Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators will be aware that 2005 is the
Year of the Veteran, marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War
I rise today to commemorate the courage and sacrifice made by Allied soldiers
during one of the most important battles of the Second World War. D-Day occurred
61 years ago yesterday. It was a day soldiers had been working, training,
waiting and planning for, for years. There were battles on the eastern front,
and soldiers had been fighting for some time in Italy, but Allied soldiers and
officers believed that a third front was necessary.
The German army had been occupying 80 kilometres of mostly flat, sandy beach
along the Normandy coast. Those German soldiers awoke on the morning of June 6
to view a vast armada posed to invade occupied France. During the night of June
5, 1944, the Allied navies — Canadian, British and American — had brought a huge
invasion fleet from England. What transpired the morning of June 6, 1944,
changed the course of history.
The Allied forces brought together for this battle included 155,000 soldiers,
5,000 ships, 50,000 vehicles and 11,000 aircraft. Canada's contribution — at a
time when our nation's population was 12 million — consisted of approximately
35,000 men in this battle alone, comprising 14,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors and
approximately 10,000 Royal Canadian Air Force members involved with
reconnaissance planes, Lancaster bombers and Spitfire fighters. There were four
beaches at Normandy; two of them were taken by the Americans, one by the British
and one by the Canadians. The beach taken by the Canadian soldiers became known
as Juno Beach.
After a fierce day of fighting, the first line of Nazi defence had been
broken. By evening, Canadian troops had progressed further inland than any of
the Allied forces. It was a remarkable achievement, but that success on D-Day
was costly. On that day, 340 Canadians gave lives, another 570 were wounded,
some of them seriously, and a further 47 soldiers were taken prisoner.
For what they did to help preserve our way of life, our freedom and the laws
to which we would be subject, we have pledged that at the going down of the sun
and in the morning we will remember them.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, it is with great honour
that I join my colleague Senator Day and others in this place in commemorating
the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944.
At approximately 5 a.m. local time on that fateful day, the sun rose to
reveal an astonishing armada of Canadian, British, American and other Allied
ships carrying thousands of determined troops. Their purpose was to bring
freedom to the people of France and the rest of Europe.
These days, honourable senators, when the sun rises over Courseulles-sur-Mer,
it reveals a popular swimming and tanning destination. Instead of Canadian
soldiers wading through the water in the teeth of murderous fire, there are
children swimming and playing along the shoreline. The beach's long tides,
shallow slope and grassy dunes make it an ideal vacation spot. It is difficult
to imagine that this beautiful, tranquil beach, code-named Juno, was once the
scene of a ferocious battle. It is almost impossible to conjure up in one's mind
the strikingly different picture of 61 years ago. As Canadians moved up from the
shoreline and into the Norman countryside, they fought with rare courage,
perseverance and determination.
Today the Juno Beach Centre stands at the very spot where the Canadians
landed. This building is a kind of beacon, shedding its light on Canada's
remarkable military and civilian contributions in France and elsewhere during
the Second World War, and preserving those memories for future generations.
With the passing years, it is becoming increasingly important to remember and
to honour the ultimate sacrifice made by 5,400 Canadians during the Normandy
As the waves wash away the sands of Juno Beach, it behooves us to ensure that
time does not wash away the memories of June 6, 1944. All Canadians from coast
to coast to coast, along with the generations of Canadians to come, must never
forget this pivotally important event in our history. Just as the Juno Beach
Centre seeks to educate persons from around the world about Canada's
contribution to the Second World War, we, too, must take on this role in
educating our children and grandchildren about the role we played as a nation.
In this, the Year of the Veteran, let us resolve never to forget.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, when one listens to Celtic
music, one immediately thinks of Nova Scotia, and in particular Cape Breton
Island. At the same time, one of the names that comes to mind is John Allan
Cameron. Before the Rankin Family or Natalie MacMaster, there was "Johnallan."
A proud son of Inverness County, John Allan was diagnosed with a rare bone
marrow cancer and leukemia three months ago. To help raise funds for his
treatment, numerous artists from across the Maritimes and, indeed, all of Canada
converged and planned three benefit concerts in Glace Bay, Mabou and Halifax.
Honourable senators, as he is a permanent fixture on the Canadian music
scene, it was no surprise to see the outpouring of generosity to John Allan as
he fights to keep his spirit and determination strong. That generosity was very
evident as his presence still commands an audience — all shows are sold out.
I am reminded of an incident of a few years ago during An Evening in the
Maritimes, held here in Ottawa, which many honourable senators attended. Our
colleague Senator Buchanan, John Allan and I were on stage at the Congress
Centre singing Out On the Mira, one of the signature songs that all Nova
Scotians know by heart. I remember the reaction of the crowd — not for me or for
Senator Buchanan, much to his chagrin — to John Allan. He is the godfather of
Honourable senators, to play the 12-string guitar is by no means an easy
feat, but John Allan is a true master. His quick wit and beaming smile made
converts of people who did not know that Celtic music could be so exciting and
so cool. People will always recognize his signature shout of "Yes!" during
concerts or in the background of songs.
Honourable senators, it is a true testament to the life of a person when
their colleagues care so much for their well-being.
When I was on the board of directors of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, John
Allan gave free, spontaneous concerts all across the country in support of the
I take this opportunity to wish John Allan a speedy recovery and many more
years of the toe tapping, hoots and hollers that we have all come to admire.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I was pleased to learn on
May 19 that Canada has increased its annual financial contribution to the
International Fund for Ireland. The International Fund for Ireland was
established as an independent international organization by the British and
Irish governments in 1986. Its objectives are to promote economic and social
advancement and to encourage contact, dialogue and reconciliation between
unionists and nationalists throughout Ireland.
Canada has been a contributor to the International Fund for Ireland since
1987. We currently contribute $333,000 a year. Canada's financial commitment
will rise to $500,000 per year for the next four years, reaching a total of $2
million by the year 2009.
The Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, Dennis Rooney, describes
the increase as "hugely significant because it is a practical demonstration of
Canada's longstanding commitment to a peaceful future for Ireland."
Honourable senators, from February 25 to March 5 of this year, I was part of
an all-party delegation of parliamentarians who travelled to Belfast and Dublin,
Ireland, to monitor the status of the Northern Ireland peace process. Our
delegation included Senator David Smith, Roger Valley, Jason Kenney, Bill
Blaikie, Monique Guay and Pat O'Brien.
In Ireland, we were able to witness firsthand the fallout from the violent
conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, which has
plagued the country for decades. We were also able to conduct consultations with
Irish parliamentarians and community leaders who are still reeling from the
violent murder of Robert McCartney, allegedly by members of the Irish Republican
Army. The McCartney murder will forever change the cultural and religious divide
in Northern Ireland.
Honourable senators, for nearly two decades Canada has been a major
contributor to the International Fund for Ireland. This latest increase in
funding will enable Canada to continue to play a significant role in the Irish
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, June 5 to 11 is Environment
Week. During this week, we focus on things Canadians can do to make Canada
greener. As Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment
and Natural Resources, I would be remiss if I did not mention that we should all
be striving to set good examples, not only this week but every week.
I would like to draw to your attention the Commuter Challenge. It is a
national event that encourages people to commute this week in an environmentally
friendly way and to document it. This is a friendly competition that takes place
among companies and institutions, and it ought to include ours.
The Senate is usually compared in that challenge with the other place, the
Library of Parliament and the Department of Public Works. In the past, we have
not had anything to boast about in this chamber, although we are supposed to be
setting good examples.
This year, I encourage every senator and their staffs to get involved. First,
we have to find an environmentally friendly way to get to work. Driving a green
SUV does not count. We might walk, as I have the privilege of doing, take public
transit or car pool with at least two occupants. Those wishing to participate
may register with the Commuter Challenge. The easiest way to do that is to
contact my assistant, Tom Smith. Then, record how you get to work for one week,
and, of course, continue to commute that way for the rest of your life.
By taking part in this challenge, participants are eligible to win prizes
that range from environmentally friendly products to recreational gear.
I personally challenge each senator to join in the Commuter Challenge, not
only this week but particularly this week, and to keep a record. I hope that at
least half of the senators will do that so that I will be able to crow about the
Senate's achievements in this challenge, something I have not been able to do in
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Labrador
Inuit Land Claims Agreement, signed January 22, 2005, on behalf of the Inuit of
Labrador, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Her
Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.
I also have the honour to table the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement,
signed on behalf of the Inuit of Labrador on March 15, 2005, Her Majesty the
Queen in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador on March 24, 2005, and Her Majesty
the Queen in Right of Canada on April 12, 2005.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a copy of a
document entitled "Fiscal Year 2003-2004 Annual Report to the Standing Committee
on National Defence and Veterans Affairs on Quality of Life in the Canadian
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government) presented Bill
S-39, to amend the National Defence Act, the Criminal Code, the Sex Offender
Information Registration Act and the Criminal Records Act.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
when shall this bill be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Pearson, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at
the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence have
power to sit on June 20, 21 and 22, 2005, even though the Senate may then be
sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto; and
That if the Senate has adjourned for a period exceeding one week, the
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be empowered, in
accordance with rule 95(3), to sit on June 20, 21 and 22, 2005.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at
the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be
empowered, in accordance with rule 95(3), to sit on September 14, 15 and 16,
2005, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at
the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on November 4, 2004,
the date for the presentation of the final report by the Standing Senate
Committee on National Security and Defence on veterans' services and benefits,
commemorative activities and charter, be extended from June 30, 2005, to March
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, the Sierra Club of Canada just released its Thirteenth Annual Rio
Report Card, 2005, which grades governments on how well they are meeting
commitments first made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The report
failed Paul Martin's Liberals in many areas. Has the Leader of the Government
read the report? If so, will he comment on its contents?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am
not aware of the report, I have not read it and, therefore, I cannot comment on
Senator Stratton: Canada is not meeting the commitments made at the
Rio Summit. For example, progress was noted on the climate change file but
failing marks were handed out for our fisheries policies, our efforts to make
trade and environment mutually supportive, and with regard to our commitment to
review and reform pesticide and toxic policies. The revised climate plan is an
improvement, but much more must be done if we are to deliver on Kyoto's
commitments. The key words are "Kyoto's commitments." The Martin government also
needs to respond to the threat of toxic chemicals to human health and make
radical changes to our fisheries policies.
Canada still has not signed the UN treaty on biodiversity, although Canada
championed it at the Earth Summit. The Convention on Biodiversity is intended to
slow the global extinction of species. Does the Leader of the Government in the
Senate have any background information on the obstacles that are preventing our
ratification of this treaty and, if so, what issues are at play?
Senator Austin: I will take the question as notice, honourable
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last Thursday I rose in the chamber and
brought to the attention of honourable senators the fact that there are no
visible minorities on the board of directors of the Canada Council for the Arts.
This national, arm's-length agency reports to the Minister of Canadian Heritage
and was created by an act of Parliament in 1957 with a specific mandate to
"encourage the engagement of visible minority, Aboriginal and immigrant
Canadians in the arts labour force."
Honourable senators, similar to the Canada Council for the Arts, the National
Arts Centre reports to Parliament through the Honourable Minister of Canadian
Heritage, Liza Frulla. There are eight members on the board of trustees at the
NAC, two ex-officio members and five outside members. Not one of the 15 board
members is a visible minority.
Does the Leader of the Government believe that there should be visible
minority representation on significant public boards of directors and, if so,
will he undertake to make representations to colleagues in cabinet in an attempt
to rectify this problem to ensure that the face of federal boards and agencies
more closely reflects the multicultural mosaic of Canada?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, to
make my personal position clear, I believe that no qualified Canadians should be
barred from appointment to any tribunal, Crown corporation or other agency of
the Government of Canada. I believe as well that a number of people described as
visible minorities are qualified to be on the arts council. Certainly, I will
lend support to Senator Oliver's representation when appointments to that and
other councils are considered by the Governor-in-Council.
In response to the teasing from the other side, I will not remind them of the
famous dictum of former Prime Minister Mulroney about appointing Liberals.
Senator Oliver: I thank the honourable senator for that response. It
is most encouraging.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: The Speaker of the Senate is fourth in the
order of precedence following the Governor General, the Prime Minister and the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. He is appointed by and reports to
the Prime Minister of Canada. In this respect, the Speaker fulfills his
ceremonial role by receiving visiting heads of states or heads of governments in
the Speaker's chamber, with other parliamentarians and officials. The Speaker of
the Senate also has the privilege of representing Parliament and the Government
of Canada abroad. Simply put, the Speaker is often the face of Canada when he
visits foreign countries to advance Canada's relations to the world.
According to his official website, the Speaker of the Senate has been
involved in 30 international trips since June 2001, travelling to at least 46
countries. According to the website records, visible minority senators have
accompanied the Speaker on only two of those occasions. The record shows that no
visible minority senator has accompanied the Speaker of the Senate on his trips
for the last 19 months.
Honourable senators, Canada must portray its identity as a multi-racial and
multi-cultural nation. Official state visits by the Speaker of the Senate is the
perfect venue to introduce the world to Canada's multi-cultural character,
including its important Aboriginal peoples. Will the Leader of the Government in
the Senate take action so that when the Speaker travels abroad his delegation
will represent the true ethnic composition of Canada, including Aboriginals and
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
insofar as that question has to do with my responsibilities, I have to advise
that I have no role to play in the choice by the Speaker of colleagues who may
wish to travel with him. The Speaker makes his own decisions with respect to the
persons in his delegation. The composition of those delegations is not a role
for the government; nor, as far as I know, is it a role for the Leader of the
Opposition. The balance of the question should properly be directed to the
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: I have a supplementary question, honourable
senators. There are, at the moment, seven vacancies in the Senate. There will be
eight vacancies as of next week. There will be 12 vacancies before Christmas.
One of my strong wishes is for Canada to be the first country in the world to
have equality of women and men in Parliament — for there to be an equilibrium in
the Senate. The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien made a good effort, but it should
We know that two of our former colleagues, Mr. Laurier LaPierre and Mr.
Jean-Robert Gauthier, were replaced by two fine people. One is a woman — which
pleases me, because that is one of my goals. The other one was an ex-colleague,
so I have no comment. He was a colleague, so I cannot talk about him.
My wish is to be taken seriously by this bunch of macho senators who are
laughing at the moment.
Equality in numbers has been my sincere wish for years and years. Until
Canadians decide how to dispose of the Senate, how to elect the Senate, how to
reform the Senate, filling the current and future vacancies in the Senate
presents a golden occasion to have equality.
Anyone who watched television last night saw how horribly we treat women in
British Columbia. Anyone who has travelled to Manitoba will be aware of the
unbelievable treatment the First Nations have to go through. Thirteen per cent
of the population of Manitoba is First Nations. However, honourable senators, I
regret to say that they make up more than 48 or 49 per cent of the people in
jail. It is the same in Saskatchewan.
I believe women have the kind of devotion that men do not have, and I stand
by that belief.
Again, I would ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to relay to the
Prime Minister and to cabinet that he has the option — Prime Minister Paul
Martin has the option — to continue Mr. Chrétien's tradition of appointing women
to the Senate. There will be four vacancies in Quebec by next week — and nothing
has been done.
I am not proposing any names. I just want to make sure that women are
considered for these vacancies, because women are highly devoted. There are
women candidates in the First Nations, as well as women experts in Quebec law.
I would ask the honourable leader to relay this information to the Prime
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators will
have noticed that, in the only group of senatorial appointments made by Prime
Minister Martin thus far, women made up four of the nine senators appointed.
Nonetheless, I would certainly be happy to convey a summary of Senator
Prud'homme's comments to the Prime Minister.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Since 1997, the government has made extensive use
of foundations as a means to spend money that would otherwise lapse at year-end.
A handful were created through legislation; most were simply incorporated under
the Canada Corporations Act.
In the government's agreement with the NDP, which calls for significant sums
to be spent when the surpluses for the current and coming fiscal years are known
with certainty, Bill C-48, the so-called "NDP budget bill," contains a clause
allowing the government to acquire corporations or create new corporations for
the purposes of carrying out the deal. Can the Leader of the Government in the
Senate enlighten this chamber as to the purpose of these new corporations or
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
will have to take notice of the question. Obviously, when the bill comes here,
full information will be available.
Senator Tkachuk: Under the main budget bill, the Auditor General will
perform compliance and performance audits on foundations that receive more than
$100 million of government money over a five-year period. Why is the government
setting such a high threshold? Was any study done by the Department of Finance
or by the Privy Council Office as to why they decided on $100 million and not
$25 million or $50 million or $75 million?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I will make inquiries in the hope
that I can quickly inform Senator Tkachuk.
Senator Tkachuk: The government, also through the main budget bill,
Bill C-43, will be advancing additional funds to several foundations: $40
million to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; $50 million to the Asia Pacific
Foundation of Canada; $30 million to the Canadian Academies of Science; $10
million to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation; $165 million to Genome
Canada; and $20 million for Precarn Incorporated. With the exception of funding
for Genome Canada, which was $165 million, all these grants are under the
Will the government require that these foundations submit to a performance
audit by the Auditor General?
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I will have to make inquiries
with respect to the agreements that exist between those foundations and the
Government of Canada regarding performance audits and advise Senator Tkachuk.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, it has now been more than
six years since former Justice Minister Anne McLellan told Parliament through
her department's 1999-2000 report on plans and priorities that her officials
were working on amendments to the Access to Information Act. It has now been
almost five years since the then-minister announced in August 2000 that a task
force would review the act. It has been three years since former Justice
Minister Martin Cauchon released the results of this review in June 2002.
Last week, current Justice Minister Irwin Cotler told the Canadian Newspaper
Association that the government would not present a bill but rather a draft bill
in the fall. Given the Prime Minister's promise to call an election shortly
after Justice Gomery's report is made public, there is essentially no chance of
the government fixing the access law before the next election.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise the Senate as to why,
six years after promising to overhaul what is clearly an outdated law with too
many exemptions, and three years after receiving the results of a review of the
act, the justice minister is unable or unwilling to promise anything beyond a
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the
subject matter of access to information is one of real complexity, and it has
many stakeholders. The government has been working on a draft bill and dealing
with the stakeholders. I was hoping the government could introduce its
amendments before the end of this month, or possibly an entire new piece of
proposed legislation, but that does not now appear to be the case.
With respect to the question of why, I shall make further inquiries.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, a few months ago the
President of the Treasury Board announced several measures the government plans
to take to strengthen the governance and accountability of Crown corporations,
one being expanding the Access to Information Act to include several currently
exempt Crown corporations. At the time, we were told that the government would
act in a timely manner to implement those measures.
If the government is not willing to immediately amend the act, is there any
reason why it cannot take immediate steps to expand the existing act to include
all Crown corporations and to ensure that any new Crown corporations, such as
those contemplated in the NDP budget bill, fall under the Access to Information
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
shall make inquiries, and I appreciate Senator LeBreton's support for
accelerated consideration of this legislation.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate as well. It relates to traces of the
banned chemical malachite green, a suspected carcinogen, found in chinook salmon
raised on a B.C. fish farm.
As soon as the presence of this banned fungicide was discovered, the Canadian
Food Inspection Agency issued an immediate recall of the salmon that had been
sent out for processing. Although more than 35,000 contaminated salmon were
destroyed before they could reach consumers, officials were unable to trace and
recall nearly 85,000 fish. In other words, some of the salmon was consumed by
Can the government leader please update us on what efforts the CFIA is
engaged in to discover how this banned substance made its way into the chinook
salmon farm in Campbell River?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): I will be pleased to
bring to the chamber any information the government possesses on this topic. The
first reports revealed that the aquaculture company in whose process line this
malachite green was discovered could not offer any explanation as to how it had
come to be in their particular aquaculture process.
There was some concern raised, less as to immediate health questions and more
as to aquaculture processing, in trying to determine what happened here. For
those who are not aware, this particular chemical is designed to destroy sea
lice. It is carcinogenic, as Senator St. Germain suggests, and I will pursue
Senator St. Germain: As the honourable senator knows, aquaculture is
under a certain amount of attack in its present state, let alone when we have
problems. CFIA issued a recall for the salmon sent out for processing, but no
public alert was issued.
If he cannot give us an immediate response to this question, can the minister
find out how carcinogenic this chemical is and whether it does pose a danger to
those people who consumed the 85,000 fish? Could the Leader of the Government in
the Senate advise us of CFIA's policy for issuing public alerts? Apparently
there was no public alert and maybe there is a reason. Perhaps it was not
necessary. However, I think that members of the public have a right to know, and
this would be a good avenue to discover what really happened.
Senator Austin: I agree with Senator St. Germain. The policy of the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency on alerts should be better known, and I will
endeavour to bring that information to the chamber.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
I rise to draw the attention of the house to rule 24(1) of the Rules of the
Senate. It provides that:
When the Speaker calls the Question Period, a Senator may, without notice,
address an oral question to:
(a) the Leader of the Government in the Senate, if it is a question
relating to public affairs,
(b) a Senator who is a Minister of the Crown, if it is a question
relating to his ministerial responsibility...
The Honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate makes himself available
in the chamber on a regular basis, which we on this side appreciate. It is quite
rare that he is not here.
This side also draws the attention of the Senate to rule 24(1)(c), which
indicates that the chairman of a committee is a person to whom an honourable
senator may direct a question. I have had a question for some time for the
chairman of one particular committee, and he is never here.
Senator Mercer: Who is that?
Senator St. Germain: Senator Mercer.
Senator Kinsella: I do not wish to identify him. I do wish to draw it
to the attention of the house. I would ask Her Honour to concur with my
understanding of the rules; namely, that senators do have the right to ask their
question of chairs of committee. A conditio sine qua non applies to this
rule, which is that the chair of the committee must be present.
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, on
this point of order, let me clearly explain that this chamber has authorized the
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to hold
hearings across the country on its study of mental health. Therefore, the
chairman of that committee is absent with the approval of the Senate. I know
that my honourable friend did not name a particular senator.
Senator Kinsella: It was not that chair I had intended to ask the
Senator Austin: I am delighted. It is very difficult sometimes to be
of help if the question is of such a general nature that one does not understand
what it means.
Senator St. Germain: More than one is truant.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Your Honour, I heard Senator Austin talk about a
point of order. Is this a point of order? Are we on a point of order? Senator
Kinsella says no. We are not on a point of order. He was just drawing attention
to the rule. That is fine.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator De Bané, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Smith, P.C., for the second reading of Bill
S-31, An Act to authorize the construction and maintenance of a bridge over
the St. Lawrence River and a bridge over the Beauharnois Canal for the purpose
of completing Highway 30.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure for me
to speak at second reading stage of Bill S-31, authorizing the construction of
two bridges over the St. Lawrence River required for the completion of Highway
I will begin by saying that, for almost 40 years now, the public and the
major economic development stakeholders in the Suroît region have been waiting
impatiently for this major highway project, started in 1968, to be completed.
Honourable senators, it is not my intention to get into a detailed
explanation of the provisions of Bill S-31. Senator De Bané did a fine job on
May 16. I would rather reiterate the need for cooperation between the
Governments of Canada and Quebec so that Highway 30 can finally ease road
congestion in the greater Montreal area.
This highway construction project to link the industrial municipalities on
the south shore of the St. Lawrence River began in the early 1960s. In 1977, the
highway of steel, as it was nicknamed, was supposed to connect the
municipalities of Bécancour, south of Trois-Rivières, and Valleyfield, southwest
of Montreal, at the opposite end.
The purpose of this new artery was to replace Highway 132 — for those
familiar with the Montreal area — as an inter-regional axis, providing the South
Shore with a rapid and safe way to bypass Montreal, and capable of supporting
the economic development of the Montérégie region.
This is an important consideration, since Highway 30 would support the
economic development of the municipalities of Valleyfield and the
Melocheville-Beauharnois region by ending the relative isolation in which,
unfortunately, they are currently caught.
Between 1968 and 1996, the Quebec government built various discontinuous
sections of this expressway. During that period, the section connecting the
municipalities of Sorel-Tracy and Candiac was completed, as was the section
bypassing the Kahnawake reserve in order to connect the municipalities of
Sainte-Catherine and Châteauguay.
According to the schedule established in the early 1960s, the project was
supposed to be completed in 1980.
Twenty-five years later, two important sections are still missing, an
8-kilometre stretch connecting the towns of Candiac and Sainte-Catherine, and a
42-kilometre stretch linking the municipalities of Châteauguay, Valleyfield and
Honourable senators, you must admit that time is running out!
Unlike Toronto, Quebec City or Winnipeg, the greater Montreal area does not
have a bypass route, even though it represents a trading hub between Ontario and
the United States, in one direction, and the eastern part of the country in the
To tell the truth, the Montreal area has only one direct, continuous
east-west corridor. That is the Autoroute Métropolitaine, which is located right
in the middle of the Island of Montreal, in an unfortunately outdated and
overloaded road network.
In March 1995, a study conducted by the Quebec Department of Transport
concluded that by 2016, the Autoroute Métropolitaine would no longer respond to
all the new demands for the movement of people and goods.
Honourable senators, the economy of Montreal and the Montérégie will suffer
because of this situation, and for good reason. Almost 85 per cent of exports of
goods manufactured in the greater metropolitan area originate in Montreal and
the Montérégie. Moreover, 90 per cent of the products used everywhere in Quebec
come from these two regions, as do 73 per cent of Quebec exports to the United
States and 87 per cent of its exports to Ontario and Western Canada.
Statistics provided to the federal government in 2000 by Roche-Deluc, a
consulting group, pointed out that the economy of the greater metropolitan area
was already paying a high price for this disturbing situation.
In the Montreal area alone, it estimated the loss of economic productivity
caused by road congestion at more than $500 million per year.
Two years later, in 2002, the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited, a federal
agency that manages the Champlain and Jacques-Cartier bridges, confirmed that,
far from improving, the situation would only get worse if no bypass route were
constructed by 2010.
A report that received wide media attention stated that, within the next 15
years, the Champlain Bridge would have to be rebuilt because of the continuing
stress resulting from the passage of more than four million trucks every year.
According to that federal corporation, nearly half of the 4.3 million heavy
vehicles that use the Champlain Bridge each year would not need to cross the
Island of Montreal if Highway 30 were completed to its full length.
In urging the governments of Canada and Quebec to cooperate in reviving this
major highway project, the Federal Bridge Corporation was only adding its voice
to those of the Montreal International organization, the regional action
committee for Highway 30, the Quebec Trucking Association and the coalition for
Highway 30 should be completed not just for economic reasons, but also for
safety reasons. In 2000, a study by the Quebec Department of Transport found
that 75 per cent of hazardous material coming into Quebec by road entered by
Highway 132, already heavily travelled in the western Montérégie, where more
than 39 per cent of the buildings along the road are residential.
Honourable senators, the report published by the Federal Bridge Corporation
was perhaps the driving force behind an era of cooperation between Ottawa and
Quebec on this important issue, although from 2000 to 2003 the completion of
Highway 30 was the focus of an unfortunate federal-provincial confrontation.
Fortunately, in 2003, an agreement was reached between the two levels of
government on cost sharing for this project. As a result of that agreement, the
Government of Quebec agreed to complete the Candiac-Sainte-Catherine section by
2008. The section of the highway linking Châteauguay and Vaudreuil-Dorion will
be jointly built by Ottawa and Quebec, in partnership with the private sector,
given the interest expressed by several companies in this project.
The federal and provincial governments will split costs on an equal basis,
above and beyond what the private sector puts in.
In addition to the funding that will come from the Canada Strategic
Infrastructure Fund, the federal government has committed to authorizing the
construction of two new bridges over the seaway and the St. Lawrence River,
which is the reason for Bill S-31 now before us.
As Senator De Bané mentioned, the Government of Quebec will be the owner of
this infrastructure, and it is important to remember that.
Under the very tight schedule set out in the agreement that I have referred
to, the work, including construction of the two bridges on this second section
of highway, should be completed in 2009, just four years from now.
Already, in April 2000, the Government of Quebec indicated in its
transportation management plan for the greater Montreal area that it wanted to
build the two missing sections of highway by 2010. During the same year, the
Quebec National Assembly passed legislation dealing with transportation
infrastructure partnerships, which sets the framework for long-term agreements
between the Government of Quebec and private enterprise. Provincial authorities
were hoping that the legislation, which covers the design, construction,
operation, maintenance and financing of such projects, would apply to the
completion of Highway 30.
Honourable senators, some of you will perhaps allude to the fiasco over
Highway 407, in the Toronto area, which was built in partnership with the
private sector, and where the tolls increased by almost 200 per cent after the
road went into service, to cast doubt on the long-term participation of the
private sector in this project.
While the federal and provincial governments have stated that any partnership
agreement with private enterprise will be based on a process that is
transparent, fair and competitive, and respectful of the requirements related to
infrastructure specifications, members of the Senate, including members of the
standing committee that will study Bill S-31, should ensure that everything has
been done to avoid a repetition of the problems that developed in the Toronto
Honourable senators, private sector participation in the completion of
Highway 30 is desirable, but it must not compromise the long-term viability of
Having said that, the schedule set out in the agreement for construction of
the section from Châteauguay to Vaudreuil-Dorion called for the completion, in
2004, of reports jointly funded by the two levels of government, at a cost of
$21 million, for studies and other preliminary works to confirm interest in a
That was to be followed by a private sector qualification process in November
2004, the publication of a tender call to private sector partners by the end of
June, this year, and the signing of a contract by the end of the fall. Out of
concern for transparency, some clarification will be necessary on the process
that I have just described.
According to a progress report just published on May 30 by the Quebec
Department of Transport, the process for selecting a private sector partner
appears to be moving forward. I am sure you will agree with me that the Liberal
government could certainly have introduced Bill S-31 before today. Perhaps — and
this should make older senators smile — the government wanted to confirm what
former Quebec Premier, Maurice Duplessis often stated: The promise of a bridge
should be good for at least three elections. Heaven knows that he was considered
a master in electoral planning.
Let us not forget that the new government's announcement on these bridges
dates back to the thirty-seventh general election, in November 2000.
In conclusion, honourable senators, in the interest of promoting economic
development and relieving the growing frustration of hundreds of thousands of
motorists and truck drivers, I can only hope that the 2009 deadline will be met
and that both levels of government will work together to make this project
involving the private sector a success.
We — on both sides of this chamber, I am sure — are in favour of Bill S-31 to
ensure that Montreal can support its own economic development and that of
Eastern Canada during the 21st century.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette moved second reading of Bill C-9, to
establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
She said: Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure that I speak today
in debate at second reading of Bill C-9, to establish the Economic Development
Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. This bill is another in a series of
measures taken in the past 40 years, in Quebec and in other provinces, by the
Government of Canada to address regional disparities and to ensure that every
Canadian has an equal chance to succeed.
If passed, this bill will give the Economic Development Agency of Canada for
the Regions of Quebec the same status as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Agency or Western Economic Diversification Canada.
Canada Economic Development is now a presence throughout Quebec, thanks to a
network of 14 offices and a team of professionals well informed on regional
For the Government of Canada, implementation of an independent agency in
Quebec will make it possible to consolidate the actions undertaken and give this
agency greater freedom to act, something desired by virtually all the
stakeholders in regional economic development in Quebec. This will ensure
continuity of action as well as historical continuity.
In fact, honourable senators, the role of the federal government in
connection with regional economic development was already recognized in the
Constitution of 1982. Section 36.1 is particularly clear on the Government of
Canada's responsibility to counteract regional disparity. Today, that vital role
is again explicitly recognized in Bill C-9.
This bill, however, will also mark a new day in the policies adopted by the
Government of Canada to ensure the economic development of the regions and
realization of the full potential of Quebecers. As we all know, today's Canada
is very different from the Canada of the 1960s. Our country is now among the
great economic powers of the world, and its international influence continues to
grow, thanks to its presence on international markets and the numerous
humanitarian and peacekeeping missions it has been called upon to carry out in
recent decades, in which it has acquitted itself admirably.
On the domestic level, Canada enjoys a healthy financial situation that makes
us the envy of many other countries. For example, for the fiscal year 2004-05,
Canada presented its eighth balanced budget in a row. This is the longest series
of successive surpluses since Confederation.
Canada has also made considerable strides in reducing its debt. Since
balancing the budget in 1997-98, the Government of Canada has reduced federal
debt by more than $60 billion, lightening the financial burden of generations to
Fully committed in this open global economic context in which competition is
between countries as well as between regions and businesses, Canada must ensure
that its regional development activities are in tune with the new requirements
of globalization and that they give all Canadians, without exception, the means
to participate in economic growth and to benefit substantially from it.
This bill aims to do exactly that for Quebec, by giving the Canada Economic
Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec the means and flexibility needed to
provide the businesses, communities and regions of Quebec with support
appropriate to current conditions.
It must be said, honourable senators, that this bill rests on solid ground in
order to better contemplate the future with optimism. The agency's interventions
produce results of which our fellow citizens can be proud and which, even more
important, meet their needs and their expectations. Thus, the agency has pledged
over a billion dollars in financial support for the implementation of some 2,000
projects which were under way in 2003-04.
If one adds the investments of other backers to those of the agency in those
projects, their total value reaches close to $4 billion across Quebec's regions.
This leverage amounts to $4 for every dollar invested.
The object of the agency as set out in Bill C-9 is clear. It is to promote
the long-term economic development of the regions of Quebec by giving special
attention to those where slow economic growth is prevalent or where
opportunities for productive employment are inadequate. The agency carries out
its object by implementing specific measures in support of the regions,
communities, small- and medium-sized businesses and the development environment.
Honourable senators, by focusing on the establishment and development of
small businesses, for example, the agency helps keep and create jobs and
restructure local economies.
This action is based on the firm belief that our collective success depends
on the efforts of entrepreneurs and those who create jobs and wealth. This is
why Canada Economic Development helps SMBs to diversify their activities, create
quality jobs for our fellow citizens and, ultimately, ensure solid growth.
On March 31, for example, the Minister responsible for the Economic
Development Agency of Canada announced repayable financial assistance of over
$2.8 million for Média 4 Corporation, a high-tech holding company in Sherbrooke,
in the Eastern Townships, operating in the telecommunications sector. This
assistance will help the company and its major subsidiaries, Mediatrix Telecom
and M5T, develop and market innovative IP telephony products, a technology that
uses a single network for computer and phone systems.
The product of know-how developed in the Eastern Townships, this technology
bodes well for the future because it creates prosperity and high-tech jobs, not
to mention the research and development that will result. The implementation of
this initiative should help consolidate this region of Quebec as the capital of
telecommunications excellence, in addition to furthering economic
By supporting an innovative project such as the one by Média 4 Corporation,
the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is trying to
make innovative companies more competitive and increase their ability to sell
their cutting-edge research and development products on international markets.
Honourable senators, this is proof that Canada Economic Development is
pursuing its goal of helping our companies become more dynamic and innovative,
and therefore more competitive in Canada and abroad. It also attests to the
importance the agency places on fostering innovation, in all its forms, within
Speaking of assistance for companies, I want to stress that Bill C-9
recognizes the concept of social economy enterprise within the definition of
small and medium-sized business. Not only is this a first, but this part of the
bill also reflects the ever-expanding role of the social economy in Canada,
particularly within communities in Quebec.
There is no longer any doubt that the social economy makes a significant
contribution to the success of our communities. In economic terms, it leads to
job creation and wealth. It also makes a significant social contribution in
helping to reinforce community cohesion by fighting the youth drain, in
particular, and the marginalization of some members of our society.
In Quebec alone, there are over 7,000 social economy businesses. With annual
sales of over $17 billion, they employ more than 125,000 people. These are first
and foremost businesses playing a leading role in terms of regional and rural
development that will benefit from the agency's program to achieve their full
The Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec also
supports communities in their efforts to focus on their strengths and take
charge of their development. The agency's goal is to promote initiatives that
could have a significant impact at the regional level as well as generate a
ripple effect on regional economic activity.
It is in this context that on March 23, the Minister responsible for the
Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec announced a
$3-billion investment by the Government of Canada. Of this amount, $1,250,000 is
coming from Canada Economic Development and $1,762,500 from the Natural Sciences
and Engineering Research Council of Canada for the creation of a new industrial
research chair in silviculture and fauna at Laval University.
This project is based on an important partnership between the public and
private sectors to conduct research on the boreal forest on Quebec's North Shore
and to help the forestry industry develop practices that are consistent with
sustainable development and the conservation of forestry ecosystems.
The anticipated results of this project will contribute to maintaining the
quality of life in communities on the North Shore — and the need is great these
days — whose economic base is directly linked to logging and forest management.
This innovative research program will also help boost the competitiveness of the
forestry industry and ensure the transfer of knowledge to the communities and
businesses on the North Shore.
Honourable senators, that is what I call a promising plan for the future that
will generate regional economic development.
Under the terms of Bill C-9, the agency will also be able continue to pay
particular attention to the regions that are having problems adjusting to the
new global economic context.
In today's global economy where changes follow rapidly on one another in a
heatedly competitive atmosphere, regions, like countries, major cities and
companies, need to constantly keep adapting if they are to remain competitive
and continue to develop. Some of Quebec's regions are having difficulty
adapting; mainly those whose economies are in large part natural resource-based.
These regions face major challenges in economic diversification within a
context of distant markets, variable access to major transportation and
communication networks, and difficulty of recruiting qualified workers.
The bill before us today does not abandon the regions in difficulty or the
vulnerable communities; far from it, since it confirms the role of the Economic
Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec in working with these
regions, as well as the necessity of providing them with support tailored to
In its present form, Bill C-9 also reflects the concern of the Government of
Canada and of Canada Economic Development to work in complementarity with what
the Government of Quebec is doing. I would add that the people of Quebec as a
whole share that desire. The challenge is clear: to achieve increasing
efficiency and effectiveness of government actions as they relate to regional
It is precisely to that end that Bill C-9 provides the agency with the tools
to design and implement mechanisms to facilitate cooperation with Quebec and its
communities. As well, it confers upon the minister the authority to enter into
agreements with the Government of Quebec or any agency of that government, or
with any other entity or person, including cooperation agreements and agreements
related to distinct sectors of Quebec's economy.
It strikes me as important to point out to the members of the Senate that the
Canada Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is
already showing a great spirit of complementarity with Quebec government
By way of example, I might mention that the Honourable Minister of the
Economic Development Agency of Canada made a non-repayable contribution of $3
million to the TechnoCentre éolien Gaspésie-les Îles. This financial support
will help create an integrated research and development and technological
The project will help create seven jobs in the Gaspé — Magdalen Islands
region. Furthermore, the new centre will be a key player in the wind energy
network in Quebec. Establishing a network of excellence with the aim of
developing wind energy know-how will permit this expertise to be transferred to
Quebec industry, thus promoting many projects in the wind energy sector.
For its part, the Government of Quebec, through its ministère du
Développement économique de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation, has provided
$200,000 in financial support to the TechnoCentre éolien Gaspésie-les Îles to
support its operation. Thanks to this contribution, the organization will be
able to begin implementing the new business plan it has just prepared.
The two governments, through their support in separate sectors of
TechnoCentre éolien activity, are helping achieve a common goal: to support the
efforts of an industrial wind energy network capable of competing with foreign
markets in terms of equipment and services in a context of sustainable
I want to conclude, honourable senators, with something I consider equally
vital. Bill C-9 confirms the crucial importance of good synergy among federal
departments in order to ensure the success of the federal government's regional
economic development strategy.
Accordingly, the bill grants the Minister responsible for Canada Economic
Development the powers to exercise and consolidate the leadership of this agency
and convene the relevant federal ministers and other stakeholders in development
around the same table in order to ensure an integrated approach by the
Government of Canada in the regions of Quebec.
In closing, honourable senators, the Economic Development Agency of Canada
for the Regions of Quebec is an important partner in the growth of companies,
communities and regions in Quebec.
Thanks to Bill C-9, this agency will have the tools and flexibility it needs
to fulfill its role and meet the current challenges related to regional economic
With 14 regional offices and headquarters in Montreal, the agency will have
the same autonomy as its sister agencies in the Maritimes and Western Canada.
This autonomy will benefit stakeholders throughout Quebec in the interests of
all our constituents.
On motion of Senator LeBreton, for Senator Nolin, debate adjourned.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs moved second reading of Bill C-23, to establish
the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and to amend and repeal
certain related Acts.
She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to share with you an overview of
Bill C-23, which is before us today. Passage of this bill will formally
establish into law the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Canada, or HRSDC. Moreover, it defines the powers, duties and functions of the
minister, as well as those of the Minister of Labour and of the Canada
Employment Insurance Commission.
This bill, if enacted, will also set out rules for the protection, use and
disclosure of personal information obtained under departmental programs. It will
not create any new programs or services. Rather, this legislation is required to
formalize and fully implement important machinery of government changes that
were announced by the Prime Minister in December 2003.
Key among the changes announced at that time was the reorganization of the
Department of Human Resources Development Canada into two new departments: HRSDC
and Social Development Canada, or SDC. It is worth noting that, in the time that
has passed since that date, these two new departments have worked diligently to
ensure uninterrupted and continued seamless service to Canadians.
This bill is different from the old Department of Human Resources Development
Act in three particular areas. It proposes, first, a new mandate tailored to the
new department; second, authority for the provision of services to and receipt
of services from Social Development Canada; and, third, a new code governing the
protection and disclosure of the personal information of Canadians collected
under the department's various programs.
I should like to take the next few minutes to share with you, honourable
senators, an overview of these changes. To do this, I will review the bill part
Part 1 of the bill explains the powers, duties and functions of the new
minister of HRSDC and provides the authority for the appointment of the deputy
minister and the associate deputy ministers of the department, as well as for
the designation of a deputy minister of labour. The new mandate for HRSDC is
described in the manner the minister is to exercise her powers and to perform
her duties and functions. She will do so with a view to improving the standard
of living and quality of life of all Canadians by promoting a highly skilled and
mobile workforce and an efficient and inclusive labour market.
A new provision has been added stating explicitly the authority of the
minister to establish programs in support of the mandate and authorizing her to
make grants and contributions a part of these programs.
This part of the bill also allows for Social Development Canada to provide
administrative services and program delivery on behalf of HRSDC and vice versa.
For example, SDC will be able to provide call centre services for HRSDC. This
arrangement will serve Canadians well. Administrative efficiencies of this new
approach will mean that citizens can count on having an integrated service
delivery network that will provide uninterrupted, high-quality services when and
where they need them.
Part 2 of Bill C-23 addresses the powers, duties and functions of the
Minister of Labour. These powers extend to all matters relating to labour over
which Parliament has jurisdiction and which are not assigned to other
governmental institutions. They are to be exercised with the objective and
renewed mandate of promoting fair, safe, healthy, stable, cooperative and
As is the case for the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development,
the Minister of Labour is to provide express authority for the establishment of
projects or activities in support of his labour mandate. As you will remember,
the minister's mandate over housing is contained in the National Housing Act.
Similarly, his more specific powers, duties and functions related to labour
matters are contained in other statutes, including the Canada Labour Code.
Part 3 of the legislation addresses the Canada Employment Insurance
Commission, which would continue with its existing powers, duties and functions.
The bill addresses the composition, organization and operations of the
commission. Apart from some minor wording changes, the provisions of the bill
regarding the commission are a repetition of those contained in the Department
of Human Resources Development Act. The powers, duties and functions of the
commission as regards Employment Insurance are contained in the Employment
Insurance Act and have not been impacted by this bill.
Let me turn now to Part 4 of Bill C-23 where important proposals have been
made concerning the protection, use and disclosure of personal information
collected under the various programs of the department. This part reflects the
Government of Canada's commitment to protect the personal information of its
citizens. The bill proposes a uniform set of privacy provisions governing the
disclosure of personal information that would apply to all programs in the
department. This would set it apart from the current framework in which the
disclosure of personal information is governed by five different regimes.
The approach proposed under Bill C-23 would ensure a consistent approach with
respect to the administration of personal information gathered by the
department. In short, it will serve Canadians better, and it will do so in four
ways. First, it will provide more consistency in the administration of personal
information. Second, it will provide a greater degree of transparency for
Canadians. Third, it will codify current administrative practices related to the
use of personal information for research purposes. Fourth, through the inclusion
of an offence provision for knowingly disclosing personal information in
contravention of the code, it will ensure that the information is better
It is worth noting, honourable senators, that the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner has been consulted on these proposals and that the commissioner
herself has indicated her support for this new code.
These are important improvements. Bill C-23 demonstrates that this government
is committed to pursuing ways to deliver programs and services efficiently and
to conduct program research effectively without compromising the right of
citizens to expect that respect for their personal information is paramount.
The bill contains two other parts. Part 5 repeats the provisions of the
Department of Human Resources Development Act with respect to the Canada
Education Savings Grant program. It also contains provisions that have since
been adopted as part of the new Canada Education Savings Act, Bill C-5, which
received Royal Assent last December. Part 5 would be repealed when the new
Education Savings Act comes into force. Part 6 contains all the standard
transitional provisions, consequential and related amendments, and coordinating
amendments, as well as a provision repealing the Department of Human Resources
Development Act. It also provides that this bill, if enacted, will come into
force on the same day as the proposed Department of Social Development Act. That
will be Bill C-22, which we have not yet received.
As you can see, honourable senators, Bill C-23, while comprehensive, promises
to continue to deliver to Canadians the services they can count on from Human
Resources and Skills Development, and Social Development Canada. Human Resources
and Skills Development will focus on its core mandate of providing and promoting
a highly skilled and mobile workforce and an efficient and inclusive labour
market. Social Development Canada will focus on promoting social well-being and
income security for Canadians. Canadians will benefit from efficient corporate
service delivery from both departments. Moreover they can count on their
personal information being protected by a code that will be applied uniformly
across these departments.
Bill C-23 provides the legislative foundation needed to realize this
comprehensive vision and mission for the new Department of Human Resources and
Skills Development Canada. With this in mind, I encourage honourable senators to
support the bill.
Hon. David Tkachuk moved second reading of Bill S-35, to amend the
State Immunity Act and the Criminal Code (terrorist activity).—(Honourable
He said: Honourable senators, on May 18 I introduced Bill S-35, which seeks
to add one more tool to the fight against international terrorists. This bill
makes important amendments to the State Immunity Act. In doing so, it presents
an important source of justice for all Canadians but, most important, a tool for
those who have been directly affected by terrorist acts.
Honourable senators, families who lost loved ones on September 11, 25 of
which were Canadian, would, under this act, be allowed to pursue the attackers
civilly. In June 1985, 331 people died following the crash of Air India Flight
182, of whom 154 were Canadian. Their families, too, would be able to seek civil
Many Canadians believe that terrorism is something that happens elsewhere,
something that happens to someone else, and they believe that Canada is
insulated from terrorism. They are wrong. Let them ask Maureen and Erica
Basnicki, wife and daughter of Ken Basnicki of Toronto, who was among those
killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Let them ask Ron Goldberg,
whose brother was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber last year in Israel.
Their lives and the lives of many more Canadian victims have been torn apart by
planned acts of extreme violence perpetrated against civilians.
However, because Canadian victims are relatively few in number and because
these heinous acts are relatively infrequent in Canada, most Canadians
disassociate this country from terrorism. They do not keep in mind that, besides
the violent act itself, terrorism has many aspects. It requires planning,
funding, staging and people. These aspects are easily lost in the blood and
horror of the terrorist act, but they are as much a part of terrorism as the
death and mayhem that the act causes. We often fail to recognize this. As
Stewart Bell, a Canadian expert on terrorism, has written:
Canada has not responded forcefully to the terrorist challenge probably
because most of the terrorist activity that takes place inside Canada is
supporting violence in other places. Canadians don't see the bloody results of
the fundraising and the rest that takes place in Canada.
In this regard, it is worth remembering that in its 2004 annual report
FINTRAC found over $70 million in transactions that were thought to be linked to
terrorist activity. According to Canada's intelligence services, with the
singular exception of the United States, there are more terrorist organizations
active in Canada than in any other country in the world. It is worth recalling
that Ahmed Ressam moved to Canada in 1994. Years before that, he was caught
trying to sneak across the border to the United States, fully intent on and
equipped to launch a terrorist attack there.
Canada is not immune to terrorism or the groups that perpetrate acts of
terror. That is why it is important that we use any and every means available to
combat this scourge.
Traditionally, states granted foreign states absolute immunity from civil
suits brought before their courts. However, with the increase in transnational
commercial activity and all the opportunities for crime that it entails, the
Canadian government has moved to limit blanket immunity. It amended the State
Immunity Act to restrictively permit civil suits in respect of the commercial
activities of foreign states. This amendment permitted citizens of Canada to
bring a suit against a foreign state for breach of contract and other breaches
of commercial activity, thereby decreasing a foreign state's immunity. Today, we
must review again the injustice that occurs when we grant a foreign state
complete immunity when that state acts as a sponsor of terrorist activity.
Canada, the United States and other Western allies are combatants in the
fight against international terrorism and have all become greater potential
targets. Certainly, the government has taken important measures, such as the
Smart Border Agreement with the U.S., the establishment of FINTRAC, and the
proclamation of the Anti-terrorism Act. Bill S-35 is another weapon in our
arsenal. The aim in amending the State Immunity Act is to protect Canadians both
at home and abroad who may fall victim to terror.
Its premise is that many terrorist groups are linked to foreign state
sponsors. These states utilize their vast sovereign powers and resources to
finance and sponsor acts of terrorism, such as hijackings, kidnappings,
bombings, extrajudicial killing, or military attacks directed at innocent
citizens. In addition, these states harbour terrorist groups and permit them to
openly recruit and train new terrorists. Under the State Immunity Act, Canadian
victims of terror and their families have little or no recourse against these
state sponsors of terrorism. By amending the State Immunity Act, we are giving
the victims and their families an opportunity to fight back. We are giving them
an opportunity to obtain some measure of justice and closure for lives that were
ripped apart through hatred.
Bill S-35 allows civilians to seek financial liability judgments against
foreign states for sponsoring terrorists. In addition, this amendment will act
as a deterrent to state-sponsored terrorists by instilling in them the need to
balance the benefits of sponsorship against the fear of large monetary liability
Honourable senators, foreign states escape civil liability for their
sponsorship of terrorism but are liable for redress for a breach of a commercial
contract. On June 30, 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in the case of
Bouzari v. Islamic Republic of Iran. It noted that the court must agree with
the lower court's ruling, which stated that, because of the blanket immunity
given to foreign states through the State Immunity Act, a civil action brought
for terrorist activity is barred. It further ruled that the limited exceptions
in the State Immunity Act, public international law and the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms could not relieve against this conclusion.
The State Immunity Act needs to be amended to reflect the dangers and violent
troubles of the world in which we now live. When the Canadian government became
aware of the damages that Canadians faced through the breach of commercial
contracts, it took action to redress the matter. We must do the same in respect
of terrorism today.
Bill S-35 has two main objectives that are intended to bring about redress.
First, the amendment would prevent foreign states that engage in terrorist
activity from claiming immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts. This
is an important principle because it permits Canadian courts to obtain both
subject matter and personal jurisdiction over foreign states that sponsor
terrorist activity. Therefore, foreign states would be made accountable for
their actions and would not be able to shield themselves from liability in civil
suits through the cloak of the State Immunity Act.
By making a foreign state accountable and financially liable for its actions
taken in support of terrorism, the passage of this amendment will give pause to
the traditional state sponsors of terrorism. One of the main goals of our
society is to decrease the amount of terrorism that occurs, and this amendment
intensifies Canada's goal of protecting Canadians at home and abroad.
Honourable senators, Bill S-35 would amend the Criminal Code to provide
victims who have suffered loss or damage as a result of terrorist activity with
a civil remedy against the person who engaged in the terrorist activity.
Terrorists prey on civilian targets and kill without shame or mercy in an effort
to crumble the foundation of a society and destroy its way of life. Over the
last 30 years, hundreds of Canadian citizens have been murdered by terrorist
attacks on buses, airplanes and in night clubs. Foreign states that sponsor
terrorism are not held accountable to the families affected by terrorism and are
free from liability. Bill S-35 will change that and empower the victims and
Honourable senators, we are fighting an unconventional war against civilians,
who are the focus and preferred target of terrorists. We must do everything in
our power to prevent this activity from occurring. There is an external belief
that, when the citizens of a nation are subject to archaic laws, those of us who
have the power to effect change have a duty and responsibility to do so.
I ask honourable senators for their support of Bill S-35 to help our fellow
Canadians find the justice and closure that they deserve and to strike a blow
against worldwide terrorism.
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. Donald H. Oliver: I rise today to speak to Senator
Hervieux-Payette's motion of April 14, 2005. At the outset, honourable senators,
I wish to congratulate and thank the honourable senator for her very clear and
precise speech of April 19, in which she outlined the content and reasons why
honourable senators should consider the motion to which I wish to speak briefly
Honourable senators, the procedure of reintroducing private members' bills
tabled during previous parliamentary sessions at the same procedural stage in
the following parliamentary session is a practice that already exists in the
other place. According to the House of Commons Standing Order 86.1:
At the beginning of the second or a subsequent Session of a Parliament, all
items of Private Members' Business originating in the House of Commons that
have been listed on the Order Paper during the previous Session shall be
deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the
time of prorogation and shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper or, as
the case may be, referred to committee and the List for the Consideration of
Private Members' Business and the order of precedence...shall continue from
session to session.
Standing Order 86.1 establishes the precedent in the other place for private
members to reinstate legislation introduced in a previous session of Parliament.
It is a well-established practice for the government to introduce a
reinstatement motion in a new session of Parliament to reinstate bills from the
previous parliamentary session.
The most recent motion to that effect was raised in the other place on
February 6, 2004, when the Honourable Jacques Saada, then the Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, moved that:
...during the first thirty sitting days of the present session of
Parliament, whenever a Minister of the Crown, when proposing a motion for
first reading of a public bill, states that the said bill is in the same form
as a Government bill in the previous session, if the Speaker is satisfied that
the said bill is in the same form as the House of Commons had agreed to at
prorogation...the said bill shall be deemed in the current session to have
been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of
prorogation of the previous session.
Simply put, in the other place, it is the decision of the government to
determine whether government bills are to be reinstated by introducing a
reinstatement motion, and it is the decision of the government and the minister
to determine if and when a bill should be reinstated.
Senator Hervieux-Payette has stated that, if the government or a private
member in the Senate considers legislation to be of critical importance, the
honourable senator who sponsored the bill need only reinstate the bill in
question in the Senate during the next parliamentary session.
It is true that reinstating government bills and private members' bills at
the same procedural stage at which they stood in the previous parliamentary
session could enhance this chamber's efficiency. When Senator Hervieux-Payette
spoke to her motion on April 19, she identified 32 individual bills that have
reappeared in the Senate several times. Of the 32 bills Senator Hervieux-Payette
identified, two pieces of proposed legislation — in particular, Senator
Forrestall's private members' bill to protect heritage lighthouses and Senator
Spivak's private members' bill concerning personal watercraft in navigable
waters — have been reintroduced in each of the last five parliamentary sessions,
dating back to 1999.
Several bills have been tabled in each of the last three sessions of
Parliament, namely, Senator Lapointe's bill, to amend the Criminal Code lottery
schemes, and Senator Kinsella's, our Leader of the Opposition in the Senate,
Bill S-2, to amend the Citizenship Act, which I was delighted to see receive
Royal Assent on May 5, 2005.
Two of my private members' bills — to prevent unsolicited messages on the
Internet and to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Parliament of Canada
Act (Speakership of the Senate) — had been reintroduced in the last three
parliamentary sessions, while my private members' bill to amend the Criminal
Code respecting criminal harassment and other related matters was introduced in
two parliamentary sessions.
On March 18, 2003, in the second session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament, my
private members' bill to elect the Speaker of the Senate by secret ballot
received first reading. On March 20, 2003, it was debated at second reading. On
November 12, 2003, that bill died on the Order Paper when the Second Session of
the Thirty-seventh Parliament ended.
It was subsequently reintroduced on February 3, 2004, during the Third
Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament. The bill was debated at second reading
on March 9 and March 11, and was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs, where the bill died when the Thirty-seventh
Parliament ended in May 2004.
On October 19, 2004, during the First Session of the Thirty-eighth
Parliament, I again reintroduced my bill to elect the Speaker of the Senate. On
November 17, 2004, Bill S-13 was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs for further study. There it has stayed,
honourable senators, for 172 days — I repeat, 172 days. So far, no witness has
Another one of my private members' bills, to amend the Criminal Code
respecting criminal harassment and other related matters, received first reading
in the Senate on two occasions, during the First Session of the Thirty-sixth
Parliament on May 12, 1998, and during the Second Session of the Thirty-sixth
Parliament on November 2, 1999.
My private members' bill, known as S-17 in the First Session of the
Thirty-sixth Parliament and Bill S-6 in the Second Session of the Thirty-sixth
Parliament, rectified a serious problem in Canada with respect to our existing
laws on criminal harassment relating to stalking.
Specifically, the bill sought to increase the penalties provided for the
offence of harassment and related offences by addressing criminal harassment,
which was then defined in section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada as:
...repeatedly following or communicating with another person; repeatedly
watching another person's house or workplace; or directly threatening another
person or any member of their family, causing a person to fear for their
safety or the safety of someone known to them.
The bill increased the maximum penalty for criminal harassment on summary
conviction from six months imprisonment or a fine of $2,000, or both, to a term
of 18 months imprisonment with no fine option.
Honourable senators, after considerable work on my part to raise awareness of
the need for legislation to increase penalties for stalking and other related
violent crimes in Canada, the provisions of my proposed bill were eventually
incorporated into a government omnibus bill introduced on March 14, 2001, in the
First Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament by the Honourable Anne McLellan,
then Minister of Justice.
The legislation she introduced in the other place, Bill C-15, known as the
Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2001, raised the maximum penalty for criminal
harassment, that is, stalking, from five to 10 years imprisonment, referring to
actions including "repeatedly following, watching or communicating with someone
in a manner which reasonably causes that person to fear for their own safety or
the safety of someone known to them."
The provisions of my private members' bill were incorporated directly into
Bill C-15, which was subsequently split into two different bills, namely, Bill
C-15A and Bill C-15B, by the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human
Rights. On June 4, 2002, the bill to which my anti-stalking provisions were
incorporated, Bill C-15A, received Royal Assent and became law.
Based on my experiences with the three private members' bills that I have
just described, I know that, as public policy-makers and legislators, senators
go to great lengths to consult Canadians, conduct studies and engage experts
with the ultimate aim of enacting legislation that, in their view, is in the
public interest of Canadians.
Senator Hervieux-Payette has suggested that continually reintroducing the
same legislation in perpetuity may not be in the best interests of our
institution. She stated that allowing bills tabled during previous sessions of
Parliament to be reintroduced at the same procedural stage has the potential not
only of improving the efficiency of the Senate but also of improving the value
of our role as legislators and the voices of sober second thought within
Canada's parliamentary system.
Honourable senators, there remains a critical issue that causes me concern;
it is the role played by the majority in the Senate. If a motion were adopted to
amend the Senate rules and practice so that bills tabled during a parliamentary
session could be reintroduced at the same procedural stage in the following
parliamentary session, my personal experience would prompt me to be concerned
that only bills introduced by Liberal senators would proceed.
For example, my private members' bill, Bill S-15, to prevent unsolicited
messages on the Internet, was read for the first time on September 17, 2003, and
was reintroduced for first reading on February 3, 2004 in the Third Session of
the Thirty-seventh Parliament. It was reintroduced on October 20, 2004, during
the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament, and the subject matter was
referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications on
February 10, 2005. Since then, the bill has languished in committee for 118
days. To date, it has not been studied and not one witness has been called.
That is the case, in spite of the fact, honourable senators, that the subject
matter of this bill is extremely important to Canadians. Bill S-15 has received
critical praise from experts in the information technology sector, namely,
Professor Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and the
Canadian Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law; Philippa Lawson,
Director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic; Richard
Simpson, Director General of Industry Canada's Electronic Commerce Branch; and
Mr. Michael Eisen, Vice-President of Law and Corporate Affairs with Microsoft
Canada, and many others.
In the December 12, 2004, edition of The Hill Times, in an op-ed piece
entitled, "Parliament needs to pass Anti-SPAM legislation," Eisen said:
...the absence of comprehensive anti-SPAM legislation in Canada remains a
key impediment to eradicating SPAM in this country.
In a broader paper entitled "Integration Innovation," Microsoft Canada
concluded the following:
The components of a comprehensive anti-SPAM strategy...can only be brought
together with the help of effective legislation. Without strong criminal and
civil remedies for activities like the harvesting of email lists or
distributing fraudulent emails, enforcement opportunities are very limited.
The article ended as follows:
Microsoft wishes to work with the governments of Canada to put in place
effective legislation that will thwart the efforts of those who abuse email
and preserve the viability of the medium.
Michael Geist put it this way in Maclean's magazine on January 28: "If
the private sector cannot..." eradicate spam "on its own, then government has to
get involved. And we must move there quickly."
Honourable senators, in 2004, the Minister of Industry commissioned a task
force to study and review the legislation and regulatory gaps in Canada's
legislative framework with respect to Canada's information and technological
sector and to consider further legislative action. I met with the task force on
many occasions. On May 17, Industry Canada's Task Force on SPAM released its
final report. The 10-member task force made 22 recommendations, the most
important of which was to call for a new spam-specific law that would make it a
criminal offence to fail to abide by an opt-in regime for sending unsolicited
commercial email. There is a spam-specific bill languishing in committee that
could, with minor amendments, meet this pressing Canadian need.
My private members' bills also proposed that the federal government create a
no-spam list. Persons sending spam would first have to check to see if the user
of the address is part of the government's opt-in regime. One of the task force
members, the Director General of Industry Canada's Electronic Commerce Branch,
Richard Simpson, told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald:
Senator Oliver deserves credit for keeping this issue within everyone's
line of sight. I'm looking forward to seeing what we might do in terms of
putting the two efforts together. I'm hoping Canada's anti-spam legislation
could be ready this year.
Philippa Lawson, Director of the Canada Internet Policy and Public Interest
Clinic, said the following about my Bill S-15 and the anti-spam task force
Senator Oliver's anti-spam bill has played a critical role in getting this
important issue on the government's agenda, and in making sure that it stays
on the agenda. The recent Task Force report's recommendation for new anti-spam
legislation was influenced in no small way by this Bill. Even if Bill S-15
does not itself become law, its existence is spurring the government to take
long-awaited measures against this serious threat to the Internet.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to interrupt
the Honourable Senator Oliver, but his time has expired.
Senator Oliver: Could I have leave to continue for one more minute?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Oliver: In short, honourable senators, Bill S-15 is good
proposed legislation. It has received support from senators on both sides of
this chamber. Why, then, has it languished in committee since February 10? I
would hope that the intent of the motion we are debating is to increase the
efficiency and efficacy of the Senate and not to serve as a mechanism for
legislation introduced by Liberal senators to essentially be fast-tracked
through the Senate by the overwhelming majority.
For this reason, honourable senators, I would ask that caution be exercised
in further proceedings with respect to this bill.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have a comment and then a question with regard to the passage of
bills of the majority and bills of the minority. I remind Senator Oliver that we
passed Senator Forrestall's bill on lighthouses through all stages. We have also
sent Senator Forrestall's bill on a cancer policy to committee.
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples is presently studying
Senator St. Germain's bill on Aboriginal policy that was passed at second
reading, I believe.
I take the point the honourable senator is making, though, that ways and
means need to be found to accommodate private members' bills. I certainly would
like to see more of them studied and acted upon.
I did have a question for Senator Oliver. He mentioned that a number of his
bills were incorporated in government legislation. Has he done any research on
bills, other than his own, that have been incorporated in government legislation
as to whether they came from the majority side or from the minority side? In his
speech, Senator Oliver said that other people had given him credit — that is,
people working for the government if not part of the government itself — for
bringing the spam issue to public attention. I realize that, alone, giving a
senator credit for influencing government legislation is not sufficient.
However, has the honourable senator done any research to show that bills other
than his own have been incorporated into government legislation?
Senator Oliver: No, I have not done that research. I researched only
my personal experience with three private members' bills. In the case of the
stalking bill, it did go to committee and we heard from 39 witnesses. In
addition, there was widespread support for the bill from across Canada. One day,
then-Minister of Justice Anne McLellan sent a delegation from her department to
discuss the contents of my bill. They indicated that the minister liked the
contents and recognized that the issue was of pressing national importance. It
was a public policy issue that had to be addressed. For that reason, they wanted
to know if I would object to it being incorporated in an omnibus criminal bill.
I consented, and it is now the law of the land.
The bigger problem, as I see it, is spam. Spam, as most honourable senators
know, is costing Canada in excess of $2 billion a year for filters, for hiring
extra help and for lost productivity. In addition, spam is doing irreparable
damage to young children and others whose websites and email addresses are being
infiltrated with fraudulent, pornographic and other materials. It is time for
action. If this initiative had been sponsored by a senator from the government
side, I am reasonably certain it would have been proceeded with, because it is a
valid bill. That is my main concern.
On motion of Senator Rompkey, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, June 8, 2005, at 1:30 p.m.