Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 54
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, for the past 10 years, I
have been drawing the attention of this chamber to a special occasion that
unfortunately passed us by because of other important issues prior to our last
April 23 was Canada Book Day, a day that celebrates four objectives across
this country: first, the significant role of literature in Canada's past,
present and future; second, the importance of reading among our young people,
particularly in our schools; third, the international success of Canadian
literature and our heroes; and fourth, the promotion of Canadian books and the
people who write them. In doing so, it also underlines the fundamental
importance of literacy and lifelong learning in this country, without which a
Canada Book Day would be a sad day indeed.
The slogan of the day always is "give a book to a friend." My special friend
is one who will leave us soon. For many years, Senator John Lynch-Staunton and I
have worked together as senators and in opposition to each other as leaders, but
we have managed to find common cause on this and many other issues. Today, I
have three books to give this fine friend.
Although our colleague is from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, part of the
Lynch-Staunton clan lives and ranches in a most beautiful part of Canada, the
foothills of the Rockies near Pincher Creek in the southwest corner of Alberta
where the wind blows and the cattle roam. One of our nation's literary icons is
a true mountain man, a rancher, a storyteller, a writer — the great Andy
Russell. One gift today is called Wild Country — The best of Andy Russell.
The next is The Red Coats of the Prairies, a remarkable factual
account of the Northwest Mounted Police from 1886 to 1900, written by Bill
Beahen and Stan Horrall, who consecutively held the title of Royal Canadian
Mounted Police Historian over the last three and one half decades. This is the
The final offer may not be my friend's favourite "read." It is a book edited
by Nancy Southam and written by colleagues, associates and friends of a rather
interesting political figure in modern Canadian history. It is simply called
Pierre. Because Senator Lynch-Staunton has added to my collection with a
rollicking account of the early presidency of George W. Bush, I wanted to add
this former Prime Minister, my friend and employer for so many years, to his
I will truly miss you, Senator Lynch-Staunton. This is one day of the year
that you will always be remembered no matter where you are.
Hon. John Lynch-Staunton: Honourable senators, I am not ready for a
farewell speech yet. I do not have Senator Fairbairn's background, but I do know
of her extraordinary work on behalf of literacy in Canada, one of those concerns
which not enough of us share. Fortunately, there are enough people like her to
draw them to our attention and to fight the good fight.
It was hard enough for me to find something in return for Senator Fairbairn's
thoughtfulness, but thanks to Senator Kinsella, I think I have something
appropriate. It is not a recent publication. It was published in November 1987
by the then Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women. I think it was on
the right track, as Senator Fairbairn is very active in the Senate; a former
Leader of the Government in the Senate, the former chair of a number of
committees and current chair of two committees, including the Agriculture
Committee. This book is appropriate because it tells the story of farm women in
Canada, unsung women who toiled on the farms. It is called Growing Strong:
Women in Agriculture. I have no doubt that, in the second edition, Senator
Fairbairn's name will be included.
Senator Fairbairn, please enjoy this book with all my affection and respect.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, April of this year marked the
twentieth anniversary of the coming into force of section 15 of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the guarantee of equality rights. The
implementation of section 15 occurred three years later than the passage of the
Charter itself in 1982. This delay was to allow both the provincial and federal
governments the time necessary to adapt the legislation to the substance of
section 15. Now is an appropriate time to reflect on the impact that section 15
has had on the lives of Canadians.
There is no equivalent or analogous provision to the equality guarantees of
section 15 in the various human rights acts in place across the country. It does
not exist either with the same substance in European human rights acts or in the
American Bill of Rights.
An important contribution to the development of section 15 by the special
committee that studied the draft of the Charter in 1980, which I co-chaired with
the late Senator Harry Hays, was the enlargement of the ambit of its protection.
The committee introduced important amendments to the original draft. What
emerged was a section 15 with a definition of equality rights that is unique to
the Canadian Charter in three distinct ways: First, rights are extended to
"every individual" — in other words, to any human person, as opposed to rights
restricted to those who are citizens; second, not only is every individual equal
before the law, but every individual is also entitled to the equal benefit of
the law; and third, the prohibited grounds of discrimination enumerated in
section 15 are largely illustrative. They are not intended to be exclusive in
During the special committee hearings, members expressed a desire to add to
the list of prohibited grounds. For example, David Crombie, a member of the
Progressive Conservative Party, added "mental or physical disability" to the
list of enumerated grounds. Svend Robinson, a member of the NDP, proposed to add
four other grounds, among them "sexual orientation," a position I also
A debate followed among the committee members about their shared concern with
ensuring that section 15 encompass as wide an area as possible to adequately
protect all minorities. In the end, an argument prevailed that led to the best
approach to resolve the challenge faced by the committee. We concluded that it
would be presumptuous and too risky to try to list every protected ground in a
comprehensive way. As society inevitably evolves, grounds of discrimination
acceptable at one time often become unacceptable at a later date. This led to
the idea that the enumeration of prohibited grounds should be used as a guiding
list so that it could change and expand with time. The words "in particular"
were added to allow for the dynamic and evolving interpretation of section 15.
This is exactly how the courts have understood and interpreted section 15.
Since 1985, 46 cases have been appealed to the Supreme Court. Of those, 11 were
accepted by the court for final determination. Among the more important
decisions were cases dealing with the exclusion of non-citizens from the benefit
of the law, discriminatory access to unemployment benefits on the basis of age,
the use of marital status with respect to insurance, discriminatory practices
based on sexual orientation, and the denial to off-reserve Aboriginals of the
right to participate in band governance.
I will have to conclude at this point.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I rise to pay
tribute to the late Christina McCall.
If I had a favourite saint, it would be the Apostle St. Thomas, the eternal
skeptic, who questioned and doubted the conventional wisdom of his peers and
raised questions about the very nature of the human condition.
For me, it could not have been more appropriate that Christina McCall's
funeral service be held at Saint Thomas's Anglican Church in the heart of old
Toronto, for she was, as all great journalists are, a creative skeptic.
Great writers, like candles, illuminate the darkness enveloping the human
condition. The writer's art is to pull together disparate threads and weave them
into an authentic, vibrant story, making sense of what apparently is senseless.
So it was with Christina McCall.
To those who treasure the written word, Christina was herself a treasure.
Breathtakingly beautiful, she carried herself with effortless grace and looked
the part of the elegant Rosedale matron that she was. Yet beneath this elegant
veneer was a vulnerable, restless, energetic, insightfully brilliant writer. She
had a deep, velvety, smokey voice and dark, melancholy eyes. Christina spoke
purposefully, quietly and slowly. It was always difficult to concentrate on the
subject at hand because of the charm she exuded. She was admired by women and
men alike, and entranced and enchanted all who came to know her. My mother
taught me that a lady wore a hat and gloves. Christina did, and she was. She
wrote as beautifully as she looked. Because of her own complex personal
experiences, she could parse the complex passions and contradictions at play and
that were displayed within the body politic. For her, there was never a glass
Christina became a leading political chronicler of her time, on par with
Bruce Hutchison, Bill Wilson, Pierre Berton, Blair Fraser, Charles Lynch, Doug
Fisher, Peter Worthington, Geoff Stevens, Tony Westell, Richard Gwyn, Jeffrey
Simpson, Lawrence Martin, and her one-time husband, Peter Newman, and at times
she outshone all of them with her luminous prose and exquisite insights.
As a writer and journalist, she was meticulous in her preparations. She
always came prepared with research and notes that she took copiously. She would
pause to reread her notes and relaunch her enquiries. Christina could penetrate
to the essence with soft, rapier-like questions, always touching the inner core
of any subject she was exploring under the prism of her own personal microscope.
She was the very model of journalist and writer, and we will not likely meet
her equal again. While she wrote of the foibles and the failures of politics,
she never ever tarnished its noble purpose.
To capture the metaphor she wrote of Pierre Trudeau, her beauty and
brilliance "haunts us still." With her passing, the still unlimned political
anatomy of our country is darker and dimmer because her bright light was so
To her three beautiful, loving daughters and her husband Stephen, we can only
share a portion of their pain upon her passage and the marvellous remembrance of
glowing moments passed. Her own words, lustrous words, will forever carve a
lasting memorial to her memory.
Your work well done!
Your battles won!
Now come to rest.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, on Sunday, with Hikes for
Hospice and Palliative Care at 100 sites across the country, National Palliative
Care Week began. This is the third year for the hike. The first year I walked in
Winnipeg and it rained. The second year I walked in Ottawa and it rained. Last
Sunday I walked in Halifax and it poured. Perhaps it is me who brings the rain
to the thousands of Canadians who put personal plans aside to walk for a cause
that is so very important to them.
Quality end-of-life care for the dying is an issue that touches Canadians
from coast to coast to coast. Many have tried in vain to get the services that
they need, but the reality is that 80 per cent of Canadians who are dying still
do not get the service they deserve and need. It is getting better, but much
still needs to be done.
I would like to thank our Speaker for the breakfast he hosted on Monday, and
Senators Mercer and Trenholme Counsell, who joined with us. Together, honourable
senators, we can make a difference and make the lives of those dying and their
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, on April 15, I was privileged
to take part in the medal award ceremony for Operation Athena held at the Centre
des Congrès de Québec. More than 1,200 soldiers from CFB Valcartier, who had
served in Afghanistan during 2004, were decorated at that time.
A ceremony on such a large scale is a moving experience. The efforts of the
soldiers receiving medals were applauded by their families and the numerous
invited guests. I had the honour of presenting the Athena Campaign Star to
several members of the Royal 22nd Regiment. I could see in their eyes the
satisfaction of a mission well done and the pride of having served our country
so bravely abroad.
A number of civilians were decorated with the General Service Medal for
service as Operation Athena support staff. The work of these men and women is
often forgotten, so I was pleased to see it being recognized at full value.
The ceremony also provided military families with an opportunity to see their
own personal heroes honoured. The joy felt by the wives after so many months
apart, and of the children seeing their fathers again after so long, was equaled
only by their pride in seeing them officially decorated by the Canadian Forces.
I was very pleased with the speech given by General Hillier, in which he
acknowledged the essential contribution of military wives to Operation Athena.
He reminded us that the soldiers could not have accomplished their mission
abroad without the knowledge that the home front was in good hands.
During the ceremony, I noted that several young women had small babies in
their arms, babies that had been born while their fathers were in Afghanistan.
These new mothers demonstrated remarkable courage in a very tough situation. All
of these women are unsung heroes, but heroes just as much as their decorated
Honourable senators, I once again encourage you to take advantage of every
opportunity to show your appreciation of our Canadian military personnel and
their families. There are often opportunities in everyday life, far less
spectacular than the April 15 ceremony was, but effective nevertheless, to show
how much we appreciate them.
Hon. Joseph A. Day, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance, presented the following report:
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present
Your Committee, which was referred Bill C-33, A second Act to implement
certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004, has
in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, April 20, 2005, examined
the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
JOSEPH A. DAY
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Day, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third
reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule
23(6), I have the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the
report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group
respecting its participation at the Canada-U.S. Partnership Day and meetings
with U.S. legislators in Washington, D.C., from March 1 to 2, 2005.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have
the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report of the
Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting
its participation in the meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians
of the Arctic Region held in Washington, D.C., from February 28 to March 2,
Hon. Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate I shall move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs have power to sit at
3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 2005, even though the Senate may then be
sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I give notice that, on
Thursday, May 5, 2005:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the NDP budget announced in the
media by the Prime Minister on April 26, 2005; the ruination and destruction
of the Liberal budget; the compromised integrity of the Minister of Finance
whose previous position was that such measures were fiscally irresponsible;
and the irresponsibility of the Liberal government in attempting to shore up
its fading support through reckless new spending announcements.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, pursuant to rules 56 and
57(2), I hereby give notice that Thursday next, May 5, 2005:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the Province of Alberta and the
role it plays in Canada.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
last Friday, the Canadian embassy in Germany opened its doors at its new
location in the City of Berlin at Leipziger Platz.
Was the Minister of Foreign Affairs present at the ceremonial opening of this
new embassy? If not, why not?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
understand that Senator Kinsella was in attendance, so he may be able to tell us
whether the Minister of Foreign Affairs was there.
I do not have the answer to the second part of Senator Kinsella's question.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, I was not there, but had I been
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and had there been this opening of the new
Canadian embassy, which is the costliest embassy ever built by the Government of
Senator St. Germain: How much?
Senator Kinsella: It cost $180 million, far exceeding the cost of the
new Canadian embassy in Washington.
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Kinsella: That which should have been cause for celebration
is, unfortunately, cause for concern for Canadian taxpayers.
The new embassy was built in public-private partnership with Hannover Leasing
Group. By the time it opened on Friday, the cost of this architectural
masterpiece was some $180 million. Canadian taxpayers assumed the cost of $102
million, while the Hannover Leasing Group paid the remainder. Under the terms of
the public-private partnership, half of the site will be allotted to commercial
and retail interests, including exclusive apartments. The site will be
administered by the Hannover Leasing Group for 35 years before property rights
are returned to the Canadian government.
As honourable senators are aware, an embassy is a nation's home abroad, and
security concerns must be paramount in the building and management of this kind
Can the minister assure this chamber that the Canadian government has not
traded away control over embassy property for commercial considerations?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I would apologize to the Leader
of the Opposition for suggesting that he was present at the opening ceremony. I
was so advised. I will go back to my sources and discover why I was erroneously
advised. I have always heeded the part of the Bible where it is stated that
Jacob leaned upon his staff and died.
As to the remainder of the question, I think Canadians should take great
pride in having a facility of this kind, which Senator Kinsella described as
outstanding and magnificent. Germany is an important part of the European
Community. It is one of the economic motors of that community. Canada seeks to
develop its presence and its influence with the European Community. Canada must
show a commitment to that community and to Germany, which moved its capital, as
honourable senators know, from Bonn to Berlin, requiring a new embassy presence,
not only by Canada but also by other countries.
With respect to the aspect of the question that relates to economic and
commercial viability, I will make inquiries as to the nature of the cost-benefit
appraisal, and endeavour to provide a more specific answer.
The idea of public-private partnerships has been espoused not only by the
government of the day but also, I understand, by the opposition party. I may
have misunderstood Senator Kinsella for a second time if I interpreted his
remark to mean that he was objecting to public-private partnerships.
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, another example of this model
of public-private partnership is the Canadian embassy built in Hong Kong.
That was conceptualized in the world that was pre-9/11. In the world that we
live in today, the world of post-9/11, security concerns certainly have to be
foremost in our minds. Canadian taxpayers have put $102 million into the
Canadian embassy. The private sector, Hannover Leasing Group, has provided
financing of some $80 million. Hannover Leasing has control over the site and
who they will lease to.
When the minister makes his inquiries, I would ask that he secure for us
information concerning the terms and conditions of that partnership that speak
explicitly to the security concerns in the world today. One can imagine many
scenarios. Will Hannover Leasing be allowed to lease to organizations or
entities that might be of great concern in the eyes of Canadian intelligence
I do not know the answers to these questions, and I would ask the minister to
attempt to obtain them for the chamber.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, with respect to the final point
made by Senator Kinsella, I certainly will ask for information with regard to
the security arrangements relating to the embassy, which I will give the
I should inform the Senate that the principal nature of the transaction
reverts the full title of this property to Canada in 35 years. I suppose that
one of the considerations for the economic transaction is the ownership of this
very valuable property in Berlin 35 years from now. I do not have other details.
I do, however, want to correct Senator Kinsella in one respect. He referred
to Hong Kong, but he meant Tokyo. The government of Prime Minister Mulroney
entered into a public-private agreement with respect to the development of our
embassy in Tokyo, That building, as well, is magnificent and has an outstanding
presence. In that case, Canada had a substantial amount of land and made land
not needed for the new embassy or the old residence available to a Japanese
developer on commercial terms, with a return of that property in, I believe, 99
years, when it will be an extremely valuable property again.
I do not know that there is much to characterize as to a difference in nature
in this particular transaction. However, I will seek additional information for
Senator Kinsella: I hope my information is wrong and that the minister
will be able to identify my error. My information is that there is a 150 per
cent cost overrun for the Canada House project in Berlin. Perhaps the minister
can report on that figure as well.
Senator Austin: I shall endeavour to do so.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, last week, the
Director General of the World Trade Organization warned that the Doha round of
global trade talks is close to a crisis because not enough progress has been
made on important issues, including agriculture. Could the Leader of the
Government in the Senate please tell us if his government shares the view that
the Doha round might be close to crisis?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
cannot give a specific response except to say in general that Canada believes
the Doha round to be an extremely important part of advancing the world trade
system. Canada has many significant issues that need to be dealt with in this
I have not heard that we believe the situation to be in crisis.
Senator Gustafson: Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate
have comments on developments and issues with respect to the Doha round? Is the
matter of agriculture subsidies in the U.S. and the European Union a priority
for Canada? For what it is worth, they are butting up against a brick wall if
they think they will ever get the Americans and the Europeans off subsidies. For
25 years, we have been hearing that the World Trade Organization will get them
off subsidies. I can tell honourable senators that farmers are anxious about
these subsidies, and I would like to hear the minister's response.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I had the opportunity to attend
the Cancun meeting of the Doha round in 2003. Not much has changed, I would say,
in the public information as to the relative positions of the major trading
As Senator Gustafson knows, there is a contest with respect to the United
States and Europe. They continue to blame one another for the high subsidies
that they offer their own agricultural producers.
At the same time, the group of 22, as they are called, led by developing
countries, has set very aggressive targets for reducing those subsidies.
Agriculture is what the Doha round has turned into. That is what it is all
In the meantime, Canada is in a special position with respect to its
agricultural market suppliers, and we are anxious to ensure that supply
management, as Canada practises it, stays in place in any new global
Senator Gustafson: A large percentage of our production is sold into
the international market, as the minister will know. This creates a great
problem for Canadian farmers, especially with respect to grain, which is sold
I happened to be in Seattle when the trade talks were occurring there, and at
that time the trade talks on subsidies broke down. Canadian farmers cannot
withstand another one of these situations. Another move must be made to deal
with the crisis so that there is a level playing field for our grain industry.
Senator Austin: Without accepting the suggestion that in the Doha
round of negotiations a crisis exists presently, Senator Gustafson is well aware
that the United States and Europe are quite, if I may use the word,
"protectionist" of their agricultural sector. We have seen that protectionism
followed with respect to trade actions against Canadian agriculture and against
softwood lumber. It is said by some that the U.S. Congress is becoming
increasingly protectionist, but at the same time it has a new group of trade
Mr. Rob Portman is the leading trade negotiator for the United States. He is
new in his assignment. We are waiting to see whether he will follow the trade
negotiating lines of Mr. Robert Zoellick or whether new initiatives will be
launched by the United States with respect to the Doha round.
Senator Gustafson: As late as a couple of weeks ago, the Americans
increased subsidies on a crop of peas by 100 per cent. They doubled the subsidy.
France did the same thing with wheat. The problem is escalating, it is not going
away. Could it be that the Doha meetings are in crisis because they realize
these countries are doing the opposite to what they have been asking them to do?
Senator Austin: I understand the concerns of the Honourable Senator
Gustafson. I do not know whether this is an appropriate situation for the axiom,
but President Eisenhower once said that if you cannot solve a problem at this
level of its difficulty, let it get bigger.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, a significant part of the
Prime Minister's desperate budget-changing deal with the NDP appears to concern
federal spending that is clearly within areas of provincial jurisdiction.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was reported by the April 28 Ottawa Citizen
It is of passing interest that I certainly wasn't consulted on this either
as head of the Council of the Federation or as premier of Ontario. I don't
believe that any one of my 12 counterparts across the country were consulted
Could the government leader confirm that not one single provincial premier or
any territorial leader was consulted prior to the federal government agreeing,
in a Toronto hotel room, to make major changes to its budget involving major new
spending in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
know that Senator Angus is familiar with constitutional law and practice and
knows that it is constitutional for the federal government to use the power of
the purse to spend funds on programs that serve the public interest.
Hon. W. David Angus: I will not comment on the assertion of my
knowledge of constitutional law, but the amount allocated to Quebec was of great
interest to me and it seemed very large and fair, but the Ontario premier noted
that this deal proves that there is cash to address what he says is a
$23-billion funding gap. Mr. McGuinty is apparently still waiting for a meeting
with the Prime Minister at which that funding gap can be discussed.
Why is the Prime Minister willing to meet with the NDP leader in a Toronto
hotel room, without prior consultation — this is in the cooperative federalism
sense — in an effort to prop up his government, but unwilling to meet with the
premier of Canada's most populous province to discuss its grievances?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): The Prime Minister
indicated he is willing to meet with Premier McGuinty and arrangements are going
forward for such a meeting.
Since I cannot ask questions of senators opposite, I will wonder rhetorically
why the Leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper, has changed his position from
support of the government's budget to a position where he does not support the
budget. We on this side would be delighted to know more of the reasons for that
Senator Angus: Far be it from me to preach on behalf of the Premier of
Ontario, but it is Canada's largest province. Given the flagrant change in a
document which was tabled in this Parliament, called the budget, for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate to suggest that the Leader of the Opposition in
the House of Commons has changed his position is quite mind-boggling.
However, last Thursday, Minister of National Revenue John McCallum said that
Ontario's campaign for fairness is helping the separatists and said, "this is
very dangerous for Canada." Was Mr. McCallum speaking for himself or does the
government now believe that any province that raises concerns about its own
fiscal relationship with Ottawa is a threat to national unity?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, it is a delight to see Senator
Angus so concerned about a Liberal premier. I am sure this is almost
Senator Angus: It could be a sign of the end.
Senator Austin: I know very well that all Conservative senators
opposite are anxious for an election, and Mr. Harper has said that you were
unanimously of the opinion that an election should be brought on immediately.
An Hon. Senator: Not Belinda.
Senator Austin: An honourable senator has mentioned Belinda Stronach
as perhaps a dissenter from that particular view, and perhaps there are others,
but that would contradict Mr. Harper's statement, and I am not in a position to
do that at the moment. Perhaps it is possible that one of our Conservative
colleagues could speak to that particular issue.
Honourable senators, the issue of national unity is one that must concern us
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Austin: Every one of us is here because we believe in the
unity of Canada.
Senator St. Germain: Liberal actions eroded unity.
Senator Austin: Every one of us here, I am convinced, believes that
the current federal system is the best system for governing Canada and we are
prepared, every one of us here, I am sure, to defend it.
Honourable senators, the same is true for every minister of the government.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I would like to ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate what the terms are of the budget deal
reached between NDP leader Jack Layton and Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am
not aware of any formal agreement or formal terms. I have seen stories in the
media and I am sure that when, if and as that information is made public the
Conservative side will be totally in support of the budget.
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I am rather appalled. I am
asking a cabinet minister about a deal reached between the leader of the NDP and
the Prime Minister of Canada. Are there notes to this deal? Will the government
table those notes or any related documents in this chamber?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the advice I have is that there
is no document that bears the signatures of either party, the Liberal side or
the New Democratic side, nor is there likely to be such a signed document.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: My question is to the Leader of the Government
in the Senate. Honourable senators, the Prime Minister keeps saying that if the
Liberal Party received any dirty money or kickbacks, they would pay it back to
the government. He clearly stated this.
However, he never makes reference to anyone being charged within the Liberal
Party. Is there something new that has taken place in the system, where if you
give back ill-gotten gains, everything goes away? Perhaps the government leader
in the Senate could explain exactly what the Prime Minister means when he says
that. You cannot rob a bank, then give the money back and assume that everything
is okay. I would like to know what the Prime Minister actually means when he
makes such comments in regard to this laundered money, kickback money or
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
position of the government is that, if the Gomery commission or the RCMP
investigation shows funds were paid to the Liberal Party in a way that is
improper or criminal, then the Liberal Party will ensure that those funds are
repaid to the appropriate parties. The Liberal Party has no intention of keeping
any funds that were paid contrary to any law of Canada.
Senator St. Germain: The Honourable Leader of the Government in the
Senate is a lawyer. As such, can he tell us whether those who received the
funds, if indeed monies were paid out, have a legal responsibility to which they
must answer? In the case of the president of the party, the allegations were —
and they are merely allegations — that major renovations were carried out to
Liberal headquarters with some of these funds that were allegedly kicked back to
the Liberal Party. The president of the party would have known that money was
coming from somewhere. When I was president of the party and we were incurring
major expenditures, I knew the source of the money. Senator Angus raised this
issue in a general way, but it was raised legitimately and it has been legally
reported through the system. Will those people be held responsible?
Where does the Chief Electoral Officer stand on this issue in the 2000
election? The allegations are that in the 2000 election Liberal organizers were
being paid with money that was kicked back or laundered through these
advertising companies. What position does he take respecting these allegations?
I repeat that these are allegations. Is he conducting an inquiry? If what is
said in these allegations is true, the 2000 election was won fraudulently. Do we
have any explanation? Does the government leader in the Senate know whether the
Chief Electoral Officer has instigated an investigation into these allegations?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, the government does not report to
Parliament for the Chief Electoral Officer, so I have no information on that,
nor am I likely to have any. If the honourable senator wants to bring that
information forward, he will have to go to the Chief Electoral Officer directly
and ask him the questions he wishes to ask.
With respect to the remainder of Senator St. Germain's question, let me sort
out some of the issues. The first issue relates to funds improperly paid. I have
answered that question. Those who participated in such activities could have
done so innocently, could have done so without information, or could have done
so with knowledge of the law and contrary to the law. We have processes to
determine that. That is why the Gomery inquiry was launched, and that is why
Prime Minister Chrétien asked the RCMP to investigate.
At the moment, statements in the public domain are allegations, as the
honourable senator says, and they remain allegations until a determination of
the facts by the appropriate court of jurisdiction.
Senator St. Germain: Based on these allegations, can the honourable
minister advise Canadians whether the RCMP has instituted any criminal
investigations into money being kicked back to the Liberal Party?
Senator Austin: I have no information, and the RCMP usually denies, as
Senator St. Germain may know better than most here, that it has any
investigations under way. As senators know, three persons have been charged
under the Criminal Code as a result of RCMP investigations.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting five delayed answers to oral questions
raised in the Senate. The first two are in response to oral questions raised by
Senator Keon, the first on April 14 regarding the review of procedures
surrounding importations of virus samples and the second on April 21 regarding
test kits containing mislabelled strains of influenza, their movement and the
handling of deadly viruses.
The next two answers are in response to oral questions raised in the Senate
by Senator Gustafson; one on April 20, 2005, regarding Kyoto and the transfer of
land from grain farming into grassland, — and the other on April 21, 2005,
regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the closure of the border and
intervenor status in the Montana District Court case.
The last delayed answer is a response to an oral question raised in the
Senate on April 20 by the Honourable Senator Cochrane regarding the report of
the federal Marine Atlantic Advisory Committee respecting the ferry service.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilbert J. Keon on April 14, 2005)
The responsibility for testing workers in the affected labs and any family
members who have exhibited flu-like symptoms in the last few weeks falls under
provincial and territorial jurisdiction.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and
territorial authorities, have agreed on criteria for testing laboratory
workers for H2N2 influenza. Initially, only individuals who display
influenza-like symptoms will be tested in most jurisdictions. Certain
laboratories have, however, opted to test all laboratory workers who were
exposed to the samples. Specimens will be obtained by provincial authorities
and forwarded to the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology
Laboratory for testing. (Each test will take several days to complete)
The Public Health Agency of Canada provides national coordination on data
collection protocols, data collection forms and analysis. However, it is up to
each provincial/ territorial authority to determine how they want to address
the issue within their own jurisdiction.
Regarding the World Health Organization's request for laboratories to
review safety procedures in handling influenza viruses, the Public Health
Agency of Canada regularly publishes Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines which are
recognized as the National Guidelines for Biosafety in Canada. In response to
this incident, the Agency issued a Biosafety Advisory for Influenza A (H2N2)
with specific precautions for safe handling, storage, use and transport of
Influenza A (H2N2).
The Agency requires all Canadian laboratories, who have imported or are
importing Influenza A (H2N2), to comply with the physical and operational
requirements for Influenza A (H2N2) as outlined in the Biosafety Advisory/
Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines, 3rd edition, 2004.
The Agency will be re-affirming, with the Canadian laboratory community,
the current physical and operational requirements for Influenza A (H2N2), and
will also continue to inform the Canadian laboratory community of the ongoing
reclassification of specific Influenza strains to a higher risk
The Agency is also undertaking a comprehensive review of the procedures and
legislative basis surrounding the importation of human pathogens into Canada,
as well as the use of human pathogens which have been acquired domestically.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilbert J. Keon on April 21, 2005)
The transportation of dangerous goods in Canada is regulated under the
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992. The Act was designed with the
sole purpose of maintaining public safety in the transportation of dangerous
goods and focuses on preventing accidental releases. There are approximately
30,000,000 dangerous goods shipments each year in Canada, 99.998 per cent
occurring without serious incident.
In March 2004, as part of its commitment to Parliament to review the Act,
Transport Canada began its consultation. Sessions open to the public were held
in cities across Canada including: St. John's, Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal,
Ottawa, Scarborough, Mississauga, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary,
Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. The consultations were not intended to
review the entire Act but instead focus on enhancing the safety components of
the Act and to look at emerging security issues. The department is completing
its review of the public comments.
As for the test kits containing influenza and the Federal Express incident
in Winnipeg, before any dangerous good can be shipped within or into Canada it
must meet the requirements prescribed under the Act, its supporting
regulations and standards. This includes the requirement for a shipper to use
an approved means of containment enabling the dangerous goods to make it
safely to its destination.
In the Winnipeg incident, the means of containment performed as it was
designed to do — withstand the pressures of this type of accident and prevent
the release of any dangerous goods.
As for the test kits, it was an error at the U.S. lab that led to the
shipments being sent to the wrong accredited labs around the world. The
shipments of test kits destined for Canadian labs met the appropriate
transportation rules and regulations, including the proper means of
containment to be transported safely into and within Canada.
When a shipper in Canada, or an importer in Canada, wishes to transport a
substance that is considered highly dangerous under the Act, that person must
submit an emergency response assistance plan to Transport Canada. The
emergency response assistance plan — approved by Transport Canada before the
shipment is allowed — outlines the actions that person is required to take in
the event of an accident. The intent of the emergency response assistance plan
is to provide on-site assistance to local authorities in the event of an
accident involving such dangerous goods.
Transport Canada operates the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC)
to assist emergency response personnel in handling dangerous goods
emergencies. CANUTEC is staffed by professional scientists specialized in
emergency response who are experienced in interpreting technical information
and providing advice. CANUTEC receives over 30,000 calls annually.
Transport Canada inspectors inspect industries involved in the
transportation of dangerous goods and take appropriate enforcement action as
required to protect the public.
The safe transportation of dangerous goods remains a shared responsibility
among industry, provincial and territorial governments and the Government of
Canada. Transport Canada is committed to continuing its lead role in
protecting the public — be it through inspections, enforcement actions, the
development of new regulations or the updating of the Act.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson on April 20,
There are two programs — one existing and one proposed — that can provide
an incentive for the transfer of land from grain farming into grassland where
this change in land use results in a net benefit for Canadians as well as for
The "Greencover Canada Program", operated by Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada, provides farmers with an incentive to take marginal crop production
land that is deemed environmentally sensitive out of production and to put the
land into permanent cover. Permanent cover can still be used for hay
production or grazing. This is a five-year, $110-million-dollar initiative to
help producers improve grassland-management practices, protect water quality,
reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and enhance biodiversity and wildlife
habitat. Farmers have until next year to sign up lands for this program.
The second initiative is the Climate Fund, which would be established
pursuant to the Budget Bill that is currently before Parliament. The Climate
Fund is a major component of the Climate Change Plan that was released on
April 13; it is a market-based initiative that would provide incentives for
emission reductions and carbon storage in all sectors of the economy. Projects
that involve switching land in grain production (under any tillage practice)
to permanent cover could be eligible to earn greenhouse gas credits; credits
would be issued for the verified increase in the amount of carbon stored in
the soil resulting from the change in land use. These credits could then be
sold to the Climate Fund.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson on April 21,
Under U.S. law the Government of Canada is not a party to any of the
litigation in the U.S. Courts concerning the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
(USDA) minimal risk rule. Regarding the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund
(R-CALF) v. USDA case, the Government of Canada sought advice from its
legal counsel and expert U.S. litigators as to the best method to protect
Canada's interest and to ensure that accurate and complete information could
be put before the courts about the science on BSE and Canada's activities
related to the management of BSE risks to human health, food safety and animal
health. Both the science and Canada's actions support the minimal risk rule
and opening of the border to live ruminants of all classes, as well as a
broader range of ruminant products.
After carefully reviewing all possible options, it was determined that the
most effective way to attain Canada's objectives was to seek permission to
file an amicus brief. Seeking permission to become an amicus curiae
(friend of the court) is in keeping with Canada's status as a foreign
sovereign government appearing before American courts. From time-to-time,
Canada does seek amicus status in foreign courts where there are
compelling reasons to do so. It would be highly unusual for Canada to seek
intervenor status in a foreign court. Our U.S. counsel believed there were
compelling reasons for the District Court to allow Canada to file an amicus
brief because it would shed light on a number of factual issues raised in the
litigation by R-CALF in regard to Canada's activities related to BSE. Canada's
petition to file an amicus brief, with Canada's amicus brief
attached, was submitted for the Court's consideration on February 22, 2005.
On February 23, 2005, the District Court (Montana) denied Canada's request
to file an amicus brief, stating that:
The views of the Government of Canada are irrelevant to a
determination of whether the USDA's action is lawful, since the relevant
statutes focus on protection of US industry and US human and animal health.
Additionally, the Court summarized Canada's petition as "interference with
the proceedings". Analysis by our U.S. legal counsel determined that asking
this same District Court to reconsider its decision would be futile.
On March 2, 2005, the District Court (Montana) chose to impose a
preliminary injunction preventing implementation of the minimal risk rule
until the merits of the R-CALF case could be heard. The USDA appealed the
District Court's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on 17 March,
2005. In light of the appeal of the preliminary injunction, there was no
compelling reason to appeal the decision to deny Canada amicus status
in the District Court. However, the Government of Canada has sought permission
to file an amicus brief in the appeal proceedings because they offer
the best opportunity to overturn the preliminary injunction in the short term.
Canada submitted its petition, with its amicus brief attached, to
the appellate court on April 14, 2005. We believe that the Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals will be interested in what the Government of Canada has to say in
light of the allegations made by R-CALF in the litigation. Our brief presents
the facts about all the measures that Canada has taken to appropriately
address risks to human health, food safety and animal health. It also fully
supports the USDA's position that Canada is a minimal-risk country and that
the border should be reopened. We are awaiting the Court's decision on the
acceptance of this submission.
The Government of Canada has worked collaboratively with the USDA since the
detection of BSE in May 2003. The position of the USDA as a party in this
litigation is in conformity with that of the Government of Canada, namely that
trade decisions be based on science and that the science supports the minimal
(Response to question raised by Hon. Ethel Cochrane on April 20, 2005)
In November 2004, the Minister of Transport appointed a three-person
Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations on the future of Marine
Atlantic Inc. and the ferry service.
The Committee delivered its report to the Minister on the deadline of March
The Minister and Transport Canada officials are currently reviewing the
report in advance of releasing it to the public. The Minister anticipates
releasing the report in the very near future.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before proceeding to Orders of the Day, I should
like to deal with a request for a ruling. You will recall that on Tuesday, April
19, at the conclusion of Question Period during Delayed Answers, Senator Austin,
the Leader of the Government, took the opportunity to provide an oral response
to a question that had been put to him some days previously by Senator Comeau.
Immediately after, Senator St. Germain rose on a point of order to question the
propriety of this proceeding, since it seemed to him to be an unwarranted
extension of Question Period.
After several brief exchanges, I agreed to look into the practices related to
Delayed Answers. In the interim, I have looked into this matter and am prepared
to give my ruling on the point of order.
Delayed Answers has been a designated feature of the Rules of the Senate
since 1991 and reference to that can be found in rule 23(8). This procedure
supplemented the practice of taking questions "as notice" which was formalized
in our rules in June of 1977. Evidence in the Debates, however, shows that both
of these practices antedate their respective rule changes.
The Rules of the Senate provide for two circumstances that might lead
to a delayed answer. The first relates to Written Questions that senators place
on the Notice Paper, as outlined in rule 25.
The second occurs when an oral question cannot be answered during Question
Period. Rule 24(3) allows a senator to whom such a question is addressed to take
the question "as notice."
The practice that has developed over the years is that, when Delayed Answers
is called, the Deputy Leader of the Government will table written responses, a
copy of which is also provided to the senator who asked the question. It is
clear, therefore, that Delayed Answers is not an extension of Question Period.
Research by the Journals office has found one recent instance when a senator
requested that a written delayed answer be read aloud. This occurred in 2001. On
March 22 of that year, Senator Corbin asked a question of Senator Carstairs,
then the Leader of the Government, about a foreign affairs issue. The question
was taken as notice. On April 25, when the Deputy Leader of the Government,
Senator Robichaud, was prepared to table a written response, Senator Corbin
requested that the answer be provided verbally. Senator Robichaud then read the
text into the record.
What occurred on April 19, 2005 does not fall squarely within this pattern.
Senator Austin provided an oral answer to a question that had been asked
originally on April 13 by Senator Comeau. In giving his answer, of which there
was no written version, Senator Austin also suggested that he was prepared to
answer additional questions. On both counts this is a departure from the usual
As Speaker, I am bound to apply the rules that maintain recognized practices.
With respect to Delayed Answers, this means that, at a minimum, a written
version of the response, either to a previously unanswered oral question or to a
written question standing on the Notice Paper, must be tabled, with a
copy being provided to the senator who asked the question. In addition, upon
request, it is possible for the written response to be read into the record. On
no account, however, without the express leave of the Senate to suspend the
rules, can the time provided for Delayed Answers become an occasion to extend
Before concluding, I would like to draw the attention of senators to a
related practice that occurs with some frequency. On occasion, the Leader of the
Government in the Senate has responded orally during Question Period to
questions taken as notice from previous sittings. Both Senator Carstairs and
Senator Austin have done this. Some recent examples that were found occurred on
October 26 and December 15, 2004. As well, because this is done during Question
Period, it would allow senators to ask supplementary questions. It may be that
Senator Austin was confusing the two practices when he acted the way he did,
resulting in Senator St. Germain's point of order. In any event, what happened
on April 19 was not in order. When responding to Delayed Answers, it is
necessary to table a written response, even if a request is made to repeat it
The rules do not allow me, as Speaker, to change the record or to reverse
what happened on that day. However, I would hope that the clarification I have
made today will be kept in mind for the future.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Phalen, for the second reading of Bill S-28, to amend
the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (student loan).—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
I rise to speak to Bill S-28 at second reading. I have not had the chance to
advise Senator Moore how much I appreciated his initiative in introducing the
bill, although I have had an opportunity to study it.
I wish to remind honourable senators that Senator Moore's bill seeks to
assist post-secondary graduates who find themselves in dire financial
situations. In 1997, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act was amended to require a
post-graduation wait period before a court could release an individual from
repaying the Canada student loan. Initially, government student loan debt would
survive a graduate's bankruptcy filing for a period of two years, during which
those loans could not be discharged. However, implementation legislation for the
1998 federal budget increased the length of time from two years to 10 years.
This law remains in place seven years later.
Honourable senators, student groups such as the Canadian Alliance of Student
Associations and the Canadian Federation of Students have argued against a
10-year period as being unreasonably long and discriminatory. They contend that
it prolongs a graduate's financial problems in a way that is not asked of other
consumers who seek bankruptcy protection. For example, credit card debt and
student loans obtained from banks may be discharged in a matter of months, and
yet we ask graduates to wait one decade to resolve their government student loan
There is an argument to be made for having some form of wait period in place
to deter unwarranted bankruptcies. Between 1990-91 and 1995-96, the Canada
Student Loans Programs' annual losses from bankruptcy more than doubled. Between
1990 and 1997, about 53,000 Canadian student loan borrowers declared bankruptcy
— 53,000 young Canadians were forced to declare bankruptcy or became involved in
related events that cost taxpayers about $445 million in defaulted loans. The
federal government says that the 10-year wait period preserves the overall
sustainability of the Canada Student Loans Program and helps to prevent the
system from being abused. Even student groups agree with the principle of
maintaining the integrity of the program, but they are asking that the wait time
in the legislation coincide with the exhaustion of the federal government's debt
reduction and interest-relief measures available for a period of five years.
As Senator Moore pointed out in his remarks, Bill S-28 is consistent with
recommendations arising from a review of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
conducted by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.
Honourable senators might recall that in November 2003, a report of the Banking
Committee advocated that the legislation be amended to reduce the length of time
from 10 years to five years. The report stated that the 1997 and 1998 changes to
the legislation "moved the insolvency system away from the goal of reducing the
extent to which any particular class of creditor receives special treatment
under the Act." Since the Banking Committee released this report, the federal
government has shown no interest in changing the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
to reflect this recommendation.
Honourable senators, I am supportive of Bill S-28 and its attempt to assist
post-secondary students and graduates. It is unfortunate that the government has
consistently failed to exhibit similar initiative. Only brief references to
education were found in the most recent Speech from the Throne. The learning
bond was announced for the second time and a passing mention was made of the
educational gap between Aboriginal students and other students in Canada.
Finance Minister Goodale's version of this year's federal budget also proved
disappointing beyond its promises to increase investment in research. The recent
budget deal reached between the Liberal government and the New Democratic Party
reportedly includes a $1.5-billion increase in transfers to the provinces to
reduce tuition fees and to provide training programs for unemployed workers.
Depending on which side one listens to, this money will begin to flow within two
years. This deal has been promoted by those involved as a step forward, but I
cannot view this latest incarnation of the budget in a similar light.
By way of a footnote, one wonders which budget is before Parliament. Is it
the budget that the finance minister originally tabled or is it this new budget
that was announced by the Prime Minister based on his deal with the New
Democratic Party? Indeed, one wonders procedurally whether the budget bill
adopted in principle in the other place is consistent with this new deal budget.
Perhaps our friends in the other place might want to attend to this issue.
Not to veer from the issue that is before us, it would be interesting to know
whether in crafting this deal any thought was given to provincial consultation,
as raised during Question Period today. A perfect example is the area of
education. As all honourable senators are aware, education clearly falls under
provincial jurisdiction. The provinces may be angered that the Prime Minister
and the leader of the NDP have attached strings to this money without the input
of the premiers whose jurisdiction is education.
There is great confusion as to what was promised. The NDP claim that the
written agreement explicitly provides the extra funding only to the provinces
that will use it for tuition reduction, but the Prime Minister denies this
claim. I would also like to point out that neither side has stated what it
thinks would happen to tuition fees when this deal supposedly ends in two years.
Honourable senators, I do not suggest that the provinces will flatly reject
this extra funding, because they were not party to these discussions. However, I
do question the government's wisdom in proceeding in such an ad hoc manner. I
also seriously question the continuation of this government's long-standing
practice of throwing large sums of money at a given area, absent an evaluation
of the current situation and absent the attachment of a clear and workable plan.
Honourable senators, it is true with respect to our health care system, and
it is true in this instance with respect to education that money alone will not
solve the ills of our post-secondary education system. A bold new approach with
a new paradigm is needed to correct its many deficiencies, not the least of
which is the growing burden of student indebtedness.
This bill before us will provide certain graduates with some assistance.
However, it does not address the overall problem of student debt, which has
steadily worsened under the past two successive Liberal governments. According
to Statistics Canada, in the year 2000, approximately half of all university or
college graduates owed money related to their education. The average amount owed
was 30 per cent higher than it had been just five years before.
These are not my numbers. They are Statistics Canada's numbers. They also
report that university graduates holding bachelor degrees owed an average of
$19,500 in government student loans. There has been anecdotal evidence that the
prospect of graduating with a heavy debt load has caused some students to
reconsider their university or college plans or drop them altogether. These
young people are not necessarily from low-income families. Today's costs of
tuition, plus housing, books, lab fees and living expenses are prohibitive to
middle-income families as well. Imagine middle-income families with two or three
A lack of financial resources should never be a barrier in a country as rich
as Canada to pursuing higher education, but increasingly, unfortunately, it is.
Students have been saying for years that the rise in debt upon graduation is, in
part, a result of rising tuition costs at universities and colleges.
Honourable senators, unless we deal with the substantial increase in tuition
costs, we will not be tackling the underlying problem of student debt. Since
1990-91, under this government, university fees have nearly tripled. Is it mere
coincidence that the number of graduates declaring bankruptcy climbed during
much of this interval as well?
Despite our position as a signatory to the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — an observation that we have made on
several other occasions referencing, in particular, the obligation under article
13 of that international human rights treaty — Canada is clearly failing to meet
its commitment to progressively freer education at the post-secondary level
being accessible to all. Sadly, each year we move further away from realizing
that commitment made almost three decades ago. As a result, we are allowing our
students to sink deeper and deeper into debt. This debt can be crushing for
young men and women who have spent years studying their field of choice and who
are now trying to make their way into the workforce. Instead of investing in a
car or first home, as their parents did when embarking on professional careers,
today's young adults are working to pay down debts worth tens of thousands of
dollars incurred to obtain their education. In other words, they have a mortgage
but no house to show for it.
Many graduates are working just to pay the interest on their debt and only
dream of the time when they can begin to pay down the principal. The financial
restraint these individuals will have to practice for years to come does not
bode well for Canada's economic future. Those who choose to seek bankruptcy
protection do so knowing that their personal future will be negatively affected,
with the ability to secure credit hampered for many years after their debt is
As I stated earlier, the provinces have jurisdiction in the area of
education. This must be respected. I also believe that there must be a way for
the federal government to work with the provinces on any number of challenges
that face post-secondary education in our country, especially with respect to
standards and tuition costs. This will require imaginative thinking. The federal
government should not view that as a deterrent. Unfortunately, it seems that
this government is content to continue on the same path, with no apparent desire
to investigate new ideas, while sacrificing provincial involvement for political
I share the belief, developed by the Conservative Party of Canada, that one
way to address the myriad of problems facing post-secondary education in our
country is to change the method by which the federal government provides the
provinces with funds. By removing post-secondary education from the Canada
Social Transfer, an independent transfer could be created that would be
specifically targeted to education instead of being grouped with funding for
social programs. This method would also establish standards of accountability
and transparency by ensuring that these funds are spent on education and not
I should like to remind all honourable senators that, during the last federal
election campaign, the Prime Minister publicly committed to creating a dedicated
transfer payment for post-secondary education to eventually reach $7 billion or
$8 billion; but he made no move to do so once elected. Another promise broken.
Perhaps we will soon learn if that broken promise will be dusted off for another
Honourable senators, we would support many other measures that would improve
the current state of post-secondary education in Canada. For example, my
colleagues and I are of the opinion that all scholarships and bursaries should
be tax exempt. A student who receives a financial award based on academic
excellence should not be penalized for his or her success. Furthermore, it is
preposterous that the government claws back much needed funds from students on
scholarships — scholarships that they receive based on their financial need.
I am happy and proud to belong to a political party that also believes that
the Canada Student Loan Program must be revamped through a variety of means,
such as the elimination of the inclusion of parental assets and income in the
assessment of student loan applications. Our party supports income contingent
student loans that are repaid depending upon the level of income following
graduation. We have also called upon the federal government to charge students
prime plus 1 per cent on their loans, as opposed to the excessive prime plus 5
per cent it currently charges on fixed rate loans.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, I am of the opinion that Bill S-28 should
proceed to committee examination. It is a small measure that, admittedly, will
not help the majority of Canadian students or graduates, but it does offer more
genuine understanding of their struggles, more than anything the federal
government has offered students in recent years.
For these and other reasons I support this bill.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): I am interested
in the comments of Senator Kinsella, particularly those on the subject of the
Canada Social Transfer. I support the initiative of Senator Moore in introducing
this subject. My question relates to the transfer, even if it is divided.
Does Senator Kinsella think that there should be an unconditional transfer?
At one time the transfer was conditional. There was an onus on the provinces to
spend the money on the areas for which it was designated, and some evidence
indicates that that is not the case and that funds designated for education are
spent on highways and so forth.
If the transfer is to be made and designated for one area or another, does
the honourable senator think that some contingencies should be set out?
Senator Kinsella: I thank the honourable senator for his question. It
is my view that there should be a designated transfer from the federal
government to the provinces for education which is separate from the other
social transfer. In other words, it should be a designated, discrete envelope.
Senator Rompkey: Should it be unconditional?
Senator Kinsella: Unconditional in what sense?
Senator Rompkey: Should there be a requirement that the province spend
the money on education?
Senator Kinsella: The point is that if there is a designated transfer
for education, it is designated for education. Clearly, for any of this to work
effectively, there needs to be consultation with the province.
In the debate we had only a few weeks ago touching post-secondary education,
we argued that the Prime Minister should convene a first ministers' meeting on
post-secondary education. That would provide a tremendous opportunity to examine
that kind of question and the more fundamental question of whether the model we
have been using for 35 or 40 years is the appropriate one for funding
post-secondary education in the Canada of the year 2005.
The fundamental facts are before us. One does not like to use overly charged
terms, but I do not think it is too strong to say that the current situation of
indebtedness that our students are incurring is immoral. A country as rich and
as generous as Canada should not be putting a yoke around the necks of our young
Other countries around the world that are not as blessed as we are with both
natural richness and the richness that flows from the productivity of Canadian
workers are able to ensure high-quality post-secondary education opportunities
for their students at not nearly the cost our students are being forced to
incur. Something is not working in Canada, and that needs to be fixed. The bill
that Senator Moore has brought forward is a surgical intervention on one aspect.
Lacking a larger intervention, we can do nothing but support these step-by-step
On motion of Senator Rompkey, for Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Forrestall,
seconded by the Honourable Senator LeBreton, for the second reading of Bill
S-26, to provide for a national cancer strategy.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I rise to speak
to Bill S-26, to provide for a national cancer strategy.
Senator Forrestall indicated that the premier of his province, Dr. John Hamm,
was his inspiration. He also acknowledged support for Bill S-26 from the
Canadian Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. He mentioned that
others have called for a national cancer strategy, including the Cancer Advocacy
Coalition, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation
and the Canadian Lung Association; yet, I am bound to ask whether these groups
are satisfied with Bill S-26 as it is written. I suspect not.
On April 12, 2005, Senator Forrestall spoke to Bill S-26 and said that it
will focus research into the control and treatment of and finding a cure for
cancer, and that it provides for the Minister of Health to consult with
provincial Ministers of Health in each province and with charities involved in
cancer research and to establish an advisory committee. He said that the bill
will compel the Minister of Health to show leadership on a national
research-driven strategy to control cancer and to finance research into the
causes of cancer and its most effective treatments.
I have read Bill S-26 carefully. At best, this bill is an uncertain step,
albeit a well-meaning one, to advance Canada's response to cancer. Much that is
imperative is absent. Prevention and education are not mentioned. Reference is
made to charities involved in cancer research, but no reference is made to the
wealth of non-profit organizations and associations across this land that
educate, counsel, support and care for patients and their families. Professional
development is not mentioned. Palliative care is not mentioned. The list is
long, and I find that Bill S-26 is short.
In Canada, we have laid a foundation for a cancer control strategy much like
other OECD countries. The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control took shape at the
beginning of the 21st century. It is a modern, visionary, comprehensive,
collaborative model based on consensus positions on priority cancer control
issues with broad goals, sound accountability, solid leadership and governing
principles. The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control was jointly developed by
the federal government in collaboration with the provinces, territories and
non-governmental cancer organizations.
On January 27, 2005, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer said:
...the developmental stage of the strategy is coming to a close and all
parties are now examining funding and implementation options.
While the government considers the best approaches to proceed with the
strategy, the battle to prevent and treat cancer continues.
Cancer is clearly a priority for government — evidenced by the commitment
at the recent First Ministers' meeting to reduce cancer waiting times, and the
commitment and planning support given to building the Canadian Strategy for
Cancer will be one of the major chronic diseases addressed in the
Pan-Canadian Public Health Strategy...
Prevention is key.
One of the most astonishing facts about premature death is that close to 70
per cent can be prevented. We all have some responsibility....
...the control and prevention of cancer must remain a priority for all
levels of government, as well as dedicated organizations and individuals.
Honourable senators, you listened to the commitment of Canada's Chief Public
Health Officer on January 27, 2005. Does this strike you as a solid action plan?
Does this tell you that the Government of Canada is taking cancer seriously and
providing leadership in the battle against it? If so, why would the Honourable
Senator Forrestall have said in the Debates of the Senate for April 12,
...I had the bill drafted after the September 2004 health care meetings of
the first ministers. I watched my premier, Dr. John Hamm, a thoughtful Nova
Scotian, tell his colleagues and the Prime Minister that Canada needed a
cancer control strategy. The Prime Minister agreed but then, sadly, has done
nothing about it.
Perhaps the good premier from Nova Scotia and the good senator were not fully
aware of Canada's current position on a cancer strategy. Perhaps they did not
know that the partners in the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control noted the
close alignment of Mr. Romanow's recommendations with the priorities of the
Dr. Simon Sutcliffe, Chair of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, said
in response to the Romanow report that the report's recommendations are "the
spark that will galvanize efforts to fight cancer in Canada." He said:
The Strategy is this generation's best shot at turning the tide in the
fight against cancer. If we fail collectively to commit to the Strategy we
will be passing a greater and more difficult challenge to our successors.
The response stated:
The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control has produced an action plan to
tackle the disease that Canadians fear most — cancer. One in three Canadians
will develop cancer in their lifetime.... The Strategy is something Canadians
want — nine in ten Canadians think that the formation of a Canadian Strategy
for Cancer Control is a positive development.
The Romanow report supports the five priority areas identified by the
strategy: standards and guidelines; primary prevention; a focus on enhanced
supportive psychosocial and palliative care; and human resources and research.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2004, the Minister of Health and the
Minister of State for Public Health highlighted our broad collaborative effort
to control cancer — the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. The ministers
concluded that the Public Health Agency of Canada, launched this year, will
serve as a focal point for coordination, research and expertise for public
health issues like breast cancer and will have strong linkages to provincial and
territorial governments, public health stakeholders and partners.
Minister Dosanjh and Minister Bennett concluded on October 5, 2004, that
together we can defeat cancer.
A new Public Health Agency, a young Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, a
mature Canadian Institutes of Health Research, working with the Canadian Cancer
Research Alliance, bringing together all the major organizations and agencies
that fund cancer research in Canada to coordinate a united research response for
cancer control — this, honourable senators, is Canada's response in 2005 to a
How does Canada rate on the international scene? On January 27, 2005, on the
occasion of Canada signing the Framework for Cooperation on Chronic Diseases
Agreement at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Director
General of the WHO, Dr. Lee Jong-wook, said:
WHO is pleased and encouraged that Canada has identified chronic disease
prevention and control as a global effort, and is taking a leading role ... an
opportunity for the rest of the world to learn and benefit from Canada's
knowledge and experience in the field, such as the Canadian Healthy Living
Strategy and cancer control.
Honourable senators, I am proud of the Government of Canada, of Health Canada
and of our new Public Health Agency of Canada. I am proud of our vision and of
our cooperation with Canada's provinces and territories. I am confident in our
ability to support the thousands of non-governmental initiatives across this
great land. I am delighted when Canada is praised internationally as a leader.
It makes me sad to hear a member of Canada's Senate say:
...sadly, nothing has been done.... It almost seems, because of its
inaction, that the government would prefer that cancer continue to afflict and
kill Canadians at the current rate.
Fortunately, my colleague in this chamber then added:
I do not honestly believe that but it seems that way at times.
Bill S-26 calls for a national cancer strategy. It occurs to me that we may
be debating terminology and nomenclature. One must ask, do all the programs I
have listed and described constitute a strategy? If so, Bill S-26 is redundant;
if not, it is worthy of further consideration.
Allow me to cite the names given to cancer control plans in several
countries. Australia, in 1997, established the National Cancer Control
Initiative. France has the French Cancer League — La Ligue Française de lutte
contre le cancer. England and Wales have A Policy Framework for Commissioning
Cancer Services and a National Health Service Cancer Plan. Israel has a
Commission on Cancer Control. Within the European Union, there is the
Organization of European Cancer Institutes.
In my own province of New Brunswick, there has been a call for a New
Brunswick Cancer Network. In the written requests, the review group acknowledged
the priorities already established by the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control
...through a cooperative approach amongst major partners ... Canada has
developed a cancer strategy.... other countries, which have lagged behind are
developing strategies and organized systems to deploy them.
Let me conclude by saying that the intent of Bill S-26 is honourable, despite
my thinking that some of the supporting speech was not. However, I cannot
support Bill S-26 until I know the view of the Minister of Health on the
relationship of a National Cancer Strategy with what exists now, the Canadian
Strategy for Cancer Control. Are we already fulfilling the spirit of this bill?
Would Bill S-26 lead to a mere name change of the cancer strategy that exists
now in Canada and which has won provincial as well as international recognition?
How could Bill S-26 strengthen Canada's fight to conquer cancer when it includes
the words "provinces that agree to participate in the strategy" and when the
sponsor of the bill states "Bill S-26 was written with asymmetric federalism in
On April 12, 2005, Dr. Barbara Whylie, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society,
The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control has an action plan for prevention
that, if implemented, would bring about important reductions in cancer
incidence.... there is the potential to prevent more than 1.2 million
Canadians from developing cancer, and it could save the lives of more than
The goals of the strategy are to reduce the risk of developing cancer,
reduce the risk of dying from cancer, and to improve the quality of life for
those diagnosed with cancer.
Dr. Whylie is correct; implementation is key.
Honourable senators, it appears to me that Canadians are united behind the
Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. We are united in the memory of Terry Fox,
united in the memory of all Canadians from all walks of life who have known the
pain of cancer, and united — as I am, honouring my late husband — in the
certainty that by whatever title we attach to our endeavours to win the greatest
health battle of all time, the battle against cancer, we must do this together,
with nobility of spirit, knowing that each of us may one day walk the road taken
by Terry Fox, by our loved ones and by millions of our fellow citizens.
On motion of Senator Rompkey, debate adjourned.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Official Languages (budget—study on the application of the
Official Languages Act—authorization to travel), presented in the Senate on
April 21, 2005.—(Honourable Senator Corbin)
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin moved the adoption of the report.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (budget—study on aboriginal communities
and businesses in economic development activities) presented in the Senate on
April 14, 2005.—(Honourable Senator St. Germain, P.C.)
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston moved the adoption of the report.
Motion agreed to and report adopted.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): I think,
honourable senators, that we skipped over No. 3 and went on to No. 4. It seems
to me we should deal with No. 3. I understand Senator Gustafson wanted to have
the floor on that particular matter.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the consideration of the second report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, entitled: Value-added
Agriculture in Canada, tabled in the Senate on December 14, 2004.—(Honourable
Senator Rompkey, P.C.)
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, Canada's agricultural
industry faces some unprecedented challenges. The current situation relating to
the negative farm income is a general symptom of what farming and farmers face.
All of us who care about agriculture want to see government policies and
circumstances combine to ensure that that sector of our economy is profitable
and sustainable. Hard-working farmers, farm families and communities which
benefit from farming deserve nothing less. Unfortunately, many structural,
international and climate-related conditions and dynamics represent significant
obstacles to achieving this objective.
This is such an important situation. Sir Leonard Tilley once said, "Destroy
the farmer and grass will grow in the streets of every city in the nation." We
are in a crisis situation in agriculture. I personally attended four farm sales
this spring, two of which were either bankruptcy sales or simply for the purpose
of getting rid of assets and paying debts.
To many people living in our cities, it is hard to be sensitized to exactly
what many of the farmers in the country are going through. Regular television
newscasts of farm protests and government farm aid announcements provide a
remote glimpse of some of the very acute problems. Low commodity prices, the BSE
crisis — which we have heard about — and the problems of the grain and oilseed
sector have all taken a toll on this industry, which represents 8 per cent of
Canada's gross domestic product.
I had a phone call days ago from a corn producer in Ontario telling me that
he had No. 1 corn for which he was getting $1.20 a bushel. It probably cost him
$3 a bushel to produce it.
The same thing is true in the wheat industry and the grain and oilseed
industry. A few months ago, canola was selling for over $9 a bushel. Today, it
is $5.50 a bushel. Commodity prices have simply collapsed. It is a very serious
situation that our Canadian farmers face.
Both the federal and the provincial governments, as well as farm groups, the
Senate and parliamentary committees, generally do a good job at advancing the
causes and issues of the farm sector. The Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry is probably one of the best committees of this house.
It does a good job in making recommendations, but recommendations in and of
themselves are not enough.
As well, while legislators and the bureaucracy can often be slow in acting on
behalf of the farmer, the reality is that the trade-dependent and market-driven
nature of agriculture tends to constrain our capacity to help this industry.
Eighty per cent of our farmers rely on world markets for determining the prices
they receive for their commodities and for their opportunities to market these
commodities. No region or commodity is exempt from this basic fact of farm life.
The BSE crisis and the resulting border closures are especially telling of
the trade-dependent nature of agriculture. During good times, Canada's cattle,
beef and ruminant industry is one of the bright spots of our relationship with
the United States and other trading partners, but border closures have been
brutal, causing a $7-billion drain on the economy. That is a lot of money and
that is exactly what farmers are short.
We have heard stories of people selling culled cows and getting cheques for
$10 or $12 a cow. I heard the other day that a farmer had to pay the freight out
of his pocket. He did not get anything for the animal. It is a very serious
Many farmers have suffered heavy losses as a result of the BSE border
closures, including cow-calf operators, dairy producers, feedlot operators and
producers of other ruminant livestock. The trucking industry has also taken a
brutal hit on the jaw.
The Liberal government's mishandling of this issue and the agricultural
sector as a whole is evidenced by the token reference to agriculture in the
budget and the last Speech from the Throne, as well as the absence of any
serious action by our government in the court case unfolding in Billings,
Montana. The U.S. court granted a temporary injunction preventing the
Canada-U.S. border from being reopened to Canadian cattle, with a full hearing
scheduled for July 27, 2005. With the Liberal government apparently having
simply given up on its duty to defend Canadian interests in the BSE border
blockage, concerned Conservative members of Parliament have indicated that they
are prepared to apply for intervener status and participate directly in the
This aside, I am optimistic that the recent American court injunction
prolonging the border closure will be settled in due course. In the meantime, we
must ensure that producers are provided with the necessary transitional funding
and supports to alleviate the economic erosion and increasing debt loads that
this crisis has caused.
The federal government has made much of its effort to increase domestic
slaughter capacity. While this is no panacea for the resumption of normal trade
of cattle and beef with our trading partners, we have to be very strategic in
how we approach this objective. Once the border reopens between Canada and the
United States, a different set of market pressures will emerge with respect to
Canadian and American slaughterhouses and processing plants and cattle supplies.
The government has to anticipate this scenario and ensure that we do not
I do not know how many groups our committee has heard from suggesting that
they want help in building a new processing plant. The one that was built in
Prince Edward Island had very positive results because there is a captive market
there freight-wise. The one that has been rebuilt in British Columbia's lower
mainland has a captive market of about 4 million people who need to be serviced
with beef. That was a very good move.
On the other hand, I believe it would be in our best interests to look at
some of these other areas and ask ourselves if we are overdoing it. Let us face
the facts. The Americans did a very good job of selling our beef
internationally, and the last thing we want to do is get into a price war with
them in the cattle industry.
I am not saying that we should not look after the processing industry. I
recommend that we build one major plant somewhere in Canada that just looks
after culled cattle and the lower end. That, of course, is my own personal view
formed by listening to the witnesses we heard in the committee.
International overproduction of grains and oilseeds, and domestic support
programs of other countries, have driven commodity prices to a point where many
farmers either have to give up their farms or find off-farm work. Many of our
farmers today are engaged in off-farm work. Farmers of small farms are having to
drive school buses or do other jobs in the community. Many of our younger people
are working on the oil rigs.
The Prairies, especially, should be very thankful for the booming oil
industry. We have two economies in the Prairies: a farm economy and an oil
economy, and one is very different from the other. It has been a benefit to
everyone in the Prairies that the oil industry has been as buoyant as it has.
In my view, the continued low commodity prices could be more damaging over
the long run than even the BSE crisis. At least with the BSE situation, the
border will eventually reopen, so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
The beef industry is priced on a North American market so, certainly, the cattle
industry will benefit when that border reopens.
The same is not true of the grain industry because much of the grain sold
internationally goes to countries of the Third World, most of which cannot
afford to pay for it. It is important that the World Trade Organization, or
other groups, look at the global situation and come to a conclusion on what is
to be done in Canada. How should the situation be handled? This is a pressing
need for all Canadians.
Conservatives view agriculture as a key, strategic sector for Canada. We
recognize that various regions of Canada and sectors of the industry hold
competitive advantage in agriculture production. Our approach to agriculture
policy is grounded in the belief that one size does not fit all. Conservatives
believe that the agriculture policy must be developed in close consultation with
the producers. In this sense, it must be remembered that our farmers are
business operators. To dictate policy that might have an adverse effect on this
portion of Canada's business community would have negative consequences and
would go against Conservative Party principles. Balancing financial
responsibility with support programs that work is a major priority.
I want to speak to the issue of government support. It would be wrong of me
to say that government has not supported the industry, because it has. However,
much more attention must be paid to how the support is provided and
administered. It is important that government sit down with the producers to
develop positive solutions that would not waste bureaucratic efforts and
government monies. A great deal of attention must be given to this area.
On the issue of agricultural exports and diversification, a Conservative
government would encourage self-sufficiency in national food production,
including increasing diversification in the kinds of food and agricultural
products produced. We would seek to enhance export opportunities for all
agricultural products, with special emphasis on markets and processing.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I
am sorry to interrupt, but I must advise Senator Gustafson that his time has
expired. Is the honourable senator asking for leave to continue?
Senator Gustafson: Honourable senators, I will try to be brief.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted,
Senator Stratton: Five minutes.
Senator Gustafson: According to farmers, if you take a bushel of corn
worth $1.20 and make it into Corn Flakes, you multiply the value of that bushel
of corn 100 times. That is the importance of processing. Throughout the history
of Canada, some of our wealthiest families have been in the food processing
business. However, very little of that money finds its way back to the farmers
and producers. We have been unable to find a way to pay a proper price for the
commodity that is produced.
Government must look at this situation and determine how it can be changed.
It would not take much. Whether that bushel of corn costs $1.20 or $4 will make
little difference when the multiplication factor for processed food is so great.
Honourable senators, continued low commodity prices could be more damaging
than anything we have seen in Canada's agricultural industry. Sir Leonard Tilley
got it right when, in talking about the farmer being so important to agriculture
he said, "Destroy the farmer and grass will grow in the streets of every city in
On motion of Senator Rompkey, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Smith, P.C.:
That the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament study and make the necessary recommendations on the advisability of
amending Senate practice so that bills tabled during a parliamentary session
can be reintroduced at the same procedural stage in the following
parliamentary session, with a view to including in the Rules of the Senate,
a procedure that already exists in the House of Commons and would increase the
efficiency of our parliamentary process.—(Honourable Senator Oliver)
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I am most supportive of this
motion. I wrote to the Rules Committee many months ago to make the request that
the committee examine the pressing need for new rules for this chamber that
would permit the reintroduction of Senate public bills at the same procedural
stage of the previous parliamentary session. The practice would reduce the
duplication of effort in this chamber and in committees that we have seen in
recent years. It would also improve public opinion of the Senate which has been,
frankly, bruised by the current procedure.
Justifiably, supporters of any given Senate bill are disturbed when they see
it move through first and second reading, committee stage, third reading and on
to the Commons only to have it rolled back to the Senate for first reading
again. In recent years, it has happened too often, and sometimes that has been
the fate of a bill not just once but twice.
Those who actively support legislation with petitions, letters and
appearances as witnesses are mystified and annoyed by the process in this place.
It means not only a great deal of duplication of effort by senators, but also a
great deal of repetitive effort for others.
Honourable senators, a good example of this process is Bill S-12, in respect
of personal watercraft, which is still before the house at second reading. It
was twice passed by this chamber at third reading. It was first introduced as
Bill S-26 in May 2001, almost four years ago. It was unanimously reported
without amendment by committees and it was passed by the Senate as Bill S-10 and
as Bill S-8. It was twice introduced in the House of Commons, where it died on
the Order Paper. Well before the Personal Watercraft Bill received first reading
as Bill S-12, it had been debated for three hours in this chamber and had been
studied by committees during 12 hours of deliberation — 15 hours of senators'
time and Senate resources to pass a small bill to implement what the government
itself proposed to do in 1994. That is stunning.
It is also worth noting that the 12 hours of committee deliberation exceeds
the committee time spent on bills dealing with more weighty matters — for
example, bills to manage nuclear waste or bulk water exports. In fact, the total
time spent on what is essentially a housekeeping bill almost matched the time
spent in committee on the government's premiere piece of environmental
legislation in the last Parliament, the Species at Risk Act.
When supporters of Bill S-10 — and there are tens of thousands of them across
the country — learned that we were back to first reading of Bill S-12, some of
them wrote as follows:
How absurd! How disappointing and disturbing! All that waste of time, of
money, of goodwill.... So much for our wish to treat others with civility,
respect, concern. So much for taking care of each other in Canada.
And so much for the Senate as an institution.
That comment came from the Atlantic provinces.
Another individual, who was very involved in persuading his fellow Quebecers
to support the bill, said this:
Let's face it, and correct me if I'm wrong: we have to pass through three
readings at the Senate and after that three readings in the Commons in the
same parliamentary session. It's virtually impossible to accomplish it;
especially if there are hearings again ... Bill S-12 will die another time.
I am not happy to conclude that he is right but, given that the twice-passed
bill now appears stalled at second reading, it is hard to think otherwise.
We do ourselves a disservice and we let down those who turn to us for help by
making it virtually impossible to see passage of a Senate public bill that is
opposed by anyone. Our current system, moreover, tilts in favour of positions
advocated by corporate lobbyists who are paid to work the Hill and appear before
committees time and again. People who volunteer their time to advance the public
interest must take time off work or book holidays to share their knowledge with
us. The paid lobbyist or industry association executive should not get repeated
kicks at the can at their expense.
You may think Bill S-12 was my idea, but it was not. I was asked to introduce
such a bill by many cottage associations and individuals who felt that this was
a problem that needed resolution. I am not promoting my personal interest but,
rather, the interest of people across the country.
It is time to amend our rules as the House of Commons has done. The Commons
has this rule in place. In fact, the time is overdue. I sincerely hope that the
Rules Committee will make this matter a priority and begin its work so that we
may have a new, saner procedure soon.
On motion of Senator Stratton, for Senator Oliver, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Downe calling the
attention of the Senate to the benefits of the decentralization of federal
departments, agencies and Crown corporations from the National Capital to the
regions of Canada.—(Honourable Senator Ringuette)
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, I wish to draw the
attention of the Senate to the issue of decentralizing the bureaucracy pursuant
to the inquiry proposed by Senator Downe. This is not to be confused with the
bureaucratic decentralization that consists of moving the offices outside Ottawa
and the new Service Canada client services initiative.
As a former legislator from New Brunswick, I strongly support the Service New
Brunswick approach, which facilitates access to government services for the
people of my province. It is a wonderful challenge for public servants who work
there, as they have to apply many skills and they are not limited to just one
program, which often can be boring. It gives them greater job satisfaction and
expands their professional horizons.
We must also recognize that the MPs' 308 riding offices are, in fact,
one-stop services. In other words, they are Service Canada offices for people
requiring a federal government service.
I can tell you with certainty that is the case for members representing the
regions and small communities. Members and their staff answer questions from the
public and direct people to the correct offices, the right staff, and
information on program criteria. In short, we already have more than 350
one-stop offices across the country, although they are often viewed as being too
The experience of New Brunswick proved very successful, and the federal
government could benefit from it in implementing Service Canada. However, I
believe it is imperative that the federal operations of Service Canada be
distinct from provincial operations. In this respect, you will agree with me
that, to provide better customer service, the first thing to do is to get rid of
the totally exasperating telephone answering system and to replace it with real
flesh and bone operators answering the calls. Some might argue that this is a
top of the line system, the preferred choice of the private sector. My answer to
that is that, in dealing with the private sector, consumers have options, but
the same competitive environment does not exist for public services, and
consumers do not have a choice.
Every ten years since the 1970s, successive governments have endeavoured to
move, or decentralize, certain departments outside of Ottawa. Despite the
opposition faced, the displaced departments did manage to reduce their property
and human resources costs and have become engines of economic development for
their new region.
That is what I call leadership. Millions of dollars can be spent on programs
to stimulate economic development in and attract investors to a given region,
but unless it is prepared to move its operations to that region, the federal
government is only distorting the economic record of the region with nothing
more than wishful thinking. The federal government knows that the regions need
economic development tools; there is no question about it. That is why I call on
our government to show the way to the private sector and move its operations to
regions that need an economic boost.
It is certainly pleasant living in Ottawa and raising a family There, but the
capital does not have the corner on quality of life in Canada. While it is well
situated geographically, it does not necessarily reflect our identity as a
people, as the Constitution will testify.
Indeed, after more than 23 years, our National Capital has yet to be
designated bilingual by the Government of Ontario. It is simply scandalous!
In addition, this same Government of Ontario has been complaining in recent
months of the fiscal imbalance. So we ask: to what extent does the location of
our National Capital contribute to the income of the Province of Ontario?
Excluding Crown corporations and government agencies, over 40 per cent of
federal public service jobs are located in Ontario, and 20 per cent are in
Quebec. Most of this 60 per cent of jobs are located in the Outaouais region;
the rest are in Toronto and Montreal, in limited numbers. This figure represents
over 200,000 federal government jobs, and I am not including Crown corporations
Assuming an annual average salary of $55,000 per job, the total payroll
amounts to some $11 billion a year. Of this $11 billion, some $7.5 billion
returns to Ontario alone. It could be said as well that this represents $2.5
billion over and above the $5 billion in fiscal imbalance the Government of
Ontario is complaining about.
Honourable senators, you will certainly agree with me that an $11-billion
payroll will be welcome in any of our provinces.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Hear, hear!
Senator Ringuette: It would remove them, too, from the equalization
program and into the said financial contributor to the federation, like Ontario.
They would certainly not complain about any fiscal imbalance, nor would they
reject for 23 years the continuous request of Canadians to have a bilingual
As we say in our region, one should not complain with a full belly, or, as is
said elsewhere in the country, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too.
Honourable senators, I take this opportunity to highlight the positive impact
of relocating one or more federal government operations in communities in my
area, be it Grand Falls, Edmundston or Campbellton, New Brunswick. All these
communities are able to provide bilingual services to all, and without
additional training costs to the federal government.
In addition to luring private investment, the economic impact of relocating
1,000 federal jobs, or 0.3 per cent of federal public jobs, with an average of a
$55-million payroll for those 1,000 jobs per year, forever, would increase the
value of our human resources and enrolment in school and local post-secondary
programs; increase local job opportunities, thus retaining our youth; increase
real estate value and retail store revenues, hotel and restaurant revenues and
tourism potential; increase air and train traffic with its critical mass and,
therefore, assure the viability of these services for our population and
business community; increase property revenues to local government, in addition
to increased income tax and provincial sales tax to the Government of New
Brunswick, and reduce our reliance on equalization payments; increase the
community volunteer base; increase the viability and revenue base for
recreational facilities; reduce our economic dependency on the exploration of
our natural resources; reduce seasonality of our regional economy; reduce our
unemployment rate and the required benefits from the Employment Insurance
Program; reduce operational costs for the federal government and burden on
taxpayers; and reduce the increasing need for economic development funds for our
To add some perspective to the financial revenue of this scenario, one can
look at the 2005-06 federal budget and identify that ACOA's budget for this
fiscal year for economic development — and this for the entire Atlantic
provinces — is $45 million. This is $10 million less than relocating 1,000
federal jobs or 0.3 per cent — not 1 per cent, 0.3 per cent — of these jobs.
Just imagine what relocating 10,000 government jobs, or 3 per cent of the
federal public service, would do to the economy of the Atlantic region.
Honourable senators, in no way am I proposing to replace ACOA with the
relocation of federal public jobs, but I am insisting that we should have more
of both, as does Ontario with its Federal Economic Development Initiative for
Northern Ontario, FedNor.
There is no doubt in my mind that the above scenario is a win-win situation
for all stakeholders. This scenario is also valid for many other communities
across New Brunswick outside the golden triangle of Fredericton, Moncton and
Saint John that have a stronger economic base and infrastructure on which to
With the infinite communication outlet we have through high-speed Internet,
the logic to have the bureaucracy close to the legislative and executive arms of
government no longer holds ground. I truly believe that the relocation of
federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies should be a government
This chamber should refer Senator Downe's inquiry to the Standing Senate
Committee on National Finance for immediate study. The immediate study of this
inquiry should bring concrete recommendations so as to press the government to
accelerate the process of relocating the federal bureaucracy in communities
where they would receive an immediate appreciation of their presence, including
the direct and indirect repercussions on the fiscal and social economy of those
On motion of Senator Chaput, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Corbin, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Cook:
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."—(Honourable
Senator Robichaud, P.C.)
Leave having been given to revert to Motion No. 82.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, I would first like to express
my appreciation, as well as that of Senator Adams, to Senator Corbin, who took
the initiative to move this motion on April 13, 2005.
Honourable senators, I know that this matter was adjourned by Senator
Robichaud, and I imagine that he will be speaking on this item. I rise to give
notice that I strongly support this matter and to say that it is timely. As all
honourable senators are aware, being able to express yourself in your mother
tongue is the best way to express yourself. I am not a complete stranger to
wanting to be able to address certain important matters from time to time, when
need be, in my mother tongue. I believe that is also true of Senator Adams.
Whatever we decide to do from an administrative point of view, the system
must be consistent and stable.
Paragraph (3) of the motion states:
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.
I believe that our focus should be on that paragraph. I will not dwell on
this at this point because I feel that the matter should be addressed in
committee. I will not even highlight what I consider to be the problem areas. We
need to come up with the best solution to maintain stability, consistency and
reliability. It is important that I address this issue before Senator Robichaud
rises to speak to this matter which, I believe, he will be doing tomorrow.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Would Senator Watt accept a question?
Senator Watt: I would.
Senator Fraser: I preface this by saying that all my instincts say
that this would be a positive change. My tendency is to say, "Let us do it right
away." My concern, however, relates to the implications for other Aboriginal
languages, of which there are quite a few. Currently we do not have a senator
whose mother tongue is, for example, Mohawk or Cree.
Senator Watt: We have Senator Gill.
Senator Fraser: He may have views on this as well.
Has the honourable senator thought about how we could devise a regime that
would be fair, moving forward in time, to all Aboriginal people, and that would
still be workable in practice? Has the honourable senator given any thought to
Senator Watt: Yes and no. I understand what the honourable senator is
getting at. It is a problem that, from time to time, the chamber may have to
resolve, depending on who is appointed to the Senate. I am fluent in Inuktitut.
My mother tongue is Inuktitut. Senator Adams is also fluent in Inuktitut. With
two Inuk here, we can only speak for ourselves. I am sure Senator Gill can
address this subject in his own way, if he so desires. I am not sure whether he
speaks his native language. I cannot speak for anyone other than Senator Adams
and myself on this issue.
This is a good start. It will not resolve every issue, but we will be able to
respond immediately to certain matters. Of course, we will not be able to
participate in the same way as those who speak English or French, particularly
when we want to cross-examine a witness and so on. That may come somewhere down
the line, but this is a good start.
I hope I have answered the honourable senator's question.
Hon. John G. Bryden: May I also ask Senator Watt a question?
Senator Watt: Yes, you may.
Senator Bryden: Over the last few years, we have been able to develop
a system that allowed our good friend Senator Gauthier to participate fully in
the functioning of the Senate. I do not know exactly how the system works, but
it was refined to the point that he could simultaneously read on a screen what
was being said in the chamber and in committees. Technology now allows for
real-time transcription of what is being said. We can go from voice to script,
or from script in one language to script in another language, and, of course, we
are familiar with using earphones for simultaneous interpretation. At the
outset, would a system similar to that which made it possible for Senator
Gauthier to function fully, given the disability that he had, be acceptable to
the honourable senator?
Does Senator Watt think that, if a senator is appointed whose mother tongue
is another of our Aboriginal languages, the language of that senator should be
incorporated into this proposed rule?
Senator Watt: Those are issues on which we should focus in an effort
to come up with some answers. I will not deal specifically with those matters at
this point. However, the fact that technology has advanced so rapidly is
something to consider. I believe that simultaneous translation would be most
useful and that it could be provided. I would imagine that would be a subject of
debate in committee.
Senator Adams mentioned the fact that Senator Gauthier used to have certain
equipment and people around him to ensure that everything that was being said in
the Senate could be followed. We may wish to discuss that in committee.
Hon. Aurélien Gill: First, I want to thank Senator Corbin for this
excellent initiative. It is indicative of our respect for Aboriginal languages
in this country.
The principle has yet to be fully defined; however, it has been established.
Now it is a matter of deciding how to implement it. I do not think that it will
be necessary to provide the Senate or senators with forms when they want to
exercise their prerogative. This initiative must not be viewed as a way of
helping the handicapped. This is not a handicap.
Still the issue is extremely complex and it should be examined in terms of
the objective. Naturally, implementing this initiative will mean taking a number
of precautions. However, we must consider, above all, the needs of those who
will be using this service.
I want to ask the Honourable Senator Watt to tell us what the ideal formula
is. At present, we do not have a specific system in mind. We can appreciate the
objective of this initiative but we still have to decide on the system. I do not
know if Nunavut currently uses a specific system for translation or
interpretation. Perhaps the Government of Nunavut has some models that might
inspire and guide us in terms of the use of languages other than French or
Senator Watt: Thank you for your question, Senator Gill. I believe
that at times in the legislatures of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories they
deal with seven languages; so there is a system in place that is used every day.
They have full interpreters in both legislatures who go from one language to
another language and to another at any given time. We would like to achieve that
ability as well. Let us see what we can do to advance this cause.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I have another
question. Senator Viola Léger, Senator Sibbeston and I have just come back from
the Northwest Territories. We noticed that they use far more than the two
official languages there. There were more than 10 languages being used, if I
recall correctly. We had interpretation. With the help of a computer, you can
receive the text in your language, but when you speak, you have to use one of
the two official languages. Do you not think it is simultaneous interpretation,
in fact, that makes it possible to respond quickly?
I believe that the only solution is simultaneous interpretation.
Senator Watt: Yes, I indicated that we would like to have permanent
interpreters here, which could be beneficial not only to Senator Adams and me
but also to all senators who then could follow easily in any language.
Simultaneous interpretation is the way to achieve this goal. However, I am
unsure at this time whether it is the Internal Economy Committee that would deal
with this motion in respect of funding for such a system. I would think that an
order would be required from the Senate.
Senator Plamondon: It is time to implement this proposal because there
Senator Stratton: It was just spent — $4.6 billion.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Watt's time
has expired, but Senator Joyal has a question.
Is the honourable senator asking for leave to continue for five minutes? Is
it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, the motion of Senator Corbin
raises an important question in respect of constitutional implications, and I
know that Senator Watt and Senator Adams are open to such questions. I would
like to remind them that the use of both languages in Parliament is well defined
in section 133 of the Constitution of Canada. I will read the first section of
Either the English or the French Language may be used by any Person in the
Debates of the Houses of the Parliament of Canada and of the Houses of the
Legislature of Quebec; and both those Languages shall be used in the
respective Records and Journals of those Houses;
Section 16(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes a
English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality
of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions
of the Parliament and government of Canada.
This is the constitutional principle.
Senator Corbin raised an important point, which is the evolution that Canada
has known over the years with the presence and participation of Aboriginal
senators. Today, the language issue is Inuktitut, but Senator Gill raised an
important question: What would happen in the coming months or years should
senators be appointed who speak other Aboriginal languages? It is important to
establish a principle and a solution to deal with this issue to address the
current urgent problem of Inuktitut and to address a possible future need for
other Aboriginal languages.
Senator Gill is right when he states that the current system provides a
solution for someone who does not speak one of the two official languages as
stated in the Constitution and in the Charter. However, we want to address how
this house should deal with and manage a system whereby an Aboriginal language
could be spoken by a senator and other senators could understand; in that way,
there could be a true debate because debate includes not only speeches but also
questions and answers.
Would it not be appropriate to refer the matter to the Official Languages
Committee or to the Rules Committee for study rather than vote yea or nay on the
motion now? The issue requires a solution for any and every Aboriginal language.
I am sympathetic to the motion of Senator Corbin and the concerns of Senator
Watt and Senator Adams. Referral of the motion to committee for suggestions that
would be practical according to the principles that we have to recognize and
maintain in our institutions would be the best way to proceed.
Senator Watt: The senator rightly raises the constitutionality of this
issue, although I was reluctant to speak to it. That is one of the reasons that
section 35 is separate from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Many areas need
to be dealt with that do not normally fall under the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms because there are a number of conflicts between the Charter and section
35, as senators are aware.
Honourable senators, I agree with Senator Joyal's comments and his suggestion
for greater study of the issue. I appreciate that the motion has been brought
forward for debate because it is a good one. I, too, believe that it should be
referred to committee as soon as possible for study.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.
Hon. Lorna Milne rose pursuant to notice of April 20, 2005:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to her recent visit to
Indonesia and to Canada's efforts to help rebuild Southeast Asia after the
tragic tsunami of December 26, 2004.
She said: Honourable senators, I was fortunate enough to visit Indonesia with
the Speaker and two other senators from March 14 to 17. We were there to get a
first-hand look at the work being done by Canada in response to the tragic
tsunami of December 26, 2004.
I know that Indonesia is a country with which many of us are not familiar, so
I would like to begin by giving you a sense of the geopolitical status of the
Indonesia is an archipelago of 18,000 islands that stretch in a vast curve
from the Indian Ocean off Burma in the northwest, past Thailand, Malaysia,
Vietnam and Hong Kong to the Coral Sea between the Philippines and Queensland in
northeastern Australia. The chain of islands straddles the equator and stretches
almost as far as the full width of Canada. It is anchored by four main islands:
Sumatra in the far northwest; Java, where Jakarta, the capital city, is located;
Borneo; and Papua New Guinea. There are many different peoples within the
country, speaking over 583 languages — and we think we have problems.
Indonesia is a republic, formed from the former territories of the Dutch East
Indies. At the end of World War II, after the Japanese occupation of the region,
Indonesian nationalists claimed their independence while the Dutch attempted to
reassert control over the area. After a four-year war, Indonesia secured its
independence in 1949.
Dr. Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia. His rule was unstable and
marked by his unwillingness to follow the democratic constitution. He asserted
In 1965, the Indonesian Communist Party attempted a coup d'état that
failed. Major-General Suharto crushed the coup and became the acting President
in March 1967. His regime was still highly centralized but had some local
democratic elements and followed a liberal pro-Western economic policy with
heavy emphasis on foreign trade and investment.
This regime lasted until 1999, when an economic crisis and government
corruption generated the fall of Suharto. Opposition parties were able to muster
significant support in that election and 48 opposition parties were on the
ballot. Since that time, Indonesia has had a democratic government.
Until the fall of 2004, Indonesia had a unicameral system of government, but
under the new constitution the country now has two houses of Parliament, one of
which is directly elected by popular vote in a non-partisan first-past-the-post
system. These two houses combined to form a third house. The directly elected
house, the Regional Representative Assembly, DPD, has only persuasive power. The
other houses of Parliament are the People's Representative Assembly, DPR, where
the parties are elected by proportional representation and then the
representatives are chosen from party lists; and the People's Consultative
Assembly, MPR, the most powerful house, whose chairman has the power to amend
the constitution and also to veto any attempt to impeach the president of the
Indonesia is a beautiful and fertile country. The people seem happy in spite
of the great poverty of much of the population. The great majority of people are
Muslim — 88 per cent — but many emphasized to us that they are moderate Muslims,
and the tradition in the country is that their Muslim faith arrived early on
from the East — from China, not from the Arabic states.
For over 50 years, Canada has been a friend to Indonesia and has worked hard
to assist Indonesians on their long path to a vibrant democracy. Canadian
development assistance in Indonesia began in 1954. Indonesia became a CIDA core
country in 1970. The total value of the bilateral program is now $23 million a
year. Additional tsunami relief funds will benefit the provinces of Aceh and
North Sumatra. CIDA's existing program of assistance will continue in other
parts of Indonesia, with particular attention to the island of Sulawesi. A new
Country Development Programming Framework has been completed. In September 2004,
CIDA began working from this new planning framework in the region.
The new framework has three thrusts: first, improving governance and
improving the quality of decentralized social services; second, growing the
private sector by assisting in the creation of economic opportunities; and
third, sustaining the use of natural resources for the benefit of local people
in order to generate income and improve livelihoods for the local poor.
I think this is a sound framework and that CIDA has done well to organize
itself in this manner.
In spite of its fertile soils and very warm climate, Indonesia has many huge
problems. Two of them have a real impact on the way that tsunami relief can be
delivered. Indonesia has been rated by the United Nations as the most corrupt
country in the world. It is also the country of the world most prone to natural
The new government is struggling to reduce corruption. The chairman of the
MPR, Dr. Wahid, represents the Prosperous Justice Party, which is an Islamic
party with a strong stance on corruption. The MPR has been pushing the
government, led by President Yudhoyono and his multi-party cabinet, to enact
reform. Let us hope he succeeds.
The country is also struggling with a small but violent separatist movement,
GAP, which is trying to form a fundamentalist Muslim state in Aceh, the province
most severely damaged by the tsunami. Aceh is fairly isolated at the
northwestern tip of Sumatra. The area takes some pride in being the first part
of Indonesia to accept Islam, as long ago as the 1400s, and some claim even
earlier. As such, they believe that they do not belong with the rest of
Indonesia and want to be left alone. They have been very violent in pursuing
Foreigners and foreign NGO groups were not allowed into Aceh until the
tsunami due to the unstable situation there. Even now, most of the aid groups
are there only on a temporary basis. The government has set a deadline for
foreign military persons to leave. That was recently extended from the end of
March to the end of May. Many of the NGOs now operating in the region are afraid
they will also have to leave and are operating in a vacuum with little long-term
planning. Tourists and even visitors are pretty well unknown in Aceh, which is
why there were no videos taken there of the overwhelming events of the tsunami
as there were in Phuket, Thailand, a favourite tourist destination.
With that background, I want to turn to the painful story that led our group
to Indonesia and Aceh. I will start by telling you about the devastation caused
along this fairly flat coastline by the two devastating waves that hit it on
December 26, 2004.
On that morning, an earthquake measuring about 9 on the Richter scale hit
Indonesia, severely damaging many buildings and weakening others. Fifteen
minutes later, the first wave hit the shore in Aceh. It was 25 metres high. The
second wave was a wall of water and debris 30 metres high. That is as high as a
On our arrival in Aceh, the first sign we saw of the tremendous power of the
waves was a 13,000-tonne floating generating station — really a ship — that had
been anchored offshore. This huge ship was picked up by the waves and deposited,
still upright, two and a half kilometres inland in the middle of a crowded area
of severely damaged small houses, right on top of many of them.
Down by the shore of what had been the old port of Banda Aceh, almost nothing
was left but a severely damaged mosque and in the distance an obelisk,
celebrating some event in the country's history, and one lone mammoth old tree.
Everything else — docks, ships, warehouses, roads, shops and houses — had either
been swept away or smashed into fist-sized chunks of gravel, leaving only a few
broken and tilted foundation slabs and great windrows of rebar, rolled up like
bales of hay, sitting in the water where the shoreline had once been.
Two thirds of the island that held the old port is gone. The new port, built
a few kilometres away, is also completely gone. The devastation looked just like
pictures of Hiroshima in 1945.
Imagine standing on Parliament Hill and as far as you can see in every
direction everything except the Peace Tower is gone, wiped out completely,
smashed to bits. Imagine that total devastation in a two-to six-kilometre-wide
band stretching all the way from Ottawa to Toronto. That is what happened along
the northwest coastline of Aceh.
Standing on that devastated shore was an indescribable experience. In my
limited experience, there are some places that have an aura about them.
Stonehenge is one. A wee church that I visited in a small village in the
Midlands of England is another. The old port of Banda Aceh is just such a place.
There seemed to be almost a hush in the air as we stood, each of us seeming to
be all alone, looking at destruction as far as the eye could see in every
direction. It was awe-inspiring, devastating and I still do not have the words
to describe it.
The destruction of human life was appalling. There were over 200,000 known
dead in Aceh province alone and an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 people are still
missing and probably dead. In addition, there are about 450,000
internally-displaced persons who have lost their homes, their businesses and
often their families. Approximately 4,500 schools have been destroyed. Hospitals
are gone. Even the garbage trucks and their drivers are gone. There is no way to
pick up the trash that is already piling up around the government-built barracks
they are beginning to move the newly homeless people into.
I spoke to a member of the Indonesian government who told me that not only
were most of his family and friends dead, but his entire constituency was gone.
Villages lay entirely in rubble. Most of the land was completely washed away.
Cleanup is going on everywhere, mostly by hand. Some heavy equipment has
survived and is still being put to use in a few places, but many of the isolated
communities along the shore still cannot be reached by road or sea because all
the roads, docks and wharves are gone. They are still finding about 100 bodies a
day in the wreckage and they are being buried in two mass graves in Banda Aceh.
One good thing has happened amongst the negative: The widely expected second
tsunami of epidemic disease did not happen. In other words, the immediate
medical emergency response that poured into Aceh after the tsunami was extremely
effective. I spoke to a nurse heading home to Southern Alberta within a few days
and she was extremely proud of what they had accomplished, indeed, prevented.
By the time we reached Aceh, two and a half months after the event, the
temporary hospitals were dealing with longstanding prior tsunami medical
situations, such as cancer, prostate problems, many facial deformities, cleft
palates and the like, but not with the outbreaks of disease and no longer with
the injuries resulting from the wave.
Barracks are being constructed throughout the area for temporary housing.
They consist of rows of single rooms, six or more to each side of a back-to-back
unit. Each room is about four metres square, with one rough door and one
unglazed window, and each holds an entire, often extended, family. They are not
much, but they are far better than the rough camps of tents and tarpaulins where
the people originally sheltered. Garbage was already piling up around most of
them, although there were signs of some fresh digging, possibly for latrines or
for drainage. Remember, the garbage trucks and their drivers are gone.
The group of barracks that we visited, one of 13 child-friendly spaces
supported by Canadian donations, had no garbage around. It had a supply of clean
water. Sanitary facilities and corrugated tin cooking shelters had been erected,
but still there was no cooking equipment, not even a primitive stove that I
could see. The food all seemed to be provided communally.
One of the women there, who was well educated and spoke English well, proudly
invited me in to see her "home." She shared it with her daughter, her husband
and his mother. The 16-square-metre area had one corner curtained off with a
tarpaulin for privacy, but her bed was a thin pad on the floor under the single
window. One piece of good furniture had been saved.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform the
honourable senator that her time has expired.
Are you seeking leave to continue?
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I have to admit that I have six
pages left to read. If I could be granted five minutes, I will read quickly.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Milne: Thank you, honourable senators.
She had a cooking pot, a wok, and half of a salvaged spool for electrical
cable serving as a low table. They had no chairs. They did have a television
set. The question that she asked was: "What will become of us?" I felt guilty
because I could not answer her.
Frankly, both the Indonesian government and the local government have been
completely overwhelmed and are still trying to come up with a plan to deal with
the devastation. Thus far their solutions seemed to be fairly unilateral,
without proper consultation or consideration of the wishes of the people
involved, the victims.
They have identified three phrases of the recovery plan. The first phase, the
short-term emergency response, is over. Canada was one of the first countries to
establish a presence on the ground in Aceh. We provided emergency assistance of
$500,000 through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. We also approved a
$650,000 project for the Indonesian Red Cross to rebuild and improve the only
blood collection facility in Banda Aceh. More than 30 tons of emergency supplies
and generators were flown in. World Vision Canada brought in two planeloads of
pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and water purification equipment.
The second phase of recovery has started — rehabilitation. Housing of a sort
is being built and cleanup is under way. However, these barracks are poorly
sited, with inadequate sanitation and no sources of water nearby. The roads are
gradually being cleaned out to the more remote coastal communities, but many
villages and the original roads are now under water and cannot be reached,
improved or mended.
The third phase will be the more difficult one and that is sustainable
recovery. Canada, through CIDA, committed itself to assist in rebuilding the
system of local governance and the sustainability in agriculture, fishing and
forestry as part of its goal in this long-term phase. That will take years.
The aim of the Indonesian government is more immediate: to restore the lives
of people with water, shelter, income infrastructure, to restore the economy,
and to re-establish the province as politically stable and economically vibrant.
This will be difficult given the 29-year history of the violent separatist
movement in the area.
Our part will involve building on existing programs such as McGill's
long-time cooperative program with the Islamic University in Banda Aceh.
Cleaning up the corruption will be difficult because the present governor of
the province is in jail on charges of corruption. His place has been filled by
the deputy governor, a nice man but who apparently does not have the local
support or the political clout to carry on a great deal. They are trying,
I will leave it to others of our delegation to tell you about our visit to a
food centre and more about child-friendly spaces.
I do want to tell honourable senators about the little women that I met at
the Islamic University. Is my time up?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Yes, it is.
Senator Milne: These were tiny little women. They looked as though
they were nine or ten years of age, but they were actually 19 to 24. Not one of
them weighed over 100 pounds. They all asked me: "What will become of us?"
Honourable senators, what will become of them?
On motion of Senator Plamondon, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.