The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your
attention the presence in the gallery of General Orazio De Minicis and his wife
Franca. General De Minicis is the military attaché of the Embassy of Italy. They
are the guests of the Honourable Senator Ferretti Barth.
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, the collective heart of the
citizens of Alberta was broken last week as four young officers of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police were murdered in the small town of Mayerthorpe. Their
deaths, which occurred in the line of duty, brought a flood of sympathy and deep
sadness from every corner of Canada. Constable Peter Schiemann, of Stoney Plain;
Constable Lionide Johnston, of Lac La Biche; and Constables Anthony Gordon and
Brock Myrol of Red Deer epitomized the qualities of courage and dedication that
are the daily workload of our security forces across this country. It is hard to
describe the pride Albertans feel for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They
have been an integral part of our history since they rode across the plains from
Manitoba to shut down whiskey forts, to build peace and friendship with our
Aboriginal peoples, and, of great significance, to create a presence of
authority over a somewhat vague border between Canada and the United States.
The young men who gave their lives did so believing in the fundamental
importance of securing the safety of citizens, of protecting goods and property
and of strengthening our laws, which are as fundamental to our existence now as
they were when the Mounties met the settlers. There is no way we can even
imagine the shock and the grief that is felt by the families, especially the
four young women who were building good and happy lives for themselves and their
Mounties. We salute them in our prayers and with our support for the values
represented by their brave partners who chose the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
as their life's work. May they rest in peace and in honour.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, on March 1, Ernst Zundel was
finally deported to Germany after spending two years tying our courts into knots
while trying to escape his fate. Mr. Zundel is infamous in Canada and abroad as
a writer and promoter of anti-Semitic literature, and as a Holocaust denier. The
Federal Court has determined him to be a national and international security
threat and has upheld the security certificate that was initially issued against
him in April 2003. In his recent ruling, Federal Court Justice Pierre Blais said
that Mr. Zundel's views on the Holocaust are vile and perverse but, on their
own, were not enough to label him a security threat. Instead, Justice Blais said
of Mr. Zundel that he "crossed the boundaries of free speech and ... entered the
realm of incitement to hatred and potential political violence in relation to
the White Supremacist Movement."
Justice Blais also stated that Mr. Zundel sought to destabilize the German
government from our country. These lengthy and costly court proceedings might
have been avoided if Mr. Zundel had been deported to his native Germany in
February 2003 as authorities from that country had requested. Although Canadians
were promised swift action when Mr. Zundel was initially returned here, they had
to wait two years for his removal. His future now rests in the hands of the
German courts because he will stand trial there on charges of denying the
Holocaust and inciting hatred.
It has been disappointing over the past two years to see many people
categorize Mr. Zundel's detention as an attack on free speech in our country.
Thankfully, many more Canadians have stated their belief that he does not
deserve to benefit from the rights and privileges of living in one of the most
tolerant societies in the world. Ultimately, I think Ernst Zundel is to be
pitied because he has wasted his life spreading lies and hatred.
Honourable senators, the Holocaust did not begin with one cataclysmic act of
brutality and murder. Rather, it expanded and evolved over time through bigoted
thoughts and words that were eventually translated into actions of unimaginable
hatred and evil. Through his words, Ernst Zundel sought to contaminate hearts
and minds against the Jewish people and to incite similar violence. Fortunately,
Ernst Zundel will no longer be able to use Canada as a launching point for his
views. However, it would be extremely naive for anyone to think that Canada's
problems in this respect have left with Mr. Zundel. He may be a lynchpin, but
there are others in our recent past who have desecrated cemeteries and
firebombed a school simply because they are Jewish. Hate-mongering has no place
in our country, and we must be ever vigilant in our effort to guard against it.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, today we are celebrating
International Women's Day. It is a special day for us and an occasion for
reporting on our progress towards equality.
Our presence in this chamber is proof that the framework within which the
"Famous Five" pursued their demands has changed considerably.
Women are indeed "persons." Our right to equal treatment is guaranteed by
law. We have taken our place in many sectors that were once regarded as "for men
Women today are better educated and have full control of their bodies and
their destinies. However, the price that some have had to pay has often been
very high. A recent survey showed that women who work outside the home are
exhausted and with good reason. While women are active in large numbers in the
labour market, they are still responsible for the lion's share of household
The growing poverty of single mothers and older women living alone in our
country concerns us, as does violence toward women in our communities. I am sure
honourable senators were shocked to read the report by Amnesty International
which highlighted the unequal treatment of Aboriginal women. These women are
apparently eight times more likely to become homicide victims at the hands of
their spouses than other Canadian women. This is certainly food for thought.
In addition to violence, people smuggling is a threat to Canadian women,
especially immigrant women. Well-established networks in the major cities of our
country prey on the vulnerability of these women, these young girls, and I would
add, these children. This situation is intolerable and unacceptable but it is a
fact of life in many Canadian cities.
Women also account for a great deal of the unpaid work in our country, and
many insecure jobs are reserved for them.
The average representation rate for women in Canadian legislatures is 20 per
cent. This low rate, added to the 12 per cent of mayors and 21 per cent of
municipal councillors who are women, is a good indication of the
under-representation of women in political life. The limited role of women in
senior management positions is another challenge facing us. Women occupy 11 per
cent of management positions; the majority of those jobs are reserved for men in
The theme for International Women's Day in Canada is "You are here: Women,
Canada and the World." The few remarks I have shared with you show exactly where
we are. Women's integration into society is still battling against stereotypes.
However, we have made great progress. Despite everything, women are staying the
I want to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the wives of
members of the Canadian Forces who show great courage and resourcefulness in a
situation that is not always easy. They deserve special mention.
In conclusion, I invite honourable senators to show their solidarity with the
millions of women around the world who struggle every day for the right to vote,
to be educated, to participate in decisions that concern them and, sometimes,
simply to be treated as human beings.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, the Canadian
Diabetes Association has asked me to thank senators for their support of the
generous allocation of funds in the 2005 budget.
Last March, members of the Canadian Diabetes Association asked the federal
government for $50 million to develop an aggressive and sustained national
strategy. Without such an effort, three million Canadians would be living with
diabetes by 2016; an increase of 72 per cent.
In September 2004, Canada's Minister of Finance challenged the Canadian
Diabetes Association to obtain cross-party support for a national diabetes
strategy, promising the support of the Government of Canada in return. There
then followed a massive effort by volunteers across the land — formal
presentations, committee briefings, and over 3,000 letters to members of
Their work was not in vain. The 2005 budget gave a five-year commitment to a
Canadian diabetes strategy valued at more than $50 million — $25 million for an
Aboriginal diabetes initiative, $18 million for prevention, enhanced care and
improved access to services, increased funding for research, and income tax
relief for parents of children with type 1 diabetes.
Yesterday, at a parliamentary reception, members of the Canadian Diabetes
Association were happy and grateful. Promise made, promise kept!
Government has responded. Now, as never before, Canadians must respond.
We have heard the words, "It's the Charter, stupid!" When it comes to type 2
diabetes, "It's the lifestyle," and far too many of us are stupid. In the last
two decades, obesity in children has doubled. A child born on this continent in
2000 has a one-in-three chance of becoming a diabetic.
The Canadian Diabetes Association says that diabetes costs our public health
care system $13.2 billion per year. By 2020, those costs could rise to more than
Thirty minutes of exercise a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by more
than 50 per cent. The food we eat, the exercise we get and the lifestyle we
choose can go further than any government dollars when it comes to the
prevention and treatment of diabetes.
The Canadian Diabetes Association is up to this challenge. The Government of
Canada is up to this challenge. Are Canadians ready to accept the challenge?
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, March 7 to 13 is
International Women's Week. I know that all honourable senators join me in
recognizing the immeasurable contributions that women make to contemporary
Canadian life. When I think of these contributions by women to the social,
economic, political and cultural development of our country, honourable
senators, I am reminded of a richly woven and beautiful patchwork quilt, its
many squares representing the diversity of work, ability and experience that is
the world of women.
My own province of Prince Edward Island has been referred to as a patchwork
quilt of cultivated fields, pastures and woodlands. In one particular patch,
along the beautiful shore of the Tryon River, lives a truly remarkable woman
named Betty King Howatt. Betty Howatt is a farmer, writer-broadcaster,
environmentalist and a courageous voice in defence of Island heritage and the
Willowshade Farm was first settled by the Howatt family in 1783, and for half
a century Betty, together with her husband Everett and son King, has grown
apples of heritage varieties as well as a variety of other fruits and
vegetables. Produce from the Howatt farm is legendry throughout the Island for
its superb organic quality. Indeed, Betty and Everett Howatt have championed
environmentally responsible farm practices in Prince Edward Island. They are
highly skilled, productive farmers who have clearly demonstrated that values of
stewardship and sustainability can go hand in hand with commercial success.
Betty and Everett Howatt were recipients of the 2003 Prince Edward Island
Environmental Award for their outstanding contribution to protecting and
enhancing the environment, and in 2004 Betty received a heritage award from the
P.E.I. Museum for her inspired educational work to promote a better appreciation
for and understanding of the small family farm. Her beautifully-written book,
Tales from Willowshade Farm, is a delight for those who cherish the wonders
of nature and growing things.
Honourable senators, Betty Howatt is an Island treasure and a distinguished
Canadian, a woman of incredible knowledge and strength, and it gives me great
pride to acknowledge her during International Women's Week.
Hon. Daniel Hays: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the report of the joint inter-parliamentary delegation
that attended the thirteenth Canada-Mexico Inter-Parliamentary meeting held in
Mexico City from January 24 to 27, 2005.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance, presented the following report:
Tuesday, March 8, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-24, An Act to amend the
Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to make consequential
amendments to other Acts (fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and
funding to the territories) has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of
Tuesday, February 22, 2005, examined the said Bill and now reports the same
DONALD H. OLIVER
The Hon. The Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Massicotte, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for
third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, my question for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate is in regard to the availability of the heart
medication Inderal LA.
Honourable senators, the situation came to my attention through a letter from
a patient in which she claims that she cannot obtain the drug that she needs to
treat her blood pressure because it is not available. Both her family doctor and
pharmacist told her that the difficulty in accessing this drug is a result of
shortages related to its sale on the Internet. She contacted Health Canada and
the Ontario provincial government for assistance, but was unable to achieve any
results. Could the Leader of the Government make inquiries and tell us if Health
Canada can do anything to help this individual obtain this particular heart
medication? I repeat: It is called Inderal LA.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it
is of concern to the government that the operation of Internet pharmacies may
create shortages of certain important drugs in Canada. This is the first report
that I have had of an actual shortage. I would be delighted to refer this matter
to the Minister of Health. I will look to the honourable senator to provide me
with further details so that the person to whom he refers can be contacted and a
statement made, the pharmacies to which she applied spoken to and the background
checked. It is a matter that all of us would say is of serious import to our
health care system.
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, I have with me the letter from the
patient. I will have it photocopied and delivered to the minister's office.
As a supplementary, the National Post, on November 13, 2003, about a
year and a half ago, indicated that some pharmacists at the time were having
trouble accessing this drug from wholesalers. Perhaps the minister could look
back over the past 18 months to determine if indeed this drug has not been
available to patients, as it is a very important drug.
Senator Austin: I will look also for that story. I have written down
the date. An important part of the inquiry would be to determine where this drug
is manufactured and who are the pharmaceutical wholesalers ordering it. There is
obviously a background story to be told here. I wish to express my appreciation
to the honourable senator for bringing this matter to my attention.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question has two parts.
It deals with the federal budget and then the ongoing crisis of BSE.
Many agricultural sectors have suffered heavy losses as a result of BSE,
including cow-calf operators, dairy producers, feedlot operators and producers
of other ruminant livestock, and they stand to lose more with the recent court
injunction in the United States that will prolong the border closure. The
government could have taken several measures to address the problems faced by
producers hard hit by the BSE crisis in its recent budget, but it chose not to.
Some have proposed that the government should have considered tax deferrals in
the 2004 Budget for producers hit by BSE. Last week the Minister of Finance
mused about a cash bailout. Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate
provide us with the government's public policy direction on this proposal?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, to
be succinct, all of the policies of the government are on the Agriculture and
Agri-food Canada website.
Senator Oliver: Another proposal put forth by producers is to
introduce tax incentives to increase domestic cattle and other ruminant
slaughter capacity. Considering the Canadian economy has lost some $7 billion in
economic activity because of BSE, tax incentives would be a very innovative
response. In view of the fact that the border will remain closed for some time,
would the Leader of the Government in the Senate please offer his government's
views about the idea of tax incentives to increase ruminant slaughter capacity?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, as many in the chamber know, the
federal government alone has provided $1.9 billion to the cow-calf industry in
direct financial support. In the last day or two, in responding to questions,
the Minister of Finance indicated that the government was considering additional
financial support. Also, some of the provinces have announced additional
I will refer the question of tax credits to the Minister of Finance and ask
him to provide a response by way of a delayed answer.
The second part of my answer, honourable senators, relates to what Senator
St. Germain has referred to in his questioning, that is, building domestic
packing capacity. The government is determined to assist Canadian cattle
producers by permitting a larger slaughter capacity in Canada. A new plant is
underway in Prince Edward Island and another in Salmon Arm, British Columbia,
led, of course, by private sector investment but with financial support from the
It is important to the cattle industry and to Canada's investment in that
industry that third-country markets be developed more aggressively. Additional
domestic capacity is required so that the prime cuts from Canada's beef
production — and it is a prime beef production — are more widely available
throughout the world.
I visit Hong Kong frequently — or at least I did before I became Leader of
the Government in the Senate — and Canadian steaks are highly prized there. Beef
is referred to as Canadian beef, Australian beef or U.S. beef, and Canadian beef
is the leader in restaurant requests.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Did the government leader say that $1.9
billion has gone directly to cow-calf operators? I raise this simply because
they are the most vulnerable, are the most at risk and are price takers. If the
minister is at the cabinet table and there are discussions in regard to how to
assist the industry, I would urge him to seek out a special category for
cow-calf operators because they are the ones with the cows on the ground. They
are the ones who have to feed them. Senator Fairbairn knows well what I am
talking about. If we deal with anyone it should be the cow-calf operations.
Traditionally, and even since assistance was first given out on this
occasion, I do not think it has been focused in the right direction. For
example, some of the monies have gone to processing plants, whereas, I believe,
we should have been focusing on the cow-calf operations. I ask the minister
whether he would consider urging the government to focus its assistance in that
Senator Austin: I thank the honourable senator for affording me the
opportunity to correct the record. I meant $1.9 billion to the cattle industry
and, of course, the cow-calf part of that industry has also been supported, but
not to that total.
In the early days of this crisis, the Province of Alberta was supplying money
to the packing plants. I do not believe the federal government has done so.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, I would hope that the focus
would be on the cow-calf operators, and if the minister were to consult people
in the industry, he would be informed quickly of where the assistance is the
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question relates to
the fact that Canada's ambassador to the U.S. recently linked developments on
the BSE file and the softwood lumber dispute with Canada's position on missile
defence. I tried to put this question yesterday but I never really got an
Putting aside reports that the missile defence decision was driven by
internal politics — I think of the Liberal Party, which I believe is in and of
itself problematic — is it this government's view that it is desirable to be
making this linkage in terms of leverage? Is the government taking the
perspective that there is something to be gained by adopting this posture of
linking BSE and softwood lumber to the missile defence scenario?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
government does not believe in linkage in dealing with issues of trade in our
bilateral relationship with the United States, nor did I take the ambassador's
comment to imply linkage. I think Senator St. Germain knows that the
ambassador's comment was not intended to describe linkage but to describe some
public opinion in Canada, and only that.
Senator St. Germain: Is the leader saying, then, that the ambassador
did not say what he said, and that he was not freelancing?
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: My concern continues in this vein because of
the relationship with our American friends. Yesterday, I made reference to the
fact that 85 per cent of the CEOs in this country are concerned about this
decision. They believe it could negatively impact our future trade relations and
our future relations in general with the U.S.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate did not really dismiss my
concerns, but he came back with a statement to the effect that there are people
who worry extensively. Really, they should be worried, because basically they
are the equivalent of the cabinet of corporate Canada. Just as the Leader of the
Government in the Senate is a cabinet minister to the Government of Canada, they
are basically the cabinet ministers to corporate Canada.
Is the minister saying that if something of a grave nature happens in the
country, the cabinet's reaction really should not be taken that seriously? That
is the inference that I received from the leader's response regarding this
information that I, as a matter of fact, passed to him yesterday.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
really said two things yesterday, and I will say one further thing today:
Certainly the survey did not put that question to all CEOs in Canada. It put the
question to a small sample of CEOs, and then hypothesized where the entire
business community might sit.
I did say, and Senator St. Germain agreed with me — and I think anyone who
thinks about it for a moment would agree with both of us — that change is always
a challenge, in the business community or any other community. When the ground
rules are dynamic, obviously all of us focus more carefully on how those changes
impact on us. What we are seeing in the relationship with the United States are
issues in which Canada pursues its interests and the United States pursues its
Also, I made it clear, relying on an excellent editorial in the Vancouver
Sun, which I quoted yesterday, whether it was the relationship between Prime
Minister Diefenbaker and President Kennedy, or prime ministers and presidents
since that time and to the present time, Canadian-U.S. bilateral trade has
continued to expand without any measurable impact on other parts of the
relationship, and the reverse.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, if credit is to be given,
the free trade agreement, which the Liberal Party at one time was talking about
dismantling, obviously must be recognized as a significant reason for that
As the minister knows, the biggest concern with business is the perceived
commitment, and whether that perception is wrong or right, that is the major
concern of the business community. It was perceived that the government would go
along with the United States on this particular decision, so this is change that
is scary. When business makes a verbal commitment, or a perceived commitment,
they generally handle it in a way that the CEO would take it.
The biggest concern is that the President of the United States is taking nine
days to respond to calls, and we discussed this yesterday. Former
administrations, and even the former Prime Minister, received calls back from
the President immediately. These are the reasons for the concerns of the CEOs.
We all believe in polling or we would not be here. The honourable minister
has been in politics long enough and he knows polls are fairly accurate under
most circumstances. Therefore, I ask the leader, does the government not
understand the grave concerns of the CEOs? What will be done to rebuild this
relationship that is so critical to the well-being of their corporations?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, this government has been focused
on building the relationship between Canada and the United States and has done
so with great success. The relationship between Canada and the United States at
the level of leaders is made clear by the trilateral meeting which is taking
place on March 23 in Texas, and the relationship continues at many levels of
activity. We have over 300 formal agreements between the governments of Canada
and the United States, and probably 3,000 or 4,000 other executive and working
agreements. Most of them, if not all of them in total, are functional and
With respect to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, Senator St. Germain and
one or two others here may recall that I was a supporter of the agreement, and I
introduced the NAFTA agreement here in 1994 as the sponsor of that bill. There
were problems, and very rightly-directed criticisms of both the Canada-U.S. Free
Trade Agreement and the NAFTA. After more than 10 years, we see that some of
those criticisms are accurate. Prime Minister Mulroney, if he had been
successful in obtaining the waiving of anti-dumping and countervail, which was
one of his initial publicly declared objectives, would have accomplished
something truly great and beneficial. You may recall, honourable senators, that
Prime Minister Chrétien pointed out that deficiency as one of the reasons for
the Liberal Party's opposition at the time.
With respect to the concerns of corporate Canada, I am not discounting those
concerns. As a businessman or as a leader in any field, I would want to feel
comfortable in my environment. Sometimes, however, larger issues than business
interests are involved. I know that the Canadian business community was also a
bit discomfited with the decision of Prime Minister Chrétien's government not to
participate in the Iraq conflict, and yet I heard no criticisms or arguments
that this would destabilize Canada's bilateral relationship. This was a decision
taken on a policy that was in the interests of the nation as a whole.
Senator St. Germain: I do not think you are accurate on that.
Senator Austin: In conclusion to Senator St. Germain's point, the
Conservative Party did nothing to reassure the business community by avoiding
taking a public position on the missile defence debate. As I said in this
chamber, the Leader of the Opposition was asked by President Bush why the
Conservative Party did not take a position in support of joining the United
States in ballistic missile defence. If there is uncertainty, certainly the
Conservative Party bears its own responsibilities there as well.
Senator St. Germain: Not on my behalf. I speak for myself, as a
The Hon. the Speaker: Supplementary question, Senator Prud'homme.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: This is not a supplementary question. I hope I
will have a chance, because questions and answers should be short. I have a
question for the honourable minister.
The Hon. the Speaker: I have put you on the list and I will see you,
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): In 2003, Howard
Wilson advised that anyone with a government appointment should not attend the
leadership convention of the Liberal Party. The government's policy position is
that anyone with a part-time or full-time Governor-in-Council appointment should
not participate in any partisan political activity whatsoever.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the chamber whether
the former Mayor of Winnipeg attended the Liberal convention last weekend?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, to
the extent that this question relates to government responsibility, I will seek
Senator Stratton: For the leader's information, Mr. Murray did indeed
attend the convention. When asked by the media whether he felt it inappropriate
for him to attend, he said that he felt it was very appropriate to be there. It
was not until he was informed of the ruling by Howard Wilson that he virtually
fled the convention hall, having been informed of the conflict of interest that
he faced. Perhaps the minister can verify that as well.
Senator Austin: Certainly, to the extent that this is relevant to the
government, I will make inquiries. However, if the facts are as Senator Stratton
puts them, then I would say that there can be no concern with respect to Glen
Senator Stratton: I would object to that decision because it goes to
the ethics of the whole situation that our Prime Minister has vowed to change.
He said that his government would be above reproach and be highly ethical. Here
we have someone with a GIC appointment to a supposedly very ethical position, as
chair of a round table on the economy and sustainable development, and his
ethics are already being called into question. How can an individual serve as
chair of such a committee and be deemed to have integrity and honesty if he felt
that there was nothing wrong in attending the Liberal convention?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I thought I heard Senator
Stratton say that Mr. Murray was not aware of the Howard Wilson ruling or of any
rule preventing him from being there. If he was not aware, then the issue was
not a decision on his part to act contrary to any ethical standard to which his
attention had been drawn.
Senator Stratton: On the contrary, I think that it goes to the very
core of the questions of ethics. If he is indeed a man of ethical character, he
would have known that he should not have attended that convention.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, there is a rule that presumes
that someone acts in good faith. I have heard the evidence from Senator Stratton
on the record now that Mr. Murray was not aware. In other words, he was acting
in good faith. The moment he was made aware of the rule, he removed himself.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I would like to follow
the advice given yesterday that questions and answers should be short.
This is International Women's Week. I have suggested often to the leader, and
to everyone who wants to listen, that the time has come to appoint more women to
the Senate. In this, I am serious. I had a good education from my mother, who
voted for the first time at the age of 49, after having fought all her life for
There are now 16 vacancies in the Senate. The Prime Minister of Canada has
the option, before the end of this year, of bringing the membership in the
Senate to 53 women and 52 men. I have suggested that previously, and I am
serious. I see some macho men smiling and others looking worried.
The time has come for this kind of equality, and we would be the first
country in the Western world to have it. That would not stop us from changing
the Senate, be it by electing it or abolishing it. In the meantime, Canada
should show the way for the rest of the world.
Will the minister relay to the Prime Minister our wish that he consider
appointing women until there are 53 women and 52 men in the Senate? Thereafter,
we could proceed in the usual way.
Some Hon. Senators: Say yes!
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, as
before, I will carry Senator Prud'homme's submission to the Prime Minister for
Senator Prud'homme: It is a good suggestion.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators are aware that the prerogative of
appointing senators is entirely that of the Prime Minister under
Order-in-Council of 1935. As a member of the government, it would be exceeding
my role to make a public declaration of my advice. However, I shall report to
the Prime Minister the mood of the chamber at this moment.
Senator Prud'homme: He has "an option." Remind the Prime Minister of
that well known phrase.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before going to Orders of
the Day, I should like to introduce guests from the House of Commons. We have
with us as a guest page Lauren Hurst of Richmond, British Columbia. Lauren is
pursuing her studies in the faculty of social sciences at the University of
Ottawa. She is majoring in international development and globalization.
Welcome to the Senate.
Rachelle Anctil is from Giroulxville, Alberta. She is studying in the faculty
of social sciences at the University of Ottawa, where she is majoring in
international development and globalization.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill C-39, to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to
enact An Act respecting the provision of funding for diagnostic and medical
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I am pleased to offer some
remarks today on Bill C-39. This bill will amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal
Arrangements Act to implement the first ministers' health accord of September
2004, known as the 10-year plan to strengthen health care.
The accord commits the federal government to provide the provinces and
territories with $41 billion in health care funding over the next decade. This
is a significant amount of money and the provinces will clearly welcome it after
a decade or more of budget cuts.
Senator Carstairs carefully detailed the expenditures in her speech, so I
will not revisit them in detail. I do, however, wish to raise some important
I am of the opinion that this piece of legislation must be passed quickly.
Simply put, the provinces need to receive the money they were promised last
fall. However, my support of the passage of this bill should not be mistaken for
an endorsement of the current direction of our health care system or the way it
is funded. Somehow, we must come to the realization in this country that money
alone will not fix the many problems that have taken root in our health care
The debate surrounding Bill C-39 affords me the opportunity to register my
deep concerns about the health accord on two fronts: first, its lack of
accountability, and second, its failure to strengthen primary care and community
care. If we are ever to see meaningful and lasting change, these areas must be
Under this accord, considerable sums of money will be given to the provinces
with no coherent plan for their use, no assessment of the quality of results,
and even without making sure the money will actually go where it is intended. I
believe it is not asking too much for those who use the system and fund it
through their tax dollars to receive better accounting.
In the near future, Canadians will expect specific measurements from their
governments on how this $41 billion has been applied to lower their wait times
or to increase the number of health care professionals in their areas. This will
be especially true if Canadians do not see results.
A 10-year, $5.5-billion wait times reduction transfer is created under this
bill. The sum of $4.25 billion will be paid into a third-party trust fund, which
will be advanced to the provinces over the first five-year period, and beginning
in 2009-10, $250 million will be provided in an annual transfer.
The accord states that the wait times reduction transfer will be targeted for
such areas as clearing blockages and training and hiring more health care
professionals. The federal government rightly believes that the provinces will
draw on most of these funds as soon as they are paid into trust.
This is a good example of the lack of shared accountability. What would
happen if the money is drawn down and Canadians still do not see an improvement
in the length of time they must wait for diagnostic tests or surgical
At some point in the future, the provinces and territories may very well say
that the funds provided to them are insufficient to resolve these problems. They
might then demand more money from the federal government, and we all know what
will happen next.
Just as the federal government must ensure that the money it provides to the
provinces is well spent, the provinces must be held accountable in how they
carry out their constitutional responsibilities.
Clause 25 of the bill states that a committee of either or both Houses of
Parliament will review the progress in implementing the health accord no later
than March 31, 2008. A similar review will be held every three years. Beyond
these parliamentary reviews, there is nothing in the bill before us that ties
transfer payments to compliance.
In 2000, the first ministers committed to regular health reporting. The 2003
First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal negotiated under the previous
Liberal government contained an accountability mechanism that is curiously
absent from the deal now before us. That health accord included performance
indicators to measure timely access, quality, sustainability and health access
and wellness. Although it was not perfect, the method of measuring progress was
a good start.
Unfortunately, last year's health accord does not build upon what was
established in the past. For example, in the area of wait times reduction, some
benchmarks do not have to be established until the end of 2007. Also, health
ministers do not have to report on steps to fulfill the home-care component of
the accord until the end of year 2006.
Under the accord, a one-time payment of $500 million will be provided to the
provinces and territories for diagnostic and medical equipment. The bill states
that this fund will also go toward specialized staff training with the ultimate
goal of improving access to diagnostic and treatment services.
The provinces will receive this money on an equal, per capita basis.
Honourable senators may remember that not too long ago we learned that
approximately 30 per cent of a federal medical equipment fund, established in
2000, had been used to buy such items as icemakers and lawnmowers. It is
possible that such misuse could occur again. Although we may hope that it would
not, I see nothing here that would prevent a similar situation.
Under this deal, hospitals will be the main beneficiary of the increased
funding. While the portion of spending on hospitals has declined over the last
30 years, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that hospitals
remain the single largest component of health care funding in 2004, at about 30
Hospital funding is based upon large global budgets that do not account for
the amount or quality of work that is done, but are, instead, based on
historical spending patterns. It is clear that our health care system still
revolves around the notion of hospitals and doctors, despite the fact that today
many services can be provided in other settings by a wide variety of health care
In my opinion, the single-minded focus on hospitals and doctors as the main
provider of health care is inefficient and quite costly and is, therefore,
unwise. A team-based, multidisciplinary approach to care must be our guide, and
the emphasis must be at the primary care and community level — where we can
intelligently deal with access, emergency care, home care and public health
The 2003 Health Accord referred to primary care as, "the key to efficient,
timely, quality care." Primary care is ideally available to patients around the
clock, and can be tailored to fit a community's needs based on its location or
the make-up of its population. Primary care centres on the diagnosis, treatment
and management of chronic conditions, as well as illness prevention and health
promotion. It also incorporates community care and home care services, such as
support programs after hospitalization.
Primary health care is not a new idea, but it is one that has yet to be
supported in our country in the way I believe it should. The facts speak for
themselves — there are currently almost three times as many hospitals in Canada
as there are primary care clinics or community clinics. Can you believe that?
You would think there should be 100 times as many primary care and community
clinics as there are hospitals. What has gone wrong?
If we remember the report of the Romanow commission in 2002, primary health
care was described as not being a single program that can be rolled out across
the health care system. Instead, it is about bringing transformative change to
the way in which the system works.
The Romanow commission was of the opinion that no other initiative holds as
much promise for improving health and sustaining the system as a whole. The
commission also argued that primary health care could save Canada money in terms
of our future investment in the health care system, although I must add that it
is extremely difficult to quantify what those savings might be.
However, having the most appropriately qualified health care provider deliver
a service to patients is bound to be more cost effective. It would also allow
doctors to spend more time doing what only they are qualified to do.
Honourable senators, instead of our over-reliance on hospitals, we should
place more of our concentration on building up primary care, community care,
home care and public health. However, the health accord does not put enough
thought into such a plan. In my view, this is a grave oversight, as it is an
area on which we desperately need to focus.
The accord states that first ministers will establish a best-practices
network to share information and to overcome the barriers to primary health care
reform. They also agree to make regular progress reports. These are small steps
forward, not the bold and innovative thinking that is required at this time.
Our own Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
gave consideration to primary care reform in its 2002 report, which looked into
the federal role in health care. The committee identified several barriers to
the implementation of primary care reform. These include shortages of qualified
personnel, competition between the different professional groups and the absence
of an electronic-information infrastructure.
It is believed that electronic health records are crucial to primary care
reform. Ideally, they would contain a person's general information and their
health records, including their drug history and the results of laboratory or
diagnostic tests. Their development is in an area where the Social Affairs
Committee believes the federal government could take a leading role.
On this point, the health accord commits the first ministers to work with
Canada Health Infoway to accelerate the development and implementation of
electronic health records, including e-prescribing. The goal is to have
electronic health records for half of Canadians by 2009 and full coverage by
2020. Canada Health Infoway has received over $1 billion in federal funding
since it was established in 2001, but electronic health records are still not
widely used in our country.
The Health Council of Canada released its first report in January 2005. The
report's findings can be summarized in just a few words: We are moving too
slowly. It stressed that we must accelerate the use of collaborative health care
delivery as the basis of primary health care reform. The health council also
emphasized the need to remove regulatory barriers against these
multidisciplinary teams and the need to move forward with the electronic patient
Again, I return to the 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal to
make a comparison, as that deal viewed primary care reform as the key to
efficient and timely health care. Despite the uniform recognition that Canada
must strengthen primary health care, governments have yet to follow through.
While there appears to be widespread support among the public, and some positive
steps have come from governments, primary care reform has not been significantly
advanced by this health accord.
Honourable senators, as I said at the outset, I believe that Bill C-39 must
pass, and the funds must flow to the provinces. I will do what I can to see this
happens expeditiously. However, we must be careful about our next major
investment in health care, as it is clear that we cannot continue along the same
path. I look forward to the committee's review of this bill.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Keon: I would.
Senator Bryden: This is a bit of a comment as well as a question. I
could not agree more with the honourable senator in his analysis that the
improvement in our health care system will come at the primary care level and
the community level. The statistics relating to the numbers of hospitals in
Canada vis-à-vis the number of clinics and team approaches illustrate exactly
what the problem is.
One of the problems that my province is facing is that we have roads blocked
at the moment in Northern New Brunswick because a community hospital will be
turned into a health care centre. This hospital is not the first one and is not
likely to be the last one. What may be missing, and perhaps the honourable
senator would comment, is that what the hospital means to these communities is
far more than health care. Indeed, most of the people who live in the community,
if they have a serious health problem, do not go to the local hospital. They go
to the regional hospital where they can get full service.
The main concern in these communities is jobs. When you turn a community
hospital — with all of its support staff and all of the things that need to be
done around a hospital — into a health care centre, the impact on the jobs of
ordinary citizens in each of those communities is tremendous.
Has the honourable senator, or anyone else, thought about a transition fund
or funding, or a transition task force to help these communities and the people
who live in these communities during the transformation into a primary care
system that will either give priority to people who work in the hospital, or
indeed — and this is a terrible word — provide buy-outs for those people who are
in their 50s and early 60s and whose only working life has been as orderlies,
and so on, at these hospitals? There is no question that that is the major
stopper in rural Canada and small community Canada, in my opinion, to being able
to reach the goal that I think everybody wants to reach, including the
Government of the Province of New Brunswick. It is difficult to get there.
Senator Keon: I thank the honourable senator for his question.
Honourable senators, I assume I will get the same amount of time to respond as
it took for the honourable senator to ask his question.
Senator Bryden raised a very important issue. Health restructuring has been
done so badly. All of us involved in health care over the years as health
professionals, administrators, and so forth have really not delivered in the way
that we should have. We allowed this to happen sometimes because we just did not
want to go against the grain.
The reality is that various provinces have looked at their hospital structure
and, seeing that they had excess hospital beds, vowed to close out the excess
capacity. They then made an even bigger bungle, because they closed the cheap
little hospitals and dumped their patients into the big hospitals. Thus, as
opposed to a hospital bed running at $200 a day, they put deliveries into a
facility that is costing $1,100 or $1,200 a day. That has to be an almost
The real flaw occurred because of the chronic shortage of money. Money comes
on a year-to-year basis, and nobody put out the money to build the primary care
system before taking the hospitals out. This struck terror in the hearts of the
local citizenry, and everybody is protesting about their hospital being closed,
because there was nothing available in its place.
The Senate committee tried to deliver the message that some money has to be
spent. This money must be for change, not to simply propagate what is already
there. It must bring about change. The most important change, in my opinion, is
to build community-based primary care that is linked to emergency care, public
health, custodial care and the palliative care on which Senator Carstairs has
spent so much time and achieved so much. We must collectively continue to harp
on that, or we will not go anywhere. That is what I was trying to do today.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: The issue of the hospital situation in New
Brunswick has prompted me to comment. I remember that 15 years ago the Edmunston
Regional Hospital, a brand new hospital, had fewer beds and three administrative
persons. We built this new hospital with fewer beds, but with an entire third
floor of office space for administration. Two weeks ago, I visited a friend in
that new hospital, and I noticed that some construction was going on on the
second floor. I asked what was going on and if there was to be some new
equipment. The reply was, "No, no, we are removing one bathroom because we need
more office space."
Where do we recognize that the mission of our health care system is to
deliver health care and not to deliver administration to the system? You can
overburden a system and bypass the object of a system with administration
perplexity and complexity and not deliver on your primary mission, which is
delivering health care. I seek the guidance of the honourable senator on this
Senator Keon: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I can
only agree with what she has said. Again, we have allowed bureaucracy to grow
wild. We should never have allowed this, and we must reverse it.
Last summer, Senator Kirby and I gave this matter a great deal of thought,
and we put out a provocative paper suggesting that what we need in health care
is competition. Unfortunately, somehow this was misconstrued, and people thought
we were advocating a public-private system, which we were not doing at all. We
simply said, "Within the public system, let us have some competition and
bidding, the way we do in other industries." We would not allow the contracts
for our highways, and so forth, to be let without two or three tenders. In
health care, we do not need that. We just need a bunch of bureaucrats who decide
where the money will go, and it goes in big lumps.
We need to get out of this way of thinking. We need to dedicate ourselves to
getting out of it. We must continue to harp on it. The money that is coming
forth is needed. We must be really sure that this money changes things forever,
and that it does not find its way into these hugely expensive facilities that
are bankrupting the system and leaving nothing at the community level.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Would the honourable senator share more of his
vast experience in the health care field and medicine? I was following the last
exchange. It may be said that the nature of bureaucracy is that bureaucracy
begets bureaucracy. Senator Keon more or less said that we have regrets — "we"
meaning the profession, perhaps, collectively — and perhaps should not have
allowed the bureaucracy to grow in the way that it has. However, that is the
nature of bureaucracy. It is almost as if it wakes up every morning with a
bottle of instant bureaucracy and they dip out a teaspoon and stir it into a cup
of water and more bureaucrats come out.
I have watched the Senate here become burdened in bureaucracy to the extent
that it is difficult for senators to operate and to function, to my mind,
properly because of so much bureaucracy. I wonder if, in the work that Senator
Kirby and Senator Keon have been doing in their studies — I have not followed it
that closely, so perhaps they have already done so — they have studied how to
keep bureaucracy under control.
Senator Keon: I do not think we have studied this matter sufficiently,
and when I say "we" I mean Senator Kirby and myself. We wrote one paper because
the committee could not sit, but other members of the committee are here who
make enormous contributions. It is not just the two of us. We will continue as a
committee for as long as we can.
We have not given enough thought to this matter; we must give it more. We
must start developing a total intolerance for some of the things that are going
on. For example, in my own institution, I was told by the bureaucracy that I was
not spending enough on administration. I was told that I could not be running
the place properly since I was not spending 30 per cent on administration; I was
only spending 10 per cent. I said that the reason is that I let the people who
are touching the patients run the place. I received a great deal of credit for
running a wonderful facility. In fact, it was the people who were touching the
patients who made it humanitarian.
We are all obliged to do something about this situation. There is far too
much money being spent. Up to 30 per cent of our health spending is going into
bureaucracy and it is definitely not needed. We would be better with about half
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, years ago I had
an operation. How much time does a doctor spend just on paperwork? I know he
operates in the morning and cares for his patients, but how much time goes to
paperwork in a day?
Senator Keon: It depends on the physician. If you are a junior person
on the medical staff, you spend a great deal of time because you must do your
own paperwork. If you are blessed to get into a position of authority, then you
can hire people to do your paperwork, and you should, since they do it better.
Senator Cools: More bureaucracy.
Senator Keon: That does not mean that you need an excessive number of
such people; not at all.
The Hon. the Speaker: Since no further senator is rising to speak, I
would ask honourable senators if they are ready for the question.
Some 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 Banks, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Ferretti Barth, for the third reading of Bill C-6, An
Act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
and to amend or repeal certain Acts.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, you will recall that on
Wednesday, February 23, when Senator Banks moved third reading on Bill C-6 which
establishes the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Senator
Cools raised a point of order. The purpose of the point of order, as Senator
Cools explained, was to claim that Bill C-6 requires Royal Consent.
According to the senator, there are two basic interrelated reasons why Bill
C-6 requires Royal Consent. The first is that the bill deals with matters that
involve the prerogative powers of the Crown. The numerous prerogatives that
Senator Cools said are affected by this bill involve pardons, mercy and
clemency. In support of her position, the senator made reference to several
authorities including, specifically, the Letters Patent of 1947 regarding the
office of the Governor General of Canada, in particular Article XII and the
authority to grant pardons. Associated to this, Senator Cools stated, is the
fact that the bill "attempts to alter, jettison or abolish the position of
Solicitor General." If I understand the senator's position correctly, such an
action cannot be done without Royal Consent because the Solicitor General is a
law officer of the Crown, and, as such, belongs to the office of the Queen, or
the Queen's representative, the Governor General.
At the outset of her presentation on the point of order, Senator Cools
explained that she had waited deliberately until the Senate had come to the
third reading stage of Bill C-6, in compliance with previous Speaker's rulings.
These rulings acknowledge that, according to established practice, Royal Consent
on a C-bill need not be signified until it reaches its final stage in the Senate
if it has not been granted in the other place.
Following Senator Cools' initial intervention, three other senators spoke to
the point of order. Senator Rompkey, the Deputy Leader of the Government, argued
that the point of order, in not being raised promptly, was now out of place as
an objection. More to the point, Senator Rompkey asserted that Bill C-6 does not
affect in any way the prerogative, hereditary revenues, personal property or
interests of the Crown. As the senator maintained, "This is a change in
government departments which we have acknowledged from time to time on both
sides of the house is the prerogative of the advisors of Her Majesty."
For his part, Senator Kinsella, the Leader of the Opposition, supported the
point of order because, in his view, Bill C-6 affects an office of the Crown.
Consequently, in seeking to abolish the office of the Solicitor General, there
is a clear need, in the Senator's opinion, to secure Royal Consent.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Banks, then spoke to challenge the merits of
the point of order. The senator took note of the fact that the position of
Solicitor General in Canada is not the same as in the United Kingdom. He also
explained that Canada did not always have a Solicitor General. This being so,
Senator Banks argued that:
The connection between the majesty of the Crown and the office of the
Solicitor General in Canada, which is vastly different from the office of the
Solicitor General in the United Kingdom then or now, has not been made.
Therefore, there is no point of order.
After Senator Cools made a final statement, I agreed to take the question of
the possible requirement for Royal Consent under advisement. In keeping with
established practice, I also informed the Senate that debate at third reading of
Bill C-6 could continue.
I wish to express my appreciation to all honourable senators for their
participation on this point of order. As Senator Cools stated, the question of
Royal Consent has come up several times in recent years. In this particular
case, there are two questions to be answered based on the arguments that were
made: Are the prerogative powers of the Queen or the Governor General being
affected by this bill? Does the abolition of the Solicitor General as an officer
of the Crown require Royal Consent?
In looking to answer these two questions, I will put aside the objection to
the point of order that was made with respect to timeliness. While there was
nothing to prevent anyone from raising a point of order about Royal Consent
earlier, Senator Cools is right in noting that the need to secure Royal Consent
for a C-bill that is deemed to require one, if it has not already been obtained
in the other place, must be no later than when third reading of the bill is
finally put to a vote here in the Senate.
As Speaker, my role is to rule on points of order, citing the relevant
authorities or practice applicable to the case. Most points of order relate
directly to the conduct of business in the Senate; such is not the case in
matters related to Royal Consent. To determine the merits of this point of
order, I have been obliged to look into subject matter that is somewhat beyond
the normal purview of the Speaker. To the extent I have been required to do
this, I hope to have the Senate's indulgence and understanding.
The first question to be answered deals with the alleged effect of Bill C-6
on the prerogative powers of the Crown. Among the powers identified by Senator
Cools are mercy, clemency and pardon. These powers date back in England to
medieval times, and to the extent they still exist in Canada, they are part of
our constitutional heritage. They are powers invested in the Crown that are
exercisable by the Governor General upon the advice, depending on the nature of
the offence, of either the Privy Council or at least one minister according to
Article XII of the Letters Patent of 1947. I note that no specific reference is
made to the Solicitor General in Article XII.
Prerogative powers, despite their long history, need not be forever
immutable. They can be abolished or limited by statute. Once these powers have
been eliminated or curtailed by law, the powers of the Crown are appropriately
restricted. When Parliament seeks to limit or abolish these powers, Royal
Consent is required. Through the signification of this consent, the Crown
acknowledges that its prerogative powers are being affected by proposed
legislation and concedes to Parliament the authority to consider the matter.
I listened closely to the discussion on the point of order on February 23,
and I read the Debates of the Senate afterwards to better understand the
nature of the arguments that were made. I also looked into the substance of Bill
C-6, the purpose of which is to establish the Department of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness. Despite the allegation that the prerogative powers are
being affected, I have neither heard nor read anything that supports the claim.
There is nothing in the bill to suggest that any of the prerogative powers
themselves are in any way restricted or restrained, let alone abolished. There
is nothing to lead me as Speaker to believe that Royal Consent is required due
to any limitation on the prerogative powers of Article XII being imposed through
It may be, however, that the claim regarding the prerogative powers is
founded not so much on their direct restriction, but rather through the
abolition of the position of the Solicitor General. This is the second question
that I identified in the point of order.
The claim being made, as I understand it, is based on the assertion that the
Solicitor General is an officer of the Crown. This view is founded largely on
the history of the office in the United Kingdom. The position of Solicitor
General has existed in England for centuries. In modern times, as was explained,
the British Solicitor General functions as a sort of Deputy Attorney General. In
the United Kingdom, the position is styled Her Majesty's Solicitor General for
England and Wales. In former times, there were several Solicitors General, of
which some were actually listed as members of the Royal household, particularly
that of the Queen consort, a situation that is still true, as Senator Cools
stated, for the holder of an equivalent position in the household of the Prince
The history of the Solicitor General in Canada is very different. It is not
equivalent in its history to the position in the United Kingdom. Contrary to
what was claimed during the point of order, the Solicitor General is not a
constitutional office; there is no mention made of a federal level Solicitor
General in the Constitution Act, 1867. Indeed, according to the information that
I have obtained, the office of the federal Solicitor General was first created
by statute in 1887, though not proclaimed in force until 1892. It was not
originally a cabinet level position, and it was occasionally left vacant,
sometimes for several years at a time. It was not until 1917 that the first
Solicitor General was sworn to the Privy Council, and it was not until 1926 that
this practice became consistent. For a two-year period in 1950, the duties and
functions of the Solicitor General were transferred to the Minister of Justice
and Attorney General. In 1966, the old Solicitor General Act was repealed and
the new act was adopted creating the Solicitor General of Canada as a
Almost 15 years ago, an attempt was made to restructure the portfolio of
Solicitor General into a new public security function. None of these bills or
acts presented to Parliament, so far as I have been able to determine, obtained
or required the signification of Royal Consent.
Furthermore, having been established by statute law, I see no reason why the
abolition of the Solicitor General, or rather the transfer of authority and
responsibilities of the old position into the expanded position of the Minister
of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, by new legislation would require
Royal Consent. I have found no evidence to convince me that the objectives of
Bill C-6 affect the prerogative interests or personal property of the Crown in
any material way so as to require Royal Consent.
Accordingly, it is my ruling that the point of order is not well founded and
that there is no requirement for Royal Consent with respect to Bill C-6. Debate
at third reading may continue to its conclusion, as there is no impediment to
making a decision with respect to the third reading motion.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (budget—study on
mental health) presented in the Senate on February 24, 2005.—(Honourable
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of this
report, standing in the name of Senator Cook.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing
Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (budget—study on the necessity
for a National Security policy) presented in the Senate on February 24, 2005.—(Honourable
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, Senator Kenny is travelling
with the National Security and Defence Committee in Western Canada and, as such,
has asked me to move the adoption of this report on his behalf.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition) rose pursuant to
notice of February 24, 2005:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the budget presented by
the Minister of Finance in the House of Commons on February 23, 2005.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise to initiate debate on this inquiry that
calls the attention of the Senate to the budget presented by the Minister of
Finance in the House of Commons on February 23, 2005, and tabled in this chamber
on the same day. Before delving into the details of the budget, it might be
helpful to consider the nature and function of a budget.
Webster's dictionary offers several definitions of the word "budget," all of
which are applicable. First, a budget is defined as a statement of the financial
position of an administration for a definite period of time, based on detailed
estimates of planned or expected expenditures during the period and proposals
for financing them. Second, a budget is defined as a plan for the coordination
of resources and expenditures. Third, a budget is defined as the amount of money
available, required, or assigned to a particular purpose.
From an accounting perspective, a budget is usually a relatively short-term
plan, typically dealing with the next year. The short-term plan results from a
decision-making process that chooses among alternative solutions to operating or
financial problems within prescribed policy limits. That decision-making
process, in turn, comes on the heels of a policy formulation process that
establishes the basic ground rules and limits within which decisions are made.
Honourable senators, a budget has several purposes, with the principal one
being, in essence, a planning process rather than the more commonly held view
that it is a process to establish expenditure limits. The budget process should
compel the government to closely review all aspects of its objective, the
methods to achieve them and the associated costs. One effect should be that
those involved will quantify plans, and test those plans against standards of
desirability and feasibility. There is an opportunity to review and anticipate
possible changes in the underlying environment that may have a significant
impact on the overall plans of the government. A desirable outcome of the
budgetary process is that it will aid in the development of a formal statement
of both the ends and means, serving as a guideline against which to measure
In brief, a budget is the culmination of a decision-making process. A budget
may be considered as a quantitative expression of the immediate objectives of
the government and the manner in which it plans to finance its operations during
the course of the year.
On the website of the Department of Finance, the budget is described as "a
blueprint for how the Government wants to set the annual economic agenda for
Honourable senators, a question that needs to be asked is: How good is this
blueprint? If we are working with a blueprint that contains significant errors,
clearly the result will likely be unsatisfactory. The current budget has
numerous flaws. It is too slow to implement personal income tax cuts, which are
minor. It proposes an expenditure of billions of dollars to implement the Kyoto
Protocol without addressing real environmental issues. It takes five years to
deliver a bureaucratic child care program, while providing no direct assistance
to Canadian parents. It does little to assist rural Canada or to assist
education. After a decade of neglect, it takes five years to provide additional
resources for our military, without any clear plan. This government continues to
place billions of public dollars in the hands of private foundations that are
beyond the scrutiny of Parliament and the Auditor General.
Honourable senators, Canadians went to the polls eight months ago. During the
course of the election campaign, the Prime Minister said that Canada could not
afford tax relief and increases in spending for the military. That claim was
based on the government's budget, which proved to be incorrect. The money was
there. Even worse, the government seemed to be totally unaware of the size of
the error, despite the fact that the end of the fiscal year had come and gone.
We all understand that the environment can change during the course of one year,
which makes accuracy difficult to achieve and more a laudable goal than a
probable outcome. The budget is based on forecasts by skilled professionals and
is set in stone at the time of release.
However, a competent government should be tracking variances from the
forecasts throughout the year. A competent government should be able to provide
progressively more reliable predictions as the end of the period draws nearer.
The fact that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance were not able to do
so suggests that there is a systemic problem either in the process or in their
approach to keeping Canadians fully informed of the facts.
Since the election, the government has made more than $55 billion in new
commitments. Some of the measures in the budget were those proposed by the
Conservative Party — measures previously resisted by the government. For
example, Conservatives have long argued for tax relief for low- and
middle-income Canadians. This budget has finally taken some timid steps in that
direction. Reduced corporate taxes help to stimulate the economy, create jobs
and, ultimately, raise government revenue. This budget has recognized, at last,
the validity of this policy, which was advocated by the Conservative Party of
The inadequacy of defence spending has been at the forefront of Canadian
concerns, and the Conservative Party of Canada is a chief advocate for
additional money for our Canadian Armed Forces. At least this budget has begun
to address this continuing problem. Other measures contained in the budget,
including the tax credit for adoption expenses and the elimination of the excise
tax on jewellery, came directly from initiatives undertaken by Conservatives.
The platform of the Conservative Party of Canada included improvements to the
caregiver tax credit that is now found in this budget. Removal of the Canadian
Agricultural Income Stabilization cash deposit requirement, the subject of a
Conservative supply debate and a defeated motion in the other place, is now
found in this budget.
Honourable senators, unfortunately, many of the steps taken by the Minister
of Finance do not go far enough or fast enough to have a substantial impact on
the well-being of Canadians. There has been a lengthy delay to the future of
substantial tax relief for business: tax relief that will grow the economy,
create jobs and enhance government revenues to, in turn, help fund higher
Turning to the topic of taxes, on budget day Canadians opened their morning
papers to the news that later that day the Minister of Finance was going to cut
their taxes by raising the basic personal exemption to $10,000. That issue has
been the subject matter of questions in this house, and it behooves us to ask
questions, for how that news left the secure confines of the Department of
Finance is a matter that does not appear to have excited any interest in
government circles, although it is a matter of serious concern that I will
Despite the grand sound of the measure, a closer look at the fine print
reveals that an individual's taxes will drop next year by the princely sum of
$16. Four years from now, the tax break will amount to $192. This is still not a
king's ransom, but for many low-income Canadians it will be helpful, provided
that the entire amount is not taken from their pockets by other means.
Even with this tax reduction, the government expects that in the year 2009 it
will collect 35 per cent more in personal income taxes than it did last year.
Revenues from personal income taxes continue to rise faster than any other
revenue category. This continuing increase in a time of surpluses does not
reflect well on the government. The budget does not change the fact that the
highest marginal tax rates are faced not by the wealthy but by low- and
modest-income families with children. Add together federal taxes, provincial
taxes, EI, CPP, the clawback on the GST credit, the clawback on the Canada Child
Tax Benefit, the clawback on the National Child Benefit and, in some provinces,
other income-tested benefits, and you have the equivalent of marginal taxes in
excess of 60 per cent. For some larger families, the marginal tax rate will be
in excess of 80 per cent.
Honourable senators, the budget also announced a change in the way EI
premiums are set. In the future, rates will be set to cover the cost of the
program, with a limit on the size of a year-to-year change to help ensure that
the rates are stable and predictable. Expert advice will be taken into account.
In other words, the budget proposes to establish a system much like the one that
was previously thrown out by the government to enable it to set the rates at an
artificially high level.
Honourable senators, over the past eight years, the government has built up a
$48 billion surplus in the Employment Insurance Account. Because the money was
being spent as fast as it came in, those who argued that the surplus would help
the premiums from rising during the recession were wrong.
Giving authority to set the rates to the EI commission should mean that
Canadians will enjoy a reprieve from the practice of using EI premiums as just
another tax. The budget does not address the EI account itself, and the paper
surplus that it contains. That surplus will play no role in rate-setting
decisions. In other words, the surplus is effectively an interest-free loan to
the government from Canadian workers. There is no acknowledgment in the budget
that the EI surplus was built under a false pretext.
I will now turn to child care. The budget commits the federal government to
providing $5 billion over five years to the provinces and territories in support
of an early learning and child care initiative. However, there does not appear
to be a finished plan to support this allocation. Five billion dollars surely is
a considerable amount of money to confer without a clear articulation of the
objectives of the initiative. It is a matter of considerable concern that huge
sums of money are being set aside without anything resembling a clear purpose or
focus. It appears that this money will not benefit the more traditional family
arrangements for child care. Families with one parent staying home to care for
the children will be helping to pay for those who make other arrangements. A
more workable national child care proposal might offer families direct
assistance from tax breaks rather than offering unpalatable alternatives.
Let us speak for a moment about the standard of living enjoyed by Canadians.
This budget devotes an entire chapter to an analysis of the current demographic
state of Canada. Regrettably, not enough is done to enhance productivity in this
budget. Our neighbours to the south have been chalking up gains in productivity
while Canada has been losing ground.
Honourable senators, we are all well aware of the serious realities of the
current demographics of our country. The crunch is coming. We can see it clearly
in the numbers. It is completely predictable and almost completely unavoidable.
If high-priority social programs are to be available to Canadians when they
require them, greater attention must be paid to growing our standard of living,
and this means that government at all levels must encourage investment in
Canada's productive capacity. Taxes must be brought down. The regulatory
environment must be streamlined. We need to reduce the national debt more
rapidly, and education and training must be actively encouraged.
When reality is compared to need, reality shows that the past three years
have seen the value of R&D performed by Canadian business declining from a peak
of $13.8 billion in the year 2001 to $12.5 billion last year.
The subject of post-secondary education received only nominal attention in
the budget speech. The Minister of Finance stated:
Reducing debt, in a reasonable and measured way, relieves a big burden on
In the last decade and a half, university tuition has climbed dramatically,
and the statistics have been well documented and widely reported. The average
undergraduate science and arts student pays nearly $5,000 in tuition alone, and
an individual in a professional program has an average tuition cost of over
$12,000. There is clearly an increasingly overwhelming burden being shouldered
by Canadian post-secondary students, and the statistics suggest that, unless
real leadership is demonstrated by the federal and provincial governments, costs
will continue to soar.
The budget also paid little attention to the need for research and
innovation. If Canada is to be in the vanguard of innovation, a significant
investment of resources in this important area is required. Sustaining the
status quo is not sufficient. This issue should have received much greater
attention than it did.
Recommendations put forward by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
suggest a clear path for improvement, but it must be understood that these are
only measures to help alleviate problems in the short term. We must re-analyze
how we deliver post-secondary education in this country.
Re-analyzing how we deliver post-secondary education means looking at the
best practices of other countries. For example, Ireland's experience in the last
decade is an interesting — indeed, instructive — success story, a story in
linking access to post-secondary education to a healthier economy and, as a
result, a higher standard of living. Canada can study models such as the Irish
one and learn from its experience, as well as that of other nations. Doing so
will require the cooperation of both levels of government, and both levels must
be willing to explore new options with a sense of open-mindedness.
Turning to the matter of defence, honourable senators, after years of neglect
the budget has announced new funding for the Armed Forces. However, there are
two big problems with the announcement in the budget. First, there is a
significant element of back-end loading, meaning that much of the money promised
will not actually arrive until four or five years from now. Second, while the
budget trumpeted the amount as $12.7 billion, much of it had already been
Last week, our own Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
held public hearings in Western Canada. On February 28, in Vancouver, former
Vice-Admiral Chuck Thomas, Chief of Defence Staff, told our committee:
The new budget that just came down is a day late and many dollars short...
The consequence is that we are going to send our children and our
grandchildren to ugly places in the world where the bad guys have better guns.
We are going to put them at risk, and they are going to come home in body
bags. It is not right.
At the same meeting, retired Major-General Brian Vernon stated:
In hockey terms, we have a hockey team that has two forwards, one
defenceman, a goalie who cannot skate, a coach that is on stress leave and a
bus that is broken down.
Honourable senators, it would appear that this government does not have a
plan for defence, and we are given no indication as to how a considerable
portion of the new money will be used.
Returning briefly to my opening comments, wherein a budget was described as
the end of a planning process and as a blueprint for the annual economic agenda,
it is curious that so much of the money in this budget is being set aside
apparently without much in the way of a finished plan.
Honourable senators, on the topic of the environment, a centrepiece of the
2005 budget's environmental announcements was greenhouse gas abatement measures.
There were, of course, also spending announcements on a range of other
environmental issues, including invasive species, fisheries, our waterways and
oceans, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and national parks.
Whether the resources allocated will be sufficient to accomplish the stated
purposes remains to be seen, but if the budget process is working properly,
there is reason to be hopeful. In this context, it should be noted that Canada
has been criticized for its record on the environment by authorities as diverse
as the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and
the OECD. Much clearly remains to be done in all of these areas.
It is in the principal area of focus, namely, greenhouse gas abatement
measures, that the government appears to be struggling the most. The whole issue
of global warming seems to be one that has not been properly managed during the
course of the budget process.
Let us recall that on April 29, 2003, our Prime Minister-to-be said in a
Toronto town hall meeting:
I think if you're going to bring in something like Kyoto, which is going to
provide a huge national cooperation, you owe it to Canadians to lay the plan
in front of them, so Canadians know what is being asked of them.
Unfortunately, we ratified Kyoto without that plan in place, and since then we
have not heard a great deal about the plan.
Mr. Martin was laying it out clearly in that speech in Toronto. It is clear
that, without a plan, it is pretty difficult to move forward in a rational
Unfortunately, it would appear that Canada is still operating without a firm,
substantive plan. Canadians do not yet know what will be asked of them. Canadian
businesses still do not have certainty about the government's plans to enable
them, in turn, to effectively plan for the future.
Efforts to date to get buy-in from the Canadian public has been less than
successful, despite the fact that polls consistently show that Canadians view
global warming with concern and think that something should be done. There is a
similar problem with other levels of government, which have also indicated that
they want to be part of the solution.
Aside from the specifics of the greenhouse gas abatement measures mentioned
in the budget and the revised Kyoto plan, a number of things should be clear as
we move forward. First, Canada desperately needs to take a leadership role in
developing technologies and mechanisms that encourage and reward Canadians and
Canadian industry for taking action to reduce greenhouse gas output.
Second, our resources should be directed at developing made-in-Canada
solutions and technologies that provide benefits right here in Canada. The
practices and technologies could then be exported to other countries to help
them with their greenhouse gas challenges.
Third, good government policy can spur innovation and, in the process, create
new economic opportunities. We must ensure that Canadians take full advantage of
these opportunities by creating an innovative regime of programs, strategic
investments and tax incentives.
Fourth, many of the most cost-effective investments for reducing greenhouse
gases are also based on technologies that increase energy efficiencies.
Investments in these technologies can enhance energy efficiency, yield climate
change benefits and provide cost benefits to consumers and industry.
Fifth, all of our efforts in climate change must be done in meaningful
cooperation with stakeholders and other levels of government. On this point, the
government's record has unfortunately been weak. For instance, the 2002 climate
change plan for Canada was met with complaints about lack of input by
Parliament, stakeholders and other levels of government. Also, in the 2002
debate over motions about Canada's ratification of Kyoto, government members in
the other place — and, indeed, some senators in this place — rejected amendments
aimed at having a greater degree of federal-provincial agreement on an
Finally, any measures or programs aimed at greenhouse gas abatement need
effective execution, review and follow-up with a view to ensuring that they
achieve their stated goals on an ongoing basis. Whether or not this government's
greenhouse gas abatement measures, as announced in the budget and discussed in
Minister Dion's revised Kyoto plan, meet the six objectives I have outlined,
only time will tell.
One thing is certain, honourable senators. The past performance of this
government on this issue does not give Canadians cause to be optimistic. Indeed,
for the environment as a whole, this government's overall record of failing to
match performance with promises is a worrying trend.
Turning to the matter of agriculture, honourable senators, this budget was
particularly deficient when it comes to agricultural matters. Farmers, as we
know, are facing extremely difficult times and the reports in the media reflect
the severity of the problem. Statistics Canada recently reported that net farm
income bottomed out in 2003 at the lowest level since 1978.
A list of some of the challenges include: the continuing BSE crisis,
plummeting commodity prices, high input costs, increases in industrial milk
prices, the avian influenza and a cool, wet harvest season with an early frost
on the Prairies.
In Ontario, Quebec and other parts of Canada, it seems that not a week goes
by without protests by farmers and farm groups as they struggle to bring
attention to their plight. It is these kinds of circumstances and situations
which bring into focus the magnitude of the difficulties that the agricultural
As this is not the first such year, budget planning should have had this
sector clearly in mind, and significant initiatives to help rebuild the
agricultural industry in Canada might have been expected. However, just as in
the October Speech from the Throne, the budget announced next to nothing in
terms of substantive measures for Canada's agricultural sector. No major
overhaul of the increasingly dysfunctional Canadian Agricultural Income
Stabilization program, CAIS, was announced. Producers hard hit by drought,
crashing commodity prices and the tragic BSE crisis have been asking for tax
deferrals on 2004 income. I did not see any such measure in this budget.
Nowhere in the budget is there any mention of tax incentives to increase
domestic cattle and other ruminants' slaughter capacity for producers who have
taken such a pummelling from the BSE crisis. The federal government continues to
refuse to consider a federal cull program while the number of animals in
Canadian herds continues to grow, and domestic slaughter capacity remains
insufficient. If the budget represents the culmination of a decision-making
process, it appears that the process itself has failed with regard to many
agricultural issues, particularly for the cattle industry.
Honourable senators, in closing, I wish to touch upon the matter of budget
secrecy to which I alluded. Budget secrecy, honourable senators, is a keystone
of our parliamentary tradition. Details of a budget can affect the financial
markets, and knowledge of some of the specifics has been shown to provide
individuals with an unfair advantage. Budgets are kept secret until they are
tabled. We know that in the past many a minister or government has fallen when
budget secrecy was breached.
Furthermore, budgets are released after the markets have closed. The time of
delivery of the budget speech is not an accident. Generally, budget speeches are
given after markets are closed so that those with direct and immediate access to
the markets do not have an unfair advantage over those who do not have such
Thus, it came as a surprise that on budget day, and in the days leading up to
the budget, there was no shortage of reports as to what the Minister of Finance
would be revealing to the nation at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 23. My
colleague, Senator Tkachuk, pointed to the uncanny accuracy of an article that
appeared in the National Post on budget day under the by line of Anne
Dawson, who was able to tell her readers about several budget measures including
child care, the cut in corporate taxes, the increase in the Guaranteed Income
Supplement, the payment schedule for the national child care program and the
reduction in the Air Travellers Security Charge.
Ms. Dawson seems to have secured more details than many others, but the news
also leaked out to other papers. The Globe and Mail highlighted the
minister's claim that raising the basic personal amount to $10,000 would take
many Canadians off the tax rolls. While the Vancouver Sun had many of the
same details reported by other papers, it had the additional news that the
budget would announce $50 million for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
Honourable senators, there was a time when budget secrecy was treated as a
serious matter. If there were leaks of the magnitude we saw last month, the
minister would be expected to resign.
No one ought to be able to profit based on advance knowledge of what is in a
budget. Even the smallest detail can make someone a lot of money, all at the
expense of others. The advance knowledge that corporate tax rates will drop by 2
percentage points is more than a small detail. It is the kind of information
that can move financial markets. Whoever passed that information on to Ms.
Dawson was acting irresponsibly and was almost certainly in violation of an oath
of office. It is a serious matter that needs to be taken seriously.
Honourable senators, the budget is supposed to reflect the plans of the
government. What we see in this budget is little more than a plan to raise tax
revenue and spend it as quickly as it comes in. What this country really needs
is a budget plan that shows leadership, a plan that answers basic questions as
to how the government will deliver measures such as a national child care
system, a more productive economy, solutions to climate change and the path to
rebuilding our military. This budget does not show that leadership.
In conclusion, honourable senators, even though this is not a house of
confidence and our decision on the budget would not have the impact that it has
in the other place, I think it is clear that this budget cannot be supported,
and that we will be raising many objections to items that are in the budget. On
the other hand, we recognize that if we were a house of confidence, and if we
were to reject the budget, it could very well precipitate an election, which
would cause Canadians to spend in excess of $300 million.
The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada has indicated that he could
not see that the people of Canada were looking for an election, and that
although there had been some movement in the direction of some of the policies
we had articulated in the budget, this is why he has taken the public stand that
he has, which I support.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Cochrane, debate adjourned.
Leave having been given to revert to Senate Public Bills:
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the second reading
of Bill S-21, to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).—(Honourable
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I apologize for my absence.
I had stepped out, and the orders moved forward rather quickly. Thank you for
permitting me to speak.
Honourable senators, I rise in support of the Honourable Senator
Hervieux-Payette's proposed amendments to the Criminal Code that would abolish
section 43 of that code. Section 43 states:
Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is
justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the
case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is
reasonable under the circumstances.
This is the so-called "spanking" defence, which was upheld a year ago by the
Supreme Court of Canada in a 6-3 decision.
Honourable senators, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether section 43
infringed children's rights, contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The
majority of the court held that it does not. Chief Justice McLachlin noted that:
Section 43 permits conduct toward children that would be criminal in the
case of adult victims.
However, she found that Parliament's choice in not criminalizing this conduct
toward children did not offend against the Charter.
Honourable senators, the fact that something is not in violation of the
Charter does not mean that it is good public policy. I believe it is time that
we repeal this section and, as a nation, that we begin to put a stop to corporal
This is a highly emotional issue for many. Questions of family discipline —
how one should raise one's children — are extraordinarily personal. The state,
quite properly, treads very carefully when entering the realm of the family. At
the same time, we have a particular duty to protect those most vulnerable in our
As Chief Justice McLachlin observed:
Children are a highly vulnerable group... Children need to be protected
from abusive treatment. They are vulnerable members of Canadian society and
Parliament and the Executive act admirably when they shield children from
psychological and physical harm.
That comes from the case: Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and Law
v. Attorney General in the Right of Canada  1 S.C.R., 76, pages 56 to
58. That is the last citation I will give you, as most of the quotes come from
Chief Justice McLachlin went on to say:
Children also depend on parents and teachers for guidance and discipline,
to protect them from harm and to promote their healthy development within
society. A stable and secure family and school setting is essential to this
growth process. Section 43 is Parliament's attempt to accommodate both these
Honourable senators, I agree absolutely with the Chief Justice's summary of
children's needs. However, I am convinced that, as a society, we can better
accommodate these needs than by condoning violence toward our children.
Corporal punishment has a long history. Senator Hervieux-Payette discussed
its roots in Roman law, but we need not go back that far. Section 43 became law
in 1892. It grew out of the English common law that permitted corporal
punishment of wives, employees, apprentices, passengers on ships, prisoners and
children. Honourable senators, let us not forget that those punishments were
once considered appropriate. They were considered appropriate, measured
responses to the need to discipline, and thereby educate wives, employees,
apprentices and children.
Let me read to you from an article in the British Observer of Sunday,
May 4, 2003:
Britain's class system was often used to legitimise corporal punishment. In
1795, a London court heard the Lord Chief Justice explain that a master not
only had a duty to cane his servants, but also to ensure the beatings were
Boys of all backgrounds were liable to "bare-bottom discipline", as soon as
they joined the navy before the practice was abolished in 1967. They were
forced to pull down their trousers before being flogged with the
cat-o'-nine-tails, a whip, usually made of cow or horse hide, with nine
knotted lines for inflicting increased pain.
The law changed with respect to wives, employees, apprentices, passengers on
ships and prisoners. The one remaining anachronism relates to the appropriate
education and discipline of children.
Honourable senators, the argument made for corporal punishment of children is
that it is a corrective force. As Chief Justice McLachlin explained it:
First, the person applying the force must have intended it to be for
educative or corrective purposes. Accordingly, s.43 cannot exculpate bursts of
violence against a child motivated by anger or animated by frustration. It
admits into its sphere of immunity only sober, reasoned uses of force that
address the actual behaviour of the child and are designed to restrain,
control or express some symbolic disapproval of his or her behaviour. The
purpose of the force must always be the education or discipline of the child.
Honourable senators, where else in Canadian society do we actively condone
the use of violence as an educative tool, especially against one who is weaker
and more vulnerable? In general, we have come to understand that the impact of
violence is much more profound than was previously believed.
As I mentioned, force used to be an accepted alternative to correct behaviour
of a wife. Now we understand the terrible impact of spousal assault; on the
spouse and also on the children who witness it.
Chief Justice McLachlin herself acknowledged that there are limits to the
corrective scope of force against children. She drew the limits at children
between the ages of two and 10 years. She said:
Corporal punishment of children under two years is harmful to them, and has
no corrective value, given the cognitive limitations of children under two
years of age. Corporal punishment of teenagers is harmful, because it can
induce aggressive or anti-social behaviour.
Honourable senators, I am a father of three and a grandfather of eight. It
does not make sense to me that hitting a child of 12 would be good for them and
an educative tool in proper behaviour, and yet when that same child becomes 13,
the same action is known to induce aggressive or anti-social behaviour. I served
as Deputy Minister of Justice in New Brunswick. In that capacity, I dealt with
criminal law matters on a far too regular basis. In my experience, violence
begets anger, resentment, humiliation and, indeed, violence.
In her excellent speech of December 7, 2004, Senator Hervieux-Payette cited
an October 25, 2004 report by Statistics Canada that found that children aged
two to three years who were living in punitive environments in 1994 scored 39
per cent higher on a scale of aggressive behaviour, such as bullying, than those
who lived in less punitive environments. The same children were examined again
six years later, in 2000. Now eight and nine years old, these same children who
lived in punitive homes scored 89 per cent higher on the aggressive behaviour
scale than those in less punitive homes.
Statistics Canada very recently, indeed on February 21, 2005 — some of you
may have seen some of it in the press — published a further follow-up to this
study. Looking at the same children two years later, the study also found:
Children showed higher levels of aggressive behaviour when their parents
were more punitive. They also showed higher levels of anxiety and lower levels
of pro-social behaviour, the latter defined as actions that benefit another
person with no reward for one oneself. The link between punitive parenting
practices and child behaviour was found when children were aged 2 to 5 in
1994/95 and eight years later in 2002/03, when they were aged 10 to 13.
That is the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.
To clarify, "punitive parenting" was measured by asking participants how
often they used physical punishment, or yelled at the child and, on the other
hand, how often they calmly discussed the problem or described more acceptable
behaviour to the child. Children aged 10 to 13 were asked how often their
parents yelled at them, hit them or threatened to do so.
I recognize there is fear that parents will wrongly find themselves accused
of criminal acts. I would quote from the dissenting decision of Madam Justice
Louise Arbour, who said that section 43 violates the constitutional rights of
children to safety and security and must be struck down. She said:
Absent action by Parliament, other existing common law defences, such as
the defence of necessity and the "de minimis" defence, will suffice to
ensure that parents and teachers are not branded as criminals for their
trivial use of force to restrain children when appropriate.
Honourable senators, today we know there are many alternatives to the use of
force as a corrective tool for children's behaviour. In April 2003, a coalition
of national organizations led by the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and
including the Child Welfare League of Canada, Family Service Canada, Canadian
Child Care Federation, Canadian Institute of Child Health, Canadian Public
Health Association and Canadian Association for Young Children issued a Joint
Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth. They said:
The research evidence now available permits us to move beyond the debate
about whether physical punishment is harmful to children and youth or is even
effective as discipline.
Few parents believe that physical punishment is effective, most believe
it is unnecessary and harmful, and a majority think the most common outcome
is parental guilt or regret.
There is strong evidence that physical punishment places children at risk
for physical injury, poorer mental health, impaired relationships with
parents, weaker internalization of moral values, antisocial behaviour,
poorer adult adjustment, and tolerance of violence in adulthood.
There is no clear evidence of any benefit from the use of physical
punishment on children.
Parents are more likely to use physical punishment if they approve of it,
experienced it themselves as children, feel anger in response to their
child's behaviour, are subject to depression, or are burdened by particular
forms of stress.
Their conclusion was:
On the basis of the clear and compelling evidence — that the physical
punishment of children and youth plays no useful role in their upbringing and
poses only risks to their development — parents should be strongly encouraged
to develop alternative and positive approaches to discipline.
The 50-page paper does not simply condemn the use of hitting or spanking as a
corrective tool; it also sets out positive alternatives that may be used by
parents and teachers.
Honourable senators, I must tell you that while this is an issue that I have
felt strongly about for some years, I was moved to enter the debate on Senator
Hervieux-Payette's bill when reading the March 2005 issue of Harper's
Magazine, page 28. There, in a side-bar, appeared the following, under the
headline "The Other Cheek." Before I read the rest, I should indicate that it
From an advertisement for The Rod that appeared in the magazine Home
School Digest. In December the Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected a
bid to ban the sale of The Rod, having found "no basis for determining that the
product constitutes a substantial product hazard."
This is the advertisement:
Why a rod for training?
The means prescribed by God: "Withhold not correction from a child: for if
thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the
rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Proverbs, 23:13-14)
Belts are for holding up pants.
Spoons are for cooking and eating.
Paddleball paddles are for games.
Hands are for loving.
Rods are for chastening.
Try the rod out on yourself ahead of time to determine how much force you
should use to get the result you require.
Chasten on a clothed buttock with the appropriate number of swats. Three or
four swats is suggested.
Console the child afterwards and affirm your love for him. This will give
you an opportunity to "check his heart" and show the child that chastening is
a form of love.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Bryden, I am sorry to interrupt, but I
must advise that your time has expired.
Senator Bryden: I am asking for leave.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Bryden: Features of the rod:
Flexible Nylon Rod
More effective results
Less likely to break
More precise control during application
Cushioned Vinyl Grip
Non-slip during training
Durable for years of use
BENEFITS FOR THE CHILDREN:
Promotes a loving atmosphere in the home
Removes guilt and foolishness from their hearts
Helps children to receive wisdom
BENEFITS FOR THE PARENTS:
Lightweight yet durable
Balanced and easy to use
Ideal for car or home
Allows for better parent/child relationship.
Results in a more peaceful home
An excellent gift idea
Does that make you sick, or what?
Honourable senators, I applaud Senator Hervieux-Payette's initiative in
seeking to repeal section 43. There are better ways to discipline our children.
There are better lessons to teach them than to learn to respond with force.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I would like to
adjourn the debate in the name of Senator Cools, who has informed us that she
shall speak on Thursday.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before I put the motion, did you want to ask a
question, Senator Trenholme Counsell?
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Yes, I did. May I?
Senator Bryden: Oh, yes, certainly.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, as Senator Bryden
read that last horrifying advertisement, a chill went through all of our bones,
our blood and especially our hearts, but I have been struggling with my own
response to the bill.
I think I know where I stand, but when I heard him read that advertisement, I
wondered if the use of such a rod, if reported and acted upon, would conform to
section 43? I do not think that the spirit of the law, as it exists now, would
allow the use of that rod. The honourable senator is an esteemed lawyer, and we
should have that point clarified by someone with his knowledge of the law, and
of section 43.
It seems to me that the use of that instrument of discipline would contravene
the law, and would make any person using that instrument, be it a parent or a
teacher, vulnerable to criminal charges.
Senator Bryden: I should make it clear that that advertisement came
out of a U.S. publication, Harper's Magazine, and that it was lifted from
the home schooling magazine.
I do not know the answer to the honourable senator's question, if we had a
case under section 43. Is a wooden spoon better than the rod? Is it better to
hit with your hand? There was a time — the senator accuses me of being a lawyer,
so I will accuse her of being a medical doctor — when I heard grandparents
suggest to parents, "Do not hit him. Just shake him a little bit." You all know
what happens to a child's brain when you shake him or her a little bit? We have
now found that huge amounts of damage, and even death, occur from that.
I think it would be a technical fight; it will depend on the interpretation
by the courts of whether this is a corrective action or whether only reasonable
force was used. I do not think there is any way that even someone as thoughtful
as Chief Justice McLachlin can decide that if you are not quite two years old,
then it is not okay to be hit, but if you are two-and-a-half, then it is. This
is a fundamental anachronism that is stuck in the Criminal Code.
It is interesting that the study from which I quoted that recommended that no
force be used, which did not deal with any specific section of the code,
elicited many interventions opposing the position that we stop using force, and
many of those interventions were based on such things as the proverb I read.
I do not know any way to deal with this matter other than to repeal the
section. I do not quarrel at all with the Chief Justice and with the majority of
the court's decision that this does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms if it is precisely applied. However, this is an invitation to
Parliament saying "Pick up your responsibility here, folks. It is your decision,
your call. If you want people to have the option, the opportunity to use force
in dealing with young children, then let this continue." There is no question
that the Parliament of Canada has the right and the ability to deal with this
matter, has absolutely the right to repeal this section of the Criminal Code,
and that it would not be questioned at all by the courts.
I was trying to think of the quote about the sort of person who hits a child.
After getting somebody to do a search, the person I was thinking of was George
Bernard Shaw, and this was his quote:
If you strike a child, take care that you strike it in anger, even at the
risk of maiming it for life. A blow in cold blood neither can nor should be
What he is really saying there is that if you strike a child when you are
angry, you are a brute. If you strike them when you are not, are you a sadist?
I do not want to go on much longer — in fact, I will stop now. This question
has been approached from various angles by various people. We are in the 21st
century, for goodness sake; let us prevent the legalized violation of the
personal security of people who are among the most vulnerable in our society.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, March 9, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.