacuum. In other words, if there
is a vacuum after certain decisions, I believe it is because we have not yet
learned that we must make policy and create institutions that can manage the
forest and the First Nations in general.
Perhaps we need more political involvement and more planning ahead. We now
know that the courts are favourable to Aboriginal rights. Do you think that we
could take the lead, along with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development and the other departments affected, and help the First Nations to
create policies and policy-making institutions for themselves to manage these
Senator Joyal: It seems to me that there is no other choice, if we
want to be effective in achieving our objectives. Three examples come to mind.
Take the Criminal Code, for example. It has recognized three aspects of the
Aboriginal reality in a unique way. The Honourable Senator Milne will remember
that, on several occasions when she chaired the Standing Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, we discussed these aspects of our laws.
We recognized the concept of restorative justice, which is an Aboriginal
concept. As we know, in non-Aboriginal systems, punishment generally takes the
form of imprisonment, while in Aboriginal communities, the focus is more on the
person who was the victim of the offence receiving services and support from the
one who committed the offence. That is what is called restorative justice.
Then comes what is known as the healing process, based on the principle that,
when a person is a victim of any act, the entire community is responsible for
the newly-created difficult situation and for any harm done to this person. It
is therefore a matter of community responsibility toward the victim. We are only
just starting to rediscover this concept in our own laws.
Moreover, the code recognized that when a sentence is to be imposed under the
criminal system, the fact that the individual is an Aboriginal must be taken
into consideration. So, there are specific circumstances that the judge must
consider to facilitate the individual's rehabilitation, rather than punishing
him by simply incarcerating him. These are elements that we gradually
incorporated into the criminal law. In my opinion, these are very good examples
of how the Aboriginal reality can be recognized in other areas.
This does not make the justice system less fair; it makes it more credible
for Aboriginal justiciables. It seems to me that, considering the 400 years that
we have been sharing this continent with Aboriginal peoples, our past includes
elements of reference, solutions that were implemented and that can teach us how
the laws that we adopt, or the rulings made by the courts, can be applied while
taking into consideration the Aboriginal reality.
The problem is that, over the years, we have in many ways acculturated
Aboriginal populations, we have deprived them of their own cultural identity, of
their own way of doing things. In my view, this does not at all threaten the
manner in which other communities in Canada conduct their affairs. Again, it
seems to me that these examples can provide solutions for the problems that you
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I know that Senator
LeBreton is rising to adjourn the debate. However, I have received a request
from Senator Sibbeston to speak.
I must point out, honourable senators, that this is a bill where 45 minutes
is given to the first and second speakers, the idea of which is that the
government and opposition, or vice versa if it is an opposition bill, be given
that longer period for their first speech.
If Senator Sibbeston speaks, is it understood, honourable senators, that 45
minutes will be given to the first speaker on the opposition side?
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, that is my understanding as well. I thank Your Honour for bringing it
to our attention.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I should like to speak
for a few moments. I had not intended to speak today, but occasionally one
arrives in a situation where others are heard and one is inspired. It triggers
some thought and then takes some courage to stand up a bit unprepared. However,
I want to express these feelings and thoughts today.
The notion of Aboriginal law is a very good thing. It is a novel idea to
Canadian society, but those who are Aboriginals and come from Aboriginal
societies recognize that it exists.
I had the good fortune to become a lawyer. I studied common law and learned
all about the dominant common law in Canada. Eventually I tried to use it in my
practice, but also I spent much of my time defending people in the criminal law
In the North, it was always a challenge to interpret laws that originate in
institutions such as Parliament because those laws are based on common law for
non-Native peoples in urban settings. It was always a challenge to provide
justice for Aboriginal peoples in remote parts of our country. We have had some
notable judges in the North who recognized the situation and, in their own way,
tried to provide justice to the people of the North. One such judge comes to
mind, Judge Sissons, who lived in the Northwest Territories in the 1950s and
1960s. When people were charged, oftentimes in remote communities, he had the
task of travelling to such communities to interpret and apply the law as well as
he could. Oftentimes, it was a difficult task because Aboriginal people come
from completely different traditions, practices and ways of life. Trying to
provide justice and apply some of their laws in some cases was difficult. It is
like two different peoples living in two different worlds. However, that was the
law and Judge Sissons attempted to apply it. He is famous for his efforts in the
North and he became somewhat of a hero because he tried to impart common sense
and to deliver justice in a way that was fair to the Aboriginal peoples of the
North. There was a famous case of an Aboriginal person who shot a duck in the
spring. Imagine living in the North where you have cold, ice and snow for most
of the year. Often you live off the land, that is, on caribou and fish. Spring
is a delightful time of the year because the days get warmer and, before long,
you see ducks flying in from the south. People, of course, just act naturally
and shoot these ducks because it is food for them. After eating caribou and fish
all winter, you want to eat something else, so ducks look very appealing.
Inevitably, a man shot a duck and was charged with shooting ducks out of season.
There was an agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada called
the Migratory Birds Act, which was a treaty to control the times of the year
when ducks could be shot. I hardly think that they had in mind the people in the
North when the agreement was signed. The man who shot the duck was charged and
the case went before the court. Of course, any judge who applied the law would
have to find the person guilty. This is a good example of the state of law, and
how difficult, impractical and inapplicable it is, in a sense, to mete out
justice as provided in a law that did not have Aboriginal peoples in mind.
When I was practicing law, I had the good fortune to work with judges and to
defend people. I also had the opportunity to try to bring insight to the courts
about situations that would occur in Northern communities. Honourable senators
can appreciate that, while many offences may have occurred as a result of the
consumption of alcohol, certain offences that would not have been deemed serious
in the Aboriginal way of life were, under criminal law, deemed to be very
serious and thus warranted years in jail. It was always a challenge to apply the
laws of the South to the peoples of the North.
Later in my career, I had an opportunity to work as a justice specialist. The
government recognized that the best way to deal with justice in small
communities was to have local people involved in the handling of the people who
got into trouble. I was involved in setting up justice committees in many small
communities whereby a number of elders and other respected people would be part
of those committees to deal with incidents. That approach was highly effective.
I recall one incident in which a young person went into the local co-op store
and stole a jacket. The normal procedure would have been for a justice of the
peace to deal with the case in one or two hours. The person would have pled
guilty and would have been sentenced. It is a mindless, cold and formal way of
dealing with offences. Invariably the person would have been charged, convicted
and sent to jail.
Under the community justice system, the young person would be brought before
the justice committee which, in a sense, was gruelling, embarrassing and
emotional. Once the person admitted having committed the crime, the members of
the justice committee would talk to the offender. They would make comments such
as, "You should not have done that. We know that, basically, you are a good
person. Do not do it again." In the course of that exchange, a young person
would cry and cry. As you can imagine, that young person would be most unlikely
to do that again because the appearance before members of the community was so
embarrassing. Everyone in town would know what had happened and that there had
been response by respected elders and others. That method of justice — the
application of local traditions and practices — is much more effective.
The challenge for Canadians is to respect and recognize that amongst
Aboriginal people there are traditions and ways of life.
Especially in the smaller communities, Aboriginal people do not have books or
a long history of written traditions and practices. Those are passed down by
word of mouth and by practice from generation to generation. When we talk about
Aboriginal law, this is what we are talking about — the practices and traditions
that Aboriginal people have carried from generation to generation. They are
embodied. They are based on common sense and rules for good living on the land,
that is, the handling of people, animals and the land. Those are the traditions
and practices that apply, and slowly they are being recognized.
A Supreme Court of Canada case in the last few years recognized that
Aboriginal practices and traditions can be recognized. It ventures into hearsay
evidence because the ideals and principles have been carried on from generation
to generation. Nevertheless, it is part of the peoples' knowledge and history.
It is comforting to know that the Supreme Court of Canada is able to recognize
Aboriginal practices and histories. It is a step in the right direction.
The Senate will be dealing with the Tlicho agreement. It is reassuring to
know that the land claims agreement contains a clause stating that the Supreme
Court of the Northwest Territories must recognize the tradition and practices of
the Tlicho people when making decisions. That is an important step. It is a
start. It is a wee little step and wee little recognition of the Aboriginal laws
I am inspired and encouraged by Senator Joyal saying that he recognizes that
while this harmonization bill really deals with the French language and French
laws, some day Aboriginal laws and practices could be recognized similarly in
Canada and could, in some applicable cases, be recognized by our courts. This is
On motion of Senator LeBreton, for Senator Nolin, debate adjourned.
Hon. Mac Harb moved the third reading of 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.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, no, I am not. I was
disappointed to see that the committee met last week on this bill in the absence
of the only person on this side who spoke to it, namely, myself. I was on an
official trip. I had hoped that the courtesy would be extended to me of waiting
until my return to attend the committee hearings, particularly as there was one
aspect of the bill that I wanted to discuss.
Having said that, I have just received the transcript of the committee
hearings and would like the opportunity to read it. Once I have done so, I would
like to make any comments that are suitable, which I will do in short order.
The Hon. the Speaker: The way for me to proceed is to put Senator
Harb's motion, following which I assume Senator Lynch-Staunton will adjourn the
debate. Is that in order?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Harb,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Lavigne, that this bill be read the third
time now. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the second reading of Bill S-18, to
amend the Statistics Act.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, this must be my day to
complain. Before speaking to the bill itself, I want to draw the attention of
honourable senators to a number of emails that I received last week — nearly 200
of them at last count — while I was away on official business. They obviously
form part of a well-organized campaign in support of the bill, which by itself
is perfectly acceptable, but in this case they included a certain form of
hysteria based on deliberate misinformation which is not at all to the credit of
some of Bill S-18's more ardent supporters.
Let me read a sampling. I am sure that those who signed these e-mails did so
in good faith, so with due respect for their being obviously mislead, I will not
From Revelstoke, I got the following message:
I discovered you took the adjournment of the debate of Bill S-8 —
— meaning Bill S-18 —
— and I understand that means no progress can be made on the bill until you
speak and that you did not intend to speak on the bill until the government
promises to hold hearings on a private senator's bill that you have not even
I have another that comes from Quebec.
I also learned that you intend to delay your speech until the government
promises to hold hearings on a private bill that you intend to introduce in
the Senate yourself.
There is one that does not say where it comes from, but it is a Sympatico
email, so it is Canadian, although I also got quite a few from the United
Please change your stance on speaking about Bill S-18. The delay which you
are proposing is unacceptable to the genealogical community. You are
suggesting a wait until after hearings on a bill which has not even been
introduced by Senator Stratton.
Here is the most colourful one, I think. This one is from Calgary:
Senator Lorna Milne, working with Minister Emerson, presented Bill S-18 to
the Senate where it has become "stuck" due to the political shenanigans of
Senator Lynch-Staunton, who is attempting, it seems, to grind his own axe and
hold Bill S-18 hostage until a proposed bill by himself has been heard. No one
seems to know the theme of the proposed bill.
Well, I certainly do not.
Here are the facts. Senator Comeau spoke to this bill as opposition critic on
November 17. The debate was then adjourned with unanimous consent. The following
day, I left, as a member of the Prime Minister's official party, for South
America and Africa, returning Sunday, November 28. I was ready to speak
yesterday, but the Senate adjourned at 3 p.m. because of President Bush's visit.
There has been no deliberate delay in speaking on my part. I certainly know
nothing about a private senator's bill that I supposedly have not introduced
yet, and even less about one that could be related to Bill S-18.
What is to be deplored most about this experience is that untruths were
widely disseminated not only to bring discredit on a member of the Senate but,
more regrettably, to urge well-intentioned individuals to react with anger and
frustration on the basis of falsehoods spread by what I will charitably term as
one or more warped minds. I trust that those responsible for such boorish
behaviour will at least have the decency to apologize to those they so
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Lynch-Staunton: To get back to the bill, the arguments put
forward by the mover of Bill S-18 and by Senator Comeau in rebuttal are equally
impressive. One cannot deny the need for historians and genealogists to have as
complete information as possible in researching their works, and one cannot but
be impressed by certain provisions in Bill S-18 in terms of time and access to
what is now classified as confidential.
Canadians are constantly assured that such information sought by the
government is confidential and is to remain that way. Let me cite in particular
what was on the last page of the most recent census long form. The heading was
"The law protects what you tell us." It reads:
The confidentiality of your census questionnaire is protected by law. All
Statistics Canada employees have taken an oath of secrecy. Your personal
census information cannot be given to anyone outside Statistics Canada — not
the police, not another government department, not another person. This is
Your census questionnaire will be retained in accordance with legislative
requirements and will be stored securely. You can ask to see information you
gave about yourself on your 2001 Census questionnaire after November 2001.
This debate brings to mind the one in 1964 when the Pearson government
introduced a social insurance number, known as SIN, which Canadians were assured
would be restricted to Unemployment Insurance, as it was called then, and the
Canada and Quebec pension plans.
Despite all the assurances at the time that a SIN would be used exclusively
in those areas, its use was eventually extended to tax returns in 1967. In 1976,
the Income Tax Act was amended to require anyone cashing in a Canada savings
bond to provide a SIN, thereby allowing banks and other financial institutions
access to what was to be information limited exclusively to government use.
Today, the use of a SIN is not only widespread amongst many government
departments, following many legislative changes but it is also an essential tool
in the private sector for a number of purposes such as credit checks and
employer file numbers. For all intents and purposes, what was intended for very
narrow, confidential use is now as public as one's telephone number. Those who
still believe that privacy is something to be guarded jealously can only deplore
the evolution of the SIN over the last 40 years. So, once burned, twice shy. Who
today can guarantee that the 92- and 112-year rules contained in Bill S-18 will
be maintained in perpetuity? Who can guarantee that those who, during future
censuses, do not consent to disclosure will have their choice respected in
perpetuity? The answer is no one, as future parliaments cannot be bound by their
predecessors, no matter how well-intentioned, as was the case with the issuance
of the social insurance number.
In conclusion, I hope that this dilemma, respecting the needs of historians
and genealogists versus a pledge of privacy, can be resolved during committee
hearings when all sides can be given the time to be heard before taking a final
decision. I, for one, will try to keep an open mind until then, although I must
admit, at this stage, that I find Senator Comeau's argument most persuasive.
Hon. Lorna Milne: I would most sincerely apologize to Senator
Lynch-Staunton if any incorrect information whatsoever was transmitted in my
name. I also want to correct one impression that he may have left with some
honourable senators concerning the 112-year rule, which is no longer in the
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I accept that correction and the apology. I
would hope that, if I forward Senator Milne all of the e-mails containing
insulting remarks that I have received in this connection she will advise all of
those who wrote to me of the correction and apologize on her own behalf.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Plamondon, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Ringuette, for the second reading of Bill S-19, to
amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate).—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I know the hour is late,
and people want to leave by 4 p.m., so I will keep my remarks short.
I am pleased to speak today on second reading of Bill S-19, which was
introduced by the Honourable Senator Plamondon. I wish to speak to this
particular bill because it was introduced by a special senator. It is the
epitome of her lifetime of work as a consumer rights activist.
To put Bill S-19 in context, I need to share with you briefly some of the
highlights of Senator Plamondon's life that led to this landmark bill. Senator
Plamondon has been a committed consumer advocate for more than 45 years. She has
worked mainly in the field of consumer affairs, and especially in the financial
services, energy, privacy protection and consumer rights sectors. Her work has
been primarily focused on behalf of the underprivileged, women and the elderly.
Since 1974, she has headed a consumer aid organization that she founded.
She has been a member of the board of the Financial Services OmbudsNetwork,
le Bureau des services financiers du Québec, and l'Association des courtiers et
agents immobiliers du Québec, as well as several other committees.
Since 1985, Senator Plamondon published special studies on Internet
purchasing, electronic commerce, student debt, home banking, confidentiality of
data, and the services associated with financial lenders.
In 2000, she received the Prix de la justice du Québec for her contribution
to defending the rights and interests of consumers for over four decades. In
2003, Senator Plamondon was awarded the National Order of Quebec. Therefore,
honourable senators can understand why she introduced Bill S-19, a bill that
perfectly demonstrates Senator Plamondon's lifetime work as a consumer rights
The bill proposes to amend Canada's Criminal Code to change the criminal
interest rate set out in section 347, and to include in the calculation of that
interest rate the charges paid by a person to obtain insurance coverage. The
bill has two objectives. The first is to change the criminal rate of interest
set out in section 347 from 60 per cent to 35 per cent. The second is to change
the definition of interest in subsection 347 (2) of the Criminal Code.
According to section 347, the criminal interest rate means an effective
annual rate of interest calculated in accordance with generally accepted
actuarial practices and principles that exceeds 60 per cent on the credit
advanced under an agreement or arrangement between the lender and the borrower.
Currently, the criminal rate, the annual rate of interest on credit advances, is
60 per cent. Senator Plamondon's bill proposes that the rate be lowered so that
it does not exceed 35 per cent, in accordance with the target for the overnight
rate as determined and published by the Bank of Canada.
In other words, it is proposed that the rate of interest on any credit
advanced in the form of money or monetary value in the form of any goods,
services or benefits actually advanced or to be advanced under the agreement can
be no greater than 35 per cent.
Currently, there is a big difference and a huge discrepancy in the Bank of
Canada's interest rate and the criminal rate of interest. The Bank of Canada
rate is approximately 2.50 per cent and the criminal rate of interest is 60 per
In 1981, when Parliament originally amended section 347, then called section
305.1, of the Criminal Code to set the criminal rate of interest at 60 per cent,
the Bank of Canada interest rate was 21.3 per cent. Today in 2004, the Bank of
Canada's rate is 2.5 per cent, but the criminal rate of interest still remains
at 60 per cent. Honourable senators, we need regulations suitable to the current
Senator Plamondon has proposed, in Bill S-19, that we establish a
differential between the Bank of Canada's interest rate and the maximum amount
of interest that could be charged by lenders. She has suggested that we amend
Canada's criminal rate of interest so that a 35 per cent difference, instead of
60 per cent, be established between the Bank of Canada interest rate and the
Unfortunately, many Canadians are unable to borrow money from our major
financial institutions, banks and other companies at regular preferred rates.
Many Canadians must turn to other financial institutions or lending agencies.
These institutions are often referred to as "alternative financial sectors,"
Since these businesses take high risks in providing their loans — and since
there is some justification, if you are taking a bigger risk, in charging a
higher rate — their interest rates will normally be higher than those of
traditional banks. Based on her expert analysis in the field, Senator Plamondon
believes that a criminal rate of 35 per cent would still provide a reasonable
profit for those in the lending industry.
Honourable senators may ask what the criminal interest rate is in other
countries. Canada's rate is significantly higher than in most other countries.
In California, for instance, the interest rate for personal loans must not
exceed 10 per cent; in Florida, the rate is 18 per cent; in Texas, it is 18 to
28 per cent; and in New York, it is 25 per cent. In Europe, Canada sticks out
just as well. In France, the rate is 20 per cent; in Italy, it is 19 per cent;
and in Germany, it is 17.4 per cent.
In conclusion, honourable senators, I submit that Senator Plamondon, with her
Bill S-19, has put forth something that is designed to help consumers across
Canada. This is a bill with substantial merit, and it should be sent to
committee so that expert witnesses can be called to give evidence to see if
there are ways in which the bill can be improved. It can then be reported back
to this chamber for third reading.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if the Honourable Senator
Plamondon speaks now, her speech will end the debate on the motion for second
reading of this bill.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): There are other
senators who want to speak in this debate and I am wondering if Senator
Plamondon would allow them to speak. Unavoidably, some of them are absent, but
they do wish to contribute to the debate. I was about to adjourn debate to give
them that opportunity.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: I would accept such a proposal as long as it
is not a delaying tactic, because I did not introduce the bill only for
information purposes. I want it to pass third reading and to then go to the
House of Commons.
Senator Rompkey: I can give my assurance that this is not a delaying
tactic. Some of the senators who wish to speak, one in particular, is
unavoidably absent because of a family incident that requires her attention. She
intends to speak to this bill as soon as possible, and for that reason I would
like to adjourn the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I will take this intervention as an exchange on
Senator Oliver's time for comments or questions.
I have heard there are other senators who wish to speak. We do provide for
that. I appreciate Senator Plamondon's concern, and hopefully it has been
answered by Senator Rompkey.
Second reading of Bill S-15, to prevent unsolicited messages on the
Internet.—(Honourable Senator Oliver)
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Before moving second reading of Bill S-15, I
should like to advise honourable senators that on Friday of this week I have
been invited to attend and to speak at a major conference of stakeholders in
relation to the spam problem. At that time, they will be analyzing this
particular bill and discussing methods in which this issue should be dealt with
I know that the 15-day time period to speak to this bill is fast approaching.
I wanted to speak today to say these few words so that I could have a bit more
time to compose my final remarks after the meeting of the task force on Friday.
The Hon. the Speaker: Did you wish to put your motion today, Senator
Senator Oliver: No, I simply wanted to adjourn debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: We will let this item stand, then.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore moved second reading of Bill S-6, to amend the
Canada Transportation Act (running rights for carriage of grain).—(Honourable
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-6, to amend the
Canada Transportation Act in respect of the carriage of grain by rail.
The contention behind Bill S-6 is that at the present time there exists no
real competition in the movement of grain by rail on the main lines of our two
largest railways. This means that the producers and shippers of grain do not
have the advantage of a normalized competitive transportation market relative to
the costs they must pay of moving grain from the field to its destination. The
Western provinces know that this is so; the Canadian Wheat Board knows that this
is so; and, most important, grain farmers and shippers know that this is so.
The point of the present bill, honourable senators, is to correct that market
imbalance and to bring the carriage of grain by rail into the 21st century.
The author of Bill S-6, Senator Banks, is working out of Ottawa with the
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence this week. He is
awaiting the arrival of two pieces of information within the next few days that
are cogent to his argument in these respects. I, therefore, move the adjournment
of the debate in the name of Senator Banks, with the request that he be
permitted, with leave, to have the remainder of this time for the purpose of
second reading debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I will put the motion, but before doing so I
would indicate that all the honourable senator need do is rise to speak and he
will have his full 45 minutes.
Is it agreed, honourable senators, that this be the case?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Moore, for Senator Banks, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lavigne, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C.:
That the Rules of the Senate be amended by adding after rule 135 the
135.1 Every Senator shall, after taking his or her Seat, take and
subscribe an oath of allegiance to Canada, in the following form, before the
Speaker or a person authorized to take the oath:
I, (full name of the Senator), do swear (or solemnly affirm)
that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Canada.—(Honourable
Senator Rompkey, P.C.)
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I rise today to support
the motion of the Honourable Senator Lavigne with respect to senators swearing
an oath of allegiance to our country, Canada, in addition to our oath to the
Why would I want to do this? It is really very simple for me. As a senator, I
serve the people of Canada, more particularly the citizens of the province of
Manitoba. I take my constitutional responsibilities to uphold the rights of
minorities very seriously because it is in this protection that I believe we
grapple with the essence of Canada. Too often in Canada and in other democracies
we speak of democracy, but equally often, I regret, we believe democracy is
majority rule. However, in its true essence, democracy only exists when minority
rights are protected.
For three years I lived in the United States, one as a graduate student and
two as a teacher. I watched while students each day took their oath of
allegiance to their country. They did it with great seriousness. Indeed, I was
required to do my practice teaching and full-time teaching in a private school
because I would not swear allegiance to the United States. I knew I would never
give up my citizenship as a Canadian and that I would return to Canada.
However, I admired their sense of their country and their sense of their
history. These were difficult years in the United States. I was there for the
Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy and the march to
Washington, where I stood and listened to Martin Luther King speak when he said,
"I have a dream."
I realized I, too, had a dream. I wanted to return to Canada where I had a
country whose values and spirit I deeply admired and respected; a country whose
children I would be proud to teach; a country I would be honoured to serve; a
country whose national anthem still brings me to tears. Yet, I have never sworn
allegiance to this country to which I am so deeply committed. To swear
allegiance to Canada would fill me with great pride, and I welcome the
opportunity to do it.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, December 2, 2004, at 1:30 p.m.