The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we begin today, I
have the great pleasure of drawing your attention to the presence in our gallery
of a group of visitors from Malaysia. We have with us the Honourable Tan Sri
Dato' Seri Dr. Abdul Hamid Pawanteh, the President of the Malaysian Senate. He
is accompanied by his colleagues, the Honourable Senator Tuan Wong Foon Meng,
Deputy President of the Senate; the Honourable Senator Dato' Benedict Bujan
Tembak; the Honourable Senator Tuan Osman bin Bungsu; the Honourable Senator
Puan Nosimah binti Hashim; the Honourable Datuk Zamani Sulaiman, Secretary of
the Senate; and Encik Salleh bin Abas, Secretary of the Delegation.
I am also pleased to draw your attention to His Excellency Dennis Ignatius,
Malaysia's High Commissioner to Canada.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, as Chair of the Association
of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy in Canada, I am
honoured that next week the federal government will celebrate National Volunteer
Week. It is the occasion for all Canadians to honour their volunteers and to
recognize that giving of ourselves helps to make our nation a better place.
Over 6.5 million Canadians are actively volunteering in their communities.
All Canadians recognize that helping others in need is the backbone of a caring
society. Volunteers help to shape the cultural landscape of our nation, but also
gain many benefits from the social interactions that occur.
Honourable senators, collectively, volunteers give over 2 billion hours of
their time annually — the equivalent of 1 million full-time jobs. This is a
vital force that we must celebrate and encourage. However, this force of
Canadian generosity cannot be taken for granted. We must promote the value of
volunteering more and encourage more Canadians to participate.
National Volunteer Week provides the opportunity for all Canadians to
recognize the importance of volunteering. However, we should not just celebrate
it next week, but all weeks throughout the year because clearly the story of
volunteers is about how Canadians come together to build communities and to work
for the benefit of the public. It is truly a story of how Canadians define
Honourable senators, I am sure you will join me in thanking and
congratulating all of Canada's volunteers for their hard work and dedication.
Hon. John Buchanan: Honourable senators, I rise to say a few words
about the late Pope John Paul II.
I had the great honour and privilege of welcoming the Pope to Nova Scotia in
1984. Prior to the huge mass that was held at the Halifax Commons, I met him a
second time. I also had the privilege of speaking to him as he left Halifax. We
were able to say goodbye to him.
A few short stories are appropriate. Prior to the Pope arriving, Archbishop
Hayes, the Archbishop of Halifax, had mentioned that Pope John Paul II was
fluent in seven languages and conversant in three or four others. Therefore, as
I had done on many occasions to visitors to Nova Scotia, I welcomed him when he
came off the plane by simply saying, "Welcome to Nova Scotia, bienvenue en
Nouvelle-Écosse, ciad mile failte." Senator Kirby will remember that that was my
Immediately His Holiness said, "First was English, second was French," and I
thought he was going to ask what language the third was, but he said, "the third
was Gaelic." He knew the Gaelic language. As I said to Steve Murphy on
television last week, "Archbishop Hayes was absolutely right, but I do not think
Archbishop Hayes thought that he knew Gaelic also."
The Pope met with us before a grand mass at the Halifax Commons, where over
100,000 people were in attendance, in the rain and the wind. My wife, Mavis, and
I sat right in the front, before a massive altar that the Province of Nova
Scotia had financed and helped to build. Just before the Pope ascended to the
altar, he asked me, "How long have you been premier?" and I responded, "Your
Holiness, I have been premier to this point for six years. I was elected in
1978." With that twinkle in his eye and a smile, he looked at me and said, "I
have been Pope for six years and I was elected in 1978."
The Pope had a tremendous sense of humour. When the Pope was leaving, a
number of us were lined up to say goodbye to him at Shearwater Airport. The Pope
presented my wife with a beautiful pearl rosary, and I was given a pewter cross.
I said, "I hope you enjoyed your short stay in Nova Scotia, Your Holiness." He
started to move away after shaking hands, and then abruptly turned back to me
and said, "Premier, the weather — all the rain and wind — your responsibility or
mine?" Immediately, I said, "Your Holiness, my responsibility." The Pope boarded
the plane and the late Bishop Power of Antigonish turned to me and said, "Thank
heavens you gave him the right answer!"
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, April 7 was World
Health Day. Its theme was "Make every mother and child count." This theme
reminds us that there are still too many preventable maternal and infant deaths
on this planet. Ninety-nine per cent of maternal and infant deaths occur in
sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, at the rate of one every minute.
Canada has its problems too. Our country has a good health care system and
its population is generally educated and fairly well off. According to the
Public Health Agency of Canada, the maternal and infant death rate has decreased
considerably since 1920, but the rate of severe maternal illness is still high,
at close to five women per 1,000 deliveries. More than five children in 1,000
still die in the first year of life, which represents 85 per cent of deaths in
children under the age of five.
In 2002, the leading causes of infant death were perinatal conditions, sudden
infant death syndrome, congenital anomalies and injuries. Injury death is caused
by transport injuries, drowning and homicide. Smoking and alcohol consumption
remain a concern. Fourteen per cent of Canadian mothers smoked in 2003; 14 per
cent consumed alcohol during their pregnancy. Inequalities in social status
affect 10 per cent of Canadian families, whose children are often born preterm
and more likely to suffer injury.
Aboriginal Canadians face higher risks of adverse pregnancy and infant health
outcomes. The infant mortality rate remains about twice as high among First
Nations neonates as in the general population in Canada.
Fortunately, the news is good for our children, because improved and
specialized health care has substantially reduced their mortality rate at birth
and before the age of five years. Our women, however, continue to face problems.
With mothers having children ever later, there are risks for their pregnancy.
Increased use of means of assisted reproduction is leading to more multiple
births and the resultant problems. Obesity has become endemic and affects a
growing number of pregnancies. The rate of seropositivity in women is on the
rise and increased from 12 per cent in 1985 to 25 per cent in 2002. So, there is
some distance to go to in safeguarding the health of our mothers and children.
I invite you, therefore, to get involved in this matter, to become familiar
with the ten very simple interventions proposed by the Public Health Agency of
Canada in its recent report and to promote these interventions.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, on March 22, in a speech in
this chamber, I spoke about corruption. On March 23, the Leader of the
Government in the Senate, whose party has more than a passing acquaintance with
the subject, graciously pointed out an error that I had made.
This is the first opportunity I have had to respond to this subject in a
statement, given the Senate recess and the tributes yesterday to the late Pope
John Paul II.
Liberals know their corruption well, honourable senators. I humbly defer to
them on all matters related to the practice of it. The mistake I made was an
honest one. I misread a newspaper headline that said: "Sponsorship scandal
leaves Canada 12th on list of 146 most corrupt countries."
Given the daily reports coming out of the Gomery inquiry, I naturally assumed
that what the headline meant was that Canada was ranked twelfth worst. I should
have known better. I should have known that there are many countries around the
world with cruel and despotic rulers to whom this Liberal government can
favourably compare itself. It is only too bad this government cannot do so with
reference to other rich democracies, such as Finland, New Zealand, Denmark,
Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, Australia or the United
Kingdom, all of which were ranked above us in that report.
To the people of Canada, I apologize for what I said. It does seem that on
this subject I was most prescient. I will let long-time and now former Liberal
MP David Kilgour speak for me. As a one-time Secretary of State for Latin
America and Africa, Mr. Kilgour knows something about Third World corruption.
Here is what he said last week in response to the recent revelations coming out
of the Gomery inquiry:
...the Liberal party was now seen "as looking on the public trust as a
vulture looks on a dying calf." ... "Here we are, a G7 country, acting like a
northern banana republic. What country is seen as more politically corrupt
than us at the moment?"
What country indeed? Still, I should have looked more deeply into the report
from which the newspaper got its headline. In that spirit, and with the
appropriate measure of contrition that my misinterpretation calls for, let me
read from a section of the report that refers to Canada.
2003-04 will be remembered primarily for the shockwaves sent out by the
most damning auditor general's report ever, which detailed massive
misappropriations and misuse of public funds in the Department of Public
The report continues:
Sheila Fraser found little evidence to justify most of the expenditures and
concluded that as much as C$100 million (US$77.4 million) was siphoned off to
advertising firms — some with political connections to the government —
through schemes involving overbilling, artificial invoices, fictitious
contracts and other forms of abuse and mismanagement.
Honourable senators, Ms. Fraser did not know the half of it.
Hon. Percy Downe: Honourable senators, I rise today to congratulate
the city of Charlottetown on the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of its
The great small city of Charlottetown has a long and fascinating history,
from its naming after Queen Charlotte to its designation as the capital city of
Prince Edward Island by Captain Samuel Holland in 1765. Charlottetown was
officially incorporated in 1855, 150 years ago.
The city of Charlottetown has many rich and interesting stories, from the
American pirates who invaded in 1775 and stole the great seal of Prince Edward
Island, never to be recovered, to the famous Prince Edward Island writer Lucy
Maud Montgomery, who attended city schools.
Charlottetown is also well known for hosting visitors over the years,
everyone from the Irish writer Oscar Wilde to, in more recent years, Prince
Charles and his first wife, Princess Diana.
However, without a doubt, the most famous visitors to Charlottetown were the
Fathers of Confederation, who, as Canadian historians have noted, walked up
Great George Street in Charlottetown and into the pages of Canadian history.
The founding principles of our country were established at the Charlottetown
Conference, in 1864, and formalized at the Quebec Conference. Our two founding
cities, Charlottetown and Quebec, hosted the meetings that created Canada.
As our country expanded over the years, the significance of the Charlottetown
Conference has been recognized in many ways. Province House in Charlottetown,
where the Fathers of Confederation met, is now a national historic site. Every
year, visitors from all over the world come to view the very location where
Canada was founded.
Next door is the Confederation Centre of the Arts and the National Memorial
to the Fathers of Confederation. Charlottetown is also the home to Founders'
Hall, an interactive museum that explores the important role of the
Charlottetown Conference in the formation of Canada.
Canadians are sometimes critical of other countries, but we can learn
valuable and important lessons, such as their celebration and regard for
significant historical cities.
There is a wonderful opportunity for the Government of Canada to give
Canadians and visitors alike a better understanding of the founding of Canada. I
would recommend that Charlottetown and Quebec City be included in an expanded
mandate for the National Capital Commission. The NCC should be given new
responsibilities to promote Ottawa, Charlottetown and Quebec City as our
national capital and founding city commissions. This expanded commission would
not only promote these three important historical cities; it would also teach
lessons to Canadians and to visitors about our country.
The one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Charlottetown would be a wonderful
opportunity for the Government of Canada to explore this option for the
promotion of Canadian unity. I will be communicating this suggestion directly to
the Prime Minister and responsible ministers.
In conclusion, I would like to extend congratulations to Charlottetown Mayor
Clifford Lee, city councillors and the citizens of Charlottetown on the one
hundred fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of their city.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table a copy, in both official languages, of the
news release entitled "Deputy Prime Minister details proposed model for National
Security Committee of Parliamentarians" and the accompanying backgrounder on
The Report of the Interim Committee of Parliamentarians on National Security.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-30, to amend the Parliament of
Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 57(1)(f), I move
that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next
sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Would you explain, please, Senator Rompkey? A request has been made.
Senator Rompkey: Honourable senators, the two sides talked about this
bill this morning and decided that this was probably the best course of action.
My understanding is that there is an agreement between the two sides that we
proceed in this fashion.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the report of the Canada-Japan Interparliamentary
Group following the Eleventh Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians' Conference on
Environment and Development, held in Korolevu, Fiji, from August 17 to 20, 2004.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the report of the Canada-Japan Interparliamentary
Group following the Twenty-fifth General Assembly of the ASEAN
Inter-Parliamentary Organization, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from September
12 to 17, 2004.
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to meet Monday, April 25, and
Tuesday, April 26, 2005 as part of its study of issues concerning mental
health and mental illness, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a
period exceeding one week.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Calgary Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry
faces investigation by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for having advocated
in a letter to his flock that the state "use its coercive power to proscribe"
homosexuality in society's interests.
He said in a statement to The Globe and Mail:
If the Human Rights Commission is successful, it will prevent me from
expressing my views and the position of the Roman Catholic Church.
I raised this matter before in this place to the Honourable Leader of the
Government in the Senate, and he gave me assurances of grandeur that the freedom
of religion was not in jeopardy. Is this a promise made and a promise broken?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Senator St. Germain must have taken some time to compose that particular
The situation, as he well knows, is that there is a proceeding before a
competent tribunal in the province of Alberta to determine whether advocating
the use of coercive power is an abuse of our democratic system. I do not know
whether the answer is yes or no. I do not know the facts and I will not join a
lynch mob in dealing with this particular proceeding. I will leave lynch mob
leadership to Senator Tkachuk.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, Senator Tkachuk told us
something that Pope John Paul taught the world. Tell the truth. You guys are
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator St. Germain: I will stand by that statement: The Liberal
government is corrupt.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Point of order.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, honourable senators, please.
Senator Grafstein: Is the honourable senator accusing me of
The Hon. the Speaker: Just to remind honourable senators, a point of
order, which would be what I think Senator Grafstein is raising, is properly
brought at the end of Routine Proceedings and before Orders of the Day. We are
in Question Period. I believe Senator Austin had the floor in responding to a
question from Senator St. Germain.
Senator Grafstein: Point of order.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Grafstein, under our rules, points of
order are not permitted. If you have a point of order, it should be raised at
the end of Routine Proceedings and before Orders of the Day.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, we have just heard Senator St.
Germain pointing at this side and saying: "You guys are corrupt." That is
unparliamentary language and is probably a breach of the privileges of this
chamber. As this is my first opportunity to deal with it, I would ask His Honour
to review this question and to determine whether this is within the order of
debate in this chamber and whether this is an abuse of the privileges of
senators by Senator St. Germain.
I want to make this answer to him.
We have the Gomery inquiry, the purpose of which is to find the facts and
report those facts to Canadians. The Prime Minister commissioned this
proceeding. The Prime Minister said that he wanted this proceeding to get to the
bottom of things. The Prime Minister said that if anyone has committed a crime
against the Government of Canada, against the people of Canada, they will be
charged and prosecuted.
The Prime Minister has put in place a police investigation with respect to
this matter. The Prime Minister has put in place the recovery of funds
Senator St. Germain is obviously over the top when he wants to join a lynch
mob that wants to hang the accused before the judge has made a determination as
to what took place. This may well be, in his opinion, in the interests of the
Conservative Party. If it is, go for it.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, let us be clear. He started
it, I did not, by claiming that there is a lynch mob mentality. There is no
lynch mob mentality in this country. There is deep-seated corruption in
government in the country and we have to get to the bottom of it, but this does
not relate to my question. You did not answer my question, which had to do with
the freedom of religion in this country. You chose to go to Senator Tkachuk's
statement, which I think grossly takes away from your integrity and your past
Senator Austin: Honourable senators —
Senator St. Germain: I still have the floor.
Senator Austin: Talk away. It is good for us.
Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, my supplementary question
relates to the question that I asked about Bishop Henry. Bishop Henry feels that
his freedom of religion or his freedom to express his religious views is in
jeopardy. I have talked in this place before about the slippery slope in regard
to jeopardizing the freedom of religion by virtue of what is taking place in the
provinces right now.
The federal government has chosen to follow provincial court decisions
regarding same-sex marriage. The Prime Minister, not a year and a half ago,
clearly stated that marriage was a union between one man and one woman. All of a
sudden, driven by judicial activism at the provincial level, the freedom of
religious expression is in jeopardy. That is what I want an answer to, not to
what Senator Tkachuk brought up.
Senator Austin: Certainly you do not want me to refer to Senator
Tkachuk's outrageous statements. Senators' Statements are supposed to be
statements of fact, not statements of political argument.
However, I will tell you about Bishop Henry. He has the full protection of
the Charter of Rights and no one can take that away from him. The
notwithstanding clause will not take it away from him because no political party
in this country will remove the rights of Canadian citizens, whether the right
of freedom of religion or the right of equality of treatment.
To come back to the comment that I intervened with an extraneous argument,
Senator Tkachuk is the one who began with the question of corruption and the
debate on corruption in this chamber. I feel somewhat ashamed that in front of
delegates from Malaysia we have to have these false statements and this
ridiculous portrayal of Canada, for this is an honest country, one that is
admired throughout the world for its integrity.
Senator Tkachuk: Poor you. Please!
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, please.
It might be timely for me to remind honourable senators of our rules.
Question Period is an opportunity for questions to be put to the Leader of the
Government, a minister or chairs of committees with a brief preamble and to be
responded to with a brief preamble. It is not a time for debate.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I am afraid to rise. This
is an interesting debate, but I will ask a question to change the pace.
Honourable senators, Statistics Canada reported last month that in 2017, just
12 years from now, visible minorities will comprise the majority of the
population in our biggest cities, mainly as a result of immigration. It has been
repeatedly stressed in this place and the other place that immigrants to our
country often are not able to use their education and training here because of
the slow pace and complexity of our foreign credential recognition process.
Although this is a complex problem, recent numbers from Stats Canada illustrate
the need to seriously address the situation and to do it now. What truly is the
federal government's plan to improve the recognition process for foreign
professionals and educational credentials?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
government has launched an investigation leading toward changes with respect to
the acceptance of credentials of foreign-trained professionals. We have a
parliamentary secretary whose responsibility is specifically that subject, and
we are in dialogue with the provinces and with professional associations to come
to an agreement on the way in which to accelerate both training and acceptance
Senator Di Nino: With all due respect, honourable senators, we have
been hearing about this matter for a long time. It is an issue I have been
involved with for many years.
The media has reported that the announcement of a plan to accelerate this
process has been repeatedly delayed by the government. These delays have
occurred despite the fact that the last two throne speeches promised swift
action to speed up the process.
Will the government leader please send a message of hope to the thousands of
people out there who are waiting to get a job and make a meaningful contribution
to Canada by having their credentials recognized? When can they expect action
from the government that is meaningful rather than just words?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I want to thank Senator Di Nino
for his support of this policy. We look forward to his additional support in
dealing with the provincial governments, who have jurisdiction in terms of
credentials, and with certain professional associations, who also have
jurisdiction in this field by virtue of provincial legislation.
However, there is consensus as to the principle, which is a major advance.
This government has shown leadership in achieving this advance. I want to report
further to honourable senators that there is leadership from the community that
will be affected by the improvement in the process of accepting and improving
credentials. As far as I am aware, they seem to believe that serious progress is
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, provincial deputy ministers
of fisheries were in Ottawa to meet to discuss the agenda for an
end-of-the-month meeting with the fisheries ministers. We have now learned that
deputy ministers from P.E.I. were kicked out of the meeting, the excuse
apparently being that there is a court action between P.E.I. and Fisheries and
Oceans Canada. Would the minister not agree that this action is quite
irresponsible and only serves to aggravate rather than improve
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
know nothing of the matter to which Senator Comeau has just referred. I will
certainly make inquiries to determine what took place, why it took place and,
indeed, if it did take place, as the honourable senator says it did, what
position other provinces took with respect to the matter. I assure Senator
Comeau that I will report as soon as I can.
Senator Comeau: I will send the minister a copy of the April 7
Charlottetown Guardian. After the government leader reads the article, I
would be pleased to know whether he agrees with me that disputes and
disagreements are quite common between federal and provincial officials, and
happen quite regularly. Does the minister agree that, rather than resorting to
bullying and intimidation, the federal government should get involved at the
executive level, rather than at the bureaucrat level, and advise these
bureaucrats to no longer use the tactics of bullying and intimidation,
especially with regard to Canada's smallest province, which is trying its best,
without proper Conservative representation from P.E.I., to get its point across
here in Ottawa?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I can only repeat my undertaking
to look into the matters that have been raised by Senator Comeau. I am curious
about the phrase "without proper Conservative representation from P.E.I."
Perhaps my investigation will tell me what that really means.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, it is now less than 90
days before the scheduled opening of the Devils Lake outlet in North Dakota.
When this outlet opens, polluted water with a great many unknown biota will
begin to be pumped northward into Manitoba from North Dakota, ending up in Lake
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate update us as to the efforts
the government is engaged in to force an international review of this project by
the International Joint Commission? I have spoken about this matter previously
in the Senate. North Dakota has resisted this for many years and has also said
that it will not respect any IJC recommendations when they come in.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): I thank Senator Johnson
for what I believe is a very important question, not only as it affects the
province of Manitoba and as it affects Canada and our relations with the United
States, but also as it affects the validity of the International Joint
As honourable senators may know, the State of North Dakota has undertaken, on
its own and at its own expense, to build an outlet ditch that, when it is
completed — and it is expected that it will be completed about July — will allow
water from Devils Lake to flow northward into the Saskatchewan system through
the Red River.
The problem is that there are species in Devils Lake and in the state of
North Dakota that are foreign to species that are in the Manitoba water system
and, as such, can be quite damaging to existing species.
The Government of Canada has requested the United States to agree to an order
of reference to the International Joint Commission. If the United States,
through its state department, would agree to that order of reference, it would
vest jurisdiction in this binational body, which was set up under the Boundary
Waters Treaty of, 1909. I know honourable senators are familiar with a number of
cases that have been adjudicated by the International Joint Commission.
The state department has not yet responded, but we have made repeated
requests, including the Prime Minister, at the Crawford ranch, raising the
matter and asking the President of the United States to deal with this
expeditiously. I believe the matter is under the most urgent review in the
If the United States does not accept a reference to the International Joint
Commission, and if the waters are allowed to flow northward, then Canada will
make a claim against the United States for any damages that are caused to Canada
as a result of this unilateral action by the State of North Dakota.
Senator Johnson: I know Canada has worked hard with respect to this
matter; Ambassador McKenna himself has called me on the issue. We have been
working on it for 15 years in Manitoba. Representatives from our province and
the Premier have been to Washington as well.
What position will we be in? Time is running out. If this proceeds without an
IJC reference, which is what North Dakota is saying they will do, this will
break the precedent and risk the very existence of the 1909 Boundary Waters
Treaty. Does the government leader have any further information?
As well, if all these avenues that the government is pursuing are exhausted,
does the Leader of the Government in the Senate have any idea what options we
are left with to prevent this water from being diverted, because North Dakota is
refusing to honour these treaties? The risk is huge to my part of the world and
There are other precedents. There is a situation in British Columbia as well,
which is the reverse. Where will we be headed when all the options run out? Will
we simply be left to deal with this water? It affects transference of water from
basins all over North America.
Senator Austin: To supplement the first answer I gave, honourable
senators, it is our view that the United States will respond positively. In the
event of a positive response with respect to reference to the International
Joint Commission, the federal court would then receive an application for an
injunction against North Dakota continuing its work until the matter is settled
under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
Should the United States not provide a reference, and if the United States is
determined on a course that is unilateral and permits this diversion ditch to be
completed and water to flow north of the boundary, then the remedy that is
available to us is one in international law — that is, a claim, state to state,
for damages incurred by Canada. That procedure would likely be one that we would
want to refer to an international tribunal.
Hon. Pat Carney: I wish to ask a supplementary question on this issue,
in which we have a shared interest. Could the government leader elaborate under
what authority Canada could claim and collect damages in terms of this
International Joint Commission issue? It is my understanding that the U.S. does
not normally respond positively to claims for damages. Under what authority
would this take place? Diplomatic notes will not solve the problem.
Senator Austin: I thank the honourable senator for that question. The
International Joint Commission can make an award, if it has a joint reference.
If there is no reference and the United States proceeds unilaterally, then there
is a body of international law with respect to the rights of states to
non-interference by their neighbours. There is a body of international law with
respect to riparian rights and responsibilities.
For example, with respect to the St. Lawrence Seaway, in the 1920s the United
States claimed that a wing dam created on the Canadian side was diverting the
flow of water and damaging pier facilities and private property on their side.
Canada accepted that particular claim because it was their obligation to do so
under international law, and compensation was paid.
As Senator Carney will well know, in an analogous situation, the United
States claimed damage to orchards and other property in the state of Washington
from air pollution originating at the Trail, B.C., smelter. The arbitration
became quite famous. Canada accepted arbitration in that case under similar
principles to those administered by the International Joint Commission. There
are other illustrations, but, certainly, Canada would not do nothing.
Senator Carney: The honourable leader has made the point that Canada
has honoured its international obligations in this issue. I am asking him what
evidence exists that the Americans would do the same. It is not a hypothetical
question. The leader said that, according to the provisions of the International
Joint Commission, it requires a joint reference, which may not occur. In what
forum, in which country and under what authority would Canada seek an injunction
against this project?
Senator Austin: With respect to the first part of the honourable
senator's question, the United States made claims and Canada responded to those
claims. In that case, the precedent of the United States claiming entitlement
worked in both directions. When Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Prime Minister of Canada
and the proposed Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 was before Parliament, he said
that, if the United States insisted on its right to divert waters from Lake
Michigan through the Chicago drainage canal into the Mississippi River system,
then Canada would have the same rights on the Canadian side. The action would be
reciprocal. That has been the principle on which the two countries have dealt
with such issues.
An injunction would not be sought in Canada because no Canadian court could
issue an injunction in respect of any entity within the jurisdiction of the
United States. However, there could be an application to a federal court that
had jurisdiction over the State of North Dakota.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: My question is for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Would the leader assure the house that no ministers
were aware of or a part of the activity that is currently the subject of the
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
Prime Minister has ensured, in the process of examining the entitlement of
parliamentarians to become members of the ministry, that no minister who
reported in that process participated in the events to which Senator Prud'homme
Senator Prud'homme: Does the honourable leader know whether any
minister was aware of the activities that led to this inquiry?
Senator Austin: I can assure the honourable senator that no minister
of this government was aware of any acts of fraud or any crimes that are alleged
to have taken place.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, last night members in
the other place voted in favour of an opposition motion calling for a judicial
inquiry into the investigation of the Air India bombing of June 23, 1985. This
was the largest mass murder in Canadian history. The families and friends of the
victims and all Canadians deserve answers. We know that this government does not
always adhere to the will of the House of Commons but surely, in this case, the
will of the people, as expressed through the majority vote in the other place,
should be respected.
My question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate is: Will the
government do the right thing and establish a judicial inquiry into the
investigation of the Air India bombing? Not only do we need to know about the
details of the Air India disaster, but we also need to learn lessons from it.
All CSIS, RCMP and judicial officers involved in the Air India inquiry deserve
to know whether their practices and procedures were adequate or whether
something else should be done or demanded of the government either by way of
legislation, policy or practice. The time for an inquiry is now.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Senator Andreychuk poses
good and valid questions. The government has noted the vote in the other place
and is proceeding in a regular and systemized way to determine the questions on
which we do not have public information and disclosure.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced that an eminent person will be chosen to
examine the content of the public record, what is not known, and the questions
to which an inquiry might respond that are not now on the public record. As soon
as that process has taken place, we will have the answer as to whether a public
inquiry will be launched.
Senator Andreychuk: An eminent person would be an adequate response in
a different situation. However, in this case, government cannot appoint someone
to look into the issues and report back to the government. That would not be
good enough. That would fall short of what the families want. They want an
independent inquiry. They do not want necessarily to be informed again that
there was wrongdoing, but they do want someone to have a fresh look at the case.
They want people to know that best practices are in place because, as some of
the victims have said, they do not want another Canadian to be in their shoes.
To appoint an eminent person for the purposes described by the honourable leader
would be of no value. It is merely a delaying tactic. We need to get on with the
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, on the face of it, Senator
Andreychuk and I have a disagreement about the process that should be launched
in this matter. Inquiries must be shown to have the opportunity to be useful to
public knowledge. There can be no serious objection to having a professional,
analytical look at what an inquiry might produce. In other words, there must be
a prima facie case for an inquiry because of what remains to be known.
It is an interesting issue. The Air India disaster occurred in 1985. The work
by security agencies and police that took place between 1985 and 1993 was under
the authority of a previous government.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting three delayed answers to oral
questions. The first response is to a question raised in the Senate by Senator
Comeau on March 9, 2005, regarding RCMP Forensic Laboratory Services.
I have a second response to an oral question raised in the Senate on March
23, 2005, by Senator Atkins regarding criminal activity in mortgage fraud and
identity theft. I have a third response to oral questions raised in the Senate
on March 22, 2005, by Senator Carney concerning the CFIA's report on Avian
influenza (jurisdictional problems and bio-security issues.)
(Response to question raised by Hon. Gerald J. Comeau on March 9, 2005)
How will these labs cope with the increased workload when they are
already operating under a backlog? How will they cope when the Edmonton
laboratory is closed?
There are no backlogs in the processing of crime scene DNA samples at the
Forensic Laboratory Services (FLS), or convicted offender samples processed by
the National DNA Data Bank.
The FLS processes all urgent cases within 15 days, and response times for
all non-urgent cases are negotiated between the Case Receipt Unit and the
Closure of the Forensic Laboratory Services Edmonton site:
The FLS workload will not increase as a result of the closing of the FLS
Closing the Edmonton site will not reduce the number or types of services
provided to Canadian law enforcement. The services currently delivered at the
Edmonton site will be transferred to the other five FLS sites across Canada.
The staff and equipment will be transferred to other FLS sites.
The FLS is a national service; regardless of where cases are submitted, the
Case Receipt Unit at each site receives all cases and distributes them to the
FLS site where they can be most efficiently analyzed. The FLS has committed to
maintain the Case Receipt Unit in Edmonton (at a different location), and will
open another one in Calgary. This will enhance the case submission process in
The Edmonton site provides trace evidence analysis, document examinations,
breath test program services and biology reporting. The Edmonton site does not
perform biology analysis (which includes the scientific processing of crime
scene samples to derive DNA profiles), which is currently offered out of
Vancouver and Ottawa.
Is it the intention of the government to deliver results in a timely
fashion by relying on private labs to do the work that was done by government
labs in the past?
The RCMP Forensic Laboratory Services (FLS) has a standing offer
arrangement with an accredited private laboratory for analysis of biology
cases. This contracting mechanism is used at the discretion of the FLS to
manage unpredictable casework fluctuations that exceed our ability to provide
timely responses to investigators.
The FLS audits the quality of services provided by the contractor.
The Government of Canada does not intend to dismantle the FLS in favour of
(Response to question raised by Hon. Norman K. Atkins on March 23, 2005)
The Criminal Code currently contains provisions to protect
individuals from mortgage fraud through identity theft. A person who
fraudulently represents himself or herself as another person, living or dead,
with intent to gain an advantage for himself/herself or for another person
commits the offence of personation. Securing a mortgage to which the
individual would not otherwise be entitled constitutes a legally protected
"advantage". Further, a person who by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent
means defrauds the public or another person of any property, money or valuable
security or service may be found guilty of fraud. If a mortgage takeover by
impersonating another person involves knowingly using forged documents to
convince the bank that the perpetrator of the crime is someone else, the
elements of uttering a forged document may also be applicable. Persons
convicted of any of these crimes on indictment (provided that in the instance
of fraud the amount of the fraud exceeds five thousand dollars) are subject to
a maximum penalty of imprisonment of ten years.
The Department of Justice has been examining the current Criminal Code
provisions to assess whether there are limitations in the current law to deal
with identity theft and has formulated various options to address those
limitations. The work that the Department is doing has been informed by input
received from other federal departments, provincial and territorial officials,
law enforcement and from stakeholders. All of this work will assist the
Department in formulating any changes that are needed to ensure that
individuals are protected from mortgage fraud through identity theft.
Compensation for legal costs for victims of crime is not within the
legislative jurisdiction of the federal government. The Senator may wish to
direct his concerns about such compensation to the appropriate provincial or
territorial authorities that are responsible for the administration of justice
in that jurisdiction.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Pat Carney on March 22, 2005)
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is working with the British Columbia
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and with the British Columbia
Poultry Committee to develop and implement bio-security protocols that apply
to poultry farms and those who have business with them. These protocols are
intended to minimize the risk of virus infecting any farm and of a spread of
infection to other farms as occurred in the Abbotsford area in 2004.
Upon declaration that a farm is an infected premise and placed under
quarantine, CFIA occupational safety and health obligations under the Canada
Labour Code are triggered. The Agency ensures that its employees as well as
any contracted labour are provided with training, safe work procedures,
hygiene practices and personal protective equipment. This is done on the basis
of advice received from Health Canada which is the department responsible for
advising on public service health matters. In the case of the 2004 Avian
Influenza outbreak, appropriate use of all personal protective equipment was
monitored by safety and health professionals on site.
The Agency also provided community education sessions to producers to
increase awareness of the risks and appropriate bio-security measures
Producers are responsible under provincial jurisdiction and applicable
labour codes for families and farm employees on their premises.
CFIA emergency plans now incorporate the requirements for personal
protective equipment that will be consistent for both CFIA staff and members
of the public employed on a short-term, temporary basis by the Agency.
Additionally, development of Foreign Animal Diseases Emergency Support (FADES)
Plans with provinces will also address bio-security issues. Bio-security
measures being developed and implemented by industry, under CFIA guidance,
will include guidance on appropriate safety precautions to be taken by all
people who may potentially contact an infected premises. As the FADES plans
are agreed to province by province, it will be for the relevant provincial
authorities to consider CFIA technical advice, as well as that of their public
health authorities, in deciding what steps should be taken to protect farm
families and employees.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Grafstein wishes to
raise a point of order.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I want to raise a
matter of privilege. I hope that I misheard the Honourable Senator St. Germain.
My understanding is that he referred to senators on this side by saying, "You
guys are corrupt." I heard that verbally.
If I turn to the rules, rule 43(1) states:
The preservation of the privileges of the Senate is the duty of every
I will not read the entire rule, but it goes on to say that a question of
privilege should be raised at the earliest opportunity.
I apologize if I misheard the honourable senator. I am turning quickly to my
references because I have not had adequate time to research this matter, but
referring to House of Commons Procedures and Practices edited by Robert
Marleau and Camille Montpetit, on page 522 we see the title "Reflections on the
House and the Senate." I hope I am not taking this out of context, but it is a
quick response. I quote —
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt, Senator Grafstein. I do
not know whether other senators have noticed, but the sound is not very good.
Perhaps you could try another microphone.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Leave will have to
be granted to allow the honourable senator to speak from a place other than his
The Hon. the Speaker: Let us do an experiment to see if we can hear
you better at another microphone.
Senator Grafstein: I refer honourable senators to page 522, which
Disrespectful reflections on Parliament as a whole, or on the House and the
Senate as component parts of Parliament are not permitted. Members of the
House and the Senate are also protected by this rule.
It goes on to say:
...and it is out of order to question a Senator's integrity, honesty or
I know that my honourable friend is an honourable gentleman. I would hope
that if, in the heat of the debate he misspoke, he would withdraw his comment
and that would be the end of this matter. Failing that, my hope is that His
Honour will deal with my intervention as a question of order and a question of
The Hon. the Speaker: To remind honourable senators, on points of
order, we come back to the person who raised the point of order as the last
intervener. I hope we can restrict our interventions to one per senator. I will
now see other senators and then, at the end, go back to Senator Grafstein. I
normally would alternate sides.
As the point of order has come from the government side, I will go to the
opposition side first and then to the government side. If Senator Austin had
raised the point of order, I would have seen him first as Leader of the
Government, but the Leader of the Opposition is rising. I have heard a
government member and I will now hear an opposition member.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I would like to have some
clarity on whether the house is dealing with a point of order or with a question
of privilege. If that issue is clarified, then I will know to which part of the
procedural literature I should address myself.
The Hon. the Speaker: That is a fair question at this stage, without
having to rule.
We have a specific procedure under our rules requiring three hours' notice to
deal with a question of privilege. Perhaps it would be helpful to refer to
Beauchesne, sixth edition, page 142, section 485. Under the heading
"Unparliamentary Language," it states:
Unparliamentary words may be brought to the attention of the House either
by the Speaker or by any member. When the question is raised by a Member it
must be as a point of order and not as a question of privilege.
Sometimes there are blurs and difficulties in knowing exactly where we are in
our proceedings. I hope that this information is helpful to honourable senators.
Senator Kinsella: I thank His Honour for that clarification.
I do not believe that our colleague Senator Grafstein has laid out a point of
order. I simply recall the attention of the house to the fact that we had a very
long inquiry a few months ago on the culture of corruption, so that the term
"corruption" in and by itself is hardly unparliamentary. There has been a long
debate in this house on the subject matter of a culture of corruption, a debate
in which many honourable senators participated. I would argue that the
proposition that the term "corruption" in and of itself constitutes a breach of
order is not sustainable.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with
respect to the argument that Senator Kinsella has just made, the phrase was,
"You are corrupt." It was not a "culture of corruption" in Parliament, but a
direct address to the members on this side with respect to our integrity.
In addition, Senator St. Germain made a personal reflection on my integrity,
and I do not know whether it constitutes a point of order or a question of
privilege. He questioned my integrity. I do not have the exact words, so I will
not try to quote them. However, he questioned my integrity, and I am asking him
to withdraw that remark.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Given the respect I have for this institution,
honourable senators, I am prepared to give consideration to the request. The
Leader of the Government in the Senate and minister of the Crown made reference
to us as having a lynch mob mentality. That is clearly what he said. He said
there was a lynch mob mentality. He attacked Senator Tkachuk and made the
inference that we on this side have a lynch mob mentality. If he is prepared to
withdraw that comment, I am prepared to withdraw the word "corrupt."
Senator Austin: Not at all, honourable senators. Political attack is
one thing, but a personal attack on the integrity of a senator is quite another.
The Hon. the Speaker: We are discussing a point of order. A point of
order is to deal with whether we are respecting the rules and whether we are
within the practices of parliamentary procedure that we accept in the texts and
by virtue of our rules. It is not a time for debate. I remind honourable
senators that we are here to determine, and I am the determiner, whether there
has been a breach of any of the rules of the Senate or any of our practices as
are prescribed by our custom, which we usually do by reference to texts, as I
have already done. Engaging in a back-and-forth debate is not helpful in
determining whether a point of order has been raised by Senator Grafstein.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, His Honour just referred to the
Rules of the Senate, and I would like us all to refer to rules 51, 52 and
Rule 51 says that all personal, sharp or taxing speeches are forbidden. Rule
52 says that a senator considering himself or herself offended — as I do, I say
parenthetically, by having been referred to in terms of "You guys are all
corrupt," — in a committee room or in any of the rooms belonging to the Senate,
may appeal to the Senate, which I now do, for redress. Rule 52(2) says that a
senator who has used exceptionable words, meaning words to which one might take
exception, and does not explain or retract the same or offer apologies therefore
to the satisfaction of the Senate, shall be dealt with as the Senate sees fit.
Honourable senators, I think it would be a good idea to refer to those three
rules in respect of the present debate.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): In considering
this point of order, perhaps His Honour should review Hansard from the beginning
of today's sitting. Senator Tkachuk made a statement. We went to Question Period
and Senator Austin attacked that statement. I would ask His Honour to read what
Senator Austin said with respect to personal attacks on Senator Tkachuk.
Senator Austin: There was no personal attack on Senator Tkachuk.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Today may be the wrong time for Senator Austin
to ask Senator St. Germain to withdraw what he is perceived to have said about
Senator Austin since Senator Austin cannot quote the exact word which he wants
Senator St. Germain to withdraw. If he wants a general withdrawal, I am at a
loss to know exactly what Senator St. Germain is being asked to withdraw.
Perhaps Senator Austin would like to put this matter over until tomorrow when
we can read the offensive words that he wants Senator St. Germain to withdraw.
That would be clearer than saying, to paraphrase Senator Austin, "I do not
exactly know what word Senator St. Germain said." It is usually a word or an
accusation that is an insult that one asks to be withdrawn. A general statement
of withdrawal would not be appropriate at this time.
I hope that I have contributed to your reflections, Your Honour.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, to explain to Senator Prud'homme,
I am speaking of the phrase that Senator St. Germain used in referring to my
integrity and its diminishment.
The Hon. the Speaker: No other senator rising, I will recognize
Senator Grafstein for a final comment.
Senator Grafstein: Referring to my earlier quote from page 522 of
Marleau, it is out of order to question someone's integrity, honesty or
Honourable senators, I have been in this house for over two decades, so I
understand the heat of the moment, but, having said that, I have tried never to
question the personal integrity of any senator in the heat of debate. If I have
been excessive, I have withdrawn.
I hope that the Honourable Senator St. Germain will think about this again. I
am not speaking of the comments made to Senator Austin, because he has to
protect his own interest. It was a general comment that reflected on all
senators on this side, and I hope he will think about that and withdraw.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there have been a number of
interventions, for which I thank honourable senators. I will review the
transcript of the subject matter of Senator Grafstein's point of order, review
the authorities, and return as soon as possible with a ruling or comment, as
appropriate, on the matter raised by Senator Grafstein.
Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I rise on another
point of order. I would not want His Honour and honourable senators to leave the
chamber today without the distinguished senator from Prince Edward Island being
absolutely certain of the commendable comments and observations he made with
respect to the founding of our nation. He is quite correct: The esteemed
founding fathers did meet here in Ottawa. As most of us know, they had
discussions for years. However, that group also assembled in Halifax, in the
province of Nova Scotia, as I am sure everyone here understands. The decision to
move to Confederation was taken in the Queen Hotel in Halifax
Honourable senators, my point of order is simply that that was the birthplace
of our nation. The meetings moved to Prince Edward Island simply because the
authorities of the Queen Hotel could not stand the noise. They were sent to
Prince Edward Island, where they tidied matters up. They eventually went to
Quebec City, the second heart of our great nation, and put it all together.
I concur that Prince Edward Island should be recognized for its role. Most of
us realize that Prince Edward Island needs all the help it can get. Over the
years it has been my desire to help Prince Edward Island, but I cannot let the
record stand uncorrected.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Forrestall's intervention is more in the
nature of a request to correct the record than a point of order with regard to
our rules. His intervention goes a long way toward addressing any differences
that may exist between him and Senator Downe.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the third reading of Bill
S-18, to amend the Statistics Act.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to speak
today to Bill S-18, to amend the Statistics Act.
I understand the desire of the government to pass this bill, but I also feel
the need to express my thoughts and add to the debate. As we have heard, this
amendment has been on the agenda since October 27, 1998. However, activities
surrounding this issue since then have not resolved the doubts raised in this
The purpose of the census is to provide an accurate picture of a country and
its people at a point in time, thus the five-year frequency. The population's
characteristics are analyzed. The more practical uses of a census to a country
like Canada are to establish electoral boundaries and to ensure the accuracy of
In 1666, Jean Talon, the Governor of New France, conducted the first census
this continent has known. Prior to Confederation, the governments of British
North America also conducted censuses. Post-Confederation, Canada had a census
every 10 years until 1956 when the frequency was changed to every five years.
There is a long tradition of conducting censuses in Canada. The essential
element of that tradition is the promise of the Government of Canada that the
information provided will not be given to anyone outside Statistics Canada. In
other words, other than the Statistics Canada exception, the information
provided will be kept secret and the right of citizens to the privacy of the
information they have provided will be honoured.
This long tradition is brought into question with this amendment. The issue
at hand is the public release of post-1901 census records. The census data from
1891 and 1901 was released for public use in 1983 and 1993 respectively. The
1906 census data was released in 2003. This was done because this particular
census pertained to the Prairie provinces and was deemed to contain less
In support of that secrecy, in 1985 the Department of Justice provided a
legal opinion stating that the censuses of 1911 and beyond occurred after
legislative changes had been made that provide for a guarantee of
confidentiality regarding the data collected.
In 1999, the Honourable John Manley appointed the Expert Panel on Access to
Historical Census Records to determine what might be done to resolve this issue.
The panel did not hold public meetings. Interested groups were asked to
contribute of their own accord. However, 3,555 letters, faxes and emails were
received by the panel over the seven months of its study, and some 95
submissions from genealogical, historical and archival associations were also
received. As our colleague Senator Milne, a member of the panel, can attest, an
extensive study was conducted.
After their deliberations, the panel came to the conclusion that the census
records in question should be released. Its report states:
The Panel is firmly convinced of the benefits of the release of historical
census records. The Panel is of the view that with the passage of time, the
privacy implications of the release of the information diminishes and that the
passage of 92 years is sufficient to deal with such concerns. We are persuaded
that a guarantee of perpetual confidentiality was not intended to apply to the
census. We believe that the indication of transfer to the National Archives
also implied an intention that the census records would eventually become
public and we would not view any legislation deemed necessary to do so as a
breaking of a promise to respondents. We view the historical and international
precedents as fully supportive of this position. The Panel is equally
convinced of the value of the census and other work of Statistics Canada and
is unwilling to make any recommendation which it believes will jeopardize this
work. It is for that reason that we recommend release of the pre-1918 Census
records and post-2001 records on a 92-year cycle, while advising some caution
regarding any legislative steps that might be thought necessary to effect the
release of those census records for the period 1921 to 2001.
The debate should not focus upon the level of sensitivity contained in this
information. Rather, the question is whether a government should be held to a
higher standard, that is, once a government has given a promise to its citizens,
should that promise be broken by those who come later?
We have heard that there has never been any provision restricting the release
of census material. I would draw your attention to two sections of the 1918
15(1) No individual return, and no part of an individual return, made, and
no answer to any question put, for the purposes of the Act, except as
hereinafter set forth, shall without the previous consent in writing of the
person or the owner for the time being of the undertaking in relation to which
the return or answer was made or given, be published, nor, except for the
purposes of a prosecution under this Act, shall any person not engaged in
connection with the census be permitted to see any such individual return or
any part of any individual return.
(2) No report, summary or statistics or other publication under this Act,
except as aforesaid, shall contain any of the particulars comprised in any
individual return, so arranged as to enable any person to identify any
particulars so published as being particulars relating to any individual
person or business.
It appears to me, honourable senators, that with the inclusion of those
provisions in the Statistics Act, there is a clear intent of Parliament to
legislate an assurance to those filling out their census forms that the
information they provide will not be shared with or divulged to anyone not
dealing with the data through Statistics Canada.
Our colleague Senator Lynch-Staunton quoted commitments of confidentiality in
1918, 1948, 1971 and 1981. It is difficult to understand how these commitments
made on so many occasions might be interpreted today to mean less than their
clear intention. There is no mention of perpetuity specifically, but there is
certainly no mention of releasing this information to the general public at any
point. Erring on the side of caution is certainly the term which applies in this
There were also dissenting opinions held by the Manley panel. No less than
the Privacy Commissioner at the time, Mr. Bruce Phillips, stated in no uncertain
terms that he opposed the release of the census information in question. The
former Privacy Commissioner argued that a 1905 legislative commitment to
confidentiality is the impediment to the release of the data in question. He
said, "Release of the information collected through the census violates the
principle that information collected for one purpose should not be used for
another without consent." That is the privacy issue at stake here. How is it
possible to obtain the consent of those who have passed on? It is not possible.
That should be the end of the argument.
Statistics Canada also made a submission to the Manley panel which outlined a
concern that the participation rate would decline if there were a drop in the
level of public confidence in the agency's ability to maintain confidentiality
of census returns. The panel dismissed this concern. It quoted a U.S.
congressional committee which looked into the matter, and asserted that no
evidence existed to connect the release of census data and diminishing census
participation. However, to use that same United States as an example in assuring
us that rates will not drop may be less helpful than one might think. According
to Statistics Canada, 96 per cent of Canadians filled out their census forms in
1991 and 1996, compared to 63 per cent in the United States census of 1990.
These numbers have to be mentioned within the context of this argument.
The issue we are dealing with is no less than the breaking of faith between
the government and its citizens. We, as the current government, must uphold a
promise made to the citizens of this country by another government, no matter
the length of time that has passed. This notion that somehow a covenant made
between citizens and their government may be struck null and void because a
period of time has gone by is a troubling precedent to be set. As Senator
Plamondon mentioned, we are putting ourselves in a position where Canadian
citizens will not trust us. We cannot expect them to, no matter how innocuous
the effect of the proposed action is perceived to be.
In Canadian political tradition, retroactivity has never been the favoured
course. It is a controversial method of dealing with issues. Those who filled
out their census forms during the years in question were not of the impression
that a change would be made at a later date. That the confidentiality provisions
under which citizens filled out their census forms would be altered by a future
government was not expressed to them either in legislation at the time or at the
The complete turnaround proposed by this amendment is alarming. We should
take more care in considering what the effects of our actions might be, hence
the history in Canada to shy away from the use of retroactive legislation. As
Senator Plamondon mentioned, we are looked at as being one of the higher-ranked
countries in the world. Our society is based on the rule of law and the
stability of that law. That stability has not been gained and recognized by a
practice of retroactive legislation. Changing these rules midstream detracts
from this solid international reputation and erodes a tradition we have
established domestically, which has served our society so well.
It is the belief of those attempting to rescind this promise — a promise
which to my mind was made in no uncertain terms in the Statistics Act of 1918 —
that doing so would not compromise any of those involved. I would submit that
there is a very real danger of compromising both parties involved. The first is
the citizens to whom the commitment was made, the commitment being the promise
to maintain the secrecy of participation in a government census. A census in
which the same citizens are compelled to partake would be torn apart. That
promise would be broken.
Second, the government of this country would also be compromised. At the
heart of the relationship between the people and the government is trust — trust
that the government will treat its citizens equally and honestly and that, once
a government has made a commitment to its citizens, that commitment will be
upheld. This is not a matter of taxation. It is not a matter of changing
circumstances. The circumstance of change can have no effect on this commitment.
I ask you: How could the passing of 92 years make the breaking of a promise made
a justifiable act?
Let me quote the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Industry and
responsible for Statistics Canada, from the department's press release dated
November 2, 2004 upon introduction of this bill: He said:
Informed consent about the use of one's own personal information is a
matter of fundamental privacy protection. Canadians should have the right to
decide for themselves if they want their personal census records to be made
publicly available in the future...
There is no argument about the active consent provision in this bill. It is
an admirable feature of this amendment. Allowing Canadians to choose whether
their census information will be released publicly after 92 years is fair and
The message from the minister speaks of fundamental rights of privacy,
allowing Canadians to choose for themselves on this issue. There is the mention
of a fundamental right to privacy again. Who qualifies for this right? Did we
put a prerequisite of being alive as the key qualification?
What is it about our particular generation that makes us believe we possess
the wisdom that somehow eluded the governments that came before us? Do we
honestly believe that these governments did not weigh carefully the issues
involved, that their commitment to the privacy of the citizens of the day was
somehow less serious than our commitment? I do not believe so. Moreover, is the
minister's statement in support of privacy protection any less applicable or
meaningful today than in the past? I do not think so.
What of those who filled out their census forms from 1906 onward? Who will
speak for them? Their voices are silent. It is impossible for them to express
their position. I believe that, so long as these Canadians took part under the
belief that their privacy rights would be protected, so long as their personal
information was entrusted to a government that made a promise to these citizens
of Canada to maintain the secrecy of this information, we have no right to speak
contrarily for them or the government that made that commitment.
I understand that some 77,000 Canadians alive today will be directly affected
by the passage of this bill and the proposed release of census records from 1906
and 1911. I assume that they will be consulted if and when their census
information is released, or will this bill simply allow for the public release
of census data without notice to them and their prior consent having been
obtained? That is a very serious question.
Will we be left with a situation where the Government of Canada will force
these citizens to take some legal action against their own government in order
to have their census data kept private? What about the anxiety this would cause
for those surviving elderly citizens and their families and for the families of
deceased census participants? Who will pay the legal bills that they might be
forced to incur? I am sure that these respondents who would be affected by this
legislation would like to know, and indeed have a right to know.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable Senator
Moore, your time has expired. Are you asking leave to continue your
Senator Moore: I would request leave to continue, please.
Senator Rompkey: Our usual practice is five minutes.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Moore: I will be finished within that time, honourable
Another legal opinion states that, due to the lack of specificity regarding
the length of time these documents would be kept secret, combined with the act
of transferring this data to the National Archives, the justification is
provided for the release of these records to the public. I have read the debates
involved and I understand there is no specific mention of perpetuity. However, I
also notice there is specific mention of not sharing this information with a
party not involved with gathering data and the census and that this information
would not be released to the public. This seems a clearer message than
attempting to second-guess the intentions of the government that passed the
Honourable senators, at the heart of this matter is the need to maintain the
high standard of trust between a government and its citizens. The argument that
there comes a point in this relationship when, due to the passage of time, a
promise made by a government can be broken can lead to the setting of a very
We, honourable senators, are entrusted by the people of Canada to defend the
rights of all citizens of this country. It is my contention that this also
includes those who have gone before us. If we break faith with our forefathers
and foremothers, what does this say of us and of the trust placed by them in us?
The matter of releasing these census records has been portrayed as innocuous.
We are being told that there is a point where the combination of the level of
sensitivity of the data involved, plus the passage of time — 92 years — results
in the removal of any privacy issue. This is the point where we as legislators
must be very careful. Is it the data itself which should be the focus of the
debate, or is it the quality of our stewardship of that data? We must realize
that this legislation necessitates the breaking of an agreement made between our
great-grandparents, grandparents or parents and the government of the day. I do
not think that is wise, nor do I think it is within the scope of our power or
I ask you to remember who you are, the office you hold and your role as
upholder of the rights of Canadians. If the decision is made to overturn this
agreement, then let us at least be aware of the severe implications of such an
act, and let us realize we can expect no more from those who will sit in this
chamber after us.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Would the senator entertain two very brief
Senator Moore: Yes.
Senator Comeau: Is the senator aware that, in an application for the
release of historical census records, the Federal Court, in 2004, ruled that the
care and control of the 1911 census, and subsequent censuses of course, rests
with the Chief Statistician and therefore any move to release the census would
require legislation? In other words, up until that point the argument had been
made that the Chief Statistician did not have an obligation to keep the data but
that, in fact, the Federal Court did rule that he was the custodian of the
My second question relates to the fact that an argument has been made that
the census records provide extremely valuable information in order to trace
one's health ancestry; in other words, to try to identify diseases or medical
problems that might be in the family. Therefore, it would be valuable to get all
of this information on the record so that people can research their family
medical backgrounds. However, that is in fact a double-edged sword. If
individuals are allowed to investigate their medical background, be it mental or
physical, insurance companies will be allowed to do exactly the same thing. If
insurance companies start digging around in our health history, that could
impact on the kind of insurance we could obtain.
Senator Moore: I will attempt to answer those questions.
With regard to the first question, I was not aware of that Federal Court
decision, but it is clear to me that it is consistent with the provisions in the
Statistics Act of 1918. There has been nothing put on the legislative books
contrary to the provision of that law.
The honourable senator mentioned the possibility of others using this
personal information for personal gain. All of that simply points out the
absolute need to maintain the secrecy. There is a situation going on now in the
United States — and this was reported in the Montreal Gazette on April 9
— where such information is being gleaned from government records by the Mormon
Church with regard to Jewish citizens in the United States. That church is
conducting proxy baptisms of those good people who are deceased who were victims
of the various concentration camps. That is an extreme situation, but that is
what could happen.
On motion of Senator Lynch-Staunton, debate adjourned.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce (Bill C-29, to amend the Patent
Act, with amendments) presented in the Senate on April 12, 2005.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Yesterday, honourable senators, I had the honour of presenting the
eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce
that deals with Bill C-29, to amend the Patent Act. During the committee's study
of this bill, it became apparent that two serious technical amendments were
required to remedy a drafting error that had occurred in previous legislation.
Pursuant to rule 99, I will now provide a brief explanation of the committee's
The first amendment would add four schedules to the Patent Act, as was
originally intended in An Act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act
(The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa), being chapter 23 of the Statutes of Canada
2004. As previously stated, the purpose of this amendment is to remedy a
drafting error that occurred in previous legislation and ensure that the
schedules are now part of the Patent Act.
This amendment relates to that part of the Patent Act that deals with the use
of patents for international humanitarian purposes to address public health
concerns. This part provides the framework for how this is to be accomplished.
The schedules are an integral part of this framework, and the amendments ensure
that they are now legally part of the Patent Act.
The second amendment deals with the coming into force of the respective
clauses in Bill C-29. The two clauses that relate to an Act to amend the Patent
Act and the Food and Drugs Act (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa) would come
into force when that act comes into force.
The other clause, dealing with patent fees in order to provide relief to
patent holders and applicants affected by the 2003 decision of the Federal Court
of Appeal in Dutch Industries Ltd. v. The Commissioner of Patents, Barton
No-Till Disk Inc. and Flexi-Coil Ltd., would have come into force on a day
to be fixed by order of the Governor-in-Council.
Honourable senators, these amendments are technical in nature and are
intended to ensure that an initiative that is supported by all parties, which it
was in committee, can be implemented as planned. I would urge all senators to
support these amendments so that the bill can be returned quickly to the other
The Hon. the Speaker: With no other senator rising to speak, are
honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
Senator Grafstein: Now.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there any debate?
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Is there a
particular urgency to this bill? Could it not wait until the next sitting of the
Senate? Is this a normal procedure?
Senator Grafstein: It could, honourable senators. In light of what is
going on in the other place, it strikes me that it might be appropriate to move
this bill forward as quickly as possible. The rationale for this bill is the
humanitarian aid that is desperately needed in Africa. It is appropriate that we
move as quickly as possible.
There was a technical glitch. The remedy has been approved by all parties. It
has been approved by the committee unanimously. There were technical objections,
but I see no reason why the bill should not proceed.
Senator Stratton: In extenuating circumstances, we on this side always
try to cooperate. However, we are surmising what will happen in the other place.
For that reason, I would ask that the bill be given third reading tomorrow.
There must be exceptional circumstances whereby the normal procedures of this
place cannot take place.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is not granted.
On motion of Senator Grafstein, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for
third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eleventh report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill C-12, to
prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases, with amendments)
presented in the Senate on April 12, 2005.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the
The Hon. the Speaker: Do you wish to speak, Senator Keon?
Senator Keon: No.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, during the clause-by-clause
study of Bill C-12 on March 23, I proposed some amendments to the bill. By
mistake, the French version of one of the proposed amendments omitted a change
required in the English version of the bill. I therefore propose correcting this
omission with the following motion.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, I move, seconded by Senator
That the Eleventh Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology be not now adopted but that it be amended at
amendment No. 2, by adding after the words "clause 62.2:" the following:
"(a) replace, in the English version, line 15 with the following:
"being laid before each House of Parliament if the"; and
The Hon. the Speaker: No senator rising, are honourable senators ready
for the question on the amendment?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion in amendment?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: We are now on the report on the bill, as
amended. Does anyone wish to speak?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion, as amended?
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill, as
amended, be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Keon, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third
reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill S-11, to amend the
Criminal Code (lottery schemes), with amendments and observations) presented to
the Senate on April 12, 2005.—(Honourable Lise Bacon)
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Is the
Honourable Senator Bacon speaking today?
Senator Bacon: Yes.
Senator Bacon: Honourable senators, the sixth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs recommends various
amendments to Bill S-11. This bill amends provisions of the Criminal Code
relating to the use of video lottery terminals. The bill also seeks to limit the
locations at which VLTs can be installed to racetracks, casinos and premises
dedicated to gaming. At present, every province except Ontario and British
Columbia, and one territory, the Yukon, allows VLTs in bars and other locations.
Bill S-11, sponsored by Senator Lapointe, would terminate this practice.
After having heard from numerous witnesses, the members of your committee
reached the following conclusion, on division, because one member of the
committee disagreed: We find the objective of the bill to be legitimate and that
the advantages of the proposed measures outweigh the disadvantages associated
with their implementation. Therefore, your committee has decided to report the
bill back to this chamber with amendments to minimize the problems associated
with its implementation.
First, we made technical amendments, which in no way reduce the scope of the
bill and which avoid any confusion. We made the first clause clearer, in
response to comments from the Department of Justice. The bill no longer refers
to a game, proposal, scheme, means, device, contrivance or operation, but simply
games operated on or through a video lottery terminal or slot machine. The
purpose of the bill is in no way altered by these purely technical amendments.
Clause 2 of the bill is replaced by a different provision. The bill was to
come into force 180 days after receiving Royal Assent. Under the amendment
adopted by the committee, the bill will come into force on a date fixed by
Order-in-Council no later than three years after receiving Royal Assent.
The Government of Canada must, moreover, offer provincial and territorial
governments the opportunity to take part in consultations on the implementation
of this legislation. This precaution is an important one, because we are dealing
with two federal-provincial agreements, in 1979 and 1985 respectively, setting
out Canadian policy on gambling. Bill S-11 deviates from those agreements but,
given the federal Parliament's full jurisdiction over the Criminal Code, we have
the constitutional legitimacy to proceed. In order to avoid any sudden changes
or surprises, however, consultation of the provinces and territories seems
As you are no doubt aware, the 1999 Social Union Framework Agreement set out
in its fourth component that when a major change in policy would substantially
affect another government the governments agree to give one another advance
notice and to consult prior to implementation. These are, therefore, the reasons
the committee accepted the suggested amendments.
We are of the opinion that a period of three years allows sufficient time for
consultations between governments and that, should there be a desire to proceed
more quickly, the coming into force can take place on a date set by
We felt it was appropriate to append to the report some observations dealing
mainly with the frame of mind of the committee at the time it studied the
matter. The majority of the members felt that the major social damage and
psychological distress caused to too many Canadians by VLTs outweighed any other
aspects. The majority of stakeholders who appeared before the committee
indicated that the harmful effects of VLTs far outweighed the potential
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Eyton, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Kinsella calling
the attention of the Senate to the budget presented by the Minister of Finance
in the House of Commons on February 23, 2005.—(Honourable Senator Di Nino)
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join the
debate on Senator Kinsella's motion on the budget brought down by the Minister
of Finance on February 23.
The budget lays out an ambitious program for spending growth, with outlays on
various programs expected to climb by $36 billion over the next five years,
fuelled by a $42-billion revenue surge. Despite a modest tax cut, the government
expects that in 2009 it will collect 35 per cent more from personal income taxes
than it did last year. Revenues from personal income taxes are rising faster
than any other revenue category.
With such a revenue windfall, are Canadians to believe that a tax cut of $16
per month, 53 cents a day, which today will not even buy a cup of coffee, is the
best tax relief this government can deliver?
The second-fastest-growing revenue category is the GST, where net collections
are expected to grow by $8 billion, some 27 per cent over the next five years.
Did I say the GST? Did the Liberals not promise to scrap it?
Honourable senators, of all the measures undertaken by the former Progressive
Conservative government, the GST was perhaps the most controversial, and the
Liberals wanted nothing to do with it. Jean Chrétien said that he would replace
it with a fairer system that generated equivalent revenue within two years. He
was going to axe the tax. Paul Martin, as a candidate for the leadership of his
party, promised to scrap it. However, they soon found that making such a promise
was much easier than honouring it — that is a familiar story — and that the GST
actually made sense. The GST replaced the former hidden federal sales tax, also
widely referred to as the manufacturer's sales tax, which was overly complex and
full of flaws that made it a drag on the economy and made our exports
uncompetitive. Replacing the FST with the GST cut the cost of capital investment
and eliminated the biases against goods made in Canada, which not only helped to
make Canada more competitive but also made the revenue base more stable. I
suspect the Liberals knew all of this very well but, to win an election, they
told Canadians otherwise.
I will provide honourable senators with examples of their opposition to the
GST. At the time, in the other place, future senators Callbeck, Harb, Maheu,
Robichaud and Rompkey all spoke against the GST. In the Senate on November 29,
1990, Senator Corbin stood and said: "The GST is just an act of panic, highway
robbery, and digging deep into the pockets of Canadian taxpayers." Senator Kirby
spoke at great length to argue that the GST was unfair to low-income earners,
unfair to Atlantic Canada and said: "There are alternative ways of doing what
needs to be done in terms of eliminating the MST and raising the revenue." We
are still waiting for Senator Kirby's alternatives. Senator Watt said that the
GST would hurt the North. Senator Grafstein said he could not agree with the
evidence presented in support of the GST. Senators Austin and Kenny tabled
petitions to hold up debate. Senator Fairbairn was deeply concerned that the GST
should not apply to books. She told the Senate on October 30, 1990, that the
GST: "...will introduce punitive taxation on materials fundamental to our future
progress, materials that must be made more accessible rather than less
accessible." She went on and said: "The GST, applied without relief to Canadian
cultural products, including printed materials, may well make them so
inaccessible that Canadians once again may lose sight of their own creative
expression." Senator Fairbairn was speaking to a Liberal amendment to the
proposed GST legislation that sought to add an exemption to reading materials.
Why then did she and the rest of her colleagues vote against Bill S-10, which
proposed to do what they had called for? Why did senators on the other side vote
against Senator Oliver's proposed amendment to Bill C-70, the proposed GST
harmonization legislation that sought to exempt books from the harmonized sales
tax or HST? A 7 per cent tax on books was too much when the Liberals were in
opposition, but they had no problem with a 15 per cent harmonized tax.
Honourable senators, the design of the GST included a broad base but with
exemptions for many key items including groceries, rent, health and education.
As well, universities, schools and libraries were exempted from charging GST on
their services. Also included was a tax credit for lower-income Canadians,
providing them with more resources to pay for such things as books. However, the
door was left open for the GST to be changed at a future date. Senator Fairbairn
acknowledged this, in the same GST debate I mentioned a minute ago, when she
quoted then Prime Minister Mulroney: "When the tax has been applied across the
board for a while the government will want to look at its impact, perhaps review
it, and revise it later after it has been in place." The former government made
it clear that it would monitor the impact of the GST in a number of areas,
including reading materials.
Literacy is a serious problem in Canada, especially among lower-income
Canadians. During the committee hearings on the bill to remove the GST from
reading materials, we were repeatedly told by eminent Canadians, students, book
retailers, publishers, librarians and many others, who formed the Don't Tax
Reading Coalition, that this part of the GST is very destructive to literacy in
Canada. Yet, our colleagues opposite all voted against the later bills.
Removing the GST from reading materials would be of great help to students
who face ever increasing student costs, and it is unfortunate that the
government has once again missed an opportunity to keep one of their promises.
Perhaps it is time to introduce a bill to exempt reading materials from the GST,
and maybe this time senators opposite will support it. Senator Fairbairn, a
respected champion of literacy, well knows that the presence of reading
materials in the home is critical to children's intellectual development. This
area needs change because the Liberals forgot everything they believed in when
they sat in opposition.
Sales tax reform was but one of several measures taken to make Canada a more
dynamic and competitive place to do business. In 1980 the Liberals introduced
the National Energy Program and, in the process, poisoned the relationship
between East and West and brought energy development and the economy of Western
Canada to a standstill. Senator Carney, then Minister of Energy in the first
term of the Conservative government, dismantled the NEP, one of the many
measures taken to restore investor confidence.
It is not hard to understand why many in Western Canada viewed the Kyoto
Protocol with alarm, given they went down a similar road one quarter century
ago. The budget offers no real plan to meet the government's Kyoto objectives,
yet devotes an entire chapter to a discussion called "A Framework for Evaluation
of Environmental Tax Proposals." We should ask Mr. Dithers if there will be a
The Liberals also created the Foreign Investment Review Agency, erecting
barriers to foreign investment in Canada that prevented the creation of new jobs
and opportunities. The previous government brought down those barriers by
turning FIRA into Investment Canada, an agency charged with encouraging foreign
investment; and it worked. Our corporate tax system was not competitive before
the budget and, after taking into account everything from depreciation rules to
provincial sales tax on business inputs, it is still uncompetitive. This budget
does little to help Canadian business. We need to do more to encourage Canadians
to invest in Canada and then, hopefully, the recent news that Canadians have
directly invested some $88 billion in offshore tax havens will serve as a
wake-up call for this government. We are a trading nation that relies upon
secure access to markets. Senator Kelleher and Senator Carney both played key
roles in bringing about the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. The
same folks who battled the GST did the same with the FTA, as they fought many of
the same policies that they now embrace. Most of the criticism of the
Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and later NAFTA, proved to be false. The
border has not been erased. There has been no massive outsourcing of jobs to
Mexico and, indeed, some Americans complain that jobs are outsourced to Canada.
If medicare is in jeopardy, it is because of Prime Minister Paul Martin's cuts
to health care and not because of NAFTA. Canadian culture is as alive as ever.
The Great Lakes have not been drained to provide water to thirsty Americans.
Instead of withering on the vine, what is now an award-winning Canadian wine
industry has adapted and is thriving. We are as sovereign as ever. NAFTA has
resulted in an enormous increase in our trade with the United States and Mexico,
and most decisions in disputes have been in our favour. Yes, we still have
problems with BSE and softwood lumber, but more than 80 per cent of our trade is
"friction free," and, thank God, I do not hear any of my friends opposite
calling to tear up NAFTA. Yet, when you analyze this budget, you find that
precious little is being directed towards strengthening our export ability.
Honourable senators, to their credit, the Liberals have kept many of the
policies of the former government, which have helped to generate the economic
growth that, in turn, has generated a rapid rise in government revenues.
When it introduced the GST, the Progressive Conservative government promised
Canadians that this tax would only be used to service and reduce the debt. Paul
Martin and Jean Chrétien said that they would get rid of it instead. They did
not get rid of it. It is still here, it raises almost twice what it raised in
1993, and it still applies. By 2010 it will raise $8 billion more than it raised
this year and will generate $23 billion more than it raised when the Liberals
In his pre-budget inquiry, Senator Kinsella suggested that the government
plan its budget with a view to directing two sevenths of the net GST revenue to
debt reduction. That would total about $9 billion per year. There must be a more
rapid reduction in the level of government debt if Canada is to have the fiscal
flexibility that will be essential to meet the needs of an aging population in
the years ahead.
Honourable senators, this government is reaping the benefits of the efforts
of the previous Progressive Conservative government's introduction of the GST
and the negotiation of the FTA and NAFTA. The enormous increase in revenue has
provided an opportunity for this government to introduce a tax break to help
those many Canadians who are struggling with the everyday cost of living. It has
presented them with an opportunity to help those students whose education costs
keep skyrocketing. It has given them an occasion to reduce the debt, which is a
mortgage on all of our grandchildren's future. It has offered them the chance to
keep their promise to eliminate the GST on reading materials. Yet, they did none
of these. So much for caring about the average Canadian. A real opportunity
missed, is the way I would describe this year's budget.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin, pursuant to notice of February 24, 2005, moved:
That the Rules of the Senate be amended by replacing rule 32 with
"32. (1) A Senator desiring to speak in the Senate shall rise in the
place where that Senator normally sits and address the rest of the Senators.
(2) Any Senator who speaks in the Senate shall do so in one of the
(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), a Senator desiring to address the
Senate in Inuktitut shall so inform the Clerk of the Senate at least four
hours before the start of that sitting of the Senate.
(4) The Clerk of the Senate shall make the necessary arrangements to
provide interpretation of remarks made in Inuktitut into the two official
(5) Remarks made in Inuktitut shall be published in the Debates of the
Senate in the two official languages, with a note in the Journals of
the Senate explaining that they were delivered in Inuktitut."
He said: Honourable senators, even though our colleagues Senator Watt,
Senator Adams and Senator Sibbeston are absent today, I have decided to proceed
with this motion at this time.
I should like to begin by apologizing to my colleagues who sought
dispensation of the reading of the motion, but I thought it would be useful for
the chamber to be acquainted with the purpose I am trying to achieve, and that
would have required me to read it myself. Honourable senators will find the text
of that motion on page 11 of today's Order Paper.
The operative paragraphs of the motion are to change the rules. The changes
to the Rules of the Senate contained in this amendment are in paragraphs
3, 4 and 5. Those are the operative paragraphs, that is, what I am seeking to
It has been my intention to proceed with this motion for many years, and I
have had numerous discussions with our colleagues who represent the great North
of this country, namely, Senator Watt and Senator Adams. Earlier I mentioned
Senator Sibbeston's name because he comes from an area of this country where
they have not only two official languages. I forget the precise number, but
their assembly is conducted in seven or eight official languages.
You have all been witnesses, honourable senators, to the fact that Senator
Adams, on a number of occasions, rose in this house and did indeed speak in
Inuktitut. His colleague sitting next to him, Senator Watt, translated Senator
Adams' remarks into English, and then the interpretation system of the Senate
translated the English into French. In my opinion, that is a cumbersome way of
We are talking about the language of one of the peoples who first occupied
and still occupy this land called Canada. I have always been impressed that the
first missionaries to enter into those vast northern spaces imposed upon
themselves the discipline of learning the language of the people of the land.
They did not immediately impose French or English or any other language on these
people. They took it upon themselves to learn the language of the people they
presumably wanted to bring into Christianity. In the very early days of the
French regime, the same also occurred, whether it was Champlain, Frontenac or La
Tour. They did not impose their language on the native inhabitants of this
country. They learned their language. They signed treaties with them. They
negotiated treaties with them in terms that the native people could understand.
I believe that Inuktitut is a world treasure that deserves to be preserved.
Many languages have already been lost in innumerable countries across the world,
and the phenomenon continues today.
Surely, if an Inuit senator is called to this chamber, he is expected to make
a contribution to the chamber and represent the people of his territory, the
land he lives on, the customs and culture of this people, and how he can best do
that by using his or her own language. That is what this is all about. I have
had occasion to speak many times with Senator Watt, who is very fluent in
Inuktitut, as you all know. He tells me that it is extremely difficult for him
to speak English in this place, and we know Senator Adams has even greater
difficulty. In a sense, they are deprived of the fluency of their thoughts,
their emotions and their beliefs in bringing to the attention of the rest of us
The purpose of this motion is simple. There may be even simpler ways of going
about what I am trying to do, which is to allow those people to express
themselves in their mother tongue. We owe them that basic decency. If nothing
else, it is a matter of basic decency. They are called to this place. They can
best express themselves and communicate in their native language, and I think we
ought to provide the facilities for them to do just that. After all, we have
occasionally provided facilities to senators who were unable to hear or who
could not express themselves. I will not cite those incidents, but it has
happened. As we have provided tools for those of us who speak either French or
English, I think that we owe it to our northern colleagues to be even more
expedient in providing them with the tools they need to do a proper job in this
I know that Senators Watt, Adams and Sibbeston will want to speak to this
motion. I am not trying to pressure anyone into adopting this proposal blindly
or hurriedly. If the only effect of my thoughts is to foster further reflection,
that would be progress indeed. However, I should like colleagues on both sides
of the house to give this matter serious thought. It would enhance the quality
of the exchanges in this house. Again, I do not want to single out any one of my
colleagues, but I am sure all honourable senators have had their own personal
experiences with regard to what I am talking about.
Honourable senators, the motion is on the table. I know that other senators
wish to speak to it. I apologize that I am moving ahead with this today in the
absence of Senators Watt, Adams and Sibbeston, but I am sure they will
understand that I cannot in good conscience hold back any longer, and I would
like this matter to proceed in whichever way the Senate decides it should.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): May I ask Senator Corbin
Senator Corbin: Certainly.
Senator Austin: Is this proposal intended to apply to a senator who is
fluent in neither of our official languages, or to a senator who is fluent in a
third language of Canada and wishes to speak in that language?
Senator Corbin: I believe that the gist of Senator Austin's question
is whether, if we were to proceed in this instance, we would also proceed in
other instances with respect to Canadian native languages. I am not talking
about adding European languages to the scroll. I am only attempting to
recognize, in a basic, decent way, the Aboriginal right of senators who come to
this place to express themselves in their mother tongue.
I could have added that I have discussed this matter in the past with the
late Senator Twinn and my very good friend the retired Senator Marchand. I asked
them if their people would want to enjoy the advantage that I am proposing with
respect to Inuktitut. They said that most of their people express themselves in
English and French and feel comfortable with it. In addition, there would be a
difficulty because the idiom varies tremendously from one coast to the other,
and it would be problematic to attempt to satisfy all those needs.
That is why I have concentrated on Inuktitut. It is special. I do not deny
that other languages deserve to be preserved. Of course they do. However, if we
do not take an initial step, how can we build? I simply suggest that we
recognize what I think was an oversight of the B and B commission. They did
consider this matter, but they made no specific recommendations. That is where
the matter stands today.
Senator Austin: Senator Corbin referred to Senator Adams and Senator
Watt. That raised in my mind the question of whether he is trying to ameliorate
the situation of a particular senator. He later spoke about the desirability of
preserving native languages, so I am not sure how far he wants to extend this
I did not refer to languages outside Canada and am not asking about them. Is
the purpose of this motion to open the door to allowing Aboriginal peoples who
become senators to speak in their particular language, or does it deal only with
the circumstances of one senator?
Senator Corbin: In this instance, I am speaking about two senators,
and perhaps a third will raise arguments and stimulate debate later. I have an
open mind with respect to the recognition and respect due to Canadian Aboriginal
native languages. If at some future date the Prime Minister of the day, or the
electorate, for that matter, wishes to send to this place a member of a First
Nation who is fluent in and wishes to use his or her mother tongue, why not
allow that? The Senate could set a valuable example and foster openness to other
We say so often that Canada embraces all cultures, that we have opened our
doors to immigration and what have you. Let us not forget the first inhabitants
of this country. We have pushed them aside and crushed their rights for too
long. That is what this is all about. It is coming too late, as far as I am
concerned, but there is always the first step. I think we could constructively
build on this initiative, if we set our minds and hearts to it with goodwill.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, I would like to support
Senator Corbin's motion, but I move that the debate be adjourned to the next
sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Lise Bacon, pursuant to notice of April 12, 2005, moved:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Thursday, December
2, 2004, the date for the presentation of the final report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the petitions tabled
during the Third Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament, calling on the
Senate to declare the City of Ottawa a bilingual city and to consider the
merits of amending section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867, be extended from
April 30, 2005, to October 27, 2005.
Motion agreed to.
The Hon. the Speaker: Time has overtaken the adjournment motion.
It being four o'clock, pursuant to the order adopted on November 2, 2004, I
declare the Senate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, April 14, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.