Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, this week in Cape Breton,
in a coal-mining town of 7,000 people, the twenty-fourth annual Coal Bowl
Classic has begun.
This national high school basketball tournament is being held in New
Waterford, Nova Scotia, at Breton Education Centre, a junior-senior high school
with a student population of approximately 1,200 students. Under the guidance of
the executive and board of directors, the Coal Bowl offers almost 200
participants from across the country a unique opportunity to participate in
educational, social, cultural and athletic activities. Additionally, the
tournament is supported by over 500 student, staff, and community volunteers.
Honourable senators, this year, teams from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince
Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba are participating. This is indeed a
prestigious and truly Canadian event. Team members participate in scheduled
tours relating to New Waterford's historic mining industry. In addition, the
week will include dances, a concert, a banquet and socials. Another major feat
is that all teams are billeted in one wing of the school — I am sure it is a
great party. The grade seven students are charged with decorating each room with
a welcoming atmosphere for the teams' arrival.
The educational highlight is Cape Breton Island: A Select View, a
textbook that relates to the history of Cape Breton Island, with particular
reference to the coal-mining industry. Team members receive a copy in the fall
and are tested during the tournament week and awarded prizes during closing
ceremonies. This component provides a lasting awareness of a region of Canada
that would not be experienced otherwise.
The comment of one parent sums up the tournament: "You have done much to
allow our youngsters to view life in another part of our country, and their
impression that Nova Scotia citizens are friendly, enthusiastic, and
hard-working people is one that will do much to round out their growth as
Honourable senators, I am sure you will join me in congratulating co-chairs
Brian Spencer and Lorraine Sheppard, under whose direction their team of
volunteers make the Coal Bowl Classic basketball tournament a reality. I commend
their efforts and I wish them all great success.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, January 27 marked the
sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi
concentration camp in Poland. It is a place where it is noted that more than 1
million Jews were murdered, along with 75,000 Poles, 20,000 Roma, 10,000 Russian
POWs and tens of thousands of people of other groups who were being
systematically wiped out. Its name is synonymous with state-sanctioned
institutionalized genocide and death.
The Soviet army entered the camp in 1945 and found 7,000 emaciated prisoners.
Only days earlier, the Nazis had forced the evacuation of 67,000 prisoners,
sending them on a death march to camps further west. The Soviets found buildings
filled with men's suits and women's dresses, as well as shoes and eyeglasses.
They found 7.7 tons of human hair, which contained traces of Zyklon B,
indicating that the hair had been shaved from the bodies of the dead.
We said, and quite rightly, "never again." We cannot allow people to be
systematically destroyed. Never again can we do what this nation did during the
1930s and 1940s, when we shut our doors to European Jews. Never again can we do
what we did in 1939, when the Canadian government and other nations of the
Western Hemisphere ignored the pleas of 900 European Jews on the ship S.S.
St. Louis. That ship returned to Europe and almost half of its passengers
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to the General Assembly
last week at a special session marking the anniversary of the liberation of Nazi
death camps. He reminded us that our "never again" rings hollow. He said:
Since the Holocaust the world has, to its shame, failed more than once to
prevent or halt genocide — for instance in Cambodia, in Rwanda, and in the
Even today we see many horrific examples of inhumanity around the world....
But what we must not do is deny what is happening, or remain indifferent,
as so many did when the Nazi factories of death were doing their ghastly work.
On a plaque at Auschwitz is a quote by the philosopher Georges Santayana,
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Let us remember our past. Let us remember Auschwitz, as well as Treblinka,
Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Belzec, Sobibor and all the others.
Honourable senators, it is our responsibility to lift our eyes and see the
reality of what is going on around us today. Only this time, instead of standing
by, let us act.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, one of the earliest
discoveries a new senator makes is that this place — and we who are, for the
time being, its custodians — are incredibly well served by Senate staff in all
the many different functions they carry out. Wherever and whatever our previous
experience, nothing quite prepares us for the thoroughness and generosity beyond
the call of duty with which they serve us.
They guide us gently along the learning curve — a journey that lasts many
years — without ever making us feel as inadequate as we sometimes are. Nowhere
is the curve steeper and more treacherous for most of us than in the area of
Senate procedure and precedent. In that area, we lost one of our most trusted
and respected guides last month, when Jean Cochrane, Legislative Clerk in the
Senate Journals office, retired after 33 years' service on Parliament Hill.
Ms. Cochrane's early career here was in the office of our former colleagues
the late Speaker Muriel Fergusson, the late Paul Lucier, and Senator Joan
Neiman. In 1979, she moved to the Journals Branch and before long became
Legislative Clerk there.
When we leave this chamber in the evening, we leave behind us a great deal of
work for others, including those in the Journals office, to undertake and
complete. Ms. Cochrane and her colleagues frequently burn the proverbial
midnight oil putting together the Journals of the Senate, the official
record, the Order Paper and Notice Paper and the Progress of
Over time, Ms. Cochrane became a fount of knowledge and advice, which she
shared generously, not only with honourable senators still trying to unravel the
mysteries of parliamentary practice and precedent, but with Committees
Directorate, Debates Services, and public servants in various government
departments trying to follow the progress of legislation in the Senate. She
became an important link in the Senate's institutional memory, assisting clerks
at the table in formulating their advice and in the preparation of motions and
As we all know, this is a wonderfully collegial place. Those who serve here
are united in their loyalty and devotion to the Senate. It is appropriate to
mention their pride in Jean Cochrane's professionalism and their appreciation of
her kindness and cooperation. As for us, we and all who have served as senators
over the past three decades know that Jean Cochrane's profound commitment to her
responsibilities helps ensure the integrity and vitality of the Senate in our
parliamentary democracy. On the occasion of her retirement, we offer our warmest
thanks and good wishes.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, my province of Prince
Edward Island has a long and illustrious history. During the French regime, it
was known as Isle St. Jean. After the British conquest in 1763, this jewel in
France's New World Empire was renamed after Prince Edward, the father of Queen
However, long before the British and the French, of course, Prince Edward
Island was home to our Native people, the Mi'kmaq, who knew it as Epekwitk
or Abegweit, meaning "cradled in the waves."
As European conquerors, we did our best to trample upon the Mi'kmaq people
and their centuries-old culture and way of life. We denied them the rights of
citizenship, effectively exterminated the walrus, caribou and bear they depended
upon for food and clothing, then herded them onto reservations and sent their
children off to residential schools, where they were prohibited from speaking
their own language and where many endured alienation and abuse.
It is a tragic and shameful chapter in our national history, honourable
senators, but then cultural genocide is never a story easy to tell. On Prince
Edward Island, the Mi'kmaq community has struggled to overcome prejudice and
bigotry and, along with it, economic marginalization.
However, there is now a growing confidence among Native youth, especially as
old ways are rediscovered and new strengths realized. At the front of this
cultural and spiritual revival, together with others, has been a truly
remarkable and heroic man. Most Islanders know John Joe Sark by name and
reputation. This elected Keptin of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council has spent
his entire life working to redress historical wrongs and win justice for his
people. John Joe is an activist, an educator and a spiritual leader.
The first Mi'kmaq to graduate from the University of Prince Edward Island in
1979, John Joe has courageously taken on governments and the establishment,
including the Roman Catholic Church, at great personal cost, to defend the
legal, constitutional and cultural rights of his people. In an interview for
National Geographic magazine several years ago, Mr. Sark explained his
mission. He said:
To get the confidence we need to improve our lives, we have to develop
pride in ourselves by discovering who we are and who we were.
Honourable senators, I am delighted to inform you that earlier today it was
announced here in Ottawa that John Joe Sark has been selected as one of 14
recipients of the 2005 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. This award is one
of the Aboriginal community's highest honours bestowed upon its own people. I
know you will join with me in congratulating him and the other recipients from
across the country for their unselfish and outstanding work.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I rise today to herald an
exciting new beginning for my people and the Province of Newfoundland and
On Friday evening past, Premier Danny Williams reached an agreement in
principle on offshore revenues with the Government of Canada. The deal, worth an
estimated $2.6 billion over the next eight years, marks the beginning of the
province's ascent from so-called have-not status.
Premier Williams said it best when he said the following:
Our effort to secure a better deal on the Atlantic Accord was about more
than money....It was about integrity and dignity and honour, and it was about
It is also a chance for us to break from the patterns and stereotypes of our
past. Premier Williams also said the following:
This is a defining moment in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador....
Today we start a journey toward self-sufficiency and prosperity.
Indeed, we are now taking our rightful seat at the table of Canadian
federation; we are becoming the masters of our destiny. Most important, however,
our pending self-sufficiency will be to the benefit of all Canadians.
For my province, this deal represents hope and optimism. It also symbolizes a
turning of the corner from our past. As well, it holds the promise of a future
in which our young people will no longer have to leave their roots to simply
Honourable senators, this deal is a testament to both governments, that of
Canada and of Newfoundland and Labrador. Following from a commitment made on the
campaign trail, the deal is the product of impressive federal-provincial
relations. It is a newly strengthened, productive relationship that spans
political parties, regions and leadership styles. That, in my view, is an
unbelievable feat in itself.
I commend all those involved — but especially the Prime Minister, Premier
Williams, Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan, Leader of the Opposition Stephen
Harper, and the Conservative members of Parliament — for their fine work. It is
strictly due to their boundless determination and unwavering commitment to the
province and people of Newfoundland and Labrador that this victory has been won.
Honourable senators, a new era is underway in my province thanks to the
tenacity of our leaders. I am both hopeful and confident that it is only the
start of Newfoundland and Labrador's prosperity.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay
tribute to Commander Latham B. Jenson, late of Queensland, Nova Scotia, who was
affectionately known as "Yogi" to his naval colleagues and many friends. When
he crossed the bar on December 29 last, Commander Jenson left behind a wonderful
legacy of service to Canada.
Born in Calgary, he was captivated by the sea and the idea of a career on the
navy and enlisted in 1939 at 18 years of age. He served on HMS Renown,
Matabele and Hood. On September 13, 1942, then Sub-Lieutenant Jenson
was the 21-year-old gunnery and signals officer onboard HMCS Ottawa when
she was torpedoed and sunk while on convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic. He
and 68 shipmates were rescued by a British corvette after five hours in the
water; sadly, 138 officers and men were lost. He then served in HMCS Niagara,
Long Branch and Algonquin, the first ship to shell the shore defences
on Juno Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Following the war he served as an
instructor at Royal Roads, where he taught future admirals and senior naval
officers. Later he commanded HMCS Crusader, Micmac and Fort
Erie, and the 7th Escort Squadron.
In 1964 he retired from the navy, swallowed the anchor and settled in
Queensland. He turned his hand to his superb talents as an artist and writer.
Among his seven books are Vanishing Halifax, Nova Scotia Sketchbook,
Fishermen of Nova Scotia, the autobiography Tin Hats, Oilskins
and Seaboots, and the limited edition portfolio Last of the Tall
Schooners. His book titled Saga of the Great Fishing Schooners is
"the" reference on how to rig a schooner and "the" guide for those wishing
to build a model of Bluenose II. He illustrated nine other books.
While volunteering as Vice-President of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia,
Yogi Jenson campaigned tirelessly and successfully to stop the demolition of
historic buildings on the waterfront of Halifax. During his community service as
Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, he led
the acquisition of HMCS Sackville, the last remaining corvette from World
War II, as a memorial to those who fought and won the Battle of the Atlantic.
Commander Jenson was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004 in recognition of
his gallant services to Canada, both in wartime and peacetime.
We extend our deepest sympathy to Commander Jenson's wife, Alma, and their
children, daughter Sarah and sons Lynn and Tom. We thank them for sharing this
valiant sailor, artist, writer and community volunteer with us.
Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence have
the power to sit at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, February 8, even though the Senate
may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the leader
agree with the novel, and indeed new, doctrine of church and state separation
that was recently proposed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
was expecting to receive a question along the same lines from Senator St.
Germain. I was given notice of a question of this kind yesterday. I have had the
opportunity to see the media and to have a dialogue with the minister.
The question asked of me by Senator St. Germain used the phrase that is
contained in the media story that appeared in the Gazette of February 1,
2005, in the headline, "Marriage predates government, foes say after minister
urges churches to butt out." Minister Pettigrew never used the phrase "butt
out." A quote attributed to Mary Ellen Douglas, President of the Campaign Life
Coalition, states: "The statement from him was outrageous that the churches
should butt out." The headline writer, unintentionally, I am sure, raised an
innuendo. That hardly ever happens, of course, in the press.
Minister Pettigrew said:
I find that the separation of the church and the state is one of the most
beautiful inventions of modern times.
He went on to say:
I've seen a lot of right-wing press put all kinds of things around it and
some right-wing commentators. What I have said is that I believe that the
separation of church and state is a wonderful invention of modernity. It
allows us to have a civil marriage. When we are talking about civil marriage,
I would like everyone to talk about civil marriage and to be careful to
specify in their interventions that we are talking about civil marriage — and
not the religious one.
In its polity and as a critical foundation, I must say that Canadian society
has a separation of church and state that is clear from the structure of our
Constitution. In the United Kingdom there is a de facto separation of church and
state, but there are still some historical appendages to the Church of England.
In the United States a separation of church and state is specifically provided
in their Constitution.
Therefore, I can see no basis upon which anyone who is familiar with the way
our constitutional system works could take exception to the remarks of Minister
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
we have put our fingers on the pulse of a change in the history of Canadian
democracy. The doctrine of separation of church and state has a particular
meaning within our Westminster model. Lest that be too academic a question, I
want to find out for the benefit of all Canadians the position or policy of the
Government of Canada when a minister of the Crown rises to challenge the right —
under whatever pretext — of freedom of speech of a church leader or any other
Canadian who disagrees with a given government policy of the time. Does this
government see freedom of expression as a matter that is to be limited by its
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this
government puts no limitation on the rights of Canadian citizens, whomsoever
they may be, to debate public policy in this country. No other interpretation
should be possible, nor did Minister Pettigrew put any limitations on such
freedom of speech.
Some people are making a very fine argument that the Supreme Court of
Canada's interpretation of the rights of individuals under the Charter, as
implemented by Bill C-38, which was introduced in the House of Commons
yesterday, is an interference with the rights of the church to determine who
would be the subjects of marriage under their particular religions. That is not
in any way the truth of the matter. The churches are free to decide on their own
religious practices and under their religious beliefs what persons are eligible
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, if the honourable
minister is that comfortable in his position, why is it that certain churches
and religious institutions feel that freedom of religion is under attack? If
Bill C-38 is such a panacea of greatness, why do we have to justify freedom of
religion in this country? The fact that we have to defend it puts it in a
position where, obviously, it must be under attack. Why would we even mention
it? It is because these people feel that their ability to carry out their
religious beliefs is under attack.
Minister Pettigrew and others may dismiss the cardinals, the Orthodox Jews
and other religious leaders of these various organizations, but why is the
government so dismissive? I believe the issue in regard to Bill C-38 will be the
freedom of religion.
We have a situation right now in Port Coquitlam with the Knights of Columbus,
and there are other examples that I will not go into during Question Period.
There is sound reason for clergy leaders to be concerned about freedom of
expression and true freedom of religion as we have known it in this country.
Does the minister not see that point of view in any way, shape or form?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the issue is not the freedom to
practise a religion, and no religion is under attack in this country. Those who
adhere to whatever religion are free to practise it within the context of their
Senator St. Germain: Today.
Senator Austin: The issue is different. The issue is the equality of
rights of Canadians. It may be that some religious leaders object to the idea of
civil marriage. It may be that they do not agree with the Constitution of Canada
or they do not accept the Charter of Rights. When they take those positions,
they are not reflecting on their religious adherence. They are reflecting on
others who are not their supporters, and they are trying to subject those people
to the religious beliefs of the community to which the honourable senator has
referred. They may not recognize that this is what they are doing, but the
Charter, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada, makes it very clear that
civil marriage is a right of Canadians. There is no going around the Charter and
its rights, unless the Constitution is used. The Constitution does have a
notwithstanding clause. If it is the position of the party to which Senator St.
Germain adheres that the notwithstanding clause should be used, that is a proper
constitutional debate and we can argue it.
Senator St. Germain: I never said that.
Senator Austin: Otherwise, let us be clear that the Charter of Rights,
as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada, provides equal rights to all
Canadians for a civil marriage.
Senator St. Germain: I never raised the notwithstanding clause. This
is just a red herring, as Senator Kinsella points out, on the part of Prime
Minister Martin. It was just a year ago that Prime Minister Martin clearly
stated that it was not a human rights issue. From out of nowhere it became a
human rights issue following certain incidents in this country.
My concern still is for people who refuse to carry out same-sex marriages.
They are being discriminated against and told to resign their posts in various
provinces. What is the government doing about it? You are doing nothing. You are
standing back and watching while these people are being discriminated against
because of their religious beliefs.
If the minister thinks for one moment that he will bamboozle the world into
believing that religious organizations are not under attack, I think he is
leading in the wrong direction. It is a false position and Canadians deserve to
know the truth. They deserve to know that if the bill must state that religion
is protected by virtue of this legislation, it is obviously under attack given
various current examples, such as the Knights of Columbus situation in Port
Coquitlam and other incidents that have taken place in the courts. For example,
in Ontario, a printer was fined and forced to print material that went against
his religious beliefs. These situations provide a definitive case that is
leading our cardinals and archbishops in the Catholic faith, as well as leaders
of the evangelical faith and the Orthodox Jewish faith, to be truly concerned.
The minister is remiss if he just pooh-poohs them to the sidelines.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, Senator St. Germain has made a
vigorous speech, and we will hear from him again when the bill is before this
chamber. On this side, we would be willing to expedite the debate by conducting
a pre-study of this particular bill so that we can engage in it at the earliest
possible time. I can see that Senator St. Germain would be at least agreeable to
Senator St. Germain: The honourable leader just wants to get this
issue off the agenda because he knows it will bury him.
Senator Austin: I want to get on with it. If your debating point is
correct, that there are church leaders who feel threatened, let us have the
debate. Let us engage with them in evidence.
Senator St. Germain: Why should we debate freedom of religion? Freedom
of religion is a right.
Senator Austin: Absolutely. I intended to make that very point. The
Supreme Court of Canada said in its decision that freedom of religion is equally
protected by the Charter, as is civil marriage.
As the honourable senator knows, the constitutional jurisdiction of marriage
lies with the federal government. The solemnization jurisdiction is with the
provinces. If the provinces in any way interfere with the freedom to practise
religion, then those individuals who feel interfered with should insist on their
Charter rights. The federal government takes the position that everyone is free
to practise their religion. I want to make it clear, and I will make it clear
repeatedly, that there is no threat to the freedom of any individual to practise
his or her religious beliefs in this country. The Charter permits it. The civil
rights of one group are the civil rights of another.
I do not know whether Senator St. Germain is familiar with the famous dictum
of Pastor Niemöller, a leading figure during the 1930s in Nazi Germany. After
the war, he said:
First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said
nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social
Democrat, so I did nothing. Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was
not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so
I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up
Honourable senators, civil rights are the essence of this country. The
Charter is the essence of this country.
Senator St. Germain: Freedom of religion is the essence of this
It is the Liberals who denied the Jews entry in 1939.
Senator Austin: I heard the Conservatives up and quarrelling with the
Liberal decision at that time, did I?
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question. I am pleased that the minister has quite clearly reaffirmed the
distinction between civil society and religion. It might be useful to remind the
members of this chamber, while duly taking into consideration the concerns just
expressed — which a great many Canadians share — that this Parliament has
already clearly made the distinction between civil society and religion when it
comes to ethics.
For example, Catholicism opposes birth control, abortion and divorce, and
affirms marriage's indissolubility. As the spokesperson for civil society,
Parliament has already enacted legislation with regard to these three questions
and this was never perceived as an attack, in any way, shape or form, on the
freedom of religions and of Canadians who share religious beliefs.
It is extremely important to reaffirm such distinctions between civil society
and religious society and to demonstrate, as the bill very clearly indicates,
Parliament's deep respect for all religions. This concerns civil matters and a
civil institution; therefore, it is about the pre-eminence of the Charter and
the equality of all citizens.
Senator Austin: I want to thank Senator Rivest for what he has just
added to Question Period. While he was speaking, I was reminded of the
difficulties that leaders in civil society have had over the years in squaring
their particular civil responsibilities as elected political people or appointed
political people with their religious convictions or with the convictions of the
religious institutions to which they belong.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the first elected Prime Minister of this country to
be Roman Catholic. There was a debate at that time about whether the church
would control the behaviour of a Catholic politician. In the United States, a
candidate in 1928 by the name of Alfred E. Smith probably lost the election to
Herbert Hoover because he was a Catholic. John Kennedy was able to reverse that
by repudiating any control by religious authorities over his political
responsibilities to the country as a whole.
These are difficult issues, honourable senators, but we have made adjustments
in this country. No one wonders today whether the Prime Minister is a Catholic
or a Protestant. That is the right way for society to see the situation. It is
the quality of the person, not the religious belief.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, it has come to my attention
that the Canadian Medical Association Journal had some harsh words for
Health Canada and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over their approval
process and monitoring of the recalled arthritis drug Vioxx. An editorial in the
journal asked why it took so long for Health Canada to disclose what it knew
about the cardiovascular risks associated with this drug. The editorial also
stated that by not using an active surveillance system to quickly uncover
Both the FDA and Health Canada have failed miserably in carrying out this
important aspect of their public mandates.
Is this a fair criticism? If so, what explanation does Health Canada have on
its behalf and on behalf of the FDA for allowing this to happen?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I do
not know whether it is a fair criticism. I do not know whether anyone in this
chamber can actually take a position based on the substantial information
available. That leads me to suggest to Senator Keon that perhaps the matter
might be dealt with by a motion on his part and perhaps a committee could
examine the very questions that he is asking.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
According to Stephen Poloz, Export Development Canada's chief economist,
congestion in the Vancouver trade corridor is dragging down the Canadian
economy. As a result, Mr. Poloz has cut his 2005 growth estimate for the economy
to 2.9 per cent from 3.2 per cent. As well, Transport Canada estimates that
congestion in Vancouver's commercial thoroughfare costs more than $1 billion per
year. Commercial traffic in trucks, which transport more than 70 per cent of the
value of goods moving through the Port of Vancouver, are taking longer to reach
their destination, raising costs for businesses and consumers.
A transportation report completed by UBC Professor Michael Goldberg blames
systemic infrastructure under-investment for the problems. It also suggests
widening the main east-west and north-south highways out of Vancouver to eight
The Liberal government has had the infrastructure program in place since it
first came to power in 1993. According to these people, the government is
failing and it is hurting Canada's economic outlook. Would the Leader of the
Government in the Senate please account for these failings?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
wish to thank Senator St. Germain for drawing our attention to a very
significant issue that affects that economy of British Columbia, Western Canada
and, indeed, the whole of Canada.
As I understand it, the issue is that none of the planners, whether in the
government sector, the railway sector, the transportation sector or the port
sector, foresaw the growth in sea traffic that has taken place from Asia to
Canada, particularly from China to Canada. The railways have been caught
unprepared to carry the traffic from the Port of Vancouver. Indeed, the Canadian
Pacific Railway has announced that it is considering making an investment in
excess of $500 million in twinning lines, to make it possible to move traffic
much more quickly out of the Lower Mainland, across British Columbia and over
the Rockies. The Canadian National Railway, as well, is looking at Port of
Vancouver rail developments.
The port has never been busier. What Senator St. Germain is talking about is
the additional business we could be booking if these strategic decisions had
been taken. As Senator St. Germain knows, the Port of Vancouver is run
independently, under the Canada Marine Act, as are other ports in Canada, a
policy that was much advocated by both sides of this chamber. I warrant that it
has been better managed by the existing Vancouver Port Authority than it was by
the Department of Transport in times past. However, it is under-invested, and we
need to find new financial resources. The railways need to act more promptly.
In addition to adding to rail and road capacity, we have to widen the
corridors, which involves environmental processes that are required by law and
cannot be sped up. What do we do about existing residences and commercial
properties in settled communities? Are they to be expropriated? It is a
The truth of the matter, as set out in the EDC report by that eminent
economist, is that China's steady growth of 8.9 to 9 per cent GDP is streaming
an enormous amount of commerce across the Pacific, and it will not stop.
Therefore, we have to respond.
Finally, Senator St. Germain and I, both coming from British Columbia, are
looking at what can be developed at the Port of Prince Rupert, which is served
by CN, to take container traffic. The private sector, in the form of an American
investor, CN and the Province of British Columbia have offered additional
capital for the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert that would reduce the
travel time by two days for traffic heading for the U.S. Midwest, which is where
much of the traffic goes.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I obviously agree with the
minister that foreseeing the growth was most likely impossible. However, the
growth has occurred. The Province of British Columbia, under the leadership of
the government of Gordon Campbell, is doing an excellent job of facilitating
developments in this situation.
With regard to the Port of Prince Rupert, I think we should be considering
turning it over to the province in some way in order that we have a more
hands-on situation to expedite this process. There would be a reduction of two
days in travel time to Chicago if this port facility were fully exploited in the
way it should be. The federal government should be giving serious thought to
bringing the province into the picture more quickly.
As the honourable senator knows, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia is
virtually in gridlock at certain times, and the cost to transportation is
horrific, as Professor Goldberg from UBC has enunciated well.
We obviously need money from the federal gas tax transfer as soon as
possible. As announced yesterday, $2 billion of this transfer is to be earmarked
for the fifth year of the agreement. However, according to John Godfrey,
Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities), the amount transferred over
the first two years of the five-year agreement will be relatively modest. That
is reported in The Globe and Mail in an article headlined, "Gas-tax
funds steered to big-ticket projects." This money is urgently needed.
Although the Leader of the Government and I have differed on certain issues
in the past, I will say that he provided great leadership in British Columbia
when he was a minister in the years before the Conservative government and in
the later years of the Trudeau government. It is now time that he shine again
and get these funds expedited for the expansion of British Columbia
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I have been a big fan of the New
Deal for Cities and Communities, one of the government's priorities. The new
deal is an intervention in an area that is provincial jurisdiction, pure and
simple. However, the provinces have welcomed the federal government's role in
providing new funding for community infrastructure.
The announcement of yesterday, to which the honourable senator referred,
allocates $5 billion of gas tax revenue to the municipalities. Each province has
now been advised of the share it will be receiving based on a per capita
distribution. P.E.I. and the territories will receive a set amount rather than a
per capita amount, given their size.
The announcement has been made with the approval of the stakeholders. It is
the result of an agreement, and legislation will be introduced to ensure that
the funds that the government has announced, and which have been agreed to by
the provinces, the cities and the communities, flow as quickly as possible. I
look forward to the assistance of the honourable senator in passing that
As the honourable senator was saying, the funds are to support sustainable
municipal infrastructure such as public transport and water systems. The final
details are being dealt with, and I am pleased that the honourable senator drew
the attention of the chamber to this issue.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hubley, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Ringuette, for the second reading of Bill C-15, to
amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environment
Protection Act, 1999.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I am pleased to have an
opportunity to speak at second reading of Bill C-15. This bill is the latest
incarnation of Bill C-34, which was introduced in the thirty-seventh Parliament
but died on the Order Paper when the last general election was called.
Bill C-15 is born of positive intentions. It seeks to strengthen existing
measures established to protect Canada's marine environments from the ravages of
pollution. I am sure honourable senators are aware that the marine waters off
Canada's coasts are among the richest in the world in terms of seabird life.
An estimated 30 million seabirds use Canada's eastern coastal waters at all
times of the year. Their habitat is shared by the thousands of sea-going ships
that criss-cross our oceans annually.
In this place, many honourable senators have fervently called for greater
protection of species, whether the species be endangered, at risk or otherwise.
If we are to protect species, the first step is to protect habitat. In
principle, that is what the bill seeks to do.
Our marine environment is not immune to pollution, as countless recent
examples have reminded us. Late last year, for instance, there were a couple of
oil spills off the Terra Nova platform. The biggest spill occurred on November
21, when more than 1,000 barrels of oil were discharged into the ocean. About a
month later, another two barrels of oil went into the ocean from the platform.
There are other sources of oil spills and marine pollutants that cause great
harm to our environment. Perhaps principal among them is discharged oil from
ships. We often think of oil spills causing devastation in the context of large
and catastrophic accidents such as in the case of the Exxon Valdez.
However, small spills, whether resulting from equipment malfunction, negligence
or intentional illegal actions, wreak the same sort of destruction. They are not
The World Wildlife Fund reports that there is no significant correlation
between the volume of oil spilled and the number of seabirds oiled. It is
further noted by the wildlife fund that "long-term sustained mortality rates
caused by chronic oil pollution have as great an effect — or an even greater
effect — on seabird populations as occasional large spills."
You see, honourable senators, even a very small amount of oil poses a serious
threat to seabirds. A tiny drop of oil is all it takes to decrease a bird's
insulation, waterproofing and buoyancy. This leads to hypothermia and
starvation. Of course, birds can also ingest or inhale the oil, and this too
causes serious damage to internal organs, potentially resulting in death.
Seabirds have been called "the most conspicuous organisms of the marine
ecosystem," and they are also most frequently used as an indicator of marine
oil pollution. I suggest to honourable senators that if this is the case, then
we really need to sound the alarm bells.
The first incident of oiled birds on the beaches of Newfoundland and Labrador
was documented in the 1950s. Current estimates place the annual mortality rate
off Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula alone to be 300,000 birds. That is just one
part of one of our coasts. Unfortunately, at this time, Government of Canada
estimates on the Pacific coast are incomplete.
Admittedly, getting a handle on how many birds die each year is difficult.
The reality is that when birds die at sea, they soon lose their buoyancy and
sink to the bottom. Some bird carcasses get eaten by other members of the food
chain, and wind conditions allow others to drift farther out to sea or to shore.
In reality only a relatively small percentage of dead birds actually wash up on
the shore and catch our attention.
All of this is to say that the numbers we do collect, though inadequate, do
not necessarily present an accurate view of the problem. However, according to
data collected by the Canadian Wildlife Services between 1984 and 1999, what we
do know is that 62 per cent of dead birds found on our beaches are oiled.
However, it is important to note that the data from the last five years actually
indicate that the rate was closer to 75 per cent. This suggests that three out
of four birds found dead on beaches died as a result of oil. According to a
recent World Wildlife Federation study, this also tells us "that the risk to
birds of contacting spilled oil and dying as a result is very high in Atlantic
Honourable senators, allow me to put these death rates in an international
context. Germany and Denmark's rates have remained stable at 47 per cent, and
the Netherlands has seen its rate decline from 57 per cent down to 38 per cent
in the last 20 years. Those numbers are significantly lower than the ones
recorded here at home in both the recent and the not-so-recent past.
The World Wildlife Federation observes that public pressure over the last two
decades has led governments around the world to develop legislation to protect
marine and coastal environments. The International Convention for the Prevention
of Pollution from Ships and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
are two such agreements that Canada has signed; yet in spite of those
agreements, we still find oiled birds washing up on shorelines worldwide.
Vessels that navigate our waters are, of course, subject to Canadian law.
Canada currently has numerous laws in place to deal with the potential
environmental effects of ship traffic, including the release of oil into marine
waters. These laws include the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994, the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999, the Fisheries Act and the Canada
The problems that exist lie in penalties and enforcement, and that is where
these amendments will make a difference. While the bill before us follows in the
tradition of these conventions and others, it seeks to do more. It seeks to
strengthen Canada's current regulations and to cover the gaps that continue to
First and foremost, from an environmental perspective, Bill C-15 gives rise
to new protection measures for migratory birds that will shield them from the
effects of harmful substances such as oil.
The bill also seeks to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 by
ensuring that it applies in the exclusive economic zone of Canada and expanding
the jurisdiction of our courts to include Canada's EEZ.
Passing this bill will mean that the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994
will apply not only to shipowners and operators but to the vessels themselves,
and that enforcement powers will be expanded to allow Canada to direct and
detain vessels that contravene the MBCA of 1994. Above all, the bill before us
will mean significantly greater penalties and fines for marine polluters.
As indicated in its official title, Bill C-15 will make strong amendments to
the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999. I should note that many of
these mirror the proposed amendments to the MBCA of 1994. Essentially, it will
further strengthen the existing CEPA, 1999 by protecting the marine environment
from the wrongful activities of ships as well as of people by expanding
enforcement powers in matters concerning ships that fail to comply with the CEPA
of 1999 or its regulations and by including prohibitions dealing with disposal
and incineration of substances at sea by ships.
With these amendments, we will be able to deal more effectively with law
enforcement issues in cases of marine pollution. Additionally, these legislative
measures will provide clarity with respect to the new 200-mile exclusive
economic zone by affirming that enforcement officers have authority in that
By increasing the fines to a maximum of $1 million, this legislation is
falling into step with the big business ways of shipping. However, its
significance goes well beyond that. It also makes our approach more consistent
with that of our neighbour, the U.S., a country which has stricter laws in place
to protect marine habitat.
The data available internationally is clear: Steep fines effectively
communicate to ship operators that illegal activities will not be tolerated. We
need look no further than the U.S. and the U.K. for evidence of this. The
governments of both countries have imposed fines on marine polluters that cost
in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is not surprising then that beached
bird surveys in both of these countries reveal low proportions of oiled birds.
With this bill, I believe Canada is finally sending a strong message to those
shipping companies that would discharge toxic substances illegally at sea. We
are saying: "If you abuse our marine environment, you will face strict
sanctions." Make no mistake, modern shipping is big business today. As such,
time means money. It is when people start cutting corners that our environment
suffers and we experience devastating results.
Ships, as you know, have bilge oil that they need to dump. When proper
procedure — that is, the law — is followed, ships go to port, pump out the bilge
at the port's facility — an act for which ships are handsomely charged — and
then go on their way. Honourable senators can appreciate that this can be time
consuming, and when faced with the pressure of deadlines and bottom-line
profits, it is not surprising that some would seek to skip a step or two.
Up to this point, considering the business demands and minimal penalties,
there have been practically disincentives for ships to follow procedures. When
one considers the paltry fines that are attached to acts such as oil dumping,
combined with the bare-bones surveillance that takes place, illegal dumping
poses only the smallest of risks and great potential for sweet payoffs.
However, while the intentions of this bill are noble, I do have concerns that
relate directly to surveillance and enforcement. Time and time again, we have
heard in witness testimony before the committee, in the media and elsewhere that
our Coast Guard is gravely underfunded and that our surveillance and enforcement
capabilities have been cut. Hence, I am interested in hearing from witnesses
when this bill is before us in the committee just how we will be able to provide
the monitoring and the follow-up necessary to ensure that these amendments
become more than just words on paper.
We know from international examples that enforcement and surveillance are
important factors in fighting oil pollution. The Netherlands has monitored its
beaches for close to a century, and over the last 20 years its surveys of
beached birds along the North Sea have indicated a 57 per cent decline in
chronic oil pollution. The WWF credits this decline "directly both to increased
enforcement and surveillance in this area and to decisions to clean up oil
slicks rather than to wait for them to dissipate naturally."
Another concern I have relates to infrastructure. Again, to use an
international case study, Germany reported a decline in the proportion of oiled
birds after no-charge oil-disposal facilities were introduced in late 1980s.
However, after the fee was reintroduced, the proportion of oiled birds also
I hope our committee work will at least touch on issues relating to Canada's
marine infrastructure and any possibilities that may exist further to augment
compliance with our laws.
Honourable senators, I do support Bill C-15 in principle. I look forward to
investigating this bill more closely in committee. In particular, I hope we can
address some of the concerns of industry stakeholders that have recently arisen.
I know, for instance, the shipping industry has voiced some concern about the
bill. The most recent edition of the marine issues update featured some
criticism of our colleagues in the other place for allowing only two marine
advocacy organizations to present their views on the bill. While they felt that
was inadequate, they remain hopeful that industry stakeholders will be allowed a
fair hearing. I am confident that, over the course of our consideration of Bill
C-15, we may be able to address some of these concerns.
As I said earlier, the principles behind this bill are sound. As such, it is
my hope that Bill C-15 will go a long way in allowing Canada to dispel her image
as a safe haven for illegal oil dumping and will provide great protection for
seabirds and their habitat.
Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, may I ask a question of the
Senator Cochrane: Yes, of course.
Senator Adams: The honourable senator is Deputy Chair of the Senate
Energy Committee. I am a hunter and, as such, I know that populations of
seabirds have been depleted as a result of oil spills. However, my concern
relates to the additional costs that shipowners who operate in the Arctic may
have to pay, and how that will be reflected in the cost of shipping freight to
the North. The Arctic is mostly populated by Canada geese, snow geese and
mallard ducks, what I would call our "domestic" birds. They provide food for
the hunters. Will passage of this bill result in an increased cost of freight?
People living in the North already pay extremely high prices for freight to be
brought into the communities. It is sometimes a difficult task.
I recognize, however, if we do not pass legislation to stop this activity,
nothing will change.
Of course, we can do nothing to prevent an oil or a chemical spill when a
ship sinks. Navigation near land can be difficult for the operator of a ship. A
ship could have an engine breakdown during a storm. All of these situations are
not within our control. Would the regulations apply to accidents of nature?
Will there be stiffer regulations and stiffer fines for shipowners who do not
comply with the legislation?
Senator Cochrane: I am glad that the honourable senator is a member of
the committee. We will be consulting members regarding the appropriate witnesses
we should hear from so that all of his questions can be answered.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I listened carefully today to
the honourable senator and yesterday to the Honourable Senator Hubley who moved
the second reading of the bill. I cannot disassociate myself with the objective
of the legislation. However, while I listened to the well prepared speeches
yesterday and today, I could not but recall the debate we had in this chamber
some years ago when we voted to pass the endangered species bill. Some
honourable senators will remember the discussion we had at that time. I believe
Senator Sibbeston was the sponsor of the bill. One of the major concerns we
expressed at that time — and I see Senator Adams nodding his head — was the
involvement of the Aboriginal people in the implementation of the objectives of
the bill. We in this chamber share the common commitment that, when proposed
legislation will affect the status of Aboriginal people, we will ask if they
have been consulted in the drafting process about the definition of the
objective of the bill, about how the bill will be implemented, and the impact of
the bill on traditional fishing, hunting and harvesting practices. I believe we
have all raised issues. You will remember — I acknowledge our colleague Senator
Bryden — in relation to the animal cruelty bill that was a recurring
preoccupation. Senator St. Germain was a spokesperson on that issue in this
I am not a member of the committee because I cannot, of course, be on every
committee, but I am concerned that we ensure that when a bill that impacts
Aboriginal people is introduced, the consultation process, the preparatory
process, as it involves the Aboriginal people, is followed. We could then be
satisfied, when the bill is introduced in the Senate, that we have paid due
respect and given proper recognition to Aboriginal people's rights.
That is my concern, and I invite the honourable senators who sit on that
committee and the chair of that committee to ensure that, among the witnesses
referred to in the chair's speech, representatives of the Aboriginal people who
might be affected by the objective and the scope of this legislation, are
invited to testify before the committee.
My second point concerns the impact of section 35 of the Constitution Act on
the recognition of the traditional rights of Aboriginal people. You will
remember, honourable senators, that when we adopted the endangered species bill,
the then government leader, Senator Carstairs, introduced a motion following
that bill referring the issue of the study of the impact of the non-derogation
clause to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs,
which was chaired at that time by the Honourable Senator Milne. We started the
study on that issue, but Parliament was dissolved. The problem still exists, and
we have not addressed that point fundamentally. It keeps popping up in proposed
The role of this chamber is to be seized of proposed legislation and to
pronounce on any such legislation that impacts on Aboriginal people. I simply
alert my honourable colleagues to this point, because I strongly believe that we
must make progress on the process to be followed when the government drafts
legislation so that when the legislation is introduced in the Senate we can be
satisfied that the process has been followed and due respect paid to the
interests of the Aboriginal people.
I was pleased to hear Senator Adams raise certain issues, and I am sure other
honourable senators will also have issues to raise so that we serve the
objective of the Constitution of Canada in relation to the Aboriginal people.
I had the opportunity to share those views yesterday with Senator Hubley. I
certainly do not want to delay the bill. It is up to the committee to address
those issues, but I think it fair, honourable senators, to raise them today so
that progress can be made on the bill.
Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, if I may, I must tell the
honourable senator that Aboriginal peoples are also first and foremost on my
mind. Ever since I became a senator, I too have wanted to see a process followed
through until we have refinement in all aspects. I will ensure that the
honourable senator is invited to attend the committee meeting when the pertinent
witnesses come to testify. Perhaps his schedule will allow that. I will inform
the honourable senator when they will appear so that he will have an opportunity
to ask those relevant questions. I realize that the honourable senator, as a
lawyer, will pose good questions, as will the other members of the committee. He
will have that opportunity.
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
when shall this bill be read the third time?
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I would thank my colleague
Senator Cochrane for her very informative reply to Bill C-15, which graphically
highlighted the importance to Canada of Bill C-15. It speaks to clean Canadian
water safety for our migratory birds and a legal framework capable of dealing
with the few who would cause pollution by discharges of illegal, oil
contaminated water at sea.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Hubley, this
matter is not debatable. I asked: When shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Hubley, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.
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. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
I rise to participate in the debate at second reading on Bill S-18, to amend the
It is my intention to focus on the process rather than on the substance of
the bill. The substance has been thoroughly examined, but, to date, the process
has engendered a great deal of concern. In particular, I will briefly address
concerns relating to the defamation of Senator Lynch-Staunton, the contempt
brought upon this chamber, the breach of our privileges as senators, and the
confusion or confounding of the role of the executive and the legislative
function of Parliament.
The different roles played by the executive in Parliament have, I think, been
aptly summarized by the maxim "government proposes; Parliament disposes."
There is an exception in that individual parliamentarians are able to propose
their own ideas for new laws or changes to existing laws in the form of public
bills in the Senate or private members' bills in the other place. This is an
exercise in which all honourable senators engage, to the good of the work of
Parliament, in my opinion.
This exception has generally not been the source of significant confusion
between the two functions, that is, government as a general proposer of
legislation and the role of parliament to dispose of these proposed bills. In
our experience, there has been a full understanding of the role of the
legislative branch and the role of the executive and that, in part, is due to
the stringent limitation on so-called backbench bills which forbids a proposal
involving the expenditure of public funds.
Honourable senators, in the case of this Bill S-18, we all know that its
genesis was the very hard work of the honourable senator who has moved second
reading of the bill. That honourable senator proposed a series of similar bills
in her capacity as an individual parliamentarian and worked assiduously on those
bills. She was an able and ardent advocate for the cause of providing public
access to the confidential information provided by Canadians to the census
Something which has not previously been mentioned in this debate is that
responding to the census questionnaire is not a voluntary undertaking on the
part of Canadians. The government obtains this information under the threat of
financial penalty and even incarceration. Section 31 of the Statistics Act reads
31. Every person who, without lawful excuse,
(a) refuses or neglects to answer, or wilfully answers falsely,
any question requisite for obtaining any information sought in respect of
the objects of this Act or pertinent thereto that has been asked of him by
any person employed or deemed to be employed under this Act, or
(b) refuses or neglects to furnish any information or to fill in to the
best of his knowledge and belief any schedule or form that the person has
been required to fill in, and to return the same when and as required of him
pursuant to this Act, or knowingly gives false or misleading information or
practises any other deception thereunder
is, for every refusal or neglect, or false answer or deception, guilty of
an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five
hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to
In other words, honourable senators, Canadians must, under the pain of
significant sanction, give the information that is asked of them by the census
It is interesting that the Government of Canada, having bluntly invoked its
criminal law powers to threaten Canadians who might be disinclined to provide
the information and then having promised Canadians that the trade-off is that
the information will not be divulged, now seems to be willing to abandon its
half of that bargain, even with the proviso that it will delay the release of
the data for a period of time. Clearly, one can logically ask: Will Canadians in
future census responses risk the sanction to keep their information private?
I can readily understand that the Chief Statistician might have some concerns
in this regard. It would not surprise me if the government next finds it
necessary to increase the penalties to encourage Canadians to continue to
provide accurate information in future censuses.
My colleague Senator Comeau spoke at some length about the value of a
government promise and the effect of retroactive legislation. I do not propose
to cover that ground again. However, I do hope that the committee that will
study this bill will hear specific testimony and questions that will be put by
the honourable members of that committee on this point.
Honourable senators, there is another issue that is yet to be explored, which
is a relatively new field of data mining. Most of the support for this bill
emanates from Canadians who have a good-faith desire to learn about their
ancestors. I hope the committee will also give some consideration to the
possibility that commercial interests might find the information of use, even
though it might not be with respect to a direct application to people who are
still living. The patterns established by our ancestors may still have relevance
to us and to our descendents when it comes to various enterprises, not the least
of which might be insurance companies who operate that industry on actuarial
Turning back to my concerns about the process and the advocacy of some for
this government proposal, I have viewed with some alarm the misinformation being
propagated about the process and about the intentions of some honourable
senators. I am sure that all honourable senators understand that it is much
easier to give wings to propaganda than it is to stop its circulation or to
correct it once it has been released.
It was with some alarm that many honourable senators listened to Senator
Lynch-Staunton's opening remarks on the subject on December 2, 2004. Indeed, had
it not been for the letter-writing campaign of intimidation in November, which
raised a number of concerns in my mind and likely in the minds of other
honourable senators, I expect this bill might have completed second reading
prior to Christmas.
I wish to stress that I have no opposition whatsoever to seeing the usual
thoughtful and comprehensive study of the issues that a Senate committee
typically provides. That said, I do want to place on the record a number of
corrections to the misinformation that has been in circulation and which
continues to be thrust forward through emails and correspondence.
First, what is before us — what we are debating at second reading — is a
government bill. Although the honourable senator who has moved second reading of
this bill was chosen by the government to speak to it first, no doubt because of
her previous work on this subject matter, it remains a government initiative.
That means that the government may, at any time, introduce a motion to limit
debate or to use other mechanisms falling under the rubric of closure. The
Rules of the Senate of Canada, with which we in this chamber are only too
familiar, provide the government with the tools it needs to ensure that the
business of the government is not unduly delayed.
The notion that a few senators, whether Conservative, Liberal or independent,
can delay this bill indefinitely is simply incorrect. Thus, when the assistant
of the honourable senator who has moved second reading of this bill wrote that
the senator needs your help and that "We can't do much from our end because
Conservatives can tell us to go to hell without there being any consequences,"
he was in error. The fact is that the government had the power then, as it is a
government bill, and has the power now to force this bill through, providing
only that it has the support of half the senators voting. For those outside this
chamber who may not keep track of such things, the government has held a
substantial majority in the Senate for some time now.
Second, there was a claim that Senator Lynch-Staunton's absence meant that no
progress could be made on the bill until he spoke. Honourable senators know that
this chamber goes through the entire Order Paper every sitting day. We often
choose not to speak to some items, but any senator who has not already spoken to
a bill may take up any bill on any day and it makes no difference in whose name
it stands. There is no requirement that it be held for a particular senator
beyond the demands of courtesy and a desire to ensure that those who wish to
speak to a subject are given an opportunity to do so. I am pleased to say that
this is a chamber not just of sober second thought, but a chamber where
proprieties are generally carefully observed.
There was also a claim that this bill was being improperly held up to obtain
other considerations. I will not pursue this allegation further since I
understand that an apology has already been proffered. I will reiterate that
under our rules the government has the means by which to set its priorities and
advance its legislative proposals within the demands of its agenda and its own
Honourable senators, without recapitulating the specifics of the allegations
that are in circulation, I trust that we will not see a continuation of the
orchestrated campaign of interference during the course of our further study of
this bill. These efforts at intimidation, or attempted intimidation, which
commenced prior to the Christmas break, are unlikely to have a favourable impact
on any honourable senator irrespective of where they sit in this honourable
Honourable senators, trust me: The senators who sit on this committee to do a
detailed study of this bill, including clause-by-clause consideration, have an
understanding that they will not be subjected to the abuse of thousands of
emails and nasty telephone calls that made their way to this institution during
The Hon. the Speaker: I see no senator rising. Are honourable senators
ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Stratton, seconded
by the Honourable Senator LeBreton, for the second reading of Bill S-20, to
provide for increased transparency and objectivity in the selection of
suitable individuals to be named to certain high public positions.—(Honourable
Senator Rompkey, P.C.)
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, there have been discussions across this chamber that indicate there is
agreement to refer this important matter to committee for detailed study.
Therefore, I move:
That Bill S-20 be not now read the second time but that the subject matter
thereof be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs; and
That the Order to resume debate on the motion for second reading of the
bill remain on the Order Paper and Notice Paper.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and the subject matter of the bill referred to the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report (first interim) of
the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
entitled: Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction: Overview of Policies
and Programs in Canada, tabled in the Senate on November 23, 2004.—(Honourable
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, I rise to make a few comments
in the debate on the three reports that the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology presented to the house and tabled for debate on
November 23, 2004. The first of the three reports is Mental Health, Mental
Illness and Addiction: Overview of Policies and Programs in Canada, which is
essentially the first national overview of the state of mental health service
delivery in Canada. The second report is Mental Health Policies and Programs
in Selected Countries, specifically Australia, New Zealand, the United
States and the United Kingdom, and provides a comparison of Canada with the
programs of those countries. The third report is Mental Health, Mental
Illness and Addiction: Issues and Options for Canada, which will form the
basis of the cross-country hearings that the committee will hold between now and
the end of June in every province and territory of Canada.
Allow me to provide honourable senators with some interesting statistics from
the nine weeks since the report was published. The Clerk of the Social Affairs
Committee has told me that she has had requests for and has mailed out 1,705
copies of the report. To put that in perspective, the figure does not include
copies that were downloaded from the committee's website. In the book publishing
business, 2,000 copies would be deemed a best seller in Canada. Perhaps of more
surprise to all, including members of the committee, is that while we do not
know the number of hits on our website during the month of January because it
takes several days into the next month to determine that figure, between
November 23 and December 31 — some five weeks — there were in excess of 111,000
hits on the committee's website.
We tried a new exercise that had never been done by a parliamentary committee
before. We put a short, simple questionnaire on our website in an attempt to
give mental health consumers, their families and caregivers an opportunity to
tell us their real life stories. There were about seven questions. We had
anticipated that we might be fortunate enough to receive 100 to 120 responses,
but as of yesterday we had received over 500 responses, and they continue to
trickle in at the rate of two or three per day. Thus, this method of
e-consultation works if you have the right questions. Obviously the committee
has touched a nerve with this subject because Canadians have taken the time to
tell their stories. The questionnaires will be extraordinarily helpful to the
committee to enable us to put a human face on our final report that will be out
at the end of the year. It will contain the committee's recommendations for
transforming the mental health, mental illness and addiction system.
Many reports prepared by committees are often not read because of lack of
time, but I would ask all senators to read the first two chapters of the first
report on Canada entitled "The Human Face of Mental Illness." Certainly, it is
true that everyone I have asked to read those chapters comes away with two
strong emotions: They want to cry and they want to be angry. If honourable
senators truly want to understand why the mental health system is in the state
that it is, I urge them to take the time to read those two chapters. That is why
the human face of this issue is so critical.
The enormous interest, as evidenced by the hits on the website, has been
generated because consumers, family members, caregivers, policy makers,
providers, academics, et cetera, have never had a focal point around which there
could be a sensible discussion of mental health and mental illness issues in
Canada. Indeed, the ultimate objective of the committee is to produce a report
that will become a focal point around which all the various interest groups can
rally to help to change that part of the health care system — the part that has
been referred to by a number of people over the years as the orphan of the
health care system, the part that was supposed to be not seen, not heard and not
invested in. We are hoping to produce a report that will have a significant
impact on the mental health system.
I will give honourable senators an inkling of how serious the problem is.
Many committee members were surprised by the data, even though a majority of the
committee members has experienced a member of their reasonably immediate family
with a mental illness problem at some time. We understood the problem was fairly
widespread. Repeated surveys over the years have shown that approximately one in
five Canadians, or 4.5 million, will personally experience a bout of mental
illness in their lifetime.
It is more troubling that 1.2 million children and adolescents experience
mental illness or addiction problems of sufficient severity to cause significant
distress and impaired functioning. Of those 1.2 million children, relatively few
receive any treatment. Early diagnosis is terrible and the amount of resources
available for treating them is terrible. When you add to that the fact that 70
per cent of adults with a mental illness had the illness as a child and the
problem got worse because it was not treated, you understand the huge social and
human impact caused by the failure to adequately provide for children's mental
health services in Canada.
Mental health and addiction rank as the first and second causes of disability
in Canada. It is not heart; it is not cancer; it is mental illness and
addiction. Canada is not unique in that. Mental illness and addiction are first
and second in every European country, every industrialized country, in Australia
and in the United States. Yet, that part of the health care system has been
The economic impact of mental illness on business is staggering. A detailed
analysis was done based on 1998 data — so the number would obviously be much
greater today, six years later. The 1998 estimate was that the cost to the
economy of people being mentally ill, partly due to absenteeism and partly due
to people coming to work when they could not be truly productive, was $14.4
billion. The direct cost of health care for mental illness was $6.3 billion in
1998 dollars and would be substantially greater today.
The cause of this is quite striking. First, although we would like to believe
it does not exist, stigmatization and discrimination is still rampant with
respect to mental illness. Indeed, many of the questionnaires we have received
from consumers have shown that the stigma of mental illness is the biggest
burden they have to bear. They have told us that the stigma is actually a bigger
problem than the illness, because they believe that if they tell friends, family
or employer, there will be an extremely negative reaction.
Second, only one third of the people who have a mental illness in Canada get
treated at all. To put it another way, two thirds do not. If two thirds of
Canadians with any other type of illness were not treated, the outcry would be
enormous. With respect to mental illness, people just pretend that the problem
will go away naturally.
Third, our committee looked in great detail at the so-called medicare system,
and we thought that was in trouble. I will tell you that the single most
disorganized delivery system I have seen in my 30 years in the public service is
the mental health system. It has so many silos; it is so fragmented; it is so
uncoordinated that it makes the hospital and doctor system look extraordinarily
efficient. One of the things that we will clearly have to deal with is the
question of what to do with all the silos.
Finally, I will make an observation that troubles me as a Canadian. Canada is
the only OECD country with no national mental health strategy. All the other
OECD countries have a national plan, be it federal or not federal. The issue is
not federalism. Australia, for example, which has essentially the same
constitutional structure as us — health services are delivered by the states and
the national government does much of the funding — has a plan, as does Germany
and various European countries. Canada does not, and clearly the lack of a
national mental health strategy is a huge gap in the system. Indeed, seldom has
a federal politician even spoken out on the issue of mental health. It has been
sort of out of sight, out of mind.
Three segments of the population are particularly badly underserved. I talked
about children and adolescents. The data shows that Aboriginal Canadians are
significantly worse off than the rest of the population. The data I cited
previously about only one third being treated was for the population as a whole.
The data with respect to Aboriginal Canadians is significantly worse.
Finally, seniors are extremely badly served, and that is not due to the
demographics, which would be the easy answer. It is due to the fact that for
many decades when seniors started to suffer a little bit of dementia — or
"senility," as it was called when most of us were young — it was never treated
as it ought to have been.
Has there been some improvement? There has been some. Is there a long way to
go yet? There is an enormous way to go.
Our committee intends to develop a set of recommendations to serve as a focal
point for federal and provincial governments to finally begin to address this
issue. We have had enormous support from provincial governments on this issue.
We are not getting any opposition whatsoever. The committee is getting
enthusiastic support from provincial governments who love the notion of some
element of coordination in policy planning.
We will try to do what we think we accomplished with our last report, that
is, to provide something that can actually be used. We have set two constraints
or boundaries on our recommendations.
The first is that, in order to be achievable, we will try to ensure that our
recommendations are just inside the outer edge of political feasibility. That
means that we will push the system as far as we believe it can be pushed while
not pushing it so far that everyone just walks away and says that it cannot be
The second objective we will try to achieve, which I think we achieved in our
last report, is that time-honoured Canadian principle of equalized unhappiness.
By that we mean that, when we are finished, most interest groups will be happy
with about three quarters of what we have done and most of them will dislike a
different 25 per cent. Therefore, if they want to get the 75 per cent that they
like, they will have to compromise and agree to take the 25 per cent they do not
like. With one or two notable exceptions, like the Canadian Health Coalition,
that happened with respect to our previous report.
Our objective, honourable senators, is to hold national hearings in every
provincial and territorial capital. I urge all colleagues to attend our meetings
when we are in your province. We welcome the participation of all senators, as
if each of you were a full member of the committee. We do not have a priority
ranking of any kind and we think it is important that you be seen to be
interested in this issue.
We will use those hearings to produce a report that will be targeted very
much at a role for the federal government and at transforming the delivery
system to get away from the incredible number of silos and the fragmentation
that currently exists.
We hope to ultimately produce a report that contains a plan for providing
mental health and addiction services to Canadians across their lifespan,
services provided in a way that is both linguistically and culturally sensitive,
which is particularly appropriate given the nature of Canada. It is critical
that the various cultures within the country be respected. It must be a
consumer-centred approach, that is, one oriented around the patient and not, as
it currently is, around those who deliver the service. It must be focused around
the principle that most people with mental illness will be able to get better.
That is a remarkably different perspective than the system has historically had.
I will remind honourable senators of something that came as a shock to us.
Mental health institutions are not covered under the Canada Health Act. From day
one, these institutions were excluded from the Canada Health Act. In fact, they
were excluded from the original hospital insurance act of 1957. The reason for
their exclusion is that in those days it was assumed that mentally ill people
could never improve and, therefore, if they were in an institution they were
there for life and, thus, they were not part of a hospital program that is
targeted at making people better but rather part of a long-term care program.
The federal government argued in 1957, and repeated it all the way up to and
including the 1984 debate on the Canada Health Act, that people who were
mentally ill really belonged in long-term care institutions, that the federal
government was funding long-term care through the CPP program and, therefore,
these institutions and those people would be excluded under the Canada Health
Clearly, the approach today must be much more oriented toward recovery, in
much the same way that 20 years ago someone with a severe spinal cord injury was
doomed to never be able to do anything useful.
I ask honourable senators to look at the changes that we have made in laws,
in access, in parking spaces and whole variety of other things to make life much
better for people who are physically disabled.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Kirby, your 15 minutes have expired.
Is leave granted, honourable senators, to allow Senator Kirby to continue?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Kirby: Honourable senators, the attitude in the last quarter
century that has enabled Canadians suffering from physical disabilities to lead
much more productive lives in Canada must be applied to people suffering from
mental health and addiction issues. We have a long way to go because we are
exactly back to where we were when there was no accommodation made for anyone in
a wheelchair or who was physically disabled. It is not like we have to do a
little bit of improvement here; it is as if we are a long way back.
Finally, there is a huge role for the federal government — for all
governments, but the federal government in particular — in promoting mental
health awareness, in promoting the things Canadians can do to be mentally
healthy and in promoting anti-stigma campaigns.
Australia, despite its macho image, started a coordinated national state
anti-stigma program, and the change in the attitude of the population over the
last decade has been absolutely striking. The program has been run and paid for
by the national government. The acceptance of Australians with a mental illness
is much greater now than when the program began 10 years ago. They have just
started their third five-year plan and are making considerable progress.
I urge honourable senators to attend our hearings. When we come back before
the end of the year — or, if worse comes to worst, the very early weeks of 2006
— we will be trying to lay out a plan that we hope all Canadians, whether they
are direct consumers, caregivers, interest groups or the federal-provincial
governments, will begin to rally around and start what will clearly be a
Honourable senators, we are on a journey; it is not a one-shot effort. It is
a journey that will have to be continued by people long after this committee has
completed its work. We need to bring those Canadians who suffer from mental
illness and addiction problems back into society and accomplish for them exactly
what has been accomplished for the physically disabled over the last 25 years.
My colleagues and I on the committee would feel an enormous sense of
satisfaction if, as we hope, our report becomes the cornerstone around which
that process begins.
Hon. Percy Downe rose pursuant to notice of November 25, 2004:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the benefits to the
decentralization of federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations from
the National Capital to the regions of Canada.
He said: Honourable senators, for a long time now Prime Minister Paul Martin
has made it clear that he has no difficulty dealing with provinces and regions
as separate entities. The latest and most dramatic expression of that policy
direction was the decision to allow a side deal for Quebec during the recent
health care summit.
Many thoughtful Canadians, including members of this chamber, argue that such
an approach weakens the role of the federal government, but there is an element
to this policy that could offer enormous benefits in the public perception of
the federal government and the role it plays in every region of the country. For
too long, bureaucratic power has been centralized in the hands of a few
institutions concentrated in the National Capital Region. Now is the time for
the Government of Canada to separate policy from process and decentralize
federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations away from the National
Capital area to the regions of Canada.
The reluctance to pursue decentralization was compounded during the period of
federal fiscal constraint that started in February 1995. That year, the federal
budget announced government-wide plans to eliminate programs and decrease the
size of the government workforce. According to the Treasury Board website,
provinces like Manitoba and British Columbia lost thousands of federal public
service jobs while employment in the National Capital Region remained constant.
At the highest executive levels of the public service, EX1 to EX5, the Ottawa
area has continued to hold 70 per cent of positions from 1994 to 2003. To my
mind, these facts point out a problem in the way the federal government is
The potential benefits of relocating government departments are enormous. The
initial upfront costs would be recouped many times over in many different ways.
The region receiving the relocated institution would secure well-paying,
permanent positions. In turn, such moves would reduce the need for other forms
of regional development. At the same time, the affected department or agency
would reduce staff turnover and save recruitment and training costs. Just as
important as any other factor, the Government of Canada would gain a permanent
and strong presence in the affected region, helping to reduce the stresses of
Relocation should be done not only as an economic development tool, but
because it is a logical move that better reflects the challenges of a
geographically vast and diverse nation. For example, the National Energy Board
was relocated to Calgary years ago and is now closer to energy production. Why,
then, is the Export Development Corporation currently located in downtown
Ottawa? It could be situated in Vancouver. After all, Canada does more than $20
billion of trade with the state of California alone.
Does it make sense for the employees of the Department of Fisheries and
Oceans to locate themselves in a high-rise in Ottawa where they cannot see a
harbour or a fishing boat, or does it make more sense for them to be located on
one of Canada's coasts where they can see the impact of their decisions on
fishing communities and the residents more directly?
Some would say it is too difficult to embark on a real program of
decentralization. This argument, however, is based on the assumption that
important work can only be done in Ottawa. Such a notion is dispelled by new
communication technologies, which include video conferencing, that allow far
greater flexibility to all organizations.
The government can look abroad for examples of decentralization. British
Prime Minister Tony Blair announced in his spring budget of 2004 the relocation
of 20,000 public servants from London to the regions of the United Kingdom. In
2003, the Norwegian government announced plans to move eight state agencies
outside its capital. Relocation is possible; all that is needed is political
In the past, there have been moves in this direction. In 1976, Jean Chrétien,
then President of the federal Treasury Board, and Dan MacDonald, then Minister
of Veterans Affairs, announced the relocation of the national headquarters of
the Department of Veterans Affairs to my home community of Charlottetown, Prince
Edward Island. The plan met opposition, including the then mayor of Ottawa, who
called the relocation a mindless action. Twenty-eight years later, the benefits
for Prince Edward Island are obvious and highly valued.
I have mentioned before the economic benefits of relocating the headquarters
of Veterans Affairs to Charlottetown, and I will highlight them once again. They
include 1,200 full-time public service jobs, an annual payroll of $68 million,
many student jobs during the summer, and a career path for generations who want
to stay in the region.
Beyond the economic contribution, the presence of Veterans Affairs has made a
significant contribution socially. Veterans Affairs has broadened Prince Edward
Island society to include a vast array of highly trained professional public
servants who contribute their every working day to public affairs and to Prince
Edward Island society.
At a completely different level, one of the most exciting impacts of Veterans
Affairs headquarters being in Charlottetown has been the remarkable increase in
the use of the French language. Prince Edward Island has always had a thriving
Acadian community, but the addition of Veterans Affairs deepened the role of the
French language. According to Statistics Canada, after Quebec and New Brunswick,
Prince Edward Islanders are third amongst the provinces in their knowledge of
the two official languages. There is no doubt that the strength of the Acadian
community assisted in that regard; however, to my mind, the greatest single
contribution to the increase in the use of the French language is the presence
of Veterans Affairs.
Sadly, and in spite of all the benefits, the intense controversy surrounding
the relocation of Veterans Affairs many years ago forced the national
decentralization program to be quietly dropped. As I mentioned, when the dust
cleared, Veterans Affairs was and remains today the only federal department with
its national headquarters located outside of Ottawa.
However, there are indications that this could change. There has been a
proposal to relocate the Canadian Tourism Commission, an agency of less than 100
employees, from Ottawa to Vancouver. At the same time, recent announcements made
by the Minister of Public Works, Scott Brison, could hold great potential for
decentralization. Minister Brison unveiled the proposal of selling government
buildings to the private sector, to save operational costs. This move would
further ease the relocation of departments and agencies to the regions. Mr.
Brison himself alluded to this possibility, saying that the release of ownership
would help create opportunities in places like Halifax or Moncton. However,
these proposals should only be the start to a greater decentralization program.
In closing, honourable senators, in addition to the national headquarters of
Veterans Affairs, I would like to also acknowledge the leadership of the Right
Honourable Brian Mulroney, who relocated the GST Centre to Summerside, P.E.I. I
believe it is now time for Prime Minister Paul Martin to restart the
decentralization program and give the other regions of Canada the same
opportunities and benefits enjoyed by Prince Edward Island over the past 28
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I rise in support of the
comments of Senator Downe. The theory of decentralization of government services
is one that has a dramatic effect in all the communities. Anyone who has visited
Charlottetown since Veterans Affairs has relocated there can see the change.
Many communities across the country could benefit from this.
Many resources currently owned by the Government of Canada are being declared
redundant or surplus. Prior to disposing of these assets, we should look at
whether there is a federal government department or agency that could perhaps be
decentralized to those locations. A prime example is in my own province, where
large tracts of CFB Shearwater have been turned over to Canada Lands. I fear we
will end up with housing as opposed to a good industrial use or a use that would
Honourable senators, I refer you to several decisions by the Fisheries
Committee in the other place. That committee has unanimously pushed for the
decentralization of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to both the West
Coast and the East Coast. God forbid that anyone in that department would ever
actually relocate to one of those coasts and bump into a fisherman. If there is
a department that needs to get out there with the people it is supposed to be
servicing and working with, it is DFO.
Decentralization can be very helpful to smaller parts of Canada. I am
concerned about relocating an agency with 100 employees to Vancouver; however,
if 100 employees were relocated to, say, Kamloops or to some other part of the
B.C. interior, their impact on the local economy would be considerable.
Canada is one of the most wired countries in the world. It is not necessary
for people to be here in Ottawa to do much of the work.
Take, for example, some of the communities across Atlantic Canada. There is a
debate in New Brunswick about the airport in Saint Leonard that it is about to
close. If there were a federal government agency somewhere in that community,
whether in Grand Falls or Edmunston or some other place, it would draw people
who travel frequently on business, which in turn would give some more support to
that other infrastructure that is in the community. Relocation is not just a
matter of jobs and a payroll; there are other benefits to relocation.
Senator Downe's comment about language issues is important. Wherever
government agencies have relocated outside of the National Capital Region, the
effect has been positive, Charlottetown being a prime example, as well as
Summerside, and Vegreville and the Tax Centre in Shawinigan. Some of the offices
in Moncton have had a positive effect around New Brunswick.
This is a study that is worth pursuing and, as such, I support Senator Downe
in his inquiry.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, February 3, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.